Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Equality and other things


Me as a baby at Chester Zoo. I can't even sit in a pram properly



Equality is an interesting thing when you break it down. Fighting for equal approaches is fraught and lonely and takes a lot of energy.

If I had any advice for people starting out it would be this. If you want an easy life don’t do it the way I did.

I’m saying this because I’m reflecting a lot abut my time as an online campaigner for many reasons. A revelation at home and a 'foolish' attempt at trying for a job. What was I thinking? I’m a woman and I’m old and I’ve been a housewife and carer for twenty years. Not great CV building but as I love the people in my life it was a worthwhile trade off to me. Not to the three people on my interview panel though. Project management doesn’t mean being a carer. They should try it, then we’ll talk.

So I guess I was thinking many things but the point of this blog is in respect to the difficulties I have experienced which can best be summed up not as ‘what’ but as ‘how’ was I thinking?

I suppose I was thinking like a man.

Let me explain.

Men in my experience don’t face the same checks and balances as women do. They don’t have to be anything other than as they are. Society is framed around notions of masculinity as positive and feminine as negative. Just look at the Virginia Wade airbrushing currently and you learn a great deal.

I’ve been attacked and verbally abused but the sad fact is all women are. The misogyny rife on social media doesn’t need my detailing of it here. If you’re a woman of any profile even one as tiny as mine, you’ll know.

The point is I believe myself to be equal to everyone. That’s the problem because this makes me a “total bitch”. The strength of believing myself to be equal to everyone means that I also believe everyone is equal to me and the Queen and A list Hollywood superstars, and homeless people.

However to many this isn’t the case.

I’m not clear I’m ‘outspoken’, I not balanced I’m ‘manipulative’, I’m not detailing the facts of our lives I’m ‘going for the sympathy vote’.

It’s not just sexism, I am a nightmare because I like fairness. I really am a nightmare about fairness. Because It's not very common.

I was raised by my Mum to believe myself equal and so I’ve always behaved that way. I was told by a teenage boyfriend to stop “trying to be funny it’s embarrassing” again not something you’ll hear many men accused of, but quite telling in it’s inherent sexism and confidence of delivery.

I think I’m funny but there I go again. I think therefore I am you might say.

This belief in myself is "very challenging", I’m told. It’s certainly led to rape threats. Which is after all the last bastion of articulate debate. Even saying the words "very challenging"  will raise the heckles of people reading this because we are pre-programmed to believe a woman who describes herself in anything straying from heavy doses of self deprecation, must be slapped down. Why is that I wonder. British thing? Cultural? Societal? I dunno.

The thing is, I know of no other way to be. Many men in my experience would never even begin to contemplate a different way to be, because they simply don’t have to. The wheels don’t tend to fall off their wagon if they are.

Their boundaries are not mine and they are not most women’s.  Men may have other societal pressures but they don’t include a responsibility to have a child, to be beautiful, to be thin and not to age. The pressures may be beginning to filter through to men but they are utterly entrenched in a womans psyche from birth.

Good men, great men don’t bother with this view of women but good and great men tend not to pre-dominate on social media sadly. They are in the minority and “loudmouthed” women like me are made aware of them everyday.

If you met me you’d know that I’m quieter than the person you see on Twitter. I’m as angry about some things, but I tend to listen in person more than I speak. Unless I’m nervous.  

I'm very keen on loyalty.There isn’t much of that in the popularity contest of life, but it’s so incredibly powerful and life affirming. It’s the rock of all things because it’s about making a connection and knowing it will endure. To stand beside someone else, to let them know you are beside them, is a real gift.

Twitter isn’t about listening as much as it’s about speaking and for this reason it’s been vital in highlighting issues which are otherwise ignored. The down side of the written word is that it’s flat, wide open to misinterpretation and nuance-free.

There is also a high expectation. Certain issues are still taboo as many people, seeing the career potential are learning to “play the game” . I’m filter-less unfortunately for me.  I think it’s great because I like honest people, but even as I write this I realise that describing myself as honest will draw howls of derision. But that’s democracy for you.

I also change my mind when the facts change. 

Identify what you want and what you can stand. Being yourself on social media marks you out. It was always worth it to me, because at 47 I’m too old to try to change but it’s truly not for everyone.

I’m just a 'girl' standing in front of a 'boy' suggesting equality, which seems quite reasonable to me.

If you think you can stand it then definitely do it. I don’t regret anything except wearing pointed shoes when I was a teenager. 

“They” will bully you, they will it’s a fact but fuck it. It will bring you low and make you depressed it certainly did me, but I fought back with exercise and taking breaks. Exercise is as beneficial as taking a low dose anti-depressent, that's why it worked for me.  

If the bullying gets to you, it's probably best not to mention it like I did though. People don’t like that.

If you do, know this, there will be people great people, kind people, who will come to your defence. They are fucking amazing.

Once you realise that social media is just a big popularity contest and that 'stepping out of line' gets you ignored and whispered about, then there is a way to overcome it. 

The trick is just not to mind. Truly. If you just pretend it isn’t happening then it really isn’t happening.  You’ll be loathed for a while, then loved for a while then loathed again for a while, then ignored. 

But you’ll get stuff done and that is what really matters.

Finally because it’s important I need to say how much I love and value the great men I know. On social media and in life. I need to say this because in saying all of the above I’m being all ‘man-hatey’. It’s not a comment on men as much as it is a comment on patriarchy, but people find discernment tricky at times, so it’s useful to clarify. There are a lot of sexist women out there. A lot.

But men who choose not to be a dick when the environment makes it so easy, almost obligatory to be a dick, are fucking amazing.  Love them.

Anyway I think I’ve rambled now. To sum up don’t be like me if you want an easy life, or realise that life isn’t easy anyway and just do your thing.

Also eat chocolate. It really helps :0) xxxx

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