The Case for Corbyn

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Since Theresa the Appeaser, wife of the head of a tax-dodging firm, u-turned on a previous promise and announced a snap election, the consensus has been pretty universal: Labour can’t win.

The reason for this stark prediction is the fact that the Labour party is currently under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn. ‘Unelectable’, ‘scruffy’, ‘weak’, ‘boring’ – apart from any, y’know, actual criticism of anything he’s done, he’s been branded with every insult available to Rupert Murdoch. The biggest one being that he’s ‘unelectable’. A bizarre accusation in the context of his years as an MP for Islington North and the two Labour leadership elections he has won with incredible mandates. Looking at the facts, he’s one of the most popular politicians to come along in decades. Labour membership has increased by the thousands under him, his speeches attract huge crowds, not to mention all the adoring memes from his supporters. When tory-lite Labour MP’s tried desperately to stage a coup, even going as far as to change the rules to block hundreds from voting for him, he increased his mandate. That’s unprecedented. And when was the last time someone photoshopped Theresa May on the back of a unicorn?

But the polls! I’ve seen negative reports on Corbyn’s low popularity in the polls constantly since the election was announced. If the last year of political shock and upheaval taught us anything, it’s that polls are not to be trusted, yet the BBC parrots them as if they sought them from an all-powerful soothsayer living on a Himalayan peak. That is when the BBC isn’t providing a platform for N!gel F@rage, an ex-leader of a party with one MP who defected… But I digress. What I haven’t seen reported quite as much is May’s steady decline in ‘The Polls’ and Corbyn’s steady rise. Most likely to do with May’s half-arsed campaigning, turning up in a helicopter to deliver a boring speech mainly involving the words “stable” and “strong” with a few connectives to string them together. Meanwhile, Corbyn is whizzing round every seat in the country, giving media-ignored speeches with great gusto, to cheering crowds. But this is nothing new for him.

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Jezza has consistently been on the right side of history. Working hard, not for the adulation it brings, but because it is the right thing to do. He is a man of principle, a man who means what he says and sticks to the promises he makes. He protested apartheid while Thatcher was calling Nelson Mandela a ‘terrorist’. He advocated peace talks with the IRA years before the Queen was praised for shaking hands with Sinn Fein. When other MPs were spending half their time attending dinners and travelling by Limousine he was wearing CoOp shirts and jumpers knitted by his Mum.  He has the lowest expenses claims of any MP. He voted against the Iraq war. When people in his constituency were unable to pay Thatcher’s poll tax, he risked prison by refusing to pay himself. That’s some Robin Hood gangsta shit.

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All of this is massively at odds with his ‘weak’ and ‘dispassionate’ persona. The right wing media has infamously demonised him for the slightest perceived indiscretion. Not nodding low enough, ‘dancing’ to a war memorial, not wearing a tie… It’s pretty telling in any argument if your opponent attacks you for such silly and superficial things. Murdoch shrieks and points and Corbyn’s beard while multiple Tory MPs are investigated for election fraud. He’s also ‘mates’ with ISIS and the IRA, basically for not advocating indiscriminately bombing them, he’s a dangerous nutcase who will cripple the economy by feeding schoolchildren and providing a wage people can actually afford to live on. You know the indoctrination has worked well when people baulk at the idea of being paid more and having four days off. Don’t think of yourself or your families, workers of Britain, think of your poor millionaire bosses. And what can we expect? For years the working classes have been told not to aim their scorn at the bosses who don’t provide a living wage or stable work conditions, but at their neighbour who claims child tax credit. It’s extremely effective. Paint your multi-billion pound media empire, your Eton-educated MPs, your smug fascist mouthpieces in tweed, as their advocate. An Australian billionaire who controls a good size chunk of all news media? The voice of reason – look! he likes looking at boobs as much as you do! The guy who makes jam, cycles everywhere, and would refuse to pay a tax because you couldn’t afford it? Why he’s an out-of-touch liberal elitist with no idea how the world works!

I waste my energy though. The biggest obstacle to Corbyn becoming prime minister is not the reactionary right wing press. I expect it from them. It’s the actual out-of-touch liberal elite. Imagine joining the party that started the NHS, the party began by trade unionists, the party made to be a socialist voice for the working person, and then throwing a tantrum and leaving when a guy who believes in all of this gets in charge. It’s neoliberal Blairytes who brand Corbyn ‘unelectable’ and paint him as a ridiculous extremist. It’s them who still insist he is weak and completely unelectable even after, despite their mass effort, he held his ground and increased his mandate. And really, any man who can face David Cameron at PMQs and not make a pig joke weeks after that scandal broke must have a will of steel. I stayed up til 2 am making pig jokes on twitter when that news broke… But I digress. Centrist Labour politicians and self-satisfied liberal celebrities roll their eyes in despair at Krazy Korbyn and his allotment antics, patting themselves on the back for being so astute in observing what a fool he is. Really, they’re covering their own asses. All your mates are saying he can’t win, join in so you don’t look a fool. Also, despite outward concern for socially progressive causes, it’s cruel and unregulated capitalism that made their lives so cosy and they’ll be damned if they don’t cling to it while wearing a mask of benevolent concern for the human rights cause du jour. They hate the problems but love the causes. It’s vital to them that Corbyn loses because he’ll topple their ivory towers. Take JK Rowling, for example. Imagine writing a massively popular series of books about teenagers using magic to overthrow oppressive forces, then decrying an old man in beige who wants to feed impoverished children for being way too extreme.

The world of polished politicians towing the centrist line and faking respectability to get in and maintain the status quo for capitalism so it can screw over people in their own country and poison people abroad is over. We can choose what emerges. Right now, what is emerging is even uglier. Trump, Le Pen, pepe the effing frog… we are witnessing a previously unthinkable resurrection of fascism. Actual nazis are walking the streets unpunched and sharing memes about gassing people they deem beneath them. They get a couple of thousand views of youtube and that gets them a right to speak at universities, apparently. I don’t know if you remember but the last time this happened, softcore liberalism didn’t defeat them. It won’t this time. We must put in place an equal and opposite force, not someone who will hold hands with racist tyrants.

I see it from my peers too. The general idea seems to be that people like Corbyn – they think he’s a good man, he’s principled, he’s intelligent, he works hard, they like his policies…..buuuuuut. And it’s a big ‘but’,

“He’s got good ideas, but he’ll never win!”

“I like him, but he just doesn’s seem like a leader…”

“It’s just the way things are, unfortunately. If he doesn’t move to the centre he’ll never get in.”

It’s hugely frustrating. People see that the system is garbage and Jeremy Corbyn might just fix it, but they passively go along with it. They hold socialist principles yet turn down the chance to elect a socialist. They’re intelligent people who see that he’s a good man and a good politician, yet they buy into the rhetoric that he’s a passionless pushover despite all evidence to the contrary. They say ‘but Labour needs a less extreme leader to beat the tories!’ If the only way to beat the tories is by imitating their every cruel policy, then I would rather Labour not be in power and work as an opposing force on the back bench. People hold the power to vote, yet insist there is no way Jeremy Corbyn can be voted in. If you see what’s really going on and you have the power to change it, why are you passively accepting the ever declining status quo while the world descends into fascism? Will you fight this? Or will you perish like a dog? Vote for Jeremy Corbyn.

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I was looking for a job and then I was looking for a job and then I was looking for a job and Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now….

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In the grand scheme of things, career-search wise, I’m doing OK. I have a degree, I have experience including an internship, I actually know what I want to do, and I’m not subject to racial discrimination in my job search. However despite my constant searching and applying  on Indeed all I’ve got back in two months is a handful of rejection emails from the few companies who actually bothered to send them. Oh, and a call from a company offering teaching work in China which I absolutely don’t want to do but genuinely considered.

Inamongst all the thinkpieces calling millenials entitled, or making fun of them for having ‘fake’ sounding jobs involving social media or having ‘digital’ in the name (someone took the time to make an actual sitcom on the topic), few seem to question why so many of us still live with our parents. I know one person my age with the same education level who is in full time work. The rest are doing masters degrees or working menial jobs in the hopes of finding something more fulfilling. My sister graduated in 2012 and found every job she wanted demanded years of experience and every job she applied to as a short term money maker felt she was overqualified and would have no loyalty. I’ve found the same problem, despite the fact I have a three-month journalism internship under my belt. In truth, the hunt for a job feels like a fruitless, crushing dirge.

Dramatic-sounding perhaps, but hear me out. My recent internship (a piece of driftwood just about keeping me afloat in a sea of career hunting) was not my first flirtation with intern-ing. Back in the summer of ’16, towards the end of my degree, I was delighted to get a call from a local company in Hull who were interested in getting me to work as a content writer for 8-12 weeks. Unpaid, of course, I couldn’t possibly expect to get paid now could I? Their promise was 8-12 weeks with a ‘very real chance’ of a job at the end. Twelve weeks is a long time but it would just about cover the rest of my student flat contract and I was almost guaranteed a job at the end. I went along for the interview in high spirits, it was a nice office in the city centre, and the staff seemed laid-back with lots of freedom. I was told that I was the most qualified candidate. I had a second interview, involving a basic competence test, all was well. I got a call from the recruitment agency woman who had called me in the first place saying they were offering me a week-long trial to check I was right for them. A little annoying, considering I was repeatedly told I was the best candidate, and it was an unpaid internship (I was essentially being offered a trial FOR a trial) but it was still amazing to get such an opportunity considering I hadn’t even graduated yet.

So I went in with my coffee and pencil skirt feeling very business-like. I wrote some blog posts, transcribed a few radio bits they did, had to do some ‘business to business’ copy which was about the most soul crushing thing of all time but hey ho. I felt all was going well. However, after going home on the third day the recruitment lady called me again. ‘They don’t know how to go about training you’ she said (they perhaps should have thought of that before they hired an intern). She told me to take the rest of the week off while they worked out what approach to take. With a furrowed brow I agreed, but told her I felt fine with how things were going.

Two weeks later, I had heard nothing. I emailed the recruitment agency woman asking her if, when I did come back, I would be coming back to an actual job or I would still be expected to work 12 weeks on zero pay. She told me it was the latter. ‘They’re only a small company, so they can’t offer pay at the moment’. I was tempted to point out that this was at odds with how often I had been assured of their rapid growth as a business, and to ask if everyone else who worked their was lucky enough to actually get paid. I replied that I had to decline coming back at all, that 12 weeks of no pay would essentially leave me homeless for a while. She understood. Oh, by the way, that ‘job’ was at a company running a search engine FOR JOBS.

I’m happy to report the second internship went far better. It only required one interview, I was able to work from home, I was paid £70 a week, given one-to-one training, and had to the opportunity to do cool stuff like interview comedians and write previews for art exhibitions. I came out the other side with solid skills and a sturdy addition to my CV. One month later, I still have nothing. Trawling through Indeed.com every day is a Groundhog-day like affair. Content writer, marketing, social media executive and so on and so on. Most are offering more internships, usually only pointing out halfway through the job description that they won’t actually pay you. Particularly with any kind of creative endeavor. They offer ‘experience’ and ‘exposure’, but such things do not put tofu on the table. Those that will pay are rare, and mostly require a candidate with 5 years of experience in the exact same job, preferably at the same company, and a relocation to London.

When you find one that seems imperfect, but you actually have a chance of getting, it sends you to a 10-page application form that needs filling out. You have a CV with all the same information the form is asking for handily put on one page, but they still want you to fill out the form. Call me a lazy, entitled millenial, but when it’s the fifth job application of the day and you don’t particularly want it in the first place, the impulse to give up on page 4 of the application is very strong.

Also while these companies ask a lot of their candidates, the effort is not reciprocated. Job descriptions are often quite badly written out, some with glaring spelling mistakes. Plus, they are often written so cryptically, so ridden with vague business jargon, that it is impossible to tell what the company does and what they want you to do. Take this for example:

“The role of Digital Marketing Executive will be to implement the content marketing strategy for this prestigious business, devising creative campaigns which will help to increase awareness, brand and drive sales and play a key role in driving the next phase of growth.”

Can anyone tell me what the even heck that means?

So where does this seemingly incredibly unsustainable system lead? Ultimately, it means only the children of the rich can get jobs. If you can’t find an internship you can do from home like I was lucky enough to get, you have to hope Mum and Dad are willing to pay your rent. After several such internships, you may finally get a full time job that pays, congratulations! Better yet, a close relative of yours works at the company, instant stability!

This market ultimately has to collapse in on itself. Denying  many young people the chance to support themselves for the convenience of businesses who are somehow disgusted at the thought of paying a living wage simply isn’t sustainable. It isn’t just Wetherspoons that takes advantage, but cozy white-collar office jobs. It’s a symptom of late stage, unregulated capitalism. Everything to appease the bosses, even if it means literally not paying a wage. Recently, a screenshot of an unpaid job at a London anti-slavery charity went viral. It’s gotten so bad that even my classically conservative grandma is shocked and appalled at the state of things. Colliding with other problems like the eye-watering rent prices in most cities and the accumulating student debt of those doing masters degrees to stave off the daunting search for a job, something has to give. And when it does give, I just hope it’s not the workers who bear the worst of it.

Bloody Hell

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NOTILE TE BASTARDES CORBORUNDORUM

It didn’t even take one day.

It wasn’t even noon before the pound sterling fell faster than Han Solo off the starkiller base bridge (sorry).

A matter of hours before Fuckface Farage admitted he should never have promised £350 million a week to the NHS since he can’t actually fucken do it.

No time at all before the UK lost its place as the world’s 5th largest economy.

I hadn’t even had my morning cup of tea before Pig Boy Cameron resigned, leaving the potential for an even worse (and unelected) haunted cabbage patch doll to take his place.

At this point, what’s keeping me optimistic is the hope that everything continues on this slide into chaos at such a rate that the public demands a return to the EU and Farage and his ilk are banished to Pluto.

But it’s not just this clusterfuck that has me turning from an optimistic young person to a jaded, disappointed twentysomething. To be honest, looking at what my country is doing is becoming harder and harder in recent years. I see no compassion, I see spite, bigotry, smugness and small-mindedness.

Take, for example, the microcosm of this kind of attitude displayed at Euro2016. Seeing Irish fans, whom I am claiming as my people thanks to my lineage, has made me smile. Seeing English fans has made me despair. Violent, bigoted, and arrogant – they’ve made us look small and stupid. Just look at this clip of English fans taunting refugee children and throwing coins at them. This is happening in TWO THOUSAND AND SIXTEEN.

The situation with refugees and and the reaction to it in general has made me feel physically sick at many different points. A certain inflammatory columnist (who shall remain unnamed to bypass the mini orgasm she no doubt has every time some talks about her) calling them ‘cockroaches’ was like a nightmare. Watching footage of Nazi rallies and propaganda films about the Aryan race in history, I shook my head and wondered how so many human beings could become so cold, so hate filled towards their brothers and sisters. Seeing that, and facebook comments on far right pages calling for them to all be shot and rejoicing as innocent children drowned, I realised the modern country I live in has every potential to fall into that precipice. And it physically hurts. How anyone can see the drowned bodies of people desperate to flee war and persecution washed up on a beach and think “good! now I wont have to deal with them as neighbours!” is beyond me. How anyone can throw things at children starving in tents behind chain link fences is baffling. No, not baffling, heartbreaking. It breaks my heart. And I feel utterly helpless.

Utter helplessness in the face of terrible things is one of the ugliest and most harrowing feelings in the world. Whether it’s watching disease take your loved ones, or watching poison enter the collective consciousness of your country.

I now live in a country where hate groups invade Mosques and harass people at prayer, where they attack Muslim women wearing headscarves in the street, where they talk about the people who gave us advanced medicine and our numerical system as “scum”. It’s like I’ve gone to a desolate, cold planet 70 light years away, I’m looking through a telescope, and I can see a distorted but sickeningly recognisable version of the kind of hateful atmosphere that lead to the holocaust. We think that it’s impossible, that we could never let it happen again. We’re wrong.

It’s already happening. To Roma people in Eastern Europe. To indigenous people across the planet. To Syrians. We are the same species as people who did these things, who still do these things, we are perfectly capable.

Margaret Atwood once said that people would remark that the dystopian, misogynist society in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ could never happen. She would reply that of course it could.

It’s our duty to constantly fight this kind of hate. Hatred is a powerful force. To quote Hannibal “you are capable of righteous violence because you are compassionate.” We don’t need righteous violence, but righteous force. If people invade Mosques, we should form blockades to keep them out. If people throw things at refugees, we should stand in the line of fire and throw them back. We must treat this as a war, not an invasion.

But we haven’t found our force. We tried facts. This referendum should never have happened, but Cameron needed to cover his porcine ass so here we are. The Remain campaign had a simple message; this is a bad idea. Leave had smarmy, smug, puffed-up rhetoric about ‘taking our country back’ and ‘finding our place’, we just had hundreds of respected financial institutes telling us leaving would be A REALLY, REALLY BAD IDEA.

Apparently, meaningless but sexy sounding rhetoric wins. My flatmate walked past a car on election day emblazoned with the Ukip logo and blasting “land of hope and glory”. You can practically hear the stamping hooves of heroic crusaders on horseback, asserting their superiority over everyone else. It seems the majority of this bratty little island preferred to stick to that fantasy and cover their ears when those goddamn experts with their fancy book-learnin’ tried to tell them not to cut off their nose to spite their Polish neighbour.

We saw something uglier than ignorance too. MP Jo Cox was assassinated by a man who gave his name in court as ‘death to traitors, freedom for Britain’. A man mainstream newspapers described as a ‘timid gardener’ rather than a terrorist and a murderer, which he absolutely is, presumably because he spoke English and was white.

The Brexit campaign then flew a plane over her memorial urging people to vote leave.

So here we are. Our currency is in freefall, Brexit campaigners are backing out of every overblown ‘promise’ they made about NHS funding and restricting immigration. Young people overwhelmingly voted to stay, but we were smothered by older generations voting against our future. Our next PM will be unelected, Scotland will no doubt leave (and I will applaud them) and doors will be closed to us forever.

So well done, Britain, you small-minded, xenophobic, racist, arrogant, pissy little island. You’ve fucked everything up.

Someone gave you a gun and you shot yourself in the foot.

Myself, and the rest of my generation, have lost whatever flimsy patriotism we had, and the irony is it will be more difficult than ever for us to leave the country.

 

 

 

Fifty Shades of Absolutely No Way

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Screw it, I’m going to write a whole post on 50 Shades and why I hate this book so damn much.

Content warning: rape, sexual assault, bdsm, misogyny.

The movie is about to come out, starring actress who hasn’t had enough of a career to ruin as Ana Steele and Jamie Dornan, only slightly watering down his misogynistic serial killer role from “The Fall” as Christian Grey. Beyonce is doing the soundtrack! Sexy, right?

WRONG.

My issue with this book is not the sex. Not essentially, anyway. I have no beef with a sexy sex book being popular. Even a sexy sex book featuring chains and whips and all that Rhianna stuff. As long as my Mum doesn’t start reading it, I’m fine with it. I have an issue with the way sex is presented in this book. Western society already has a less than healthy attitude to sex and consent (rape someone, get two years in prison before a return to football!) as well as virginity and female sexuality. The way sex is presented in this book is so warped and damaging it amazes me it even got published. Seriously, Catcher in the Rye got banned and 50 Shades shot to the top of the bestseller without a problem?

Christian Grey is a sexy dominant CEO who has very particular sexual tastes which include having total control over his partner. Ana is a young innocent virginal sort who seems to know fuck all about anything including how to use a computer despite having just graduated from college what the hell…

Anyway I’m losing track. BDSM is a thing some people do, and as long as it’s between two consenting adults who know exactly what they’re doing its fine and groovy with me. But Christian Grey is more than just a “Dominant”, he’s a dick. Ok, let me be more eloquent and insightful (that’s totes why you’re on my blog right?). Christian Grey is patronising and controlling, not in a sexy way in a flat out abusive way. At the start of the book Ana gets drunk (for the first time! another thing she’s hopelessly and unrealistically naive about!) and Christian TRACKS HER PHONE and turns up to stop her from being assaulted by her friend and takes her back to his lair. House, I mean house. He blames her for nearly getting assaulted, as she was drunk. So far, so awful. Later, he gets pissy when she tells him she is a virgin later rather than sooner. As it happens it’s none of his damn business if she’s slept with the president (Kirsty MacColl reference!) or of she’s never even spoken to a guy before. Then comes the sex contract. Ugh. He offers to ‘negotiate’ with her, then ignores her genuine concerns and belittles her for not being down to get down on his terms.

It gets worse! He buys her a laptop, in the typical “you are now indebted to me” abuser tactic, and they email each other on it. She jokingly fake breaks up with him and guess what he does? He turns up to her house despite never having been given her address, and he rapes her. She explicitly says no, she tries to kick him off, she even tries to work out the easiest way to escape her room. He makes her feel like it’s her fault because he’s an abuser and then he leaves her and she starts crying. The book continues in this pattern. He intimidates her, belittles her and abuses her. This not a romance. This book is an exploration of domestic abuse.

All the red flags are there. I wouldn’t mind if the book picked apart the mentality of someone abused by a parter. It would actually be quite subversive and cool to start it off like a typical romance and slowly reveal to the heroine and the reader that it is in fact an abusive relationship. If Ana was slowly having to come to terms with the fact that Christian is a terrible person and she should in fact stay away from him (as he so angstily insisted in the start of the book), this would be a really important and groundbreaking piece of work. Instead it’s a romanticised story about straight up rape and abuse. It’s also massively popular. Swathes of people are obsessing over it, you can buy “keep calm and obey Mr Grey posters” and the world is just generally going to shit.

Those are my objections as a woman, a feminist and a human being with a functioning heart and brain. I have yet more objections as a writer and reader. Ernest Hemingway says that all you have to do to write is “Sit at a typewriter and bleed”. E.L James writes like she sat at a typewriter and drooled. Twilight was bland and occasionally cheesy, 50 shades is laugh out loud terrible. Here are some actual quotes:

“His voice is warm and husky like dark melted chocolate fudge caramel… or something.”

“My very small inner goddess sways in a gentle victorious samba.”

“I can tell from his accent that he’s British.”

“Why is anyone the way they are? That’s kind of hard to answer. Why do some people like cheese and other people hate it? Do you like cheese?”

“I thought it was chocolate hot fudge brownie sex that we had, with a cherry on top. But hey, what do I know?”

A bestseller everyone. It pains me as someone paying nine grand a year to be a better writer that such half baked rubbish is doing so well. Not even for myself and my own snobbish bitter-writer angst, but for every struggling author who’s ever agonised over the perfect metaphor or had an existential crisis and thought of themselves as the worst writer of all time. It’s painful to see a book with such bizzarely bad prose as 50 shades do so well. However I will try to look at the positives. If 50 shades can get a published trilogy and a movie deal, so can any crap I write. I may not be Margaret Atwood, but at least I will never ever be E.L James.

In defence of Political Correctness

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It’s become a bit of a modern catchphrase that “political correctness has gone mad”. It’s a criticism thrown about with such gay (sorry, homosexual) abandon that we barely even notice it being said, let alone think about it. Every now and then, say about three times a week, one of the papers owned by Rupert Murdoch will spin a story about Christmas being banned so it doesn’t offend Muslims, or illegal immigrants being given free trips to Disneyland, or something else designed to put the blood of middle England on a gentle simmer. Columnists in the same newspapers will complain about the “PC Brigade” and paint themselves as a lone voice of reason in a sea of cowardly politically correct sheep who are too terrified of offending anyone to speak their mind.

The anti PC brigade is so vocal and obnoxious you forget any opposing force even exists. It doesn’t, at least not in the way they think it does. Most of the stories about political correctness “going mad” are either made up or highly exaggerated. Christmas hasn’t been replaced by “Winterval”, that was an idea proposed by a business for a celebration that had nothing to do with Christmas. Subway hasn’t stopped selling bacon to avoid offending Muslims, one subway franchise in a largely Muslim community realised they weren’t selling enough bacon so they stopped buying it themselves to reduce cost. It’s not PC, it’s just boring old business, as usual. I mean look around you, does it look like Christmas is going anywhere? People complain about it starting to early and then in the same breath they complain about it being banned by political correctness. I’m sure there are some instances where it can “go mad”, but I have yet to hear of a genuine example.

People talk about political correctness as though it is an unquestioned and widely enforced law. They like to paint themselves as a lone revolutionary, daring to speak against this cruel dictatorship. I even heard it talked about as “fascism dressed as politeness”. People are extremely angry that they are being told what they can and can’t say and see it as a violation of freedom of speech. That’s all you ever seem to hear about. If PC is so accepted, why is it we almost never hear anyone sticking up for it? There are a million Clarksons and Farages rolling their eyes and damming the PC brigade which is apparently everywhere, I can’t think of many times where someone actually says it’s a good thing. This politically correct force which rules us all can’t be all that powerful considering nearly everyone with access to comments sections on websites or a column in The Sun spends most of their time condemning it.

What is political correctness anyway? Is it fascism and denial of freedom of speech? Is it a cowardly attempt to avoid “offending” people? Stewart Lee, on of my favourite comedians and an incredibly smart man, has spoken a lot about it. He has a routine where he talks about life before political correctness and how black people were spoken about by major political parties. His opinion (which I agree with) is that we are a much kinder, better off society now and that at it’s worst political correctness is “institutionalised politeness”. He uses the example of evil journalist Richard Littlejohn writing about murdered women who were referred to in the papers as “women who worked as prostitutes”. In his opinion it’s that dastardly PC brigade and those dead women should be called prostitutes. Stewart Lee brilliantly brings him down, pointing out this was simply an attempt at kindness and sensitivity, and goes on to describe Littlejohn sneaking out to the grave of one of the murdered women and carving ‘prostitute’ (before signing it “Richard Littlejohn, c*nt. Not someone who worked as a c*nt, but a c*nt”). It saddens me people are so against attempts at sensitivity, because that’s all it is. Most of the time when people use the “pc! gone! mad!” accusation, it isn’t even political correctness at work. It might be many different things.

1. Just not everyone’s as much of a dick as you

I recently saw a thread on a facebook group that I follow about whether looks or personality were more of a factor in deciding someone’s attractiveness. A lot of people were saying they didn’t care too much about looks, or people were more attractive if they were nice and so on. One commenter said people’s physical attractiveness was not affected by how nice they are and everyone should “stop being so politically correct”. There’s an assumption that if you are being nice you aren’t saying what you really think. Cynical, nastier types like to claim that everyone is thinking what they’re thinking and they’re the only ones brave enough to speak the truth. Sometimes, however, people are just naturally sweet and good. Not everyone is a Katie Hopkins pretending to be Mother Theresa,  not everyone agrees with the nastiest opinion. That’s the main reason people don’t like PC, they think everyone’s just pretending to like oppressed groups and forcing themselves to be more liberal and sensitive. Perhaps it’s a way of justifying their own cold dead hearts, perhaps it’s just a lack of optimism in humanity. Either way, the simple truth is some people are just nice.

2. It’s not that you can’t say it, it’s just not everyone agrees with you.

So many times you hear people say “you can’t even say *that* anymore!”, usually just after they’ve said it, sometimes on national television without spotting the irony of it. Look, freedom of speech is important, but what it means is you can say whatever you want without being forced to stop or being arrested. It does NOT mean you can say what you like and face no social consequences. People can disagree with you, people can dislike you, people can get angry with you, people can even collectively agree to boycott your tv show and get you fired. That’s not a violation of YOUR freedom of speech, that’s THEIR freedom of speech. Too many people assume that their opinion being opposite to a widely held one means that their opinion is being denied and oppressed. The rise of the Ukips is a good example. Their radical un PC policies have them constantly in the headlines or on the news or in sincere televised debates, yet they still complain that their right wing policies are being silenced by the liberal biased media. The Green party at the other end of the political spectrum has almost no media presence, despite embodying the left wing policies the media is supposed to be in favour of. Someone protesting outside your headquarters means a lot of people hate what you are saying, and that’s allowed, it doesn’t mean you are being oppressed. Being hated is not the same as being silenced. You often hear someone complaining about being “branded” a racist or sexist or homophobe or whatever. Right wing papers gather round them in support. They would have you think that being accused of bigotry is a real problem, more so than actual oppression. Guess what? People have a right to call you a racist. Listen to them, they might have a point.

3. It’s not PC, the times are just changing

A recent shitstorm in a teacup happened when a radio debate about diversity lead by Lenny Henry featured no white members of the panel. Angry White People on twitter were angry and white about it, calling it reverse racism and asking why a discussion of racial diversity didn’t include their race. Look, I’m white. I’m very white. I’m irish and pale as hell and have lived my life mostly surrounded by other white people. I see no lack of representation of people like me in the media or in power. I’d like to see more women, yes, but I’m fine for white people. It’s like an all white woodstock over here, they’re everywhere. We’ve never had a PM who wasn’t white (and only one who wasn’t male) and we have majority representation in parliament. Simply put, we don’t need to be involved because diversity isn’t a problem for us. James Baldwin said “being white means never having to think about it” and it’s true. People didn’t like it because for the first time ever we were being excluded. This wasn’t a problem for us so we weren’t involved in the debate on it. A voice is being given to minorities and oppressed groups sometimes at the expense of more powerful people. That’s not a politically correct bias, that’s just inclusiveness.

There is a lot of good in it. I hear people say things like “You have to think about what you’re going to say all the time!” is that not just good life advice? Did you never get told to do that anyway? At it’s heart political correctness is just an attempt to be more sensitive, more kind, more inclusive. It’s not even forced on us, we are just being asked to be nice. Is that really so offensive? So difficult? People just keep ignoring it anyway so why get angry? We are, mostly, better with it. It may be an inconvenience to you that you can’t use quaint racial slurs or insult women, but for everyone who isn’t in a majority it’s a great help and helps increase respect and tolerance. The backlash comes from angry white men who are being told for the first time that they can’t do something. They can’t just bluster through life without consequences, the rest of us have a voice now. Actually read those fearmongering articles and you will see just how puffed up and ridiculous they are. No one is stopping you hanging an England flag out of your car window. No one celebrates St Georges day because no one gives a rat’s ass about it, not because it’s offensive. There’s a gay black woman on question time who is perfectly qualified to be there. Your freedom of speech s not being violated, you are just being asked to think about what you’re saying for a change.

Quorn again

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So I thought I’d do a post on vegetarian living and the weird stuff we have to put up with.

I haven’t eaten meat in around five years. After a lifetime of being able to separate the living, breathing animal with the edible thing on my plate it just didn’t click any more. I have always loved animals and been opposed to hunting and cruelty, and it got to a point where I could no longer justify eating meat. I stopped seeing food and started seeing the lump of cooked flesh that had once belonged to a living being killed specifically for me to eat. I had alternatives and I knew what I was doing, so I gave it up. I phased it out for a while before stopping altogether. And yes, Mum, it was partly Morrissey’s fault.

These days I know I couldn’t stand to eat meat, no matter how tasty it is. It grosses me out. I worked in a cafe for a year and the smell of bacon did not tempt me to leap over the counter and snatch the full english breakfast from a customer’s hand and declare I could no longer stand a life without it, it made me feel sick. Seriously, why do people talk about bacon like it’s the second coming? It smells like burning pig flesh! Even when I did eat meat I never got the bacon hype. “How can you life without bacon!” relax, it’s a thin strip of pig meat, not wifi access. I particularly hated having to handle raw meat. I did a trial in a coffee shop that sold breakfast sandwiches and found myself in a situation where the bacon was burning in the oven and neither me nor my Muslim co-worker wanted to take it out. Meat freaks me out. Having to pick up something from the butchers for my boss was like walking into a nightmare sequence. And they took FOREVER to get whatever carcass lump I went in there for. If I accidentally eat something with gelatine or some other animal product in it (WHY THE HELL DOES YOGHURT NEED GELATINE?) I feel it sitting uncomfortably in my stomach for hours.

Being vegetarian isn’t easy. It’s a huge inconvenience. Vegetarians don’t open a menu and marvel at the many delicious sounding options and weigh up which one is the best, we scan though pages of inedible options to find the two half arsed veggie options and decide which sounds the least boring. You know what sucks? Being a vegetarian who doesn’t like mushrooms. Welcome to mushroom city. Also cheese city, but that’s pretty good. Many restaurants simply don’t put enough thought into vegetarian options. It’s usually something just thrown in there to keep us quiet and is usually much less substantial and appetising than the rest of the options. On a school trip to London we ended up in a place where the one vegetarian option was the only one that didn’t come with chips. I was starving for the rest of the night. There seems to be an idea that veggies have smaller appetites, we like “rabbit food”. The options are usually salad, vegetable lasagne, boring veggie ‘burger’ or… no that’s it I have genuinely run out of examples. For some reason huge fast food companies who would knock down old people’s homes or screw up the entire rainforest for profit seem fine with ignoring the veggie market and putting almost nothing on the menu for them. Not that I ever would set foot in a mcdonalds out of choice, but when I’m dragged in there by a friend I would like to get something besides their nasty cardboard fries and weird milkshakes (those probably aren’t suitable for vegetarians either). I am a British northerner and I like stodgy comfort food and big portions. It’s no fun to be poking at your individual vegetable lasagne with a who cares? salad while your family happily enjoy huge roast dinners. Of course you can’t complain, because you chose to be vegetarian, as everyone reminds you when you ask why the hell we are in kfc when there’s a lovely vegetarian place a ten minute walk from there.

The worst part about being vegetarian is having to deal with carnivores. I don’t hate meat eaters, don’t get me wrong, I don’t sit opposite people and scoff while they eat ribs. I silently wonder WHAT THE HELL HOW CAN YOU EAT THAT IT STILL HAS BONES IN IT but I don’t say anything. I ate meat for years, defiantly. I was one of those “I could never be vegetarian!” people, it seems hypocritical to act like I’m St Francis now I swapped chicken for Linda McCartney . It’s just that people can be very antagonistic when you sheepishly tell them that no you can’t have a fry up to cure your hangover, you don’t actually eat meat. The same questions come up over and over again. “Do you eat fish?” is something I have heard hundreds of times. No I don’t eat fish. I miss it way more than anything else and I stare longingly at chip shop fish, but no. I have an iron will. If it’s dead I won’t eat it. “Is this just because you don’t like meat or is it like a….moral thing?” people want you to say that it isn’t a moral thing, because that makes them feel like I’m judging them. It is in my case, but like I said I don’t hate meat eaters. “Ok if you were on a desert island with only a chicken and it was a choice between eating a chicken or dying…” Please just stop. People can also get annoying and jokey. “Hahaha meat is murder! Tasty tasty murder!” or “haha plants have feelings too you monster haha!”. Hilarious. People seemed threatened by it, as if you plan to shove it down their throats. That’s another thing, people say “I’m fine with vegetarians, just not the ones who try and convert you or have a go at you for eating meat”. Where are these vegetarians? I have never met these people. More often than not I have to put up with obnoxious carnivores trying to convince me to go back to bacon. “Uhm, actually humans are evolved to eat meat” I don’t care. “Look at it! Look at the chicken! don’t you want some mmmm!” get it away from me. “You know farmers rely on meat for their income” what about tofu manufacturers? “It’s just the circle of life” Yawn. “Animals are bread for meat, if we didn’t eat them it would mess up the whole system” So? I haven’t eaten meat in five years, the smell of bacon makes me want to gag. My mind is made up and you aren’t going to convert me. I don’t try and convert you so leave me to my goat’s cheese salad and Smiths albums. It’s the same kind of people that have to argue for atheism every time someone says they’re religious, it’s just to try and prove how clever they are and get the upper hand. The most annoying thing is when carnivores find out they quite like the vegetarian thing at a buffet or barbecue or any food sharing thing and hog it for themselves. Every time I am home Mum buys these southern fried quorn burgers which are amazing and every time my carnivorous siblings eat them. When I complain I get told it was my choice to go veggie and it doesn’t give me a right to hog food everyone else likes. The problem they aren’t seeing is they have other options. They don’t HAVE to eat the quorn burger, they can have the cold chicken in the fridge. Or the beef burgers, or the fish fingers, or the bolognese. I JUST have the quorn burgers. Tasty as they are, they’re my only option and it’s hugely frustrating when the same people who irritatingly waft sausages in my face are happy to ride the veggie bandwagon when it turns out we have some pretty nice food. If you go out for tapas with a veggie for God’s sake don’t take all the patatas bravas. They may be tasty but that’s all we have. It’s also disheartening when family or flatmates decide to cook a big meal and leave you out. I ask what’s for dinner, I get the reply “WE’RE having chilli. You can eat…eggs or something I don’t know.”

There are some perks to vegetarianism. I used to be a picky eater but I’ve discovered some incredible food I would have otherwise avoided for a good reliable burger. Goat’s cheese is my favourite thing ever, and I have recipes in my arsenal and cooking skills I would have otherwise not bothered with. Vegetarian food comes with a lower risk of food poisoning and apparently plenty of other health problems, like heart disease and high cholesterol. Didn’t cook your veggie burger properly? it won’t taste as good but it won’t kill you! You get a smug sense of superiority when a story about contaminated meat or a new disease contracted from eating a certain animal makes the news. The horse meat scandal was hilarious. Just fantastic. And the best part is you can interact with animals knowing you aren’t part of a system that hurts them. I mean just look at their little faces, how can you eat that?!

Why do you come hair? And why do you hang around?

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I just read a pretty spot on article about the ‘beauty’ obsessed nature of body positivity movements.

http://bitchmagazine.org/article/pretty-unnecessary-beauty-body-positivity

In summary the article basically says that ‘beautiful’ shouldn’t have to be a requirement of having value as a person. Body positivity shouldn’t be “everyone is beautiful” it should be “who cares if you’re beautiful? You’re still very important!”.

Firstly I’d like to acknowledge that I don’t have a great need for body positivity myself. I have a pretty decent amount of self confidence and aside from the usual adolescent insecurities I’ve never suffered too much. Sure, I don’t think I’m the most stunning creature ever. I’m alright. I’m definitely not the most photogenic (hence the lack of photo in this post), my nose is a bit bigger than I’d like and I could do without my broad shoulders. Given the choice I’d wake up tomorrow looking like Charlize Theron. However I’m young, white and slim enough that I am not too much opposed to narrow beauty ideals.

The one insecurity that gets on my nerves nearly every day is my hair. If you’re my facebook friend or my friend in any capacity you’re probably already bored sick of my hair-based angst or at least had a giggle at one of my self deprecating jokes.

I have Irish Hair. For those of you without Celtic genes and a weirdly spelled name, you probably don’t know what that is. I have Irish blood on both sides of the family, mostly from my Granny who emigrated from Roscommon. Mostly, I like being vaguely Irish. I wish I was more Irish. I have an interesting name, I got a slightly different perspective on the world growing up Catholic in a Church of England country (we’re more dramatic and interesting, and our churches are ostentatious and fabulous) and I can credit it for my distinctive colouring (pale skin, dark hair, blue eyes). The hair, however, I could do without.

Irish hair is never neat. It is dry and wild no matter how expensive your conditioner is. It is neither curly nor straight, it simply twists and turns of it’s own accord.  It is so fine and light it feels like it’s not there. It is extremely breakable particularly when stressed. In my case, it also happens to be thinner than a potato-free stew. It also gets greasy quickly, whilst still remaining dry and brittle. The slightest presence of wind or rain makes me look like a crazed fortune teller. You know when you tie your hair back and endearing little strands of it fall down around your face? Irish hair springs out in wild curls that stick out horizontaly. In short, everything that can possibly be wrong with hair is present in my hair. It almost never looks good and I also happen to be cursed with a total lack of ability to style hair. My immediate family suffer the same thing, but aside from them no one seems to have much understanding of what wild Irish Hair is like.

I remember at school having to wear a ponytail (my hair was down to my waist, scouse Mums don’t do bobs) and always despairing the little wiry curls that would escape the bobble and surround my face the second I got to school. So began my life long fight with my hair. In secondary school when I started to notice everything wrong with me I tried to take control. I cut my hair short. After a lifetime of freakishly long hair I was bored. I dyed it every possible colour to distract from the fact it was terrible and I couldn’t style it. I washed it every day and during my punkier phases I straightened it almost every day. Naturally my hair viscously bit back like a lion when I tried to tame it. It thinned out more than Donald Trump’s. So I layed off the dye and the heat application. Now it was just boring and brown and wilder than ever. Last year I panicked when I saw actual bald spots and thin, witchy patches. I started taking iron tablets and consciously upping my protein (being vegetarian and a student probably doesn’t help). I reduced the amount I washed it by half and, sure enough, it has got better. For a while, though, it was bad. I would cringe and feel close to tears of I caught sight of my pathetic amount of whispy hair in a mirror.

I would burn with envy when other girls would swish around their thick, healthy hair and style it constantly without the ugly results I had to put up with. I still bubble with anger when thick haired people complain about the cards they’ve been dealt. It weighs down on your head? It’s hard to style? It takes a long time to dry? Cry me a river. Why don’t you complain that you’re wallet is too heavy, or you have nowhere to store all the flowers Tom Hiddleston sends you? I may sound bitter and it’s because I am. Thick haired people seem genuinely surprised that I have zero sympathy for their “problems” or that I simply can’t, or rather refuse to, understand how “difficult” it can be to have stunning, healthy, thick hair. And no, you would not prefer mine. After washing it’s so flimsey and unimpressive a professional hairdresser probably wouldn’t notice it. A day after washing it’s so wiry it looks like the insides of a scarecrow. Catching sight of it in the shadow of a projector is the worst, I look like a Quentin Blake illustration.

Speaking of hairdressers, I feel like they are an alien species. They ask me if I want layers, a side fringe, feathering when all I want to say is “help me. Just look at this and do the best you can”. I remember getting it curled professionally for my sixth form prom and picking out an airbrushed model in a magazine sporting the hair I would sell semi vital organs for. “Ha! I’ll do the best I can!” said the stylist. If I was Joan Rivers I would probably say something like “Hairdressers call most people that come into their salons their ‘clients’, they call me their ‘patient’!” In my dreams I either have flowing, shiny mermaid locks, or the hair of Princess Merida, or even an adorable pixie bob. Even a cute cropped hairdo wouldn’t work, although it would get rid of a lot of my problems it would only exacerbate my less-than-delicate features and big face and most likely make me look like Dylan Moran or a less hot version of Helena Bonham Carter in Fight Club. Mostly I just get a shoulder length boring cut that is as uninspiring as a cup a soup. Any longer and I look like a witch, any shorter and my face looks weird. Of course such haircuts never last. Another fun thing my hair does is growing faster than bamboo.

So we’ve had the other stages of hair grief, when comes the acceptance? I’m working on that. No, I’m not working on the part of this blog post where I wrap it up and tell you I am in fact a goddess and my hair is perf, I am working on accepting my hair. Is there anything good about it? It does style easily. If I actually knew how to style it this would be a huge bonus, but recently I attempted a quiff which looked somewhat impressive and stayed in place with only a shot of hairspray. I like the colour. It’s dark brown and it suits me. Sometimes it falls nicely and can form  natural curls when left to dry on it’s own. It always feels soft, too soft, like “brown smoke” as my friend says, but I suppose that’s something. I have other decent features I suppose. I like my hands and my eyebrows, I’ve been told nice things about my eyes. My face is sometimes like “daaaayym!” to me and sometimes it’s “damm!”. I am beginning to finally accept my hair. I know it won’t change and when I try it turns into a battle in which my hair always wins. My hair is not a benevolent helpful force that enhances any beauty I might have, it is a political enemy I grudgingly make peace treaties with. So I just leave it as it is. I distract from it. I keep it the least interesting thing about me. I push it back from my face, where it stays, I work with what I have rather than trying to force something I don’t. I try to take this position with all my insecurities, including my big nose and broad shoulders and weird little hump thing I have at the top of my back. You can’t have it all, although some people seem genetically blessed. My hair isn’t good and it probably never will be, unless I find a hairdresser who is also an actual wizard. Don’t tell me my hair is pretty, it’s not and that is ok. Pretty hair isn’t everything. Compliment something else about me, laugh at one of my terrific puns. And for the sake of all that is holy, begorrah and bejaysis, do not complain about your thick hair in front of me.Ir