Monday, 17 November 2014

How Not to Date Women and How

Last week I wrote about the inane Dapper Laughs and his sordid approach to dating advice. This week, a petition to ban the Swiss-born American and self-acclaimed pick up artist, Julien Blanc from hosting his dating advice seminars in the UK has topped over 150,000 signatures. So far.

Like Dapper Laughs but without the excuse of being a created character, Julien Blanc calls himself "an international leader in dating advice"and can charge up to £2,000 for a "seduction class" where he "advises" grabbing women by the throat, isolating them from their friends, killing their pets, making threats, harassment and abuse as part of a winning seduction technique.

Julien Blanc recently posted this infographic, designed to help women recognise they are being abused, on his Twitter feed, relabelling it #Howtomakeherstay.

He is, if you'll forgive me, a misogynist, sexist fuckwit of a git. And he's pedalling his dubious, tainted and distasteful advice not just at the club-going 'lads' culture that Dapper Laughs enthralled, but at grown men who can afford to pay up to £2,000 to attend one of his sessions but should know a hell of a lot better....

But perhaps they don't.

Perhaps there are some actual men who are cast so adrift from both common sense and social interaction with the opposite sex, they truly believe dropping a couple of grand on a class that promises to give them the ability to effortlessly pick up women via emotional manipulation, threats, harassment, and abuse is a good life choice.

And if there are any men like that out there, can I just tell you: It's not.

Here's a little advice from the other side of the fence. You know, the one you are so desperately trying to get your leg-over.

Women, whatever their age, hair colour, cup, waist and shoe size, much prefer not to be threatened, abused or emotionally manipulated at any time, for any reason at all, and certainly not to make you look like the Big Man with all your mates.

Women are infinitely more likely to have a sexual relationship with someone who treats them with kindness and respect and at a time when they feel safe and unthreatened. Though some may insist on love as well.

Women are not a different species: you do not have to tame them, ensnare them or keep them in a cage.

Women are allowed to say no.

And that'll be two thousand pounds. Thank you.

*rolls all the eyes at all the men*

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Penguins: The Dangers .... or What John Lewis Won't Tell You ....

I am the mother of a boy who is, like the boy in the John Lewis Christmas ad, similarly in love with his penguin.

The penguin that I bought him (at half price in WH Smith's, since you're asking) for the Christmas when he was just 20 months old.....

The Boy loved that penguin from the very first.

He named the penguin, with all the finesse of a one-year-old unable to pronounce the word penguin, Pen Pen and from that day everywhere that The Boy went, Pen Pen was sure to go as well ... regardless of Pen Pen's sizeable bulk and obvious penguiness.

The Boy loved Pen Pen so very much that the next Christmas, Santa *cough* in his wisdom thought it would be a really cute idea to present The Boy and Pen Pen with another penguin.

So, duly, on Christmas morning, in a gaily penguin-paper wrapped parcel, addressed jointly to Pen Pen and The Boy, there lay another, slightly smaller, penguin.

And perhaps it should have ended there, just like in the John Lewis ad, with Pen Pen and his new companion Pen waddling off into the sunset and The Boy, still just two and with a walk just as waddling as a penguin's, beside them both.


But the way of the penguin is a slippery slope and not always figuratively....

Needless to say, each and every successive Christmas (for which I still blame Santa *cough*) and sometimes for birthdays (which I can't *sighs*), The Boy has welcomed a new penguin to the fold until eventually, finally, for his last birthday, his eighth, he got an actual, real-live penguin.....

Not the actual, real live penguin..
Or at least we adopted an Adelie penguin through the World Wildlife Fund. We did get yet another furry penguin addition to the family for doing so though, for which space had to be found in an already over-penguined bed.

And now another Christmas approaches. The Boy, nearly nine, the proud owner of a myriad different penguins and one real one isn't really going to expect another penguin, is he? Is he?

Er, yes. Apparently.

And this one better not only be real, it should move in.

So thank you John Lewis. Well played.

*rolls eyes*

*Googles Penguins at Home*

Penguin family members who could be bothered to turn up for the photo shoot
 *rolls eyes*
*looks behind sofa*

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

The Gallery .... Yellow

I'm joining in with The Gallery this week and the theme is Yellow ...

One of the first colours ever made was yellow. Made from clay, the yellow ochre pigment was used in prehistoric cave art and a horse painted with the yellow pigment was drawn in the caves of Lascaux in the Dordogne, When it was discovered in 1940, it was estimated to be over 17,300 years old.

The sun has been setting the sky alight with all shades of yellow flames every sunset for even longer.

These are my Yellows ....

Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Not Laughing

I was a teenager in the 70s when it wasn't uncommon for young women to be treated as little more than meat in a world that seemed almost exclusively catering for men. But even as builders hung off the scaffolding shouting "Show us your tits" to anything vaguely female and male drivers slowed for a good leer as they passed the girl's cross country team sweating their way back up the hill to school, women were breaking out of their moulds and becoming economically, socially and educationally free of history's traditional constraints.

The 70s wasn't a perfect time to grow up in by any means, but at least at the time it felt like chauvinism and misogyny were modern day dinosaurs on the verge of extinction.Which makes it all the worse that my daughters are still having to battle those dinosaurs today.

The latest manifestation comes in the shape of Dapper Laughs, an 'Internet Personality' whose real name is Daniel O'Reilly. He found his questionable fame on the video-sharing website Vine making six second videos and currently has his own TV show on ITV2 called "Dapper Laughs: On The Pull." 

He has a range of distasteful catchphrases that he deploys on his show and social media: #sheknows, #moist, #propernaughty. He has also recorded songs with edifying titles like 'Take It To the Base' and 'Proper Moist.'

Daniel O'Reilly aka Dapper Laughs
In the show he takes teenage boys, invariably describing themselves as "players," out on the town and teaches them how to "pull a bird" generally with little regard for the intended "birds" opinion on the matter at all.

His methodology perpetuates the myth that unless a girl has a boyfriend she is fair game for any interested male. That a woman can't simply say: "No thanks, I'm not interested" and be left alone. It's an attitude that TeenTwin2 has to deal with every weekend in the nightclub where she has a part-time job to finance her way through university: 

"I work in a nightclub. I'm 18, female and I put an effort into my appearance when I go to work, it's expected by the club and I like to feel good. I don't do it, believe it or not, for male attention. On the way from the staffroom to the bar, I hear "She knows"  or someone telling his friend: "She'd get it." And then someone will ask what time I'm working until and offer to give me a "seeing to" as they see me home. I get touched, pinched, grabbed and groped until I am safely behind the bar.

Or not. You see, some men seem to think they're allowed to walk behind the bar and grab my bottom or squeeze my breasts. As I stand at the till ringing their drinks through, they take 'selfies' with me, they take pictures of me, they film me. I ask for money for their drinks, they ask: 'Can I pay for it with kisses?' 'Does your number come with it?' 'How much does it cost to get you as well, sweetheart?' and more of the same.

I hand their change back, they grab my hand and pull it to their mouth or some put their hands behind my head and pull my cheek towards them and, countless times, I've had to turn and pull myself away to avoid a sloppy, drunken kiss straight on my lips.

They stand at the bar asking for my name, my number, my Facebook, my Snapchat and a 'No' just isn't sufficient. Inevitably they ask if I have a boyfriend and so now I lie automatically just to get them to leave me alone though more often than not, they will ask if he's there and if  I answer no, they still think I'm fair game.

Earlier this year I was punched in the stomach so hard he left a bruise by a man literally twice the size of me because I politely turned down his offer of a kiss. Lots of times I've left work at 3.30am to find a boy waiting outside for me after he's been standing at my bar all night and I'm stood in the dark trying to find an excuse to make him leave. I shouldn't feel unsafe leaving my place of work, no female should, but I do."

We both think Dapper Laughs has to bear some of the responsibility for what she and a lot of young women have to put up with on a daily basis these days. He neither invented misogyny or sexism but he is giving it a new legitimacy with a modern generation. Teenagers and young men today are using his catchphrases, copying his banter and buying into his 'beliefs,' all of which have nothing to do with having respect for women and much to do with everything that was wrong with the 70s.

ITV2 has to bear some of the responsibility too for giving Dapper Laughs a legitimacy as an entertainer and comedian when everything he does and everything he says is simply not funny, At all.

Something has to change and one of the first steps in the right direction is to remove Dapper Laughs: On the Pull from the television and luckily there's a petition asking for that very thing, you can sign it here Cancel Dapper Laughs: On the Pull

Silent Sunday ...



Friday, 7 November 2014

The Wrong Pair of Tights ...

At 8.15 in the morning this week I had a phone call from The Teen's school.

Your daughter, said a cheerful lady called Jane, is wearing The Wrong Pair of Tights. Can you bring her, she added, a pair of the right tights?

I'm not a morning person I admit. It takes me at least two Peppa Pigs and a large cup of scaldingly hot tea before I can communicate with anybody in more than grunts, but I agreed to attend forthwith with The Right Pair of Tights. 

But, amidst my confusion, I lied. It was 8.15. I don't drive. The Teen's school was more than a mile away. The Boy was partially dressed, covered in toast crumbs and there was one more Peppa Pig to watch before he had to be taken in the opposite direction and I could even consider rescuing The Teen with a pair of the right tights......

So I panicked and I fluffed and I flaffed and I bungled around trying to find the Right Pair of Tights. And then I paused. And then I thought: Hang on, what do they mean? The wrong pair of tights?

I've written before, here and here and here, about uniform policy at The Teen's school. It doesn't, in summation, make me happy whilst I fully understand the need for it, Particularly in a school as big as The Teen's which has over 2,000 pupils.

I understand just one pupil wearing The Wrong Pair of Tights could lead to another pupil wearing The Wrong Pair of Tights and then another. And then another, and soon it could become an organisation. Then, what if 50 pupils turn up in The Wrong Pair of Tights? Fifty pupils. Then, my friend, they may think it a movement.*

So I worried.

I worried just exactly what were The Wrong Pair of Tights like. They clearly were not the regulation black 40 denier as required, The Teen was stopped by Uniform Patrol before she got through the school gates. Banished to the Student Information Desk to ask for emergency regulation tights (they had none), she was then sent to a room to await my triumphant arrival with The Right Pair of Tights.

My triumphant arrival was, as we are all now aware, destined to be belated. This occurred to the school around about the same time as The Teen had missed all but the very end of her first lesson (maths). She was released back into the school community, still sporting her dangerously volatile tights.

Meanwhile The Man and I had eventually ridden to the rescue (in a three and a half tonne truck) and with not one, but two pairs of the Right Kind of Tights, just in case. We talked to the receptionist and then we talked to Cheerful Jane (remember Cheerful Jane?) and then we talked to someone else who may or may not have been a teacher but wore a suit, was very avuncular, totally understanding and clearly had no idea who our daughter was at all.

They were all, though, in absolute agreement that she was most definitely in The Wrong Pair of Tights.

Of course I had to ask what exactly made those tights The Wrong Pair of Tights......

Reconstruction: The Teen wearing The Wrong Pair of Tights ....

Okay they're 60 denier and not the regulation 40 but wait...

.. the tights had a 40 denier panel that was exposed as she walked, albeit both briefly and hardly at all

The Teen had in her morning befuddled, probably-stayed-up-all-night-playing-Minecraft-on-her-phone-even-though-she-claims-she-doesn't state picked up a pair of her 18 year old sister's tights, complete with ladder, and put them on oblivious.


She remained oblivious until it was pointed out to her at the school gate which was also when she simultaneously realised why her tights felt a bit more roomy than usual.

Despite our rescue mission, The Teen spent four hours attending classes wearing The Wrong Pair of Tights before The Right Pair of Tights reached her and not one person, member of staff or fellow pupil, noticed at all. I suspect she pulled them up a bit.

But at least an incipient tights based rebellion was quelled. Though The Teen, who has only been a teen for the past two months, is still wondering what all the fuss was about. And me, I've hidden the TeenTwin's collection of fishnets.

*With apologies to Arlo Guthrie

Sunday, 2 November 2014

A Perspective on Whitby ...

Taking a holiday by the coast, in late October, in England, might sound like just the kind of hell on earth you need to get into the mood for Halloween. But not if you were, like us, spending half term in Whitby on the North Yorkshire coast.

We love Whitby. Since our honeymoon in 2005 (which we spent in Whitby, obviously), we have returned once or twice a year for either a weekend, a week or even longer, and whether it's October or August the weather does what it likes with little regard for the seasons. I always pack lots of jumpers and rainwear whatever time of year we visit, because I am English and a mother and can't help but pack for all eventualities.We rarely *crosses fingers* need them though, and this year was no exception, the end of October or not. 

It rained a bit of course. What kind of British seaside holiday would it be if you weren't caught in a downpour and just had to take refuge in the amusements? Tell me that? But it only rained once or twice and with hardly any unrelenting Gothic desperation at all. Nevertheless the rest of the holiday the weather was, as we traditionalist holidaymakers like to say, glorious. 

And as holiday traditionalists we require certain things from our family holiday, as well as thumping rain and a clandestine trip to the amusement arcades.Though our requirements are not necessarily those of most people. For example we expect: a steam railway within spitting distance; shops; lots of shops; many, many shops; a crazy golf course for the annual family tournament; fish and chips, ice cream, a beach to walk on, and the sea and the sky to stare at to give us a little perspective on our lives.

Particularly after the annual crazy golf competition when some family members might need a little perspective, frankly.....

Getting some perspective... 

Luckily Whitby has all of these things, and not only that. The streets have the largest concentration of Goth shops in the northern Hemisphere (probably), handy if you're holidaying with a Teen going through the Black Bedroom Walls And Skulls phase, like they do. The ice-cream in the harbour comes in Gin & Lavender and the best fish and chip shop in town is tucked away in the back streets and never has a queue.

There are many reasons why we love Whitby and why we return year after year, these are some of mine .......

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