Thursday, 30 April 2015

Street Harassment: wolf whistles and the call of the wild?

In order to feel better about myself, there are lots of things I choose to do. Have a bath. Listen to B*Witched in an attitude of serene defiance and tastelessness. Bother my cat. The list is long, but 'Walk down the street with random men shouting at me' doesn't even figure in the top ten. In fact, it's conspicuous by its absence, even if you get to the barrel-scrapings of life-affirming cod psychology.

I don't walk down the street to boost my self esteem. I walk down the street because I have places to be, I'm generally late and parkour takes more core strength than I will ever have. I can't be that unusual in this, surely? 

Well, with news this week that after a month of harassment, a woman finally snapped and reported a bunch of wolf-whistlers to the police, it would seem that I'm not.

Predictably enough, this decision has not won her universal support. Apparently, some of us just don't speak cat-callese. We should be complimented that someone has taken the time out of their day to make a verbal note of our facial expression / make a suggestive hand gesture / rate our anatomy. Perfectly sensible women sigh wistfully and hark back to the days when they, too, were the recipients of random anatomical praise.

To me, this is really sad. To say that you miss being catcalled implies that you feel a large portion of your worth can be assessed by a half-second glance in the street. Moreover, it implies that you feel this worth diminishes with age and experience. I don't want the women I know to rely on the shouts of strangers in order to feel beautiful.

A wee while ago, I was waiting at a bus stop after an evening out with my friends. Taking up quite a lot of space at this bus stop was a very drunk man. He quickly embarked on a self-appointed mission to raise my self esteem. He told me I was beautiful, that I was a very nice lady. He didn't insult me, or threaten me, or cast aspersions on the credibility of B*Witched as musical artists. But he was LOUD, he invaded my personal space, and he followed me when I tried to back off. I don't think anyone has ever been quite so happy to get on a number 14 bus as I was when the doors eventually hissed open. 

I was quite clearly uncomfortable with the way he was talking to me, and therein lies the rub. In every social interaction, your intention is just 50% of the story. The other 50% lies in the reaction that you get. If you are making someone uncomfortable, you can tell them they are wrong to be uncomfortable with banter, or you can stop doing the thing. Considering other people's feelings before you talk is basic, bambi-level stuff but it still works. I'm not arguing for a world where cat-calling is banned. I'm arguing for a world where Thumper would be happy to walk / hop the streets, where we think of all the humans around us as real people with stories of their own. Stories that might not be enhanced by 'getting your tits out for the lads.' 

For those who want to 'prove their masculinity', there is DIY. For those who want the affirmation of strangers, there's instagram. But these streets are made for walking*, and hopefully one day that's where we'll be. 

I really hoped I could have a post about cat-calling without this pretty furry face sneaking in, but, y'know, I'm weak. 
What do you think? Do wolf whistles make you wild, or do they make you think 'I am not a wolf.'?

*and driving, I suppose.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

How To | Mug Of Wisdom

Because life is easier when your crockery tells you what to do.

Does a mug count as crockery? Who cares when your tea comes from a vessel this sassy? 

I try to live by the immortal words of Bianca Del Rio.

Image via
'Not Today, Satan!'

Short, punchy and versatile. Just how I like my men. Wait, what?

Unfortunately, sometimes I don't remember my life motto until like 3pm, by which time Satan is already kicking back on my mind couch with a cup of hot coffee. SO I needed a mug to live by. One which would allow me to ingest life wisdom with my morning tea.


Ok, so the first time I tried this, I didn't heat cure it and I was left with a blank mug after washing up. But this time it seems to have worked!* So here's what I did.

Firstly, make sure your mug is clean. Obviously. What are you, some kind of crafting animal?

Mug pre-enlightening and mug pre-baking.

Then work out your design. I recognise that some people might not want to live their lives according to the wisdom of drag queens, which is fine I guess. Anything short and punchy (or even pictorial) will work. If you choose to use the words 'Live. Laugh. Love.' in curly writing, just make sure you don't use it around me, for fear I might silently judge you / noisily bite your face off.

It might help to sketch it out on paper first or draw a rough outline on your mug with pencil. Then Sharpie it up. Be aware that the colours will change once you have baked it (my purple faded to grey) but black doesn't seem to quit. 

Then whack your oven up to the top heat. Put your mug in straight away. If you let the oven heat up with the mug all snug inside it will stop you ending up with an ovenfull of broken dreams and mug shards. Set your timer to 45 minutes and go and live your life. At 45 minutes, turn the oven off but leave it closed. About 10 minutes later, you can crack it open a bit. Leave the oven to cool with mug in situ, retrieve your precious and drink all of the tea! 

Go forth and enlighten your crockery.**

*This stands up to handwashing but I don't know if it will work for all you fancy folks with dishwashers, sorry! HT to this post for curing tips, you can find other ideas here if this method doesn't work.

**Yeah, I'm going with crockery. Deal with it. *snaps fingers*

Friday, 17 April 2015

6 happy things

I'm in annoyingly chirpy mode at the moment. I've had my yearly shot of vitamin D, and though I've got some slightly anxious making changes upcoming I'm feeling kind of invincible right now. Which is nice, cos I haven't felt invincible for months! Some other things making me happy at the moment..
1) People
I have a list of, like, 10 people who I would hide a body for. Obviously, I can't tell you who they are here, because plausible deniability is a thing. But I've managed to see a good proportion of them in the past few weeks (along with equally lovely people for whom I'd commit a lesser offence, I don't know, public indecency or something) and it makes me happy.

2) The deep focus playlist on spotify
Being on my computer can be a recipe for endless hours of mindlessly surfing buzzfeed and generally having my brain stolen through my eyes by click-bait monsters. The music on this playlist kind of feels like what would happen if you bunged a load of instruments in the ocean, gave the tide a consciousness, and told it to go wild. And I mean that in a good way. And it helps my wandering brain to sit down for a while and get on with whatever it needs to do. Hooray!

3) Revlon Lip Butter stuff
You know a make up product is going to be good / make you constantly hungry when it comes in a shade called Candy Apple. This is a shiny little stick of joy that you can use in public without getting arrested. And it makes your lips soft*. I am sold. But I did wear it to work and startled my manager into saying 'Oh, what's going on, you're wearing red lipstick?'. So don't wear it around the easily alarmed, unless you're ready to startle.

4) Louis Theroux
Ohmyword, how wonderful is Louis? I have a strong suspicion that about 70% of the world's diplomatic crises could be solved by flying in Louis Theroux and allowing his awkward charm to work its magic. So in a way, it's super irresponsible of me to keep giving an audience to his TV shows when he should be busy saving the world and stuff. But he's making shows again! Hooray! Did you see the wee transgender girl gieing it laldy to Lady Gaga on the transgender kids one? Adorable. Louis Theroux documentaries have a way of highlighting the humanity behind 'issues'. Perhaps happy isn't the right descriptor here, since the 'By Reason of Insanity' ones in particular were difficult to watch in places. But I could say I'm happy to live in a time and place where I can turn on a box in my living room to get an insight into the lives and stories of people who I would never otherwise meet. And also watch Come Dine With Me: it's a win-win really.

5) Nachos
What cheese isn't yours? Nacho cheese!
I dread to think about the health prospects of a meal that is basically crisps covered in cheese, but I make some Nachos that are so good they will blow your brains to a place where you can't even think about trans fats. Yeah.

6) San Pellegrino Blood Orange
I thought I had reached peak 'liquid summer' when I discovered that Belvoir Raspberry Lemonade stuff. Not so. Although 'Blood Orange' is a faintly offputting name, suggesting virgin citrus fruits being involved in sacrificial squeezings, the end product is undoubtedly delicious. Fizzy good blood of the orange. A culinary horror play coming to a kitchen near you soon.

*Although, to be quite honest, I have never met anyone with hard lips, regardless of how many lip products they own.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Notes From an Unlikely Fiancee: What's in a name?

At some point over the next five years I will be marrying my lovely, caring, funny best person.  This is exciting and terrifying in equal measure. People keep asking if we have a date / any kind of plan and NO we don't because planning is for those who have an opinion on chair covers and massive bows. Actually, to be fair, I do have an opinion on massive bows: they're lovely. But that's only because in my head being tiny or massive makes something automatically at least 76% more lovely.

I have never dreamed of being a bride. I wasn't one for fashioning tea towels into wedding veils when I could be creating slippers from sanitary towels (*innovative*). I was way too busy pretending to be a unicorn to even stop and think about pretending to be a wife. And I don't say this in a oh-I'm-not-like-other-girls, internalised misogyny sort of a way. It is, of course, fine to want to get married (never afraid to be controversial, that's me). Finding a person to share your life with, and sticking by them, is a wholly laudable priority. And pretty dresses and parties are also grand goals. But genuinely, I never had that sort of vision in my head. One of my best friends said that she can't imagine me as a bride. I'm just damn lucky there's no kind of written test on the way into the dress shop. Wait. There's not a test is there? I'm really not sure I should be trusted around the combination of blue biros and white silk.

I have no doubts about the person that I will be marrying. We've weathered our fair share of tempests in our time and he still makes me smile every time I see him (after 7am, that is). BUT I have no idea what I'm going to do about my name.

I don't want to take my best person's name, because I don't want to start our marriage on the understanding that his person takes precedence over mine. But then, it's not like I'm hugely attached to the name I've got. If someone tried to tell me I wasn't an Anna, they'd get short shrift. I LIKE being a palindrome. But my second name, I can take or leave, and I would like to do something to give our new little family an identity. We can't double barrel, because we both have polysyllabic names as it is, and that would make filling in forms a nightmare. I am very keen on squishing our names together to make some kind of mad chimaera of a name, but the best person, being a fan of history and all that jazz, is not so psyched.

I don't know what we'll do, but I love that we have options. All of the options. I mean, you can get cheese for a wedding cake. What a time to be alive. I'm sure I'll come to a conclusion sooner or later, or I might just give myself a different name for every day of the week. I know that the person I'm going to be spending the rest of my life with is a good 'un, and would be even if he was called Voldermort McEvilFace. Probably. I'll report back as the panic takes over, but that's enough for me for now.