Change and ‘The Power’

I’ve been feeling pretty rotten over the last couple of days. Had episodes of probably what is vertigo, essentially, dizziness and that run down- bleurgh feeling. Feeling sea-sick as I woke up at 6:45 and as I tried to get out of bed the, ‘why am i doing this?’ question came to me and I got back in and emailed to say I wasn’t coming in. I have spent most of the day reading ‘Power’ by Naomi Alderman. I finished it. And i’m quite confused by how I feel about it.

I’ve had a look at other reviews of the book to get some other insights.

It certainly wasn’t what I was expecting and I gorged on the first 100 pages or so because of how inventive it was . I think as the story developed it did lose some of it’s realistic appeal to me. Yes, the story is pretty fantastical but I feel it wasn’t supposed to be just that.

I really enjoyed the first 100 pages because I really felt a lot of aspects were covered by Alderman. It felt like there was a lot of clear messages to be taken from it. How different people coped and reacted to the changes that happened. I think it wasn’t what I thought because it wasn’t actually as nice and successful as I’d hoped. I think the idea that women are more powerful than men, to me, would mean that greater, fairer things would happen. This wasn’t the case and my naivety has been put to shame!  It isn’t power over another that is successful… Ever. It’s not dominance and submission (oi oi) but being on the same level and this is what this book shows. Too much power in any hands can be a bad thing.

The particularly poignant part in the book is quite early on and it is when women start rioting and cannot be controlled and are feared because of their power. There’s a dialect something like “what do we do?”,  “we kill them.”,  “But we can’t kill all the women in the world”

At this point it very is man vs woman. Which actually is totally pointless because both need each other.

And  it makes you think about other riots and wars. And you think, this is pointless too? We are at war against each other. It’s pointless. It’s power not wanting to be lost. But what are we actually fighting for? Those at the top already, what are they actually defending that’s worth defending anymore? Are we asking to be heard or asking to take over and be in charge?

Most minorities just want to be heard and to have fair treatment. That’s what the women’s marches, the LGBT marches that i’ve been on have been about. They were for me anyway.  How can humans be so anti-eachother? Just seems like such a daft concept when you take a step back and look and what we’re doing now and what we’ve done for ridiculous numbers of years. And for what?

I dunno, all I want is to achieve a couple of things that I’ve always wanted to achieve. Do good where I can and use what I have. Power has never been something I have been after so I wouldn’t know! #simplebutcompletelife 

I lost the flow of the book by the end. I don’t think I quite caught the point of some of the character’s stories, maybe I haven’t digested it well enough yet. I thought the book was very honest and fair. There wasn’t an agenda to the book I think apart from a look into power and where we are at the moment. I think I wanted Alderman to talk more about the injustice in parts of the world but she didn’t go into too much detail. Having read a book recently which I reviewed a lot of the countries talk about – India in particularly the reactions really resonated.

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So I’m moving out this weekend back home for the year. I’m on placements all over the UK and in other countries come next week so I’m pretty much going to be living out my car, Betty.

I’ve been in this little room for two years and It hasn’t dawned on me that I’m saying goodbye to it yet. I was reading and it’s been raining all day and with my cup of tea I saw a photo opportunity. My phone never sees what I see but it got close enough.

I’m half packed. It’s going to take a couple of trips. You can see the magazines i’ve yet to read and leaflets about jobs and careers on the side. You can see flowers that Rosie bought me. They’re probably past their best now but i’m not ready to let them go. There’s a half empty box for packing, my keyboard which was fun to play for the four weeks that it fitted in with my routine. My wooden post from one of the marches I went on. I intend to use it again at some point.. It did have a poster on it..

I do and don’t like the idea that I don’t know where I’ll be in a years time. I think I am naturally a home maker and I do want a home or nest of my own. My own nook. Makes travelling all the more special because you have something special to come back to. 

 I suppose I have just been in so many places that I’m just looking forward to not having too much upheaval for a short time. Until I get bored and a wandering eye ;).. 

Rebecca x 

 

 

 

Gay Britannia and Bisexuality 

*This post started as a mind explosion and I typed whatever came to mind on Sunday evening. I have tidied it up a little but I’ve noticed this with a lot of my posts…that I’m not very good at concluding or keeping a good flow….. I’ll work on it.*

So the BBC is showing a load of LGBTQ+ programmes at the moment and so far what I’ve seen has been great! I know so little about LGBT history, it’s shocking. And with all this and pride at the moment it’s really got me thinking about who I am and what makes me me.

I can’t imagine living with constant fear and not being able to be who you are. I know it is still often the case, but we can’t be arrested for it! These programmes are making me realise really how much we really do have to thank the older generations for pushing through and doing what they did. So brave, so courageous.

I’ve watched ‘Prejudice and Pride: The people’s History of LGBTQ Britain’ and ‘against the law’,  ‘queer art’ and ‘The man in the orange shirt’.  While watching some of the programmes with Rosie (I have the irritating tendency to talk through a programme. Rosie pauses it. haha soz) we talked about bisexuality and how it never has been that much of a deal. I mean even the programmes so far have been predominantly about gay male relationships. (It is the 50th year since the act was abolished so there’s justification behind it.)

A big thing we have realised is that gay men suffer their own insults but they don’t generally get the brush off that bisexuals and lesbians do. …The number of times I have heard, “they just haven’t found the right cock yet.”  How many times have you heard someone say a gay man hasn’t found the right vagina yet?

However! I’ve got a big buzz with it all at the moment! The “Everything is great and will be great and I’m bisexual and being bisexual is amazing”. It’s a nice feeling! Feeling that it is perfectly fine and there’s nothing wrong and just have a good time and love who you feel like loving.

When I can talk about my relationship freely like those in straight relationships, it feels so natural. Withholding what I want to say because i don’t think people will understand or take it the right way or if i’m worried they’ll respond badly is really hard to handle (let alone not telling anyone and having to hide it entirely!).  It’s like a subtle and ongoing sensation that makes you continually doubt your validity.   Being able to sit with my arm around Rosie while chatting to other people and couples is one of the greatest feelings in the world to me. Just the unity and fuzzy feeling is a guilty pleasure. ❤

We also brought up how the things we have read about women’s sexuality have always been pretty negative and hard: depicting the struggle. Which is great for inclusiveness when you feel like you’re dealing with it all by yourself. But it doesn’t often bring hope. So I want to be positive on here! Show why It’s so worthwhile!

If anyone asks me, I say that I am bisexual. It has been a long and winding path to get to this point but it’s definitely what rings truest. If I found myself single one day, I have no idea if the next person I would date would be male or female. I like it. It’s exciting. I definitely go through phases where I feel like I’m more attracted to one than the other but the ability to feel towards both is always there. Often, i’ll just be spending more time with a group of one or the other sex and that can sometimes feel like it’s shifting a preference. For example, at university it’s pretty much 85% female so the chances that I’m going to find people I get on with that are women is pretty high, so maybe that swings my preferences.

It is a shame to be put into the wrong LGBT group. I guess most people that know of me will assume I’m a lesbian. * It’s Tuesday now and a conversation I had today proves this more for me*  But it cuts out so much of my life and story and makes it all seem so clear and easy. Being LGBTQ+ is hard, and I know most about being bisexual.

Bisexuality is hard because when you have the option to go with the ‘normal’ and easier sex (I.e hetero) it makes it harder for others to understand why you would choose to be in a homo relationship. I certainly think that’s why It took me a long time to think about the possibility of dating women. Because if I know I’m happy enough looking for Mr Right why would I make life that more difficult by being open to finding a Mrs Right too? Obviously, it just doesn’t work like that, but I suppose it kind of does, I suppose it could be possible to hide one part of your sexuality forever for the ease. But that wouldn’t be fair on you or do you any favours.

It’s a mindfuck when i consider that I would likely never have met nor spoken to Rosie if I hadn’t have decided to try dating women. And yet she is the closest person I have ever been to, my bestfriend and I am absolutely ridiculously head over heels in love with her… except when she does something that annoys me 😉
So therefore I do think that bisexuality is an invisible sexuality at the moment and there are a couple of campaigns running along this line too.  Basically, If a bisexual woman is with a girl, she’s a lesbian and a guy, she’s straight. And bisexual men are men that are actually gay but don’t want to totally admit it. Excellent.

There’s also a lot of talk about promiscuity with bisexuals. Like how can you trust a bisexual when they literally fancy everyone? Haha… Because there’s never been any cheating in straight or gay relationships…? But perhaps as some bisexuals will agree that the sex of a person is far less important than the person they are, it suggests that we could be fussy because we’re looking for someone we really connect with.

So onto Sexual fluidity. The concept that every single person is on a spectrum and lay somewhere between straight and gay and where you are on that spectrum can change throughout your life. Before I go any further, this really does have to be the simplified version as there are groups in LGBTQ+ that aren’t included in the spectrum. (asexual, pansexuals etc)

I know a lot of girls (probably because we’re more happy to talk openly about it) who have considered their sexuality once or twice or quite a lot.  They’ve wondered if they had had a crush on a girl previously or have kissed girls on drunken nights out etc.

I’m not saying that every one of these girls is a bisexual and should relate and be categorised under this term (no way!), but they are on the spectrum like everyone else and would probably be placed somewhere closer to the middle between straight and gay than just one or the other side.

So, for me, sexual fluidity would be something like this…

For example, let’s say if a girl is 80% straight, she only dates men and has only had relationships with men. But, she has wondered about being with a woman once or twice. Now, whether she would ever take it any further, think more, act on her thoughts and whether she would even feel right in a relationship with another woman is a totally separate thing. But say a couple of years later, for whatever reason, it’s now 60:40, that could be enough for her to start thinking and acting on it. She’s still more into men and it’s all she knows and starting to date a woman is going to take a lot of encouragement and persuasion. It’s going to be confusing and baffling for most of the time too. It’s going to be a case of getting to a point where she feels she needs to answer this niggling question… Can she be with another woman, does she fancy women? I feel like a lot of women don’t feel the need to answer this niggle. And obviously, that’s entirely fine, they’ll be closer to the straight side of the spectrum,

So for me, when I was younger I only ever thought of men. I had the occasionally feeling towards girls but brushed it aside thinking i was in awe etc. Then i got older (obviously), met new people, saw new places, read new things and my mindset altered, I became open to other options.

I have read blogs and discussions about how bisexuality is it’s own entitity entirely. And i don’t think that’s wrong. The spectrum really helped me come to terms with my sudden shift a couple of years back and it works for me.
When talking to people about bisexuality there’s a sense from them that you are or you aren’t and you must have an answer. Whereas if you’re happy with the sexual fluidity perspective, you do what feels right for you at the time. Possibly partly why I struggle to accept the term bisexual. It’s actually quite inflexible and vast and doesn’t say much about an individual at all.

So yeah, this is where I originally came to a totally dead end in my word splurge on Sunday evening. Not even a hint of a conclusion. haha. But today I had a conversation with two girls that I have been working alongside with at university a lot recently. They’re absolutely lovely and we get on well but this just proves an inability to understand the concept of bisexuality.

So basically we were working with two absolutely gorgeous male clinicians. They’re charming and they bought us coffee. Putty in their hands we were. And we were talking together about one in particular. And I said how I liked his blue eyes. (drowning in crystal blue seas and all that… ). One of the girls said to me,

“Well it doesn’t matter to you as you’re not into men.”

I mean for one thing, you don’t have to fancy a person to be able to appreciate how good they look.  But anyway!

I was a bit taken aback but we were all messing around and so i didn’t get particularly serious. I just replied that I do like men. The other girl shook her head and put her hands out to show the separation and said “no, you just can’t like both, one or the other.”  And so I looked into her eyes and said “watch me.”  To which we all laughed.

But actually, how can you feel so confident to tell me that I’m wrong about who I feel attracted to? Why would I lie or pretend when I’m so open about other things? I used to think that I could only like one or the other but that was the most confusing part of all because I couldn’t choose which. I don’t need to choose.

It was lighthearted and they did not mean to insult me. It just showed the ignorance that is out there.

What if I became single and started dating a chap? Would they tell me that I was straight (and just experimented or went through a phase with Rosie) or actually just a lesbian who’s hiding how she really feels? There’s seems to be no understanding that the sex of a person is just not on my priority list. It’s absolutely the person.

So, I could just not care I suppose. I could just not right this article and not care how people see me or how they categorise me. To be honest, I don’t really mind. But i don’t like that people don’t understand me, what I’ve gone through and how I think and feel, especially those people that I otherwise have a good time with. Though actually i don’t like the feeling it’s assumed to be a phase, as though i’m just messing around with people and testing waters. That would belittle any relationship I had over another persons, when to me, my relationship is the best and strongest and most serious and loving and stable relationship I have had.

So let’s conclude lol. The BBC is doing a great job in celebrating LGBT. But there is still a long way to go. If you’re in the LGBT club, you are still considered different and I don’t think that should be the case. There are misunderstandings everywhere regarding LGBTQ+ groups and one of them is not appreciating bisexuality. What does it mean to be bisexual? why it’s not a bad thing, a phase or experimenting. One of the ways I explain it is through the sexual fluidity concept. And it is hurtful and harsh to brush off a person when they say they’re bisexual because you’re invalidating their entire history. You’re saying that they actually were never really in love or felt for the one person they used to see because they’re now in love with a new person of a different sex.  Maybe not on purpose but you’re telling me that a big part of my life that probably helped shape the person i am wasn’t real and wasn’t significant. And we can entirely talk about crushing on any sex. But we can also talk about how hot someone is without bringing sex into it too.

A bisexual is someone who has the ability to feel attraction to another person they’ve connected with regardless of this person’s sex.

Rebecca x

Don’t judge for adding a wikipedia link.. it explains it well – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bisexual_erasure

http://everydayfeminism.com/2014/12/bi-erasure-hurts/

i feel this article a lot :http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ravishly/on-bisexual-erasure-in-th_b_9995418.html

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p059lylf

To the older me 

Rebecca,

Lots of aspects of your life will change in the next few years. You have no idea what you will see, do and where you will end up. But the way you think now feels right and fair but still you have so much to learn and figure out.

Remember that you will never be able to second guess someone else’s story. Before you go to judge and put them into one your ingrained default stereotypes talk to them, learn about them. Realise how similar and different you are.

Remember where you grew up and what you saw. Remember the people you met and the situation.

At the end of each month, ask yourself if you’ve helped anyone, volunteered or donated your time or skills or donated money. If not, why?

Remember how you still want to change the world and still think it’s possible. Remember that you can still be settled and curious and explorative. Remember that if you are not happy with something you can change it.

Remember that you can’t just look out for yourself, you need to be able to see the bigger picture. Not everyone is in your position. Remember to practise being in other people’s shoes.

Remember that the world is not finite and that you simply can’t have everything you want. Compromise is good and healthy.

Remember to do the things you love and inspire it in others. Remember that you don’t have to be pushy or competitive. Grow at your own pace and don’t over do it. Take breaks and analyse.

Remember to be the best person you can be, because then your time will never be wasted.

Rebecca x

Relationships and Gender roles

This blog post has been brewing in my mind for a while. It’s quite a hard piece to write as I don’t want to come across badly, judge-y or stereotypical or like I’m speaking for everyone.

So as far as LGBTQ+ goes I would associate myself with bisexual the most. It doesn’t really work and I don’t really like categorizing people or myself because it’s so rigid, and however hard you try not to there are usually certain characteristics/traits that become associated with them.

So I grew up fancying boys, then men and I only remember a couple of bouts of ever even considering fancying girls. Looking back on it now It was pretty clearly a crush on a girl but at the time I put it down to just being in awe of them. I had just met them and thought they were great. I was also happy to move on and very quickly got over whatever it was.

I had a successive run of unsuccessful dates. Met some really great guys who I got on really well with and fancied like mad but they never came to anything. I just put it down to not meeting the right one and that being that. But it was sad and It was hard that nothing seemed to stick or be able to work. I had a particularly bad run in with a couple of dates and some of the men in my life disappointing me.  Without actively thinking it I went a year or so with being happy to be single and not really looking. Then summer 2015 hit,  I spent a lot of time with quite a few number of friends and mostly girls.

I don’t think there was ever really a point where I thought, I fancy you or I want to be more than friends but I started to think slightly differently about relationships. I started to think that If I could have such a great time with another woman would it be that bad if it became a relationship? Over the summer I remember thinking of it as a woman companion. And I began to realise that that’s really all I was after. Just someone to spend my time with, someone to be there for support and comfort. It took a bloody long time for me to consider it also being a romantic thing too. Definitely resisting the thought that I could be attracted to another woman. It was not a road I wanted to go down.

Heading into Autumn I did start to fancy a girl I knew, big time. And it was the same kind of light obsession I’d had with men that I fancied. I kept totally shtum about it for the next 5/6 months because It wasn’t something I wanted to think about. But it did upset me and it was really difficult to come to terms with. A big part of me was entirely up for it, there was nothing strange about how I was feeling, it was natural, it was growing love for another person. The other half of me was like,

It means you’re a lesbian,

how can you be a lesbian now?

how can you be a vet and a lesbian?

how would any of this even work?

what would people think?

I bet they wouldn’t even be surprised,

but you’re not butch or like a boy or even that much of tom boy.

I had every stereotype and prejudice of lesbians and LGBT people going.

I’m not sure what made me take the first steps. I think hearing of people in university coming out made me think about starting to get some answers. The reception to them coming out was not a negative one.

I’d been on Tinder since the summer, hadn’t gone on any dates though and don’t actually remember really talking to any guys that much. One night over Christmas I just swapped the option around so that instead of looking for men I was looking for women. First, I was really quite excited by the number of women I found on there that were at uni. Lots of surprising ones, girls that weren’t butch, some that were, some that I knew had had relationships with men too.

I didn’t contact anyone from uni and turned off my account whenever I wasn’t using it so that no one would find me.

But flicking through all the profiles I actually started to realise that there was a bit of a pattern in who I seemed to like the look of or wanted to chat too.

‘But is this just me looking at who’s friendly and who I might get on with.’ I often thought but then.., ‘well yes, but a companion is what I’m after isn’t it?’

So yeah, the weeks went on and I chatted to a couple of girls. I felt a bit of a weight off my shoulders as I got used to the idea of it all. In this time, I started chatting to Rosie too.

I got to the point where going on a date and confirming that these feelings might actually be a thing was what I needed to do. I still wasn’t convinced that I was actually attracted to women. It was all very confusing and I wanted an answer.

It took quite a while to build up guts to meet anyone, Rosie was my first date. And I said right from the start that I have no idea what I’m doing or I might just freak out and run away. I really thought that these feelings I have now might totally disappear when I wake up the next day. That feeling continued well into dating Rosie but it became more a concern that I would end up messing her around. But ha, no, the feelings haven’t gone away.

I still have a huge part of me that regularly tells me that what I’m doing is wrong and unnatural. But the other half of me has doubled in size and strength and pushes it down. I see the relationship that I’m in and how I feel and there just can’t be anything unnatural about it at all. I also, no longer really care if it is wrong or right because I’m not prepared to change anything. I don’t spend so long thinking and trying to answer everything because I don’t think there is a clear one.

I knew within the first couple of dates with Rosie that I was onto something really good. It wasn’t just how much I was starting to like her but actually how our relationship with each other was.

A big issue for me, that I’ve always been uncomfortable with is men paying for meals and the first date and second and third sometimes! I really didn’t like it. Don’t get me wrong, I was over the moon with having a night out and not having to spend any money, I was grateful and thankful too. But I always from then on felt like we were not on the same line or wave. Like I now owed them something and then If I wasn’t ‘allowed’ to buy the next round and I essentially got into more debt with them it made it worse. And I think it’s feelings like this, looking back on it now that I’m in a relationship where there isn’t this almost competition to spoil.

I think this is where I can get into the realms of stereotyping and judging but I’ll say it anyway. Pretty much 100% of the men that I dated and more were definitely keen to be the more dominant, they wanted to spoil me. (1. Maybe I just chose my dates badly and 2. I was always very grateful!) But I think I just never wanted or needed that. What I was looking for was someone I could have a proper no bars held conversation about anything. I wanted to know someone really well. I didn’t want someone who wanted to look after me. And I don’t have the interest in looking after someone else either. There’s support and there’s being there and listening but then there’s also being someone’s parent. (when they’re perfectly capable of caring for themselves!)

I know of friends in relationships who would be given flowers by their partners on a regular basis for what appeared to be a thanks for reminding them to have a shower or wash the dishes or finish an assignment. And they were very clearly head over heels for each other and in no doubt their relationship was great, it just wasn’t what I was after.

This relationship with Rosie suited me perfectly because obviously being both women, it was always going to be splitting meals, we’re both driven to achieve our ambitions, we’re both able to look after ourselves but when one of us is having a bad day we’re able to talk it through.

Women are known to be better at speaking about emotions and experiences but personally, I think it’s not a feminine trait it’s the way we bring up males and females.

I know I was just very lucky to meet Rosie as soon as I did, but equally I know that If I’d have dated other girls I’d have met some that liked to be spoiled and treated and protected. I also know that if I carried on dating men I would probably find one at some point that wasn’t so keen on the protective side and was able to talk to me like I can talk to most women.

I feel very much like it’s the culture that we’re in regarding how we raise children so differently because of their sex that makes me more likely to be in a relationship with a woman than a man. If Rosie had been a Robert I’d be with him now. It’s an interesting way of thinking about it. I find that there is a difference between most girls and their willingness to be helpful and useful and most men and their not. I just think it’s the way we’ve been brought up. Maybe girls are more willing to help and be useful from a younger age but maybe also boys should be taught a little bit harder how to help.

I am being quite broad here and I’m not including everyone by any means but there is a trend. And again I’m not saying any relationship is more valid than another but I just can’t stand gender roles. Men can still treat and spoil women if they want too and women can look after men if they want to but to assume that that’s the way things are and should be I don’t like… to the extent the boys and girls are brought up differently I don’t like.

So basically I look back on the guys that I really did get on with and wonder if we could have made something of a relationship if either one of us wanted the same thing from a relationship. I feel like most of the guys must have sensed that I appreciated but didn’t really enjoy it. It almost seems like a really big shame that it was something kind of simple that stopped any progression. Obviously, it’s unlikely that they would have all worked out well long term etc etc but I wonder how many might have been a few more dates or a relationship had I been not so keen for conversation and he not so keen to treat me like a princess.

I also actually do wonder why some women like to be spoiled and why some men like to spoil. Is it what they are used to? Is it the best thing?

I’m totally biased and I know it. I obviously feel that my side of the grass is greener. I just feel that relationships are more likely to be healthier if we’re not demanding and depending on the other. But if we see the other person as a companion rather than (a cleaner lol) someone who needs to fit a traditional and expected role. How about just knowing naturally how to work as a team because we’re human and not because we’re either male or female?

But saying that, every relationship is different and people do want different things.. but why do we want different things?

Gender roles is a big no in my books at the moment. It has so many consequences to it.

I do wonder if men in gay relationships find that they are just more comfortable in the kind of relationship created by two men rather than with a women?

I think I’m always going to be able to add more to this, and discuss more!

Rebecca x

p.s

I feel there were often times when I would feel there were things appropriate and inappropriate to say. Being a vet student you do build up a bit of book of stories. I felt some guys responded badly to me talking about gross things, like it’s not they were expecting of me. I mean, also, fair lol, probably shouldn’t be talking about poo on a first date. Yeah, actually, maybe it wasn’t particularly nice of me ha. But there were times when a guy would say something a bit gross but I could be them and suddenly I wasn’t so womanly any more. Ugh. Go home. anyway!

I feel like most people can be really untidy, But leaving a mess knowing full well and happy to do so that someone else will tidy up the mess is more a male trait I think. Shoot me down if I’m wrong. But I feel most women are messy but know it’s their mess that they’ll sort out.. at some point. Men, I don’t feel are the same. More happy to be cleaned up after. That’ll be an upbringing thing too I bet. And I ain’t go time to be cleaning up someone else’s mess. Ugh. Go home.

 

Book: The War On Women

 

I bought this book at the The Hay Festival a couple of weeks ago. I’d just been to a talk with Christina Lamb, Helena Kennedy, Rachael Jolley and Joan Bakewell discussing the author – Sue Lloyd Roberts who passed away recently and before properly finishing this book. Helena Kennedy really impressed me.

It has probably been bad timing. With the recent terror attacks and general fear and worry and pain in the world this book has certainly not lightened the mood.  I’ve really struggled to read this book, but it’s been equally as captivating. It makes daily activities like my studying and aspirations feel null, void and in vain when there is so much work that needs to be done elsewhere.

Sue Lloyd Roberts was a TV journalist and I knew very little about her before the talk. She sounds absolutely brilliant. She traveled around the world videoing and interviewing the people she met with stories to tell. She seemed to get really involved with cases and helped where she could.

So the book talks about how women are treated throughout the world, in cultures, during war, in wealthy and in un-wealthy areas.

The first chapter is on Female Genital Mutilation.

“In Britain our tradition is to respect local customs and not to insist on integration. We respect tolerance and accept cultural differences but it allows abuse to take place behind closed doors.”

I think what I found most exciting about the way Sue went about her work was that no-one seemed un-interviewable. I feel her quote above is right regarding British people. I wouldn’t feel comfortable stepping into someone else’s culture and telling them their practice is unethical, mutilation, appalling and not at all beneficial. The chapter and a chapter on arranged marriage goes on to discuss how the British government tries to avoid doing too much to stay liked or because it doesn’t see the consequences.

With FGM, Sue was not afraid to go directly to the women who carried out the cutting. It was well described in this chapter, It was an uncomfortable read (and the books carries on like it). In the past, reading about the practice I guess I just hoped it wasn’t quite the butchery I imagined.  No, it’s entirely butchery.  A shock to me was that 90% of Egyptian women have had FGM (at the time of the book being written).

The book made me think about how it is all so well hidden and going on without anyone knowing (or with everyone knowing but allowing it!). As I’m sitting here writing this, I naturally  assume other people next door, or down the road or in the next town are doing similar and just unwinding before bed. But are they? There is so much going on right this second and I’m so entirely oblivious.

Before reading the book the word rape would just resonate with me as a horrible word, meaning abuse and dark and twisted, impact, devastation. But the word appeared so often among so many chapters that by the end of the book it was almost tiresome. As if to say to men ‘can you get a hobby and find something else to do please’.  There are no words. There is no respect for women.

In the book it explains that in cultures where women are absolutely objectified, rape is commonplace and rarely punished. Something so horrendous to me and many other women and men can become the norm it appears when it is not actively taught as being wrong. It’s portrayed in the book as being a right of men to be able to, an entitlement. Over and over the same picture is shown in the chapters.

The book has a very big running theme in that all of the acts carried out against women were caused or could be prevented by men. A lot of it is dominance, submission and control of women. I really got the impression that many of the men don’t seem to think twice about what they’re doing. Like there is no conscience because they never developed one. They were brought up to think a certain way.

I have absolutely no sympathy for the criminals in this book, most of them know exactly what they are doing and deserve all the punishment coming to them but it was a question I asked myself. “How much are they actually to blame if that’s all they know and that’s what they’ve seen and been taught?”

I think it’s even sadder in many ways that in these cases these victims could have been spared if the the men had been brought up differently. The amount of pain suffered and lives wasted because of essentially a simple thing. It’s hard to find enough appropriate descriptive words. But it’s heartbreaking to read about. While reading the book I felt very much like I wanted to stand up for women and help make the world better. But then you think yeah, well, it’s all well and good me going to try and help when I’ve never experienced anything even remotely close to what was in the book. But that is what the author did.

One of the last chapters on India chilled me to the bone. I don’t often get angry but I could feel my blood boiling. I wanted to punch something. I wanted to do something. It covered the 2012 Delhi Gang rape. I think it was so poignant that after Jyoti Singh’s uncommentable ordeal and while she was in hospital before she died she apologized to her parents for causing a fuss. The idea that the victim caused the attack or is at fault runs throughout the book too.

I’m so sheltered by most of the brutal acts that happen in the world. This book has well and truly opened my eyes to a couple of them. I could talk about the book for a very long time. What Sue found out and got out of people ( The good and the bad) she interviewed is remarkable. Her ability to understand and delve into the minds of men and women has been really well emphasized. I will just heavily recommend that you read this book. And be prepared to be shocked.

Rebecca x

The stories spread so vastly over the world. I have always said to myself that I wouldn’t travel to countries that allow or don’t certain things which i disagree with. Reading the corruption that is everywhere including here in Britain of course it makes me wonder whether I ever could justify traveling again. The India chapter made me consider whether I would want to go to the tourist areas and spend money there when I visit the country. I feel like actually, I’d rather only give money to the charities there, to the people directly and not to the government that does little to help the suffering that is going on.

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