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The Girl with the Daffodil Tattoo

A Welsh girl let loose in a wild world

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American Sniper: 0/5 The Worse Film I’ve Ever Seen

I had reservations about watching American Sniper. I worried that I wouldn’t enjoy it because of American propaganda, but I got lucky; this film has a lot more wrong with it than skewed ideology.

No Female Soldiers/ Soldiers of Colour

Women make up 14.5% of the active-duty force (according to CNN), while African American soldiers make up around a quarter. So with almost half of soldiers on active duty being made up of women and African Americans, you would think any modern war film worth its salt would try to accurately represent that, wouldn’t you? Well, you would be wrong.

Mental Illness/Masculinity

Men are at four times more risk of suicide than women. Some psychologists argue that this is because of hegemonic masculinity, which demands a “tough guy” front from men, who are conditioned from an early age to not talk about their feelings, leading to them not being able to ask for help later in life.

I found it completely irresponsible, that this film portrayed Chris Kyle (who seems to be suffering from classic symptoms of post-traumatic stress), as some sort of “strong silent type”, who’s miraculously cured by a 20 second scene with a psychiatrist who tells him simply to “help others” in order to recover. I don’t know whether this is Clint Eastwood’s old school portrayal of masculinity, or whether the problem comes from the autobiography that the film is based on.

Portrayal of Iraqis

Opens with “call to prayer”, which is normally played in Mosques.

Iraqis are referred to as “savages” by American soldiers.

Characters proclaim: “We’re not fighting for this dirt”

Brutal, unnecessary violence from “bad guys” (such as the scene where the enemy leader uses a drill on a child and then shoots both the child and the father), whereas American soldiers are depicted as just “doing their jobs”/”protecting themselves”.

The film depicts roughly 1 American soldier dying to 6-10 Iraqis. In actual fact, during the whole war, 4,500 American soldiers have been killed,  and 450,000 Iraqis, meaning  that a more realistic ratio might be 1 American soldier dying for every 100 Iraqi deaths.

Badly Made

-Comedy baby doll, completely obviously fake.

-Sound, in general. Car noise random and too loud.

-Wooden characters.

-Doesn’t hold together.

-Passage of time only shown by size of children (not by any changes in adult actors)

-Only one female character.

-Only one black actor.

Holding open doors

A man I met said this:

“I don’t understand why feminists won’t allow me to hold open doors. For me it’s about respect. I like to open doors and when I take a woman out, I like to pay”

For me personally, the problem here is the social awkwardness of it. I don’t know whether someone is going to open a door for me, or let me through first. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. Then, I’m walking along with a male colleague/co-worker/friend, and he opens a door, and allows me to walk through first, and then I’m supposed to be… grateful to him? Smile? Yet if I give up my seat for an old man with a walking stick on public transport, I’m running the gauntlet of causing offense. The old man has a disability, and as an able-bodied woman, I do too? The old man might feel emasculated, and I am… [insert female equivalent of emasculated here]…disempowered too?

Even though I find it confusing, I think: it’s archaic, it’s patronising, it’s condescending, but I have got bigger fish to fry.

I do not, however, let men pay for me. Friends, lovers… I like to take it in turns, like if my friend (of any gender) buys one round of drinks then I buy the other. That’s just me. I like the saying “there’s no such thing as a free lunch”. All too often, people pay for things for you, and then expect something in return. And I know that if I accept the gift, I feel obligated to behave in a certain way. It’s far easier just to pay my own way, instead of enjoying a man’s attention, and telling yourself it’s “just a friendship”, and then feel hurt when he tries to kiss me, I reject him, and I feel like I’ve lost a friend. When I was younger I thought I had a lot of male friends, but this kind of pattern/misunderstanding happened again and again.

I do empathise with men who feel cheated by women who accept gifts (e.g. drinks) and then reject them. Flirtation, courtship etc, can be a confusing game. It must be difficult to tell if a woman is receptive to advances or is just being friendly or doesn’t want to offend. I try to be really direct in my dealings with men when I’m single, but not rude and hurtful. If I’m interested in someone, I make it clear.

He told me “It’s about respect. I’m showing respect to  a woman by paying”. I’m in a long term relationship with someone who earns the same as me, and the way my boyfriend shows me respect is by letting me buy the next round, or letting me give him half the bill (we usually pay cash) beforehand.

If he earned double what I earn, and liked to go to places that I just couldn’t afford, maybe he could pay two thirds and I could pay a third. My partner shows me respect by: listening to me, by doing his half of the chores at home, by making me laugh, by telling me I look better without make up, by having dinner with me every night and never looking at his phone…

This friend of mine was a businessman, and I imagined that he probably was more affluent than me. But regardless of economic differences, I don’t like to feel “bought”. I once dated someone who insisted buying us a bottle of champagne at the bar, and I just didn’t feel comfortable. I’m one of those people who would rather a home made gift than an expensive one. I like nice things, but I would much rather go on a picnic with someone than go to a fancy restaurant.

If that makes me weird, I’m weird. If that makes me a “feminist”, then I’m a “feminist”. That’s just the way I am, and I like it, so I see no reason to change!

 

 

 

Monday Sexism

Today I had an interesting experience. I spoke with a man for 40 minutes, interpreting/helping a female coworker who is a highly qualified light/photography engineer. The man we were speaking to argued with us for 40 minutes about how what we wanted was wrong, but then immediately “understood” when our male coworker weighed in to explain. This leads me to come to the following conclusion:

“Women’s voices are high pitched, like dog whistles, and only some dogs can hear them.”

Joking aside, I’m pretty proud of myself for the way I handled it today. The last time I was in a similar situation, I let someone waste so much of my time that I finally said to the guy: “I’m going to be very direct. I wasn’t born yesterday. Please stop lying to me or I can’t help you”. I wish I was one of those people who could just smile and nod, but I’m not. Not yet. I wonder if I would still be me if I was that kind of person.

I suppose one has to choose their battles wisely, or else they will spend their whole life fighting. If someone is lying to me, my first instinct is to call them out, but in the world or work, that doesn’t usually result in cooperation, especially when dealing with male egos.

I’ve informed my male coworkers who aren’t cave dwellers that from now on, I want them to speak to this third party. I can’t change him and his ingrained opinions, nor the fact that he refuses to listen to smart women who have different ideas from him. Life would be much easier if I were a man (e.g.not having so much ridiculous and time consuming pressure on my appearance, traveling on my own, people taking me more seriously and allowing me to be a leader instead of cutting me down), but I’m not, and that’s that. I’m only here a few more weeks, I don’t care about this guy, and if he wants to discount what I have to say out of hand because I am a woman then he can talk to my male coworkers, they can say the same thing, and he might be less emasculated by that. But I need to bite my tongue from saying “You’re not listening because we are women”, because unlike Madrid, few people are direct here, least of all women to men. (After all the difficulties that I overcame in Madrid, who ever thought I would miss that city?)

Needless to say, it made me miss my partner terribly. He speaks to me like an equal in all things, he’s not scared to tell me that he disagrees with me, nor is he scared to admit when I am right. He never suggests that my map reading abilities may be sub par, even though we often “discover new destinations” when I am copilot in the car. He’s man enough to cook, and sing, and laugh and be silly.

Then I think about the girls at the home. They live here, they live in this culture. They are highly intelligent, beautiful young women, on their way to university. Will they internalise this crap, sitting in some office doing someone’s paperwork, thinking more about their hair, nails, and makeup, than they do about who they are and what they really want from life?

 

 

I saw these photos this morning, and it made me think.

couples-switch-outfits-switcheroo-project-hana-pesut-291__88

http://www.boredpanda.org/switcharoo-couples-switch-outfits-hana-pesut/

I wouldn’t describe myself as a transvestite, but I am a female who has always been drawn to “boys” clothing. Even from as young as 10, I questioned why the school uniform for my tiny village school meant that girls wore tights and skirts in winter and not trousers. I tried to start a petition in the school, but my mother strongly discouraged me from being “different”. She wanted to protect me and she told me that doing that would get me into trouble, and so I felt that I had no choice but to forget about it until I was old enough to make my own decisions and speak my mind.

So many of my ideas and opinions seem to go against “the majority”. As a young child, I listened to my mother and followed her instructions without questioning why “everyone does thing x”, like wearing bras and shaving, but as an adult woman, I’m coming to realise that I only have 1 life and I can’t live someone else’s anymore. But how to gain the confidence and bravery to be who you really are when we are products of a society that tells women to “think before they speak”, yet seemingly gives men free reignWomen are “bossy”, whereas men are “authoritative”.

I would say that about 40% of my female friends in high school were “bisexual”, later coming out as gay (cue the “bi now, gay later” joke. Sigh. It’s all a spectrum, people). But when that happened, we were no longer friends anymore. They had joined a world that I was not allowed to join, because I happened to be straight. Often, I feel like I have more in common with homosexual women than heterosexual women, yet I’m mostly physically attracted to men, even though most of them are repelled by my “bossy” and “opinionated” ways, or else seeming attracted to conquering “a challenge” (but my gay friends tell me that dating women is no picnic either). I am incredibly happy in my current relationship, as my partner is one of the kindest, sweetest, most considerate straight males that I have ever come into contact with, and yet I can’t help but thinking he is “one of a kind”, as it’s not often I can say this about a man and then still actually fancy him.

Sometimes, I feel that it’s been one of the disappointments of my adult life finding out that I wasn’t gay, which is obviously a ridiculous thing to say (click here to see an amazing poem, Dear Straight People) as it must be horrible to live with people being prejudiced towards you or even just asking you personal questions like “Where did the sperm come from then?” when you have a babyI suppose this is just a case of the grass being always greener on the other side and if I had to live with that stuff EVERY day then I would change my tune. 

When I hear about things like women only gyms, cafes, and bars, I immediately want to go there. I grew up in a small town, where women were on the periphery of male groupings. As in, men have their camaraderie from being on the football team, and women (for whatever reason) don’t have a group of their own, and are just friends with their boyfriend’s friends’ girlfriends. Maybe this is why there is little sisterhood, as women are taught from early on that they are competing with each other for something, like male attention/recognition. Males hold the power, and women must dance to their tune to be “given” their share.

I leave you with another amazing poem, “Confessions of an Uneducated Queer” by Lauren Zuniga

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