Rambles, rants and raves

A lot of opinions spilling out of my brain

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I did not go to university to find a man

London Mayor Boris Johnson recently came out with the golden nugget of knowledge that women go to university to find a man. At first I thought it was some kind of mistake but after a little looking around realised that those words had actually come out of Mr Johnson’s mouth.

At a press conference he joked that women had to go to university because “they’ve got to find men to marry”. The Mayor of London is often making inappropriate jokes and I understand if people were not to take the comment seriously, but it dismissive ‘jokes’ like this that make my blood boil.

I went to university and did not go to find a man. The possibility of finding a man was never something that even entered my mind. I wanted to go to university to learn, to get a degree and to have that experience. I wanted to go to university to study something I love, to delve into the subject deeper than I had at A Levels and GCSE and to inspire me.

I did not go to find a man. It implies a woman only goes into higher education to get hitched. It implies that women are not capable of furthering their education because they want to but instead because they have to find a man. It implies that fulfilment comes from being in a relationship rather than by doing things that you want to do. It implies, yet again, that women cannot be women without a man by their side.

A person like Boris Johnson, a public figure, need to watch their words. They are far more powerful than people often realise and this power doesn’t diminish in any way because the words spoken were a ‘joke’.

Once when I was in a club at university with my girlfriends, I headed to the toilets by myself. As I came back to meet my group, a boy groped me. I turned around and told him to get off. He told me I was sexy and asked if I wanted to go home with him. I pushed him away and told him to F*@% off. He called me a slag, told me I was frigid and then said he was ‘joking’. As if, because it was a joke, it forgives everything.

I see people be rude to each other, offensive in a way that crosses the line and when the other party is hurt, the word ‘joke’ and ‘banter’ is thrown around like it’s a soother. A cure that will heal all wrong-doings. It is like this, through the ‘jokes’ and the ‘banter’ that we take a small step back for every step forward.

Sexism is still a huge part of our lives, especially as women. They may be small acts of sexism that were all part of a ‘joke’ or ‘messing around’ but they accumulate to a wider thinking. They make that person, who is the target of your jokes, uncomfortable, angry, fearful or upset or all of those things. They dismiss a woman as a human being and Boris Johnson’s own ‘joke’ adds a little more fuel to that incessant fire.

Finding a man is not the ultimate task. Marriage is not what defines a woman. We can be fulfilled, happy, successful and confident without a ring on our finger and a man by our side. This has all been said before, it is essentially old news with a fresh coat of paint and yet, it continues to happen. Sexism is still prevalent – and sometimes, often, dismissed. It is still an issue for plenty of women in the UK and millions of women across the world. It is still a problem which is why jokes like Boris Johnson’s will continue being part of that problem. A joke is not an excuse to be dismissive towards half the population. A joke does not validate sexism. It is rude, it is derogatory and it is part of a continuing, long-standing problem.


F#!& You

The level of swearing that my brain and mouth work together to produce usually relies on an extremity of an emotion: be that very happy, sad or angry. It doesn’t in anyway convey my intelligence level, or that of any other sailor-esque speakers, as some may lead you to believe.

A person that swears does not necessarily mean that they are thicker than a person that does not. Arguably, it could show the exact opposite. A person that swears a proportionate and balanced amount in comparison with the rest of their language use shows that they are able to manipulate language to express themselves as effectively as possible. Emphasising emotions by adding a fuck or a shit or sprinkling a few other swearwords into your sentence does not make you rude, stupid or mixture of the two; it makes you creative, imaginative and sensitive to the language.

There are certain times when swearing is not appropriate due to the stigma that is attached like a parasite to these, apparently rude, words. Boris Johnson recently stated that people swearing at police should expect to be arrested, I understand where he’s coming from. Just because I use bitch in a sentence every now and again does not mean I cannot have a more complex opinion than swearing being okay.

I believe Mr Johnson has a point, to establish an authority and a respect towards the policing force it is best to ban swearwords from being said towards policeman, especially after the London riots this summer. That’s why you’re supposedly not allowed to swear at teachers when you’re a kid, at least not to their faces. But I also think that swearing is becoming an ever-increasing norm in today’s language and those that are not open-minded to language change will soon be forced too. Words that were once banned for offending the church, the pope or the king are now considered everyday speech. If people can not accept natural changes in language as different generations latch onto different things then they are the most ignorant of our society, not the people that decide to use the word bastard when they please.

The meanings of most swearwords, at least their literal meanings, aren’t even offensive. Bitch refers to a female dog, fuck is sex, and bastard is a child born out of wedlock. Many of today’s swearwords only received their offensive connotations very recently. Language is a beautiful thing. It is there to be used, twisted and changed as much as possible for each individual to be able to successfully express how they’re feeling as accurately as possible. People that are swearing are, effectively, doing just that. There is obviously a balance and a limit, as with anything but in proportion to the rest of the person’s speech swearing can be considered just another part of a colourfuland intelligent vocabulary rather than some stupid taboo extra.

I do not judge those that do not like swearing nor should they judge me for using the words they do not approve of or look down of me because of my use of swearwords. Close-mindedness equals stupidity not the use of the word fuck.