Rambles, rants and raves

A lot of opinions spilling out of my brain


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You are not entitled

A Facebook post complaining about the incompetence of the Job Seekers’ Allowance and several other benefits infuriated me today. It infuriated me because the individual complaining about JSA had no real right to in the sense that he should have seen such a benefit as a gift, a lucky token at the fact that he is too damn uptight to get a job “below him”.

JSA is intended as a short-term solution. To help those in the most desperate need who have no other alternative unless they are to live on the street and starve. It sounds extreme but it should be. Benefits are not an entitlement just because the jobs available do not take your fancy. It is for an emergency and it is people that do not treat it as so that give all those claiming benefits a bad name.

After I finish my NCTJ after graduation, I was fully prepared to work for free at any newspaper or magazine that would take me. This meant I would need money and I was fully prepared to work nights wherever I could get work: be that in a supermarket, a warehouse or a bar. It didn’t really matter as long as I had money coming in to support me.

I sound judging but this savvy social media user is consistently posting status in regards to the apparent stupidity of those working in the job’s centres and those in charge of giving him his benefits. He also continually posts statuses stating his disbelief and dismay at the fact that the job centre doesn’t understand why he won’t take up a ‘menial’ minimum-wage job. So what if you’re a graduate? So what if you have experience? The job market is as competitive as ever and not everyone can get those awesome start-up jobs that they want. That’s the way the world works. Even for the people that are truly incredible at whatever it is they do.

The fact that there are jobs open to someone and they have refused them because they think they are not good enough shows what is wrong with this society. This sense of entitlement that we deserve more. We do not. We are lucky in the UK to get what we do, and though it isn’t perfect, it is better than many other countries across this planet. You were lucky to be born into a family in the UK. That’s all it is. Luck – not entitlement.

If there are jobs available, no matter how menial you deem them to be, you take it. You take it because it’s better than nothing and you take it because it is better than the JSA. Especially when you are someone who has no outgoing expenses or other people relying on you like children or someone you must care for. When you are in a situation where you are basically free from constraints and responsibilities (you live at home with your parents, you do not have children, you do not have bills, you do not have rent to pay, you do not own a car, the list goes on) then you take any job you can because JSA for you is not an emergency, it is an excuse not to try as hard.

Just because you went to university, and just because you feel you are too smart for a job does not mean you are above it. You are no better than the person next to you in that job centre, or the person on the bus going to work. If you are not desperate or if your situation is not so difficult that you are actually in crisis then you do not deserve that JSA. It sounds harsh but I speak to a lot of people.

I have met people who deserve those benefits because it’s their last choice: either down to disability or to the fact that without it they can’t afford to feed their families or themselves while they are between work or because they can’t afford their rent without it. Truly difficult situations that nobody would wish themselves in. I see people who refuse JSA and other such benefits because they do not think they are struggling enough yet, because they know they haven’t exhausted every option.

And then I see things like those Facebook statuses and I talk to people who feel entitled, not because they deserve it, but because they refuse to take options that they feel are not suited to them.That is unfair. That is unfair to all those people who do need JSA and other benefits like it. That is playing the system and complaining that it’s not good enough even though you aren’t trying hard enough.

You are not owed anything. You are just like the rest of us and sometimes it is necessary to swallow your pride and get over yourself a little. If there’s a job, take it. You can look for another while you work. Don’t make excuses or cover the fact that you’re not trying hard enough with the difficulty of the system.

JSA is a safety net for those who are falling, it is not a cushion for you to weep in because you feel you’re not getting what you are due.


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Screw beauty

I am sick of people trying to impose ideals of beauty on people – both men and women. I am sick of adverts pretending to be about ‘real women’ only featuring white, young females that are skinny enough to have never eaten bread in their lives. I am sick of magazines screaming at me about a new celebrity having lost or gained weight. I am sick of being told that I beauty is the key to happiness. Screw these damn ideologies of beauty.

I am not bitter, quite the opposite, in fact – it saddens me that people put so much value in their beauty. It infuriates me that this society has made us judge our outer shells so harshly when it plays such little significance to the actual type of people we are.

Men’s beauty is not even discussed in mainstream media, men are either expected to be crazy toned with abs that you could use to grate cheese to go over your baked beans on toast or they are seen as fat, bald and hairy. And speaking of hair – when did that become something so gross? Why does every young human on this planet think it is a good idea to wax everything off? We are not dolls and we’re not made of plastic. The hair industry has grown in financial success every year for too many years. In America, laser hair removal alone is worth £244m. That’s a hell of a lot of money to ensure that you look ‘clean.’ Just wash yourself, it would be cheaper.

Saying that I do shave, mainly because I want to and also because I feel slightly obligated. Which is wrong but I can’t help it. But I do wonder who made up all these rules on the ideal beauty.

Who the hell decided that long hair on women is best? Who came up with the genius idea that women to be defined as sexy should have the waist they had when they were 9-years-old? Who thought that women needed to be so damn perfect?

Recently, and I use that word loosely, thin has been directly linked with beauty. As though if you pass a size 10 you are a) no longer a woman and b) no longer attractive which in turn creates c) you are no longer happy. Advertisements use the word health to disguise an unhealthy message that thin is best, and that you are never thin enough. This is unhealthy for so many reasons I could write another blog post entirely on that. This is why people aren’t happy, this is why insecurity is as common as blinking. We are constantly trying to achieve a beauty that we haven’t even given ourselves a chance to consider.

We accept this ideology of beauty straight away. Digest it happily and then beat ourselves up for not achieving what wonderful cameras, good editing and great photoshop skills can do. There’s a reason we cannot achieve that ideal and it’s because it doesn’t exist.

Physical beauty is only skin deep and although it’s important to feel beautiful, it is not the most important thing. It is not the only thing. You are more than beautiful. If that is all there is to you, then you’re selling yourself short. A person is loved and admired because of their actions, their words, their relationships, their personality. Everyone close to you is beautiful to you – that’s more than likely because of their personalities and your relationship with them (not calling your friends and family ugly but you get what I mean).

To tell someone they are beautiful is lovely, and I enjoy getting the compliment as much as the next person. But I would rather be known for my mind, my thoughts, my writing, my work and for how I treat the people I love than for the way my face and body conforms to that tiny cut-out woman shape that the beauty, cosmetic, entertainment and advertising industries persuade us to force ourselves through in order to make us happy.

Trying to conform is not happiness. People are consistently trying to fight stereotypes and being the same through their words and their actions but when it comes to looks everyone seems to want to fit the same template. That isn’t a beautiful way to live life. It’s a way to consistently feel disappointed for falling short of an impossibly high bar.

You are more than beautiful.


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A rant on a stupid image

Stupid QuoteI saw this image on Piccsy.com about three days ago and it annoyed me so much that I have had to write a blog post on it. Reading it, you may not see where my anger lies and my annoyance may say more about me than it does about the damn image but I need to get this off my chest before it makes me yell at someone who doesn’t deserve it.

My issue comes with the second line. The first line is fine: ‘don’t ignore your dreams’ – a beautiful sentiment and one I fully support but the second line makes a judgement on those dreams. ‘Don’t work too much’ sums up in four lovely words what is wrong with so much in today’s world.

Firstly, it indicates that work cannot be a dream. That your dreams can not surround the working world or any sort of professional accomplishment because, after all, to achieve said professional accomplishment working hard is exactly what you need to do.This then ties in to the mentality that work is crap and you only do it for the money. This may be true for many people, but it removes aspiration and inspiration. It means a person will never want to grow professionally because they feel it is just means to an end. But the truth is that you spend most of your adult life working, if you can’t be happy at work and feel like you can grow then you won’t be happy at work and you won’t do as well. It means you won’t progress and that mood will affect your personal life. It means happiness can never be properly attained because you don’t feel properly fulfilled. Basically, in my opinion, it’s a ridiculous way to live.

To rule out work as a means to an end is the same as ruling out living in a home because you spend more time out of it. Sounds stupid right?

To finish this pointless quote with ‘Be Happy’ further tries to push the point that to be happy you should spend your life playing around, being so outspoken you’re classed as rude and spending time with your friends. Happiness is a lot of things and work should not be dismissed as something that can make people happy. Doing this just enforces a lazy culture of wanting something for nothing and that the easy road is the best one.

Work does not have to be tiresome, boring and a dark tunnel. Work can be stimulating, enjoyable and fulfilling. It can be the cause of happiness and for some people, there reason for happiness.

Many people already see work as a chore when they should see it as an opportunity to be better, get better and do better. Stupid, pointless, ridiculous quotes like this subliminally enforce the message and that is why this picture has infuriated me so. It is not inspiring, and just because a few short sentences are placed prettily on top of a beautiful background does not make them so, especially when the best you can do is ‘Be Happy’ – aw thanks genius – I wasn’t sure what to do with my life until I saw this.

 


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Public Displays of Affection

I have a few people on Facebook who often like to put up status’ about how much they love their boyfriends/girlfriends and how lucky they are to be in a relationship and how they just can’t wait to get married to said boyfriend/girlfriend and that they are currently snuggled up in bed (they can’t be having a good time if they’re on Facebook though).

Also the other day as I attempted to buy a sandwich from Marks & Spencers and was obstructed by a young couple who seemed to have glued themselves together at the lips. I don’t know what it was about the BLT sandwiches, but it was turning them on. I had to choose a chicken and bacon instead and everyone knows it’s not the same when your heart is set on a BLT. Stupid couple.

Prior to this snogging BLT incident, I also had a couple stop in the middle of the street as they were walking to frantically kiss as if they only had seconds to live. Either that or one was choking and the other was trying very hard to dislodge whatever was blocking the airway with his tongue. I almost crashed into them because I wasn’t looking where I was going. That would have been awkward on all kinds of levels.

And just now, the thing that actually prompted this post was a Facebook posting of a girl in bed with her boyfriend. It is photographed in a way to look like they’re both naked, which they may be, but that’s beside the point. The caption read ‘love my hubby so much, just chilling in bed, perfect evening.’ After I had finished being sick in my mouth and the anger had subsided at her lack of commas (I had to include them in my quote because otherwise I would have had an aneurism), I came to the conclusion that in our consistently sharing society, public displays of affection (or PDAs as I like to call them) have become an awful, terrible addition to our everyday lives.

I am very much in love with my boyfriend. He is lovely and smart and sometimes he smells but that’s okay. We are in a solid relationship and though he knows I love him and he loves me we do not feel the need to consistently post our adoration for each other on social media. Or to attack each other with our tongue in public. It doesn’t make us any less of a couple.

It is one thing seeing a couple lean in for a kiss. A five minute snog in the sandwich aisle or in the middle of a busy shop, however, is inappropriate. It is too much information and something that is supposed to be intimate. It’s like deciding to go for a poo in the middle of the road just because you truly are that desperate. Everybody can hold it in, be it the need for a poo or a passionate kiss. You can hold your ravenous hormones in for a little while until you get home, or into a cupboard or something – I don’t know, whatever floats your boat I guess.

As for Facebook, yes I’ve heard it all before: “if you don’t like it, delete me,” “it’s my page so I can do what I want.” Fine. But just know that you sound pompous whenever you put over the top messages of love to your loved one. Especially when it’s followed by a thousand fullstops. For the record, an ellipsis only uses three of them.

The funny thing is a lot of these over the top PDAs, especially online, seem to come from either of these categories. a) the one that cheated on a night out because they were, like, really, really, really drunk. b) the one that has had more relationships than they’ve had clean socks. c) the one that has recently entered into a relationship with the best person EVER. d) the one couple that have been together forever and have kind of morphed into one person, like some kind of siamese twin.

I think it’s great that everyone is so in love. Congratulations. It’s a great feeling, probably the best feeling ever. But please do not force your relationship down everybody’s throat. Nobody wants to see you practically dry-hump your other half while they are trying to get somewhere. Especially when I only have half an hour to get some lunch.

Nobody wants you to put over-the-top statuses on your social media about how crazy in love you are or how you’re snuggled up to your loved one while you watch tv. So am I, so is half of the country, it’s no big deal. And please, please stop posting pictures with the both of you in bed semi-naked – that’s just gross and I’m pretty sure it’s crossing some kind of line, even if you ‘both have funny bed hair LOL.’

If you want to write about love or you want to write about your relationship then check these out for inspiration. Just click here or here. There are lots more but these are my two favourite love blog posts (I’m going for the number two because of the whole love and couple thing, nice touch right?).

The emotion is amazing enough that you don’t have to go over the top to express it usually. Just thought you should know.

See? This is what PDA looks like to the people that see it.

See? This is what PDA looks like to the people that see it. If that isn’t enough to put people off, I don’t know what is.


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Don’t hide it behind a joke

With friends, the line where boundaries can be crossed is a little further away than the line for strangers. It is usually even slightly further for family. It’s all about a level of trust and mutual knowledge of when enough is enough. But sometimes, things go over the top. So much in fact, that a person can be left feeling offended or upset. The reason a comment could have got so out of hand? It was wrapped in a joke.

The word joke now seems to be an umbrella term that includes things that aren’t very funny at all – which is what a joke is supposed to be. Like many words today, joke has lost most of its original meaning. Teasing is a joke, laughing at someone else is a joke. It just seems to me a little like people who are too cowardly to be branded offensive and so laugh everything off with a “it’s a joke.”

Which is ridiculous. I wouldn’t punch someone in the face and say that I was only playing. Even if we started off by play-fighting. I would acknowledge that I had taken it too far. But that has always been the blessing and curse of the spoken and written language. It is powerful.

A word’s power may mean more or less depending on the person, their mood, the setting. It all adds to those words. A word is a little like a sponge, it absorbs everything around it and this makes it a little more complex.

An example is racism and sexism. Although larger society knows that judging someone based on the colour of their skin or their reproductive organs in wrong, it does not stop people from making light humour of serious topics. This is fine to an extent, but it is very easy to over-step the mark.

Everyone is entitled to an opinion even if someone else dubs it an unfair one. Everyone is entitled to try their hand at being as funny as they think they are in their heads. Everyone is allowed to push boundaries a little but don’t hide offensive comments behind a joke. That just highlights that you know what you’re saying has passed any sort of decent limit.

To anger or upset someone and then claim it is all a joke only serves to show that you are happy to dismiss all your comments with a laugh and a smile.

People use the word joke as a way of explaining offensive comments or rude remarks. They use this against the person their words are directed to. After all, who should get offended by a joke apart from serious, dull and uptight people?

Shakespeare’s Juliet once claimed: A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. The same applies here. Just because you call a slightly racist comment a joke doesn’t make it one. The fact you have called an offensive comment about women a joke doesn’t dismiss the fact that you said it. It doesn’t wipe your slate clean.

The truth is, you can call a spider, a puppy as many times as you want and it doesn’t change the fact that the spider still has eight legs and can frighten whole populations of people. Calling something by another name does not change what that thing is. You’re just playing with semantics.

If you want to speak your mind, fine, do it. I don’t have to agree with what is said, like it or even condone it. After all, I am no more important than you are. But don’t pretend it’s something else. At least have the courage to say it and accept what you have just said. Change what you say, if you’re not comfortable with the words that have left your mouth. Don’t name it something else for your own self-conscience. You’re not fooling anybody.


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Religion and women

Yesterday it was announced that the introduction of women bishops was rejected by the Church of England. Although many officials used all the right words like ‘sad’ and ‘disappointed’ and ‘a missed opportunity’ but frankly it’s not good enough.

I fully believe and appreciate that a religion should be allowed to practice freely as long as it does not pervert the justice of the country, which a religion usually does not do. However I do feel that religions should be forced to at least enforce equality in their higher level positions.

I do not claim to be religious but I have read the bible and only a few extracts of the Qua’ran so my knowledge of all religions is of course limited in terms of their holy texts. However, I do believe that certain things should evolve along with the century the religion is trying to survive in.

Equality amongst the genders is a taboo that is trying to be eradicated in modern society, how well that’s going is another issue entirely, but the whole gender equality seems to be ignored in religion. As if it is an area of society and people’s lives that is untouchable.

This isn’t only ludicrous but unfair. What makes a man’s faith stronger than a woman’s? What makes the way a woman prays and teaches what is in the holy text of her religion worse than the way a man does it?

The truth is that although a religion may be old and dating back to stories from 2000 years ago, 5000 years ago or 10,000 years ago it does not mean that the religion cannot adapt without losing sense of it’s fundamental meanings and teachings.

As much as it is argued all religious texts have a message of love, faith, loyalty, peace, patience and virtue at its core. They may have different named Gods, different beings and different events but these are the messages they try to convey.

This should go so far as to extend to women being equals. I understand that religion is deeply rooted with tradition but the church of England is at risk of alienating future generations by not allowing women to become bishops.

Many articles have stated officials and other important people in the church agreeing that women will become bishops, one day. But those are just words. In this instance, actions speak louder and the fact that the introduction of women bishops was rejected shouts a lot louder than the fact that many people have said that women bishops will appear in their lifetime. So what was the problem with today? Why are women forced to wait another few years?

If the Church of England wants to remain relevant and continue to function in a modern society it needs to adapt to the changing times. A religion’s fundamental wants for its people and the world do not change with the introduction of women into higher ranking roles. In fact, it helps better the ideology and message that a religion wants to spread of love, and fairness.

It seems a little silly to pick and choose when equality is a good thing and when it should be ignored. The phrase practice what you preach springs to mind.


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Act like a lady, think like a man. And other stupid sayings.

I was recently reminded of one of those most ridiculous sayings that I have ever heard. Act like a lady, think like a man. How stupid. I want to swear, this saying makes me so angry. I’m very grateful to not hear this in my daily life. The saying implies the very ignorant Victorian belief that women should be seen and not heard. That the only way to succeed is to act like a doll while thinking like a man, because only a man has the brain capacity to do well and actually get what they want. The only way for a person to be successful is to imitate said thinking. How very, very stupid.

To release some anger and to remind myself that there are extremely stupid sayings out there, here’s my list of the best worst three (I’m not sure which one I should be using).

It’s not rocket science

I know it isn’t. If it was, I would be asking someone that understood something about rocket science. I wouldn’t be asking you. Don’t make me feel stupid by stating that it isn’t something complicated. I don’t care, just answer my damn question or don’t. But don’t be smug about it.

Not being funny but (you can replace funny with any other adjective)

This saying is stupid no matter what adjective is used. Especially because after this is spoken by the person they usually prove that they’re not. Which makes the phrase true, yes, but pointless. So damn pointless. I don’t understand the reasoning behind stating that you’re not going to be funny and then saying something extremely dull. At least stick a little sarcasm in there. Better yet, just don’t use this line.

Give it 110%

This is impossible. When people say this to me, I want to punch them in the face. Most people don’t even give 80%, I have seen that for myself. So don’t kid yourself and others by saying you’re giving 110% – to do this you’d have to die and your spirit use 10% of its energy to finish the task. To give 100% is a big damn deal, especially if you’re 100% lasts longer than a firework.