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.

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A love story in 100 words

There once was a woman (not a girl) who met a man.

They did not fall in love immediately but got to know each other, became more and more curious and enthralled and eventually without even realising it had happened, they fell in love.

It was good, then hard, then they worked at it and kept working at it and it stayed being good. There were no break ups and no dramas. There were fights and shouting and apologies quickly followed.

There are kisses, hugs, touching. It is fun and hard and entertaining and exciting and difficult and easy. Indescribable.

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Two years

I have always tried to avoid talking about love. Words don’t seem to do it justice and I am not a skilled enough writer to even come close to writing about those types of emotions. But today is a special day. I wouldn’t have used this blog to put something personal on it, but I’m changing and growing and learning. Call it an experiment. Happy two years, here’s to many more.

Image taken from http://www.pinterest.com

2010: It’s dark outside. The film has finished and the credits are rolling. The curtains aren’t drawn and the orange light from the streetlamp outside is shining in. He asks me to stay, I do. That’s it.

2012: A year living together and now facing a year of weekend visits. Hit a few walls, seen a few bumps, most of it has been sunny. We’ve grown, learnt a lot about ourselves and each other. Happier and stronger than ever. Excited now and excited about the future. Lots of love around. That’s it.


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No Romeo and Juliet

I love Shakespeare and I love the play Romeo and Juliet. I studied it at school and fell in love with it, the play to me was beautifully dramatic and exactly what a tragedy of young love should be. Thinking about it now when I am almost grown up (21 yesterday!), Shakespeare is clearly mocking the over exaggerated fairytale love. Although I adore Romeo, he isn’t a rational being: falling out of love with Rosaline as fast as he falls in love with Juliet. But people like this ‘clean’ (although I don’t consider suicide of two under eighteens clean), hyperbolic and instant loveI’m not sure why really. Maybe because it’s an ideal; an unattainable yet a goal nonetheless; maybe because people wish they could have a love as extreme and ‘perfect’ as Romeo and Juliet’s, that knows no boundaries (but hopefully without the whole killing and dying thing).

Romeo and Juliet, 1884

I have to admit, I do like my things perfect optimal. Just because I’m ambitious and a little bit of a perfectionist. But a love like Romeo and Juliet’s is ridiculous. I’m one of the saps in love, I’ve been with the boy for a little while now (can’t be bothered to actually count roughly how long) but I can admit he annoys the hell out of me sometimes. I’m sure I do the same to him, though not as much obviously! We are no Romeo and Juliet, but where would the fun be in being like this idealised couple?

I can only imagine how exhausting it would be to be a couple like Romeo and Juliet. It would mean that if there was an argument, we’d probably have to jump off a bridge just to deal with the pain. It would mean consistently talking in massive soliloquies and not with each other. It would mean hardly knowing each other and pretending they are perfect. Being like Romeo and Juliet would mean no making up after an argument; it would mean no challenging of each other (in a good way) or facing challenges together; it would mean no getting to know each other; it would mean reaching the peak of the relationship, the utmost love you could ever feel, by day six of said relationship.

The beauty of a relationship comes from the imperfections as well as the perfect moments. It comes from the support you give one another and the times you enjoy together. The perfect relationship isn’t perfect because it’s missing the raw emotion that only comes from imperfections.

Shakespeare when writing Romeo and Juliet is believed to have used many different works of idealising loves such as Petrarch’s Canzionere. He took the things said by these writers that turned their human loves into unrealistic goddesses and made a literal translation. He wanted to display the absurdity of a young, extreme, idealised love. That, like a firework, it may be beautiful but it is short lived. It only creates tragedy because this idealised and unattainable love is not possible to reach and is short lived. If Romeo and Juliet had lived and run away together, reality would have set in. Their doe eyed idealisation of each other would be tarnished once they realised they could not live up to the high pedestal they had both put each other on. And with Romeo’s track record, he would have fallen in love with the next pretty girl that came along.

If Romeo and Juliet had stayed together, lived together and truly been together; I don’t think they would have been singing sonnets to each other any longer. Not because reality means love can’t exist but because an unrealistic expectation of a person and a relationship being perfect is always doomed to fail.

So the boy and I may not be any Romeo and Juliet, but that’s okay. I like to think we have it better than these ‘perfect’ loves of Romeo and Juliet.