Friday, 30 May 2014

University #1: What and Where

This is going to be the first in what will hopefully become a series of University related posts. This post is aimed at those who are either at the end of GCSEs or at the end of their AS level studies. I don't know how this would correlate to other parts of the world - sorry! - but it would be two of three years before you'd actually start going to University. I'm coming towards the end of my second year of Uni, and I've had my ups and downs just like everyone else. Hopefully this post will start to answer a couple of question you might have!

1) Do you want to go to University and WHY? This feels like a silly question, and if you're reading this you've probably already decided that Uni is the right choice for you. There are obviously loads of pros and cons to going to uni, but it's important that you know why it is that YOU specifically want to go. Maybe its because you know exactly what career you want and you know what it takes to get there? Maybe its because you don't know what career you want, so want to stay in education a bit longer to find out whats out there? Maybe you want to move out from your parents house, go somewhere new and meet a whole new set of people? Maybe you just love to study? At the end of the day, it doesn't really matter what your reasons are, just so long as you have one and its important to YOU. I know people who've applied to and gone to Uni just because its what everyone else was doing, and they haven't lasted very long. Whether you decided Higher Education is right for you or not, the focus has to be on you.

For me, I never considered another option. I was academic at school, and knew exactly what I wanted to study. I also wanted to suspend 'real life' for as long as possible, so staying in education felt like the perfect choice!

2) What are you going to study? This is probably one of the most important things you've got to have started thinking about before you've selected your A level subjects (although, if you haven't thought about it yet and you're at the end of AS studies don't worry!) Some uni's will demand that you have certain A Levels at a certain grade before you can study their course - for example I'm on an English literature with creative writing course, and part of the course requirement was an A grade in either English lit or English lang (or the combined option). Most arts or humanities courses will only specify a grade in the subject you want to study, but for some science or medicine related courses they might asks for multiple subject requirements (ie, for medicine they may ask for an A grade in Chemistry, as well as another Science or Maths subject with a C grade at AS in Maths). What you pick at A level becomes super important for getting on the course you want to do, so its worth picking your options carefully.

If you don't know what you want to study yet, I'd recommend picking a range of subjects which work well together and you have an interest in. In my AS year I studied English lit, English lang, politics and media. I knew I wanted to do a literature course, but I needed some complimentary subjects too. I'd never studied politics before and it became my second favourite lesson (after Eng lit). Its worth going for something you've never tried before, but if you can go for a taster session before I'd really recommend it - I almost took sociology, but when I hated the taster session I knew that I wouldn't do well in it.

3) Where do you want to study? This is sometimes a hard question. For me, location didn't matter - I ended up going to the Uni with the best course which just so happened to be my local university. For one of my friends, they knew they wanted to be near the sea or a large body of water, so ruled out city universities. There are lots of things to consider when picking a uni, particularly their reputation and their expectations: what grades do they want you to get, are these grades achievable, and do these grades reflect the reputation of the course itself? Once you've narrowed down your options, its a good idea to check out open days. Most unis start holding open days towards the end of June, so its worth getting in there early. You can also go down the route of arranging private talks with the head of subject at your prospective uni's - it'll make you more memorable and will answer your specific set of questions or concerns.

This is also a question you can't really answer until the end of your AS year - you need to have some sort of idea what level you are working at and you need to make the universities expectations and your own realistic: if a university is asking for 3 A's and you got three D's and an E at AS, you're either going to have to do a lot of work, or change for a university which wants C's. Don't set a ridiculously high bar for yourself - it'll just stress you out.

If you do know exactly where you want to go at GCSE, then well done as you're a couple of steps ahead of everyone else! It just means you have to work with a clear goal throughout your A levels - and bear in mind that universities change their requirements each year.

4) Have you started work on your personal statement? This only applies to AS level students, although its useful to think about doing things to create material for your statement during the summer after GCSEs. The summer after AS levels is the perfect time to start work on your personal statement. Some universities will read statements, hold interviews and allocate places as soon as they start receiving them, so its worth it to get a statement in early. Cambridge and Oxford have a lot earlier deadlines than most other uni's, so if you want a shot at getting in you'll need to apply as soon as possible (their application process is a bit different and a lot more intense than most other UK uni's, so you might want to check that out before you apply).

If you're a bit stuck on what to put in your personal statement, remember universities want to know you're passionate about their subject AND that you're a rounded individual. Hobbies outside of school or extra curricular activities look great, as does work and volunteering experience. Its worth remembering that personal statements aren't very long, so only pack in what you think is really important and will make you stand out! I put a funny fact about me at the beginning of my statement (and made sure it was relative to the course I wanted), so it doesn't all have to be dry and informational. I had so many meetings with my form tutor about my statement - he was sure it should be organised differently - but remember at the end of the day its a PERSONAL statement. Take advice, but make sure it still feels like you.

I hope that helps a bit. If there's anything you'd really like to know leave me a comment  or tweet me @VickiMaitland and I'll try to make a post about it asap, or if its super specific/urgent I can reply to you there and then!Over the next two weeks I'll be doing an English Lit specific post about how to prepare over the summer, so if you've got any specific questions about that, drop me a line and I'll try to cover them!

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Beauty: Everyday Make-Up Look 1

I love make-up, and love to watch make-up tutorials on YouTube, but as a student I don't have the money to spend on loads of high-end products. I also try to keep all my make-up cruelty free, and almost everything you'll see in this post is from cruelty-free brand eyes. lips. face or elf. I'm not the most skilled at applying make-up, and I don't have very good brushes, but this is pretty much what I'll do on my face almost every day. The shades and colours I use vary, so I’ve labelled this as ‘Look 1’. It’s my most natural look. Sorry for the bad image quality. I’m using my webcam, and my room only has one Velux window in it, so I’ve not got the best light source either!

1) This is me, pretty much straight out of the shower. I’ve used a face wash and have moisturised my skin (see my skin care routine if you’d like to know what products I’ve used). Whilst letting the moisturiser settle into my skin, I’ve got dressed and styled my hair into a small bun on the top of my head. 

2) The first thing I do is apply concealer under my eyes and over my lids in large dots. I my eyes can look quite dark and tired, so this brightens them up. The concealer I use is B. Under-eye concealer in the shade 060 light/medium. It’s the first concealer I’ve ever bought, so I can’t really compare it to any others. It applies pretty well and appears to last, although its perhaps slightly too yellow for my skin tone. I smudge it in with my fingers then blend it out with a stippling brush.

3) I then start on my eye shadow, all of the shades come from the elf natural palette. This palette is pretty cheap, and I got it on offer, but I’m not super impressed with it – the light shades are very pale and the dark shades are quite dark. But I’ve got used to working with it, and I’ll be using it for most of my make-up looks on this blog. I begin with a light, pink shade and apply it to the inner corner of my eye.

4) I take a medium, brown-pink shade next, and apply it all over my lid.

5) I take a dark, rusty-brown shade and apply it to my crease and outer corner, and blend well.


6) Brow time! Using the elf brow filler in the shade medium I fill the inner corner and outer curve of my brow. I've got pretty think brows already, so I like to capitalise on them and make them stand out. Once again, this isn't the best brow filler - its too think and too pink - but its cheap, cruelty-free and will do the job on my brows. If you've got thinner brows, though, I'd avoid using it as it has a large wax-crayon tip.

 7) I blend the product through my brows using a spooly brush. This both distributes the product and shapes my brow.

8) Using the highlighter end of the brow pencil, I draw a line under each brow and blend it down with my finger.

 9) I don't always do this, but I really notice the difference when I do. My lash-curlers are super old and I really need to change the rubber on them as they're covered in old make-up.

10) Lashes curled, I apply m eye-liner. I always curl my lashes before doing liner as I'm impatient and always manage to smudge the liner if I do it the other way round.

This liner is another elf product, and I'm pretty happy with it. It's just a basic liquid liner with a brush tip.  I apply is from the corner to the centre of my lid, then from the farthest tip to the outer corner. This gives me the basic shape. I then move from centre back to tip, and fill in any white space. My eye today was a long flick, but on other make up days I'll change up what I'll do. This is about as minimal as my eyeliner gets.

Its a happy day when my eyeliner is perfectly matching, and today its a bit off on one side, but it'll do!

11) I always wear mascara. I'm pretty happy with this elf mascara, but the wand is slightly too bendy for my liking. I zigzag it through the roots of my lashes, then pull it up to coat the tips.

I always do both top and bottom lashes - but I won't place the wand back into the pot before covering my bottom lashes, I just use up whatever's left on my wand from the top.

12) I like to apply lipstick when I can. This is another elf product, and it's in the shade flirtatious. Elf lipsticks have some great colours, but they transfer really badly and are very creamy. This one got broke on a night out, so that's why it looks disgusting in this picture!

There you have it! This usually takes me about 10 minutes to do in the morning, depending on how accurate my liner is first try!

If you've got any recommendations for affordable cruelty-free products I'd love to hear about them! You can leave replies in the comments or tweet me @VickiMaitland

Monday, 26 May 2014

Beauty: Skin Care Routine May 2014

I posted my last skin care routine this time last year. I've mixed a few bits up since then, so here's what I do now. 

I've got normal-oily skin. I don't have a problem with acne, but I do have a problem with blackheads. As disgusting as it is, I can’t seem to get rid of them. I’ve only got myself to blame – I didn’t see the need in washing my face every day till far too late into my teenage years, and by that time puberty had done its damage. If you’ve got any recommendations for how to get rid of them, I’d love to hear them!

At the moment I use 5 main products on my skin.

1)     Simple - Kind To Eyes Nourishing Eye Make-Up Remover Cream
2)     Simple - Kind To Skin Vital Vitamin Foaming Cleanser
3)     Simple - Kind To Skin Smoothing Facial Scrub
4)     Simple - Kind To Skin Soothing Facial Toner
5)     Olay – Essentials Complete Care Normal/Oily SPF15 Daily Fluid

If it’s the evening I start by removing any eye make-up I’ve got on (usually some combination of eye shadow, liquid liner and mascara, as well as some under-eye concealer) by applying a small squirt of (1) to a cotton pad and rubbing it gently over my eyelid and through my lash line. I cannot fault this product, it does exactly what it says on the tin, but if it gets in your eyes it still stings a little, so apply this carefully. Besides, it’s not good to apply pressure to your eyelid. I rub my eyes till a majority of my makeup is off and the pad is nice and dirty. If it’s the morning I don’t have anything on so I skip this step.

I then dampen my face with warm water, squirt a couple of pumps of cleanser into my fingers and massage it over my face, focussing on my T-zone. This also gets rid of any face-makeup I’ve got on (not that I often do a full face).

I rinse that off, squeeze not even a penny sized amount of exfoliator onto my hands and rub all over my face – focussing on my nose and cheeks (I suffer from a skin condition which means I have over-reproductive skin cells on my cheeks and upper arms. It’s mostly gone away on my face now, but if I don't remove the dead cells I can get small lumps, and it means that my cheeks are constantly rosy).

I rinse all that off too and pat my face dry with a flannel. Using another cotton pad apply a little toner in upwards motions over my face and let it dry for a few moments whilst I brush my teeth. I then apply a 20p sized amount of moisturiser to my face and neck. I never used to moisturise as I always thought my skin was too oily for it to be necessary, but I’ve since learnt that all the harsh oil-removers I was using was only causing my skin to think it was de-hydrated and needed to produce even more oil! Since I’ve started applying moisturiser twice daily I’ve noticed a huge difference in how my skin looks and feels, as well as how much oil it produces.

That’s pretty much it. I don’t always do everything, and I don’t always do it twice daily – it just depends how much of a rush I’m in. If I have got a few extra minutes to spare, I’ll also use Superdrug Dead-Sea Mud Mask. My skin always looks and feels so much nicer after I’ve used it, and the great thing about it is you can actually see the oil being pulled from your skin – which is disgusting and interesting all at the same time. If I apply this, I’ll do it after my wash routine, but before my moisturiser. Most Superdrug own brand products are also cruelty-free, and as I’m trying to make all my facial care cruelty-free next time I run out of any of the above products I’m going to try an own brand alternative. I’ll keep you posted!

It also goes without saying that I use a clean flannel (I try to change them weekly) and always wash my hands before touching my face. IIf it’s the morning I try to have a drink of water (hot with a slice of lemon is my favourite, or black or green tea with lemon if I need a caffeine boost). Hydration is the key to healthy glowing skin, and every night you breathe out a load of water, so it’s best to revitalise that as soon as possible.

Let me know if you know any affordable cruelty-free duplicates for any of the products I’ve used – particularly the eye make-up remover cream and the daily fluid. You can leave recommendations in the comments or tweet me @VickiMaitland


Tuesday, 20 May 2014

#reviewsdaytuesday: Tyger Takes On... Porn (BBC3)

As I think you might be able to tell from the title of this post, this programme shows some sexually explicit content. If you are under the age of 16 and feel comfortable witnessing and hearing about this, or if you're over the age of 16 (and similarly feel comfortable to do so) I would urge you to go and watch the show. I will also warn you that there is a mention of rape and rape fantasy towards the end of the show, so, if that is triggering for you, skip from 43 minutes to 46 minutes.

The show was broadcast on 15th May and is available on iPlayer for the next 3 weeks.

Similarly, this post will be discussing the explicit content of the show, so if you are uncomfortable with this, you can read my last post about what I do to my hair!

This show comes from a slightly 'laddy' perspective - not so much in the information it's giving (although, I'd say it tends to focus on boys watching porn and the female porn stars, rather than girls watching porn) but rather in the little clips of Tyger which appear to be there because the writers of the show are aware this could be an awkward topic and are trying to play it for laughs. This irritated me, particularly at the start of the programme as I was afraid that this was going to be a show which was created as an excuse for the BBC to showcase a 'cool' star, and these clips felt very self conscious.

Happily, however, the main content of the show was, for the most part, very thoughtful, insightful, and, most importantly, well-rounded. Throughout the show, Tyger was very open and frank about his own experiences with porn, as well as his own sex life, and how he thinks the former may have influenced the latter. I should also mention that Tyger grew up in a home very open about porn, as both his parents worked in the industry. Aside from the 'put your cock away' jokes with his Dad, I thought this was an interesting and insightful aspect to the show, as not many teens can say they grew up in a house that was open to porn. I certainly didn't (although, I should mention that porn has no appeal to me, and I've never really watched it except from when a guy put it on at a house party - much to the disgust of most of the party goers). 

The show did a relatively good job of interviewing both men and women equally when it came to the broader surveys about porn consumption, however when it came to the effects porn has on an individual’s sex-life there was a definite focus on men. This might be simply because it is men's expectations of sex which are most heavily impacted by porn - although this being said it takes two to have sex and this show was entirely focused on heterosexual porn and relationships, so you would think it would impact on women too (and the one occasion when he did interview a women about the impact of porn on her relationship it was particularly disturbing and troubling). The interviews he did with some of the men whose sex-lives had been most heavily impacted by porn were very revealing: they were only turned on by the porn-star look, they expected porn-style sex, they expected their sexual partners to do all the things porn stars would do and they weren't very good as discussing sex with their partners. I was particularly interested when he re-evaluated his own porn consumption and subsequent sexual expectations, as this opened up for a discussion of what is 'too much porn' and made the suggestion that if you say 'I watch porn once a week' that is still an addiction.

However, the moment in the programme which I most enjoyed was Tyger's interview with Cindy Gallop, founder of the 'Make Love Not Porn' campaign. Cindy's discussion was the real turning point in the show for me, and opened up the discussion I was most looking forward to - we need to equally blame the porn industry as well as society’s reluctance to discuss sex when we are looking to explore the negative impact of porn on my generation's experience of sex. Sadly, this discussion wasn't taken much further in the programme, though I think it is the most important discussion the how had, and I partly feel this was because they wanted to keep their audience profile entertained, so decided instead to show porn being filmed. 

Whilst showing the porn being filmed was helpful to de-romanticising porn, I wonder whether or not the show could have found the time to more fully discuss the how impact of sexual education (or lack thereof) works in tandem with an ever expanding porn industry and ever increasing availability of porn. I also was expecting to have a fuller discussion of how the online free to view porn sites were impacting on the professional porn industry, which never really became fully realised.

Over all, the programme was useful as a springboard for discussion, and I'm looking forward to seeing the next in the series of Tyger Takes On

Monday, 19 May 2014

Beauty: Hair Care Routine May 2014

I have an unusual hair type. I have ringlet curls, with very fine, very thin hair. But, I figure I can't be the only one with this kind of annoying hair, so I thought I'd make a post to share my method of getting the most out of my hair!

Like most curlies, I cannot go a day without washing my hair. This is partly because curly hair prevents any oils from the top of your head working their way down to the ends throughout the day, and partly because as soon as I brush my hair it looses 80% of the curl as I separate all the hair strands. Because I've also got very fine, thin hair this also means it doesn't have the weight to obey gravity*, and turns into a frizzy mess. So every morning I start by washing my hair (I tie this in with my daily shower).

When I was at home I would almost always use Pantene Pro-V Aqua Light in both the shampoo and conditioner. This was mostly because Mum had always used Pantene and this was the product which worked best for me out of their range. However, since moving to Uni, I've almost exclusively used Herbal Essences and my hair seems to love it! I'm sure it’s been softer and less dry since I've been using it. My only complaint is the wavy bottle - the cap is way too awkward to squeeze all the product out off when it's running low and hard to remove (especially with wet, soapy hands!). Luckily for me, they still have a couple of their products in traditional flip-top bottles, so I rotate between those (the Silk 'n' Shine or Moisture Balance). Both products work really well, I just find rotating between bottles keeps my hair rejuvenated as it stops it from getting too familiar with one. Not sure if there's a scientific reason behind it, but I always feel like my hair becomes lack lustre if I keep using the same type of product for a couple of bottles.

I start, as one would expect, with the shampoo, and just massage it into my scalp before rinsing. Then I apply the conditioner – which is where things get a little bit more technical (or as technical as you can get washing hair). I start by evenly distributing the conditioner through the lower ¼ of my hair. This is the cancel out the problem of dry ends I explained previously. I then get a hair brush and brush the product through the entirety of my hair. Curly hair sheds just as much as any other hair type, but because the hair gets trapped in the curls it tends to sit in my hair rather than falling out during the day. Brushing it not only gets rid of all the dead hair, but also makes sure the product is evenly distributed through my hair. I’ll usually leave this to sit in my hair whilst  do all my other shower bits and bobs so it can soak right in.

Out of the shower I towel ‘dry’ my hair. Heat on my hair kills it, not to mention gives volume I don’t really need. I brush it through again (it’s still pretty damp at this stage, but not dripping) and style it for the day. Once my hair is how I want it, I squirt Wella Shockwaves: Curls and Waves Mousse into my palm and scrunch it through my hair. This weighs down my hair, giving it a better curl and stops fly-aways too.

Then I just hope that my hair does what it’s told for the rest of the day!

If I really want to pamper my hair, and if I’ve got the time, I’ll apply a hair mask. I apply castor oil into the roots of my hair, then brush it through. Then, I’ll apply coconut oil to the bottom half of my hair. If I can, I’ll sit with a warn towel over my head for a couple of hours, but half an hour will do, then take my normal shower. This is by no means a daily routine! I try to do it a couple of times a month if I can, though.

Are you curly like me? Let me know any tips and tricks you might have either in the comments or by tweeting me @VickiMaitland.

*Not scientific fact.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Tag: Social Media Book Tag

I am a huge fan of book tags, but I rarely see them on blogs. I know lifeofafemalebibliophile has a wonderful Tag Thursdays segment on her blog, but she seems to be the only one I've come across. I find most of the tags on YouTube, which sometimes means there's questions I can't answer, so if you've got a blog and do book tags, or know a blog which does please let me know - I'm always on the look out for new reads!

I found this tag over on Margaret's channel, and it was originally created by Reagan, so with all the admin out of the way let's get down to it!

Twitter: a book you want to share with the world - Rather aptly (because of the length of some of its entries), I've chosen The Lovers Dictionary by David Levithan. I was completely blown away by this book! I'd read Adverbs by Daniel Handler previously, and was pretty impressed with it, and this book has a similar premise but delivers ten times better. Everything about it, from the premise to the layout to the plot to the language was all stunning. AND it's only 215 pages long, so everyone's got the time to read it! I did a review of it over on my book exclusive blog, so if you want to find out more of my thoughts you can check it out here (although if you don't have time to look at it right away I'm planning on transferring a lot of my posts from that blog over here, so it'll probably be up in the next few months anyway).

Facebook: a book you enjoyed that was recommended by someone else - The Night Circus by Erin Mogenstern was recommended to me by my sister. I picked it up expecting it to be a children's fantasy/magic book, and was stunned at how beautiful and adult it was. Definately a YA/adult read, it follows Le Cirque de Reves - a mysterious circus that arrives out of nowhere, opens at dusk and closes at dawn. A wonderful read, and I would definitely recommend it again!

Tumblr: a book you raved out before blogging, but haven't since - When I was younger I adored Inkheart by Cornelia Funke. It was mystical and magical and everything I wanted from a book as a young reader. I really want to go back and re-read it. I saw the film and read one or two of the sequels, but nothing could beat the original...

Myspace: a book you don't plan on re-reading - I like to think I'm pretty good at sticking books out even if I don't like them, but there were several on my eighteenth century literature course which I was very happy to see the back of. Pamela by Samuel Richards is one of those. That book couldn't be over soon enough!

Instagram: a book with a gorgeous cover - Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler. Not only has it got a wonderful cover, but Maria Kalman has done beautiful illustrations throughout. Again, I've done a review here.

YouTube: a book you wish would be made into a movie - The Taliban Cricket Club by Timeri N Murari was full of suspense and action, and set in such a beautiful place with a horrific foreground I could really imagine it looking wonderful and haunting on the big screen.

Skype: a book with characters you wish you could talk to - Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Elizabeth Bennet is one of my favourite characters of all time, and I wish I could have a conversation looking into those fierce eyes! Similarly, I'd love to have a chin wag with almost any of the more minor characters (plotwise, not in our hearts) in Harry Potter.

There you go! I'm tagging anyone who wants to give it a go, but let me know if you do in the comments, or by tweeting me @VickiMaitland

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

#reviewsdaytuesday: BBC2’s Blurred Lines: The New Battle of the Sexes.

After a long weekend away from any and all internet, I finally got round to watching BBC2’s one off show about sexism and the media Blurred Lines: The New Battle of the Sexes, and I have to say it was rather good.

The show covered a lot of ground, including sexism in comedy, sexism in journalism and sexism online, with the premise that it would uncover to what extent the new media had allowed a new kind of sexism or misogyny to breed. Before I go any further, I am going to outline my personal definitions of the terms feminism, sexism and misogyny. These are not dictionary definitions, but simply what I understand the words to mean.

Feminism: The belief that there has been, and continues to be, a systematic oppression of female/women identifying individuals due to the social structure of ‘patriarchy’ – or the dominance of men in society (specifically, cis, straight, white, middle-aged, middle-class men*). Feminism wants to remove this structure from society, and replace it with a system which benefits male indentifying and female identifying individuals equally, of any race, ethnicity, weight, mental or physical ability, or sexual orinetation.

Sexism: Behaving in such a way that assumes that one sex is lesser than the other, specifically that female identifying individuals are lesser than men. A prejudice against female identifying individuals based on their indentity as female.

Misogyny: A hatred of all female identifying individuals, and an active attempt to oppress them and an internalised prejudice against them.

I hope those definitions are clear to everyone. If you have any questions, or need further clarification, feel free to contact me here in the comments, or on my twitter @VickiMaitland. Please note, however, any abuse I experience on any of these social media platforms will result in report.

* I use the term ‘female identifying individuals’ in order to be as inclusive as possible towards the struggles of transwomen and intersex women. I did not use the term ‘male identifying individuals’ in this instance because patriarchy also systematically oppresses transmen and intersex men. The discussion in this post, however, will be primarily focussed on the experiences of women, however, as this was the main concern of the BBC2 programme.

On the whole I believe this programme did an excellent job of showcasing the various forms of sexism and misogyny that women experience in their everyday lives, as well as the mountainous problem we have to face in order to begin to break down this sexist and misogynistic society. It did this primarily by showcasing  the (frequently ridiculous, and, frankly, mostly irrelevant) opinions of middle-aged, middle-class, white men. Unsurprisingly, many of their opinions were concerning, particularly the one of a comedian, who stated that once women were equal they became ‘fair game’ as a punchline – seemingly forgetting that after centuries of oppression by men it is completely unfunny for men to mock them. Comedy only works provided it is poking fun at the oppressor, not the victim of oppression. Making a rape joke in which the victim is the punchline is wholly comparable to making a slavery joke in which the slave is mocked. It is disgusting and inappropriate in a society when the balance of oppression has not been redressed, not to mention highly triggering.

The idea that ‘women should be able to tell when something is a joke’ was another opinion which stormed its way through the programme in various different forms, along with its sidekick ‘it’s not my fault if you get offended by something if I meant it as a joke’. We all need to take responsibilities for our words. Whether or not offence was meant, if offence is taken it is only right to apologise and learn. This links to another worrying view which was expressed: the idea that words on the internet do not matter, as if the internet were this magically fairy land where you can say anything without consequence. The internet, as the programme stated, not only reflects our world but also shapes it. It is just as real as the words in a newspaper, or the words spoken during conversation. Just because something is not tangible does not make it any less real. Just because threats and discrimination can be made anonymously doesn’t make them any less serious. It was particularly worrying as this argument came directly after the interviewer had presented evidence that mild, inferred sexism from journalists on and offline turns into extreme misogyny on social media platforms, which in turn becomes validated in the media.

Interestingly, however, there was also evidence to show that non-sexist men are not made sexist through an exposure to sexist media or comedy. Sexist men, on the other hand, are validated in their opinions and are made more sexist by this. Laughing at a sexist joke only serves to validate the opinions of sexist men. A wonderful quote ran roughly as follows: ‘Sexism is like air pollution. We’re not all producing it, and not all in equal quantities, but we’re all breathing it in.’ This quote is so fabulous as it not only articulates how everyone is effected by sexism (men and women alike), but also forms a wonderful backlash to the cry of ‘not all men’ which is so often heard in debates over sexism. Yes, obviously not all men contribute towards sexism, but all men (and all people) need to be part of the solution.

I’ve spoken quite heavily on the different views of the white, middle-class, middle-aged men which were interviewed, and you may be wondering where my commentary on female opinion will begin. This was one of the main flaws of the programme. It tended to give far more airtime to the views and opinions of those whom it was arguing against than those it was arguing for. Rarely we got to hear about the female experience from a woman (other than words given to us by the presenter Kirsty Ward), and although Germaine Greer and Mary Beard were fascinating to hear from not once were we given the voice of a person of colour, or an obvious member of the LGBTQA+ community. This was a programme wholly encompassed with an old fashioned idea of feminism, the type of feminism which only concerned white, middle-aged, middle-class women. I had hoped, since this programme was directly addressing new media, and today’s sexism, that it would give voice to all female identifying individuals. For me this was the programmes major failure.
The programme also attempted to cover a lot of ground – which sadly meant it didn’t really fully deliver on many of the things it said it would in the opening preview. There was very little discussion of music and music videos. Similarly there was minimal discussion of gaming and the ‘geek girl’. This is not necessarily the fault of the programme itself, but rather the fault of the BBC, as this could easily have been a series with each episode focussing on a different aspect of sexism and the media, rather than a one off, one hour long show.

I'm sure there are plenty of elements of the programme I could have gone in distinctly more depth with, as well as there being many ares I have not covered at all. If you have seen the programme, and do want to contribute to this discussion, I would love to hear what you have to say. If you want to contribute but have not yet seen the programme, I would prefer you check it out first. It should still be here on iplayer for the time being. 

All in all I was impressed with the show, and for me (a cis, straight, white, middle-class woman) I felt my experiences were relatively represented and recognised. I just wish so much of the programme hadn’t been based around the opinions of white old men telling me how I should or should not feel.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Hello Again!

Hello everyone,

If it feels like it's been a while, then you won't be wrong. The last thing I posted on here was all the way back in September! I made the decision to move over to Wordpress in an attempt to create a more 'professional' blog, whatever that means, a while back, but after a few months over there I've come crawling back here.

So, what's new?

I'm planning on giving this blog a bit of a re-vamp, including sorting through old posts and changing the layout etc. From now on, you can expect to find books and lifestyle posts on here (if you're only interested in the books part, you might want to pop over to my wordpress to check those out). I'm going to tentatively set myself a schedule - one post a week, to be up by midnight on Sunday. I might do more during the week, but I don't want to set myself up for too much just yet.

Next year I'll also be entering dissertation mode, so over the summer I might experiment with YouTube. The reason I use blogs is to have a creative discussion outlet, but I don't just want to be sat typing in both my work time and my leisure time. I'll keep you posted on that!

So for now, welcome one and all! And I'll put up a proper post next week!