Saturday, 24 August 2013

The greatest myth of all: Female Sexual Passivity

Sex, the subject on everyone's (ahem) lips...

I just read this article in Stylist magazine (a little base in some of the arguments, but in general makes some good points). The writer is at pains to point out that women do indeed like sex, and to uphold the lie that female sexuality is passive and male sexuality is active simply gives power to men, and takes it from women.  Moreover she assumes that this differentiation only reminds women their place in society is the opposite of men's and therefore will never be equal.

Then I read a male right of reply, which was written by what appears to be, a very nice bloke, who was keen to stress that not all men walk around with their knuckles grazing the floor, expecting a woman to lie back and think of England.

It got me a thinkin'. I am certain that the age old stereotypes that a man who sleeps around is a stud and a woman who does the same is a slut - are still prevalent today. I've even been in conversations with women friends who have remarked about other women 'getting around' or the like - judging them for their sexual choices. We have been conditioned to do so: nice girls keep their legs together in the hope their chastity will reward them a husband and bad girls get on with the business of opening their legs. Isn't that what we were sold?

At a young age I remember cartwheeling at the boy across the road's house - my T-shirt kept falling upwards to reveal my pre-pubescent chest (a skateboard was similar), and yet I was told off my the boy's mother. She never explained why - and I remember being confused - after all I was wearing shorts, it's not like he could see my knickers! Yet, her son could wee in the bushes - his penis partially hidden, because boys can and girls simply cannot.

As I grew up - this gender divide continued: the boys at school would get drunk at parties and kiss the pretty girls. At one such event I was kissed - and then they proclaimed the boy who did so my 'victim.' Fair enough, I was still in the ugly ducking phase of my looks, but this was unnecessarily cruel to a teenage girl, already riddled with insecurities. It never occurred to me to fight back and argue against them - as girls, you put up, you shut up.

Later working on a TV travel show, my male co presenter was allowed to make wanking jokes, even miming having sex with the female producer and all of this was accepted - virtually encouraged. Then I piped up with a little story of reaching out of my room naked to get a paper and the hotel door banging shut leaving me naked in a corridor - I laughed and was met with stony silence. They looked at me with barely disguised disgust. How one earth did I let THAT happen? Even though co-presenter had helpfully answered his door and handed me a robe without looking - they still were unimpressed. Was I that type of girl? One rule for me, one for him.

Working at a cable channel as the showbiz reporter in the late 90s, it was the norm to hit Davy's bar in Canary Wharf on a Friday. The sports boys and news lads would bray at the bar, encouraging the women to get out their chests, clearly unable to see the difference between women on the channel who read the weather in their bikinis, or presented such shows as 'painted ladies' - naked and those who wanted to report stories for a living. Even so, how dare they bray at ANY woman, regardless of how she earns her money - be it clothed or unclothed. What gave them the right to humiliate and degrade a woman for kicks? Was any of this reported, or frowned upon? Of course not! One of the four bosses there never once looked me in the eyes - he was too busy staring at my chest. And what could I do about it? The man was blatant and yet I had to take this... I did notice that if a woman tried to give it back to this group of 'men' - that she was labelled a ballbreaker, a bitch, a lesbian. Because nice girls took this abuse as a form of attention. Girls who stood up to them were clearly not 'real women.'

Not to generalise, but I think certain men can fear women's sexuality - and their honesty regarding it. Nice girls, don't talk about sex. I look back on my own sexual history and more than anything else I am so grateful to my first love - my first lover - for initiating me into a sexual relationship, without scarring me in any way. This imprinted upon me - made me less insecure about my body, made me more confident about my transition to womanhood. It made me one thing most of all - unashamed. I felt loved, protected and adored. Perhaps that is why I think how a woman's virginity passes, is important: NOT because it should be cherished like some holy grail for Mr Right - some bargaining tool in the quest for social acceptance, but because it is crucial that your early sexual experiences do not tarnish you, or make you feel uncomfortable.

Does it take shows like Sex and The City or Girls to show us that women can like sex - and we don't have to be married or in a relationship to do so? That we also don't need judgement, least of all from fellow women? That until we can applaud women for having the sex lives that they want - with who they want, we will always be the lesser of the sexes?

Women as a rule have been cornered into the role of mother/home maker/nurturer - and perhaps Mother Nature had the greatest hand in this. Any woman who deviates from this is greeted with suspicion. Women who have ambition are bitches, who remain single are spinsters, who sleep with a number of partners are sluts... etc. etc.

As the Stylist article states: Author and journalist Daniel Bergner’s new book What Do Women Want? explores recent studies about female sexual desire. What conclusions did his research draw? That women may be much more predisposed to find monogamy boring, to be sexually voracious and sexually predatory, than men.

Yet we are fed the myth that men want sex and it our job to withhold it (in and out of marriage) or at the very least use it as a weapon/reward. Who ever told us that sex should ever be used for anything other than enjoyment between two (or more if you fancy it) consenting adults?

Two single friends in the last week announced to me that they are desperate to have sex. Their singledom was fine, they just needed to get laid. After all, they individually reasoned, women have needs. Yes, yes they do. And that is totally fine. We don't need men to unleash our sexuality - it is always there. Let's debunk this scandalous myth, that women should be passive - and celebrate women who are brave enough to make no apologies for who they are and what they want.


Monday, 19 August 2013

Could you do me a wee favour?

Thank you.

I'm needing some clicks over at my Babble gig... So, below are a few articles I've written and I'd be BEYOND grateful if you'd click on over, look at the slideshows and help me achieve my monthly target! Feel free to link on, share on facebook, tweet and all that other social media gubbins that you can do.

My favourite post of the month...


So here's all the goss from Madonna's 55th b'day party! Love that wig Madge...

Do you know about the wonderful Post Secret? And 8 other celeb secrets? Shhhhhhhh.....

Dawson's Creek stars - then and Now!

Do you want an arse as pert as Pippa Middleton's? The secret is all in good underwear. Apparently. Oh and doing a LOT of yoga.


Drew Barrymore wants another baby - but what is wrong with having an only?

Here are (arguably) 10 Brit celebs you should have on your radar. Ok, some are questionable, but bear with me...

Who wants a great Husband? Here are 10 beauties

Want your very own Ryan Gosling? Me too! This is the Best. Gift. Ever.

Stop women judging women about whether or not they have kids! Where I get all cross about this topic. I huff and puff and say some interesting stuff. (I hope).

We Brits come up with one or two great Tv shows. Ones that the US should certainly steal... (They usually do...)


As we all know, celebs like to date only celebs. Especially Rock Stars....

Wacky wedding gifts. It can only be what the celebs asked for/received. Loo rolls anyone?


Sunday, 18 August 2013

Getting some perspective?

Sorry I haven't blogged of late. I'm trying to remember why I haven't been my usual blogging self... Life was busy and also I felt a bit down - and no one wants to read some endless tirade of sadness. I hate self-pity and yet was revelling in my own. My head was spinning, and every day I had this anxiety about... all sorts. The over riding feeling was that I had absolutely nothing in my life that was just for me. Bar this blog. That I used to do all these exciting and fun things and now all I do is work - at one job or another. The grind wore me down; that, and the endless fretting about career stagnation as a direct result of motherhood - and my inability to work out how to successfully juggle both...

But it's all about perspective - as a friend reminded me the last week. So instead of thinking I've stagnated, she said I should remind myself that I've managed to work and raise two small kids. That is one of the joys of coming to Ireland - (which we did a week ago) catching up with friends who have known me forever. I'm currently on vacation. Of sorts. The vacation bit was abruptly brought to an end due to the interminable Irish rain.

Coming to Northern Ireland always makes me conflicted. Its like I'm transported back in time - I always reach down expecting to be carrying my A-level art folder and am surprised to be holding a kid's hand instead. I pass my school and my heart swells with sadness - that I'm not walking up that hill, seeing my old mates day in day out. For it was within those gates that I made the best friends of my life. In a heartbeat I'd chuck on my blazer and be back in that sixth form centre, dreaming of the exciting life I'd be leading, once I could get the hell out of dreary Belfast and all it's tedious politics.

But the Belfast I knew, isn't here. I don't recognise most of the buildings, the new streets, quarters, bars and cafes. I'm practically a tourist. It no longer feels like home.

Plus, I'm having all these family issues - issues I've been able to avoid living in England. But now on Irish soil, they confront me - like uninvited guests, forcing me to deal with them, even when I'd rather shut the door in their faces. The story? Two years ago, my Father rang me, to ask me my middle name. Yes, you read that right, my Father wasn't sure of my name. I told him, then he asked my married surname - how to spell it... This is how aware of my life my Dad is. He doesn't even know how to spell my married name. Anyway, I wondered why he needed such details. Turns out he was changing his will. A will that had favoured me, now wasn't going to. I was to share everything with my two step sisters - who are from my step mother's first marriage. My Dad first met them when they were 21 and 23. He's never lived with them. They are now in their 50s, and one has children with a millionaire property developer. Anyway, this news, it didn't bother me so much. I genuinely don't give a fuck about money and what I could/should inherit.

What stuck in my gullet, was the fact my Father had made my two step-sisters the executors of his will. Why? Because they live in Ireland and I live in London. He made it sound like I lived on the fucking moon, rather than a bloody hours flight away. I knew my Dad wasn't capable of making this kind of decision - things like this wouldn't have occurred to him. It had obviously been instigated by my Step-Mother. Suddenly all the things that I had brushed aside for years - all the things that had niggled but I had let go, came floating with a vengeance to the surface.

Things like - the fact my step Mother had made sure she and my Dad visited her younger daughter when she lived in London for 2 years. I have lived in England since 1991 - 22 years, and they have never visited me. This didn't bother me so much either - until I had my children. I watched for years as My Father became a cricket coach and a football coach for my step sister's sons, but has never even seen my son kick a ball in his 7 year old life. I remembered how on a holiday in 1999, my step sister brought a friend along, because my Step-mother liked her - but refused to afford me the same courtesy. My best friend simply wasn't welcome. One rule for her daughters, one rule for me.

Photos of me in their house were relegated to musty old spare bedrooms, while her two grandson's photos stared out from every available surface in her lounge. There was the Christmas when they all decided to have a hot holiday - My Dad, Step Mum, her daughters, their partners and the two boys. I wasn't even invited. I'm not ashamed to admit I felt gloriously smug when they came home bitching about what a dreadful time they all had.

Another Xmas, I asked to join them all for Christmas dinner and my Step-Mother mentioned 'we won't have room at the table.' My Father, for once, grew some balls and insisted. Anyway, after the 'What's your middle name?' call I wrote My Father a letter and told him all of this. And more. My anger that he phoned me a week before my wedding and told me he wouldn't be making a speech if I invited my Mum's ex boyfriend (the man who raised me every weekend of my teenage life) to it. The fact my Dad refused to fly over to watch me graduate. All the hurt and disappointment of 39 years spilled out...

We didn't speak for 3 months. Then my best friend got MS and I thought life is too short. I picked up the phone. For the past two years I have only spoken to my Dad. Not his wife. She has felt the snub and commented on it to him - but would never have the backbone to call me and ask why... So for 2 years we have muddled by like this - I only phone my Father on his mobile, I no longer send her Mother's day cards. It has been easy to just pretend she doesn't exist.

But now I am here, in Ireland - what do I do? Part of me worries that if she fell ill, or worse, I would be mortified and feel guilt for my behaviour. I like her daughters immensely and am worried this will damage my relationship with them. When I say relationship, I mean we talk on the phone say twice a year and usually catch up for a drink when I'm back. The other part of me feels - yes, I am making a stand, because you have barely included me in your family and therefore - why should I make the effort? If I leave here on Thursday, having NOT seen her - then, will I ever see her again? Will this ever resolve? Why does it make me feel so wretched? I don't know how we can get past this? Maybe it is better I DO avoid her and just see my Dad on his own. Why make his life easier? When he does so little for me and my family?

I don't know what to do.

Conflict, conflict. I'm so brilliant at it, when it is something to do with work, or sending back an over cooked steak... But family stuff? I just want stick my head in the sand and hope it'll all go away... I'm looking forward to going home, back to my life, everything familiar and safe. When all these inane politics can be swept under the carpet once more and normal life can resume.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

To borrow a quote from Prozac Nation...

This is how motherhood makes me feel....

“I'm the girl who is lost in space, the girl who is disappearing always, forever fading away and receding farther and farther into the background. Just like the Cheshire cat, someday I will suddenly leave, but the artificial warmth of my smile, that phony, clownish curve, the kind you see on miserably sad people and villains in Disney movies, will remain behind as an ironic remnant. I am the girl you see in the photograph from some party someplace or some picnic in the park, the one who is in fact soon to be gone. When you look at the picture again, I want to assure you, I will no longer be there. I will be erased from history, like a traitor in the Soviet Union. Because with every day that goes by, I feel myself becoming more and more invisible...”