Tag Archives: columns

Bank Holiday Tuesday: I wish for Christmas to leave me alone.

In last week’s Bank Holiday Tuesday, I tackled one of the big issues- how Christmas needs to fuck off and leave me alone for at least another two weeks.  

The Student Standard is Maynooth’s independent news source and for some unearthly reason have given me a weekly column.   

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I wish for Christmas to leave me alone.

HUMBUG.

Look, it’s not that I don’t love Christmas, guys.  I love it the way I love music festivals.  I love the whole four day ceremony of it – the little traditions everyone has.

For festivals there’s tent packing, hat buying, and running around Tesco Clare Hall with your best friend and a trolley filling it with what I now know to be horrible alcopops.  There’s learning new swear words as you set up your tent, the pitiful look of solidarity when you announce you’re off to use the loo, there’s wailing in your sodden tent after Florence and the Machine because your wellies are leaking and your coat’s soaked through.  Then through your own ingenuity you fashion a new one out of a bin liner and then rip it off hulk style during Muse.  I love festivals.

For Christmas there’s my mother’s best friend’s visit the day before Christmas Eve to drop off our presents.  There are 2 cards in the post from my aunties in Belfast and Wales which once always contained strange, exotic money.  There’s the Christmas eve morning fry up in my grandmothers house and then the one and only mass that I attend all year round, just so I can hear a choir belt out ‘O Holy Night’.  I love Christmas.

HOWEVER, it’s only the latter that I am now expected to enjoy spread out over ten weeks of adverts, music, films and fattening food.  Nobody has ever asked me to spend two and a half months squatting in a field in Kildare living out of a pink tent just so I can listen to Gossip/Twin Headed Wolf/Get wasted and have a moon painted on my face.  Of course not!  We have all sanely agreed that ‘Festival season’ lasts from May-August and that nobody really gets pepped up for their chosen weekend until the week before.  You NEVER have a pre-flatlake buzz that lasts eight weeks.  A thing I like about festivals is that they are 3 days of concentrated fun.

Now people tell me (often while rolling their eyes, as is their wont when talking to a self-identified “feminist” with inverted commas) that it’s just a marketing strategy- The companies and shops just want people to get spending!  It’s harmless!  You don’t have to opt in!  Well yes I do have to opt in because at every turn I see my friends playing the music, watching the films and putting up the decorations that should only belong between the 17th of December and the 6th of January.  When I take umbrage with this I am told I’m a scrooge, but I’m honestly not.  I just want us all to… chill.  Relax.  Save up all the Christmas cheer for another three weeks, then let it all out in a three day electric picnic secret garden BURST of happiness.

Much as I love him, I want Michael Caine-Scrooge is a strictly post December 8th affair

Much as I love him, I want Michael Caine-Scrooge is a strictly post December 8th affair

Can you imagine what a nightmare it is having kids in town right now?  Seeing the lights, the music, thinking Christmas must be TOMORROW! My mother, who once queued for five hours just so my brothers and I could see ‘the best Santa’ in Switzers, says it’s a nightmare.  Kids just don’t understand that it is actually still a month away.  They’ll look at you, puzzled when you explain this and go “but why are the decorations up? That’s SILLY.”  Yes, hypothetical child.  That is silly.  One of the few saving graces of RTÉ, in my opinion is their refusal to play any Christmas music until the 8th of December (the other is their refusal to get ‘glamour’ weather girls and instead stick with meteorologists. I am a big Evelyn Cusack/Jean Byrne fan).  I take the same issue with all this pre-Christmas buzz that I had when girls in my year at school organized a ‘pre debs’ night out in January.  HOW, I asked, through a mouthful of crisps probably, “HOW can you have a PRE-Debs? Debs is a DEBUT. It’s your DEBUT.  EVERYONE SHUT UP ABOUT IT UNTIL NEXT SEPTEMBER RAAAWRRGH”.  I just can’t deal with out of season festivities.

So I’m sorry guys, Christmas can – to use the most refined and parliamentary of language – fuck right off until it’s actually time for it.  You don’t have to opt into the capitalist system, man- You don’t have to buy stupid ornaments and selection boxes half price!  You don’t have to do anything just because it’s there!  DON’T PLAY INTO WHAT THE MAN WANTS.  PUT THAT MARKS AND SPENCER CHRISTMAS LOG DOWN NOW.  I MEAN IT.  This is a corporate fat cat party that I am checking out of in the same way I checked out of big massive fuck off music festivals like Oxegen after the ‘sobbing panic attack in a bin bag’ episode of 2010.

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Niamh ‘I wear stupid jumpers all year around’ Keoghan

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Bank Holiday Tuesday- 20th November ‘Being a hairy woman’

Bank Holiday Tuesday, originally published on The Student Standard.  In it, I try to get people to stop discussing body hair, ironically by discussing body hair.  

The Student Standard is NUI Maynooth’s independent News site

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Much has been said about hair and women.  Much of it, my friends, is bullshit.  Even my icon and all around hilarious person Caitlin Moran gets a bit… weird about the subject of hair and what you do with it.  It’s a debate up there with ‘what do you do when a man holds open the door’ in terms of silly things us white middle class feminists have to worry about.  So what’s the deal with hair?  Women shave, wax, veet, bleach and outright burn that shit off with electrolysis. What’s the right standpoint to take on all this grooming and pruning? What am I as a strident young feminist and empowered lady to do about leg, underarm, and facial hair?  In honour of Movember, a month-long love letter to dodgy facial hair, I examine this topic.

Some will tell you you must exorcise ALL HAIR from any place it might crop up that is not held exclusively on your scalp.  These are, to use the polite term, complete nutters.  They are your lasering-the-nethers, bleaching-the-upper-lip, red-rash-of-death people that police their bodily hair vigilantly.  They’ here meaning women’s magazines, beauty tips websites and that monolith of neurotic ironic feminist porn, COSMO.  This is one end of the extreme and yeah, it’s pretty bizarre to me.  That anyone could expect me to maintain that level of grooming all over my body is a bit… nuts.  I mean, The height of ‘making an effort’ for me is putting on a bit of eyeshadow and maybe painting my nails.  I’m just not bothered doing it.  I personally feel more comfortable with a curl of arm hair here, a shock of fur there.  That’s just me though.

On the other end of the scale, you get people who say never get rid of hair ANYWHERE.  DON’T TOUCH THOSE ARMPITS.  LEAVE YOUR LEGS ALONE.  I can see the validity of this.  I like the defiant middle finger getting stuck to normative ideas of what a woman should look like.  I myself mightily enjoy not having to spend money waxing my vagina and I’m perfectly happy to let a forest cultivate there.  But in the end is telling a woman ‘don’t do this to your body’ liberating her in any way?  This is the difficulty I have with it.  I think piercings are weird and freaky, I wouldn’t get one myself.  But am I really going to approach another woman and tell her ‘do not do this thing you have decided as an adult to do’?  No!

When I asked Facebook the question of body hair, a friend commented that body hair and what she does with it is an area ‘I most wish popular culture would keep out of.’ that’s the bottom line here, I think.  Magazines, stop shaming ladies for being hairy.  Hairy ladies, don’t shame your sisters if they want to be not hairy.  Do men have to worry about this shit?  Certainly not- they just shave every morning and be done with it.  It’s cool if they want to have a beard or be clean shaven.  I wax my facial hair – a layer of white blond bristly hairs that cover my chin and get itchy and annoying.  So I get rid of them because I want to and they annoy me.  Nobody in the last 8 or so years has commented on my facial hair; it is entirely for me and my grooming.  I don’t shave my legs because black tights hide all sins and who is honestly bothered but on the other paw, my other friend said of waxing her downstairs ‘sometimes it’s nice to have a breeze down there.’

I once got word of a woman who, in solidarity with her partner’s Movember ‘stache, stopped shaving altogether for the duration of the month.  After posting this on Facebook, a man commented that he’d rather get testicular cancer than sleep with a hairy woman.  That’s bullshit.  It is also bullshit for Caitlin Moran to call out women for waxing their nethers.  Much as I admire CatMo, you can’t tell women waxing down there is ‘wrong’ somehow.  All that’s ‘wrong’ is someone telling a woman how what she has to do to herself to feel ‘normal.’ Caitlin Moran (if you happen to be reading this CatMo, I love you, I respect you as a writer) slagging off women for waxing down there is as bad as a jerk slagging off women for being hairy.  In both cases it’s imposing what you think is right on someone’s body.  That don’t fly with me.

This is totally one of those issues we just need not talk about.  It’s nobody’s business what you do with your body.  A mean boyfriend shouldn’t tell you to wax yourself when you don’t want to and a friend shouldn’t feel entitled to shame you when you want to get waxed.  It’s all what you want to do.  There are plenty of places I love having hair- I am immensely proud of my magnificent sideburns.  They are a better effort than most men could muster.  When I tie back my hair they are a sight to behold.  I like have bushy eyebrows, and hairy legs.  I don’t like having hair under my arms or on my chin.  It’s my decision to remove the hair from these places.  Having autonomy over your own body works both ways.  Nobody tells you what to do.  It’s the bias seems to tip in favour of non-hairy ladies in pop culture, but women, take solace in this.  Do whatever you like.  Pierce your ear and ring a charm bracelet through that sucker, shave your hair off and get ‘CUNT LIFE’ tattooed on your scalp, be skinny, be curvy, have hair, don’t have hair – do what YOU want to do to feel comfortable and good looking.  And everyone else can just get out of your pants about it.

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Niamh ‘Everyone shut up now please’ Keoghan