More notes on leaving home: The war of the noticeboard, letting go of bitter things and early drafts of new year resolutions
The most important note to make on leaving home- remember. To do. The hoovering. You are going to regret it so much when you neglect the hoovering.
The notice board wars began in early October and have continued until now, the final week. The debate over which side shot first rages on, but what is known is this; in this Welsh medium hall, on the noticeboard there is a welsh and English side to each notice. Someone swapped all of the notices to display only the Welsh side, or only the English side, depending on who you ask. The war began to escalate into a blockade of language. The English notice would be pinned over the Welsh, the Welsh over the English, endless loops of passive aggressive pinning. The battle reached a fever pitch when someone took a sharp object to the English section of a notice and slashed it through. The war then entered an uneasy truce. We all knew a line had been crossed. The war was revived last week, when someone attempted to throw out the ruined and slashed English language sign along with a reminder to keep the kitchen clean for inspection.
The war entered a new, potentially explosive phase: That of the note. A note was posted, berating the attempted binner of the notice and the slashed sign. A reply was quickly posted, citing the reasons for the binning and signed ‘love, Batman.’ A final note was posted in an attempt to defuse the renewed hostilities. ‘I LIKE TRAINS’, it proclaimed. There could be no truer peace treaty than that, and for now at least, the warriors rest.
So I’ve been in Wales for three months, and it’s been nice. A new network of friends and interests hesitantly and shyly started to root out. A lovely thing that happens when you’re completely removed from your old town is that all your bitterness and anger just flows away. It’s so much easier to just let go when you realise that these things don’t really matter, that these things are shifting, that there are more people to see and places to go and things to do than you could ever possibly get through. Why waste time being stubborn and unhappy? I slowly started to reflect on the place I’d stepped out of and while looking at it from an angle I hadn’t seen before I began to see where my edges were. Where all the things that I had raged and wailed and cried about didn’t actually matter one single fuck once you were out of there. I slowly got back into performing, after a pretty bitter departure from it last year. I rediscovered the old magic and sprang back into it.
Doctor Who and Roomates
I started bonding with my roomates on the Pantycelyn international students corridor. Three Americans, an Austrian and two French girls formed my little circle, along with some friendly Welsh and English from upstairs. In a moment of near unrivalled glee, we ran up to campus as a group and found a Tardis parked in front of the Union, with a talking, lit up Dalek trundling around. It offered a great photo op, both sweet group snaps and self indulgent selfies.
Now it’s nearly time to come home. I’ve started into a new diary, a smart black notebook I bought to convince myself to maintain this diary- I paid 13 pounds for this notebook, for fucks sake, so I’m going to use it. Around this time of year, I usually start to think about what I want to do next year, and reflect on what I’d like to develop, change or introduce in 2014. I present to you here my rough longlist of new years resolutions for your consideration.
1. Become blood of the Dragon
2. Buy more mugs
3. Get really buff and strong. Start lifting.
4. Also, get super fit and flexible. start yoga
5. Kiss more people.
6. Use the word ‘accoutrements’ more (Referring to luggage and bags)
7. Vacuum every week, so that your room does not become white with dust and the halls warden suspects that you’re dealing cocaine.
8. While deflecting this suspicion, illicitly brew Yakka in bedroom sink (not really, I promise. Please don’t kick me out if you read this…)
9. Listen to more podcasts. In fact, make one. It can’t be that hard.
10. Do couch to 5K, without ending up in a bath of cold water sobbing and eating oranges.
11. Learn to dance properly, and not like a complete berk. (seriously, you’ve made a name for yourself here as the ‘dancing Irish girl’. That’s not a good thing. You need help.)
12. Drink less soft drinks. Stop being happy about being a non-drinker when you ingest about nine times your healthy level of sugar and caffeine every day.
13. Try to quit coffee. not tea though. You gave yourself a three day migraine last time.
14. Vacuum every week. Remember how much you regret not hoovering enough this semester. Remember it!
15. Post more letters. people like letters.
16. Practice yoga stretches, tai chi and herbal tea to become one with your spirit and nature.
17. Be less of an angry motherfucker.
18. Keep your diary this year. don’t just get bored after a week like usual.
19. Make lists that are a nice, satisfying length. Don’t end list blogs on an odd number.
Niamh ‘Wait… fuck!’ Keoghan
I have an illness that’s stuck on shop demo. Since last Thursday I have had a sore throat, fever, dizziness, nausea, motherfucking partial blindness, aches and pains, shivers, cold sweats, a chesty cough and a congested nose. I haven’t been able to do much except lie in my bed, cry and occasionally roll over and beg for someone to make me tea.
Obviously in this state, I haven’t been able to write anything so it’s lucky for me that I had a guest writer lined up! This Blog all about why Feminism facilitates rather than impedes people getting laid is all the more relevant now considering the recent totally rational backlash to feminist ideas surrounding consent, masculinity and sexuality. We seem to be in a bit of a series at the moment, discussing why feminism is not at all anti man or anti sex. Of course, seeing as my own sexual activity is a bit limited, I thought I should call in the services of someone with a bit more experience in the matter.
Our Guest Blogger is a noted sex positive feminist, erotic writer and enjoyer of sex who very kindly sent me on this post explaining how by furthering the cause of feminism, you are likely to get laid a lot more.
Hello, lovely readers of BHT! It’s very exciting be here, talking to you, hoping I might be able to entertain you for a few hundred words.
I’ve had too many conversations with straight horny college boys [henceforth SHCBs] – and read about too many other conversation with SHCBs – who complain about feminism in one breath and complain about not getting laid as often as they’d like in the next. Anti-feminist SHCBs probably don’t make up a huge percentage of this blog’s (lovely, charming, intelligent, sexy) readership, but if there are any lurking – and for the amusement of the rest of you – I would like to offer up a primer on why SHCBs should like and indeed vocally support feminism.
[Note for all the already-feminists: all of the things I’m talking about have vastly huger consequences for women than they do for SHCBs, obviously, and please don’t think I’m trivialising that. But “what about the menz?!!?” is a frequent if stupid complaint and “the world doesn’t in fact revolve around you” is a fact some SHCBs struggle to understand. So here’s an alternative response.]
FEMINISM GETS YOU LAID MORE
Reason #1: Feminism makes it safer for us to respond to you hitting on us (and for us to hit on you)
There’s no cute way of putting it: if I flirt with someone at a party, decide I’m not interested, and then later on they rape me, there is a 5% chance that person will ever be convicted. There is a pretty decent chance that anything I say about their actions won’t be believed, and if they boast about getting with me, their friends will congratulate them.
This kind of puts me off flirting with people at parties.
Anti-feminist SHCBs complain – frequently – about women falsely alleging rape. But believing and supporting rape victims, as well as squashing anyone who says things like “a no is just a yes that needs some persuasion” or catchier, rhymier versions of that complete bullshit, is a great way to reduce the number of rapes. If “rape” is eliminated as a possible outcome of “hitting on cute SHCB” then I will be a whole lot more likely to ask SHCBs if I can buy them a drink.
Reason #2: Feminism does not like transactional sex
If I can buy them a drink? Me, a lady-type, buying a boy-type a drink? Isn’t that all back to front and terribly modern and think of the children etc?
By “transactional sex” I do not mean prostitution. I mean the faux-prostitution of “you buy me dinner, I give you a blow job.” Where sex is something that men want and women endure in exchange for something else.
This is not a good approach. I mean, I like having people buy me dinner because I am a poor student, but there’s no dinner/blow job causation here. Sex happens when both parties want sex, not when one party has spent the required amount of money. Maybe this doesn’t mean more sex, always. But it means sex where both people want to have sex because having sex is fun and enjoyable, not because stuff has been bought. Isn’t that way better? And less expensive?
Reason #3: Feminism does like contraceptive choice
You know what else is expensive? A baby.
If having a baby was a possible consequence of having someone put their penis in my vagina – if I could not get condoms in every corner shop and my preferred brand of the pill for €10/month and the morning after pill for €40 and if all that lot fails then an abortion an affordable Ryanair flight away – if all of that did not exist, I would not be letting anyone put a penis in my vagina. I probably wouldn’t let anyone put a penis near my vagina. I would probably start exclusively dating ladies, in case the proximity of a penis tempted me.
Really, “an abortion an affordable Ryanair flight away” is not good enough (I am lucky enough to be able a) to afford it and b) to be an EU citizen and thus able to come and go as I please – there are a lot of women in Ireland not in that situation), but it has been a long, hard, feminist struggle for all the rest of it as well. Wanting to put your penis in a vagina while wanting to restrict what the vagina-haver does with the consequences of that penis-putting is… my kindest option here is “optimistic.”
Reason #4: Feminism does not like body policing
SHCBs, hands up if you fancy this hypothetical woman: size 8, tallish, able-bodied, white, DD boobs, blonde hair down to her nipples, mostly hairless below the neck, no stretch marks, spots or general standard-issue crinkly bits.
That’s OK, I think she could be hot too.
Now take your hands down if you would sleep with a woman who did NOT match that description.
I really hope there aren’t any hypothetical hands staying up. If there are, lads, I have news for you, you’re not going to get laid very often.
Our culture is really good at making women who don’t match up to all or most of those criteria feel shitty about themselves. That sort of feeling shitty about themselves that results in “No sex with the lights on in case he sees my crinkly bits” or “I’d love a shag, but I haven’t shaved my legs in a couple of days so I told my SHCB that I was busy tonight.” This is colossally sucky for all concerned. Obviously body policing occurs for men too. But the amount of things on their bodies that women are supposed to care about – and feel insecure about – is ridiculous. SHCBs, when you say that women with armpit hair are gross, 1) you’re shitty human beings but 2) consider how much your boner would actually care.
Reason #5: Feminism does not like slut-shaming
“Why won’t any of these disgusting dirty sluts sleep with me?!”
This one should be self-evident. If someone will think less of me for sleeping with them, I am not going to sleep with them. If someone is going to insult me for sleeping with them, I am not going to sleep with them. If someone is going to mock me with their mates for sleeping with them, I am not going to sleep with them.
I’m kind of a slut. I use slut to mean “person who has a lot of sex” and I use it in a neutral/positive way. But I don’t fuck anyone who uses it in a negative way. Because I only sleep with people who like me, and someone who casts a moral or social judgement on women who have a lot of sex does not like me.
You know, I could go on. If the average woman didn’t have to work 13.9% longer to earn the same amount as the average man, maybe she would have more average time to have some average sex with him. Maybe I would have been having sex with SHCBs more often this past year if I hadn’t needed to go on so many sodding marches for the sake of basic bodily autonomy! Sex with SHCBs is a LOT more fun than standing in the rain chanting “never again,” but I direct you to reason #3. There are a whole load more things I could list here, but frankly rewriting feminism as a movement to get SHCBs laid more becomes depressing if you keep it up for too long.
Feminism! Good for women, good for horny college boys who want to get laid more often. And now back to your regularly scheduled programming. Over and out.
Niamh ‘I’m Niamh Keoghan and I approve this message’ Keoghan
Recently I’ve heard a lot of people speak about their non-belief in god, and how they feel a bit sad they’ve lost their faith. They observe those of faith with a kind of longing. ‘I wish I could believe.’ they’ll fret. ‘I wish I could believe the way they do.’ I seem to hear this a lot around Christmas time, with all the cribs, the mulled wine, the carols and the family feeling. It’s easier at this time than any other to feel like you’re missing out by not believing in God or religion. I’m not one of these people. I LOL’d so hard at the news that the Pope had joined twitter that I ruptured something.
Now, let me say outright I’m not getting at anybody for their religious beliefs- as sacred as sacraments are to some, so is their freedom to believe in what they like to me. I know good Christians, good Muslims, good Unitarians and a load of good wishy-washy non-denominational people with a spiritual bent. I’m cool with religious people. It just really isn’t for me. It isn’t for me for the following simple reasons- when I was religious, I wasn’t very good at it. I’m bad at Catholicism, full stop. Here are the list of things that made me a bad Catholic.
I’m not good at being told what to do.
I don’t like the taste of communion host.
Incense makes me sneezey
I used to try and take the baby Jesus out of the crib and use him in my dolly’s games
I have masturbated many times a week since 2008
I love eating chicken on a Friday.
I was a practicing-ish Catholic until 2010. I went to Mass pretty often. I believed that generally, God had my back. Even as I drifted from Catholicism, I had my own personal relationship with god. I had a firm faith in the afterlife.
You can trace my split with the Catholic church back to the early days of 2000, when I had a massive nervous breakdown in Second class. When I was in second class I made my first Holy communion and so we were taught by Sr.Dympna, a nun who was a very cool old lady but also very firm. She was old school in a nice way; big on handwriting, sums, nature and common sense. Being as I was bold as brass, completely disorganized, scruffy and unfocused she had a lot to work on. In fairness to her, she saw my potential, which many of my later teachers didn’t. We once had a class inspection by a Christian Brother.
When I was seven I was very sensitive to bad smells. And that day, the classroom stank of a vegetable stench. It was everywhere- it was sort of like raw onion. I still remember the feel of it in my nostrils, choking me. It was the most horrible thing I’d ever smelled. Even now 13 years later when I get a hint of that smell I gag. It was in my throat and up my nose and giving me a migraine. I could hardly breathe.
Of course, when you’re seven and you can’t cope with something, you naturally have a little freak out. I didn’t know where that smell was coming from- I actually think it might have been an onion bulb that the class had in a jar of water, growing the roots- but my tearful cries of ‘the smell! It’s such a bad smell!’ were interpreted by Sr.D as the seven year old saying ‘the christian brother is smelly!’ My mother was spoken to sternly outside the door when she picked me up early for a dentist’s appointment- the nun was disgusted that I would insult a christian brother by calling him smelly, or indeed calling the room he was in smelly!
That’s where it began.