Tag Archives: sex

ULTRA FEMMO (A response to Jemma O’Leary of the University Times)

In the wake of Jemma O’Leary’s interesting column  ‘Ultra-Feminism is Eroding Our Values’ on the university times website, a lot of people asked the question just what is an Ultra-feminist?  Well I’d like to take up this mantel and proudly declare myself an ultra feminist.  I claim it not because I think all the lowly men-folk in this world ought to be made slaves that carry me around like Cleopatra and feed me grapes for the rest of my life, but because I am a screaming, raving, hardcore fan of feminist theory.  I’d just like in the spirit of sisterly debate to rebut a few points Ms. O’Leary made in her piece.  I promise that I’ll try not to oppress anyone too hard under the hard sole of my Doc Martens and sexual liberation.

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I just really like critical theories that point at the world we live in and go ‘hey, here’s some stuff that seems RIDDLED with problems. Can we get some maintenance guys in to look at this? There’s a light bulb gone in the gender relations department.’ Feminism is essentially a strand of critical theory- It was created, generally, by people looking around, seeing that there is a whole world of stuff to examine through the prism of gender (or class, or race, or whatever) and went with it.  That’s all.  Much as I would love to think that feminism has become so influential in the corridors of power that it could even approach being an oppressive force, I don’t think that’s true sadly. In a country that doesn’t even have free right to choice for it’s citizens and less than 10% of the parliament is represented by women, I don’t think Ms O’Leary has a strong case.

Ms O’Leary also talks about how she, in her personal opinion, thinks feminism has gone ‘far enough.’ Well, I think I can agree with her in so far as it’s done wonders for women like us- both university students, both from presumably comfortable backgrounds.  She’s right that generally speaking, we’re doing okay.  We get to sit around in seminar rooms and read about all this stuff and decide for ourselves what we’d like. We have protection in employment, pretty good maternity leave ahead of us and anything that we need that our country doesn’t offer to us, we can pay to travel out of Ireland to get it (we also have the freedom to travel wherever we like without suspicion, as western ladies) Yeah, We white middle class western ladies have it pretty sweet.

It’s like Lucinda Creighton when she spoke of how proud she was to be an Irish woman, and how she thinks it’s a grand county to be a lady in. Well, it’s great if you’re university educated, middle class, in a well paying job and don’t have to look beyond your own experiences for things.  If my and Jemma’s experiences  were the sole barometer by which we measured how all 3.5 billion odd women in the world were getting on, I might agree that we ought to tone the feminism down a tad. Perhaps.

But it’s not. We live in a world where class, gender, sexuality and race all intersect in fascinating ways to create the accepted structures of power. That’s how you get cases like Slanegirl- Variously described by the delightfuls on twitter as a ‘skanger’, a ‘knacker’, a ‘dirtbird’ and a good old fashioned slut.  It’s not that all the feminists were crowding around to defend this girl to the hilt; it’s that in the face of a torrent of online abuse and mirth at the picture of a public sex act, it was the girl getting all these names thrown at her.  The man in this story was ‘a pure lad’ a ‘lucky bastard’ or a ‘dirty fucker’- but there was still a sort of shrugging ‘eh… fair play’ reaction to his part in the act.  The girl was the dirt bird.  It goes back to all these double standards we have about sexuality, and the roles we give people in sex.  Which while we’re at it, sucks for everyone.

Women are told by society that sex is a chore and something that needs to be endured to please men. Men are also told this and that reinforces the idea that women need to be sort of coaxed into the act.  Like they’re an easily spooked pony, you must always approach a lady from the side.  I’ll also point out that the entire field of masculinities is a feminist critique of the expectations placed on men by a gender binary and how deeply screwed up it is.  Just look at the absolute goldmine of essays on breaking bad and masculinities recently.  The expectations placed on dude by the patriarchy are crushing for the men who don’t easily fit into them.  Personally, I strive for a feminism that allows us all to shag without shame and with respect for each other.

I just question what ‘values’ Ultra Feminism is eroding and why they’re such a great idea anyway.  Why is that value that sex is basically dirty and gross and people are gross for doing it something that needs to be protected from erosion by the sea walls of patriarchy?  Why does the value that women ought not to criticise or speak up but rather elegantly and gracefully take it on the chin something that ought to be preserved?  Ms. O’Leary doesn’t make a decent case for this at all.  The entire idea of Critical theory is that it challenges these norms and forces us to examine them.  It’s the similar to Marxist critique of capitalism- just because you have a few problems with the way the world works doesn’t mean every single Marxist is out there tearing it down.  Feminists simply point out inconsistencies in our social world. That can be uncomfortable for us all- being forced to acknowledge our own privileges and biases- but it’s important work and it certainly doesn’t need to tone it down.

Let’s call a spade a spade here- O’Leary isn’t talking about the erosion of ‘values.’ She’s talking about the erosion of norms, and not making such a hot case for why they’re so great in the first place.

Really at the end of the day, Ms. O’Leary is saying people are ‘ultra fems’ (I do love this term, and hope that she won’t mind me nicking it for my own purposes in future) are out of control because they dare to criticise. ‘Critical’ is a very loaded word when it comes to women.  All their lives women are cautioned against being a shrew or a nag, or being too loud.  Being ‘Critical’ is kind of code for ‘being a bitch’ or ‘thinking too much into these things.’ But when you really examine feminist theory- And I mean get a cup of tea, a pack of biscuits and really sit down to get to grips with it- you’ll find a multitude of voices.

It’s not a monolithic structure with ONE opinion, that opinion being CRUSH THE MEN.  There are actually lots of ideas and opinions about lots of things- about body image and policing, about gender roles, about Trans women, about race, about class- and yes, some of these theses don’t include a disclaimer that says ‘by the way we recognise that men aren’t all pigs, some of them are rad.’ That goes without saying. You’re not going to get much out of feminism if you just read The Second Sex and How to be a woman then dust off your hands and declare it all a bit of a faff (although I do recommend reading both as an excellent articulation of basic theory and a silly but enjoyable memoir respectively). If you look at the wealth of feminist literature out there- From the big guns of the 70s like Greer and Dworkin right through to the bloggers and activists of today, you’ll see a lot of variety and lot of discussion.

So yeah, I don’t think Ms O’Leary is, as she so elegantly put it ‘a cold-hearted bitch.’ I think she’s a little blinkered, possibly a bit sheltered to the wider field of feminist theory and activism. I think she probably forgets that she, like me, grew up in the age immediately prior to camera phones being carried by every person in Ireland connected constantly to twitter and Facebook.  We both had our teens played out in relative, blissful privacy and all our moments of ill judgement or drunken revelry were carried out away from social media and only the stuff of mere rumour.  I think in short that she’s being a little judgemental in writing a piece that writes off an entire field of critical thought as going ‘a bit too far’.

Sorry if you were expecting me to smash a table or scream ‘INTERNALIZED MISOGYNY’ at you for a few paragraphs.  That’s not how the Ultra Femmo rolls.

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Niamh ‘Battle cry of the Ultra Femmo’ Keoghan

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FEMINISM GETS YOU LAID MORE (A guest post)

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.

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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. 

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Niamh ‘I’m Niamh Keoghan and I approve this message’ Keoghan

Tales from the wreck of the Friendzone

*Angry Face*

I hate the friendzone.  I hate the word.  It’s a shockingly clever concept- a catch all term for shaming women who turn a guy down, or decline their romantic advances, or just plain don’t want a relationship.  It has a close connection to the concept of ‘leading one on” wherein a woman is oft accused of stringing a hapless everydude into her web with those feminine wiles only to cut him off cruelly for her own amusement.  Most troubling for me is how women have started to use these terms I’ve heard girls say ”’he friend zoned me” or ”I wish he hadn’t led me on”.  Hell, I’ve used these terms because there are out there people who will mess you around a little bit, and flirt outrageously.  But these people aren’t friendzoning you.  And generally this is a guy on girl trope- Some of parlance has begun to creep into lady talk, but it’s an institutional of hetrerosexual men to begin with.  (Note- Not all straight men are ‘Nice Guys’in the way I describe them here.  I have a lot of male friends and I’m not hating on the menfolk at all, just commenting on something I’ve experienced.  Blah, I don’t hate men, these sexist concepts hurt men too, whatever  x)  

They might be kind of dick, but they’re not friendzoning you because and this may shock you so hold onto your hats and assort beverages the friendzone doesn’t exist.  Sorry everyone.  It’s just not real.  I’ve seen women get messed around by men and men messed around by women, and I’ve never seen evidence of a real life friendzone.  I did do a bit of research I stood around while my friends talked about relationships, and have also been in a few disastarous ones, and been on either side of the ‘let’s be friends’ equation.  It’s also linked to another concept- that of Nice Guyism that we’ll talk about and discuss why it’s really fucking creepy.  Bad romance is my specialist topic- so let’s talk the friendzone.

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In the zone

In basic parlence, the ‘friendzone’ is where men who have romantic and sexual notions on a woman are placed when those women declined their advances- ususally with a phrase like ‘I don’t want to mess up our friendship’or ”Í don’t think of you that way’or ‘I love you!… as a friend!’ The zone is the purgatory men go to when women selfishly withold the sex that they are entitled to.  Because hey, why does that girl have to be such a bitch and turn you down?  You’re a nice guy, you treat her really well, you’re always interested and looking out for her.  But okay.  Here’s the thing nice guys- Somebody being nice to me is my BASIC prerequisite for continuing to even associate with someone.  A guy being polite, courteous and listening to me is my baseline for being his friend- It’s not some magical perk that will automatically make me spit out a sexy time token, and that’s what it’s really about at the end of the day.

Nice Guyism

And further, the whole nice guy… thing is a bit creepy to be on the receiving end of.  Lads, we know when you’re genuinely being nice and when your interest is forced only to make us think you’re nice.  I have plenty of male friends who have little to no interest in hearing me discuss the finer points of my as yet unfinished novel, and in return I have no interest in hearing about the details of their record collection.  You don’t have to take boundless interest in every single thing I care to mention or be involved in; all encompassing adoration and undying interest are as unsettling to receive as it sounds.  It’s not nice.  It makes me feel like I’m living in a world of plastic automatic yes men, all poking my ego until sexy time coupons pop out.

The scary thing is when men, after frantic and endless prodding, delude themselves into thinking a sexy time token HAS popped out, and that they ARE entitled to more of me than I am willing to give.  That’s when I politely decline, and they scream, with arms thrown to heaven ”’FRIENDZOOOOOOOOONED!”

Sexy Time Tokens

I know I’m the last person that should be complaining about romantic attention heck, usually I’m complaining that nobody’s into me and how much that sucks.  But the opposite extreme is scary and unpleasant.  I was trying to quantify what makes one a ‘nice guy’ in the sex coupon seeking way I just described, and I have a very handy litmus test to discern between genuinely nice people, and ‘nice guys’-

If asked to give you some space to think and breath, a genuine person will do just that, and back off.  They might be confused sure, or hurt or think you’re being dramatic, but they will still give you the space you’ve asked for and respect your feelings.  A Nice Guy however, will ignore your requests for space and continue to bombard you with increasingly false-sounding declarations that they will understand and listen to you.  They’ll completely ignore the fundamental point of what you’ve asked, and continue to steamroll you.  And that’s the point of the Nice Guy, and the Friendzone.

In this whole unpleasant scenario, the woman is just an object to the nice guy.  His feelings and his ego are the important things.  It doesn’t matter how scared or uninterested or even hostile the object is, she still owes him something; He can wrap it up as a relationship, but in the end, the object becomes his possession, and in that possession there are obligations the object must fill.  And if you refuse to play the game, check out and decline the thrilling chance to become an object?

Well, you’re just a frigid bitch who dumped that poor nice guy into the friendzone.  You MONSTER.

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Niamh ‘Offside in the friendzone’ Keoghan

Beyonce

This column originally appeared in the Student Standard volume 1, issue 1 on the 12th February 2013.  The Student Standard is NUI Maynooth’s independent new source and can be read online here 

published here with kind permission of Keith Broni, editor of the Standard.

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Bank Holiday Tuesday 12th February 2013

Beyonce

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Another year, another Superbowl Sunday passed with me in bed early, not willing to stay up until 5AM watching the most excruciatingly boring sport known to man (Worse than Cricket, Curling and Lawn Bowls put together because AT LEAST those sports don’t stop for a little rest every every.  single.  Play) only for the faint promise of nine minutes of Beyonce that I could catch on YouTube the next day.  No, I experienced the superbowl the way I also experienced the Late Late show’s debate on marriage equality last week- tucked up in bed with a hot chocolate, following the proceedings via twitter.

Twitter is a great medium for experiencing telly, a crowdsourced annotated commentary of whatever happens to be on.  It’s basically watching highlights that are tailored to your own personal tastes- so in my case, the Superbowl coverage I saw was mostly ‘When’s Beyonce on?’ Then hysterical tweets when she actually did come on (SHE’S SO GOOD AT WALKING!) all about the dancing, the costume, the choice of song (‘Baby Boy?’ Really?  That song was lame back in 2004.  Come on Bey, do Bootilicious, come on-OH MY GOD THEY’RE DOING BOOTILICIOUS) and of course, the fact that Destiny’s child had ‘reunited.’ When really, all that happened was that Bey got her moderately famous backing singers back.  I always liked Kelly Rowland. She reached a minor solo peak around 2003 when I first got into pop music.  Sadface.  Oh wait, now they’re doing single ladies- I have to do Single ladies on this deadly silent train now, excuse me.

The Bey halftime show was a bit of an experience for me, watching it on my phone on the train to Maynooth Monday Morning.  It was when I finally sort of ‘got’ Beyonce.  We’ve long had a complicated relationship because she just doesn’t really have a lot of songs I can groove to.  Bootilicious and Single Ladies are aggressively good and that is Beyonce at her best.  Telephone is an over produced masterpiece of pop excess.  If I were a boy and her other break up jams always felt a bit flat to me.  It never really captures the actual pain of a break-up- they’re more like revenge dreams.  I’d theorise that ‘If I were a boy’ is really a dissing of the sort of casual misogyny  that’s common in most hip hop and rap.

Beyonce isn’t particularly titillating.  She’s too fucking scary to be titillating. Compare some of her earlier videos- writhing on  a beach because Sean Paul is just too hot to comprehend (note- it was 2004 after all) in baby boy, to the aggressive dominance of the Single Ladies dance.  Single Ladies is an aggressive, iconic song.  It’s not sensual- it’s a war cry.  She’s strong and she will fucking TRASH YOU in a song if you wrong her.  She’s not pandering to sexism so much as sticking a sharp heel through it.  Men do fancy her (note-I fancy her.  everyone fancies her. don’t lie.) but she’s not for a moment subservient to any man.  She consistently out-earns her husband.  All you need do to set off any woman born between 1980 and 1993 is to go up to her and ask earnestly ‘Kelly, can you handle this?’.  You will be treated to every woman in the vicinity shrieking the lyrics to ‘Bootilicious’ at the tops of their voices.

Which brings me to the title of her new tour- Mrs Carter.  Using her husbands name on her solo tour has been a bit… confusing to people who have always seen Beyonce as a strong independent figure.  Personally, I had actually forgotten Beyonce had a surname at all.  ‘Knowles’ sort of became redundant after Sasha Fierce came out- She’s reached Cher levels of ‘first name only’ recognition.  I had also forgotten Jay-Z had a surname either, in fact I just assumed they were monarchs and didn’t have a need for one, you know?  Privately, Bey and Jay apparently both hyphenate their names, going as the ‘Knowles- Carter’ family.  Bey has said publically that when she’s stressed, she likes to go make love to her husband to chill out.  She is one of the most athletic and accomplished dancers of our generation- I’d argue her choreography will define the dance of our generation in the same way Michael Jackson defined the 80s.  In the promo for this tour she’s dressed  in a Louis the XIV style leotard and a fur cape.  She’s Beyonce.  LADS.  She is Beyonce.  Beyonce is allowed name her tour whatever she wants.

Image (Beyonce for Pope)

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Niamh ‘I don’t think you’re ready for this Jelly’ Keoghan
@Keofunkel

I got a period, yo! My big fat menstrual confessional.

You know, I’ve been at this for a few months, and consensus seems to be that I’m pretty…. ‘Honest.’ Yeah, I get told I’m ‘honest’ a lot.  A few people have seemed a bit uncomfortable with the amount that I share, and I’m kind of surprised about that.  Really?  I didn’t realise I shared *that* much.  I certainly find it really difficult to talk about things that I actually am a bit insecure about- I’ve chickened out on pieces about my body image, self loathing and depression, not to mention today’s topic, periods.  I think I’ve tried to write this about five times, with varying slants and approaches.  Here is my big confessional; everything you ever wanted to know about periods.

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I will never get those purple pants back

It was actually 10 years ago that I got my first period.  I was 10, which is pretty young.  In fairness to younger me, who I often chastise for being a melodramatic, uneasy girl, I took it like a total pro.  After the initial shock of my mother explaining it to me, calmly and carefully in our kitchen, eyes darting to the door to make sure my younger brother wasn’t ear wigging, that for the next 40 years, I’d start bleeding for a week, and not to be scared or upset when it started.  A few months later, I started getting tummy aches- the very first cramps that have since become the routine of my month.

I do have a distinct memory from the night before it started, getting into bed thinking ‘I reckon it’ll start tonight.’ and sure enough, when I woke up, I felt an unpleasant wetness in my pyjamas, and wriggled my pants down to investigate.  The first time you see the stain, it’s quite visceral.  It was dark, rich, and had soaked a circular patch into my purple underpants.  I stared at it for a minute, feeling a bit dizzy.  It was a Friday morning, around 6AM.  I was too shy to say ‘I got my period’ to my mother, so I went downstairs in my pyjamas clutching the stained pants in my hand, and showed her.

All in all, it wasn’t too bad.  Mam showed me where the pads lived (she’d already explained how they worked so I was a total pro with the wings) and then, after some hesitation gave me the day off school.  I sat in my pyjamas watching cartoons eating cereal.  I didn’t have any of the later cramps, emotions or unpleasantness that my period would bring along with it.  The next I thought about it was the next week, when my granny took my hand as we walked home from school. ‘Your mammy tells me you’ve joined the ranks of womanhood’ she says pointedly.

‘Eh, yeah, I guess I did.’ I reply primly.

My period is not dirty

Girls, can we all stand on our chairs (or in my case, my bed, where I’m typing from) and say out loud ‘Periods are not dirty’?  Because they aren’t- not really, they’re a bit messy and can smell, but they’re not infectious or liable to make you ill upon contact with another period-haver.  It’s a fallacy I often see- People comparing Menstruation to pooing or weeing.  In reality apart from taking place nearby where pooing and weeing occur, periods are nothing like it.  Mostly I hear men make this comparison- ‘You’d be grossed out if I talked about having a shit, wouldn’t you?’ This ignores two things-

1-I live with brothers, and therefore hear men talk about poo all the time [So much that I got into the habit of announcing ‘I have to pee’ when in company, which is very embarrassing.] It is so much more common to see jokes about it in media too- There are poop jokes all over TV; when’s the last time you saw a period joke on a kid’s show?

2- There is nothing like a period.  Okay, men, let’s get this out of the way.  I will never ever know what it’s like to be kicked in the nuts, but I accept it bloody hurts.  In the same vein, you won’t ever really know what it’s like to bleed for a week and not die.  Menstruation is a common experience, but not a universal one- Some women have them, some don’t, and men never will.

On the whole, I’ve always maintained that the things we use to hide the fact that we’re menstruating are the real dirty things here.  On it’s own, period blood is at it’s most offensive, slightly smelly and scary looking (The first time there were clots in mine, I actually had to have a little cry at how horrifying my body was being).  But I will attest that the smell of an over flowing bin of disposed soiled sanitary products smells SO MUCH worse.  The smell of old sanitary pad is overpoweringly bad.  Tampons have the even more horrifying side effect of potentially poisoning you.

The worst thing I ever heard when I was at school

Because I was a bit young donning my menstruation sombrero, I was already having them for a year before we got ‘the talk’ about hygiene when we were in school.  Mam had mentioned tampons to me, but didn’t really explain much about them beyond ‘they go in you, and they’re a bit harder to use until you’re older.’ So I didn’t really know anything about them.  It was during this talk which included mild mannered things like ‘remember to wipe and freshen up when you’ve had a wee’ I learned about tampons and toxic shock syndrome.

Basically it’s the worst fucking buzz ever.  Tampons are coated in bleach and then put into hard plastic applicators that you jam into yourself for up to four hours.  They dry your vagina out by absorbing the fuck out of everything in there- blood, mucus, general vagina-fluids doing their vagina-fluid job, stopping you being dry.  They are COATED in BLEACH.  The lady explained how they can’t get ‘lost’ up there (A sincere worry of 12 year old pre-menstrual girls.  Actually hell, I was worried about that until I was 16) and in the same breath, cautioned that if left in for too long, You could go into septic shock and be poisoned by your own rancid sanitary product.

I could not deal with this information.  I could die?  If I forgot about a cotton bud?  I have let PLANTS sitting on my desk right next to me wither from lack of water.  My Chia pet died because I forgot to replace the water!  How can I be expected to remember to remove things!  Oh dear god!  Basically everything about it scared me so badly that I can’t look at tampons without getting very upset indeed.

I got cramps in my back and I ain’t afraid to show it, show it, show it.

I really, really hate it when people blame my hormones for making me emotional and cranky.  Like, again, this is something I don’t think guys generally understand.  Maybe I’m totally wrong in saying this but in general guys don’t have to deal with massive shifts in their hormone levels on a monthly (sometimes weekly) basis.  It affects all women differently.  Everyone has their own crazy unhappy side effects to periods.  Mine began to emerge around the age of 14- for the first three years, I was too busy dealing with the irregular pattern and getting used to the sight of blood to really notice anything else, but it started to get bad.

Mam had knowingly never told me that periods can make you moody and irrational, thinking that I’d use it as an excuse to be bitchy.  But it came anyway, a horrible wave of anxiety and depression.  I’m prone to excess anxiety anyway, and I go on highs and lows all the time, but nothing like the dark places I go to when I’m on the rag.  For a while when I was very overweight, the dark days got so bad that I was genuinely worried about some of my thoughts.  Adding to this problem was the pain.

Oh my god.  I don’t like to think of myself as a mimsy- I soldier on when I feel sick, or at least I try to.  It’s hard to describe the pain because I’m so accustomed to the sensation now.  Firstly, imagine feeling constipated.  Then add a gnawing, constant, hot pain in your lower back.  then tense every muscle in your lower body and stomach.  That’s sort of what it feels like.  To be frank for a moment, period cramps are basically the uterus contracting and pushing out the old lining, and it fucking hurts.  Other women I know vomit, and others just get weepy or angry, but those are my things.  I get anxious, sore and deeply depressed.

I live tweet my Codeine high

The pains got so severe that basic paracetamol wasn’t helping at all, so we went to the chemist for something a bit more specialist.  We were pointed in the direction of feminex, a pink-boxed painkiller designed to get at cramps.  Does anyone else find the packaging of ‘woman pain killers’ in pink boxes a bit brilliant?  I love the campy neon pink of panadol woman, gender norms be dammed.  That’s what box I want my meds to come in.  Anyway, Feminex is a fucking trip- Codeine, caffeine and the stern advice not to become addicted.

I was like a fairy.  It took the pain away, but also left me with a nervous, drunken high.  My heart was racing from the caffeine and my head was light from codeine. I wrote some amusingly out there facebook posts, tweeted my hysteria and then crashed, sleeping for 15 hours.  I did the same basic routine every time I had a bad period.  I still have the box of Feminex somewhere, but I stick to Panadol woman now.  I get a bit too happy on Feminex.  It’s a trip.

The absolute worst thing I ever learned was that the best natural painkiller for cramps is in fact orgasm.  It completely un-clenches tensed muscles and gives you a rush of happy hormones.  I will never, ever forgive the universe for designing me with the ability to remove this pain by doing the one thing I really don’t feel like doing at that time.

I am sorry I am so obsessed with my period you guys

And so considering this- that it’s a monthly source of pain both emotional and physical- I hope it’s easier to understand why I go on about it so much.  I mean, all the effort that goes into concealing it is ludicrous.  Jokes about menstruation are still considered really far out unless they’re jokes about women being all irrational and weepy on their periods, which I point out kind of dis empowers them.  You never see jokes about menstrual blood, or cramps, really.  People still bristle unhappily when periods are mentioned, even in passing.

I try to be really super delicate when I talk about them- well, not here, but in company.  In company, I call it ‘lady pains’, trying to avoid even the mention of the C word.  It can’t be a thing of horror for me anymore.  It never has been, really.  Since the age of 11, I haven’t the luxury of being grossed out.  I, like a good deal of women, just have to get on with it.  I have to get on with the maintenance and the smells and the countless pairs of nice pants ruined by bloodstains that never really wash out, no matter how much cold water you rinse with.

So that’s the deal.  If I have to live the next 30 years bleeding once a week, I’m allowed crack jokes about it.  It’s my little way of taking control and agency over myself.  It’s uncomfortable and at times difficult to keep in line, but it’s my body.  I’m genuinely sorry if that makes people uncomfortable, or if it’s being too honest.  So yes, ladies.  Everyone up on their chair/bed/ottoman

‘We all got periods, yo!’ Say loud n’ proud.

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Niamh ‘I bleed out my vagina and y’all gotta deal with that’ Keoghan

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

Sex and the Campus

Bank Holiday Tuesday is now a weekly opinion column on the Student Standard, a news website based in NUI Maynooth. This post is the debut column, entitled ‘Sex and the Campus’ and originally published on the 6th of November. Bank holiday Tuesday is published every (when else) Tuesday and can be found here along with my other writing for the Standard.

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University campuses: where quite a lot of us are in and around when we take our first steps into the big bad world of taking all our clothes off and touching each other. The assumption is that everyone is ridin’, everyone will ride and everyone who isn’t ridin’ wants to ride. Ireland has had a pretty staggering jolt in sexual liberty, considering it’s only been twenty years since we de criminalised homosexuality and even more recently really begun to question the role that the church plays in our lives. Maynooth is a great place to witness the fault line running through Irish society right now; two different times and spaces separated neatly by the Kilcock Road.

On the South Campus we have an old Ireland that I would argue is struggling to remain relevant in the rapid secularization and liberalization of the outside world; a conservative island set against an increasingly hostile society. Moving past the library, the difference is almost farcical. To me, happiness is the simple fact that such a vibrant and cheerful LGBT community can exist in such close proximity to a Catholic seminary. On the North campus we have the fruits of a new Ireland – cautiously patting itself down and realizing it has limbs, and eyes and ears and a body it can move around in. Shrugging off the old cloistered shames of the past there is a real optimism about where we’re going as a people. Well okay, we’re all going to Australia after graduation… BUT we will be going with a good working knowledge of our own bodies and sexualities. The contrast is magnificent and something I take great joy in: Maynooth is now is as interesting as Trinity was in 1891 or UCD was in the 1960s. Maynooth is where you can see change blooming under your feet.

This contrast of values brings me to my current thought. Recently, I heard that during last year’s sexual health week (called KISS Week that year) there were some complaints about how the Students’ Union tackles sexual health. The complaint was namely that the Union does nothing to promote abstaining from sex as a viable option for students and instead pushes condoms into our hands and promotes safe sex as the only way to avoid STIs and pregnancy. As I surveyed my own haul of free condoms (a grand total of five from the SU and one from LGBTQ’s ‘Fab Pack’), this question played on my mind: are we too in your face about this whole ridin’ business?

I decided to put on my “serious journalist face” and conduct some research. Yup – I put up a status on Facebook, asking what they thought about the college’s approach and its effectiveness. ”(There is a) SERIOUS lack of information for women who have sex with women – it’s a real problem and has only been addressed through the LGBTQ society” said Christina Murphy, who graduated from NUIM last year and is former President of the LGBTQ society. ”The only criticism I would have would be regarding the staff in the Medical Centre, who I have always felt to be quite judgemental and intimidating regarding sexual health,” said Dean MacCearaín, who had praised the SU for the free availability of condoms and easy access to sexual health advice (and is current President of LGBTQ Society… My Facebook keeps amazing company!)

An interesting point came, as such points often do, from my friend Ruth who asked for the current situation to be considered in its context. We’re moving from a time where sex was absolutely taboo and not discussed at all to a time where choice and safety are absolutely vital. We’re also living a world where AIDS is still a reality. Ruth finished by saying she “would like to see more acknowledgement of the fact that people’s level of interest in sex is so varied.” And this is where my personal experience comes in.

I’m not sexually active. In fact I don’t think I’ve ever been? Does someone just come around and “switch you on” like they do the electric or gas? I’m not having sex mostly because I’m very lazy. I honestly just could not be arsed finding a person, getting my clothes off, buying condoms, putting music on and shaving my legs for a few jollies and a cuddle. As it is, I’m pretty happy with not going out of my way to do all that. It’d be just another thing to add to my list of things I need to do in a week. It’s not for any religious or spiritual reason that I refrain, nor is it from any desire to remain “pure”. I just haven’t got around to it yet. So what has my experience as an ostensibly abstinent person been?

I must say, the sexual health campaign week was a bit isolating. It just had nothing whatsoever to do with me. Condom magicians and STI information just has no use for someone who’s only major sexual relationship is with her right hand. It did play on my mind slightly, though. I did for a moment contemplate perhaps it was a bit odd that I wasn’t as interested in sex as perhaps I should be. This of course was me being, if I may use a refined phrase, a bit bullshitty about everything. It’s something that has no relevance for me right now… But just like Mass being held on South Campus in the Oratory is it having no relevance to me any reason for it not to take place?

This is my take on it. If I am ill-informed about abstinence – for instance if I don’t know oral sex “counts” as sex or whatever – I am far less likely to suffer dire consequences for my ignorance. Abstinence is refraining from an activity. You don’t need much more information or support other than “Oh, that’s grand. Well done, I guess.” However if I’m ill-informed about safe sex while practising it I could end up a) pregnant or b) very sore, itchy and potentially infertile, which I wouldn’t like. Promoting safe sex is so important because it has real, life-long implications for people’s health. Ruth made the point that ”[it] makes it clear that the educators/campaigners are sex positive and not using ‘be safe’ as a veiled ‘don’t do it’, which can’t be taken for granted in the context of sex education in schools.”

I don’t really know how you could offer abstinence as a viable option for someone. I mean fair enough if the person has decided that’s what they want but at a point in most people’s lives when their libido is peaking and they’re away from home for the first time I doubt it’s a very realistic one. I think the current Students’ Union strategy of promoting safe sex to the point of slight overkill is a far better one than the old ways of shame and secrecy. Openness and honesty about our most basic needs is what we really need to promote.

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Niamh ‘Serious journalist face’ Keoghan

The Student Standard is Maynooth’s independent news source set up in 2012 by Keith Broni, current editor in chief.

A selection of my favourite #IrishShadesOfGrey tweets

Without futher ado, I offer my favourites from the selection offered tonight, courtesy of Twitter- I’m pretty shite at being clever in 140 characters so have a bunch of funny ones I found in lieu of an actual post- My head is too fried.

(All the tweets below aren’t mine, they just made me laugh very hard.  Everyone’s twitter handle follows their tweets.  and also LOL)

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‘That was A1, Sharon’ – @Breffniburke1

‘Is that the latest thing now? Twas far from Fifty shades of Grey ye were all reared’- @IrishMammies

‘As I shouted ‘Sharon Ní Bheolin’ at the top of my voice, I realized my mistake’ – @RyanCullen90

‘She Quivered as I stroked her thighs.  ‘Take me in the shower Sean!’ I whispered to her ‘Wait til I turn on the immersion’ -@istherehotwater

‘Her underwear was wet as he pulled the rope.  There’s great drying out today she thought as the clothes line hoisted’ – @Paudienewstalk

‘He slipped his hand under the red silk. ‘You’re so beautiful in that dress..’ ‘Feck off it was only a euro in pennys!’ – @LeanneWoodfull

‘Bríd’s knees were sore and her throat was raw; this was the longest Novena she’d ever attended’ – @Jim_Sheridan

‘Mildred giggled coquettishly. Pushing Sean’s hands away she  leaped out of bed to turn Pope John Paul II’s face to the wall.’- @Datbeardyman

‘It was long and hard in her hand.  she cupped a ball in the other. Oh how Bridie loved Camogie.’ @Yourmannugget

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Niamh ‘don’t worry it happens to lots of men’ Keoghan

 

For those of you who came in late… Niamh reviews GAME OF THRONES

SONG THAT IS THEMATICALLY RELEVANT TO THIS POST (and also totally boss btw)

Oh yeah, Hot off the heels of my Legend of Korra post, here’s my thoughts, reactions and HNNNGGGHHHH about Game of Thrones

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IT BEGINS

I didn’t want to watch Game of Thrones.

Oh I’d heard about it, sure! The internet would stubbornly not shut the fuck up about it. But I did manage to remain generally ignorant of the phenomenon for the entirety of the first series. I was so ignorant I didn’t actually know that Sean Bean was in it- I thought that ‘the memes are coming’ shot what from Lord of the Rings- that’s how out of the nerd loop I was. So finally, last month I said fuck it. Let’s give this a shot.

So my first major reactions were as follows- Gratuitous, over the top, gratuitous, violent, nothing new. I thought it was going to be the most over hyped mess I’d ever watched. It felt very Tudors-ish- Hell, it even HAS Anne Boleyn in it now! I just didn’t see how a sexy, violent show would appeal to me- The Tudors and Rome and even Downton abbey certainly never did much.

But everybody loved this show, I couldn’t believe it! Game of Thrones is possibly the greatest force for nerd-dom I have ever seen, seriously. This show rakes in the Fantasy nerds, the gamer nerds, the literature nerds, the sci fi nerds, even political science nerds (Omg the politcal intrigue is just GNNNHHHH- See rant below for more)- This one HBO show managed to unite so many different fandoms it’s fucking staggering. It’s the only thing I’ve ever seen that appeals equally to 13 year old boys (BOOBIES N SWORDS N DRAGONS) and to 20 year old cardigan wearing student feminist like me (WHAT ARE THE SYMBOLIC IMPLICATIONS OF THOSE BOOBIES N WHERE DOES EVERYONE SWEAR LOYALTY WITH THEIR SWORDS N HNNNGGH THE DRAGONS REPRESENT NUCLEAR WEAPONS). It, like Legend of Aang actually, manages to maintain a massive fanbase dragged from all different corners of nerd-dom. So bowing to the pressures of fans everywhere, I forced myself to sit through episode one.

My Reaction

SHIT.

FUCK.

AAAAHAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

How the fuck did I go a year without getting into this?! I mean, FUCK! I’m not even going to discuss the books today but MY GOD, this show. What can I really say? Okay, let me.. let me gather myself.

The political and social implications of NOODZ

As I said before Game of Thrones certainly errs on the side of gratuity, in terms of it’s sexual and violent content. It’s actually been criticized for how it portrays women- including a really annoying case of a woman with a Brazilian wax, who’d grown up in the wilderness and SHOULD NOT BE SHAVED DOWN THERE. But, considering that everyone in this show also has perfect white teeth and the Lannisters have perfectly poofy and shampooed hair. Heck, maybe the actress was Brazilian’d anyway and didn’t want to grow her hair out- Point being yes it would have been awesome to have a full happy bush on a lady on American TV but I’m going to let it slide, because really I don’t think it’s fair to really complain about something awesome they *didn’t* do. It’s lame but not game breakingly lame. And in fairness the only other girl we’ve seen a lot of Nakedness from is… Danaerys.

Danaerys

She is what the Northmen call a ‘babe incarnate’

Sexy things

Now Danaerys is a really interesting thing, in terms of the fanservice we get in the show. See there is an effort (in series 1 at least) to make the nudity relevant to the plot in the same way that the over the top violence. So you have scenes of Danny getting her freak on with Killy horsey man husband…

We’re going to pause for a moment so I can look and Jason Momoa. I too would fuck shit up if someone removed him from me.

… And like in the book, their relationship really grows and becomes genuine through their sex scenes. It’s kind of necessary considering they have a language barrier. The nudity here is used to develop their bond and while being obvious fan service, it’s relevant fan service.

Game of Thrones also COMPLETELY makes up for it’s fan service-y moments by having some of the most incredibly disturbing shit ever put on TV. Take for instance a scene with uber baster Prince Joffrey enjoying some hookers sent by his uncle. It contains two girls making out for his pleasure, but he proceeds to have one girl beat the ever-loving shit out of the other with a club. And the worst part of it is how utterly asexual he remains. It’s so graphic I actually couldn’t find that shit on youtube, but trust me- The worst part is seeing Joffrey’s face as the girl is beaten- it’s not a face of arousal or anything sexual- It’s just kind of happy? It’s made even worse because he’s not getting his rocks off to the violence- he’s only 16, he just likes having the power to make other people cause pain.

It would have been the easiest thing in the world to just toss some lesbians at us for kicks, but that scene is used to hammer home was a sick little fuck he is, without lazily making him some BDSM pervert- he’s just a twerp who likes violence. There are other deeply unsettling and unpleasant scenes of sex and nudity that totally offset any boobies thrown out to entertain the viewers.

And man I haven’t even gotten to the plot yet!

Your princess is in another castle!  Also she’s dead!

Game of Thrones is strange as far as a fantasy plot goes. I really think it’s a story of what happens ‘after’ the happily ever after of other fantasy stories. In the backstory of the series and the books, Robert and Ned teamed up as young heroes, battled the evil king, fought the good fight, avenged their foster fathers death- the LITERALLY WENT on a quest to save a princess (Well Lyanna was a lord’s daughter but fuck it, close enough) That had been kidnapped by a wicked prince. At the end Robert wins the crown and defeats the king, but sadly doesn’t save his princess- he still gets a super hot wife and everything ends on a somewhat bittersweet but still triumphant note, and Ned gets to go home happy and safe to his wife and his son, where his illegitimate son is safe with his nurse. The end!

Except in a Song of Ice and fire, that happens 17 years before the story starts! This series is amazing because it’s the fantasy equivalent of an ‘after the end’ setting- What does actually happen when you win? What do you do when you win the throne and have to change from being a badass warrior to being a statesman? How do you deal with the fact that you brutally murdered an entire family and exiled the rest? Are they any real heroes and Villains in this world?

When you play the game of thrones, you live or you di-OH SHIT ZOMBIES

There’s no single bad guy in this show, the politics of it are amazing. Even if you find yourself rooting for a particular family like the Starks or the Lannisters, you’re always going to find someone from the other side that you value and love and who would be fucked up if the others win. I find myself loving Danaerys and wanting her to succeed even though she’s basically going to fuck up the shit of EVERY OTHER CHARACTER in the series when she can- Including Tyrion, Sansa, the other Starks. It makes it really difficult to take a definitive side and sets it apart from other fantasy series in that there really isn’t a big bad. The closest you get really is Tywin Lannister, who’s generally just looking out for his own family rather than trying to take over the world. It’s also quite difficult to see Danaerys’ return (spoken of with dread by everyone) as being particularly bad for ordinary people- she’s a pretty nice kid, as long as you don’t fuck her up.

I’ve been expecting you, mister Stark..

Added to the squabbling is the very real threat of the mother fucking ice zombies- and the best, most genius part of the plot is that nobody gives two flying fucks about the impending doom! Any other book or show, everyone would be focused on the doom, and the big bad, and the holy shit we need to fight off the ICE ZOMBIES. But everyone’s too wrapped up in their political allegiances and wars to actually band together and save the world.

Guys, could we possibly… focus on the Ice breathing murderous necromancing monsters for a sec? They’re kind of… important?!

The cosmic deadline

So having a plot that isn’t automatically concerned with the fate of the world means you really need something to up the stakes with, and so Game of Thrones does that with WINTER.  Winter is mother fucking coming, and it’s gonna fucking suck for everything and fuck your shit up and NOBODY (except Dany with her mother fucking dragons perhaps) stands a chance of surviving.  And unlike other cosmic deadlines there is nothing anyone can do- You can’t defeat a season, you actually just have to bunker down and try not to die in the ten years it might take to pass.  The dread with which people speak about winter takes the place of a Sauron or a Voldermort in Game of Thrones.  And there’s no side stepping it or getting around it or defeating it with the power of love- And that is fucking scary.

Conclusion

The performances are subtle and complex, the costumes are gorgeous, the script is unreal, THIS SHOW GIVES ME SUCH GOOD FEELINGS. I don’t even know how to wrap this up, just…. Here, have some Jon Snow.

Broooooooooooooo

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Niamh ‘I pledge my banner to house TarMOTHERFUCKINGDRAGONS’ Keoghan