As a woman and a human being I believe I deserve respect and I do not get involved with people who don’t treat me with respect. But it seems that everywhere I look now there are women being disrespected in horrible ways. There was Malala being shot in the head for speaking out in the belief that women deserve an education. There are Nigerian schoolgirls being kidnapped because they go to school. There are women being attacked and raped or having acid thrown on them in India for such crimes as refusing to marry someone that they don’t even like.
Now I don’t think for a moment that any of this is particularly new (unfortunately!) but perhaps because of the internet and the impact of social media on the global stage, I think these things are just being noticed more. And so they should be. A world where women face violence, harassment and persecution every day of their lives is not a world I am happy to live in. It is unacceptable that anyone, male or female, should be treated as if they were the dirt beneath someone’s feet. Everybody deserves to have their dignity respected. So don’t ignore any harassment that you receive or think that it doesn’t matter. It does matter because if you don’t speak out then people will think it is acceptable to mistreat you.
And don’t allow other to be bullied either. If you see someone being picked on, don’t do nothing. If you’re afraid to intervene, then go round the corner and call the police. But don’t just walk away. If we want this world to be better than it is today, then we have to make it that way.
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me.
I find it extremely disturbing that in the recent European elections the far right have been gaining votes all over Europe. UKIP in Great Britain and The National Front in France are just two parties that have made gains at the expense of almost all the others. It may just be a blip or a protest vote which will change when the General Election comes in Britain next year but as a historian I can’t help thinking that this is how Hitler started. Someone once said that the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
If good people give in to apathy then the fanatics win. If you have a vote, use it! Don’t let the fascists triumph! As W.B.Yeats said in the Second Coming, “the best lack all convction while the worst are full of passionate intensity.” It is time for good people to be passionate; passionate about protecting our rights, passionate about protecting our freedoms, passionate about helping others to a society that cares about all its members, passionate about seeing that no-one is marginalised or ill-treated because of bigotry.
If we don’t defend the rights of others then who will defend our rights when we most need it?
Gary and I went to Stonehenge yesterday. I’d never been there before but I’d been driven past it and seen it from the road. A new visitor centre and exhibition has just been opened there. There’s a museum all about Neolithic life and possible theories about how and why the stones were built. There’s been a lot of archaeology on the site so there are lots of artefacts on display. It was all quite interesting.
You can’t go right up to the stones because of the delicate nature of the archaeology and they’re still digging there but you can get pretty close. I can understand why they don’t let most people up there because a few silly people will always think ‘let’s chip a bit off and take it home’. It’s the idiots that spoil it for the rest of us.
If I look cold and windswept in the photo, it’s because I was! I insisted of having a nice hot cup of tea in the tea shop when we came back from the stones. I didn’t particularly find it a spiritual experience but with a lot of tourists around clicking cameras and the usual exit through the gift shop I thought it was more an educational and commercial experience than a spiritual one.
Since about September last year I have been learning to play the guitar. I don’t think I’m doing very well but then I never do. But it has struck me how much like writing learning the guitar is.
Firstly, progress is always painfully slow. I sincerely wish I could pick up the guitar one day and play like Hendrix the next but that’s never going to happen. It’s endless hours of practise that improves one’s playing and nothing else. I have heard rumours that if you go down to the crossroads and sell your soul to a tall dark gentleman with horns and a tail, then your ability can drastically improve very quickly but that’s too high a price to pay in my book. But there are so many other things to do in life and so many times when the last thing you feel like doing is writing or practising the guitar.
And when you’re learning anything new is can be so disheartening. As someone who suffers with a lot of self doubt, I never think I’m doing enough or doing it properly. I feel guilty if I don’t practise the same as if I don’t write. At least I have a guitar teacher to give me a small sense of perspective. He’s always a lot more enthusiastic about my playing than I am. But with writing, it’s much harder to get perspective and I’m sure all writers are familiar with the feeling that every thing they write is probably garbage and how they feel they’re probably wasting their time doing this.
However, when a break through does occur and something goes well, the feeling of achievement is monumental. Music, writing and creativity in general is, despite the difficulties and setbacks, such a joy. With the guitar, my aim is to be good enough to be in a band. With the writing, I want to be a successful published author. What I really want is some sort of public vindication. Yes, a best selling novel or a grammy awarded album would be great but what I really want is for people to like what I do. I want my creativity to be appreciated. Surely that’s not too much to ask?
I am always amazed when I hear a woman say “I’m not a feminist but…” I cannot understand why any woman would not be a feminist. Being a feminist doesn’t turn you into a dungaree wearing lentil eating lesbian, nor is being a lesbian anything to be ashamed of. But so many women seem frightened of admitting to being a feminist. Why?
To me, being a feminist is about being a man or a woman who believes that no-one should be discriminated against because of their gender. That’s all!
So I would like to say “Yes, I am a feminist and I am proud to be one. I consider it nothing to be ashamed of frightened of. It helps me to embrace my political, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual power and I can’t see anything wrong with that!
I never realised when I first started doing the Facebook thing that it would turn me into a grammar nerd. The urge to correct bad spelling and grammar is so strong that sometimes it is really hard to resist. One of the most prominent and frequent errors occurs around the words ‘there, their and they’re’. So let me explain.
‘There’ refers to an unspecified place, as in “The Beatles are over there.” ‘Their’ refers to things that belong to them, as “The Beatles have their hats on today.” ‘They’re’ is an abbreviation of ‘they are’ as in “The Beatles have arrived and they’re on stage.” I hope this clears things up. I know a lot of people on Facebook will continue to get it wrong.
I can understand if English is not your first language or if you are dyslexic or have other learning difficulties; fair enough then. But if English is your first language and you went to school I can’t help thinking that you should know this stuff. Perhaps that makes me a pedant but then so be it!