Gay Marriage – Saint or Sin?

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Anti-Gay Marriage Sign at Values Voter Summit

Anti-Gay Marriage Sign at Values Voter Summit (Photo credit: Talk Radio News Service)

Gay marriage – blanket equality for all or the churches’ choice?
Equality regardless of sex, race, sexuality, religion etc is something I strongly believe in and normally I’m the first to fly to the defence of people’s equal rights. However in the case of gay marriage the more I think and talk about it the more my opinion changes. Originally I thought all people regardless of gender should be entitled to be married and have the same status as everyone else regardless of where they want to be wed. I have since changed my mind.
The issue is of course rooted in the religions of the world shunning same sex relations and therefore not wanting to bring them into their places of worship. As much as I may disagree with this view I have to question non-religious people’s right to impose their view on others. As much as I want gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people to have the same rights as straight people and believe that it is right, I am not comfortable with forcefully imposing my view on anyone. As much as I disagree and frankly judge you as a person for not supporting equality, this is a democracy and who am I to force you to adhere to what I say, I wouldn’t like it if you did it to me.
It is a tricky issue and there are a few ways of dealing with it, one of the most obvious is majority rule. Holding a referendum to see what people believe in and want to see happening in the country is supposed to be a fair and democratic method of deciding. However we have to question the flaws of this idea, for example its track record. Their are of course a million examples but one obvious one is the culture of slavery, now of course regarded as an awful and horrendous part of our history, was at the time clearly very well supported and took a long time to abolish. An extreme example I know but a truthful one. So who is to say what’s right and what is wrong?
Of course the issue could be left as it is but I don’t think that could happen for long, the people generally want change and I agree, the policy is outdated and unfair. So what are the differences in the UK between civil partnerships and marriages?
  1. civil partnership can only be a civil, and not religious, procedure, whereas opposite-sex couples can, in relevant circumstances, choose to have either a religious or a civil marriage ceremony
  2. adultery is not a ground for dissolution of a civil partnership (as it is for divorce), nor is consummation a criterion for legal validity (as it is in marriage); however, infidelity may be a contributory factor where ‘unreasonable behaviour’ is cited as a ground for seeking dissolution of a civil partnership
  3. there are differences in procedure: a civil partnership is formed when the second partner signs the relevant document, whereas a civil marriage is formed when the couple exchange spoken words and then the register is signed.

So clearly there is some inequality here, the worst being the grounds for divorce not being the same between the two. Also perhaps both methods of joining a couple together should be given the same names, as I would argue that this distinction is a negative one.

The option for change that I think would help fix this problem would be of course to improve the status of civil partnerships so they have the same legal standing as straight couples, but also to change the way the religious institutions decide what is the best course of action. As it is the head of the Church of England for example decides what all the individual C of E churches do, I think it would be a more democratic and fair method to allow the people in attendance at that church to have a referendum among themselves to decide what they think. That way individual congregations could decide what they honestly think on the matter, speakers from either side could come in to talk about their views and a rational decision could be made at a local level. And if you don’t like the decision made at that church you are free to leave and attend elsewhere. What’s fairer than that? Why should some religious leader somewhere not democratically elected be allowed to decide what a whole religion thinks about anything?

But ultimately the issue is not that big in the UK compared with elsewhere, as far as I’m concerned the legal status should be the same, individual churches should be able to make the choice for themselves, and the terms used in both gay and straight partnerships should be equal to avoid confusion and offence.

I personally am not religious and as much as I can respect those who are for their beliefs (provided they give me the same credit) I struggle to take the opinions religions quite as to heart as others do. As far as I’m concerned if I want to be in any form of partnership with whomever I love I don’t need the Church’s approval to do so. The problem is when same-sex couples do value the opinion of the church, which is of course where this issue originates.

There will always been arseholes in the world who regard not just gay people but other social ‘minorities’ and women as lower than them in the social chain. This is of course the brand of ignorance and stupidity I and others like me hope to fight against, but I am not convinced it will ever go away entirely, or not for a long while. In the end it is important to value yourself and your beliefs, and regardless of your sexuality, gender, religion or any other definition you place on yourself to strive to treat others as you would wish to be treated.

Gay marriage is not a threat

Gay marriage is not a threat (Photo credit: Lost Albatross)

Film Review: James Bond Skyfall

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I went to see Skyfall last weekend and since it’s been much written about and made such an impression on me, I feel like joining in.

Daniel Craig is of course one hell of a man, and I find him a very fitting person to play Bond. Perhaps it’s the product of my time as he is the most current Bond, but I feel like since he’s been playing the part they have reduced the cheesy suave silliness and made him more of a hard killing machine, with some humour and fun thrown in. In Skyfall he looks haggard and haunted and I like that, it seems more realistic as if you had that job you’d look and feel that way too. I don’t want my Bond, or any other action hero for that matter, looking immaculate and well put together all the time, because that isn’t how it would be and makes it too Hollywood for my tastes.

I needed the loo from about 10 mins in and could not find a suitable time to nip out. It was so jam packed with action and excitement throughout that there was simply no appropriate moment. The film is around 150mins long and the time flew by, it didn’t feel like a long film but an exciting and interesting adventure.

The plot was easy to relate to and maintained both suspense and intrigue. I found the character development brilliant and loved how they explored the difficult decisions constantly facing M, the psychotic derangement of the villain, and how Bond came to be what he is – a lone killing machine. All these characters could be understood and empathised with which is what I personally enjoy in a film. The intellegence of the villain also adds to the plot as the twists and turns he creates keeps you guessing and on the edge of your seat. The way he is intelligent is also very appropriate for our era which makes it a very modern film.

This film seemed to make an attempt to refer back to old Bond films with the classic car etc. I thought this was a nice touch and made it feel less like the Borne films, and tied it back to the legacy from which it springs. The theme song by Adele sounded like a classic bond film and gave the necessary impact when combined with the spectacular intro.

However the flaw I can see with this (based on what I’ve heard other people say about it) is that it appeals more to female viewers than the male. According to one male viewer Bond’s appeal is that he is effectively a faceless agent with a cool job and lots of gadgets, making it easy for men to project themselves onto him and into the film. However with the inclusion of a back story this is made more problematic and the appeal drops. Also apparently there was insufficient sex which has long been considered a basic feature of any Bond film as he displays his prowess with various beautiful women.

Although I have to say these issues did not affect me or my enjoyment of the film and I would gladly see it again as soon as possible, which is not something that often happens. Therefore I give James Bond Skyfall 5 stars! Brilliant film and highly recommended.

Today’s Wisdom

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Comfort

Comfort (Photo credit: clumsy_jim)

 

It is impossible to own too many jogging bottoms/jumpers/leggings/slippers. Also it should be illegal for anyone to mock/judge anyone else for wearing the above inside or outside. It is winter*, I choose comfort over design. Go fuck yourselves.

 

*It is also entirely acceptable to wear the above regardless of season to a 9 or 10am lecture. It is important for one’s sanity to maintain the feeling of pyjamas for as long as possible. It is a proven fact that warmth and comfort have a direct correlation to intelligence and productivity.

 

Mitt Romney is an idiot.

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Mitt and Ann Romney on December 22, 2007, at a...

Mitt and Ann Romney on December 22, 2007, at a campaign event in Londonderry, New Hampshire. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Mitt Romney, the U.S. Republican Presidential candidate, is an idiot. I need to say little more than that, Google ‘stupid Mitt Romney quotes’ and a monumental list of evidence will appear. However I thought I’d present this example of human stupidity through my own eyes. I will concede that politically I do not back Romney, he stands for all the policies I hate and I sincerely hope he doesn’t get chance to implement them.

 

The first and possibly most hilarious thing I’ve heard from Mr Romney was his comment on the 47% of Americans registered to vote Democrat;

 

“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. … My job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.” -Mitt Romney, in leaked comments from a fundraiser in May 2012

 

Not only is this a sweeping statement which is likely to be wrong, but regardless he’s clearly just alienated this 47% of the vote against him. What kind of idiot would say something this stupid? When you’re in the process of campaigning for the American people to vote for you, don’t believe you’re ever not being recorded or that any microphone is ever off when in public/at a conference. That’s politics 101, not to mention if you are elected as the leader of any nation, your job is to represent all its citizens, not just those who voted for you/aren’t ‘dependent’ on the government. Also correct me if I’m wrong but aren’t we all dependent on the government? To protect our safety and welfare and reflect our wishes? Being the President of the U.S. is a job you know Mitt, not just a free ride to benefit dinners.

 

Another reason I think the man is a buffoon is because he is such a stereotypical rich white American man. He defends big corporations as ‘people too’;

 

“Corporations are people, my friend … of course they are. Everything corporations earn ultimately goes to the people. Where do you think it goes? Whose pockets? Whose pockets? People’s pockets. Human beings, my friend.” —Mitt Romney to a heckler at the Iowa State Fair who suggested that taxes should be raised on corporations as part of balancing the budget (August 2011)

 

Yes it does go in people’s pockets, a tiny tiny percentage of people’s pockets, leaving the vast majority out of the tight circle of wealth. This he makes worse by saying things like;

 

“I like being able to fire people who provide services to me.” –Mitt Romney, using an unfortunate choice of words while advocating for consumer choice in health insurance plans (January 2012)

 

And…

 

“I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there.” —Mitt Romney (January 2012)

 

No Mitt you don’t have a safety net, the average standard of living in America is seriously out of balance with the monumental wealth it has. But this is overlooked as North America is so constantly compare with South America, which is torn with drug wars and illegal activity. That doesn’t mean everything is a-OK Mitt. In the UK we have a welfare state and say what you will about the running of it etc, it’s still a brilliant idea and I fail to understand why some Americans are so against the idea of systems being in place to help you get back on your feet should you fall. If I got shot and was bleeding to death I would not have to worry about bankrupting myself and my family because of overpriced extortionate medical bills. I would not have to make the choice between death and a life of debt. The American system is all well and good if you’re either rich enough to afford everything you need, or if you never need anything. But people don’t work that way, and so many American people simply can’t afford to look after themselves. So why oh why would you fight Obama who is trying to improve your standard of living and life expectancy (which is shockingly low given the nation’s wealth)?

 

The UK has a higher rate of house robberies than the US, but the rate of gun crime is minuscule. And as afore-mentioned, I would get free medical care if I were somehow shot. I’d much rather have some little shit steal my stuff than be shot any day. So as not to overlook knife crime in the UK let me ask this, would you rather be shot or stabbed? Because I know what I’d place my bets on for chances of survival.

 

Mitt Romney also claimed that the average wage in America was $200-$250,000. This is literally off by a zero.

 

Measure Some High School High school graduate Some college Associate’s degree Bachelor’s degree or higher Bachelor’s degree Master’s degree Doctorate degree Professional degree
Persons, age 25+ w/ earnings $20,321 $26,505 $31,056 $35,009 $49,303 $43,143 $52,390 $69,432 $82,473
Male, age 25+ w/ earnings $24,192 $32,085 $39,150 $42,382 $60,493 $52,265 $67,123 $78,324 $100,000
Female, age 25+ w/ earnings $15,073 $21,117 $25,185 $29,510 $40,483 $36,532 $45,730 $54,666 $66,055
Persons, age 25+, employed full-time $25,039 $31,539 $37,135 $40,588 $56,078 $50,944 $61,273 $79,401 $100,000

 

(I’m sorry it looks crap, I’m terrible with technology and I can’t get it to look right.) But overlooking for now the difference in America between men and women’s wages, do you really want someone so terrible with numbers in charge of your economy? Do you see anywhere in that chart $250,000? Perhaps that’s the average among his friends, the man is ridiculous.

 

 “I get speaker’s fees from time to time, but not very much.” —Mitt Romney, who earned $374,000 in speaking fees in one year according to according to his personal financial disclosure (January 2012)

 

Speaking of the economy, jobs are of course key, and therefore a major concern for the President.

 

“As president, I will create 12 million new jobs.” —Mitt Romney, during the second presidential debate
“Government does not create jobs. Government does not create jobs.” —Mitt Romney, 45 minutes later (Oct. 16, 2012)

 

Sorry, what?

 

Not to mention the sexist arsehole comment;

 

“We use Ann sparingly right now so that people don’t get tired of her.” –Mitt Romney, referring to his wife while speaking to a room of wealthy donors in Florida, May 17, 2012

 

Your wife is an idiot, to be fair, but could you be more misogynistic? I also loathe is homophobic policies which make him the biggest idiot and bastard in my eyes;

 

 

Do one Mitt, just go do one. I can’t imagine a better parent than my gay best friend and I have encountered plenty of scum bag heterosexual couples. Sexuality makes no difference to the quality of parent, and how good a parent you are is all that matters in a child’s life, not what sex you love. How dare Mitt Romney as a figure of political importance and influence over people perpetuate this hate not only against gay people but against women and non-white people. As President you’re supposed to represent everyone, not just those you don’t have some irrational hatred towards. Prick.

 

And finally in my case against Mitt Romney as a total fucktard I give you the crème de la crème of stupidity;

 

“When you have a fire in an aircraft, there’s no place to go, exactly, there’s no — and you can’t find any oxygen from outside the aircraft to get in the aircraft, because the windows don’t open. I don’t know why they don’t do that. It’s a real problem.” –Mitt Romney, suggesting it would be a good idea to crack a window at 35,000 feet, Beverly Hills fundraiser, Sept. 22, 2012

 

Wow, just wow.

 

On a final final note, Americans you must vote, clearly I am in support of Obama but ultimately you must vote for what you believe in, it is your duty to those who fought for your suffrage and to those who will be impacted by the next President whoever he may be. Do your research and follow what you believe in, even if you are a bastard prick like Romney.

 

 

 

Autumnal Glory

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Autumn is my favourite season, the colours are so beautiful, you have the perfect reason to stock up on cosy knits, scarves and mittens come out and soups and stews come in. It’s not quite cold enough to be unpleasant, it’s early in the school year and you’re already looking forward to Christmas and all its wonder. Winter is bitterly cold especially once Christmas has passed, you wait desperately for Spring to be over and Summer brings either sticky night-time discomfort or disappointing rain. Of course the other seasons have their perks and that what makes the year so delightful, but Autumn is still my favourite.

So here is a little list of my current favourite things that make this Autumn all the more lovely;

  1. My new giant woolly jumper, it has an owl on it.
  2. Butternut squash soup with lots of salt and pepper
  3. Woolly hats
  4. Alpine style leggings, one pair has reindeer on them
  5. Fluffy booty slippers
  6. Chocolate orange hot chocolate
  7. Raccoon fingerless gloves with fold-over mitten bit
  8. Lamb stew (and dumplings, obviously.)
  9. Cake in a mug
  10. Heated blankets
  11. Leather jacket
  12. Snoods
  13. The abundance of Christmas reminders in the shops
  14. All the up coming party events (Halloween, Guy Fawkes, my Nan’s birthday, the birth of my new niece or nephew)
  15. Communal TV/film evenings clutching cups of tea in my already painfully cold student house

So as the days shorten and the bitter nip in the air descends try to embrace the fluffy woolly soothing glory of Autumn, whilst daring to bare some flesh as homage to the warmer days now past. Leave the jackets at home as you drunkenly totter to the taxi on a night out, because who needs Summer when you’re wearing a Vodka coat.

This is beautiful FYI.

Bullies and new dreams.

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Bullying has been in the spotlight lately because of the Amanda Todd video just prior to her suicide, and the upcoming Anti-bullying week 19th- 23rd November. I’m not going to comment on her or the video as it’s been done to death and I haven’t even watched it, and don’t plan to. What I gather is she exposed herself online and then was cyber bullied, leading her to kill herself. I don’t need to know any more than that, nothing about it will change my mind on bullying.

I was bullied from the day I started infants school until about year 9, there was a boy in the year above who I still remember being absolutely huge (obviously he wasn’t) who used to shout and push me over for wearing ribbons in my hair. I was an indignant child and liked my ribbons so couldn’t have given two shits what he thought about them, but it was still unpleasant, he scared me and made me question myself for the first time, I was 5.

As I progressed through school the bullying got worse and changed faces, but for some reason I’ve always attracted it. The worst was years 7 to 8 at my first secondary school when I was made to fear for my personal safety and I began to develop some serious self-loathing. I’m the type to internalize horrible comments and to get sad rather than angry, so naturally it was a really tough thing to be subject to. I don’t think I did anything to deserve it, I was overweight, shy and wore glasses but I never caused any harm. I would get the standard taunting but when they got bored rather than move on they’d ramp it up by hurting me. I was always followed home from school and hit with whatever was to hand, the worst a piece of lead piping to the head they’d found by the road.

Of course my mum and I would tell the teachers, the bully’s parents would be brought in to be told off, and nothing would change. And so was the cycle for just over two years. Fortunately for me I happened to be clever enough to take the entry exam for the local Grammar school and moved. Obviously when I got there I was introverted and defensive, I believed everyone was taking the piss and looking for a way to hurt me like before. It is pure luck that I didn’t end up having a major problem with someone there, because I could have so easily created one with my attitude. I had some teething problems, one time after P.E. two girls took all my clothes and threw them in the toilets/showers and then sprayed deodorant in my eyes and ears. I just sat and cried in my underwear convinced it was starting all over again, in a foreign school.

But thank God that was the only real problem, a few people made it clear they didn’t like me, but no one actively sought out to harm me much and I happened to find my GBF in year 10 and all was well from there on. I did develop depression and had to see a councillor for about two years, but Conor stood by my side and safely saw me through the other end. I still struggle now, sadness will always be my weakness and some of that is down to the way I was treated. But I wont let it be my sob story, it will never be anything more than my past and an element of my motivation to find my way to my future.

All I really want from my career is to help people, everyone deserves to be cared for we’re all in this together and no one should be left behind. If it weren’t for the wonderful people in my life I wouldn’t be pursuing my dreams at University, I would either be in a state of extreme depression and mental illness, or I’d have lashed out at someone. I don’t thing that’s an exaggeration, I was beginning to really hate people. Bullying is toxic, people do it because they’re down and they drag people to the depths with them.

I have since seen some of my tormentors (mostly men) and they are ravaged by drink and drugs and have multiple children with multiple women. None of them look well and I pity them, because they had their shit going on and they had their dreams which have not come true. All I can do now is follow my dreams and do what I can to be a good person and nice to those I meet. I will always be grateful and hold the highest respect for the people who’ve been there for me through my life, the people who inspired and comforted me when I felt so alone, I believe in remembering them and their influence more than the bastards who put me down.

We all have our cross to bear, this isn’t something I’ve shared with many people before and I don’t feel comfortable doing it, but if someone reads it and makes them think twice about bullying someone or that this too shall pass then I will be happy. I have faith in myself now, I believe in what I’m about and I’m in no way interested in the opinions of hateful people. I have a unique kind of confidence because despite adversity I am motivated to go higher and further, after all how much worse could it be?

My opinion on bullying is that the bullies probably have their own problems going on, but that doesn’t give them the right to bring other people down. Some people say some deserve what they get, but I’m not convinced anyone deserves to be made to feel like they’re worthless or alone, some people to provoke a negative reaction but that can be dealt with in ways other than abusing them, peace and love man, peace and love!

“we’re all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars” – Oscar Wilde.

 

Kony 2012 – Invisible Children made visible?

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Kony 2012: Effected people to draw attention t...

Kony 2012 was a campaign which spread through the internet like wildfire and if you haven’t heard of it, you really need to socialize more. I was one of the many who got caught up by the campaign and even posted the video on here if you look at my earlier posts. I totally leapt on the bandwagon, for all of a few days until the details of the charity behind it (Invisible Children) came to light.

I didn’t properly research them myself at the time, I really should have seeing as I am a student of history/politics/sociology and I should have had a more critical and questioning outlook when reading about it but the fact is I didn’t. I first read about the flaws of the charity when it turned up on my facebook news feed and I realised I been a tad blind in my following of the cause. However the reasons the charity is misleading is somewhat irrelevant now as they seem to have disappeared into the background.

The video itself is an impressive example of propaganda and was very effective at achieving its goal, everyone knew who Kony was and the issues the video informed us about whilst simply leaving out key pieces of information such as the charity’s finances and the current activity/location of the LRA.

But what has happened to the Invisible Children now? Well not a lot. After the scandal of the misrepresentation of both the situation and the charity faith was quickly lost and people seem to have lost interest entirely. It is shocking how people went from such extreme commitment and fervour for the cause, to it being almost completely off the map. Part of the problem may be the amount of time between the video going viral and the planned Cover the Night campaign, which gave people time to question the charity and movement and decide one way or another, but also because there was insufficient maintenance of the momentum. I have not seen a single Kony 2012 poster anywhere, and I really expected to.

The issue with Invisible Children’s finances was the amount of money those who worked for the charity were getting paid and how little of the donations actually made it to the cause. Although I of course disagree with people’s well-meaning donations going into the back pockets of the leaders of the charity, I do feel the need to point out that I would far prefer charity workers to earn a high wage than footballers/Kim Kardashian to ‘earn’ the ridiculous sums they do. To my mind those who earn the most should be those who do the most to better/help people/the world. So although I disagree with the finances of the charity, we do have to question our ideas of who should earn what.

The basic idea behind the campaign is a good one, the LRA have done some terrible things, they should not be allowed to continue and they should be held accountable for what they have done. They are however not the only group to do such things and therefore are not the only group to deserve this treatment and attention. I think this issue and Invisible Children should be separate and the tarnishing of the charity should not cloud the judgement of people in a position to help the real people in need.

If you want to give to a charity to help people in these situations, or to get involved in any way my personal favourites are;

Amnesty International

Oxfam

Actionaid

Lets make the world a little nicer than the way we found it yeah?

Lighten up arseholes!

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Something that always bothers me is when people make sweeping statements about the state of humanity and the fundamental characteristics of people in general. Normally these are negative statements and the most common is ‘people are fundamentally selfish‘. First of all, speak for your self prickface, and secondly I just don’t think this is true.

When I say things like ‘I think people are fundamentally kind/caring/decent’ people’s reaction is ‘aww isn’t she sweet, so young and naive. Don’t take her seriously, she doesn’t know shit.’ and it’s infuriating! Yes I am young, and yes I am idealistic, but is that a bad thing? The worst thing I can imagine about growing older is becoming a sour hearted knob jockey like you, with a cynical pessimistic view of the world. This is such a common reaction I find myself feeling embarrassed by my age, as if it’s something that makes me immediately wrong and not worth listening to. How ridiculous, isn’t youth supposed to be enjoyed and don’t so many envy it? So why does it feel like a dead weight around my neck?

This does however make me argue more persistently, and listen to people more intently and I do believe that I can understand most view points and see why they think the way they do, even if I disagree. People that are convinced that people are selfish creatures by nature I find are the least open to honest debate and often are completely unwilling to have their minds changed regardless of the evidence and arguments put before them. I realise this is a sweeping statement too, but based on the sample of people I have encountered with this viewpoint, these are my findings.

This idea that people are still like animals, survival instincts are still at the forefront of our minds and therefore we are selfish, to me is just silly. We are capable of conscious thought and reason, and we are the only animals with a clear tendency to morality that I’m aware of. To me this argument is a cop-out, say it and you don’t have to think about anything any more ‘hey you can’t blame me, I’m just a human, selfish by nature. Therefore I can do whatever the hell I like.’ No. No you can’t, or at least shouldn’t. Grow the fuck up.

Not to mention it is so disheartening to hear such an abundance of cynical ideas about the world, that if someone needs help they won’t get it because people won’t care, they’re selfish. How miserable must people who think like that be? I still have faith in humanity, shit happens, there are arseholes in the world, but that doesn’t make everyone an arsehole. I want to work in politics (I heard you sigh) simply because I want to help people, I am paying through the nose to educate myself in order to do this, and I really believe there are other people who feel the same. So stop pissing on my parade! I don’t tell you how fucking stupid that haircut looks on you, live and let live arsehole! Stop getting your kicks by bringing people down and making them as miserable as you are.

My mother always says the best thing we can do in life is leave a little patch of the world a little nicer than the way we found it, and I think this is a wonderful mantra to live by. Don’t be disheartened by people like this, I try not to be and I admit I struggle sometimes, speaking to people like this is like hitting your head on a wall, it hurts after a while. Although if you are feeling low look at these, they’re so lovely and may just restore your faith in humanity;

18 Inspiring pictures of humans being amazing.

21 photos to make you feel better about the world

Fifty Shades of Grey

So everyone has been talking about this book endlessly, and let’s be honest it has become a bit boring, probably due to the abundance of titillated women getting all hot under the collar over what, exactly? But I feel the need to join the debate. The camps seem to be divided between fifty shades of bullshit and the almost militant lovers of Mr Grey. And it reminds me of the reaction to Twilight, which is fitting since it is fan-fiction.

I may seem a hater of the book, but I cannot deny I did buy and read all of them, and they did entertain me as my summer holiday reading, and I will probably read them again. They are an amusing read, the sex isn’t as outrageous as people seem to perpetuate, it’s not your run of the mill ‘vanilla’ as they call it, but it isn’t anything to be shocked of appalled about. I think the problems lie in the over-hyped reaction, it does not deserve to have sold faster than Harry Potter, it has its place but it is not as big a deal as it has become.

As it is a work of fiction, we do have to suspend our disbelief a tad which I don’t think all readers do, the physical biological realities of being a sexually active woman are completely avoided, in favour of a passion filled fantasy. It is a fantasy, but is that so wrong in a book clearly meant to be enjoyed but not taken too seriously?

It is also clear that insufficient care has been taken when writing the books, the vocabulary used for example is limited, particularly so for a trilogy! There’s an almost childish reluctance to use the word penis, and since it has been dubbed ‘mummy porn’ this seems ridiculous. James does try to include every sense in the saucy bits which is good, as it makes it a bit more realistic but this is her only attempt. The story does seem a bit rushed however, and the blatant references and parallels between Fifty Shades and Twilight bothers me, since it seems an attempt to make a work of teen fiction grown up, and if so has failed.

The depiction of BDSM is also a reason for criticism, I don’t mind that it’s a very tame example as it is meant for the middle section of readers and does not claim to be extreme or even a truthful example of that world. Branding it as a novel about BDSM would be wrong, as it is simply an erotic romance story. But the idea that the only reason someone would be into this world is because they are emotionally and physically scarred from their childhood is utterly ridiculous and has no foundation in psychological study or research, but rather it is as much a product of fantasy as the rest of the book. The offence that this insinuation has doubtlessly caused is an issue James cannot avoid and I am surprised it was published knowing the inevitable repercussions. People who enjoy BDSM whether as dominants or submissives are not automatically damaged, no more than those who enjoy nothing more than ‘vanilla’ sex, and this impression should be rectified by the author.

As for the feminist arguments that it degrades women, I disagree as frankly if some women enjoy being submissive in the bedroom then that’s their business. So long as no one decides this means they should always be submissive elsewhere I can’t see the harm. The book doesn’t claim all women want this, and I think it is significant that the female character debates with herself over whether or not she should go through with it, as most women would, rather than rushing to degrade herself to please a man. Isn’t the women’s movement about freedom of choice? And to my mind choosing to be submissive is as acceptable in a woman as choosing to be dominant.

I don’t like that the gifts he gives her and his lavish lifestyle are so prominent in the book, but perhaps these elements are as much a fantasy as the sex? And as such are harmless, although it does diminish my personal opinion of our author and heroine. I also dislike the way it is written, Anastasia Steele’s ‘inner goddess’ is infuriating and clichéd and does nothing more than bother me. Although I do praise it for being mainstream enough to open people up to sexual experiences they may enjoy but otherwise be to embarrassed to try, and for helping to reduce the taboo of BDSM, even if it is so very tame. Perhaps it will save a marriage or two.

All in all the book has its place, it is good for a holiday read or for the train, it’s entertaining but not life shattering and I don’t mind that, sometimes you just want to read something easygoing. But the number of flaws with it mean I cant help but be bothered by the amount of success its had, particularly when compared to the relative lack success of other books infinitely better, it doesn’t seem fair. Although I recommend it for its purpose I fail to understand readers who have been so blindly loyal to it and ignored the multitude of flaws. The success of the Fifty Shades Trilogy seems to me to be a product of marketing and the impact of the internet, rather than off the back of the work itself.