Newt In A Tea Cup

{November 21, 2007}   Miss… Landmine?

Is a beauty competition ever feminist? That’s a valid question. Well, here’s a bit of subversion.

It’s Miss Landmine!

Not only are all the women survivors of a landmine explosion but they clearly wouldn’t be even considered as beauty pageant candidates even without the accidents. One candidate is heavily pregnant. Most have several children. Most aren’t the “ideal” weight. Few of them have jobs and those that do are working for, what is obviously, a pittance. Note the number of them that cite “anything” as their dream job. That’s quite humbling and a rather important statement on our privilege.

Kudos to them all.

The most interesting and moving thing I found was the description. First of the clothes with their prices, then the jewellery and then the mine; it’s country of origin, type and method of detonation.

This raises a few questions in my mind about the nature of conflict and femininity. All of these women have to raise a family and provide; in fact it’s only the privilege of the rich to not work regardless of gender. All these women are trying to eke out an existence and rock this world best they can. War and the effects thereof affect everyone in a community. Front lines are entire cities and countries so it’s rather silly to view it as a soldiers matter only. It seems to me that war affects everyone in it’s path for years afterwards and it’s unjust how much the lucky few dictate the fates of others by their carelessness.

What’s the point of saying women should be protected (by a patriarch of course and all kinds of chivalry) when the shit gets dumped on them anyway? We talk about a women’s power as being her looks but what good is that against a landmine? More than that, what does this say about the bestial nature of conflict that all nations engage in again and again like a heroin addict promising it’ll be the last hit for good this time? Our world is absolutely ravaged and pockmarked by this violence.

The problem with conflict is that, despite all seemingly valid justifications, it’s never the people making the justifications that deal with the consequences.

Just some thoughts.


{November 20, 2007}   Vagina Dentata on Film!

I dislike Freud. The man’s theory’s were a mixture of the obvious the so ridiculously stupid and short-sighted it’s actually offensive. Please don’t even mention the absolute preposterousness of the penis-envy concept. Now there is some debate on whether he is or isn’t responsible for the vagina dentata fiasco but he’s a good place to start in examining free associations. Vagina Dentata is the ultimate in fear of symbolic castration (of the penis? of male privilege? male status?) and of female sexuality which must be literally broken before being of use as per one myth relayed by Erich Neumann. But then there’s something so bad it’s hilarious about it. And Queen of Wands hardly hurts the general image. Fact is, I think it’d be kind of cool to have one. So this really could swing wildly towards a hilarious montage or towards misogyny incarnate.

And just because I feel like it, here’s some more classic genital related humour.

Aah… puberty. The nostalgia of that crushing feeling of awkward self-loathing… Your body deciding that it will either take years to get to the same spot as everyone else or that it’ll rush so quickly that the rest of you is left miles behind… Don’t you wish you were back in time; sitting in a classroom crossing and uncrossing your legs, trying to figure out how to exit the room tactfully and gracefully, whilst smuggling a tampon like a ninja on a mission and simultaneously stopping everyone from seeing the back of your skirt because you’ve got a sensation that bits of your insides are seeping through your clothes into a red stain?

It’s about to get a lot worse in the fascist control-phobic systems…

The girl was called out of class by a security guard during a school sweep last week to make sure no kids had backpacks or other banned bags.

Samantha Martin had a small purse with her that day.

That’s why the security guard, ex-Monticello cop Mike Bunce, asked her The Question.

She says he told her she couldn’t have a purse unless she had her period. Then he asked, “Do you have your period?”

…It appears that at least a few other girls were also asked the same question…

The small Sullivan County school has been in an uproar for the last week. Girls have worn tampons on their clothes in protest, and purses made out of tampon boxes. Some boys wore maxi-pads stuck to their shirts in support.

After hearing that someone might have been suspended for the protest, freshman Hannah Lindquist, 14, went to talk to Worden. She wore her protest necklace, an OB tampon box on a piece of yarn. She said Worden confiscated it, talked to her about the code of conduct and the backpack rule — and told her she was now “part of the problem.”

Inquiring minds want to know… how they going to check girls are telling the truth about said period?

This is more a question of paranoia over concealed weapons than sexism… After all the only way to make sure that someone isn’t carrying any kind of weapon is making them go naked… incidentally…

Two days ago, state police say, a 16-year-old boy wearing nothing but a paper bag on his head streaked through the high school as students arrived. The boy was charged with public lewdness, a misdemeanor. He told police he was protesting the backpack policy.

Aaaw… Creepy arse officials but those kids seriously brighten my day. Do you think we could market this tampon jewellery? 🙂

It just seems appropriate, is all…

As I finished work at about 2 o’clock today I decided to hang around town a bit, get a few chores done and finish penning a letter to a friend who is working across the country and without e-mail whilst sitting in a coffee shop. There was a fun fair on and I decided to go on a ride because I was stressed and, face it, I’m ultimately a child when it comes to stuff like that.

I go on the Helter Skelter- It’s a bunch of cars that spin around on the spot as they go around the ride and up and down on the wooden slats which undulate.

I’m wearing a long heavy skirt and as I walk up to the ride and sit in I jokingly turn to the guy putting me in and say “I’m not going to flash everyone, am I?” He replies cheekily “I wouldn’t mind.” I laugh- I kind of did feed him that one and I’m used to that kind of flirting. He didn’t go beyond the line I set in my question so I didn’t mind.

And then he starts bouncing, lightly jumping, on the wooden slat. This makes the car I’m in bounce. Thus making me bounce. Thus making- you guessed it, my boobs bounce. Noticeably. He looks down a me and, from his face, the intuition that women develop about this stuff and just the fact I’m not stupid , I know that’s exactly why he was doing it. To watch my boobs bounce whilst there’s nothing I can do because I’m sitting beneath him, strapped into a ride. He keeps on doing this and positions himself behind me. The ride starts slowly at first and he notices me looking quizzically at him – that quizzical, frozen smile look – and he says;

“They bounce quite nicely, don’t they?”

So not funny and so not talking about the plank of wood. So he sticks by me, as the staff is doing- given an extra spin to the car when they slow down and an extra bounce every so often.

I’m feeling seriously nauseous and not from spinning, I’m trapped and my breasts (which have/are growing due to some freaky late puberty thing so having them remarked upon is strange in itself) are starting to hurt. I feel so angry that somehow he’s taken my body and cut it apart like I’m a piece of tissue in a lab and he’s prodding me for a reaction I can’t control and yet can’t stop producing. He turned my breasts and my body into his objects completely disconnected from me. I felt powerless and that in itself is a violation.

And yeah, that’s a risk you get from Living Whilst Female and I’ve had stuff like that before and it’ll happen again. But it still ruined the Fair for me and it still made me, if only for a second, hate my body and the fact I have breasts. And that is wrong.

Fuck him.

Inspired by a comment or two in a previous post I’ve decided that it would be a great idea to compare our experiences in an honest, straightforward way. I’m not quite sure what the best way to start a discussion is so I’ve set up a few survey-style questions.

One thing I’ve noticed, especially from personal experience, is that it’s very hard to talk to someone else, a friend or family member for instance, who does have really bad body image/ health issues to do with body image. And it’s pretty clear that all of us will most probably meet at least someone with those issues; we can’t avoid it.

So let’s start talking to each other at least.

Copy and paste the questionnaire to your own blog, fill out what you want to fill out, and link it back here in the comments. If you don’t have a blog just do it straight into a comment.

Please do not refer to just yourself but to your friends and family as well – i.e. the environment you live in, or anything else you want to share. Add or remove questions if you want! Remember this is a loose questionnaire, intended to start an honest discussion not solve the worlds problems.





Do you consider yourself attractive?

Do others consider you attractive?

What is your biggest insecurity and why?

Have you/Would you consider using plastic surgery? Why or why not?

What is your relationship with make-up?

How much money do you/think is reasonable to spend on your appearance?

What is your experience of dieting?

Have you/ anyone you know tried any specific diet programs i.e. Lighter Life? How did that affect your health? your moods? your relationships?

Do you have any experiences of eating disorders i.e. either yourself or someone you know?

How did other people react to this; what was the fallout?

Have you had negative experiences relating to your appearance and people’s reactions to it?

What about positive reactions to your body?

How has your body image and attitude changed over the years?

What do you love about your body?

What is your opinion on the media portrayal of women’s bodies?

What would you change about the way you/ your friends/ your family/ general people see their bodies?

What makes you feel beautiful?

and just for fun… Do you shave legs/pits/upper lip moustache?

{April 11, 2007}   Stop the Press! Don’t Diet!

It appears, that what the many of us have been saying for years, is now once more confirmed. Diets are a waste of time. Spectacularly. In fact diets are such a waste of time you could compare them to going to Chewbacca for a haircut. Which would be snazzy, I’m sure, but not quite the sophisticate look you’re going for.

Let me go through this article adding bits from my own experience of loosing weight because this blog is obviously about me, me, me and I like talking about me. 😛

Diets are not a good way to lose weight in the long term, according to researchers. They found that although dieters can lose significant amounts of weight in the first few months, most will return to their starting weight within five years.

“Diets do not lead to sustained weight loss or health benefits for the majority of people,” said Traci Mann, a psychologist at the University of California, Los Angeles.

“You can initially lose 5% to 10% of your weight on any number of diets, but then the weight comes back. We found that the majority of people regained all the weight, plus more. Sustained weight loss was found only in a small minority of participants, while complete weight regain was found in the majority.”

Don’t I know it. This is ringing very true at the moment. I’m very short, officially petite which simply means under 5 foot 4 (in fact this blog title came from me going over possible names and mispronouncing “minute” into “my newt” which I tend to do. I am told this is cute. Obviously I must now resign from my feminist position as it is well known we are a “socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.” No mention of cute there and quite frankly it would undermine our whole evoool agenda.) Back on topic; this shortness means that whilst I weigh a lot less than most of my peers, I keep more visible curves- especially in the hip and bum area.

Last year, partly due to financial concerns (i.e. a £1 difference) I stopped buying the proper meals at my canteen and lived off soup and bread alone for lunch, and cut off all snacks.

I went from 9 stone 3 at the beginning of (I think) November to 8 stone 5 by mid January. When I weighed myself yesterday it was back up to 9 stone. Being honest, I’d love to loose the weight again but quite frankly I have better things to focus on and I can’t find the motivation to be dissatisfied with myself.

Repeatedly losing and gaining weight has been linked in previous studies to cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes and altered immune function.

Mmm… Soup is nice, but not quite nice enough to risk that if you ask me.

Of course I would encourage anyone to loose weight if they are feeling unhealthy but not to do so for aesthetics and not to do so as a regime. I’m not going to lie; It felt absolutely fantastic when my mother told me I should try on the size 14 jeans and it turned out I was a size 8. It felt great having a friend I hadn’t seen in ages say I looked “so totally hot” in my corset at the Rocky Horror Picture Show. I loved seeing the numbers on the scale going down and it made me feel very confident and accomplished.

But during the same time period a friend of mine got anorexia. I believe she was at the lower end of seven stone?

I remember her going around her house and her rolling her eyes and joking about how if she had any cherry coke it would give her a heart attack and kill her. She’s a really tall girl and this is important because the doctors told her that she needed to weigh 9 stone minimum for her height. We think that there is only one template for the body and this is where we go wrong. There is no template. We all have individual BMI charts and we all have different metabolisms and shapes. This obvious truth should not need to be said. If you are living a healthy lifestyle don’t you dare loose that weight. It belongs there and is part of you. It is not an anomaly you can “correct”. You might as well chop of your arm.

My friend is okay now but it was incredibly scary (she’s the third I know to go down from that and the one who recovered the best); it wasn’t a long time after I found out I weighed less than my friend suffering from anorexia that I stopped trying to loose weight.

They have to look at it not as a diet where they’re denying themselves because eventually people get sick of that and go back to their previous lifestyle.

“What they’ve got to think about moving towards is a new lifestyle but doing it through small, sustainable changes. They’ve got to find a physical activity they enjoy, whether it’s walking or going to the gym or taking up a new sport.”

The above is very true. The only way I could motivate myself to loose was by hating; my body, my lack of self-control. It was the promise of beautiful as something ahead of me, something I had yet to reach but not yet. It was that “just a little bit more” and then… and then what? Another little bit more. Followed by yet another. My original target had been simply 9 stone. Then 9 stone 10. 9 stone 8. What about 5? And if the scale went up, I felt that promise of beauty slipping from my hands into the abyss of my stomach.

Here’s the beauty; when I was younger and living in France I sometimes felt like I was having out of body experiences. Actually I’ll call those “in body experiences”. They happened when I was feeling clumsy and awkward. My hands would seem disproportionate, I’d be towering like a giant over the slim petite French girls (damn their bone structure), I felt like my body was too big and heavy to move around or live in. I felt like my mind was sinking in this gargantuan vehicule I had no control over.

But now this is reversing. Jane Austen said “To look almost pretty is an acquisition of higher delight to a girl who has been looking plain for the first fifteen years of her life than a beauty from her cradle can ever receive.” This, I found to be true. But that beauty and prettiness came to me through the realisation that I had something to be confident about and proud of; my intellect, my smile, my personality.

It came when I was standing in a harshly lit dressing room, trying on jeans and ironically joking to myself whether “my bum looks fat in that”. And then I thought “yes, yes it does. It’s huge and that gives me presence. I exist. And my body is just the right size to hold my spirit; I don’t want to be smaller because I feel like I’d flow outside of myself.” So I bought the jeans and quoted some Maya Angelou “Phenomenal Woman” to myself and went home.

I haven’t dieted since.

I don’t know if I never will again but I’m certainly not going to add to the coffers of a mega-rich industry that will never offer me fulfilment.

So that’s my experience. Don’t bother; don’t diet. Really love yourself; every single bit of you; right now. The more you do, the more you’ll be able to focus on what real self-improvement means because all the red herrings will be swept away.

Besides that, we are so much more than perpetual works in progress. Ultimately life is too short to count on the way we hope tomorrow’s photo’s turn out.

But don’t forget to wear sunscreen. 😛

Source: Why dieter’s have fat chance of loosing weight- The Guardian

{March 24, 2007}   Do I look bovvered?

Okay, seriously, who the hell does searches for “elderly granny porn“?

Conversation I had today whilst walking back from work and nibbling on my chicken drumsticks (my lunch, you tossers.)

Idiot1&2: Yo gorgeous! Is it good? Baby- come here!
Me: Ooh- does that make you feel like a big strong man, you little sweethearts?
Idiot 3 (running after me): Hey, just ignore them. Ignore them. Can I talk to you?
Me: (eyebrow goes up in what I shall label dubious/sarcastic/withering stare or DSWS for short)
Idiot 3: You really are a very beautiful woman. (add various flirtatious noises)
Me: Thankyou. I already know that. (DSWS working overtime)
Idiot 3: Do you have a boyfriend?
Me: Not interested.

Just a note: I’d only had five hours sleep the night before and looked it. My hair was what, if one squinted, cocked head and looked towards sun, one would call stylishly dishevelled (i.e: not brushed). If my lips were red it was because they were so chapped they were bleeding. Now, I know I’m a gorgeous women, thank you very much 😛 , but those twasocks seem to be completely blind in their search for a two legged female target. Because at that moment in time I was hardly flashing my “come hither” eyes. Idiots.

Oh, and if you’re mates are complete idiots you’ve already blown your chances. Refraining from yelling “nice arse” does not prince charming make anyway. Idiots.

{February 6, 2007}   Reality body check

Ever heard someone say that porn culture is a celebration of the female form? Newsflash! I don’t look like that! It’s only a celebration if you happen to complete the rigid check-list and if you like men’s capability to wank over your body and nothing else.

The way we see our bodies is so governed by external factors: what we are told to value through lighting, colouring and positioning. Life tries to imitate the art we see and the art we see the most is the art that least applies to us. All the bodies of women I see around me are completely unattainable. There is no way I can achieve that standard and I know that there is no way anyone else I know can either. For one thing it costs a heck of a lot of money. For another it takes up a lot of time. For a third there are natural physical barriers- I don’t tan at all, I’m ridiculous short and I’ve got chubby cheeks that will only go away if I’m near to anorexia.

Celebration of the female body (as marketed by Nuts, Zoo and FHM) is not the celebration of any female body I have ever faced. I do not recognize those bodies and to be honest, the stiff poses, harsh lighting and plastic feel of the affair leaves me thinking that it’s not very… well… skillful? Appealing? Or am I setting the bar too high? It just feels like titillation over a doll to be honest.

Now, I love nudes in art. I think that the human body is one of the most fascinating subjects to look at. I think that tasteful nude photographs are sometimes breathtaking.

It’s the difference between naked and nude.

One is a factor that others remark upon.

The other is a human state of being.

Maybe I’m thinking this through too much. Maybe I’m being too philosophical about everything. But I think that it’s okay to celebrate our bodies – our real, honest, un-retouched bodies with dignity and that being unclothed does not have to feature the degree of exploitation and shame that it does.

Don’t say women in those magazines aren’t ashamed. Maybe they aren’t. But their very function and selling point is based on shame; the shaming of the women who aren’t them. They work by creating a shame in women on how they look and a dissatisfaction in men with their perfectly normal partners.

We can’t live up or with that kind of naked. It’s depressing. Hardly a celebration of being womanish.

But I think that nude is what makes us women; average, normal, of all shapes and colours and sizes, feel happy and thankful for our bodies. It’s what tells us we are beautiful, that there is something gorgeous in us.

Here’s what I mean:

Scott Hutchinson Nude Art Gallery- not worksafe obviously

Maybe it’s just me but those paintings made my day. The lighting, the fat curves – truly beautiful.

I love the serenity of her expression

Another by the same artist as above- Boscoe Holder

Nude by Renoir

SHOCK! Men can be nude too!

I tried to find some more recent stuff but there’s no surprise that there was little supply of what I wanted. Obviously I’ve just exposed myself as a snobby art lover. That done, I’m signing off.

It appears that liposuction as risen by 90% in the UK in the last year. The rate for men has stayed completely stable (gendered pressure anyone?).

Far be it from me to throw a blanket condemnation but shouldn’t that be a really, really bad thing? I mean for all our sanitised pictures it’s still causing grievous bodily harm to our bodies; going under a knife!

Think about that expression- “Going under the knife”. “Knife”- blood, pain, violence, destruction. “Going under”- depressive, drowning, accepting, sacrifice. There is no connotation of pleasure or self-self-fulfilment in that descriptive sentence unless your idea of a good time is sacrificing virgins like they used to in the stone age.

And to be honest I’m not sure we’ve stopped that. One only has to look at the disturbing virgin fetish in today’s pornography which is often linked with violence. Not mainstream enough? Not acceptable by the elite? I could argue that, but okay, let’s look at some other things once practised by everyone who was anyone:

– footbinding.
– corsets (they used to be so tight as to make women bleed under the arms and a thousand other horrors)
– FGM (still happening)
– Putting mercury (or was it arsenic?) on your face

I’m sure there are plenty more I’ve missed – feel free to add them.

I believe that cosmetic surgery is our modern form of foot binding and tightlacing.

In fact I’ve been meaning to write on that before. Nothing ever changes. Those barbaric practices have only been swapped around; a whalebone for a needle as it were. And, if I am correct, women are implicit in each one. Also known as Stockholm Syndrome.

There are some corsets out there that exist for health reasons and that does apply to some motives for surgical procedures, but the point that the majority who used them did so to incredible detriment and suffering on their part for the visual pleasure of someone else. After all:

“However, it is important to note that liposuction and tummy tucks are not a treatment for weight management or obesity: they are body contouring procedures for patients near or already at their ideal body weight.”

This is aesthetic surgery. Werther it is enterprise in the spirit of wanting to have more confidence, loosing baby fat, fitting anything it all seems to come down to looks. But not the way women look – women have looked pudgy (and dare I question if many going through this even are?) throughout all of peoplekind’s history. This is about the way men have decreed they want women to look and women have had no choice but follow through in the indoctrination.

Submission is, in part, taking pleasure in someone else’s happiness.

That so many women want to please people who would like them to mutilate and hurt themselves, tells me that the only way for the patriarchy to sustain itself is through forced and coerced masochism.

Growing up in France I heard this all the time – “Il faut souffrir pour etre belle” (“You have to suffer to be beautiful”).

Beauty and pain are almost seen as one and the same sometimes.

It is the mantra of a degenerate people bound on everyday oppression, the Stockholm Syndrome of women promising themselves that maybe, just maybe, if they do this they will be worth something. I think there has been some serious neglect and twisted brainwashing to make someone think a knife is a good and welcome option.

And look! It is the woman who must suffer, the woman who must present her body willingly on the altar of the surgeon, naked and eyes downcast. She is the one who must say “Yes, I am inadequate” and promise to do anything, pay anything, suffer anything so that He thinks she’s worth his time.

Ideas of beauty are also based on what aspects we elevate. It appears we elevate women’s capability to keep smiling pretty though her body is slowly being replaced with plastic. We elevate women who look like Barbies. Women who don’t have inner confidence. Women who follow the status quo size rack.

Women who’s only voice is their body.



{January 22, 2007}   Blog for Choice Day

I know I should really be doing coursework for now but today is Blog For Choice Day so here I am.

Let me start by saying that I don’t like abortion. Good – that’s cleared up. But then how many women getting abortions like it? Contrary to stereotypes women don’t skip into the clinics with sunshine and flowers and rainbows lighting their mental path.

Abortion is not a choice that is made lightly and there are real reasons behind it.

I believe that Abortion is a symptom, not a cause of social ills. Until poverty, discrimination, lack of education, rape, the wage gap, childcare and many more fundamental issues are dealt with abortion will keep coming up – and for good reasons.

Abortion has been around since the beginning of time in the form of herbs and violence against oneself. Desperate women are nothing new. It isn’t going away and whilst the debate for when life starts (which I refuse to go into because I can’t pretend to know despite my GCSE Child Development Certificate) life is ending for many women in countries where abortions are illegal.

I would rather those women had an abortion and lived to take care of their families – don’t you?

The point is that this comes down to an issue of autonomy. If you trust women to be fully intelligent and capable human beings then you should trust them when it comes to what happens to their bodies. Bringing a life into the world is so monumental that we need to leave that to the individual doing it and certainly not force it on them.

Being pro-choice does not mean loving abortion. It means recognising that some women are in very real situations where they have a real need for help and abortion provides that.

If you believe abortion is bad, fine. So do something about the root causes of it – help teenage mothers, financially and emotionally, help disenfranchised areas, support sex education, support research into mental and physical illnesses, don’t discriminate against working mothers and protest a culture that provides women’s self-validation only as sex-objects.

If we do all that then I think abortion will go down, and not just in the way that means women travel to another country, or secretly risk death with a coat-hanger out of desperation.

Until then- get the bloody hell out of my uterus.

There is a statistic going around that around 70% of Anti-Choice leaders are men. It is obscene and sickening that men feel the imperative to legislate women’s bodies. Because that is what it is – ussually rich white men sitting around a table deciding the fate of women they have never met and never cared about.

What happens to women’s bodies is women’s business, and until these men find themselves pregnant they have no say whatsoever in my eyes. It is absolutely none of their business.

If a woman decides not to tell her partner about a pregnancy and abortion – she’s probably got a good reason. Most of these types of decisions are made in the partnership after much deliberation. And even if they aren’t – the final choice should always, always be the woman’s because it is her fundamental right to human autonomy that is being dealt with.

It is her body. To legislate a person’s body is nothing short of oppression.

et cetera