“I am Sick and I am Dull and I am Plain”: Learning To Cope With My Mental Illness

As my main man Morrissey would say: November Spawned A Monster. I’ve hated the month of November for as long as I can remember. It’s not the cold weather, the dark nights or the impending doom of Christmas exams. There is just something about this month that really gets me down. With the heightened social tension of the past few weeks in our city and beyond, I know I’m not the only one feeling this pressure. Mental health issues are at an all time high in this country and little to nothing is being done about it. I was inspired to write this post because of the brave words of Conor Cusack, who showed Ireland this past week that having a mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of.

I was diagnosed with depression and social anxiety disorder this past summer. It was a very long time coming. I do not think that I wanted to admit to myself that there was something wrong. I believed that the constant sadness I felt was just a repercussion of listening to too much of Morrissey’s music, and my friends also reiterated that theory. I blamed my outbursts on Buckfast and tried to ignore the impulses that coursed through every neuron in my brain. It was a rough time for me; it still is. But I am so thankful that I did not give up completely, because suicide is never the answer to your problems.

It is extremely difficult for those who do not suffer from depression to understand it. There is little to no education in schools on this illness, or any other illness for that matter. This is shocking and disturbing seeing as 10% of the population suffer from depression: one in every two women and one in every four males. The way depression and anxiety is treated by Irish society is absolutely disgusting. So many people ignore it and act like it is not there. Even my parents do not acknowledge my mental state and for a long time it made me feel very ashamed of myself. It is very difficult to explain the feeling you get when you are depressed. It is everything and nothing all at once. All life is sapped out of you, you’re forced to smile. All of your energy seems to be devoted to struggling to do even the most menial of tasks.

I remember forcing myself to go to my GP to try and remedy my mental ailment. The look on her face when I told her my symptoms was so removed and cold. She hastily suggested that I go on medication and scolded me that I had left attending a doctor’s appointment so long. At this point, I felt completely hopeless that I would ever get better. Everywhere I looked to seek solace seemed like a dreary dead-end. I was urged to be more social, but was told to avoid alcohol. My life had become the ultimate Catch 22 situation. I spent the remainder of the warm summer days indoors, growing more and more apathetic with each night of tumultuous sleep. I felt ridiculously debilitated and constantly tired.

The best thing that happened to me was going to therapy. At first, I was terrified. No one I had met could understand how I felt waking up everyday and loathing the thought of getting out of bed. No one could understand why I was so miserable and angry. I decided to give the entire process the benefit of the doubt. My first session entailed me scoring my feelings and behaviour on a scale of one to ten which, no doubt, increased my skepticism of the therapy. But then we began to discuss my feelings in depth, combined with relaxation techniques. After several sessions, I felt more stable than I ever had in three years.  My anxiety attacks had ceased and I felt a calmness rush over me. I was overwhelmed, to say the least.

The most important thing to have when you suffer from any mental illness is someone to talk to. It can be anyone at all, just as long as you know that you can rely on them. Because feeling so low that you become self-destructive is absolutely terrifying. You feel completely lost and alone and consumed by an inexplicable darkness. Finding comfort is key. I cannot say that I am “cured” in any way, but I can say that I have improved and I would not be where I am today without the support of my friends. I owe them absolutely everything for being so patient with me. There is still days where I wake up and I feel terrible, but I am glad the pain has eased.

I strongly urge everyone to look out for each other. You never truly know how someone is feeling and you never know how quickly you can improve someone’s mood. We must not shun others or ourselves for suffering. We should acknowledge that life is short and precious, and embrace the ethos of carpe diem. I know that it is all easier said than done, but a little hope goes a very long way.

“You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.”
 – Friedrich Nietzsche

My Strange Love or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Gore

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When I was very young, I would become scared extremely easily. Not just horror films would frighten me; anything that implied harm gave me a strong sense of impending doom, which sent me into a frenzy of tears. I recall my father watching a programme about the universe and the possibilities of the end of the world. The situation alluded to Alvy’s in Woody Allen’s Annie Hall. I became so troubled by the thought of death that I did not sleep properly for months. But something changed when I got older, I’m not quite sure what; or when, but I began to be fascinated with death and dying, especially from a literary point of view.

It was probably when I was in Transition Year and I went to JDIFF to see Guillem Morales’ Los Ojos De Julia. The film was phenomenal, and seemed to awaken some spiritual blood lust within me. I craved to see films that were more terrifying than the last; and I knew that someday, I wanted to make something that would terrify people. I became obsessed with fear from that point on, and I have not looked back since.

Many people ask me why I love gore so much, but it is really difficult to put my finger on it. I suppose you could say it is sublime (in a Kantian sense) to an extent. Horror consumed me and I’ve never been the same since.  It’s that moment when you lose your breath and scream and adrenaline rushes down every vein in your body. That’s what I love.

But unfortunately, it takes a lot to make me budge these days.  I am constantly on the lookout for something more horrific that I can sink my teeth into. People seem to be very put off by my enthusiasm for the grotesque; but they overlook the fact that it is not real. It is only a mimetic representation of a warped vision of reality. I’m sure Quentin Tarantino would back me up on this.

But even though it is not real life  as such, people will still claim it has a massive negative influence on people’s behaviour. Fair enough; there is a lengthy list of alleged Natural Born Killers copycats, but these people have to be absolutely deluded to go on a rampage. I have seen A Serbian Film  four times and never have I ever wanted to sodomize a newborn baby. I have a massive crush on John from the Saw saga, but I’m not attempting to finish his business in real life.  But people still think I am somewhat perturbed.

Maybe it’s just me, but there is something quite beautiful about the macabre. It’s a chilling beauty, a harsh one. Gunshots, bones breaking, music to my ears. Here’s my top ten films that will probably make you hurl:

  1. Cannibal Holocaust (1980)
  2. Salò Or The 120 Days of Sodom (1957)
  3. A Serbian Film (2010)
  4. Videodrome (1983)
  5. Excision (2012)
  6. The Loved Ones (2012)
  7. Saw (2004)
  8. Audition (1999)
  9. Blood Feast 2: All U Can Eat (2002)
  10. I Spit On Your Grave (1978)

Does My Vagina Offend You, Yeah?: An Exploration Of The Debasement Of Women & Misogyny in Irish Society

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Vagina. Va-gi-na. Noun. The muscular tube leading from the external genitals to the cervix of the uterus in women and most female mammals. Exactly what it says on the tin. So why are a lot of men and women in this country so afraid of vaginas? And I’m not talking about homophobia (even though there is far too much of that still circulating in Irish society). There is a severe taboo around the female reproductive system. Not just here, but around the world.

Whether it’s breasts, the clitoris or our rear ends, the fascination with degrading women is highly prevalent in Ireland. In this piece, I will explore aspects of the female body which have been targeted by males and females in a negative light in Irish society; as well as the lack of rights which females have.

Menstruation & Body Hair: 

Now I know for a fact that a period is not the best feeling in the world. Some of my famous quotes while I have been enduring the horrific cramps have been “Will someone please surgically remove my womb before I do it myself?” or “It feels like there is monsters in my uterus”. But why do we feel the need to ignore it’s actual name? It’s not a curse word.

So now I will direct you to Tampax’s “Outsmart Mother Nature” campaign which is cringe-worthy. Exhibit A:

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Why do the marketing people feel the need to talk down to women in this highly colloquial advert? We’re not children. To assume that women cannot engage in sexual relations when on their period makes us all out to be some sort of monsters:  does “Don’t trust anything that bleeds for a week and doesn’t die” ring any bells? A lot of males and females I know are entirely disgusted by what a period entails, but as Georgina, creator of Vox Copuli states: “I refuse to not discuss [my period] because it makes men uncomfortable”.

And why should we feel uncomfortable about what happens to us every 28 days on average? As mammals, female humans have one of the most frequent menstruation periods, which means more fertility. You should be embracing this, not keeping it hush-hush because someone somewhere said it was gross. It occurs far too often for us to pretend it doesn’t exist, or to conceal it’s true identity with a little old lady claiming to be “Mother Nature”. As well as being a natural bodily function, it’s a healthy reminder that you’re not pregnant and you can continue doing rad things without worrying about a baby.

When I asked online “Do you think female body hair is gross?”, the majority of people said yes. I never really thought twice about pubic hair until I thought about how it’s only acceptable to be clean shaven as a woman in Ireland. So I decided to part with all razors for six weeks and see if I really felt gross. And I didn’t. Having body hair is so natural and it’s only been normalized to have a shaven pubic area in Western culture since the late 70s. Why should women feel under pressure to shave? If a guy is really that fussy, he doesn’t deserve your pussy.

Between periods and pubic hair, the female body is seen as ugly in it’s natural state and constantly needs to be modified to suit a males standards.

The Taboo of Feminism:

I am constantly given grief by males and females about being a feminist. Irish people act like it is such a dirty word. Women usually do not voice their opinions on women’s rights in public for fear that being a feminist will make them unattractive to males. Many women turn a blind eye to sexism and many males act like sexism doesn’t exist. The majority of people I have come into contact with believe that feminists are a bunch of angry, man-hating girls. But feminism is about creating equality; not saying that women are superior to men. There is a big difference between feminism and misandry, which you can see here. The definition of feminism to me is:

 “A collection of movements and ideologies aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights for women. This includes seeking to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment. A feminist advocates or supports the rights and equality of women.”

I don’t hate men. My mantra as a heterosexual woman is “Love dick, not dicks”.

Objectification of Women in Public Places & Online:

The cat-calling. The wolf-whistles. All women of all ethnicities, shapes and sizes has felt the wrath of verbal sexual harassment in all places. But never has a man been degraded in such a way. Every night out involves another comment on my “massive tits” or my “huge arse” and every single time I get the same response when I complain about it: “They are just being lads!”. This recent idea of a male being a “lad” has somehow allowed it to be socially acceptable for more men to be misogynists.

A prime example of this is The Lad Bible, debasing women every second of the day. It is a website predominantly aimed at males, with the topics of discussion based around “lad” interests: their own masculinity, soccer and half-naked women. I once saw a section called “Something To Cure The Hangover”. It was a post of pictures submitted by males of their unclothed exes. There was obviously no consent from the women, and the page boasts a whopping 1.6 million likes on Facebook. Everyone worldwide is going to make sexual comments or slut-shame these girls. Who deserves to get called a whore by someone they don’t know? Who deserves to hear disgusting comments made about their body?

As well as this, The Lad Bible’s devoted followers refer to women as “wenches”:

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What a nice boy. About one-third of my Facebook friends have liked this page; many of them thinking it’s a bit of “banter”.

Just today, my local radio station was on the quest for “the best boobs”. The majority of the listeners are young adults who are easily influenced. I watched as comment after comment young girls and boys made suggestions, while I and one other woman commented on the obvious objectification of women. Our comments were ignored and the discussion continued. I was not surprised.

Physical Sexual Harassment:

For some reason, Irish males think it is totally socially acceptable to feel a girl up. Many, if not all of my female friends have experienced some sort of physical sexual harassment, in private or in public. I, for one, have been groped countless times in nightclubs and bars; which many girls brush off. But I’ve also been in a situation where a male has forced his hands down my tights, when I’ve repeatedly told him to stop.  Just last week I had a boy put his arms around my waist and forced his open mouth on my closed one. When he retracted, he wondered why I wasn’t enjoying it. Because a lot of males assume that females will enjoy any physical interaction: after all, The Lad Bible believes we are nothing but wenches.

The Evil Feminist makes a very strong and important point in this post:

“Women have to do so little to be declared “man haters”. All we have to do is name male violence for what it is…But for a man to be declared a “woman hater” he has to do so much more. Even when men abuse, rape, prostitute and kill women, they’re excused… His victim’s actions are looked for as if his hatred was a logical reaction to her own actions.”

This is easily backed up by the statistics of rape in Ireland. In 2011, over 2000 women came to the National Rape Crisis Centre for help. Over 90% of them knew the perpetrator. But think of all the women who are silenced and live in fear? Rapists are very rarely convicted in Ireland, and the laws regarding rape and sexual assault are so degrading to women.

Abortion Laws:

It is illegal for a woman to get an abortion in Ireland unless she threatens to commit suicide or her life is in danger. A woman cannot have an abortion if she is raped, is pregnant by incest or if her child has fatal foetal abnormalities. Basically, a woman has no choice here unless she is on her deathbed. And while The Protection Of Life During Pregnancy Law is extremely degrading to women, it is a step forward to having control over our own bodies.

But we will still be called blood-thirsty murderers and whores by the likes of the Youth Defence and misogynistic TD Jim Walsh. The anti-choice side of the debate is filled with women-hating religious extremists who ignore the women’s right to her own body. The lack of proper sexual education in Ireland is abysmal. Holland boasts the lowest abortion rates in the world with abortion available on demand. Sexual education is not something you need to learn on an exam, it’s a necessary part of human knowledge. And by sexual education, I do not mean the Youth Defence’s suggestion that women need to learn about how to avoid getting raped.

These are only a few things that have been normalized over the years which allow blatant misogyny in Irish culture. Sexism is rife in the Republic and there is an obvious need to combat the sexism in our society. Our country seems to be still in the hands of Dev’s Ireland, where the women’s place is in the home. A female TD being groped by a fellow colleague whilst in the Dáil barely caused a ripple in the media. I’d like to mention that this happened whilst he was under the influence of alcohol during a debate over women’s reproductive rights.

The silence of Irish women must be broken; the sexism must be stopped.

Why Pro-Choice Should Always Matter

6a00d8345357ef69e20168e88ef177970c-500wiI’m not usually the type of person to beat down other people’s views, although I may come across that way, because I am very strict with my opinions. But the Pro-Life campaign in Ireland is one of the most ridiculous things I have ever come across. Not only is it a movement to keep abortion illegal, it is a movement against women’s rights, a movement of conservatism and oppression.

The main contributors to this cause are the Youth Defence, who are borderline Westboro Baptist Church crazy. Their webpage contains laughable accusations that abortion is “murder” and evidently tries to distract the reader through colloqualism, as there is an extreme lack of factual information. Their merchandise is bright and colourful and attempts to create a vision of idyllic, elated community which support this cause. In reality, the Youth Defence are a group of ignorant, bigoted human beings who clearly do not understand the meaning of the word “choice”.

The amount of incorrect data which the Youth Defence use to gain support is enormous. False claims that the government was willing to abort babies up to 9 months fuel their campaign. In reality, 90% of abortions take place before 13 weeks. Their posters claim that “Abortion will not treat suicide”. Yeah, everyone knows that. As suicide is often a result of depression, brought on by the pressures of life; the trigger could be an unplanned pregnancy. The most ludicrous statement that the Youth Defence has made was that women “need to learn to avoid rape”. This was a statement which was made after they pulled this stunt; something which offended me so much that I was left shouting and screaming for hours.

I have engaged in several discussions on their Facebook page which did get quite heated. I was called a fascist for stating that women should have the right to choose and the right over their own bodies. A few of my friends were called abusive for voicing their opinions, with the males being called “creeps”. They called the pro-choice movement “conservative” and claimed it supported the murder of babies. The majority of the Youth Defence supporters are misinformed and are still grasping on to Eamon DeValera’s vision of “dancing at the crossroads”, where women hold a traditional role and have little rights.

What surprises me most is that the majority of the pro-life movement is women. It is shocking, disturbing and depressing that females are willing to let men have more rights than them. Look at Wendy Davis: she spoke for over 10 hours to kill the anti-abortion bill in Texas. Miss Davis is a hero in the face of feminism. She understands that each woman is different. She understands that having a baby is a terrifying and life-changing experience, which many women aren’t ready for. Having a child could make or break you. Only you can decide what is best for you; not the state. Not one female TD would do such a thing for Irish women.

And disallowing a woman to make her own choices is treating every Irish female woman like a second-class citizen. Branding abortion as a criminal offence defines women who have gone through the process as felons. In the eyes of the state, if a woman has an abortion, she is seen as a murderer. Murderers in Ireland must serve life imprisonment. Now if this woman was raped, her rapist wouldn’t even get close to serving that time. Many rapists actually avoid imprisonment. So women are seen as lesser than men once more in our quaint, traditional Irish State.

It is 2013. The Dáil is male-dominated with 141 males to 25 females. And this gender imbalance has been a tradition since the foundation of the Dáil in 1919. Majority rules which leaves the women in the dark. And besides, why should the state have a say in what’s best for you? Those who run our country have only done the best for themselves over the past few decades.

As well as this, we are a state still in the clutches of the Catholic Church. Although their power has been lessened significantly, our constitution, education system and political parties are highly influenced by their teachings. It is another organisation driven by men.  An organisation which has no concept of what is best for women. Bishops have been claiming that the Abortion Bill proposes “the deliberate and intentional killing of an unborn child”. I’m not even going to type what I think about this. You can all imagine me screaming and throwing things around my room. And because of this influence of the church, children are being indoctrinated to keep the taboo of abortion in Irish society alive.

The fact that women are willing to put up with misogyny like this is incredulous. Pro-choice is about giving liberty to women. The legalisation of abortion will not result in mass-termination of pregnancies, and it is certainly not murder. It’s my vagina and I can decide what I want to do with it. The government doesn’t own me and you shouldn’t let it own you either. Everyone is entitled to do what they want with their bodies. Men have full control over theirs, so why shouldn’t we?

Power to the pussy. Don’t let them kill the bill.

Why The Little Things Still Matter

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If you know me personally, you will know how bleak and pessimistic and miserable I am all the time. I’ve had a very tough few years for various reasons: deaths, family arguments, breakups, falling out with people, being bullied. I could go on forever. And there has been many times where I literally felt like it was the end. There have been so many times that I have given up. There have been so many moments where I’ve wanted to run away and never come back. But I’m still here and it’s because of the little things.

I have to thank my friends for making everything so special for me. Liz has been there for me for fifteen years. We’ve been through hell together but we always have each other’s backs. I always have the most wonderful time with Ashleigh. Even though we act like fools for much of the time, she is always there to be the voice of reason when I completely screw up. And the three of us have such a strong connection that I could never imagine breaking. And it’s these two girls that have kept me so level-headed for so long. You must always appreciate those close to you, who will stick up for you no matter what.

Because love is when you’re beyond willing to put up with someone’s bullshit and feeling that is extraordinary. And people often take feeling loved for granted. I know that I do a lot of the time. But life is too short and we shouldn’t waste our lives without love. No matter how terrible you are, someone is always going to care about you. If they are 3000 miles away or right next door, there is always going to be one person who will be there.

Loved ones are the source of the little things. Whether it’s a text that says “You’re so cool” or   surprising me with a visit; these things make my day. People often ignore these small gestures and regard them as nothing. But remembering a time when someone reached out to you in a subtle way could be the light to bring you back from darkness.

I’ve been in very disturbing places over the course of the past year. It’s been distressing and turbulent. And it was hard to have one of my closest friends so far away at the times when I needed her the most. But I pulled through it all because of the gestures of the many friends that I have made. I am not a people person but those who I am friends with have changed my life for the better. Their strength, their talent, their willpower and their wisdom inspire me every day. So thank you for keeping me here.

Over the past two months, I have found myself benefiting more and more from these little things. I’ve finished a screenplay and my friends were so enthusiastic about taking part that it will actually be filmed. And although filming SISU is not their main priority, they have made a dream come true for me. And I will never forget that.

The support that I have received from everyone as a result of this blog has been phenomenal. I never could have pictured in my wildest dreams that people would commend me for my writing outside of academia. And it may just be someone saying “well done” or liking a post, but to someone like me, that means the whole world.

I’ve been trying really hard to stop faking smiles and enjoy life a little bit more. The little things have made it possible for me to get here. After much reflection on my emotional state over the past three years, I’ve realised that I am becoming stronger. Despite my usual ice queen facade, I’m actually a really emotional person and people don’t usually see the other side of me.

But with the constant support of people over time, I’ve learned to be able to open up more. I’ve learned to trust. I’ve learned to accept all my faults. If you said to me two years ago that I would be able to look in the mirror and not cry, I would have laughed in your face. Two years ago, I didn’t want to be here. But I’m still here now. I’m the weakest person I know but I’ve still found a reason to smile.

Take some time to appreciate the little things. Do something you love. Share it with the world. Don’t give a fuck about what other people think. I’ve wasted too much of my time being upset and wallowing in my own self pity. Time is fleeting so fast that you never know who or what could pass you by. Get inspired. Carpe diem.

Why Positive Body Image Still Matters

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“We all self-conscious, I’m just the first to admit it.”

– Kanye West

I have never really been comfortable with my body. I’ve tried starving myself, crazy diets and puking it all up just to feel good about myself. And it never did make me feel better. Even though Dove has been canvassing that we love the skin we’re in for decades now, I never really stopped and thought: “Hey, I have a good butt.”

I was bullied a lot as a kid which forced me to stay indoors as I was too terrified to venture outside. I gained a lot of weight as I grew up as I preferred to stay inside rather than play sports. I was always terrified that no one would think I was attractive or call me pretty. But amongst those who would comment on my weight, there was always one or two who could turn my day around.

And it’s only been a few months down the line since I’ve felt that I’m actually okay with my body. Even though I am overweight, I’m cool with it. I’ll eat noodles on the floor at 3am. I’ll dance around my empty house in my underwear not caring about my lumpy physique. I have to thank the fabulous divas that came before me to make this possible. Most notably; Divine & Lena Dunham. This lady-boy and lady have bared all on the big screen and they are still fierce as fuck.

I used to be the most self-conscious person alive. I would constantly scrutinize every last inch of my skin and cry because I hated myself so much. Nowadays, I am okay with being fat & fabulous. And hey; I have a great butt.

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I don’t have a flat stomach or a tiny waist or perfect breasts but it works for me. I don’t care who is disgusted. This is who I am and I’m happy with it.

Although I’m not alone, being a teenager in Ireland is so difficult. Males and females are examined by their peers so carefully. Only the prettiest girls are plastered on the infamous “Wettest Yuss” pages on Facebook. “If you’re bigger than a size 8, you’re fat,” I overheard one day in secondary school. “Thinspo” has ruined the world. So much so that the tag on Tumblr comes with a warning:

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Beauty, like everything, is a social construct. The idea of beauty constantly changes as society moves forward. But it only seems to be moving backwards as the only things that are considered beautiful are long-haired, skinny girls with a thigh gap and gaunt faces. What is considered handsome is athletic, sallow skinned boys who resemble Hollister models.

Beauty is too subjective for one to try and say that the mainstream perception of beauty is the only way to perceive it. And men and women fail to recognize this and thrive for perfection. Mike Jeffries, CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch, made a statement saying that only those who fit the mainstream impression of beauty should where his clothing. He fails to recognize that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.Some girls are bigger than others. Everyone’s body is different and it’s something we can’t really change.

You are only beautiful if you believe it yourself. Hearing it from someone else makes it all the more better.

But young people nowadays rarely believe in themselves. They just yearn to be the thinnest, the most good-looking, the most athletic. And I know it’s easier said than done to tell yourself that you are great. It took me 18 years to feel comfortable with myself. One person could call me fat anonymously online and I’d starve myself for days.

It is so important to have a positive body image in this day and age as eating disorders are still so prevalent despite the constant media attention they get. Being thin and being overweight are both beautiful; just as long as there is no health risks. Don’t let the media get the better of you.

We all have the capability to be better than these labels. No one can tell you that you are not beautiful. Beauty cannot be objective. Embrace who you are instead of celebrating the Victoria’s Secret models. We can all be ideal if we let ourselves be.

Why Grrrl Power Still Matters

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 I’m just a girl, all pretty and petite; so don’t let me have any rights.

Since it’s release, “Just A Girl” has inspired teenage girls to embrace their femininity. It was a powerful statement as she fronted an otherwise all male band. Her childish whimpers polymerized with loud wails highlighted that women are just as powerful as men. Her image was evidently moulded by female icons before her: Cyndi Lauper, Madonna and Courtney Love. The world has been filled with powerful goddesses from the suffragettes to the early days of Riot Grrrl with the likes of Poly Styrene and Kathleen Hanna making strong feminist comments through their music and beyond.

And although in the past we’ve had these glorious women stand up against misogyny and deconstruct patriarchal discourse, who do we have to show future generations that girl power still matters? All I see is sexualized girl groups who sing about longing for boys to love them. This commonly sang about theme seems to have slithered it’s way into girls brains and infected them.

Not to sound misandristic, but males do have a huge part to play in this problem. Recently online, I saw several comments made by males on what females should wear. The males claimed that unless women were prepared to wear skimpy, revealing clothing, they had no chance at getting a boy to like them. It was genuinely enraging. If a girl put up a status saying: “Unless you have a big penis, no girl is going to want to have sex with you.”, she would be immediately branded as a slut.

But girls constantly post pictures of themselves online wearing barely nothing as the prepare for a night out, in the hopes of attracting male attention. It isn’t even an embrace of the female shape. It’s because of the general patriarchal view that females should be scantily clad before any romantic activity begins. And the majority of girls from my generation in Ireland abide by this silent code. It’s utterly depressing. Girls give in to this male idea of perfection: slim frame, large breasts, clear, sallow skin. They literally go through hell to be perceived as perfection.

I look at girls around me and see how submissive they are towards males. How one boy could literally dominate their whole mind and their actions. A lot of relationships I see show no equality whatsoever: just a girl being reduced to an object of male sexual fulfillment. There is an extreme lack of a strong female presence in Irish society nowadays. Georgia Salpa isn’t going to teach you how to be better, no matter how much you wish that a man would stare at you as he does to magazine photos of her.

I know I have focused on body image more than any other issue but it is one that is most important to me. I have been attacked in the past by males about my appearance. I was called fat and ugly. I was also slut-shamed by several different males. And it doesn’t make you feel attractive. It doesn’t make you feel like a woman. It makes you feel like dirt. It makes you feel worthless. 95% of the time, I’ve received no apology. It made me feel as inferior as the males thought I was.

But I’m not “just a girl” and either are the women who have been subjected to the same treatment as I have in the past. Women are human beings and deserve to be treated accordingly. There is a severe lack of respect towards women in Irish society, a place where women do not even have control over their own bodies. Abortion is illegal. Rape and sexual abuse is extremely high in Ireland. In 2011, 2,036 women came to the Rape Crisis Network for help. Many more voices were not heard. The normalization of rape culture is becoming more and more frequent and I have noticed this especially online.

I urge the girls who read this to think twice about who they are. Embrace the person that you are. Don’t let a man determine what you wear, think or act. Love your body and don’t let anyone destroy it. Don’t let anyone make you feel like an object. Take a leaf out of this tortoise’s book.

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Why Sticking Up For What You Believe In Still Matters

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Those who know me in real life know that more often than not, I have trouble getting along with people. Not because I’m spiteful or a bitch (but that might be your opinion of me), but because I have very strongly held opinions and morals (or lack there of). Don’t get me wrong, I’m extremely liberal. But some people’s ideas of what is right and what is wrong irks me to no end. This post is about why you should never back down. You should never give in to someone else’s demands. Sticking up for what you believe in still matters.

At school, I never “fit in”. I was always the weird kid. An easy target for bullies. I had an obsession with being loved and being popular when I was in primary school. I would dream of being adored. I was overly nice to everyone in my class: I would invite them to my house, do everything they asked and would go out of my way to help them in the hopes that I would too be admired as they were. I even tried to like the same music and tv shows as them.

I was walked all over in school and bullied endlessly in my neighbourhood. I was called a “wannabe”, a “freak”, fat, “teacher’s pet”. The list was endless. By age 12, I grew tired of trying to please the popular people. Trying to please everyone in fact. And so began my six-year long journey through secondary school.

Those six years were definitely the worst of my life. As I got older, I began to delve into controversial interests. I didn’t go to teenage social events. I didn’t express any interest in popular music or films. I didn’t get obsessed with brands like the other girls in my year. And so, I was deemed an outcast. I learned to accept the way I was through the hardships. I lost my best friend because I “had changed”. I was called out on numerous occasions for what I posted on my Tumblr account. Some girls I went to school with didn’t even believe I was going out with this guy because I was so weird. It was extremely adverse and I thought I wouldn’t last.

And even though I spent a lot of time arguing with the counseller in the school and she told me to apologise to people who I had never done anything to; I never backed down. I wasn’t going to give into some institution who were forcing me to admit to actions I did not commit like some Stalinist Show Trial.

And I know I’m not alone when I say I’ve felt like an outsider my whole life. A lot of girls and boys fall into the mainstream trend just for fear of being left out. I’m not trying to be “hipster”. There’s nothing wrong with being part of mainstream culture if you genuinely enjoy it. But just  liking a certain style because it’s popular is ridiculous. Agreeing on a certain opinion just because the majority says it’s right is stupidity. Taking everything you hear as the gospel truth is a sin.

I urge you all to stick up for what you believe in. If you’re not happy with something, don’t follow the crowd in fear you’ll be left behind. Don’t be afraid of the truth. Let yourself become the truth. I regret trying so hard to fit in with the popular kids. It’s a ridiculous social construct that took me years to realise.

To this day, my mother believes that I will actually go out to popular nightclubs and wear clothes that are in fashion. In fact, she even said that I should “make it my business” to do these things.

I stick up for what I believe in. Even if it means arguing with my peers, acquaintances and family, I would never pretend to be something I’m not. You must learn to love what you believe in, and never give in to anyone else.

Why Woody Allen Still Matters

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Woody Allen is one of the most hilarious and most intellectual comics to grace the modern day world. Since the early fifties, Allen has made every generation laugh, cry and fall in love with his on-screen persona. I immediately fell in love with Allen’s work after watching the highly acclaimed Annie Hall. The opening sequence of the film captured my heart instantly as Allen discusses the pessimism in his life. I find melancholia wonderful, but Allen makes it funny and more attractive. It is unfortunate that there is a severe lack of interest in Allen’s work throughout my generation.

Some of you may read this and say “But of course Woody Allen still matters!” With over 40 works created in his career at present, Allen still is making films today. One of his most recent works, “Midnight In Paris“, was highly acclaimed. It won 18 awards, including an Oscar. But I feel that Allen is not celebrated enough. His adorable cynicism and wry humour are bound to leave anyone infatuated.

My favourite Woody Allen film is Manhattan; although it is very difficult to select a favourite. It is a beautiful romantic comedy about a divorcee (Allen) who is lost in life. He is dating a minor who is 25 years his junior. His ex-wife has come out as a lesbian and is writing a detailed book about their failed marriage. He quit his job and is unemployed. As you can see, things aren’t going exactly well for Isaac. Until he meets his best friend’s lover, Mary (Diane Keaton).

As well as being captivating and witty, the film comments on human nature. Isaac and Yale are both fickle and abandon the people who care most about them. It may seem very sorrowful, but Allen has the talent of turning this sadness into something light-hearted, while still preserving it’s intended meaning.

Allen is a true genius and comedy would not be the same without him. He is undoubtedly one of the most influential writer/directors to ever exist and is an extremely talented actor as well. Here is my top ten Woody Allen films:

  1. Manhattan
  2. Annie Hall
  3. Midnight In Paris
  4. Play It Again, Sam
  5. Hannah And Her Sisters
  6. Vicky Cristina Barcelona
  7. Love and Death
  8. Stardust Memories
  9. The Purple Rose of Cairo
  10. Husbands and Wives

Each film is as witty and beautiful as the last. If you’re not a Woody Allen fan already, you should definitely sample his work. His unique style is pleasant and enjoyable for all.

If you’re not failing every now and again, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative.

—- Woody Allen