Monday, 26 May 2014

Break's over. The wait's over.

I'm writing this listening to a piece of music. I have no idea what it is; it's on piano, and it's unaccompanied, and it's being played by a friend of mine whose talents are apparently infinite. It's got pauses, hesitations, sudden quickness and then sudden pauses. It's not quite perfect, but it has the shape of something perfect. She'll get it perfect, I don't doubt, but there's something perfect in its imperfection.

What is there to write about today? Everyone's talking about the anti-establishment wave sweeping Europe from both the Left and the Right, but I'm not qualified to talk about that - aside from saying, as a dabbler in PR, that UKIP have absolutely proved that all publicity is good publicity. If we had all just very quietly ignored these little men (and they are almost all men, in a party that claims to be representative of a country in which 51% of the population is female) then they would not, could not, have made the gains they have. Instead we pointed cameras at them and covered them in papers and apparently did everything we could do give them free media. I imagine every single client at Edelman is calling up and asking why they're not getting this much coverage when they pay as much as they do.

What else is there to say? Reaction to yesterday's blog was good. It is utterly mind-blowing that most media are not characterising this as a hate crime; then again, the manifesto is very long and they are very busy journalists. The Mail Online, for example, was hunting down the woman who apparently started all this. They take great pains to insist that they're not blaming her. They're just hunting down the women so we can see how blonde and leggy she is, just like he said.

This girl had nothing to do with it. We shouldn't involve her but if we do we get clicks from perverts, so...
Yikes. It's just super fucking creepy.

But in happier news, I'm at home with my family eating leftovers from the masses of food we barbecued last night. Coming home again is difficult, because every time you do you realise you can't really. You change, your family changes, the people around you change. It's inevitable and unchangeable and still weird, because you keep hoping it won't.

But of course it does. Time doesn't stop for anyone.

So with that in mind, I'm hoping to finally get word on my H+K application and/or finally know one way or the other what I'm doing this summer. Please let it be creative work! If not, it'll be a bar and a lot of focus on my dissertation.

And I'm going to learn some piano. Just four chords, and after that I should be able to play a few songs.

How many?


Quite a few.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Male entitlement kills, and we are all to blame

This is not going to be a cheerful blog. It should be - I'm going home to see my family - but six people were shot dead by a young man. They were shot dead in a premeditated act of violence, and it seems to stem from a sense that this young man was somehow entitled to a girlfriend.
This follows an attack in a school where a young woman was stabbed because she wouldn't go to prom with a guy, and while these are not the norm they are the pinnacle, the festering tip of the rot that is everywhere in our society. This rot has a name. It is male entitlement.

It is the belief, held to a greater or lesser extent by all men, that we are somehow due a girlfriend. We are taught from the cradle that getting the girl is the be-all and end-all: in Disney movies, we see ourselves as the prince. All we need to do is slay the dragon, or hit that home run, or just be a really good guy.

That's the message. Right from the cradle, right from the time our eyes are strong enough to focus on a screen, that's the message. You overcome something. You get the girl. The girl is not a person, with her own hopes, desires, fears and worries. She is the prize.

It is oft-quoted - but not often enough - that in this game, women are not the opposite team. They are the ball. This young man couldn't understand why girls didn't find him attractive, but he notes early on in his 141-page autobiography-cum-confession that he held his father in higher regard because he had been able to find "a mate" so soon after divorcing his mother.

This attitude - this mindset - is not genetic. It is taught, as I said, from the cradle. And after the cradle, when we develop thumbs and hand-eye co-ordination we start playing video games, and this same ugly trope rears its head again. Women are things to be won. "Your princess is in another castle," says one of the most famous video games of my generation. Your princess.

And then after this comes the internet. I am one of the greatest proponents of the world wide web; I'm hopeful it's going to be the saviour of this species. It allows instantaneous communication; it allows people to share information and data and reach out across the world to people like them. Unfortunately that last point is a double-sided blade that has given birth to a community of men who hate women and who can communicate with each other about just how much they hate them.

This hatred is not innate. It is a virus that sprays from television sets, from cinema, from every possible medium. Like a virus it does not cultivate everywhere; some people are immune. Some people get just a little infected, and some are completely contaminated. And they spread it. They become zealots of this new religion, but it is a religion whose roots are so intrinsic to our society that it is impossible to kill it. They are to the everyday what Muslim extremists are to Islam and the KKK are to Christianity - it is impossible to deny that misogyny-lite is utterly, utterly embedded in our system.

But we're surprised when these things happen. We really weren't expecting it, we say, and by we I mean male law enforcement and male psychologists and male politicians. I think other people were expecting it. An apocryphal quote, most usually attributed to Margaret Atwood, sums up the whole rotten situation perfectly:

"Men are afraid women will laugh at them; undercut their world view. Women are afraid men will kill them."

This boy felt, over and over again, a great pressure to be popular - and we all know that the best way of being popular is having a beautiful girlfriend. The phrase here is "arm candy," the meaning clear once more. A girlfriend is a trophy. An accessory. A thing to be desired and possessed.

The actions of this young man are surprising only to the people who do not see the unrelenting yet subtle message that is pumped through our media. You deserve a beautiful woman. You are a good guy. Women fall for good guys. If they're not falling for you...there's something wrong with them. As if women are robots, or machines, or programs. Input: friendliness and time. Output: sexual gratification.

The subtitle of this blog is we are all to blame. We do not protect our young men from this poisonous culture - we encourage it. Parents pushed their sons into sport because "girls like sporty men." Or if they showed an aptitude for IT then we had that awful strapline "the geek shall inherit the earth"
Then boys find out about sex. The sexual activity of other men is held up as a standard to aim for, as a mark of popularity, while the same is not true of women. They see their male friends becoming more popular the more women they sleep with, and they see women being punished for the same. The crushing weight of our upbringing is now applied via the fulcrum of puberty. We are suddenly, starkly, horribly aware that women hold the key to our popularity, to the satisfaction of our desires. And while there are no films that teach us shopkeepers will give up their money if you keep asking, almost every single one will teach you that women can be coerced if you ask them enough times, if you are simply nice enough to them.

Combining this attitude with one in which men are encouraged to be violent to achieve their desires, and it seems an almost perfect storm. This attitude is most prevalent in responses to feminist thoughts about equality: I hear too often that if women want to be equal, they have to accept the violence that men are apparently not currently giving them. This thought process requires that we assume that violence is a male trait, and that maleness thus described is the equality that should be aimed for. It assumes that male is the base or normal state, and that women (and therefore "feminine" values like passivity) are the Other, which must be eradicated in order to return to the base state.

Is that not absurd? Is that not the weirdest thing, to assume that violence is the basic state of humanity? Have we not advanced from the Stone Age?

'Teach your sons not to rape' is a popular slogan at the moment, and it outrages many parents who feel they do exactly that. The problem is that what the slogan should say is 'Teach your sons to be aware of the patriarchal structure of society which demands that they devalue women to the state of objects. Teach your sons not to use analogies about "keys" and "locks". Teach your sons that yes means yes, and nothing else means yes at all. Teach your sons to pick their friends up when they talk about women as sluts, to be vocal in defense of women's rights, and to treat women as people."
But it's difficult to fit that onto a sign.

This blog is a few thoughts thrown together, and it focuses on men. There are far better, far more qualified bloggers than I who talk about feminism and the many grotesqueries that women still face. Search Google. Read The Second Sex, if you've got time. Open your eyes and really look at the media you absorb. Analyse its content. How are women presented? How are men?

This blog has been about the patriarchy and its shitty effect on men. It is not intended to reduce or in any way remove from the struggle of women but, as a male writer, writing about a male hate crime against women, I feel this is where I can offer just a little bit of expertise. 

It's a product of Cracked articles, and conversations with Monique, Ria, Krista, Brandi, and the thousands of people who make up groups and pages I administrate. I am thankful to every one of them for the multiple times they've helped me learn. 

Sunday, 18 May 2014


Please, please, please let this new outbreak of sneezing be hay fever. Please. I could not deal.

Before you read on, please click here to help me get a summer internship. If you enjoy reading this blog, then this would be the best way of letting me know that.

I am currently doing some secondary reading for my second Women's Writing essay, entitled "Discuss the relationship between art and the artist is Rachilde's Monsieur Vénus : roman matérialiste" Part of that reading involves watching The Rocky Horror Picture Show, because of reasons.

Pictured: one reason.

I mean the other is that it's a Pygmalion story involving the creation of a sexual object and the corruption of external characters with a strong Decadent theme, but that reason doesn't have quite the same rhythm and beat.

Where are we since last week? I had the interview for the Extremely Awesome Job and I am about 1000% certain I completely fluffed a pretty important question, so I shall assume that opportunity is utterly gone and will instead focus on getting this essay done and then learning cocktails. I'm picking them up slowly, but I get the feeling people wish it were happening faster. So I shall hit the book.

There's some trouble going on at the Students' Association at the moment: I don't know to what extent the audience who reads this is interested in the politics of AUSA, but for those who are it seems that the Association is closing down the café in the student space, and they let the administrator and staff know the day before it was due to be closed for the holidays that it wouldn't be re-opening in September. If this is true, then the timing seems suspect - it's after the last Student Council (who, one hopes, would ask exactly why this was happening) and it's sufficiently late in the term that an EGM couldn't be convened, as most people are busy with exams, last-minute essays, and going home.

However, there has been no official communication from the Association itself, so this may simply be an over-reaction to an idea that was floated. I hope that is the case, because while it will make some of us seem like fools, it could also be quite easily argued that the reaction has certainly helped stay the executioner's hand for the moment.

If not, it was a strategised move to ensure the minimum amount of fuss and uproar over an act that would understandably cause considerable unhappiness.

Ah, politics.

Which makes it less dangerous, as dying is not usually something from which one comes back.
What else? I have a new student, who's reading Lord of the Flies - so I get to reread that amazing novel. I've also been a little bit inspired, having recently made a lot of videos, to do a mini-Youtube lesson on it - there are plenty out there already, so I'll have to look at giving mine a special angle. Keep your eyes peeled.

Speaking of videos, I've finished one entire video and had it signed off by the necessary people. I also almost bought Final Cut Pro X, because being well into my overdraft means nothing compared to getting rid of the awful, half-baked mess that is the latest iteration of iMovie. If I ever work on a video project again, then I will have only one condition: give me Final Cut Pro X and I will work for free.

I also did a brief photoshoot, results of which may end up in an issue of Oil and Gas Magazine, and by the end of today I will know more cocktails and have an essay plan.

Oh yeah. I bet you wish your boyfriend was cool like me.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014


That's what it feels like. The rain is pouring down and I'm sat in Alfie's, nursing a coffee and learning all there is to know about the Aberdeen International Youth Festival. I've meetings all day today and then a spot of filming to do at seven, so Thor - if you can hear me - cut it out?

Or you. Any metahuman with weather abilities would do.

Tomorrow I should be able to put at least one project to bed, if not get it almost finished. I'm hoping for feedback on something else later tonight and then, after that, I get to go to a party where I'll be making cocktails and absolutely not getting drunk, since tomorrow I have a job interview.


I have an interview for a 4-month PR and Communications Manager position. I am incredibly nervous: getting this would represent such an amazing step in the right direction for me. It's a huge job, with masses of responsibility and really, really long hours. But the organisation is an amazing one, and I would walk across hot coals for this job. So cross your fingers for me, please.

I think that's all from me for now: my first committee meeting approaches and I've still got plenty to read and to write. And I think the rain's stopped.

Maybe it's a sign. I'll take it as such.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

When one door closes, another one opens. There's probably a draft.

There are very few things worse than continual rejection. It is a process that slowly erodes your sense of self-worth; a crushing reminder that you are not quite as good as you think you are. Over the past couple of weeks I have been rejected from various internships, and all of them doubtless had students far more qualified and, most likely, already studying in the field of these internships. All the same, it's depressing; one of the few downsides of surrounding yourself with people smarter than you is that at this time of year you're reminded of it. One person I know has several internship interviews; another is off to one of the 100 best universities in the world; still another is interning with Weber-Shandwick. I am incredibly proud of all of these people and they deserve everything they've got and more besides.

Pictured: all the people who want to employ me
Still, more applications are awaiting replies - perhaps there will be some success there. And let us not forget that I have more than enough work to do at the moment, which was partly why I got up at 7am - I've proposals, speeches, scripts and an essay to write. (French erotic literature and the very dark humour within, if you were wondering).

The Times is also running a competition for an essay about the state of Higher Education post-independence referendum, and that sounds like an enormous amount of fun because it could focus on a new angle - so I shall be sitting and racking my brains for a while to try to figure out what hasn't already been covered by one side or the other. If this interests you, then you can find out more information here

I've booked travel home, so that I can see (almost) my entire family at least once this summer. With any luck, one of my London-based internship applications will come through and I shall get to see them more, but if it doesn't then at least I'll have this chance. I'm going with Virgin for the first time ever, and weirdly it's not actually with Virgin but Aer Lingus, but I've never flown with them either so regardless it will be a new experience.

In short: I hold two elected positions, one contested elected position on Monday, one voluntary job and one actual job AND I'm going home to see my amazing family and eat a quite frankly staggering amount of barbecued food in a fortnight, so life isn't actually too bad. Internships are overrated. After all, if all else fails I can always become a penniless writer. I'm halfway there already, after all.

So in conclusion:

Pictured: the things I have to worry about
As always thank you for reading. If you've enjoyed this blog please take this link and share it with all your friends. Beg, browbeat, bother them into sharing it with their friends, and help me get home to see my family and work with the amazing people at +Hill+Knowlton Strategies UK.

That's all for now. I'm off to write a little article about the USA trip. No rest for the wicked.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Words, words, words!

Unlike dear 'Liza, though, I'm actually quite pleased about my words. I've managed to get voted in, byt the thinnest of thin margins, as the Politics and IR PR Officer for 2014/15, which means even more writing, and I've got proposals and all sorts to write. And a script. And maybe a speech, I feel in a bit of a writing mood.

There's little else that's new in my life. The last lesson of my last tutee before their exam was today, and I don't feel they're ready - but perhaps I'm just over-worrying. In any case, it means I've even more free time now - time that I really ought to fill by working more hours at work because goodness knows I need the cash. There is something deeply frustrating about going from a considerable wage during the week to a pittance at the weekend. Chris Rock said it best - and long-time readers will know this quote because I love it - but here it is anyway.

Still, if I crack on I can get certified, and if I get certified then I get more money and then I can start working less hours and writing more. So that means I need to crack on and memorise things. 

Now this is obviously going to cut into my writing time, but if I can balance all that then I suppose someone might take pity on me after I graduate and let me write more.

Speaking of which, if you've read this blog and would like to assist the author in gaining an internship please click here. It would be enormously appreciated. If you're feeling particularly kind, share the story with your friends. Especially if any of your friends work at +Hill+Knowlton Strategies UK.

So in conclusion, when talking about words...

"Is that all you blighters can do?"

...yes, Miss Dolittle, but I'm sure you'll agree it's not all bad.