Dating and Dickpics: Episode 8

Welcome, one and all, to another episode of my tragic love life.

As some of you will know from a brief note in my last column, I went on a date with a really great guy. He’s intelligent, funny and pretty charming. He’s also pretty easy on the eyes, which is always a bonus (and if I’m being honest, a basic requirement). Things are going pretty well between us. We went on another date last week and we basically just chilled out and talked the whole time. We went back to his place after a while and talked for ages until I had to reluctantly make my way home if I had any chance at getting back at my house at a decent, civilised hour. He’s smooth as hell, I’ll tell you that now. He says some of the sweetest stuff. He’s got quite a lot of deadlines so things have cooled off a bit temporarily. I hope it’s just temporary. We seem to have a good time together and we flirt a lot too, so I hope it’s just my anxiety rearing its ugly head and he really does like me.

tumblr_n6mc5ejCzQ1qf7u7jo1_500

My anxiety always makes me doubt my pulling abilities

Other than that, I haven’t really entertained any dates from anyone else because the calibre of men is shocking. There’s no one decent. Case in point: the only reason I went on a date with the guy I’m sort of seeing (or pre-dating) is because he came up with a rather quirky way of asking me out and he’s not a douche. He’s a genuinely nice guy who isn’t after everything. But with most guys, they have an ulterior motive. Call it gut instinct because I’ve been a woman my whole life and have had to deal with a barrage of misogyny and sexism, but I just get certain vibes off certain guys. And when it comes to discerning whether or not someone is a creep, I’m rarely ever wrong.

6358476866414430641194553222_tumblr_ndyhoj0WY51u06ukzo2_500

My gut instinct is as good as Annalise Keating’s

This wouldn’t be Dating and Dickpics without my usual screenshots and naming and shaming of misogynistic males, so here are the spoils of my plunder, so to speak.

wtf

I don’t even know why anyone would think that this is an acceptable opening line to send anyone. Who has ever said, ‘he asked if I wanted a big black sugar daddy and I knew it was love’?!

bait

As you all know, feminism is a fundamental part of my life. I believe in feminism so much that I’ve even got the word permanently inked into my skin. I shout it from the rooftops and specify that before messaging me, guys should only bother if they identify as a feminist. So why does this asshole think he has a right to bait anyone out. He’s clearly so ignorant that he couldn’t even be bothered to look up the definition of ‘feminist’, which is someone who believes in the equality of all genders. This stuff is actually more infuriating than people who use cheesy lines or blatantly misogynistic slurs. This guy actually wanted to ‘moan’ about feminism to me. Safe to say I blocked his pathetic ass.

put

If you needed any more evidence that sexism is alive and kicking online, there you have it. I’m not being funny, but you have to actually meet up with whoever’s pussy you’re going to ‘murder’ and guess what? Being a misogynistic fuckwit means that’s never going to happen! If any murder needs to be done, it’s to you. A nice decapitation of the neck would do.

fuckedupfuckeduptwiceThe above to screenshots make me sick. This guy was seriously so fucked up and triggering. Alongside putting down that I am a feminist, I also ask guys who want kids not to bother contacting me. I always make it explicitly clear because now I’m in my 20s, I feel that anything I get into should be going somewhere and if a guy wants them, we’re not compatible at all. This guy took it to another level. He messaged me saying ‘we would make cute children if we were together’ but I didn’t take the bait. And he couldn’t take that for a hint and kept messaging me one word here or there. I finally snapped and the above is what he sent me. This is unbelievably triggering for me because he was not respecting my boundaries and was actually thinking that it was fine to think about a hypothetical situation would would be a complete violation of my body. After explaining to him how sick and twisted he was, his response was ‘lol relax’. How can I relax when you’ve basically kept insisting that getting me knocked up would be a perfect situation for you? How can anyone who is so child-phobic ‘relax’ after that? I have reported him to the website and I hope they permanently ban him.

notsorry

‘Sorry to be that guy’…well actually, you’re not. Because if you were, you wouldn’t have said it in the first place. What you’ve done is just the equivalent of online catcalling so #byefelipe.

Being a woman on the internet and trying to date and find love is fucking exhausting.

tumblr_inline_nhjv8aipUO1qbnjg0

When will the misogyny stop?!

In other news:

  • I got my hair re-coloured and restyled. It’s very Meredith from Grey’s Anatomy before season 12.
  • I’m applying for jobs like they’re going out of fashion.
  • I’m losing all hope in the male population at this rate. Their only potential beacon of light is this guy I’ve been on two dates with.
  • I don’t think ending up alone would be such a bad thing, given the sorry state of guys on dating websites.
tumblr_nkk159hXgO1sgwdmzo1_500

So done

7 Signs That You’re Still in Love with Your Ex (CultNoise)

4th December 2015

Getting over someone you thought you were truly in love with can be extremely hard. It is possible to do it, but a surprising amount of people seem to kid themselves into thinking that they are over their ex when actually, they are still in the throes of love and infatuation. Here are some telltale signs that you’re not as over them as you might think you are.

1. You Stalk Them on Social Media

You try to resist typing their name into Facebook or checking their tweets but somehow, you always end up back on their page; finding out who they’ve been hanging out with, if they have a new partner or where they’ve been lately. And if they blocked you because the breakup was bad, you ask your best friend to hunt down their actions for you. You find yourself wasting a great deal of time trying to find out every detail of their new life without you.

2. You Compare All Your Dates to Them

You might think that you’ve moved on because you’re dating, but do you find yourself subconsciously comparing your date to your ex? Do you compare their mannerisms to those of your ex? Or do you find that you’re making up reasons not to go on another date with them, knowing perfectly well that there’s nothing particularly wrong with them? If you can’t get through this mental block, you’re probably not over them.

3. You Fantasise About Them Whilst Having Sex with Someone Else

This is fairly self-explanatory. If you’re wishing they were the one getting nasty with you, you’re definitely not over them. Probably best to stop sleeping with whoever it is you’re sleeping with though, just in case they develop feelings for you – that will only get messy.

4. You’re Refusing to Get Out There and Play The Field

Of course, it takes time to get back in the dating game after a tragic heartbreak. However, if you’re resolutely swearing against talking or going on dates, it could be a sign that you’re not yet over your ex. Going on dates, even if they don’t lead anywhere, is a healthy way of moving on and showing yourself that there are plenty more fish in the sea. If you’re avoiding that at all costs, you may want to reassess things.

5. You Contact Them When You’ve Had a Tipple

Drunk texts are some of the worst crimes you can commit when you’ve had a few too many to drink. It’s fine if you’re texting your best friend because you’ve got bad beer goggles and can’t see that they’re standing a meter away from you, but drunk dialling or texting your ex is an abomination. An ex is an ex for a reason — there shouldn’t be any contact between the two of you for a while, especially if the breakup was bad. You’re especially vulnerable when you’re drunk too because alcohol means that your tongue is loosened, and who knows what you may confess!

6. You Still Talk About Them, Whenever You Can

Your friends will be there for you during the aftermath of your breakup, but if you’re still harping on about it 6 months later, still bringing them up in every conversation… yeah, that’s not a good sign. You may want to ease up though because, soon enough, that supportive friendship group may dwindle.

7. You’re Lost When You’re Alone

This one really depends on the dynamics of the relationship you had with your ex. If you spent a lot of time together and you don’t now know what to do with all the free time, apart from reminisce about your relationship, then you may need to find some new hobbies and other ways of occupying your time, instead of mulling over what could have been.

Lessons You Only Learn From University (CultNoise)

2nd December 2015

1. How to get very drunk, very cheaply

Budgeting is essential when you’re a student. Many students can’t afford to spend money like it’s going out of fashion, so you end up learning how to do everything cheaply, including getting smashed. You begin hunting for 2-4-1 cocktail deals, and ordering the strongest thing on the menu. Pre-drinking becomes a standard ritual before a night out, and you always research what alcohol is on offer in your local supermarket before making the journey down there.

2. Who you really are

University gives you time to really explore who you actually are. You won’t be the same person you were before it. University is a chance to discover what you really like without any peer pressure. You can embrace your flaws, and turn them into strengths. Personally, university was invaluable to me in this respect. I never really knew who I was, and had been so caught up in studying and other personal stuff that I’d never had the chance to sit back and think what about me? University gave me a perfect opportunity to find myself. It’s pretty much the only time in your life where you can take time out and focus on yourself.

3. What your interests and hobbies actually are

As a child, you may have been pushed into taking classes outside of school for things you never even had an interest in. Maybe you didn’t get a chance to go to classes to learn a hobby and never really cultivated any. Or maybe you were too swamped in homework to even have time to contemplate getting a hobby. All that aside, the time you don’t spend studying at university—and let’s be honest, that’s a lot of the time—you can spend discovering how you like to spend your free time. You can try out a number of things and really narrow down what you actually enjoy doing. Most societies do free tasters before you have to commit to signing up, so take advantage of that. Or, if you already have a hobby, you might look into creating a club for you and other like-minded people. Honestly, other than reading, I had no hobbies before university. Now, alongside growing as a person, I’ve cultivated many hobbies, and I barely find time to do anything else!

4. How to be completely independent from your family

Leaving home can be extremely daunting at any time of your life, but university can make it easier. Although you’ll learn to be fully independent, no longer relying on your parents’ cooking and cleaning, university also gives you the chance to mess up. I made a mess of things whilst I was at university which was invaluable as it taught me how not to mess up when I get a steady job and move out of my parents’ home forever. University shapes you. You realise that you can live without your family, but you may still need them in times of crisis, and they will always be there for you. University teaches you independence, but it also teaches you what not to do when you have your own house and a mortgage.

5. Creativity—even if it’s just for fancy dress

Student budgets won’t allow you to go all out like you would for cosplaying at Comic Con, which means you learn how to be resourceful and creative with what you can afford. Even if you don’t feel like you have a creative bone in your body, when you’re faced with an invitation you a fancy dress party, you will realise that you are far more talented than you first thought. Wonders can be made with some old t-shirts, paint and a tie or two!

Of course, you will learn much more than what’s on this list at university. You will make friends for life, probably experience romance and heartbreak, and you’ll figure out creative recipes with whatever random ingredients you have in your kitchen. University is a time to enjoy yourself and experiment, so make sure that you do!

Poppy Pride (CultNoise)

10th November 2015

When the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal is launched each year, I go out and get one as soon as I can. I wear my poppy with pride, year after year. But in recent years, the poppy has been seen as a sign of controversy by many ethnic groups who are harangued by the media for not donning poppies themselves.

I am a woman of colour. My parents are both Indian, although my mother moved to the UK when she was a small child. My dad migrated here when he was 20. Every year, we go out as a family and get poppies. Why? It’s simple, really. My parents have instilled a sense of patriotism to Britain in both me and my brother. I am British – I was born and raised here. I love this country. I am proud of this country, despite its many flaws both in the present and the past. The Indian part of me is my heritage, but I am British first, then Asian.

The attitude that I have often leads to arguments with my peers, who ignore the fact that this country has raised them. They pledge allegiance to India or Pakistan, even trivial things like cricket. Neither I nor they can fathom the other’s point of view: they think I’m absurd for unashamedly supporting England in cricket, and everything else under the sun, and I think their position of supporting India/Pakistan irrespective of the fact that they’ve only ever been there on holiday is mind-boggling.

I’m not denying Britain’s colonial rule over what is now India and Pakistan. They did horrific things, and slaughtered and enslaved too many people, and I’m not defending their violence. They did, however, change India for the better. They modernised a civilisation that lacked infrastructure. They stopped the disgusting practice of sati, in which a woman whose husband had died and was being cremated was thrown on top of the fire, to be burned alive.

Every country makes mistakes, but Britain opening its borders to thousands of Asians from the Commonwealth in the 60s and 70s was a step towards making up for it. Our grandparents and parents who came to make a better life for themselves in Britain have achieved that – my father always says that he owes everything in his life to Britain because he was poor and had nothing in India.

What millennials like myself need to understand is that had these brave British soldiers not put their lives on the line in the first and second world wars, our grandparents and parents would never have had the chance to come to Britain and make a better life for themselves and their descendants. At the very least, we owe them, and the current veterans and soldiers, a poppy. Had they not saved Britain in the wars, my family and many others wouldn’t exist, or we would be living in India, poor and without prospects. Britain has given many of us the comfortable lives that we take for granted and had Britain lost either war, we may not have been able to enjoy the luxuries we do today.

We must also not forget that thousands of Muslim, Sikh and Hindu Indians fought in both wars and laid their lives on the line alongside British soldiers. We have a duty to honour them with the poppy as well. Those are the brothers and sisters of our ancestors.

The poppy is controversial, but it needn’t be. People should buy one and wear it with pride, irrespective of ethnicity. One way or another, we are here in Britain, enjoying a life that wouldn’t have ever been possible without these courageous soldiers sacrificing life and limb for all of us.

Sexism and Cultural Appropriation: The Real Horrors Of Halloween (CultNoise)

24th October 2015

One of the most globally celebrated holidays is coming up: Halloween. Along with the pumpkins, trick or treating, and general merriment comes a much darker, scarier side, and I’m not talking about ghouls!

The biggest issue with Halloween is the costumes. They’re extremely problematic in so many ways. For some reason, people think cultural appropriation is fine to commit because hey, it’s Halloween! Question yourself with the following: is this part of my culture or heritage? Has this ethnic group been oppressed? If it’s not your culture and that culture has been oppressed, do not do it. The most common faux pas (which is an understatement) is people dressing up in knock off Native American costumes. Native Americans have been systematically oppressed, and are still raped and murdered disproportionately to their population size. They have been oppressed for centuries for celebrating and protecting their own culture, and when you  wear an imitation of their culture as a costume it is highly disrespectful. They are still being persecuted for their culture but, because you’re not a Native American yourself, you will never understand what it is like to be persecuted for your way of life.

No culture is a costume. No culture is a fashion accessory. You cannot cherry-pick parts of a culture for a costume, and yet when someone of that culture goes out in traditional dress, you are the first to look at them in disgust. Halloween is for make-believe and scary stuff, and if you’re appropriating another culture through your costume, you’re making a real nightmare come true.

Another grievance I have with Halloween is costumes for females. Everywhere you go, there is a stark difference between the male version of costumes and the female version of costumes. The difference? The amount of fabric and the fact that it’s always a ‘sexy’ costume for women, but not for men. If, for example, you want to go as a police officer or a soldier but you’re a woman, you’re lucky if it covers your boobs and your bum. I can assure you, the words ‘sexy’ or ‘hot’ will be printed on the packaging of the costume to assure you that you must be sexualised whilst dressing up for a holiday. Can the same be said for the male equivalent costumes? No. Every single female-targeted Halloween costume is sexualised, whereas none of the male costumes are (unless you’re going to don a mankini).

Believe it or not, women and girls want to dress up in a costume and just enjoy themselves. We don’t want to be sexualised for no reason. I am all for women dressing sexy and going for those costumes, but these ‘sexy’ costumes shouldn’t be the only option available if you are a woman. It’s becoming increasingly hard to find non-sexualised female costumes for Halloween. Why are women treated as an object for male consumption for Halloween? Why can’t we go out and enjoy Halloween without being sexualised in an unwanted way?

The real horror of Halloween is not the superstitions and gore that come along with it. The real horror is the costumes that are marketed to people. They are full of cultural appropriation and sexism.

Nicki vs Taylor: Don’t Want None of Your White Feminism, Hun (CultNoise)

30th July 2015

You couldn’t go on the internet last week without hearing about it. Nicki Minaj and Taylor Swift went head-to-head on Twitter and the social media world was at war, either being on #TeamNicki or #TeamTaylor. Here’s a quick recap on what went down:

  • Minaj wrote a series of tweets (that didn’t name anyone specifically) but pointed out that she was being overlooked for award nominations because she is a “different” type of artist and, if she was mainstream, she would probably be nominated for doing the same thing that “other” artists do. Minaj did not name Swift in the tweets, although some Swifties say that it was obvious Minaj was referring to Swift because of her tweet which said “if your video celebrates women with very slim bodies, you will be nominated for vid of the year”.
  • Swift replied to Minaj, saying that Minaj had targeted her and was uncharacteristically pitting women against each other.
  • Minaj corrected Swift and invited her to join the discussion about race and the music industry. Swift missed Minaj’s underlying point about racism in the music industry and interpreted the argument as a personal attack against her.
  • Minaj got the final word in by comparing Swift taking on Spotify and being praised to Minaj, Beyonce and other black artists who were criticized for being associated with Tidal.
  • Minaj favourited loads of tweets that supported her argument and pointed out why she thought Swift’s actions were wrong.
  • Kim Kardashian “accidentally” tweets a picture of her with that infamous Kanye outburst as the caption. She later took it down, claiming not to know anything about the Twitter feud.
  • Katy Perry, Queen of Cultural Appropriation, gets involved with a backhanded yet valid tweet aimed at Swift about capitalizing on rivalry between women.
  • Swift goes quiet and later apologises in a tweet directly to Minaj. But Swift still didn’t seem to recognise or truly understand that as a black woman, Minaj has a harder time in the music industry than Swift will ever have, which was the underlying point of Minaj’s rant.

As a woman of colour, I am #TeamNicki on this. However, I do like Taylor Swift’s music and, in all fairness, Minaj probably did indirectly point to Swift’s video, ‘Bad Blood’, being nominated because the video does indeed feature a plethora of slim women. However, Minaj was making a general point and it is one that a lot of women of colour seem to face – we are often overlooked. Had Swift actually been an ally of Minaj’s, she would have stepped in and spoken in favour of Minaj, acknowledging her own privilege as a white woman and then commenting positively in accordance with Minaj’s tweets. If she was an ally, she would have agreed that yes, Minaj and other black women and women of colour face more hardship than white women in the music industry.

Following the Twitter spat, many began to accuse Swift of being a white feminist and not an intersectional feminist. Many expressed that they didn’t believe that Swift particularly cares about the struggles of being a woman of colour because she is a white, privileged woman and cannot truly empathise with the specific struggles black women face in the music industry.

Before any “but Beyoncé got nominated” comments are mentioned: this is also missing the point. Yes, Beyoncé got nominated and, my god, she deserves it and then some! But Minaj’s point was that on the whole, black women face a great deal of struggle in the music industry because of their blackness, which is something that they should certainly never have to hide or apologise for.

Minaj was trying to call out the institutional racism that still runs within the foundations of MTV and other music companies. And she was trying to call on white women to try to understand the plight of women of colour in music. If we compare white and black women  in music, it’s clear that there are still traits of racism in the industry. Katy Perry appropriated black culture and was considered cool and different for doing so. But as soon as someone like Minaj does something inspired by her own culture, she is branded as “hood” and viewed negatively.

Swift, by responding to Minaj in an egotistical way, completely missed the point. In that situation, what Minaj really needed a tweet from her friend supporting her and other black women in the industry, and not a tweet from Swift that twisted Minaj words, changed the intent and meaning of the message she was trying to get across, and attempted to make Minaj out to be the bad guy.

I’m not saying Nicki Minaj is without her faults and no one’s feminism is ever 100% perfect. I even wrote a piece critiquing ‘Anaconda’ and I stand by that. But at least Minaj’s feminism is more inclusive than Swift’s.

It can sometimes come across as if Swift almost bends feminism to suit her. Even if she doesn’t mean to be this way, her views can be problematic and then some.

The most ironic thing about this Twitter storm is that Swift tried to call out Minaj for pitting women against other women just because Minaj was calling out a very evident truth – that white women are appreciated and acclaimed more than black women in the music industry. I can’t help but think, how can Swift accuse someone of that when ‘Bad Blood’ is seemingly all about women rivalry and she’s making ridiculous amounts of money from it? ‘Bad Blood’ is all about women against women. And although I abhor Katy Perry, she made the exact same point in her (all be it poorly worded) tweet and she does have an extremely valid point that Swift essentially capitalized on the concept of pitting women against each other.

Moreover, why can’t Minaj call women out if they’re being problematic in terms of their feminist views? It doesn’t mean she’s pitting women against women. It just means that she is trying to educate and share with other women to encourage them to learn and attempt to understand more about the struggles of women from other cultures and backgrounds.

Swift used her version of feminism to belittle Minaj’s initial argument, which was valid and something that any woman of colour has experienced at least once. Swift waded into an argument that she didn’t fully understand and tried to make it about herself. She then apologised which Minaj graciously accepted and since then, the situation has been diffused. However, I think a mere apology and no other effort to understand the issue isn’t going to be enough. I truly hope Swift learns from her mistakes, reads up about intersectionality and the plight of black women and other women of colour, stops listening to white feminism and truly makes an effort to empathise with the struggles that black women face everyday.

Her apology should be just the beginning of Swift learning about real, intersectional and all-inclusive feminism. Perhaps the next time she tweets, she’ll check her privilege.

(Originally Published on CultNoise Magazine – currently under reconstruction)

Hannibal: The Last Supper (CultNoise)

30th June 2015

This may be hard to chew, but NBC have called time for the much-loved TV show that is Hannibal. This post contains several food-related puns, so brace yourself.

I have been an avid fan of Hannibal since day one. The appeal is that it isn’t explicit in the fact that Hannibal is a cannibal – there are only ever subtle hints until around season 2/3. The psychology and backstory behind both Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham is fascinating. It’s as though you’re getting a glimpse into the fine line between a psychopath and someone who is simply misunderstood.

Mads Mikkelsen himself is an extremely skilled actor, repeatedly voted one of the top Danish actors. He has a knack for playing social outcasts and chilling psychopaths, as displayed both in his characterisation of Hannibal Lecter and his memorable appearance in Casino Royale. Mikkelsen’s choice to portray Hannibal as an almost anti-christ, exacerbated by Will Graham’s attempted crucifixion murder of Hannibal, is what draws most people to this particular show. Mikkelsen plays Lecter with finesse, a chilling undertone and a God-complex, something which no other actor has attempted with the character of Hannibal Lecter. It is this beautifully haunting portrayal of such a legendary character that will be so sorely missed by fans the world over.

Hugh Dancy plays Will Graham in such a way that we’re almost spoilt for choice as to who is the more intriguing character. Will’s delusions, so skillfully acted by Dancy, make us question whose reality we are seeing when watching any episode of Hannibal. The blurred lines between Graham’s delusions and what Lecter has fed his brain is what makes the show thrilling; we never know if Will is ever truly in control of himself, or if he will ever be able to stop Hannibal, who plays people as though they are mere puppets in a grand performance.

I could harp on forever about the sheer and utter brilliance that is Hannibal. It is devilishly good and I would suggest anyone who enjoys sheer violence and psychological horror to give it a whirl. There is always hope that another television network or streaming service will do for Hannibal what Hulu did for The Mindy Show, another axed series with a big fan following.

There is truly no other show out there that is even remotely like Hannibal. The violence is horrifically realistic. The horror and psychology included in the show is a mixture of sexy, sophisticated and scary. It has no rival on air. You cannot compare it to the likes of Game of Thrones or Penny Dreadful, which fans of Hannibal also seem to enjoy – neither of these violent shows come remotely close in regards to character development. Hannibal is truly unique and losing this slick thriller from our screens will be devastating.

(Originally Published on CultNoise Magazine – currently under reconstruction)

FIFA 16’s Feminist Move (CultNoise)

9th June 2015

In the past couple of weeks, FIFA unveiled its plan to include female football teams in the widely anticipated FIFA 16 video game. As a female gamer and football fan, I believe that the inclusion of female players could not come quickly enough.

The decision has upset many male players of the game (read: fuckboys) who are in uproar about the inclusion of women in the game. Why? Why is it so outrageous to suggest that yes, women play football and they’re bloody good at it? The backlash from the aforementioned fuckboys just shows how engrained sexism and misogyny is in sports and the gaming world. Believe it or not, women play football. Women watch football. Women play video games. Ergo, women should be included in FIFA 16 and every other FIFA game that follows.

FIFA 16 will be a pioneering video game which will truly change how we play and what we think about these digital games. It’s a clever marketing ploy by EA Sports, who must also see the financially beneficial side of including women’s teams. The profits aside, it will resonate in the hearts of many female football fans. For years, I have yearned to play as someone digital who was relatable – a woman of colour, in my case. So diverse are women’s football teams that I could actually play as someone who resembled me.

That’s never been the case. Any women who are included in video games are usually hyper-sexualised to appeal the stereotypical cishet male gamer and very rarely are there any female characters of colour. If women are included in a video game, it is usually to further a male character’s development or story. Sorry if FIFA 16 ends up hurting a few men and they cry about it, but it is the 21st century and women still aren’t being fairly and equally represented. It’s about time we had fully clothed, multiracial and strong women in video games.

There are some who will argue that including female teams shouldn’t be considered because video games are all about escapism. What do these gamers want? Escapism from being a privileged cishet male by playing as… a cishet male in a video game? Makes a lot of sense, guys. I can’t say I’ve come across any video game in which a cishet male wasn’t the main character. The argument for escapism makes no sense because not only do cishet men dominate the real world, they dominate the animated world also.

They’re also forgetting the fact that they have the option to play as women in FIFA 16 but it is not compulsory. Female gamers are forever being forced to play as men without any other option. The saddest part is that this set of gamers is more open to having demons, fairies and cyborgs in their video games than the female gender. Mythical beings have a lot more representation in video games than women as a whole.

Why is it that cishet male gamers are so scared and threatened by diversity, inclusivity and representation of the other sex? They have always dominated sports even though they are not the only sports players. Is it so shocking to realise that women play sports and want equal representation? Acknowledging the fact that women play sports and video games could help equal rights and give more exposure to female footballers, who earn a mere fraction of what their male counterparts do.

Furthermore, these strong, athletic women being included in video games such as FIFA 16 could give many young, impressionable girls positive role models. It will teach girls that despite their gender, they can be professional sports players. These female footballers, with the help of a game like FIFA 16, could become easily accessible role models, like their male counterparts are for young boys.

Even when I was a child, I always dreamt of becoming the next Paul Scholes, but I was told that I couldn’t because of my gender. He’s always been one of my favourite players, both on the pitch and in video games. I do not want to see another generation of girls being told they can’t do something because of their sex. I want them to play FIFA and see someone who looks like them, someone they can become. I don’t want them to ever think that being a footballer or a football manager is impossible solely because of their sex.

I believe EA Sports, along with FIFA, are making a bold and correct decision to include female footballers and teams in the much-anticipated FIFA 16. Including female footballers doesn’t actually harm men or male footballers; it just benefits women and female footballers by showing equality, which is still a long way off in the beautiful game that is football. Any objection to the inclusion of female footballers is sexism in its purest form – you are only objecting to their inclusion because of their sex.

Hurt meninists have been proclaiming how feminism is damaging the institution that is the FIFA video games but how is wanting fair representation wrong? If you are offended by this genius move by EA Sports, you’re sexist, misogynistic and need to seriously re-evaluate your life and your beliefs. The only agenda we have, as women, is wanting representation in a sector that has always been dominated by men.

(Originally Published on CultNoise Magazine – currently under reconstruction)

Inside My Mind: Depression (CultNoise)

15th May 2015

I wake up late. It’s gone 11am. My mum came in and woke me up nicely and kindly, as she does every day. She came into my room saying ‘Bub, get up, it’s gone 11! Sorry it’s so late!’ and patted me on the head and left to tend after my dad. My mum is extremely caring; it’s like her job to look after everyone at home. I woke up again. I’m alive again. I don’t want to leave my bed. I bury myself further underneath my duvet. I thought today was going to be different. I thought I’d wake up and not wish I was dead. Every day I wake up fearing that I will feel like this. Some days I don’t. Most days I do. I never want to get out of bed because if I’m asleep, I can’t feel sad.

Mum comes in again and I really have to get out of bed this time. I feel heavy with sadness and I don’t even know why. I brush my teeth and wash my face in a blur. I see my self harm scars on my arm and I’m tempted to open the bathroom cabinet and cut myself again, but I don’t. That’s one of the hardest things to resist because cutting takes the focus away from the internal struggle and pain I’m going through.

I go down for breakfast and I don’t want to eat. I always take it out on food, being an ex-anorexic. I don’t feel hungry. I don’t want to eat because I don’t want to be alive any more. Mum realises something is wrong and tries to talk to me about it. I just tell her how ‘I just feel sad, tired and I want to die’. Why do you always do this? Why do you burden her with how you feel? She’s your mother, does she really want to hear that you feel like shit? How does that make her feel? You fucking selfish piece of shit. You really would be better off dead. My dad is spouting rubbish in the background, making white noise as per usual and I get the overwhelming need to scream at him to shut up. I’m not tolerant of anyone or anything when I get in these moods. I feel suicidal and homicidal.

I can’t even explain why I’m sad. Nothing particularly awful has happened today and I don’t really have a reason to be sad. But this is the problem with depression – it has no reason or rationality. You just feel an overwhelming sense of sadness for no reason and you can’t even put it into words.

My parents leave to go shopping for the day and I’m left home alone, which just exacerbates the problem. Usually mum is around and I feel safe around her, but I’m left alone with my thoughts and I don’t know what to do with them. I feel like I should keep busy. I have a list of things to do when I’m at a loss as to what to do, but I have no motivation to do anything at all. Such is the vicious circle of depression: being busy actually helps take the focus off how rubbish you feel, but it’s hard to be motivated if you’re unemployed and depressed. I’m a temp so if there’s no need for me, I don’t work, which is what has happened for the last couple of weeks.

I spend the day thinking, which is awful because I overanalyse everything.

What was the point of you actually being alive? I mean, you went to university and can’t find a steady job. You’re never going to be successful. You’re never going to move out in a couple of years’ time like you said you would. You’re a failure. No one will ever love you. You’re unlovable. If you do get a job, it won’t be in the field you want and you’ll end up in some corporate field that you always said you wouldn’t go into and that’s your life made. You’ll never change the world like you dreamed, you’ll never be famous and help people like you said you would. You’ll be like a robot. And you’ll be alone forever because you’re too much of a failure and a disappointment for anyone to want you for anything other than a one night stand.

The day passes in a blur. I don’t even know what I did that day because the whole day was wasted in these overwhelming thoughts. My parents come home and my dad ends up being extremely triggering for me. Sometimes I feel as though he deliberately triggers me. I run upstairs and lock myself in my room, cuddling a fluffy toy for comfort. Mum comes in my room and again asks me what’s wrong. Holding back the tears, I tell her all the thoughts that have been going through my head all day and I tell her that they won’t stop and they won’t go away. I tell her I just want to die. She can only listen. She hugs me and then goes downstairs to start cooking dinner. I start crying uncontrollably. They’re soft, silent sobs, but they’re still there. I’ve tried not to cry all day, and I’ve failed. Another failure. That’s very much like you, Jaz.

I haven’t really eaten all day. I’m hungry, so I eat my chicken and rice as quickly as possible, which is good because dad is at the dinner table, being a constant trigger. I bolt my food and go to the living room, switch on the television and put on Eastenders, but I’m not really listening. I’m just sitting there whilst a picture moves around on TV. I just feel empty. I feel like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. There’s an all-encompassing sense of hopelessness about my life right now and I can’t shake it off. I know that tomorrow, I don’t have anything to do. All I can hope for is that I wake up feeling okay, unlike today. I’m falling apart and no one knows. When will this sadness ever end? I can’t take any more of it. I can’t live like this. Either I’m going to win or the depression is going to win. And right now, it’s a lot stronger than I am.

After mum has finished dinner and dad has gone to bed, mum comes and sits with me whilst I stare motionless into the tv. It’s the football. I should be excited, but I feel nothing. I either feel sad or I feel nothing. She tries to talk to me some more about how I feel and I tell her more. I tell her it feels as though the depression is a huge weight on my back which has me bent over double and the little stresses like not having a permanent job, living at home etc. are added weights and I’m on the brink of bowing under the pressure and just dying.

She gets it. She understands what I’m saying but it’s hard for her to relate. She says she wishes she could help, but other than take me to my GP for him to increase my dosage of antidepressants, she doesn’t know what she can do. She tells me I can have a drink if I want, because she feels sorry for me and thinks it might help ease the pain. So I agree. I pour a strong drink of vodka and drink away the pain. At least I’ll forget the pain for a few hours…

(Originally Published on CultNoise Magazine – currently under reconstruction)

No Means No (CultNoise)

15th April 2015

Trigger warning: Some readers may find this article triggering or upsetting.

It’s always the victim’s fault. It’s always ‘why didn’t you go to the police sooner?’ or ‘why didn’t you tell anyone before?’ The thing is, until you’ve been through it yourself, you’ll never be able to know why people don’t report assaults and keep it to themselves for so long.

It happened in my Freshers’ year. Freshers’ year is aptly named: I went to university fresh-faced and ready for the academic and social challenges that lay ahead. I’d only been there for a month or so but I’d talked to a lot of people and made fairly good acquaintances and even some good friends. I’d decided to go to a university 200 miles away from home so I could live completely independently of my family and do some much-needed growing up.

Within a couple of months, nights out were pretty standard and not a big deal. A whole bunch of us from the same halls or same courses would go out, meet up and get drunk. For a change, me and a couple of friends decided to go and explore further afield in the city and ended up at a shisha bar near the edge of town one night. We ordered drinks, smoked shisha, talked and giggled.

The evening was going well. I felt as though I was developing some pretty solid bonds with these girls. Midway through the night, a guy I’d spoken to before in a club and had seen around campus came over and introduced me to his friend. Not to be rude – and wanting to make as many social connections as possible – I enthusiastically reciprocated. He was gorgeous, to be honest. That’s probably why I was so excited to make his acquaintance. He was around 6’4”, slender but muscular with floppy, brown hair reminiscent of popular 90s cuts. He had an attractive Dutch accent. I could tell he was attracted to me too. We exchanged numbers and returned to our respective parties.

I honestly didn’t expect him to text me. I’d never been the most confident of people, so I often doubted it when people were attracted to me – something in the back of my head always told me that I was wrong. But he did text me. We exchanged texts back and forth for about a week and made a plan to go on a night out together with predrinks at my place as I lived practically next door to the club we were planning on going to.

I was slightly nervous beforehand. I made sure I’d dressed comfortably so that when we got to the club, I could dance. Everyone always asks what you were wearing when it happens and I can categorically say I was in a shirt and jeans. The shirt wasn’t low-cut. It was right up to my neckline. The jeans were a little baggy on me as I’d lost weight with the stress of moving so far away from home.

He arrived at my flat. I’d told my flatmates that I had a date. They said that they’d be occupying the common room/kitchen area, so naturally, me and my date stuck to my room. He brought his own booze and I stuck to mine. Soon enough, we were lost in conversation, engrossed in knowing more about each other. We decided to knock clubbing on the head and just stay in, perhaps watch a movie, or just continue talking. He was pretty interesting; he’d travelled all around the Middle East and did some journalism here and there. I was impressed, obviously, but he was mutually impressed with me.

I went to the kitchen to put his empty bottle on the window-sill as my housemates wanted to make a display of bottles (a common thing to do at university). I grabbed some more Diet Coke for myself. I’d only had two drinks as I wasn’t a heavy drinker anyway. He’d had a large alcopop.

When I came back in the room and sat down, he just stared at me. I asked him what was wrong, concerned. He said nothing. He leaned in and kissed me. I was shocked, to say the least. To me and my previous experiences on first dates, kisses happened at the end of the date or somewhere in the middle, not when your date had just walked in with a massive bottle of soda in their hands.

It wasn’t unpleasant as such. I just knew as he was kissing me that I wasn’t attracted to him. Yes, he was an interesting person, but I wouldn’t want him to be anything more than a friend.

I broke off the kiss and said that I was flattered, but I wasn’t interested in anything serious as I wanted to have fun at university and that he wasn’t my type. I reiterated that we could be friends and still hang out, but I didn’t want any more than that. I told him that it was getting late and he should go. He just nodded. He didn’t say anything other than ‘yeah, sure, okay’. I got the impression that he had understood what I was saying, where I was coming from and that he best be off on his way home.

To further the point of him needing going home, I began cleaning up, went to the bathroom to change into my pyjamas, brushed my teeth etc. I expected him to really get the message at that point. When I came out of the bathroom, he had stood up as if to leave.

It all happened so fast. I’m still not sure how he managed to wrestle me onto my bed. I wasn’t even drunk. I hadn’t had enough to be drunk. I wasn’t tipsy. I was sober. The alcohol had almost worn off. I tried fighting him off so much. I kept saying ‘no’ repeatedly. I clearly, fully removed my consent for him to do anything. He overpowered me. I tried kicking and lashing out, but he was just too strong – at one point, he’d pinned down both of my wrists with just one of his hands. He just smiled as if it was all a game.

I ended up lying face down in my pillow. He was strangling my neck from behind as he mercilessly spread my legs open.

He raped me.

I tried screaming but my throat was being crushed. I could feel myself slipping in and out of consciousness. Eventually I gave up fighting. I started crying silently as he pounded into me until he got what he wanted, rolled over, thanked me and fell asleep. All night, until the early hours of the morning, I lay there, frozen.

He left early that morning. I woke up and found blood all over my duvet. My flatmates asked me how the date went and I said to them it was fine, except for the fact that we had sex when I said I didn’t want to. No one really said anything to that, although they looked at me strangely. After breakfast, I went back into my room, tore the sheets off my bed and went to the laundrette to wash them. Whilst they were in the washing machine, I scrubbed myself in the shower, replaying what had happened the night before in my head. Did I imagine it? I said no lots of times, didn’t I? I made it clear I wasn’t interested in him, right? I hadn’t consented, right? I hadn’t led him on, had I?

After getting dressed, collecting and painfully shuffling around on my desk chair because my genital area felt it had been ripped apart, I looked online. I typed in the feelings and thoughts I’d had in the shower. The thing is, the morning after the night before, it didn’t feel like I had been raped. I was always taught that rape happens when you’re alone at night or dressed a certain way. At that point in my life, I didn’t know that those rape stereotypes were victim blaming, which is why I asked myself those questions, such as, ‘was I inappropriately dressed?’ The fact is that it doesn’t matter how you’re dressed or how you behave. The rapist makes the choice to ignore your lack of consent and rapes you.

It seems that I wasn’t alone in doubting what had happened to me. Forums on the internet and other social media users had identified with what I was going through. I looked at the legal definition of rape – sex without consent. I had fully and consciously removed my consent by repeatedly saying no, and he had decided to ignore it. It hit home then that I really had been raped. Nothing was my fault. I had said no. He continued doing what he was doing and violently raped me.

That night, he called my mobile phone. I still remember that conversation.

“Hello?”

“Hi, it’s me.”

“Oh… look now you’ve called, I think we should talk about last night.”

“Okay, I agree.”

“What you did was wrong. You know I kept saying no. I told you when you kissed me that I didn’t want to get involved with you. And yet you continued. I actually tried to get you off me but you forced yourself on me and overpowered me. You know what? I looked up what ‘rape’ means, legally. You know what it is? It’s when you force someone to have sex with you or you force yourself on someone who has already told you no, they do not want to have sex with you. Isn’t that what you did?”

“… I’m… I’m sorry…”

“So do you agree? Do you agree that you did something wrong?”

“I guess…”

“No, it’s a yes or no question. Do you think, according to what I told you, that you raped me?”

“… Yes. I did a very bad thing and I’m sorry. Let me make it up to you. I messed up.”

At that point, I didn’t know what to say. I told him never to contact me again. I hung up the phone, deleted every text and his number. I poured a strong drink, called my mum, told her what happened and cried on the phone to her for hours.

I didn’t go the police straight away. Honestly, I wanted to erase it from my memory forever. I wanted to forget I was a victim. In fact, I didn’t want to define myself as a victim of rape. I didn’t want it to control my life.

However, a sick twist of fate forced my hand. A couple of months after my rape, it happened again. Another girl on campus had been raped. Unlike me, she had had the courage to report her rape immediately. The first thought that went through my head was ‘what if it’s the same guy? How many more women will he violate?’ I believed that if I went to the university’s support centre and the police, they might catch the rapist.

My first port of call was the university’s support centre. ‘Support’ doesn’t do them justice – they went above and beyond the call of duty. They believed me, supported me and gave me a shoulder to cry on as I recounted what had happened to me. They set up counselling at the university’s Wellbeing centre. They called the Devon & Cornwall police to the university, so I could tell them my story in the safe space of the support centre. I told the police everything, trying hard to choke out the words in between tears.

It turned out that the rapist who had attacked the other girl on campus was not the man who had raped me. The police urged me to go forward with my own case and I complied. Despite the negative press that the police get nowadays, the Devon & Cornwall police unit were incredibly supportive and believed every word I said. They even offered me counselling services at the station. They collected my bed sheets and the bottle my rapist had drank from to get evidence.

Eventually, it came down to ‘he said, she said’ and they could not prosecute him. He actually fled the country after I reported the rape to the police, but was questioned by them when he came back months later. He denied everything, despite having privately admitted he had violated me the morning after he had done it. Nothing ever happened. The police apologised that they couldn’t do more to help arrest and convict him.

Although the rape happened almost four years ago, it haunts me to this very day. Luckily, I had an incredible set of friends at university who supported me throughout what happened and beyond. They helped me create positive, fond memories of university that would have been entirely ruined otherwise. I also have an extremely supportive and sympathetic mother who never judged me and only ever held my hand throughout everything.

Rape hasn’t made me who I am today. It has made me stronger and more resilient, of course. It has made me speak out against sexual violence and has awakened the feminist within me, which was already growing before I was raped. It has helped me help other survivors of rape, sexual assault and abuse. I already feel as though I have defeated my rapist by having the conviction to speak out about what happened to me.

What he did to me will always be there. I can’t ever forget that I was raped and violated. But I can use that experience to help others. Speaking out about the rape is the first step to a big ‘fuck you’ to my rapist.

(Originally Published on CultNoise Magazine – currently under reconstruction)