Everyday Feminism – I’ll take mine to go…

So, now that I’ve launched my book, I need to get back to blogging regularly. Blogging’s hard. You have to think up stuff to write about and then write about it. You have to have an opinion and be sure where you stand on something and the older I get, the less certain I become about where I stand on anything. Take feminism, for example. I used to be so sure of what feminism was. Then I discovered twitter. Some time later, I came to realise that my own understanding of what feminism was, which had come largely from the academic writings of the second wave feminists, was no longer relevant. Feminism had morphed into something entirely different. It had been re branded so that it might appeal to a broader section of society. And in theory, that’s a good thing, surely?

Everybody knows you’ve got to de-radicalise to maintain viewing figures. Remember New Labour? But, at what point, do you lose all credibility? At what point are you looking from the misogynist to the feminist, and then from the feminist to the misogynist and scratching your head? ‘Course it could be simply that the movement has evolved too fast for me, and I’m stuck in the rigid thinking of a by-gone era when feminism was all about fighting for women’s rights. Most especially, their right to control of their womb. Their right to live free from male perpetrated sexual and physical violence. Their right to protect their children from male perpetrated sexual and physical violence. Their right to an education. Their right to be self defined autonomous individuals, with control of their own destinies. Their right to live free of oppression and fear. It was a very rights based time.

And these sisters got shit done! Between all the toking and the dancing around naked and hairy in the gardens, coz body hair is a very political thing, they achieved practical, massive stuff. They got us divorce and abortion and contraception and women’s refuges. They got us better pay and working conditions and opportunities. They radically changed our lives. Then, as far as I can tell, they packed up and moved back to suburbia, in time for rush hour at the fertility clinic. There endeth the second wave. Now, we’re in the third wave, I think, it’s hard to keep up. Some even talk of a fourth, so it could be like a tsunami soon. Only, that’s not the feeling I get. This third wave seems very sketchy to me. I’m not even convinced it’s a wave, more of a series of ripples. Okay, enough with the ocean metaphor! But you get my point. Feminism is having a moment.

Everybody’s feminist right now. It’s not just Emma Watson. Teresa May is a feminist, she literally bought the t-shirt and that Canadian prime minister bloke, and of course Obama and also Ryan Gosling, though that could be an irony thing. There’s even talk that Kim Kardashian is a feminist. They are f**king everywhere! So, here’s the thing? How is it that the patriarchy can withstand the force of their numbers? ‘Coz latest update on the patriarchy is, it’s still standing strong, holding its own, making gains in many areas. Globally and locally it continues to win a war many feminists on the ground will tell you no longer exists. So, what’s up with that?

If I was a conspiracy theorist, which I’m not, I’d say that patriarchal thinking had infiltrated the feminist movement to such an effective degree as to render it neutral. The movement is now so lacking in threat that it is allowed to grow, wild and without nurture, in the corners of the most feeble brains.

Feminism is an ever evolving concept, we are told. There is no need to know its history before you sign up. Only, there is, and it’s there in those very words. His Story. And he owned the words. And as long as he didn’t educate her, she might always believe he was smarter than her. ‘Course these days she’s educated, in some countries, and in many she can get her hands on the internet. And how must he play her now?

It calls to mind a recent article published in the Gaurdian about a feminist that attacked a life size statue of Trump during its unveiling ceremony in Madrid.  She was one of that femen crowd, so she was topless. Femen, you may remember, was the topless women’s rights movement, set up by a bloke. And yes, origins matter, as anyone who is familiar with the tale of Adam and Eve, can validate. What I want to know is why?

I know that makes me a philistine, ‘coz art, especially performance protest art speaks for itself. And also, to be fair to her, she was very clear. She wrapped her fist around Trumps plastic, clothed crotch and painted ‘grab patriarchy by the balls’ on her naked back. I still want to know why? To what effect? For what purpose has she stripped and risked arrest? Greater purpose that is, than five minutes of twitter notoriety and a story to bore her dinner guests with in a decades time. And, when you break it down, what was her real, exposed body, groping a plasic effigy actually saying? Her slogan echos very hallow against the stark portrayal of her powerlessness. And, I don’t think that was the look she was going for.

I’d like to compare the lone wolf femen agitator for social change with the more logical, considered and ultimately liberating Irish feminists, who in 1971, took a train from Belfast, carrying contraceptives where they were restricted but legal, to Dublin where they continued to be completely illegal for another eight years. In fact, it wasn’t until 1993 that condoms became freely available. Picture that, folks! A world without johnies! This huge publicity stunt co-existed with the underground provision of contraception, thus the grassroots and the political, working together, created meaningful social change. And he quaked in his boots, ‘coz she created laws to stop him kicking her.

And that takes us the full circle back to what is feminism for? Take this Everyday Feminism, and after a quick scan of their vision, I’d rather leave it. Wtf are they selling? Seriously, it reads like a cross between a brahma kumaris leaflet and an early draft of some HR speech on political correctness for octogenarians still in the workplace. See, I like my feminism a bit more feminist, you know? I mean, its all well and good to save the dolphins and recognize the rights of indigenous people to self identify, but what are you doing about the rapists and perverts and the paedos? What’s your plan to keep the refuges open? When they close, more women have to remain living with violent men, and it’s really hard to find your zen when you’re not sure if you or your kids will make it though the night without a beating. How’s the fight for reproductive control going? ‘Coz if we lose that, on top of the refuges, and the legal aid, well then it’s going to take a lot more than a spot of yoga to redress the balance, don’t you think?

So, to summarise, yoga is great if you want to detox and re energise, but has proved singularly ineffective when used as a weapon of war, as the exiled Tibetan monks would surely testify. Feminism is a movement to agitate for the rights of women. When working properly it can change laws, create new laws, allow women autonomy over their own bodies, generate finances and power, facilitate education, free women’s minds and empower them to self realize beyond the confines of their patriarchal jailers. When defunct, it can’t do much, except spit out mindless art or intellectually warped philosophy and distract. And oh, how he laughs, but these oh so clever people, they don’t get the joke….

My debut novel Nailing Jess, published by Cranachan, is available for download for 99p on Amazon for the month of July.

Patriarchal Rumours

I’ve decided to splash out on some professional photos to aid with my metamorphosis from unknown writer to global brand.  I got them done yesterday, it only took about half an hour. That was the camera stuff, obviously. The pre shoot hair and make up took an awful lot longer. It’s not, I must say because I’m in particularly bad nick for my age. In fact given that I’ve never been a mistress of what theses days we call ‘clean living’, I reckon time’s been quite kind to me. It’s just I do look my age and that in our youth and image obsessed times is utterly unforgivable because I’m a woman. If I was a man, it would be absolutely fine because everybody knows men age.

Given that I’ve written a book where feminism is a major theme, then my look becomes even more important. Yes, I do hear the irony but with the rise of ironic sexism, feminism needs to catch up. Of course eventually we will reach a point where everything is ironic and the word irony shall cease to have meaning but people say we’re not there yet.

As a writer I spend a lot of my time in comfortable clothes, face bare, hair in scunchy, chipped nails pressing keys on a computer and I have to say, it’s a good look. Without getting too biblical it’s how God intended me to be, and given we have so little common ground, I want to give him this one. It’s not even that I’m a natural slob, it’s just that life is short and netflix is vast and there feels like so many more meaningful ways to spend my time than in front of a mirror painting out hard earned living. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m low maintenance, itself a sexist phrase but only when not used in an ironic context.

I worry that my attitude to my image will prove a barrier to global domination, but I can’t see me changing much at this stage in life. See, I know they say women can have it all only I’ve never been convinced. I’m not even sure who they are and where they came by their definition of ‘it all’.  It obviously wasn’t in a dictionary. Because of the elusive nature of ‘it all’ and in the interests of only producing, quality, researched blog material I typed ‘what does the ‘it all’ in the phrase ‘women can have it all’ mean?’into google and I have to say I didn’t find a lot of consensus. The general theme for ‘it all’ seems to be striking some kind of harmonious balance between professional and family life, and I feel compelled to point out that as a definition of ‘it all’, it falls far short of even a very broad one.  There are many more things in life that belong under the umbrella term of ‘it all’. What about stella artois? What about scented candles? What about pirated copies of the award winning ABC network show ‘How to get away with murder?’ What about the search for existentialist truth and the core connectivity of all living things and all inanimate matter?

The more I think about it, the more annoyed I get at the phrase ‘women can have it all’. Bet I know where it comes from to, it’ll be one of those patriarchal rumours. Think about it – The sum of a woman’s desires reduced to working,nurturing and fucking, it’s got to be the patriarchy. For those unfamiliar with the term ‘patriarchal rumour’ – It’s a rumour, spread by the patriarchy, that is completely at odds with all scientific data and known information about the same subject. Other well worn examples include ‘Hell hath no fury greater than a woman scorned’ or ‘The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.’ Even the scantest amount of thought employed very quickly reaches the conclusion that the above statements like the aforementioned ‘have it all’ theory have no basis in fact whatsoever. Put simply, they are all utter bollox. I must say I’ve had it up to here with misinformation spawned by the patriarchy passing as truth. In fact, I think I’m going to drop them a line and tell them just that. If anyone is inspired by my bold move and wishes to follow suit then I shall provide an address for the patriarchy at the end of the post.

Dear Patriarchy,

Re: ‘Women can have it all’ rumour.

I don’t believe you and furthermore I, and I’m willing to wager, many women don’t want ‘it all’. In fact, were there to exist greater awareness that the sum of ‘it all’ equates to not very much at all, then I’m willing to further wager, even more women wouldn’t want it. Can you please desist from clogging up consciousness with ill conceived  gender generalizations and perhaps instead spend your time redressing the gender imbalance within the hierarchical structure of the workplace and the institutionalized misogyny in the legal system that leaves us struggling to get our hands on close to half of it. In layman’s terms – Stop stealing all the good stuff and most of the all right stuff and leaving us with all the shit stuff, when you leave us anything at all, and then maybe you wouldn’t have to make it up to us with empty promises and past their sell by date roses from a twenty four hour Tesco garage.

Thanks for taking the time to read this letter.

Sincerely,

Triona Scully

Address for the patriarchy : The Patriarchy, F***ing Everywhere.

My debut novel Nailing Jess is released by Cranachan Publishing on June 26th.

Marketing to marijuana smokers.

I spent yesterday at the magic meadows festival and had the chance to hand out some flyers advertising my debut novel Nailing Jess, being released by Cranachan publishing on June 26th. It was fun but ultimately fraught, as I spent much of my time trying to size up who among the festival crowd was most likely to smoke marijuana. For two reasons.

Firstly, I like to tell tokers about my book, coz my main protagonist D.I. Jane Wayne is partial to a joint or seven. Secondly, I wanted to make sure as few of them as possible take home my flyers. It is a sad truth that no matter how much enthusiasm a smoker may appear to have about your artistic idea your flyer will be taken home and placed by a window sill or on the kitchen table, where at some future point it will be torn into strips and used as roachs for cannabis spliffs. Of course, this is the long term fate of all Edinburgh flyers that don’t wind up in re-cycling bins, but if you are actively handing your publicity material to known or suspected weed smokers, then it is likely you will accelerate this process considerably.

It’s not an easy task to weed out the smokers in any crowd of people. In fact, it’s almost impossible. The young and those with a point to prove may blow it in your face, but in general most people who partake of illegal substances don’t advertise it. They don’t want to get in trouble.

It’s bewildering why dope remains illegal in a time when you can inject your own ass into your face. A 2011 call for a review of the U.K. drugs legislation by The Global Commission on Drugs Policy was rejected by the then prime minister, David Cameron. “We have no intention of liberalising our drugs laws. Drugs (sic) are illegal because they are harmful — they destroy lives and cause untold misery to families and communities.” It’s an interesting viewpoint, but doesn’t actually answer the question – Why is marijuana illegal?  Especially when you couple it with the knowledge that alcohol is legal in the U.K.

The Oxford dictionary definition of drug is as follows: Drug – Noun – ‘A medicine or other substance which has a physiological effect when ingested or otherwise introduced into the body.’ Re-read this definition, if you will, and recognise that this statement applies to most of what we eat or drink.

But, there will no serious talk of criminalising pie eating any time soon. Or introducing some kind of fine system for caffeine abuse, modeled perhaps on parking tickets, with the requirement that all coffee users be subject to random piss tests.

And as for prohibiting the sale of alcohol…

I’ve never got my head round the hypocrisy of a society that pretends alcohol is safer than weed. It’s such a mind numbingly ill informed opinion, and is completely unsupported by any evidence based or anecdotal data.  Think about it, how often is exclusive marijuana use a mitigating factor in a crime?  How many football hooligans tear up the centre of foreign cities, after having a few tokes at the back of the stands? How many rounds of a bong, before a group of stoners turn native and kick f*** out of each other?

The phenomena of drexting is a wonderful example of the universally held truth – that people do really stupid things when they consume alcohol to excess. Drexting, as defined by techopedia – ‘Texting friends, family, coworkers and significant others while intoxicated.’ I would add texting exs, people you hate, and people you cyber stalk to the endless list of individuals that may find themselves a victim of a drexter’s ill advised 4 a.m. rant.  The word stexting does not exist in Techopedia. That’s because stoned people don’t lose inhibition and reason to the the point where contacting someone that they haven’t seen since 2006 seems like a good idea.

All this talk of the idiocy of our drug laws has distracted me from the purpose of this piece. How to minimise the number of Nailing Jess postcards that will wind up in badly rolled 4 a.m. joints. The absolute truth is I can’t. And, thinking it over, I’m not sure it matters. Yeah, sure, they’re postcards of my book and I think they’re a work of art, a collectors item even. But many smokers turn joint rolling into an art form, so it’s actually a form of up-cycling. All I ask is that you put Nailing Jess to the back of the pile and smoke all the Vote Tory stuff first.

Still crazy after all these years…

I was somewhat of a neurotic kid, and I went on to be come an even more neurotic teenager. For most of my twenties the neurosis was clinical, tapering off to a more manageable ‘we’re all a bit crazy’ in my early thirties. Then something spectacular happened, I had a baby and it knocked the neurosis clean out of me.

I know many women go the other way, and I guess I got lucky. There’s something about the constant immediacy of a helpless living creature that focuses the mind entirely, and the urge to obsess about an incident in a bar in the early nineties dissipates completely. Like all the best metamorphosis, I can barely remember how I used to be, and I often think I make up stories about my misspent youth, just to sound interesting.

More recently, I’m starting to suspect that all my tall tales weren’t actually that tall at all. As crazy creeps into my bedroom at 4 a.m., and shakes me awake with another barrage of unhelpful what if scenarios, I long for a howling baby who shuts up when you feed it. Crazy, on the other hand, is a lot harder to put to sleep. If I engage, then the possibilities are infinite. What if no-one reads the book?  quickly becomes What if they do and they hate it? which begets the question Why would they hate it? which invites the answer They won’t hate it, if they do, it’s because they don’t get it  which poses the query Why won’t they get it? What’s not to get? which prompts the response They won’t get me! They won’t get me!, and suddenly it’s 1993 again, and there’s this incident in a bar…

Only, it’s not the nineties. I’m painfully aware of this, as I sip chamomile tea instead of sinking back Stella – the young lad gets very judgey if I’m drunk before breakfast. It’s all the exposure, see? It’s driving me a bit nuts. I know that’s ironic, ‘coz that’s what creatives types crave – attention, an audience.

Pondering this paradox takes another half hour, and the ship sails on getting more sleep tonight. That starts me worrying about my future lack of energy. How will it affect my performance and drive, in the days ahead, when I need to be on top of my game? Wtf did I become a race horse? It’s very confusing, all this sub-dividing of self into other parts. One part creative- one part seller – one part promoter – one part cheerleader. Just to be clear, I never signed signed off on the cheerleader part. That’s the self that hasn’t already been subdivided by Motherhood. One part carer – one part teacher – one part nurse – one part cleaner – one part cook – one part play mate – one part playstation repairer- one part social representative for your child in the outside world. So, keep your hair washed, and your nails clipped, or he might not get an invite to you know who’s party.

Now, I know other women do all this s*** and never complain, except to each other, where they are always sure to find a captive audience of empaths. Even then, there’s always a caveat about how much they love whoever they’re wishing harm on. Normally, those they’re compelled to care for. Why would you want to kill strangers unless your a psychopath? Which, statistically, most women aren’t.

Except in Nailing Jess, my debut novel, out on June 26th. Withering, the novel’s setting, is overrun with female psychopaths, which is one reason why you should read it. Another is that it’s very funny.

 

On Editing.

I’m not particularly religious but I did find myself speeding through a few ‘Hail Mary’s’ last night. Hail Marys are the go to prayer of the catholic under pressure. It doesn’t matter how many years of my adult life have been spent dissing her, there’s still a mind controlled seven year old within who knows if the crisis is big enough only she can sort it. Those of you experiencing real crisis or personal tragedy should look away now ‘coz I am exaggerating for effect. Truth is, I’m just so f**king sick of editing my first novel ‘Nailing Jess’, that I’m reduced to praying it will stop.

This is an a-typical example of a first world problem. How many writers would kill, or at the very least commit some form of criminal infraction, to have their debut novel published?  I was one of those people once, and then I got a publishing deal. Which was wonderful…at the time. Publishing deals are fantastic as concepts go. They validate every drunken declaration you’ve ever made about one day becoming a published writer. They also look great on your C.V. and make you sound more credible when you fill in self-employment forms.

However, like all the best concepts, from ideology to practical application much of the romance gets lost. Publishing deals are f**king hard word. It’s this thing they call editing. Editing, before you’ve been professionally edited sounds like a great plan. ‘I need an editor, I can’t take this idea further without a real editor.’ I could be heard saying, often. I’m not sure what it was I thought an editor might do, but I had no expectation that would deconstruct my book chapter by chapter, paragraph by paragraph, line by line. Trim this…Lengthen that…Cut the other… W.t.f? Am I writing a book or making a dress?  Wait a minute did she say cut? What’s she cutting? Why would she want to take that out? That’s really funny. Doesn’t she get it?  F**k!  What if it’s not funny? What if I’m not funny? What if they realise it and cancel my deal?  Can they do that?  Cue half hour spent searching for publishing deal and another half hour pretending to understand a sixteen page legal document.

But, it hasn’t been all bad. I did what I was told, or most of it. Reluctantly, grudgingly acknowledging that these ideas and revisions were shaping a better story. Eventually, after many days and many nights, writing, thinking, procrastinating, swearing… The edit was over. I had hit the ‘send’ button. I could breathe out and get back to the business of watching netflix and telling everybody I had a book coming out.

Only it wasn’t that simple. After the first edit, there was the second, and after the second…well you get the picture. I started to realise that whoever had come up with the saying ‘The devil’s in the detail’ might not have been speaking metaphorically. Prone to hyperbole, I began to wonder if the bible had taken this long. Religious fervour blended with reality as I came to believe only a female catholic icon could save me from my editors.  Because there are not many female icons in Catholicism, on account of its hatred of women, my desperate mind quickly seized on Mary – virgin and mother.

The cynics among you should stop reading now because what happened next is truly remarkable. Today, as in only hours after last night, I got an e-mail from my editors saying they had uploaded the book to the printers. I know what you are thinking. A book that is on it’s way through cyberspace to a printer is a book that has no more edits required. It is a finished novel.

As the reality of what just happened kicks in, I’m seized by a new and different panic. Was it the prayers that had put an end to this relentless editing business or was the book by then finished? I’ve reconciled myself to the fact that I may never truly know. It’s difficult to imagine a catholic icon with a sackful of more important requests for spiritual intervention might have taken pity on a lazy blasphemer like myself. Yet, we are frequently told, by those with a greater authority than myself on such matters, that God works in mysterious ways.

It’s enough to make me almost regret the profane nature of ‘Nailing Jess’.

‘Nailing Jess’ is being released by Cranachan Publishing on June 26th, 2017.