Something’s got to give…

This week there have been strikes, although not as many as I would have liked to have seen.

Some parts of the NHS have been on strike, tomorrow (Wednesday 15th) the PCS are on strike and on Saturday the 18th of October, there will be a TUC march in London over the living wages of workers. Others, such as the RMT and NUT were also supposed to be on strike this week, although they have been called off. I have read several articles recently condemning the strikes and the unions, telling us that they’re ruining people’s lives (as if they aren’t people too) and aren’t being ‘team players’.

I honestly cannot believe what I am reading. Strike action takes months to sort out, there has to be a ballot and votes and it certainly isn’t something that is decided upon overnight. The government and the media (shame on you, BBC) are turning the unions into monsters in two. very sinister ways. Firstly, the government is actively demeaning the unions and those that agree with strike action, whilst all of the main media outlets are brushing our problems under the carpet and are not giving a voice to those who need it most!

How can anyone in their right mind observe the amount of striking that is taking place right now and NOT come to the conclusion that there is a real issue here. I’m sure that those at the top can see exactly what is going on down below and probably don’t give a toss about what happens to the little people, as long as they’re still getting to stuff their fat faces with a £39 breakfast courtesy of the taxpayer, of course.

The real issue here, is that there is such a divide between those who want a better working life and those who have been brainwashed into apathy. I refuse to believe that there is a single person who would happily allow their working conditions to worsen, whether that be through longer hours or poorer pay. It just wouldn’t happen. Since the 1980s, the government has been constantly beating down on the unions and slowly tearing them apart to the point where it’s now almost illegal to strike. The me, me, me attitude (which I’m constantly droning on about) has turned us all into blood thirsty killers, only working to look after ourselves and no one else, no matter who suffers. Many of us nowadays do not stop to consider what we might do if we were in that position ourselves, and that right there is a very dangerous thing indeed. It is a thing that does nothing but fuel the hatred for those going on strike and eventually turns working people against each other.

We are constantly being told that these evil unions are stopping our children from getting an education or letting our relatives suffer in hospitals simply because they ‘want’ more money. For a start, it’s not as simple as people just wanting a better wage, it’s about needing a better wage. Some of the hardest working people in the country are paid the lowest wages, with no logical reasoning behind it and alongside this, it’s important for us to remember that those evil teachers and nurses are people too.

They get ill, they have to pay their bills, they need to have their own lives and if you take advantage of those people, they will leave and the profession will suffer greatly. If the government continues to bully people into long hours and appalling working conditions, then you’ve got to ask: why should those bright minds and caring souls continue to do their job well? It’s not even necessarily about people choosing to do their jobs in a bad way because in reality, most working people are expected to do so much and meet such unachievable targets that they simply cannot do their job well, or even at all.

The eventuality that is already upon us is that there wont be enough teachers, or nurses, or jobs for anyone at all and in the end, companies and organisations will be forced into employing people who are under qualified and lack the basic training. Mistakes will be made, lives will be lost and your children will probably grow up without the basic education they need to function as a rational human being. They might even end up voting for a Tory government.

I support the strikes because I know what the alternative is.


Feminism isn’t equality? You’ve got to be kidding me!

So today I saw a comment on Facebook that threw me into a complete fit of rage. However, after deliberating whether or not I should correct a person I did not actually know on their ‘misguided’ approach and potentially face starting an argument (I have very little energy for this), I decided to write a post instead because clearly, people still aren’t ‘getting it’.

Note: I realise I may be ‘preaching to the converted’ here/reiterating some fairly obvious points but this riled me up so much I just had to write!

Many people have the wrong idea when it comes to feminism. Feminism used to be seen positively by almost everyone; a largely positive idea, and yet it has since been twisted and manipulated into something many people are now ashamed of.

It has become a dirty word.

Now I am sure many people would agree with me when I say feminism is about equality. However, some individuals still cannot see past the word itself. They see it as something wholly and entirely to do with women and therefore, it becomes a one-sided issue to them. Feminism has always been about equality between the sexes, and I believe you would be hard pressed to find any true feminists who feel differently to this.

Yet here we are again (sigh).

Today I actually saw an individual put ‘true equality’ and feminism in different circles and I’m afraid to say that is wrong, wrong, wrong! Unfortunately, it seems to be the case that because of all this ‘dirtying’, we have a growing number of warped views. I cannot stress this enough: just because a percentage of complete buffoons use the ideology behind feminism to manipulate situations for their own selfish needs, does not mean it is how it works and/or what it means. I can guarantee 99.9% of feminists would find this separation incredibly insulting, not only with regards to their own ideologies but to the rest of the feminist movement as well.

Why are people so ashamed of calling themselves a feminist? Simply because people have turned it against us.

We should be wearing that metaphorical badge with pride, don’t be pressured into lying about your views by a part of society that is filled with ignorance and hatred. Culturally, we are beginning to understand the societal pressures that affect both men and women and feminism is changing with that. The movement isn’t stuck in the 1950s, which some would have you believe. It is the same as any cultural issue, it adapts and changes over time.

Real feminism IS equality and I am a feminist.

So your train is late and your life is ruined…

The workers have gone on strike.

Over the past few days I have found myself becoming steadily more irate with the amount of people whining on about the rail strikes. Although what has annoyed me the most, is the reasoning behind their grumbles. Every single complaint I have heard so far, is in regards to their problems.

Firstly, this undoubtedly shows what an utterly selfish society we live in. We are still in an era defined by ‘Thatcherism’ and the greed and selfishness that comes with it. People of my era have been born into a world where we are taught to think about number one, to act for ourselves now and consider the consequences later. People have complained about the delays and the detrimental affect it has had on their lives, when the reality is not so problematic at all. There were no surprises when it came to the rail strike, anyone who read the newspaper, watched the television, or even went on social media would have known that it was going to take place. Those who had to travel had the time to consider other arrangements, whether that was leaving for work earlier or using a different form of transport. Some may be asking themselves, ‘why should I have to do that?’ but then, this is what this post is all about.

Throughout all of this, I have found seldom few that consider why the workers are on strike and what effect not doing so may have on their lives. What I cannot fathom, is whether or not these people realise that the Government relies on complaints such as this to justify pulling apart trade unions, and working towards creating a system that is basically slave labour. Zero hour contracts, long hours on minimum wage and severe job cuts await those who sit down and do nothing to defend their rights as workers. Another reason why people should sit up and pay attention is because the Government will not stop with rail workers. Once they have the ‘all clear’ to shut down these strikes, they will tear into every single work force in the country, including the jobs of those who are complaining about being late for work. If you do not support those on strike, eventually there may not be a job for you to go back to.

Another factor to consider is how these workers feel about the kind of publicity they are receiving. Does anyone in their right mind believe that they want to lose days of their pay, when it could be argued that they aren’t being paid enough. No one wants to be demonised by the public or the media and therefore, you have to consider what is going to happen to their livelihood if they do not stand up and fight the cuts. Thousands will lose their jobs and the pay of those who remain will be cut. It is laughable that those in charge of this system are telling us that they are going to improve the rail service, whilst getting rid of so many jobs, it is neither possible nor plausible.

If that is not enough to make people understand the benefits of supporting the strike, then consider the implications on your travel. People will be forced into using ticket machines that will of course, break down and when you’ve lost your money, will there be anyone to help you? Not likely. If you are assaulted on a train or you leave behind your personal belongings, will there be anyone help you? Not likely. If you become separated from your child in an unknown area, will there be anyone to help you? Not likely. Please consider this, the effect the strikes are having on your day is nothing in comparison to what will happen if the workers roll over and let the Government make their ‘necessary’ cuts.

This Government is picking apart anything that allows people to have rights or free will. I implore you, support the strikers and stop the Government from destroying the freedom of the workers.


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It’s hard out here for a…person who just wants media sexism to be represented correctly

Lapped up by the media, Lily Allen has been praised for fiercely ‘fighting back’ against music industry sexism with her new song, Hard Out Here. However, I can’t help but wonder what on earth everyone is thinking? Surely anyone that has two brain cells to rub together can see how this is not only hypocritical of the singer but that her ideas on sexism are also a little misconstrued.

‘Forget your balls and grow a pair of tits.’

Comments such as this simply reinforce the gender divide. These lyrics do not look to unite people’s feelings, rather they exclaim ‘women are better than men, ha ha ha, isn’t this funny’, when actually it isn’t funny at all, it is just plain sexist. I understand completely that the song is supposed to be satirical and you could even argue the song is not interested in closing the gender gap (shock AND horror), but then maybe it should be. Whether the song is to ‘poke fun’ or otherwise, it is damaging to the image of what many view feminism to be.

It should also be noted that this comes from a woman who made the single biggest hoo-ha ever on the social media site Twitter over changing her surname to that of her husband’s. Subsequently, Allen then went on to plaster it everywhere, letting us all know just how much of an adoring wife she was. This is not an argument that any person is wrong or bad for changing their last name, different individuals have their reasons. However, not one single person should be able to take ‘Lily Allen the feminist’ seriously when previous to her new debut she has failed spectacularly in this area, churning up a plethora of stereotypes and sexist remarks in her songs. For an individual who is suddenly so concerned with breaking down the barriers of sexual stereotyping, it does give one something to ponder. Feminist for money, perhaps?


The New Lad or the Same Old Sexist?

Recently, there has been an irrefutable upsurge in what I have heard deemed as ‘casual sexism’ towards both women and young girls.

Firstly, I must express the complete disgust that I feel when I hear the term casual attached to anything as serious as this, I still find it incomprehensible that it is such an issue today.  As humans beings that have supposedly evolved intellectually, why is it that sexism still appears to be so rife?

It could be suggested that sexism is once again being thrown into the spotlight due to the influences of the new lad culture. A young, foul-mouthed lager lout, whom prides himself on being undoubtedly heterosexual and is not afraid to show it. His treatment of women is more often than not, domineering and malicious and can be argued to be traced back to the changing face of masculinities.

A recent theory that has been discussed is the idea of men in crisis. With the rise of equal rights movements, it can be argued that many men have begun to react to the changes by shouting back or ‘re-claiming’ sexist stereotypes. Equally, it could be argued that this behaviour can be attributed to a backlash against political correctness. What I speak of here, is an intrinsic part of the ‘laddish’ masculinity that has been working its way into society over the past two decades.

Now don’t get me wrong, we could go on for another two decades arguing over the fact that not all men are one particular way and not all women are the other, but that is not what this article is about. The truth is, sexism is a real thing, it’s a big thing and it’s dangerous.

The danger from sexism in general, as well as sexism specifically from the new lad culture comes from reinforcement. From what I have experienced, people either don’t know or don’t care that their actions are contributing to the normalisation of sexist behaviour. When discussing ‘laddish masculinity’ and sexism, the lad mag also has a part to play, as it attempts to place a positive spin on the foul-mouthed, abusive moron saturated within its pages. Magazines such as this, appear to have a habit of telling the reader that this is the right way for a man to behave because after all, he is a man and this is quite obviously how men were built to behave.

It must be said again that there are always exceptions to the rule and that men and women do have the power to reject any stereotypes cast upon them. Despite this, from experience it can be said that stupidity does tend to breed stupidity and because of this, there is a lack of changing attitudes. Ultimately, sexism shouldn’t be a difficult issue to remove. However, the ‘casual’ sexist behaviour that comes from lad culture reinforces the idea that it is okay to behave in such a way and this is quite clearly, ridiculous.

After all, what you choose to eat, the way you play a game or what career path you take certainly doesn’t have anything to do with the parts between your legs.


Model is 5ft9 and wears a size 8?

Model is 5ft9 and wears a size 8… Sound familiar?

This is something that has really bothered me for a long time and is also something that has stopped me even trying to buy clothing anymore. Like many people nowadays, I spend much of my time shopping online and seem to always stumble across this haunting sentence.

Within the details section of most online purchases you find a sentence, such as the one I  have mentioned in my title, as a ‘helpful guide’ to help you determine whether clothes will fit well.

Since exploring this a little, I found that the average size of a UK woman is now anywhere between a size 12-14, with a much smaller amount of the population being a size 8. Alongside this, despite the average female height increasing over the last decade, the average height of a woman appears to be somewhere between 5ft4-5ft6. I also explored this in relation to male models, with the problems being mirrored here.

With this in mind, I must ask how online shopping websites can justify giving these ridiculous guidelines? Not only is it unacceptable due to how unrealistic it is, it is also reinforcing the media dictated ideologies and perceptions of what ‘normal women and men’ (whatever ‘normal’ is) should look like and is completely demeaning to those who do not fulfil it. I completely understand that there are women and men of this stature, with these measurements, however as a guideline for the average sized human being they are simply unrealistic

Online shopping websites could and should implement numerous tactics to resolve this. They COULD find suitable models that show a more realistic guideline of what the clothing will look like on women and men. They COULD have a variety of different sized women and men on their websites (although understandably this would not be as realistic as other options). They COULD take these ridiculous ‘guidelines’ off of their website and stop lying to the general public, claiming that this might actually be  helpful. Finally, they COULD just stop reinforcing the media’s patriarchal ideals of normality, as when push comes to shove, it may be in their interest to do so.

Danielle Amato

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Hiding Behind Others? Right Wing Racists.

Today, I nearly had a heart attack. Whilst plodding through YouTube videos, I came across a Stewart Lee stand-up sketch in which he explained that in 1964, a campaign slogan was released by Tory candidate Peter Griffiths. Apparently, it read ‘if you want a nigger for a neighbour, vote Liberal or Labour’. Curious to see if this was true, I investigated and again began trawling the internet to see if it was so. Unfortunately, it is my great displeasure to say that this abomination really did exist. I’ve searched for quite a while to find an image of the leaflet, but alas, it has  been eradicated mysteriously disappeared from the world-wide web.

Now, you could of course argue that this was one Tory MP and that it was nearly 50 years ago.  However, what individuals should be taking into consideration, is that it was ONLY 48 years ago that this happened and that regardless of whether or not Griffiths’ name was simply ‘slapped’ onto this campaign, there is absolutely no chance that this would have been a ‘one man’ operation. Realistically, it just would not have happened.

Of course, we are a far more advanced country politically and culturally that we were 50 years ago, right? Yeah right…
Here is a leaflet  from a 2008 Conservative local election campaign.

Are the Conservatives being serious here? Regardless of whether many of these houses go Eastern European immigrants that are or wanting to actually WORK in this country, or whether they are native British citizens, is it justifiable to then make people who wish to work in this country and give back to the community homeless?  Is it fair to allow this to happen simply due to their native background not being of British origin? There is not a single way that this can logically be justified as anything more than elitist racism, plain and simple.

I do feel that the population of Britain is incredibly large at the moment. However, I also believe (as I feel any rational and sane human being would) that there must be a far more logical way to deal with population problems in the UK, rather than just denying individuals who want to contribute to society, the right to have a roof over their head. I would not like to see ANY individual on the street, British or otherwise. Another element of this leaflet that strikes fear into my heart about the party whom is running the government at the moment, (and yes it is ONE party) is the 52 thousand new homes it mentions. The housing is not specified as council. Therefore, no council housing would be taken away from ANY British citizens who desperately need refuge, on the incredibly long housing list that the Tory’s have continuously used as an excuse to unfairly tighten immigration.

Regardless of the fact no specific racist terminology is used, it is quite clear when broken down that this leaflet is a subtle attempt at stirring up and fueling racial hatred, so that it may allow the Conservatives ideology on immigration laws to go unquestioned. This is of course, as well (as per usual) making the Labour government look bad for no justifiable reason.

Conservatives, start being truthful about what your ideals and policies really are and stop using the previous government to hide behind your inability to govern.

Danielle Amato
Twitter: @whiskymouthh

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Love is Blind.

This really is something that always has and always will baffle me, over and over. Prejudice against love. I’m going to discuss homosexual and bi-sexual relationships. I feel that I have to talk about this just because it does play on my mind so much. Has the world really gone mad?

Who cares, seriously? What is so wrong with two people being attracted to each other, or being in love? Common sense would surely dictate that regardless of gender, love is love? I cannot believe that in this day and age, in a world that is supposedly so advanced, technologically and culturally, that this still an issue. Looking back to our past as a society, I can only say that religion might provide some of the answers.

It is common knowledge that in the past, religion was part of everyone’s lives and it also common knowledge that religion frowns upon same-sex relationships. From this, it can probably be said that deep-rooted angst from religion has bled into today’s society, despite that fact that many people nowadays are not religious at all. I’m always cautious when attacking religion, but I really do feel that this is where much of the hatred has stemmed from. Another element that I believe has contributed to this, is people being scared of difference. Although previously I have stated that I would like equality, I never meant in the sense that every individual should be a clone of another. I think difference is an incredibly important thing. Unfortunately, in our culture difference has always put forward as something to be fearful of, an example of this being the problem left-handed people faced years ago in this country and still do face today in some countries surrounding them being linked to the devil, which is again linked to religion. Anyway, I digress.

I guess what I am trying to debate here is if it is really logical to hate someone because they are attracted to one gender or another? Or, is it any of your business, does it personally affect you in any way? As I have mentioned before, I feel it is down to educating individuals. People need to asses WHY they have negative feelings towards someone before deciding to hate, because unless they have done something truly evil, say to hurt another person, then there is absolutely no justification to look upon an individual in a negative light. Even if people see themselves as religious and follow a religion very strictly, would logic surely not again bring them to the conclusion that hatred over sexual preference is ridiculous?

Whether individuals are straight, lesbian, gay or bi-sexual, individuals should not do something as ridiculous as have hatred for another because of it.

Do not hate. Celebrate yourself, celebrate difference.
Danielle Amato

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I’ve considered myself a feminist for quite a while now and despite knowing much of the ins and outs of the feminist movement, there is still one thing that baffles me; why on earth is the world still so blind to what feminism really is? When I say this though, I do not just mean feminism = women’s rights, because it really is so much more than that. Feminism has increasingly become a dirty word over the last decade, come on, everyone knows it, I am a strong believer that through education, comes understanding and acceptance. Therefore, this is why I feel that people need to be educated on the real aims of feminism.

Firstly, everyone should know that feminism isn’t about women being the greater sex, surely any rational, level-headed individual understands this. Real feminism is about equality. However, I find myself time after time battling with men AND women about this exact problem of misunderstanding feminism. I also often find myself struggling with the fact that I am supposedly a ‘man-hater’ or that I want to degrade or debase men as a gender. Asides from the fact I’m not exactly a people person generally, I don’t hate men and neither do most other feminists. Feminism seeks to give women as equal of a chance as men in situations, politically and culturally. I dislike this idea of thinking that men should behave in one particular way and women another way, asides from our genitalia, there is no reason at all why we cannot be an equal race. Both women and men have the ability to be who they want to be, but this can only be achieved if sexist gender barriers are broken, and this what true feminism is. Before I am faced with the argument of us losing our individuality in all the androgyny, I can say safely now that this would not be the case. Again, culturally we can be whoever we choose to be, we don’t have to conform to any role, gender orientated or otherwise.

Through countless conversations I’ve had with men and women, I’ve come to accept that some people are happy to conform to gender stereotypes. However, going back to my point of education; I believe that if more people truly understood they should not and do not have to conform to societies ‘fixed’ roles, many individuals might actually find they are happier being at an equal level with one and other. Some may even choose a better life path for themselves, knowing they are not going to be judged for it by society or any individual they come across in their lives.

Politics and the law aside, culturally there is still a crippling inequality between the sexes. Looking at this from an educational point of view, perhaps if gender studies and gender equality (at the most basic level) was taught in educational establishments, young people may grow up understanding that the only differing aspect of males and females is their anatomy.

I guess in the end, you could argue that these gender roles are so irreversibly ingrained into our culture that it would be foolishly time-wasting to try to change them. Well to those who often find themselves feeling such a way, as I have often done in the past, I pose one question.

 If nobody ever tries, how will any one individual ever find out the answer?

Danielle Amato

Photo: © marekuliasz

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