Friday, 22 July 2016

Is Supporting Other Women A Feminist Obligation?

As a feminist, and particularly a feminist with somewhat of an online presence, I'm often met with misconceptions about what the movement promotes. Some are deeply ingrained in social norms and expectations which in a way I can't blame people for believing, while others are petty and superficial. One in particular weighs on my mind a lot though, that in being a feminist, one should blindly support all other women. We should support women regardless of their beliefs, not matter how problematic they are or who's rights they infringe upon. Or even that we should support all women even if we are simply not interesting in their 'output' (for lack of better terminology) whether that's music, art, literature, social theories, anything really. 

To me, blindness supporting all women simply because we share a gender does more harm than good for feminism. I grow up in a predominantly female household, I attended an all girls high school, when I studied for my degree, all my classmates were female and I now work in a job where women largely outweigh men. Perhaps it's being so comfortable and not feeling threatened by the success of other women, that I don't feel automatically obliged to support them any more than anyone else based simply on their gender.

Following Brexit, that I'm sure will go down in history as one of Britain's most almighty boo-boo's, it's almost unsurprising that the traditional politician types, the middle aged, straight white men are dropping like flies so while I don't support the Conservative party, I was pleased to see that two of their proposed replacements for prime minister were female. The same principle applies to the American presidential race. Neither would be my dream candidate, and while there's a lot of her policies I don't support, you can bet your bottom dollar that I'm backing Hillary Clinton all the way to the polls. To some, this might seem like blind support but it's not. It relates back to representation. Across the world, members of all types of under represented groups have nobody to look to for inspiration, nobody who shares their identities making their own dreams seem even more unlikely. Of course I'll favour a non-female candidate if I agree with their vision, but when it's an immoral, manipulative man vs. an immoral, manipulative woman, gender is enough to be the deal breaker.

(Nicola Sturgeon put it far more eloquently than I ever could.)

It happens all the time in the blogging community too and those who try to break down systems and create a dialogue are having their feminist identities questioned. If I see a blogger posting something problematic which I feel is disrespectful or spreads ignorance or falsehoods, I can't support that. There seems to be an unwritten rule throughout a lot of the blogging community that to call someone out on their problematic views is worse than is worse than having problematic views. We may share a gender, we may share interests but if we don't share an vision, you don't have my support. There is one discernible different though. If I see one blogger posting something I don't agree with, there are hundreds of other bloggers out there and I can take my readership elsewhere. However, politically, our options are naturally more limited. 

I'm a big believer in calling people out if they're being rude or ignorant or disrespectful (while simultaneously picking your battles carefully) and I've gotten to a point in my life whereby I want people around me to do the same for me. I don't think in most circumstances gender alone is enough to base support on, especially as it promotes the misogynist ideal that women should be taken for face value and that what they stand for & believe in comes second. However, what I am in favour of is supporting women, and many other many other under or misrepresented groups, for the sake of representation and equality. It's a tough one but I'd love to hear your thoughts...

[Side note : I understand the blogging community is not entirely female, but the majority of bloggers I run in the same circles with are. I don't mean to cause any offensive or exclusion through this statement, or this blog post as a whole.]

Friday, 15 July 2016

My Struggles With Self Care

Self care. It's a funny one, eh? It's kind of always been a thing that us human types do, putting time aside to look after our emotional well-being, but only maybe in the past few years have we decide to give it a name. Don't get me wrong, I'm a sucker for a bit of new age psychology so I guess it might seem odd that the whole concept of self care kind of scares me a little and I struggle to indulge. When life is busy and you've a million and one other things to do, having even a little time to yourself doesn't always seem important and it can sometimes feel like valuable time that could be better spent. 

I know I struggle most with self care when I'm busy, stressed or feeling low, which of course it when I need it most. I don't by any means live the busiest of lives, but with my job, I can't rely on being able to do the same things at the same time every day, week etc. and creating and sticking to a routine is hard. 

Tumblr, Pinterest and the blogging world is full of self care ideas and as much as I want to embrace them, the majority of them just don't feel relatable to me. I understand different techinques work for different people, but there's a lot of them I can't takr seriously or imagine how it could be applied to my life. If I'm feeling so low that I find it a huge challenge, both physically and mentally, to even drag myself out of bed, I'm skeptical of how just much taking a bubble bath or doing a spot of adult colouring is really going to help.

Perhaps there's some element of confidence in it, not feeling like I'm worthy of spending time solely on myself and my emotional well-being. As a fully fledged adult, I can now look back at those turbulent teenage years that we'd all rather forget and praise the Lord that my self-esteem is at an all time high compared to some periods in the past. Generally, I'm quite confident, in my appearance, my character and my views. I don't often feel inadequite or like I need to justify my choices. So why do I feel like I don't deserve to set time aside to do something mindless like colouring in and why do I view it as wasted time?

Another possible reason is that I'm a very 'closed book', for lack of better terminology.  
I don't talk to my friends or family about my feelings very much (not without the influence of a lot of alcohol anyway) and I tend to shut myself off. One of my friends has even nicknamed me 'caramel' cause he says I'm hard on the outside but soft and sweet on the inside. I have a massive complex about never wanting to appearing needy or vulnerable or not in control and although this was funny the first time around, it makes me feel a little sad that even my friends have running jokes about how shut off I am. I guess then maybe by openly engaging in self care, I almost feel like I'm shouting out to the word that I'm not feeling how I want to and that vulnerability scares me.

Because it feels more comfortable for me to just be alone when I'm feeling down, I tend to opt for lesser recommended techniques - eating junk food and watching a film or TV series or lying in bed in the middle of the day staring blankly into space and thinking of every worst possible scenario for all the woes in my life. Compared to some of the self care techniques I've read, this isn't anything particularly inspiring or original but it feels the most natural for me. Afterwards or during it though, I'm always hit with a huge surge of self-loathing and the realisation that this isn't healthy and that maybe, just maybe, one of those self care techniques that initially made me cringe would've been more productive. It seems like I constantly fool myself into thinking these self destructive things is actually self care.

I love the concept of self care and have learned the hard way that ignoring your natural instincts to take care of your emotional well-being and mental health will inevitably end badly, but I can't help but feel a little detached from the concept of self care. I'm currently trying to find techniques that I can incorporate into my life and that will leave me feeling recharged and rejuvenated rather than even lowing that when I started, so anything you can suggest, blog posts, videos or ideas that have helped you, please share.