Woke Feminism is Toxic Feminism!

The definition of ‘woke feminism’ is a hard one to explain.

I watched a few videos on YouTube talking about feminism and how it is growing increasingly toxic, one of which I took a lot of points from in this post called Everything Wrong with Woke Culture so check that out and do your own research and reading. 🙂

 

In recent years, there has been a rise in female empowerment in media, whether that be in film, tv shows, books, etc. But that’s not necessarily true…

Bad-ass, empowering, strong and brave women have been in the media for ages. Not as much as we would like but they have been there. These include characters such as Katniss, Black Widow, Mulan (cartoon), The Bride, Ellen Ripley (Alien), Trinity (The Matrix). However, in recent years, there has been a rise in many woman-led main roles, such as Captain Marvel, Ocean’s 8, Wonder Woman, Charlie’s Angels, Birds of Prey, etc. Although I do like a lot of these films, there is a serious issue within most of them regarding ‘woke feminism’.

 

These characters are designed to be powerful, strong warrior like people, but can also be very arrogant and act very entitled and toxic. There isn’t much growth and learning within these characters, too, displaying that women are born skilled and strong and invincible whereas, in real life, that’s definitely not true. We are raised and we grow to be strong and talented and skilled and brave, we aren’t handed that at birth.

But, Shay, they’re just films, not real life!

With my own experiences as evidence, I have always yearned for representation of women and women of colour in the media because as a young girl, growing and vulnerable to insecurities in this society, I needed someone to look up to and use as a tool to encourage myself to be confident in who I am. I think representation of women, of all backgrounds, colours, sexualities, etc, are important, for the reason being that young girls need that! That being said, we need representation of real women. That’s the whole point of this ‘rise in female roles’; it’s to increase representation. But their representations are wrong with this perception women do not need growth and do not need to work hard to earn their skills and rewards. Growth is important! And so is learning.

 

Something I find common in bad portrayals of women is that they can be very arrogant and entitled. How are these traits going to benefit younger girls and even older women in any way? We are not entitled just because we are women. Just because we’re women and demand equality and want to break down the patriarchy does not mean that we should be fed success instantly without working for it or having any reason to earn it. Teaching girls that they are entitled to anything and everything is toxic. There’s a contrast between the old cartoon Mulan and the new live-action Mulan. Old Mulan started off as this girl, who was a little anxious and had empathy and compassion but still strong and built up her confidence and bravery throughout the film whereas this new Mulan starts off straight away as incredibly strong and skilled. Very realistic. This is the same case with Captain Marvel, who barely worked to get where she was and was emotionless and kind of boring.  Yes, they are strong and brave but they’re boring, unrelatable and unrealistic because they’re so superficial and shallow. And it has nothing to do with them being women dominating the screen because Wonder Woman does it well and was a good film with an amazing female character! In general, using the excuse ‘I am a woman’ to explain why a character is so strong or basing her whole personality and motives on the fact she is a woman, or using society as the villain is tiresome. It’s great to hear the encouragement that ‘women can do anything’ since it’s so inspiring but that doesn’t mean we can do EVERYTHING. This can create a negative effect on younger girls and other women. Sometimes this can be done well, but done badly, it just takes us ten steps back in feminism.

 

The women written nowadays aren’t written as if they’re people, they’re written as an agenda to bring down men. That is not feminism. Feminism is not taking down men to lift ourselves up. We demand equality not world domination.  In fact, it’s almost insulting to women watching, seeing that these female characters are only elevated by belittling men as if that’s the only way a female led film can do well. For example, Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo in The Last Jedi is so condescending and hateful towards men and I understand that there was a need to display her as a strong woman with high power but that’s no reason to bring down a man. He just wanted to help. There is no superior gender, but these movies are making it out to force that. Hermione Granger is another example. The books describe a very dynamic, 3D version of Hermione, who is intelligent, strong but also loving and relies on her friends and is relatable whereas movie Hermione is very perfect and way better than her male peers, and although I still like movie Hermione, I can admit she was hard to connect and relate to.

Yes, there’s nothing wrong with having male villains; sometimes in real life, men are obstacles for women. But these ‘woke feminist’ female characters and movies are so obsessed with trying to take down men as a whole.

 

And when these films with poor female leads don’t do well, or people don’t like them, it’s because they’re sexist. No. If a film is bad, that film is bad. There are so many films with amazing women in that do well, so sexism is not an excuse. I have found that a lot of people find some female characters to be cringey when if a male doing the same thing wouldn’t be and that is sexism and discriminatory but if a character is cringey, arrogant, 2D, entitled, unrealistic and boring, regardless of their gender, that’s a problem with their production and writing not with sexism.

Take Mulan, for example. Why did the cartoon version do so much better than the live action one? Same concept of the character but different execution.

Of course, if an important part of the character for the sake of the story is arrogance and entitlement, etc, then fine, but we want confidence not arrogance and hard work and growth not entitlement. We need dynamic and different characters, not the same superficial archetype every bad-ass female movie has. WE WANT QUALITY NOT JUST “FEMINISM”!

 

I am grateful we have moved far from the ‘damsel in distress’ type ladies like old Disney princesses and the ‘fixer upper’ girls like Laney in She’s All That and Allison in The Breakfast Club but we might be going a bit far off course. Feminism is steering into a bad direction and it’s feeding into the stigma around it. I know SO MANY people, who do not consider themselves feminists or who judge me for claiming to be one, and I believe it’s because of this woke feminism. Woke feminism is related to elite feminism, where people believe that women are superior. In particular cis-gendered women too. NO! NO ONE IS SUPERIOR!

The feminist message these toxic portrayals are delivering aren’t going to be listened to. It is spreading the wrong message and creating more toxicity and stigma.

We need better female portrayals!

 

Do you agree?

-Shay

Death Celebrations!

Death is a strange topic because it sounds scary but it’s inevitable and universal. The thing every single one of us have in common is death (and the fact we’re alive, duh!). But we’re all going to experience death one day, unless somehow science manages to make us immortal. But is immortality even a blessing?

 

Death is something people fear, leading to existential crises and worrying about every move but really, death is kind of a blessing. Without death, what would we even be doing? Life wouldn’t be exciting and adventurous. We wouldn’t have bucket lists, which encourage us to live our lives to the fullest.

 

Because of this fear we have of death, it has become this taboo topic, we avoid speaking about. But we have to speak about it more. Especially with children. Most people seriously underestimate children and how much information and big topics they can process but it’s the prime time to bring them to familiarisation with these big topics whether that be mental health, climate change, racism and sexism and of course, death. They can handle a lot more than you think.

Discussing death with children can make it seem less scary, supporting them. It can be a scary and confusing thing and it enables children to ask questions. Kids are curious by nature and allowing them to better understand topics like this means they can explore it and question it in their own way instead of being confronted with it head on when someone dies later on in their life.

When I was younger, I went to a lot of funerals; being in a big family, there were a lot of deaths. At first, I didn’t really understand death, seeing people cry and the dismal vibe in the air was a bit overwhelming. I wasn’t close to any of the people that died but it’s still quite a bit to process for a child. The first death, close to me, was my cat, and still is my cat. That was one of the worst feelings in my life; it was confusing, shocking, overwhelming, heartbreaking, devastating and left me bewildered, lost and confused. I didn’t know how to express my feelings and I wasn’t encouraged to talk about it and felt ashamed to cry and show any extreme emotions so it all bottled up. I was never spoken to about it. It took me god knows how long to get over it. I can only wish, now, that my parents had talked to me about it and in the future, I will make sure to talk to my own kids about it (death, not my cat).

Talking about death will give you peace of mind.

 

As I said, the funerals I went to were very dismal, icy and melancholic. However, death is celebrated very differently by many cultures, different to the Christian and Catholic-like rituals most Western society and cultures have. Here are some of the different celebrations:

 

Mexico

Everyone has heard day of the dead, also known as Día de Los Muertos, which is celebratedCelebrating Dia de los Muertos at Dominican | November 1st and 2nd. Families are reminded of their dead loved ones, keeping their memories alive and visiting their graves to clean and deliver gifts like flowers. The festival is celebrated in a blast of colour and parades, singing and dancing. It’s truly beautiful and an amazing way to celebrate the dead.

 

Brazil

A few other places in Latin America celebrate Día de Los Muertos but in a calmer way, such as in Brazil, families come together and bring gifts to cemeteries. They also attend mass and eat Churrasco together, which is Brazilian barbeque.

 

Sweden

In Sweden, when someone dies, the body is kept somewhere special for one to three weeks before being buried or cremated. Swedish flowers are laid on the coffin and songs are sung.

 

Poland

The Polish open doors and windows of the house of the person who died so the soul can pass to the spiritual world from their house. Mirrors are also covered and clocks are stopped.

 

Ireland 

Like in Poland, the Irish open windows for two hours so the soul of the deceased can pass out to leave. Blocking the open windows is believed to bring bad luck. After two hours, the windows are shut to prevent the soul from coming back.

 

Muslim Rituals

One of my manager’s cousins died recently, in which he had to travel for the Muslim rituals of death, which is when I first came to learn about it. The Islamic law (sharia) appeals for the rituals Funeral-Islam - Islam rites of passageand burial to happen as soon as possible, usually within 24 hours. The funeral happens at a mosque after washing the body and covering it whilst the body’s hands are placed in prayer. The body as well as the funeral attendees face mecca while being led by the holy leader (Imam) in prayer. The coffin is buried facing mecca followed by prayer (salah). The burial is usually only attended by men and three handfuls of dirt are thrown in by each person. The next several days are followed by other death rituals such as on the seventh day, people visit the grave and bring food to the poor. On the fortieth day, mourners start to wear regular clothes instead of black. In comparison to other mourning rituals and death celebrations, it lasts a lot longer.

 

China

Like Día de Los Muertos, the Chinese have Qingming. It’s Tomb Sweeping Day and the graves of their loved ones are taken care of by cleaning it, cutting weeds, etc. Gifts and offerings are alsoHolidays: Tomb-Sweeping Day also known as Qing Ming takes place in early April, people sweep tombs, and give food a… | Festivals in china, Chinese festival, Holiday brought such as paper, symbolising money. Kites with lanterns are also flown to represent good fortune. This is their way of paying respect to the dead.

 

South Korea

Koreans have Chuseok, a festival in which families wake up early and prepare their tables with food (food is an important part of this celebration as they believe their ancestors harvest the crops of fruits and grains during this time). They bow twice at the table and proceed to eat. They also visit their ancestors’ tombs. People view this celebration as the South Korean Thanksgiving.

 

Japan

The Japanese celebrate the Obon festival, celebrated for three days (13th to 15th of the 7th month on the lunar calendar). Lanterns are placed around the city, rivers and lakes to guide their ancestors, they believe have returned during this period, back to their origins. The graves of families’ loved ones are also visited to be cleaned and to pray at.

Pin by Morikami Museum on Spy Vibe Novel | Japan, World photography, Japanese festival

Egypt

In ancient Egypt, when someone died, there was a lot of worshipping towards the different gods they believed in. They would parade around town with mud on their faces. Organs would be removed and kept in jars from the body, except for the heart. The priest would wash the body and put oil as well as water from the Nile river on it before mummification. The body was then mummified, proceeded by people following the priest while he prayed over the body. I couldn’t find a lot of information on current Egyptian traditions when it comes to death, it was mainly about ancient Egyptian rituals so if anyone knows a bit about current traditions, I would love to know.

 

Hawaii

There is a thousand year old sacred tradition called the Clean Burial where after the body is partially cremated, the bones are salvaged and buried. The bones are placed in a a Hawaiian-made cloth in a burial container. However, I think this tradition has stopped because of health concerns. Nowadays, the funerals are a combination of ancient tradition and modern traditions of the West. In the eulogy, funny stories are shared and laughter is encouraged to show affection.

 

Nigeria

Nigerian funerals contain a lot of singing, dancing, music. In fact, they believe the more of this, the better chance of a successful afterlife the deceased person has. There is prayer, poetry and eulogies. Sometimes there are animal sacrifices such as goats to eat. Burial preparations can last a long time but this depends on the religious beliefs of the family. As I said before, Muslims bury the body facing Mecca but sometimes Nigerians bury depending on gender: men are buried facing east to see the sunrise and women are buried facing the west to see the sunset and so she can prepare dinner for her husband in the afterlife. The body is covered in black earth (red earth is believed to cause blemishes in the afterlife). Special and significant items may be buried with the individual to help them in the afterlife.

 

Ghana

Ghanaians announce the death of a loved one with a letter or email. The main celebration occurs Saturday morning after the burial. There are many different tribes in Ghana who haveWelcome to Ghana, where the funerals are gigantic parties – The Denver Post different death rituals and religious beliefs from the Ashanti tribe to the Mole-Dagbon. In the Ashanti tribe, the family will prepare the body. The festivities include respecting the body as it goes to the ancestral world (Okra). Hundreds of people may attend the festivities; it isn’t just intimate. The Ashanti chief sits under colourful umbrellas, observing. The family members wear red or black. It is common for Ghanaians to sing gospel hymns and other religious songs. Fantasy caskets are commonly used too where casket makers will shape it to look like something the deceased loved such as a plane or bird or sea-creature, etc. A week after the loved one has died, the family will gather to remember them and their life.

 

South Africa

The window of the house that death occurred in may be covered in ash and all beds are removed. Sometimes there is an animal sacrifice to please ancestors. After the funeral and burial, attendees wash off any dirt before entering their houses to get rid of bad luck. Sometimes there is a wake known as the After Tears party entailing drinking and joking, comforting relatives and remembering the deceased.

 

Tibet

Another death ritual I found extremely interesting was the Tibetan Sky Burial. It is a funeral tradition where the corpse of the deceased is put on a mountaintop near a hoard of vultures where they eat at the dead and take it up into the sky. This is a way of giving back to the elements.

Sky Burial Custom in Tibet

Every family is different, no matter what country you are from so rituals differ from family to family but these are some of the traditions that these countries hold. Some bits of information may not be accurate; I’m not an expert on the different traditions in each culture, this is what I have learnt from research. Please do correct me, if there are any mistakes.

Death isn’t necessarily a bad thing, or a curse. Of course, it is a sad, devastating thing but there’s no point stressing or dreading it as it will happen to all of us and we can’t change that. Instead, we should embrace our lives and celebrate the lives and accomplishments of our loved ones, too. Discuss and talk about it and normalise it, not just within our society but within yourself.

 

I would love to know your opinion on death and any cultural rituals you know of.

 

-Shay

When Harry Met Oprah | The Interview

As you know, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle stepped back from the royal family, which depicted Meghan as this villainous figure trying to break up the royal family. People have disliked Meghan since before she got married to Harry, I’m not sure whether the reason is race, her history and fact she’s an actor or just her overall but one thing I do know is I have heard nonstop gossip and rumours about her and how ‘bad’ she is when really no one has ever heard what she has to say.

Oprah recently did an interview with Meghan and Harry and this is where Meghan finally got to say her piece.

 

Meghan Markle Said Kate Middleton Made Her Cry During Wedding Planning

In the interview, the rumour that Meghan made Kate cry before the wedding, which circulated like crazy, was brought up. Meghan cleared this up, explaining that actually this was not the case at all and the reverse actually happened where Kate had made Meghan cry. Kate had apologised and Meghan forgave her, over a small mishap. A mishap that any pair of people could have; it wasn’t deep or enormous. However, six/seven months after the incident, the rumour was spread and in my opinion, I think this to be the classic case of the media pinning women against each other. Especially women who have such an influence and are held high in society (they’re the royal family!!!). Another thing which was odd was the fact no one, even though there were masses of people who knew the truth, cleared the rumours. Since Harry and Meghan’s wedding, Kate and Meghan have been compared between each other non-stop, almost putting them at competition.

Example of Kate and Meghan being pinned against

 

One striking question to me during the interview was “Were you silent or silenced?”

Since the beginning of Meghan and Harry’s relationship, Meghan was controlled and told to keep quiet including her family and friends.

 

Another rumour circulated by the media was that Meghan and Harry didn’t want their child, Archie, to hold title as prince, when in actual fact it was taken away from him as well as security, going against convention. The tradition was kept that each grandchild had the title as well as security but not Archie.

Meghan went on to explain how there had been conversations, before Archie was born, about what the colour of his skin will be, how dark he will be and what that means for the family. That is straight up disgusting! There is not only racism directed at Meghan, being spoken about without her presence, but also an UNBORN baby, innocent and helpless. A baby!

What if he were too brown? Would he be treated better if he were whiter?

The fact that he’s the first baby of a coloured parent and first baby to be excused from tradition is not a coincidence.

 

Meghan has received so much extreme sexism and racism, articles stating her race and brownness will ‘taint’ the royal family, that she’s a ‘monkey-faced (blank) whore’. With what seems like steps forward having a woman of colour and now a baby of colour in the royal family, we take a million steps back with comments like these and the way they are being treated.

Examples of the racist tabloids

Because of all these horrific rumours, sexism, racism, death threats, Meghan suffered so much with her mental health, struggling with suicidal thoughts, as any person would in this position. And she was completely disregarded, getting no help. Meghan highlights the fact that you never know what someone’s truly going through behind closed doors.

Harry came on and mentioned that the racial discrimination and attacks wasn’t just an attack on Meghan but also on the people she represents, mixed race, black, and even ethnic people as a whole. The royal family, as an institution, didn’t defend or speak up about the racial discrimination, which is shameful, especially as they are placed at such a high status in the world and are a symbol for the UK, which holds ethnic diversity. Their silence speaks so much for those, who are not white, and see where they stand on racism.

 

Both Harry and Meghan stepped back from the royal family due to lack of support and understanding.

They have created Archewell, a non-profit foundation to “uplift and unite communities – local and global, online and offline – one act of compassion at a time”.

 

Something a little more light-hearted, but Meghan’s dress features lotus flowers, symbolising rebirth and revival, a resilient reflection on the lotus seed, which can survive for thousands of years without water. A strong flower, if you will. This completely represents Meghan as a person, a strong flower. She has gone through so much and has survived it all and will continue to stand strong.

I hope the interview clears things up and exposes the toxicity that tabloids can have and have had, particularly on this case.

 

-Shay

🖤 Black Lives Matter! 🖤

black life matters headers | Tumblr

It’s been a while since I posted on this blog. Somewhat forgot it existed. But so much has happened this year and it’s only June. We had World War Three Scares, the fires in Australia, the pandemic and so much more. But I’ve come to revive this blog to speak up on the #blacklivesmatter movement and the murder of George Floyd as well as many other black people, who did not deserve to get their lives snatched away from them.

Educating yourself is important in bettering society and opening our eyes to the reality and cruelty that is racism and discrimination. You can skip this post and disregard it but you should be playing your part in educating yourself.

 

#blacklivesmatter

trayvon martin

On February 26th 2012, Trayvon Martin, a 17 year old African American student was shot to death, unarmed. Martin was visiting relatives at the Twin Lake housing community in Sanford where George Zimmerman, a community watch member, reported to the non-emergency police number that “there’s a real suspicious guy” and that he “looks like he is up to no good or he is on drugs or something”. The police suspected Zimmerman was following Martin in which they told him “we don’t need you to do that.” Zimmerman replied by saying “okay.”

After the call with Zimmerman and the police, there was a violent dispute between Martin and Zimmerman, even after agreeing not to follow him and that was when Trayvon Martin was shot by the back door of the house he was staying at.

At first Zimmerman was not charged but eventually, he was charged and tried but in July 2013, he was acquitted by the jury of second-degree murder and manslaughter.

 

A petition to prosecute Zimmerman was created on Change.org in 2012, resulting in 2.2 million signatures, the biggest petition in the site’s history. There were marches and rallies, one of the biggest being the “Million Hoodie March” where protesters wore hoodies to symbolise how Martin too wore a hoodie that night and they protested against racial profiling used against non-white youths who wear hoodies. Social media blew up with opinions on the acquittal of Zimmerman.

In 2013, Obama gave his speech about the trial and race in the US, adding “Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.” There were peaceful rallies that followed this across many cities.

 

Black Lives Matter - Wikipedia

Pin on Stickers

The 2013 acquittal of Zimmerman on the charge of murdering Martin, inspired a Facebook posting that included #blacklivesmatter, which sparked the Black Lives Matter movement created by Black organizers, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi.

That’s how the movement began.

 

George Floyd

Jay Park, Tablo, others speak out against murder of George Floyd + ...And now, as you all know George Floyd was murdered, also unarmed. And many more black people before him. Breonna Taylor. Ahmaud Arbery. Tamir Rice. Oscar Grant. Eric Garner. Philando Castile. Samuel Dubose. Sandra Bland. Walter Scott. Terrence Crutcher. The list goes on.

George Floyd was murdered by white policeman Derek Chauvin with the help of three other officers, who kneeled on his neck preventing him from breathing. Much like Eric Garner, he repeated “I can’t breathe” multiple times before he died. His cause of death was asphyxiation AND RACISM!

He was arrested on suspicion of using a counterfeit $20. Compare this to Dylann Roof, a white mass murderer, who executed the Charleston church shooting. Unlike George Floyd, only suspected of forgery, Dylann Roof was arrested peacefully for his murders. He was not killed.

Floyd’s death was a result of inhuman police brutality. And that police brutality stems from the already existing racist system. It did not become like that, it was built like that. Built on black slavery.

 

But George Floyd will not die in vain.

 

White Privilege 

A lot of people over the past weeks have been unclear on what white privilege is. It’s the advantages that come from simply being white. It means that as a white person, you do not need to fear that your skin colour may jeopardise your survival. It means you don’t have to deal with uncomfortable conversations in your day to day life. It means you don’t have to feel alienated, ostracised, judged, isolated, ridiculed in many situations just because of your skin colour.

You can be poor, disabled, gay, struggling and still have white privilege. We’re not saying that your life isn’t hard but your skin colour is not one of the things making your life hard.

It exists due to historic and enduring racism. As Little Marvin stated, “your white skin privilege is not a benign and celestial gift bestowed upon you. It is a benefit accrued over generations of erasure, and genocide, and enslavement, and torture, and capture, and segregation, and redlining, and predatory lending, and prison pipelining, and exclusion, and dismissal, and contentment, and convenience, and complacency, and neglect, and apathy, and silence. It didn’t materialise. It calcified. It wasn’t earned. It was stolen.”

 

White privilege allows more opportunity. I watched this video a while ago but it still stands and portrays white privilege quite well.

 

Yes, all lives do matter but not all lives are in danger. Black lives matter is shining light and attention onto the fact that society does not think that black lives matter. Blue lives, on the other hand, do not exist as being a police officer is a choice not an unchangeable identity; a job that requires you to protect others but that is not what is being demonstrated.

 

You may not have even realised you have it but it’s important to acknowledge it and use your privilege to help those who do not have it. There’s no shame in deciding to educate yourself and changing your opinions and actions because of it.

You need to play your part as a non-black member of society. Having to constantly educate and spread awareness can be emotionally and physically exhausting for black people so don’t let it rest on their shoulders only. It’s not just their responsibility to educate.

Use your privilege to fight black oppression.

“One either allows racial inequities to persevere, as a racist, or confronts racial inequities, as an antiracist.” – Ibram X. Kendi

 

What to do

It’s easy to say black lives matter and to say you stand as an ally. It’s easy to simply post a black screen for #blackouttuesday but what else are you going to do? It is not enough to just not be racist, you should step up and be actively antiracist. You should not stay silent. 

 

»Donate:

Donate if and where you can. I’ve listed below places that you can donate to. However, if you can’t donate, Zoe Amira has posted an hour long YouTube video of art and music from black creators that will create a lot of ad revenue that will be split between different black lives matter organisations. All you need to do is stream it. Click here. Do not donate to change.org as donations only go to them, not the causes.

Organisations to donate to:

 

»Petitions

we live in a world where trained cops can panic; act on impulse but untrained civilians must remain calm with a gun in their face

If legally able to, try and sign these petitions below.

 

There are many more organizations and people to donate to and other petitions to sign HERE. Ones including those related to other black people who were murdered.

Signing petitions does make a difference. The three officers are now charged and the degree of murder was raised to second degree.

The George Floyd petition is now the biggest on change.org with over 13 million signatures.

 

»Learn and Listen

Go that extra mile in being an ally and educate yourself and others through films, books and podcasts, articles, etc.

TV Shows and Films:

  • When They See Us
  • The Hate You Give
  • 13th
  • Dear White People
  • Selma
  • The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution
  • Black Power Mixtape

Books:

  • Why I Am No Longer Talking To White People About Race
  • This Book Is Anti-Racist
  • Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together In The Cafeteria
  • White Fragility
  • Me and White Supremacy
  • I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings
  • So You Want To Talk About Race

There are many more things you can check out HERE including other books, films and podcasts, articles, websites, etc. Please have a look.

 

»Social Media And Protests

how to protest safely

Use your social media platform to spread awareness and information for others to learn from. Even if it’s just ten people viewing, that’s still ten people you’re influencing. Spread awareness amongst family and friends by bringing up these conversations.

Protest if you can. Make sure you bring water, food, hide anything identificable on your body, wear masks, know your rights. I understand going to marches and rallies may not be accessible or an option for you but you can protest in other ways for example, calling out the behaviour of racists, support marginalised businesses and refuse to support companies who are not fair or who are not antiracist.

 

This is not just a trend – black lives always matter.

“It may take a while to comprehend your role in racist systems, but keep in mind that people are dying while they wait for you.” – Jen Winston

 

-Shay

What Is Schizophrenia?

As you may or may not know, it’s Mental Health Awareness Week so I feel obligated to make a Mental Health Awareness post.

However, I feel like on this blog, I have spoken about depression and anxiety quite a bit already, educating and informing and even sharing my own experiences and others. Overall, mental health isn’t really talked about as much as it should. Depression and anxiety, two very common disorders, aren’t even talked about enough so imagine other disorders, which aren’t as common. Such as Schizophrenia.

(I’m going to litter this post with a bunch of art done by people with schizophrenia because I think it’s really interesting and beautiful)

 

At the beginning of this year, I learnt about Schizophrenia as a whole topic in my Psychology A Level. Before we first started being educated about it as part of our course, many people in my class were led on by some misconceptions, which I will clear up now since they are very common misconceptions.

  • Schizophrenia is not multiple personality disorder (it can change qualities about a person’s persoanlity but it doesn’t cause a split personality).
  • It’s not necessarily a violent mental illness (a small amount of people with schizophrenia can be dangerous, the same way a small amount of people with depression or no mental illness at all can be).
  • People with schizophrenia need to be hospitalised (they do not and I will go more into this as the post progresses).

 

What Is Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is considered a mental illness, consisting of positive symptoms (an excess or distortion of normal functions) and negative symptoms (a loss of normal functions), which is why schizophrenia is so hard to diagnose and classify. Disorders like depression consist of mainly negative symptoms like poor hygiene or loss of pleasure for hobbies, rather than both positive and negative so can be easier to diagnose.

Here are just a few schizophrenia symptoms:

  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Thought disorder
  • Avolition
  • Speech poverty
  • Slow movement
  • Poor hygiene
  • Changes in emotions and body language

There are actually many many more symptoms of schizophrenia, which can also be symptoms belonging to other disorders. Avolition and poor hygiene, for example, are also symptoms of depression. Hallucinations and changes in emotions are also symptoms of bipolar disorder. People with schizophrenia also tend to possess other disorders too; a study showed that 50% of people diagnosed with schizophrenia have depression, 29% have PTSD and 23% have OCD. This makes classifying and diagnosing schizophrenia difficult, which can be really dangerous for the person as they may get inappropriate and/or ineffective treatment.

 

Some Interesting Facts!

  • It affects about 1-2% of people (% may be higher depending on if you are related to someone with schizophrenia).
  • Suicide is a severe risk in those suffering with schizophrenia.
  • The risk of schizophrenia is the same amongst all genders, countries and cultures, however some cultures and genders may be diagnosed more due to racism, sexism and ignorant perspectives.
  • It is most likely to affect people ages 16-30, especially if there is a big change in that individual’s life.
  • You can recover from schizophrenia but it’s the chance of this is not that high.

 

What Causes Schizophrenia?

The cause for schizophrenia is a hard one to pinpoint, as it is for most mental disorders. Schizophrenia is also aetiologically heterogenous, which is just a fancy word for ‘different combinations of factors leads to it’. I’m only going to explain a few factors today.

  • Genetic: Some people may have genetic variations associated with increased risk for schizophrenia, usually coding for dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter.
  • Dopamine: The brain may produce abnormally high amounts of dopamine and/or there’s too many dopamine (D2) receptors in dopamine synapses.
  • Ventricular Enlargement: Some people may have an enlargement of their brain cavities, which may be a result from the season of birth effect. People born during winter months may be more vulnerable to this, supposedly, as medication taken by pregnant women, who have viral infections, can cause foetal brains to be damaged.
  • Expressed Emotion: The disorder may result from being in a family characterised by hostility, critism, over-involvement and over-concern.
  • Schizophrenogenic Mother: A result of living with a cold, rejecting, controlling mother, who creates tension and secrecy, leading to distrust and paranoia. (This theory is a little sexist and outdated).
  • Dysfunctional Thought Processing: Metarepresentation, the ability to reflect on your thoughts and behaviour and have insight into your own intentions and goals, may be impaired. Central Control, the ability to suppress automatic responses while you focus on something else instead, may also be impaired. (This sounds, to me, more like the result of having Schizophrenia than the cause)
  • Childhood Trauma: Events in the person’s childhood can lead to the development of schizophrenia later on.

 

There are many treatments as a result of these different explanations such as drug treatments to tackle the dopamine problems, therapy treatments to target family issues and own personal issues. Token economy is also used within institutions for severe cases. These treatments are much better than what was once used a while ago. Schizophrenia is feared and rejected from society, even now, but a while back, it was considered this terrible thing and was treated maliciously. People were cut to allow them to ‘bleed out’ the disorder. Some people were kept in cages, some were rotated. Lobotomy was used, as well as electrocution. It was pretty grim. Although treatment is 100 times better now than the olden days, it still isn’t perfect.

 

Scientists and doctors view schziphrenia as an “illness” that needs to be “cured”. However, there is a big difference between what the scientists/doctors’ explanations and the actual sufferers’ experiences. A more humanistic approach looks through the eye of the sufferer and focuses on the human capacity to overcome hardship and pain by sharing experiences rather than just taking drugs and being hospitalised. And yes, the drugs may help the biology aspect of the disorder but taking drugs and being talked about as a crazy person, who is ill, can cause the person with schizophrenia to internalise the stigma put on them. This can lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy and actually make their schizophrenia worse. It can also lead to suicide as they may feel like a burden.

It doesn’t help that there is a Western emphasis on taking drugs for literally anything mildly wrong. An internet survey found more than 1/2 of schizophrenia websites are funded by drug companies so there’s already a bias towards taking drugs. Drugs may not be the best option, for most people. A Dutch man, Hans, said to his schizophrenia support group that the voices he was hearing started to become nasty and mean. The support group told him to demand the voice for respect in return for respect to the voice and the voice actually became nicer and easier to live with. Therefore, a possibly better option for people with schizophrenia is to stop looking at them as ill people and instead as people going through a different experience to most people, helping them to adapt their lives to live and cope with their schizophrenia rather than trying to get rid of the disorder. In fact, there was a study that found out of some post-mortem examinations, only the patients, who received anti-psychotic drugs, had increased levels of dopamine and/or resistance to drugs.

I personally think that a mixture of medication, therapy, lifestyle changes/adaptations and support from people around the person suffering, is the best treatment. However, this can be quite demanding for the person suffering.

 

Prevention And Coping Advice:

  • Make sure to get enough sleep.
  • Get regular exercise.
  • Eat healthily.
  • Practise relaxation techniques.
  • Look to friends, family and others for social support.
  • Don’t do drugs, kids.

 

Schizophrenia is a rare disorder but should still be made aware of. You shouldn’t be scared by people with schizophrenia and empathise with their situation rather than fear it. The crazy man talking to himself on the bus may just be responding to voices he is hearing – it’s not harmful. People with schizophrenia are just like you but are just dealing with different experiences, which can be very tragic (some lose jobs, relationships and even lives). It is a complicated disorder, in which treatments, causes and the way we view it are all up for debate but at the end of the day, it’s another mental illness, seen as a taboo, which it should not be.

Spread your awareness for schizophrenia!

 

-Shay

Everyone’s Unique!

Myers–Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is an introspective self-report questionnaire with the purpose of indicating differing psychological preferences in how people perceive the world around them and make decisions, stated by Wikipedia. And also apparently known as astrology for smart people. Choose what you believe! 😂

 

The idea is, you are categorised into one of 16 different personality types depending on your mind, energy, nature, tactics and identity.

You can take the test here or allow me to explain what each letter represents in the types. However, take the test anyway (it’s obviously more accurate than me explaining).

 

Mind

Mind is in regards to how we interact with our surroundings. In terms of MBTI, you’re either introverted or extroverted. But what about ambiverted, Shay? The test gives you a percentage of what you are so you may get 43% introverted and 57% extroverted, indicating you’re about 50/50 (an ambivert) but shows you’re predominantly extroverted.

‘I’ obviously stands for Introverted. Introverts prefer activities they can spend by themselves and have to recharge by being by themselves. They can get exhausted by social interaction and can be sensitive to external stimulation like sounds and smell. A misconception is that introverts are quiet. This is not necessarily true as it’s more about social preference rather that how much you speak, etc.

‘E’ stands for Extroverted. Extroverts prefer social activities and are energized by social interaction. They may be more enthusiastic and excited than introverts but again, being an extrovert does not necessarily mean you are loud and talkative. There can be quiet extroverts too.

 

Energy

Energy refers to how we see and process the world and are divided into: observance or intuition.

‘S’ stands for obServant and describes people as “highly practical, pragmatic and down-to-earth…focusing on what is happening or has already happened”.

‘N’ stands for iNtuitive and described people as “very imaginative, open-minded and curious…preferring novelty over stability and focus on hidden meanings and future possibilities.”

 

Nature

Nature is all about how we make decisions and cope with emotions. There’s either thinking or feeling.

‘T’ stands for Thinking and focuses on “objectivity and rationality, prioritizing logic over emotions.” T personalities usually hide their feelings.

‘F’ stands for Feeling, explaining these people as “sensitive and emotionally expressive…more empathetic and less competitive.” These types focus more on peace and harmony.

 

Tactics

Tactics reflect on our approach to work, planning and decision making. You’re either judging or prospecting.

‘J’ stands for Judging, people who are “decisive, thorough and highly organized…valuing clarity, predictability and closure.” I see these types as the planners and organizers! A big misconception, I’ve noticed, is that these people are bossy and boring. This is far from the truth as I know many fun and easy going J’s.

‘P’ stands for Prospecting. These people are “good at improvising and spotting opportunities…tend to be flexible, relaxed, nonconformists.” I see these people as spontaneous and procrastinators. A misconception on these types is that they are active and love the outdoorsy kind of people. P’s can be lazy and can even hate the outdoors. It’s more about being spontaneous with how you make decisions and your approaches to situations.

 

Identity

This type shows how confident a person is in decisions and abilities. You’ll find no one really mentions this part of their personality but it is still part of it.

‘-A’ is Assertive, meaning “self-assured, even-tempered and resistant to stress”.

‘-T’ is Turbulent, meaning “self-conscious and sensitive to stress…likely to experience a wide range of emotions”.

 

 

My personality type is ENFP-T, A.K.A The ‘Campaigner’. I did the test around 2014, then at around 2017 and again, today (2019), and I’ve gotten the same ENFP-T result (but not exactly the same percentage) suggesting it is quite reliable. My type means I’m extroverted (I do feel more energized when with people and get very depressed when I haven’t had social interaction for a while). It also means I am intuitive, feeling and prospecting as well as turbulent. However, I feel like I’m a bit 50/50 when it comes to Thinking and Feeling but my percentage says otherwise. I, however, still think I’m about 50/50. ENFPs are part of the diplomat group. Yes, there are groups:

  • Analysts (_NT_)
  • Diplomats (_NF_)
  • Sentinels (_S_J)
  • Explorers (_S_P)

 

 

I, personally, think MBTI is really interesting and useful.

  1. Mental Health – The decision making, abilities and approaches of an individual can help with mental health as it takes into account the person rather than isolating and reducing them to just their mental illness. For example, as I said, I get depressed when I haven’t had enough social interaction. I feel like I need to recharge by socialising instead of being by myself to recharge. This can be taken into account to help to encourage people to place themselves in situations, which satisfy them and ‘recharge’ them. Keeping an extrovert alone will only make them more depressed.
  2. Understanding Perspectives – These personality types can help people to come to grips with the fact that everyone has different approaches, decision making, abilities, etc. Therefore, I feel like it encourages people to  understand we’re not all going to see the world and certain situations in the same way and encourages us to be accepting of everyone as we all have different personalities. For example, a J (judging) is more likely to approach schoolwork, for example, with schedules and good planning whereas a P (prospecting) is more like to procrastinate and be more spontaneous with how they work, doing it when they get bursts of motivation. It can help you appreciate the differences in how people are.
  3. Story Writing – For a while, now, I’ve been using MBTI to build up characters in my stories. The types help to see how characters may respond in situations in the story and can help to develop them.
  4. Realizing Your Flaws – If you lack insight into your personality and weaknesses, MBTI is good at pointing out your strengths and weaknesses, highlighting areas you can improve in, for example I can improve in my practical skill and limit how much I overthink (cause I do that A LOT).

 

That all being said, the little letters you get as a result of the MBTI test is just a brief outline of your personality. Obviously, you have more depth that four/five letters and it doesn’t do justice to your identity but it gives insight. One INTJ may be funny whereas another INTJ may not be. The 16 personality types does not mean there are only 16 kinds of people in the entire world.

I do highly recommend doing the test, though. It’s interesting and fun and highly highly detailed if you read through all the information they give you about your personality type and you can find out what celebrities have the same personality type as you! Amy Schumer and Danielle Radcliffe apparently have the same personality type as me. 😄

 

Comment your personality type!

 

-Shay

 

P.S. All the images used are from the 16 Personality Types website as they’re so vibrant and well drawn. Credit to the illustrator (it’s not specified who).

Women In Science!

In celebration of both International Women’s Day and the start of British Science Week (8th-17th March), today I’m making a post dedicated to and appreciating women in science.

 

In the 19th century, women were excluded from formal scientific education but later on in the century, there was a rise of women’s colleges, providing scientific jobs and educational opportunities for women scientists. Also in the late 19th century, on November 7th 1967, Marie Curie became the first woman to win a Nobel Prize and the first person to win the award twice. As of 2018, 51 women have been awarded the Nobel Prize. (This could actually be a higher number as you’ll see if you continue reading.)

Women in science has greatly motivated and inspired me to work in science and get involved in that community. I bought a book, written and illustrated by Rachel Ignotofksy, entitled Women In Science, which is a collection of pages dedicated to the work and achievements of different women in science, so I picked eleven to share with you today!

 

Hypatia – Astronomer, Mathematician and Philosopher

Image result for hypatiaHypatia was one of the earliest recorded female mathematicians, born between 350 and 370 CE in Alexandria, Egypt. Her father, Theon, a famous scholar, instructed her in maths and astronomy and she became an expert in both. She was one of Alexandria’s first female teachers and people travelled from faraway lands to listen to her speak. However, the religious tensions in the area became violent and she was killed around 415 CE, due to her ‘pagan’ teachings, by extremist Christians. Hypatia is a symbol for education in the face of ignorance.

 

Elizabeth Blackwell – Doctor

Elizabeth Blackwell set  herself on the path to becoming the first female medical doctor in the Related imageUnited States. She was accepted into Geneva Medical college but had to sit separately from the male students and even the teachers were embarrassed by her presence in the anatomy classes. She made her thesis on good hygiene and how that can prevent the spread of typhus. In 1849, she graduated first in her class. With her sister, they opened the New York Infirmary for Indigent Women and Children in 1857, where they treated the poor and taught female medical students and nurses and later, in 1968, went on to found the Women’s Medical College of the New York Infirmary, and the London School of Medicine for Women, in 1874. She made it possible for women to become doctors and called for better hygiene standards in hospitals and homes.

 

Nettie Stevens – Geneticist 

Image result for nettie stevensStevens worked hard to save up money for her undergraduate education at Stanford University and PhD at Bryn Mawr College. She was a geneticist and found male insects had an XY chromosome shape but females had XX. She published her groundbreaking research in 1905, which changed many misconceptions like the sex of a baby was determined by what the pregnant mother ate. However, around the same time of her discovery, Edmund and Wilson made the same discovery of XY chromosomes and Edmund was awarded the Nobel Prize. Nonetheless, she will not be forgotten for her amazing research.

 

Mary Agnes Chase – Botanist and Suffragist

Mary was born in 1869 and enjoyed learning about botany, sketching plants and using her savings to take botany classes at the University of Chicago and Lewis Institute. She worked with Reverend Ellsworth Jerome Hill as he mentored her and she illustrated plants for his papers, which eventually landed her a job at Chicago Field Museum, where she was a scientific illustrator for museum publications and then, an illustrator for the US Department of Agriculture in 1903. Despite all this, another amazing thing she did was protest for women’s rights to vote in the US, even though she was at threat of being fired. She participated in hunger strikes, was jailed but helped to gain the right for women to vote in 1920.

 

Lise Meitner – Physicist 

Meitner was born in Vienna in 1878 and worked at a Chemistry Institute in Berlin in 1907, after receiving her PhD, but as she was a woman, she was unpaid and wasn’t even allowed to use the labs or toilets so did her radiochemistry research in a basement. She worked with another scientist, Otto Hahn, as they tried to create new elements but with the Nazi’s rise to power, Lise fled to Sweden since she was Jewish but exchanged letters to Otto about their research. Lise ended up discovering nuclear fission but was unable to return to Germany so Otto was awarded a Nobel Prize for their work without her.

 

Alice Ball – Chemist

In 1915, Alice Ball became the first African-American and first woman to graduate from the University of Hawaii. At age 23, Alice developed a way to isolate ethyl esters in it’s fatty acids, found in chaulmoogra oil, to blend with water for injection as a treatment for leprosy. Those suffering with leprosy, at the time, were arrested and isolated but due to Alice’s treatment, the ‘Ball Method’, they were freed from exile. She found a cure for a what was thought of as a hopeless disease.

 

Gerty Cori – Biochemist

Gerty Cori became a biochemist at the University of Prague and received a doctorate in medicine. This is when she met Carl Cori, who she fell in love with and married. Not only did they become partners in life but also partners in science as they worked together and solved the mystery of how cells us sugar for energy (now called the Cori Cycle). They both shared a Nobel Prize, in 1947, but Gerty soon developed a bone marrow disease as she continued to work in the lab. Carl ended up carrying her to get around when she got too weak and she died in 1957.

 

Joan Beauchamp Procter – Zoologist

Joan was a zoologist, who endured chronic ill health. She kept snakes, frogs and crocodiles as pets and started working at the British Museum, in 1917, as an assistant keeper of reptiles and fish. She then became the London Zoo’s curator of reptiles, in 1923, and discovered a new species called the Peninsula Dragon lizard. She built houses for the reptiles specifically for them to make them feel comfortable and made it seem like their natural habitats with help from her artistic talents. Under her care, the reptiles lived longer in captivity than ever before. Her health, however, caught up with her and she made her way around in a wheelchair with her pet Komodo Dragon on a leash. She died at the age of 34.

 

Mamie Phipps Clark – Psychologist and Civil Rights Activist

Racial segregation meant Mamie wasn’t allowed in shops owned by white people and had to attend poorly funded black-only schools. She met her husband and future partner in psychology at Howard University, where she learnt psychology could be used to prove segregation is wrong. Mamie and her husband conducted the Doll Experiment, travelling the country and comparing responses of children from segregated and integrated schools. They found evidence that segregation damaged children and caused self-hate and this was used in the 1954 Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education, which ended segregation in public schools.

 

Rosalind Franklin – Chemist and X-Ray Crystallographer

Rosalind’s father disapproved of women going to  university but she went anyway and earned a PhD in physical chemistry from Cambridge University. She spent hours, at King’s College, using X-rays on fibres of DNA, capturing a famous photo providing DNA is a double helix. James Watson and Francis Crick were also trying to figure out the structure and peeked at Rosalind’s work without permission, using her findings to publish their work. She was not credited in their work and they won the a Nobel Prize four years after she died from cancer in 1958. Watson wrote jeering comments about Rosalind in his book, The Double Helix, and admitted to looking at her data. We remember her as the woman, who should have won the Nobel Prize.

 

Valentina Tereshkova – Engineer and Cosmonaut

Valentina dreamed of exploring the world but her family was so poor they couldn’t afford bread. When the space race began between the US and USSR, where she was born, the USSR wanted to be the first to send a woman to space and since Valentina was in a parachute club, she was a perfect candidate. She was selected to compete with four other women and the training was intense but she was eventually chosen as the first woman in space. Valentina flew by herself on the Vostok VI shuttle in 1963 and orbited Earth 48 times, which set a new record. Her photographs in space helped us gain a better understanding of the atmosphere. She had a very bumpy ride back, nauseated and disoriented, but she earned a doctorate in engineering and worked closely with the cosmonaut programme after her trip. She now works for world peace. She is an amazing example that women are strong and tough.

 

It was very difficult having to pick a small amount of women from the Women In Science book. I highly recommend reading it as it is filled with such inspiring women from marine biologists to inventors and neuroscientists to psychoanalysts. A lot of these women were not only scientists but also film actresses, senators, authors, etc, which makes it that extra bit inspiring. Rachel Ignotofsky is also an amazing illustrator as the book is so beautiful! Most of what I wrote above has been taken from the book.

 

Although today is International Women’s Day and we should spend the day appreciating women, let’s not forget that everyday is a day to respect and appreciate women as well as other people.

 

-Shay

The Forbidding “Reds”!

I’ve talked about this before but deal with it, I’m talking about it again.

Periods, AKA this monstrous Saw III blood bath experience, is something most cis and trans women, as well as trans men, go through. And it’s really not a monstrous Saw III blood bath experience.

There’s a huge stigma around the topic of periods. Anything to do with it, really. Period poverty, sanitary pads, the symptoms, etc. It’s considered this taboo thing that we can’t talk about. So many people, even adults, laugh at the idea of it whenever it pops up in conversation or in the media.

 

But what are periods?

Periods, also known as menstruation, occur every month when the thick tissue lining the uterus breaks down and is discharged out the vagina (period blood). This all happens with the help of two steroid hormones, progesterone and oestrogen. However, periods are much more than this bodily function in bodies that help with preparation for a fertilised egg for a baby to grow. It’s an experience. There are several symptoms, which include bloating (that feeling you get when you eat too much because we’re all fat pigs) and cramps (they’re basically minor contractions) and acne, fatigue, headaches, muscle and breast pains, lower back pain, discomfort (especially at night lying down which leads to trouble sleeping, and something I call ‘period poos’ but we don’t have to get into that.) It’s also the experience of leaking and not being able to do certain activities normally e.g. swimming. Don’t get me wrong, periods shouldn’t be considered a burden and there’s always a way to overcome these issues and inhibitions because of it but I feel like not a lot of people, especially cis men understand the whole experience of it. Some people think periods are just a tap that we release when we go to the toilet, some think it’s a continuous non-stop thing, etc. The average menstrual cycle is 24 to 38 days but periods last about four to eight days.

 

These stigmas and misconceptions and ideas are influenced by our education.

When I was in year five, doing sex education, we had a day where we learnt about menstruation. All the girls, and only the girls, were taken away. Not to another room away from the boys but away to another building (this cabin in the playground) so that we were secluded from the other year classes and from the boys in our class (because god protect their innocent little ears). Despite all this, our teacher spoke in a really soft quiet voice. This, I think, conditioned us to keep any talk of periods within the community of people, who have periods, and to be secretive about it. It made it seem as though periods are some dirty secret us girls (and trans boys) must keep to ourselves. In addition, I barely learnt anything from that lesson. I learnt that we bleed about one/two eggcups of blood but I don’t remember being specified how long periods lasted. I genuinely thought once you started your period, it would never stop until menopause (about 50 years old).

In fact, us girls also had to learn about what happens to boys even though the boys didn’t learn about what happens to girls. We learnt about sperm cells, obviously, but we also learnt about wet dreams and boners. We even learnt about masturbation! Not directly but we were told it’s okay to touch yourself and explore and discover parts of your body, whatever that means. So we learnt all of this, yet learning about the menstrual cycle and menstruation was such a taboo. It’s not very fair that the girls learnt about the experiences of boys but boys don’t learn about the experiences of girls. The argument that “boys are silly so we won’t teach them all of that” isn’t valid or acceptable at all. Boys may be “silly” because of the self fulfilling prophecy that they’re considered silly so must be treated in a way to accommodate to that. Not teaching boys about periods “because they’re silly” means when they grow up, they’re going to be silly about the idea of periods. It’s a cycle. And it support the quote “boys will be boys”, which is also an unacceptable excuse.

 

To tackle this issue, the education system needs to change. Teaching children, at a young age, while their brains are still developing, can create positive schemas, a framework that helps to interpret information, for periods. Sex education and PSHE lessons need to be changed so that every gender learns about periods to help normalise and take it seriously. We need to take it seriously not just because almost half the population experience it but because there are so many issues regarding periods such the financial and environmental cost (many menstruation products take ages to decompose) and period poverty, which is not being able to buy sanitary products due to financial issues and constraints. This is a big issue for homeless people, refugees, asylum seekers, etc. Period poverty is also a big topic that needs to be taught in schools (possibly in RS and PSHE). Here are some shocking statistics I found from Free Period

  • 40% of girls in the UK have used toilet roll because they couldn’t afford menstrual products.
  • Over 137,700 children in the UK have missed school because of period poverty. If a girl misses school every time she has her period, she is set 145 days behind her fellow male students.
  • 1 in 10 girls can’t afford to buy menstrual products according to Plan International UK.
  • Menstrual products cost more than £18,000, in a women’s life (£13 every month).

 

Education changes and matures attitudes towards topics, such as periods. And that’s exactly what we need! If people become educated, I’m so sure we could  make a huge difference to societal approaches to periods and issues revolving it.

I also think teachers and people, who have periods, shouldn’t talk to younger girls in a way that my teacher did with me and my class. We should discuss periods with girls so they feel comfortable with it and not scared of it and make them understand it’s a normal thing. The majority of the population wouldn’t exist without periods!

 

Here are some period charity websites you can donate to and learn from:

  • Bloody Good Period – “We supply 16 asylum seeker drop in centres based in London and Leeds, and our ambition is to supply many more food banks and drop-in centres across the UK, so that everybody has the right to a bloody good period!”
  • Action Aid – “Provide sanitary kits in our humanitarian response work, alongside other essentials including food, water and shelter. We have distributed sanitary towels (and aid) in crises.”
  • Freedom4Girls – “We actively support women and girls in both the UK and in developing countries, who struggle to access safe sanitary protection by offering not just disposables, but environmentally-friendly, washable re-usables and menstrual cups.”

 

What do you think? Do you agree with what I said? What are some other ways you think we can normalise and overcome the issues and stigmas revolving periods?

 

-Shay

Should White People Say The N-Word?

Today I want to talk about something that is very controversial, even though I don’t think it should be.

 

My school has several societies that involve debating, in which one would have discussed the issue of white people saying the N-word. However, this debate topic was cancelled due to it’s controversy and potential of making people upset, which I think was not a valid excuse to cancel a debate for. Debates are supposed to be controversial and is supposed to tackle and even cause cognitive conflict in order to bring right social change and justice. Anyways, I felt this was an important topic to be discussed since a lot of white people and people from other ethnic minorities that aren’t black throw around and use the N-word, without thinking. People that I am even friends with.

I’m not just talking about people who use the word as a way to discrimate and belittle black people. I’m also talking about, particularly in this post, the people who use the word casually, with no bad intentions, and in songs. I mean, I’ve had so many arguments at parties with white boys about this issue and have heard of so many situations where white people will agree not to say the N-word but will hypocritical say it when there’s an absence of black people. That’s still racist.

 

The History 

But before I get into my own personal opinions, let’s recap on the history of the N-word. It started with the word ‘niger’ in Latin, meaning black. Other languages adopted and adapted from this latin word, for example “negro” became the word for a black person in English, but not derogatory, and became the colour black in Spanish and Portuguese.

However, it was in the 1800s when it became a derogative term to use as an ethnic slur. It was and is mainly used against black people but other ethnic minorities have been targeted too. It became heavily used amongst people in day to day lives, featured in literature and was a term that “put black people in their place”. See, black people were considered less evolved cognitively, psychologically and socially, deemed as stupid, aggressive, and inferior. White teachers taught the white students, who were the children to grow up to be the next generation, that black people are less evolved in this way. The media portrayed and represented them as dangerous people and here to serve white people, etc. Everything was very unjust, in terms of education, treatment and the criminal justice system. Some of these unjust qualities are still prominent today but more of that in a different post. The N-word holds these racist connotations. It was normal and socially acceptable at the time to use this word and was heavily used to insult black slaves during the slave trade.

But times are changing.

 

Yes, They Should Be Allowed

Well, it’s just a word. The N-word consists of racist connotations but by using it today in society, we can create new connotations, that are more positive. And when used casually, there are not bad intentions.

Black people use the word, which is seen as accepting, but when white people (and other ethnic minorities) it’s seen as racist. That’s a double standard.

The N-word is in songs, films, literature. We are surrounded by it in society so we should not be blocked from using a word that exists. Freedom of speech!

 

No, They Shouldn’t Be Allowed

White people have more power and privilege in society than ethnic minorities, in general.  The same way white people have had more power in the past. When a white person uses the  N-word, it’s almost reinforcing a time of extreme oppression for black people. The word was formed as a degrading, dehumanising and racist slur by white people. So the use of it by white people, in this day and age,  is like passing on the word to generations like the white teachers taught the future generation of white children that black people are inferior. Not the exact same level of racism but the same sort of principle.

Other ethnic minorities shouldn’t use it because it’s still a racist slur against black people and racism is one group being discriminative to a minority group.

 

So why are black people allowed to say it? Because it’s being used within the sub group of people, who are the target group for the word. The N-word was formed to be demeaning and discriminative to black people, referring to them as property of “the superiors” rather than people (especially during the slave trade). Therefore, it’s more acceptable for a black person to use it because it was a word to oppress them. It’s all about context!

Let me paint you a picture. If my best friend came up to me and said “Hey bitch!” that would be more socially acceptable than a random stranger coming up to me and saying “Hey bitch!” Although the word “bitch” is still deemed a rude word, much like the N-word, it’s more acceptable for my friend to use it to me than a stranger  because me and my friend are on the same level within a subgroup, which is friendship. Me and the stranger are not within the same subgroup. Same with black people. It’s more socially acceptable for the N-word to be used amongst black people because they’re in the same subgroup, which is the black community.

And it is a double standard. Deal with it. A lot of things are and for good reason.

 

But what about songs?

click above for article on Kendrick Lamar calling out white fan for the N-word

Whether you feel that fate is leading your lives or God has a plan for you, you are responsible for your actions. Full stop. There’s this thing called locus of control, which is the extent to which people believe they are in control of their lives. And there’s two types. High internal locus of control, where people take responsibility for their actions and are more resistant to social influence, and high external locus of control, where people have fatalistic, ‘luck’ dependant attitudes and are not as resistant to social influence. In this situation, you need to have a higher internal locus of control. Just because Kendrick Lamar or Kanye West wrote a song that has the N-word in it, does not mean you can blurt it out just because “it’s in the song”. You have a responsibility to not say it. That’s if you have morals. And it’s not difficult either. Just don’t say it.

 

Also, as a side note: I’ve heard white people argue with the point that “it’s racist to use the term “cracker” against white people if they’re not allowed to say the N-word.” First of all, reverse racism doesn’t exist. Second of all, “cracker” was created as a word to empower white people as it represented the sound the whips made when beating black slaves. It was made to empower white people not dehumanise them.

 

My Opinion

Should people, who aren’t black, say the N-word. My answer: no.

It’s a racial slur, with racist connotations and history that it still holds, even in this modern day and age. I understand that it can make people feel uncomfortable, which is also why I think the word should be limited in use amongst black people but I think it’s okay for them to use it.

It used to be socially acceptable (in primarily white societies) in the past decades but as a society, now, we’re moving on to more equality and equity. 

That all being said, I strongly believe in freedom of speech. Say what you want. But with that, be prepared for the consequences of your actions (consequences like me arguing with you at a party XD ). And think before you say things. We need to minimise the amount of discrimination and the use of demeaning words like the N-word as well as, of course, staying woke. You can’t really afford to be ignorant right now so take responsibility and educate yourself on issues and controversial debates like this one!

 

What are your opinions?

 

-Shay

Study Drugs: Trick or Treat? | St. George’s University Spotlight on Science

Last Thursday, I attended a lecture at St. George’s University, about ‘study drugs’.

Study drugs are defined as  prescription stimulant medications that are used improperly by a person with a prescription, or more often, illegally by a person without a prescription, increasing concentration and stamina.

That’s the proper, fancy definition so to put it into simpler terms, they’re basically drugs that people use to help them work better or study better, kind of like the pill in Limitless, except these drugs are made for medication not solely for doing better in school, etc.

Minor examples of this include caffeine and cocaine but today I’m going to be focusing on other examples. Examples that include Strattera, which increases noradrenaline (a hormone with is involved in the fight or flight response), Ritalin and Adderall, which increase noradrenaline and dopamine. Modafinil is also an example but there’s not a lot of information known about it.

 

Raymond Hill, a professor in pharmacology, stated there has been a 56% increase for Ritalin prescription in the past five years, in England. He also claimed that they are being “regularly approached by students who feel under pressure to take drugs as they feel like they are falling behind their peers.” And that being said, I feel like it’s important to specify that Ritalin in a class B drug and can result in prison for five years just for possession of it.

 

Students are feeling pressured to take these study drugs to do well and survive the education system by consuming and even overdosing on these drugs, risking the fact they could end up in prison. I even know of someone, who takes study drugs to do well in school. Dr Jennings, a science communicator, showed the effects of increasing the dose of dopamine and noradrenaline, which some of these study drugs do. These are the stages of increasing the doses:

  1. Wakeful (cognitive enhancement)
  2. Vigilance
  3. Hyper-locomotion
  4. Mania
  5. Euphoria
  6. Psychosis
  7. Coma
  8. Circulatory Collapse

You might be thinking Hmm, why can’t you just stop using it when you feel like it’s going too far. Well, Ritalin and Adderall are addictive so it can be hard to stop once you start.

So far, we know study drugs are often taken by students to get an advantage in school but these drugs have severe side effects. You might be thinking these students are cheating and are too stupid to think about the consequences. And don’t feel too guilty if you do think that because I’m @ing you right now. I kind of thought the same too.

But then, Neil Gibride, a lecturer in education, opened my mind.

 

Me and My Best Friend in Chemistry

Gibride explained that GCSEs and A Levels, which are academic qualifications taken in secondary schools, sixth forms and colleges, in most of the UK, are designed so that 30% of students will fail! 30%!

The education system is a competition amongst young people, which parents and students try their hardest to get through. 1/3 of parents knew of other parents that used ethically dubious strategies to secure a good school place for their child, like using their grandparent’s addresses or moving house temporarily so they are considered in the catchment area of the school, which gives them more of a priority into getting in. Some parents send their kids to private tuition for the 11+ exam, which, by the way, has a substantial bias against some ethnic groups.

And once you’re in the school, if your grades are suffering, the school can do this thing called ‘off-rolling’. It’s the ‘removal by one means or another, of students from a school’s roll.’ They informally exclude students so they cannot impact the exam results and make the school look bad.  Off-rolling is basically a way to boost results and climb up the league table. It’s like one big unethical game.

Ofsted should really change the focus from competition to curicuulum. That way students would probably enjoy school and learning more and suffer less in terms of anxiety and mental health AND consuming dangerous ‘study drugs’.

Therefore, it’s ignorant and inconsiderate of us to neglect the understanding of human behaviour since it’s a dynamic between the individual and context, as Neil Gibride said. You can call it cheating but it’s almost as if society is designed to force people to end of seeking these drugs.

 

In conclusion, are study drugs a trick or a treat?

They are dangerous and can be lethal but they can work in enhancing cognitive functions. And students are regularly using them to pull through the competition pinned on them through the education system and Ofsted and because of their own mental health. Personally, I think it’s not worth taking. I understand the education system is corrupt and puts pressure on getting the best grades but they can take your life or ruin them. However, I don’t think it’s cheating, even though it may be considered that. Yes, these study drugs put students at an advantage but so does private tutition and the ‘ethically dubious’ methods I mentioned earlier, which are tactics that aren’t considered cheating.

 

What do you think?

 

-Shay

P.S. Don’t do drugs, kids, unless it’s paracetamol or calpol.