Back With A Bang

So tomorrow I’m back at work for the first time in just over two weeks and I’m actually quite looking forward to it. I have had a brilliant Christmas. It’s been great to spend time with the family and to relax.
I’ve been doing a lot of self-care lately, including doing yoga, spending time with a good book, and spending lots of lovely time with my nieces and nephews. I’ve also managed to get past my writers block, which had been troubling me for a while.
I feel really positive about this year and all that is to come. It’s started off great and I’m only hoping it’ll get better.

New Year New Me

At the end of every year, I always vow to myself that I’m going to change in the new year and start the year off with a bang. Everyone has the same old new years resolutions. Lose weight, cut down on the bad food, cut down on the chocolate and exercise more.

I never make any new years resolutions, mainly because I know I’ll never stick to them, but also because I don’t really see any point in them. But this year is different. This year I want to make a change. I am desperate to make 2014 better than 2013.

I want to eat more healthily, not because I want to lose weight but because I want to make myself feel better. I’ve also started to exercise more. During the summer I started going to the gym and to Pilates, but as the winter nights drew in it began to dwindle away. However, I’ve already started my new exercise regime.

I’ve begun to do yoga and go running, and when I start back at work in the new year, I will be joining the gym again. But this year I want to do much more than just look after my body. I am adamant to make sure I pass my driving test in the first few months of the year. I’m also going to start studying again and I’m hoping to sit a couple of exams in the spring. Last year was really hard for me, but I have high hopes for 2014 and I’m determined to make it the best one yet.

Refurbished

As its almost the new year, I have decided to refurbish my blog. I will be tidying up the posts and also deleting some of them. As I will be making this blog public to family and friends, I have decided to delete some personal posts. I hope to be writing lots for the blog soon again.

Campaign for Consent

This is my submission to @_TYFA’s #campaign4consent read other submissions here: http://www.oneclick.campaign4consent.co.uk/

The campaign for consent is hugely important, not only for children and teenagers, but for adults also. What teenagers get taught in sex-ed at school follows with them into their adult lives.

Overall the sexual education I got taught at school was pretty poor. My first lesson on sex-ed was in science where we were taught how babies were made. We then had another lesson in PSHE where the school nurse told us about contraception. The focus was mostly on condoms, and other contraception’s were only briefly mentioned. It was all very alien to my 14 year old friends and I. The nurse blew up a condom and then proceeded to rub Vaseline on it until it popped, very odd.

Luckily my form tutor saved the day slightly when she started playing a program to us during our PSHE lessons. This program was on channel 4 at the time and was called “The Sex Education Show.” This program was vital to us and actually taught us about all different contraception’s and STDs. Though one essential thing was missing, and that was the idea of consent.

In our sex-ed lessons nothing at all was said to us about consent. Nothing was said to us about saying no and not crossing the line. Consent is imperative to sexual education, it is imperative we teach teenagers that it is ok to say no to something they don’t feel comfortable with or something they simply don’t want to do.

They also need to be taught, not just about saying no, but also about hearing an enthusiastic yes. Many teenagers, and also lots of adults, think that because they didn’t hear a no then that means yes. Everyone has to know that is not the case, an absence of a no is definitely not yes.

I think if me, my friends and the other teenagers I went to school with were taught about consent, then that would have definitely had an effect on some things that went on when I was at school.

When I was 15 one of my friends was sexually assaulted by her boyfriend. She was out with him once when he unexpectedly stuck his hand down her jeans and underwear. Looking back on it, we didn’t realise exactly how awful that was. Of course I told her he shouldn’t have done it and it was totally out of order of him to do so, but we didn’t think about it as being sexual assault, though that’s exactly what it was.

If we had all been taught properly about consent, I don’t think that would have happened to my friend and I don’t think situations like that would have happened to many other teenagers out there who also experience that level of violation.

I know I don’t want something like that to happen to my nieces, nephews and all the other teenagers out there, and this is why I strongly support the campaign for consent.

Working With A Misogynist

For future reference the male colleague I reported will be called Nick.

So last Friday, after putting up with sexist crap day in day out, I finally decided to report a male colleague (Nick) to my manager. This wasn’t the first time I had reported him. The first time was at the beginning of December. We had been arguing about trying to get our work done quicker (we have a time limit to build machines in) and I called him childish. Well he didn’t like this and he raised his hand to me as if he was going to hit me.

I called him out on this, saying very loudly so another colleague could hear, “You were going to hit me then, do you think that’s an ok thing to do?” That seemed to rile him further because he did it again, only this time he actually followed through with it and hit my arm. He didn’t hit me hard, but I still felt it and he left an angry red mark on my arm.

I went straight to my sub team leader, who then told my manager. We were both called in to talk about it and explain it. Nick protested his innocence, saying it wasn’t even that hard and I shouldn’t say he hit me. My manager didn’t care and told him under no circumstance was he to touch me, whether it was to hit me or just to touch my arm. Nick apologised and that was that. He ignored me after that and didn’t speak to me again until after we came back from Christmas.

However, since then, I have had to put up with an unending amount of bullshit. He does things to purposefully piss me off, but then sometimes he will say things and I don’t think he realises how inappropriate or offending they are. He will comment on my weight, saying I’m getting bigger or smaller. Over Christmas I lost a huge amount of weight because I was really ill, I have managed to put that weight back on as healthily as I can, but when he makes comments about my weight, it only makes me more self-conscious.

I also work with my auntie and he says things to her that she lets him get away with, mostly because she just lets them go over her head. But I work more closely with him, and every day he will say something that offends me or upsets me. A little while ago another colleague, who is black, was walking past, Nick turned round to me and said “Look at that gorilla, shall we throw it a banana?” I couldn’t believe what he had just said, I told my sub team leader and she warned him not to say things like that again.

But he doesn’t learn his lesson. This week, I decided that everything he said or did that offended or upset me, I would write down in a little book. On Monday he asked me how I would feel if I got knocked up by a N****r. On Tuesday he decided to discuss whether I still had my “V-plates.”

On Wednesday, as I was bending down to pick something up, he looked down my top and said “nice bra.” He also told me that when we were on a works trip, he and another male colleague stared at my underwear which was poking out of my jeans.

On Friday we were talking about male and female privileges, he didn’t seem to like my opinion and so started hitting a wall. I asked him if I had annoyed him, he said I had and he was imagining the wall was me, whilst continuing to hit it.

I was done. I’d officially had enough. I was no longer going to feel uncomfortable or threatened at work. I went straight to my manager and told him. I showed him the book in which I had written everything. He couldn’t believe the amount of things that were in there. He called the manager of the agency and we had a chat. They then spoke to Nick about what had been going on and he apologised.

My manager has told me he will be keeping a close eye on Nick and if anything happens, I can go straight to him and he will sort it. I’m glad my manager has taken it seriously, but I hate the fact I still have to work with this guy. I just have to keep going until the next thing happens.

Fears For The Future

  I have many fears for the future.  Some just concern my future personally, what I will be doing, whether I’ll be happy, whether I will be fulfilled in my life.  But some also concern other people such as; my family, friends and society.  I worry that society will be like it is now.  Where people are still oppressed and everyone is still unequal.  I worry mostly about what life will be like for my nieces. 

  One of the things I am most subjected to is street harassment.  I have had guys following me, asking me for money, asking me for my number, cat calling at me and even grabbing me in broad daylight.  I fear that my nieces will go through the same thing.  This really frightens me. 

  I am quite a feisty girl; if I feel someone is in the wrong I will call them out on it.  I have even had full on arguments with people I know at work and on the street, to the point where I am shouting and swearing.  But when I have been involved in a street harassment incident, I have frozen.  I have not uttered a single word.  I have been too scared to.  I have been too frightened to stick up for myself in case that will make things worse, just in case I got hurt. 

  I hate feeling like that in situations and I have forever berated myself afterwards for not saying or doing anything, even if I had called out to passers-by “hey this guy’s harassing me”. But I haven’t, and this makes me angry with myself.  I don’t want my nieces having to go through that. 

  At the moment I have four nieces, the oldest will turn 13 in November and she is already being berated by guys just for being a girl.  Her brother’s friends, who are only a little older than her, are calling her names and saying inappropriate things to her, such as calling her flat chested.  She’s 12.  Of course she has a flat chest.  But these boys don’t care. 

  They don’t care about her feelings, they don’t care that what they are saying is wrong and disgusting.  All they care about is getting a laugh from each other, getting a pat on the back from their mates. 

  I hate that I have to suffer things from guys when I am walking down the street, but what I hate even more is that she will have to as well.  When she turns 13, when she’s 16 and for the rest of her adult life.  If I could stop that, even if I had guys saying awful things to me each and every day, I would, just so she and my other nieces didn’t have to go through that. 

  I at 19 am too frightened to say anything back to these guys.  But at 12 she is terrified.  I don’t want her and other girls fearing walking down the street as well as me.  And that is what I want to change.  I want to make this no longer ok.   

My Personal Account of Sex Education Received at Secondary School.

This is a blog post I wrote for the brilliant organisation, Education For Choice.

I left school three years ago in 2010. The sex education I received there was pretty shoddy. We learnt how babies were made in science, but didn’t learn very much about contraception. We had one lesson on it. In it we were told about condoms, where a teacher blew one up and rubbed Vaseline onto it until it popped. We weren’t told about the vast amount of different contraception’s that were out there available to use.

Thinking back on it now, I feel at that point when we were fourteen years old; too much attention was paid on teaching us how to make babies, when they should have been concentrating on teaching us how to prevent them along with STDs. When I got into year 10 (fifteen) things changed slightly. My form teacher was pretty good with talking to us about sex. She would talk to us pretty openly about it, and also make us watch a programme, which was on channel 4 at the time, called; The Sex Education Show.

However good she was though, no teacher in all my time at my secondary school, ever told us where we could get access to contraception or told us where we could go to for an abortion, if we should need it. I may be one of the few people to believe that contraception should be made available at school. Not that I think it should be handed out to teenagers willy nilly, but I do think teenagers should be able to go to the school nurse and receive contraception confidentially.

I only left school three years ago and the sex education was pretty sloppy. But my sister also didn’t receive very good sex education, as soon after she left school in 1998, she became pregnant. I can only hope sex education has improved in the last few years and continues to improve. I want young boys and girls to be safe, to know where they can get contraception from, just as well as they know where to get the latest fashion. They should be made aware of how to protect themselves, and then if a mistake happens, they should know where they can go, to help to rectify it.