“I feel empty of hope and completely powerless to do anything about it”
These are the words my friend Elaine typed to me during an otherwise mundane catch-up chat. She was explicit. This wasn’t about her job or her relationships or any other personal drama. It was about the state of the world around her. It made her angry, but her anger felt impotent. I know those feelings so well. I wanted to tell her that it’s all going to be OK, that all the violence and ignorance and fear in our world right now is just the final desperate thrashing of the regressive status quo, that our societies are slowly, glacially shifting in a better direction. But I couldn’t say those things with honesty, because honestly, I’m not sure of anything.
“We’re living through the fall of the west”
These are the words my sister typed to me in the wake of Brexit. They made me sit bolt up in my chair. Any other day, any other year, I might have dismissed them as an unnecessary dramatisation, but how true they rang in the moment, how matter-of-fact an observation this seemed. Having taken some time to think on it, they still don’t seem like an exaggeration. Geo-politically, it’s entirely accurate: our populations are ageing, our economies are stagnating, our societies are crumbling under the weight of austerity, and our value as a trading partner is quickly diminishing, propped up only at the steep expense of our “less developed” neighbours. It seems to me that those of us living in “developed” economies – certainly in English-speaking nations – are witnessing the logical conclusion of the Great Neoliberal Capitalist Experiment. For the vast majority of people, it’s been an unmitigated failure. Lots of people have very little money and are told that it’s their own fault for not working hard enough. Those of us who do have a bit money are still mostly miserable, because all we can afford is stuff to keep ourselves distracted. For a tiny, almost negligible, handful of people, it’s worked out very well.
Happy 2015, readers! It’s been a while, hasn’t it? “Why has Massive Hassle stopped updating?” you were undoubtedly asking your family over Christmas dinner, shedding distressed tears into your second helping of turkey. “I know, it’s tragic,” your grandmother almost certainly replied, “I fucking love that blog. Pass the sprouts.”
Long story short, a bunch of life happened all at once, but I’m back now and it is the dawn of a new year, which means it is time for an obligatory and indulgent personal post about my resolutions. I usually don’t make resolutions because they are boring and inevitably end up causing me more stress than I would have incurred by continuing to bumble around with no real plan. However, 2015 feels like it’s going to be a turning point in a lot of ways (see also: I have no idea where I’m going to be in a few months time) so this year I have decided to make a concession to tradition.
I have four resolutions, but in reality they are not resolutions at all. Overall, my New Year’s resolution is to be shit at things. That may sound a little counterproductive, but I’m fairly sure it’s going to be an effective strategy. Allow me to explain.
I have not been blogging much recently because I have been living in the small but comfortable hell that is trying to finish up my MA before I move to Geneva IN LESS THAN THREE WEEKS HOLY SHIT DON’T THINK ABOUT IT THE PANIC. Life is comfortable because I have moved back to my lovely clean warm family home in the west of Ireland, where my mother does my laundry and keeps me well supplied with tea and hearty dinners and all I have to do is stay hunched in front of my double screen set up, flicking between spreadsheets with manic intensity. Like Gollum, only fatter and better at making graphs (we can assume).
Anyway, because life is a bit erratic and I am feeling erratic, have an erratic series of links of things I have been enjoying on the Internet recently!
Stop Telling Women To Smile(video, image, text) This is one of my favourite anti-street harassment campaigns, because it addresses the micro-aggressions (as opposed to the outright aggressive aggressions, which tend to get more airtime.) Micro-aggressions are small incidents of sexism that do not seem significant when viewed in isolation. However, when they begin to accumulate and become constant feature of your daily life, it starts to wear on your mood, your energy and your sense of worth as a person. If you have a few spare cash monies, consider using them to help Tatyana Fazlalizadeh make her public art project go nationwide in the US.
Are you afraid of tampons?(video) Because these guys…like, they’re definitely not… but they’re still not going to like… help a lady out by purchasing them for her or anything. I mean, c’mon. That’s gross.
Cliteracy 101(image, text) New York artist Sophia Wallace wants to dispel all the ignorance surrounding that most mysterious of sex organs… and she’s doing it with street art, clitoris-themed swag and a GIANT GOLDEN CLITORIS THAT YOU CAN RIDE LIKE A FREAKING RODEO BULL.
Lady, You Really Aren’t “Crazy”(text) This article is an oldie, but I stumbled across the other day and remember how much it resonated with me. “Dudes of the world – if you do not return your girlfriend’s calls for a week, and she shows up at your door yelling, she is not crazy. She is angry at you. There’s a difference. “Crazy” would be if you did not return her calls for a week and she decided she was a lighthouse.” Which in turns reminds me of…
Two Sides To Every Story(comic) A great little strip from Kate Or Die about how the “crazy” narrative often plays out in relationships.
Scenes From Majora’s Mask That Brought Me To Tears (article) If, like me, you are part of the subset of Zelda fans who maintain that Majora’s Mask is best game and kind of like… really deep and important art even though you can’t articulate quite why… well, this article is for you!
Ladies’ Brunch(article) Also, more from The Toast, because The Toast is fast becoming my favourite feminist humour site. Fact: Party Brunch is a real thing that happens in New York. Other fact: My browser will not accept that bachelorette is a real word. MISOGYNY.
What About Teh Boyz?(text) The ever excellent Jem Bloomfield on why society is so keen to separate the men from the boys when it comes to sexist behaviour.
What Not To Wear(text) Do you guys remember Trinny and Susannah and What Not To Wear? Well, The Vagenda does and holy shit, were those ladies ever peddling some toxic gender norms under the (admittedly thin) veil of helping ladies improve their self-esteem.
A Guide to Cat Colours and Patterns(image) A friend sent me this insanely detailed and TOTALLY DELIGHTFUL guide to figuring out the precise colour of your darling kitty, created by artist Joumana. The Kitten (pictured above) is a lilac cap-and-saddle torbie and white. OR SOMETHING. Also, your cat could be a “theoretical fawn-based caramel” in which case, you should probably put it on the Internet so everyone can make theoretical cat memes. HOURS OF FUN.
It is the one-year anniversary of this post, which originally ran on my old blog and brought me much Tumblr-based fame and fortune.
Too long have our vaginas been living in the Dark Ages. There is technology. Technology that can make your vagina’s life so much richer and more hopeful. Here is a list of must-have accessories for your vagina.
Content note: Here follows detailed discussions of vaginas, periods, sex and peeing in alleys. If you are not okay with these things, do not read. Please do not come back to me and be all EW MARIANNE TMI ABOUT YOUR LADY PARTS. Also, curious penis-wielders are welcome, but bear in mind that we will be delving deep into the Mines of Moria. You have been warned.
I cannot remember a time when I didn’t have my belly, so I’m going to assume it’s been with me my whole life. I was a pudgy child who grew up into a pudgy pre-teen and then abruptly stopped growing but remained pudgy, even when I gave up chocolate and sweets for Lent and didn’t cheat, even once.
My belly and I have a love-hate relationship. For most of my life, it’s been heavy on the hate.
When I was ten, our teacher held the girls back at break time and solemnly informed us that we were due to start bleeding out of our vaginas any day now. If this happened while we were in school, we were to tell NO ONE but immediately locate the nearest female teacher, who would provide us with something to soak up THE SHAME OF OUR WOMB. She did not actually say that last bit, but even at ten years-old, I felt it was strongly implied. This was my first introduction to periods.
When I was fourteen, our science teacher skipped over the chapter on the reproductive system. She told us it was very unlikely to come up in our exams next year, and even if it does, you’ll have lots of questions to choose from so you can just skip it. I stared at the diagram of the penis in the book for a while. There was no diagram of the vagina, only the ovaries and uterus.
The same year, a lady from Tampax came to speak to us about periods and gave us heavily branded booklets about growing into our new bodies. At this point, I was wearing a C cup and I’d been using tampons for over two years, so it felt a bit belated. Nobody had any questions at the end of the talk.
When I was seventeen, we had forty minutes of “Health Ed” class every two weeks. There was no syllabus, but our teacher was smart and engaged. He led a lot of interesting discussions – about drinking, drugs, smoking, bullying, about stress and good study habits, depression, body image, more drugs, more bullying – but something was notably missing from the laundry list of things seventeen year-old girls typically worry about.
And that was it. I could definitely blame this on growing up in Ireland, a country so deeply steeped in Catholicism that it’s difficult to find a school where saying prayers in morning assembly is not the norm. But a friend of mine also went to an all-girls convent school, and she did have a sex ed class. Which apparently involved trying to put a condom on a banana with one hand.
I’ve started thinking about the sex education I wish I’d had. I even went as far as drafting a syllabus, because I’m obsessive like that, but I will not inflict it on the Internet because I’m not an educator and also it’s five pages long. But I will show you my wish list. Because maybe it’s just my inner Hermione Granger talking, but I do wish there’d been a class.
When I read this article for the first time, I was just finishing up an internship with a prestigious Chicago theatre. It had been an intense five months, with many excellent moments but also some stressful-to-the-point-of-tears ones. Looking back, it was a positive experience. At 24, I vowed it would be my last internship. That I was too old for this shit. I was going to go back to education. Get my Masters degree. Get a real job with a real income. Start all that actual life stuff.
So here I am, on my intensive practical hands-on Masters course. And guess what we are strongly encouraged to pursue outside of teaching hours? That’s right! Internships!
As the above article points out, while internships have long been a feature of film and non-profit organisations, they have slowly spread out to cover the entire gamut of the Non-Specific Media Career world. The job climate is abysmal, it’s an employer’s market and bright-eyed young graduates with no skills except Twitter and Starbucks are falling over themselves for that ever-elusive Experience with a capital E.
How much Experience do you need before you start getting paid for the work you do? How many internships is enough? One? Three? I’ve done five so far, and I’m about to start my sixth.