Friday, May 30, 2014

The Trolling of Laura Shortridge

So I have been neglecting this poor blog, mostly because I now work at Women24 and have been since the beginning of the year. It is quite simply my dream job: I love the job, I love the people I work with, and most of all, I love getting to sit down, really over-think a topic, and then write about it.

I've decided to start showing my blog some love again though, so we'll see how that goes.

For today, I want to talk about trolls. 

As you know, I like to keep to nice, safe, uncontroversial topics and always have. 

So naturally I have collected my fair share of trolls, as one does, and that's all very expected and understandable and I honestly can't say I object to it too much.

However, when a person who was banned (not by me) for his repeated and unrelenting racist comments on this article appeared in my comments section, raging about "dictatorial censorship" on Women24, I rolled my eyes and hit delete, not really considering it my duty to explain the concept of what it means to agree to a website's Terms and Conditions:

Or the fact that, when your comments are removed and you are banned because you broke the agreement, you really don't get to complain. 

What's more, you really don't get to come over here and complain.

This is my space. This is where I post my little ramblings and my friends interact with me about them if they feel like it. This is not a place where you are owed a platform, and I will not apologise for deleting any angry, trollish, shrill comments I damn well feel like deleting. 

Of course, since this person had initially arrived to complain about having comments deleted, deleting this one enraged him and he posted another, which I deleted with barely a glance. After 3 more comments, (which I deleted, again with barely a glance,) he stopped. 

A bit in the last comment about an article he planned to link me to caught my eye though, and, curious, I read the emails I get each time a comment is posted. 

What I found was quite hilarious, and I actually do regret deleting the comments now. To make up for it, I have decided to post them here. 

That's right, "John Doe", a whole blog post dedicated to you, where your comments can be read by all. I've even replied to them. 

John, if you had actually read the article you commented on, you would have noticed that Tim Minchin talks, specifically, about rethinking the idea of rebellion. Spoiler alert: It doesn't include posting racist comments on a website that has a policy against racism.

"I want you to rebel. I want you to be anti-conservative. I want you to be the CEO who changes how the mining sector sees its environmental responsibility. I want you to be the politician who stands up in parliament and says, why is it only women who are talking about gender equality? I want you to be the kid who stands up on the oval at lunchtime and says, 'You guys are using the word 'gay' as a negative adjective - it's lazy and boring and stupid and damaging. Grow up'." 

And later,

"You can most effectively rebel by using your brain very carefully, by using your education wisely. Rebellion is not actually skipping classes or disrespecting teachers."

And it's not about blatantly refusing to listen to a website's terms and conditions, terms and conditions you agreed to, then hunting down the blog of the author of the article where you posted, and had deleted, racist comments, so that you can see the word "rebellion", ignore anything that's said in the post, and whine about how angry you are because your racism is not being tolerated or given a platform.

That's not rebellion. That is, as Tim Minchin says, "just intellectually lazy".

Wait, *I* get to decide what comments get to stay up on MY blog?

Deleting a torrent of comments that, 1) don't actually respond to the post that they're on, 2) are trollish and insulting and 3) have absolutely no value at all besides entertainment is not "tyranny". It's simply, well, this comic from xkcd explained it best:

As I said, I wasn't actually reading when I was deleting these comments (after the first one), on the basis that anything that followed that couldn't possibly have any value, but I admit, I was wrong.

These comments are gold.

You wouldn't be the first to write an angry article about me, so no, I don't mind.


I put the "Nazi" in "feminazi"? I NEED TO HAVE THIS PRINTED ON A T-SHIRT. Preferably with this image above it:

I have to say though, anti-feminists seem to be the only people who still, without shame, have no problem invoking Godwin's Law. So props to you for tenacity.

Is it ready yet? Is it ready NOW? I honestly can't wait to read this article. Please please please let me know the MOMENT you go live with it.

Much love :)


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Goodbye, My Dear, Dear Car

I learned how to drive on a Mazda 626 that had already passed through a few family members before it got to me.

Not a recent picture

This car carried me around as I learned how to drive properly, taking on all the bumps, scrapes, dents and scratches that go along with a naturally un-coordinated person trying to get used to driving. Over the years, it has lost shape, paint, side-mirrors, and more. It even started leaking in the rain, making winter driving a freezing, wet, and, since the water dripping down marks the inside of the windscreen, slightly more dangerous than it should be experience.

I haven't actually driven the poor thing into anything for years, (well apart from that one time and it was a tiny little bump, didn't even dent and only scratched the paint a little, and I swear the other car came out of no where; and, well, the rock), but by the time I learned how to drive without scraping walls, trees, pavements etc, the damage was done. I have received many a Stare, pitying, amused, even disgusted, all because of how awful my car looks.

But for years, it has soldiered on as I put it through drive after challenging drive, at one point even taking me from Table View to Stellenbosch and back (about 100km in total) daily. It has been mostly reliable, and rarely in need of much attention. It might not always have kept me warm and dry, but it's kept me safe and has taken me where-ever I need to go, whenever I do.

And it's dead.



A recent picture

I was heading home at around 5am when I found my route blocked by burning tires. Protesters had blocked off certain roads, and there was no getting around them. I tried to take a detour down a side road, but it was dark and I could see more fires up ahead and that's when I road over a rock. A giant freaking rock that was, for no apparent reason, just chilling in the middle of the road.

One of these. Drove right over it.

My car was instantly very clearly not going anywhere anytime soon.

I thought I had probably burst a tire, but with the confusion, darkness, protesters and the fires getting bigger, I wasn't about to attempt to change it. Five minutes later my boyfriend was driving me home, where I phoned the AA to find out I would absolutely have to be with the car when they fetch it, so I arranged for them to fetch it a few hours later, once the protests had stopped, traffic had died down, and it was light.

When we returned, I found my tires were fine, but not my poor car. The floor of the car was wrecked, dented inwards, the rock had torn open the oil tank, and, when I tried to start the car, it became immediately clear that the gear box was wrecked.

A mechanic did think, for awhile, that it might still be repairable, but today I found out the news that it absolutely is not. On top of everything else, the engine has been pushed back and it's just not worth fixing. The only option is to scrap.

I'm surprised at how sad I am.

It's not the fact that I no longer have the convenience of a car. I have needed to think about getting a new car for awhile, and I can manage at least for awhile without my own transport.

It's the sense of loss of something I really was very attached to. My poor, faithful, ugly to everyone but me, reliable car. I feel... mourning. As if a very dear pet has died.

Even the thought that my car is in a garage with strangers all around it makes me feel wretched. It's probably in pain, and scared, and feeling alone. It probably is wondering why it's there, and where I am, and....

I know. I know. I'm being ridiculous. Frankly I shouldn't have been allowed to watch movies like A Brave Little Toaster and Toy Story, I was clearly far too impressionable a child.

But still.

I'm so sad. And I'm going to try go see my car one last time. And I'm going to cry. And I don't think any car will ever quite live up to its memory. Nothing's going to quite feel right.

Goodbye, Mazda 626, who's description of "burgundy" has never failed to instantly require me to explain "like a dark red", who patiently accepted the knocks and scrapes that came with being my faithful transport, and who carried on driving beautifully long after many cars would have started regularly breaking down.

I'll never accidentally lock my keys in you again, or accidentally knock off your side-mirror, or apply masking tape to the parts of you that really needed a bit of bandaging up. You have been so faithful, so steadfast, so reliable. It's time for you to finally rest.

For a moment, I'm going to willingly suspend my disbelief, and imagine you're heading to car heaven. You'll like it there. It never rains.

Much love


Monday, November 4, 2013

R for Rebellion

Fan of V for Vendetta? Well it's the 5th of November, and what better way to celebrate than to rebel. Grab your mask, sit down, and... read. Yup. This speech on rebellion is the best thing you'll read today.

On the 18th of September, Tim Minchin addressed Christ Church Grammar School, the school he once attended.  This is what he said:

Much love x


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Cosplaying Tim Minchin

As most know, I adore cosplay, and I adore dressing up, so the two were going to collide sooner or later. My boyfriend Lloyd is really into it too, and our first cosplay was Princess Bubblegum and Finn the Human from Adventure Time.

I made the crown and Finn's backback and hat, Lloyd made Finn's amazing sword.

For Halloween, Lloyd decided to cosplay Tim Minchin. I helped with his hair, and I have to say, I'm really bloody proud of the result of our joint effort. This is Lloyd normally:

And images like these were our inspiration:


I used hairspray and a teasing brush for the back of his hair, and he used hair wax for the front streaks. We used black eye shadow and an eyeliner for the eyes. The whole process probably took about an hour to an hour and a half:

Needless to say, I forgot to even think about getting a picture of me: an "original character" pink witch. Yeah I had a broomstick and a book with an eye in it, but "My boyfriend is cosplaying Tim Minchin" was pretty much my real outfit for the night. Lloyd's hair is still messy. I'm not complaining.

Much love x


Friday, November 1, 2013

Kicking the Crab Bucket

In Terry Pratchett's "Unseen Academicals", he mentions an analogy known as the "crab bucket". It works like this.

When you keep crabs in a bucket, you don't need to worry about putting a lid on the bucket. No crabs will escape. They won't escape, because any attempt to climb out of the bucket will fail, as the other crabs will grab onto the climber and refuse to let it go. 

Let me give an example.

Today I discovered it wasn't only #Movember on Twitter, it was #nofilterday as well. (People who hate hashtags, twitter, and fairly good causes, you might want to stop reading now.)

I asked what #NoFilterDay is, and received this tweet from one of its co-founders, @cupcakemummy:

Basically nobody's perfect, but a lot of people pretend to be on social networks, and this feel-good movement is about trying to remind everyone that we're all human beings and that's OK. Maybe not a hashtag for everyone but a fairly sweet and harmless initiative, right?

Apparently not. Some people seem actively repulsed by #nofilterday. I was told it was about people who are "to [sic] vain for their own good" who "love selfies". Another person took it upon himself to tell @cupcakemummy and me that it was vapid, and then go on to mock it with his own hashtag. Looking around, saw a lot of people whining and bitching about #nofilterday as if it somehow is an affront to god and man, and they all seem to feel the need to tweet their objections to those who are taking part in it.

Good grief. All over a nice, feel-good hashtag that exists to uplift spirits and promote self-happiness.

Unsurprisingly, insulting these people back results in hurt feelings. It's apparently very mean to call someone who is actively mocking a group of self-proclaimed not-always-secure people who have admitted to needing a bit of a lift in spirits a cunt. It's not nice to correct the spelling of someone who bitches about other people who take selfies. Suddenly they're paragons for everyone being nice and nonjudgmental, at least for everyone being nice and nonjudgmental towards them.

I'm going to be frank. #nofilterday is not for me. Generally speaking I am honest, many times to my detriment, and when I'm not, it's usually for a good reason. I'm also quite happy not being perfect, and quite aware that it's plain silly to be envious of others as you never really know what they're going through. I would gain nothing from taking part. That said, the spitefulness and small-minded nastiness that's being spurted at those who are taking part has made me want to shout the hashtag from the rooftops.

What is it about seeing other people at least try to gain a sense of self-worth that we just despise? Why is it that there can't be one, just one feel-good initiative that isn't hijacked by nastiness? I'm not even going to moan about trolls here. Many of the people objecting to #nofilterday are generally speaking quite amicable people, so what about this pisses them off?

So here's my #nofilterday contribution: 

If the sight of people trying to be open and honest for once really bothers you to the extent where you actually are going to try to make them feel bad about themselves, fuck you. It's not a scam, it's not an attempt to indoctrinate or spread propaganda, it's not a "like this post if" styled initiative. There is no real reason to object to this other than your own personal hatred of seeing anyone, absolutely anyone, trying to climb their way out of the crab bucket.

Fuck you, crab. 

For those who don't know, this excellent and ironically applicable image is from Ricky Gervais' "Derek"

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

It's Witches, Bitch

She’s ugly. She’s aggressive. She hates men and she hates children. She hates young, pretty women and will do anything to destroy them. Do not trust her. She’s evil. She’s a witch.

She even hates little dogs, man, LITTLE DOGS

I've always liked witches. In fairy tales, there was something about them that simply made them more interesting than the insipid princesses and similar heroines. Even Ursula remains one of my all-time favourite characters. I assumed it was because, you know, they could do magic and magic is cool, but looking back, I think there’s more to it than that.

To the little girl with a fetish for myths and fairy tales, female role models, no matter how great, always tend to have the same basic traits: They’re pretty, they’re young, they want to get married, and they’re nurturing. There is nothing wrong with any of these traits, and, as it’s known, I love Disney princesses, but still, all of these girls fit into a basic social standard that is considered Right.

According to “Return of Kings”, a website that harbours the most misogynistic men since Henry the 8th, a woman’s value is determined not by the “intellect, resource and character” that apparently determines a man’s value, but by her “beauty and fertility”. This thinking is pretty old; ancient, in fact. It’s found wonderfully displayed in fairy tales. The princess is beautiful, and she exists to get married. The prince is intelligent, resourceful and has a strong character. (At least these days Disney princesses tend to have some of these qualities as well.) Eventually he “wins” the princess, usually by accomplishing some sort of goal that in no way relates to whether or not he’ll make a good life partner to an actual living human being, and they live happily ever after. Bla bla bla.

Enter the witch.

The witch embodies every single thing a woman is not, according to a certain line of thought, supposed to be. She is single. She is powerful. She dislikes children. She lives alone, and doesn’t fit into society. She is old and ugly.

And so she is demonized. The fact that she doesn’t need to rely a man, like a princess needs to rely on a knight in shining armour, gets turned into her hating and wanting to kill men. The fact that she has her own power gets turned into her caring only about power. The fact that she dislikes children gets turned into her actually wanting to kill and eat children. The fact that she lives alone and doesn’t fit in gets turned into enough excuse to brand her a danger to society. The fact that she is old and ugly gets turned into her having absolutely no value. It gets turned into her being jealous of those who are young and beautiful. It gets turned into her being a danger to princesses.

Watching Disney's Snow White with Critical Awareness is... An Education

The witch is not a young, beautiful, dedicated wife and mother whose entire life is defined only by the men around her, and she never will be, and so she is written off as pure evil.

It reminds me so strongly of feminists. The stories about “those feminazis” and their unbridled evil and hatred of all things good are getting as ridiculous as the stories about witches during the “burning times”. You'd think we'd be used to women who aren't quite Snow White by now but no.

It’s so pathetically black and white. She doesn’t need a man so SHE’S VIOLENTLY ANTI ALL MEN! She doesn’t believe in the beauty standard so SHE’S A GREEDY BITCH WHO JUST WANTS AN EXCUSE TO BE FAT AND LAZY AND PROBABLY EATS PUPPIES! SHE'S UGLY! OH MY GOD HOW DARE SHE BE UGLY!! Good god, anti-feminists. Get a grip.

There’s nothing wrong with being a young, beautiful woman who is devoted to her husband and children. Nothing at all. Plenty of feminists do it. But there is also nothing wrong with being an old, ugly, single woman who’s more concerned with her career than with babies either. In fact, people who don’t fit in have this tendency to be more interesting.

Granny Weatherwax, Bitches

Don’t be an idiot with a torch. Witches are awesome.*

Much love


* I know about Wiccans, Pagans and similar modern witches. This blog is not about them.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Life is Meaningless

It's no secret that I adore Tim Minchin with all the zealous fangirl obsession usually reserved for teenage girls and Justin Bieber, but unlike Beliebers, my love is well-founded, not to mention intellectually based.

 Well, 70% intellectually based. 30% unbridled lust.

The University of Western Australia has just recently awarded Tim with an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters for his contribution to the arts, and, as is done on these occasions, he was given a chance to make an "inspiring speech" for current uni students as well as anyone who can access Youtube. And he did. Topic? Life is Meaningless.

To summarize:

1. You don't have to have a dream.
2. Don't seek happiness.
3. Remember, it's all luck.
4. Exercise.
5. Be hard on your opinions.
6. Be a teacher.
7. Define yourself by what you love.
8. Respect people with less power than you.
9. Don't rush.

Interesting, right? It get's better. Some of my favourite quotes,
"Arts degrees are awesome, they help you find meaning where there is none." 
"Happiness is like an orgasm. If you think about it too much it goes away." 
"Well done you, for dragging yourself up by your shoelaces, but you were lucky. You didn't create the bit of you that dragged you up; they're not even your shoelaces." 
"Understanding that you can't truly take credit for your successes, nor truly blame others for their failures will humble you and make you more compassionate. Empathy is intuitive, but it's also something you can work on intellectually."  
"Run, my beautiful intellectuals, run." 
"'A famous bon mot asserts that opinions are like arseholes, in that everyone has one. There is great wisdom in this, but I would add that opinions differ significantly from arseholes in that yours should be constantly and thoroughly examined." 
"Be intellectually rigorous; identify your biases, your prejudices, your privileges." 
"Please don't make the mistake of thinking the arts and the sciences are at odds with one another. That is a recent, stupid and damaging idea." 
"Teachers are the most admirable and important people in the world." (Yay I'm one of the most admirable and important people in the world!) 

"Be demonstrative and generous in your praise of those you admire." 
"I don't care if you're the most powerful cat in the room, I will judge you on how you treat the least powerful, so there." 
"I think it's absurd, the idea of seeking meaning in the set of circumstances that happens to exist after 13.8 billions years worth of unguided events. Leave it to humans to think the Universe has a purpose for them." 
"Here's my idea of romance: You will soon be dead. Life will sometimes seem long and tough and god, it's tiring, and you will sometimes be happy and sometimes sad, and then you'll be old, and then you'll be dead. There is only one sensible thing to do with this empty existence, at that is: Fill it."

So there you go, lovelies. Go forth and fill your empty existences.

Much love