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Race is a state of mind

7 Mar

I’m serious.  I’m not just referencing old slogans for the fun of it, it’s too early in the day for that.  For a long time I’ve wanted to write a post fundamentally stating, without the merest hint of doubt, that race is a social construct with no basis in science.

Turns out Adam Rutherford has already written it!  In this post he straight up states that race, scientifically, does not exist.

Rutherford, who describes himself as “partly of Indian descent”, leaving the reader to assume that his ethnic heritage is otherwise white European, is a science writer and editor.  If I were to be flippant I would point out that he’s also rather handsome, ’cause, ya know, I’m also partly of Indian descent, and I’m damn cute.  Maybe it’s a thing?

HA NO!  It isn’t!  Just because Adam Rutherford and I are excellent eye candy* doesn’t mean that all European/Asian heritage people are because, get this, as Rutherford says in his post “There is no genetic basis that corresponds with any particular group of people”.  Yes, you can predict some things about a person’s genome from their phenotype (outward appearance) but you can’t predict someone’s race from their genome with any confidence.  You can make reasonable assessments of their ancestry, and some of their probable appearance, but the divisions of what makes someone one race or another, according to the phenotypic and cultural criteria most of us use, are not seen in the genes.  Within any single “race” is such variance as to render the racial categorisation unusable in science.

Rutherford gives some great examples of conditions and genetic factors, long thought to be consequences of racial heritage, which are more scientifically explained by geographic area and the populations that live there.  Ah, you might think, Ms Mongrel, surely those geographically defined populations can be called races?  Well sure, socially you can go with that, but there is no scientific definition to back you up.  As Rutherford rather bluntly and brilliantly points out, humans are “too horny and mobile to have stuck to our own kind for very long” meaning that virtually every population has “DNA mixed and remixed through endless sex and continuous migration”.

I think that this message about the arbitrary nature of racial ‘definition’ is really important.  Rutherford also points out the way that the early science of inheritance and then genetics attempted to find a scientific rationalisation for racism (including the genocide of native peoples by European empires, the subjugation of others, the transatlantic slave trade, and various 20th century eugenics schemes).  Somehow the educated, European elite felt that by scientifically showing that the other races were “lesser”, they could justify their murderous expansion and the imposition of their values on alien cultures – all driven by profit except perhaps for a minority of genuine adventurers or earnest missionaries.

If someone can show me that the human race can be scientifically subgrouped into subspecies or races, with a consistent definition that can be shown in the lab to be “nature” rather than based on the environment and cultures in which we are raised, I’ll change my mind, don’t you worry.  I’m all about evidence.  But, as someone whose existence already disproves a number of stereotypes pertaining to my racial heritage, I’ll continue to challenge any racial definitions based loosely on appearance, geography, religion, and old prejudices.

There’s no such thing as race people, unless you choose to believe in it.  If that’s your choice, fine.  Just don’t expect the rest of us to live by your definitions.

*okay well maybe Rutherford more than me.  It’s a matter of perspective!

Ch-ch-ch-changes

20 Jan

Dear reader,

Sometimes you need to change things up in order to unleash motivation.  It is for this reason that I’m making some changes to my blogging activities.

For a start, there’ll be more activity!

I’ve realised that I need to make time to write, as per my last post, if I want to be a better writer I’d better get writing.  To that end, I’ve formed two other blogs, each with a different goal.  Firstly, I’m beginning to set up a blog that will have links to resources for anyone interested in the “mixed race experience” which will hopefully eventually be a useful resource in itself, this is still in the early stages.  It’ll be more a-political and less imbued with my personal perspectives.

Secondly, I’ve accepted that sometimes I shy away from writing blogs because I like to fact check any statements I make and take the time to reference where I can, so in order to blow that obstruction away I have set up a blog that is purely opinion and anecdote, and is about my love life and/or lack of love life.  You can read more here if this interests you or if you just want to see what my writing style is like when freed from attempting to maintain accuracy.  New posts late on Wednesdays.

Lastly, I’m going to refocus this blog as more of a purely personal blog, a space to write about things that interest me, lay out arguments that I want to make, and generally put the world to rights as though I was in the pub next to you having a pint and decrying the status quo, or similar.

There is so much going on in this world of ours, so much to discuss, I hope to see you here soon to talk about it all.

As always, remember people are people.

Much love,

Ms Mongrel xoxo

Getting better

7 Jan

Practise. Practise hard. Don’t just visualise or plan, or list or fret or anticipate… practise.

There is an energy around you and it can only reach actualisation through your activity. The words are there, but you have to write them, the colours are there, but you have to paint them, the evidence is there, but you have to find it. You can imagine the results every minute of every day but that will not bring them into reality. You have to achieve them.
So practise.

Practise singing in the car. Practise poetry on the back of receipts on buses. Practise drawing in the condensation on windows. Practise drumming on… anything. Practise your lines. Practise your perfect side swept half-updo with curls. Practise your sewing. Practise your serve. Practise being friendly. Practise love, by loving yourself.

In your mind’s eye, the opportunities are there for the taking. So why aren’t you taking them? Often, we don’t put ourselves forward because we don’t think we are good enough. There is only one way to get better.

Practise.

 

Try again

It always seems impossible until it is done

6 Dec

I just heard about Nelson Mandela.  I know I never met him, and he’s just someone I heard about on the news, but I heard about him on the news all my life.  He has been an inspiration ever since I was tiny.  He was an icon in my house growing up, a hero.

Here is something I have always struggled with: apartheid in South Africa only ended when I was twelve.  How do you square such antiquated barbarism with being a child of the modern era? That was 25 years after man walked on the moon!  I have often reminded myself of that fact throughout my adult life, because it brings home to me that we are not as enlightened a world as we often like to believe.  The fact that I saw the end of this anachronistic inequality in my lifetime makes me realise how far humanity has come, and how far we have yet to go.

To me, Mandela forms part of a holy trinity along with Martin Luther King and Gandhi.  Now, none of these men were perfect, but they chose to stand for something so important, so basic, so fundamental as to be missing from nearly every society in the world: equality and respect.  They are the fathers of my motto for life, that people are people.  Mandela’s approach after his release from prison was to seek reconciliation and peace for the future, not retribution and revenge for the past.  It takes a big heart and a wise head to choose forgiveness when bitterness can be such an easy choice.  I look at these men, and the women of the suffragette and feminist movements, and I see people who said no to injustice, no to inequality, and who decided that they would not just let things be and hope for better but that they would risk their own lives to affect the change they believed in.  Those I admire the most did this with argument, demonstration, honesty, courage and integrity.

People like Mandela make me feel that I can be strong enough to stand up against the wrongs I see in this world.

I feel bereft, for a man I never met, and for the people he inspired and who loved him.  I don’t just want to cry because Mandela has died, I want to cry because of the pain he worked so hard to heal in a country riven by hatred.  I want to cry for all the unofficial apartheids that still exist across the world.  I want to cry because of all the small braveries people need to get through the day wherever hatred holds sway.  I want to cry because so many people are still not free.

And when I stop crying, I hope that I have just that bit more strength, and that bit more resolve, to strive harder for the world I want, one where kids born today won’t find out aged 12 that some countries in the world still treat people differently because of their colour, or religion, or gender.  When I stop crying, I hope I have that bit more kindness and forgiveness in my own heart to try to affect that change with love and courage.  Most of all, I hope that now Mandela has finished his long walk, the rest of us continue that journey, to be the kind of people he believed we could be.

Finding yourself

13 Sep

One of the things that makes life more complicated for anyone, mixed race or not, is living up to the expectations of two families: that of your mother and that of your father. Now, both these families are YOUR family – and yet they can be wildly different from one another. For me, as a mixed race person, I find that having families from two vastly different cultures has often led to me feeling like I’m disappointing both of them, but that perhaps tells you more about my personality than about mixed race heritage!

I refer to this mismatch of family culture as living “cross-culturally”, and I don’t think it is an experience limited to mixed race people; firstly because a similar experience seems to be had by friends brought up in a minority religion or with minority traditions in the UK, and secondly because ALL families have their own “culture”. I like to think of a family’s culture as being at its most heightened around Christmas: do you all get together? Do you avoid each other? Are you interested in the religious aspect? Is it all about expensive gifts? Who gets offended if you don’t come for dinner? Who drinks and who doesn’t? Who cooks Christmas dinner? Do you watch the Queen’s speech? Do you watch the Dr Who Christmas Special? From what I’ve observed of friends, and family, no two families have Christmas in exactly the same way, and we all have our own little traditional rituals.

I imagine problems can occur even when things are as simple as having two Christian parents – if they are from different denominations do you go to midnight mass or church in the morning? I know friends who engage fully with fasting and tradition during Ramadan, but will also go carolling and have boozy Christmas nights out with work. For me: Dad’s family had no Christmas tree but when we were kids we were spoilt with gifts, Mum’s family had the tree and the decorations and when we were kids we were spoilt with gifts (fussing over the children was/is common to both families!) Nowadays my parents and siblings have a tradition of spending Christmas day together, having a breakfast Bellini, a massive dinner, eating too much chocolate, watching a film or two, and laughing all day. I know that one day if I end up with nieces and nephews these traditions will morph and adapt, and that those kids will have to connect our family’s culture with that of their other parent.

The challenge of trying to fit in with two family cultures is complicated further because some family members are sticklers for tradition, others couldn’t give a monkey’s earlobe, some you would choose as friends, and others you’re resigned to being related to, and to me this has sometimes felt like a special burden of being mixed race. Thinking about it these days I’ve started to see it as a separate, but linked, issue, because more and more mixed race kids in Britain have parents whose culture/religion/practises are closer in character, whatever colour the parents are. Of course, I’ve been thinking about this from the perspective of having parents who are together, I imagine it can sometimes get much more complicated when you have to consider the feelings and traditions of step families too.

I’ve been thinking about this not because Christmas is on the horizon (my work colleagues are starting to plan our Christmas party already) but because I’ve also been thinking about people from my parents’ lives and in my own who have made comments that amount to ‘having mixed race kids isn’t fair because life will be hard for them because they are mixed race’. Now I have no other experience than my own on which to draw, but I don’t feel that being mixed race is a burden in and of itself. In fact being mixed race has given me insight and perspective that I, someone naturally a bit stubborn, may not have had in another life. Having said that, I’ve faced some challenges that are unique to being mixed race, and others that are connected to living cross-culturally. As an adult, I’ve developed my own life traditions and I don’t feel that I live as a British Asian any more than I live as a British white, I live like me, and that’s that. As a younger person, however, it took me a long time to resolve my feelings about both sides of my extended family. For me the breakthrough came when I realised that living to make other people happy is like building castles out of soup – impossible, painful, and messy.

The trigger for this little thought-spurt of a blog was reading the story of a man brought up across two cultures so disparate as to make me look inbred – a researcher from the US and a tribeswoman from the Amazon. The story of this man’s journey to find his mother and reconnect with a heritage by which he was originally embarrassed and challenged is fascinating. I particularly like how, in the end, he is resolved to be his own person, even if it means disappointing both his parents. If you’re having trouble navigating the path of multiple cultures, being mixed race, or simply in knowing who you are for any reason, I suggest you have a read of this:
Return to the rainforest: A son’s search for his Amazonian mother

Let Freedom Ring

28 Aug

Fifty years ago today was the day of Dr King’s stirring, beautiful, and heartbreaking speech, the one we now call “I have a dream”.

When he gave this speech, he pointed out that 100 years earlier the constitution of the USA was written as a promise that all men would be “guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”.  He stated that the black and coloured people of America had come to Washington to cash that cheque, to demand the fulfilment of that promise, which had been denied through the subjugation, discrimination, and degrading treatment of African Americans in those 100 years.

Fifty years later, the balance of that cheque has still not been cleared.  The dream is not yet realised.  I am pleased that the speech is being remembered in so many ways today, by people who were there or who saw it on television, and by those of use who were born in the time since that day.  I was particularly moved by this recital of the famous words by a number of different figures – peace campaigners and human rights advocates in particular – recorded by the BBC: I have a dream – revisited

Not just in America, but throughout the world, freedom and equality are still out of reach for so many people of all colours, men and women, children.  I weep when I hear King say “I have a dream… that my four little children will one day be judged not by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character” and my tears are not only for the past struggles of those subjugated under slavery or segregation, but they are also for those who struggle still, fifty years on, against the myriad injustices that the human race imposes on one another.

Still in this world people kill each other over arbitrary differences manufactured from superstition, fear, and ignorance.  So I wish that people would hear King’s speech, and truly hear his soul shaking final statement:

“Let Freedom ring… and when this happens… we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, jews and gentiles, protestants and catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old negro spiritual: Free at last!  Free at last!  Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

Because until we are all free and equal, none of us are.

Warrior woman

13 May

It’s been a while since I’ve had the chance to blog and my word, so much has happened out there in the wide world.  I have had many rants in real life instead of in the blogosphere lately, and so I wanted to ease myself back in with a light bite – not so much food for thought as a ponderous amuse-bouche.

I grew up with the glorious action cartoons of the 80s, jerky animation, power ballad theme music, and the same sound effects in every series.  One of my favourites was She-Ra.  The woman rode a flying unicorn with a rainbow coloured mane, she totally rocked.  The first film I ever saw at the cinema was the She-Ra/He-Man cross over story “The Secret of the Sword“.  There is so much I could tell you about that film, but the key aspect is the *SPOILERS* fact that Adora and Adam (the mild-mannered alter egos of the heroine/hero) are twin siblings.  By the end of the film they both have magic swords which they can use to transform themselves into the super strong, super fast, super one-liner dropping, save-the-day, never-kill-a-baddie-just-send-them-away champions of their respective worlds.

That film came out in 1985, I was three.  I don’t remember going to see the film, even if it did get to the UK later than ’85.  What I do remember is that I watched both series, and that even as a small girl-child I was bemused by the relative physiques of the amazingly strong twins.  He-Man, even when “disguised” as Prince Adam, has the physique of a body builder – and a zealous one at that.  He has muscles popping out all over, arms the size of a female character’s waist.  This seems to make sense when He-Man does something requiring lots of muscle – lifting a boulder say, or throwing a futuristic flying car across the orange landscape.  But although Adora has an equally rare physique – hour glass and with lean legs wildly out of proportion – she looks a whole lot more ordinary than her brother.  My infant brain thought thusly: if Adora/She-Ra has a lean body, and He-Man is a bodybuilder… then She-Ra must be stronger than He-Man because she’s as strong as him without the muscle!

Now that is one sure fire way to start a playground argument in the 80s.  Almost as bad as the time I referred to a male schoolmate’s WWF Action Figure as a “doll”.

Anyway, She-Ra wasn’t the only super strong heroine to have a deceptively slight build.  I also grew up with the fabulous, kitschy, wonderful Wonder Woman – a WW comic bought for me when in hospital as a child is still one of my most treasured possessions.  Diana Prince/Wonder Woman has, throughout most of her portrayals, been slender rather than stocky and on occasion has had a figure of Barbie-esque levels of unachievability.  The most appropriate male counterpart to Wonder Woman is, in my opinion, Superman, and he has always looked muscular, although the level of definition of his muscularity has changed over time.

I have often wondered what She-Ra or Wonder Woman would look like if they had a bodybuilder’s physique, as their male comrades do, so I found this picture of a female bodybuilder, and got to sketching.  Female bodybuilders often combine displaying their muscularity with more traditionally feminine postures or mannerisms, so I chose this pose as it is more gender neutral, although you could read the turned head as demure.

So here is the bitesize fodder for pondering I promised you: is this what Wonder Woman should look like?  What should any superheroine look like if one of her powers is physical strength?  Should some male heroes with super strength look leaner?  Or even fat?  I’m sure there must be more representations like this out there – I’ll confess I haven’t really followed comics since I was a kid.  Answers on a postcard.  That is all.

Wonder Woman

4 More Years

7 Nov

Photograph by Elizabeth Messina reproduced form The Huffington Post

I woke up to the news of Obama’s re-election. Like most of the world outside the USA this was good news to me.  I’m a total lefty, and although Obama is still right wing from my point of view, he was a far better option than the alternative.  Here are some thoughts I have on Obama’s re-election.

Firstly, as a Westerner and a citizen of a country that usually dances to the tune set by the USA, I hope that now Obama has his second term he becomes more bloody minded in affecting the change he originally seemed to stand for. This man won the Nobel Peace Prize and yet Pakistani civilians are still being maimed and killed by Western attacks, from drones or otherwise. The tension in the Middle East continues to be ramped up with Israel expecting US support should they wish to attack Iran – and personally I’m in no way going to support the UK government if it decides to wage war on another front (full disclosure – I didn’t support the invasions of Iraq or Afghanistan either). We have to learn from the tragedies of Afghanistan and Iraq which have caused so much death for so little progress.  As Remembrance Day draws closer and every celeb and their dog dons a poppy to improve their PR I can only think of the phrase “never again”. Can Obama bring peace not war and justify that Nobel prize?

I am glad that the election of a non-white president has not been written off as an experiment, and the racism of the USA has been exposed by this electoral competition through dog whistles and outright shouts including Romney’s campaign insider’s reference to “anglo-saxon heritage” (headdesk). The twitter user @yesyoureracist had a full and busy election day with some staggering racism being flung around often tagged #notracist as if saying that negated the expressed racism.  I have a suggestion for the many twitter users who said something along the lines of ‘minorities/black Americans are only voting for Obama ‘cos he’s black’ – why do you think ethnic minorities or “people of colour” are more likely to vote for a black man and not for a white man? What does that say about race relations in the USA, and what can you yourself do to improve the situation?

The last thought I want to leave you with relates to Obama as a symbol – something that has caused him problems, since he was raised on a high pedastol that he could only fall from at the start of his presidency. He is referred to widely as black, but his mother is white. He is the most famous and powerful mixed race man in history and his presidency, however history judges his policy, represents something of phenomenal importance that I hope will continue to resonate throughout the world – especially wherever people are judged for their lack of racial “purity”. If an obviously mixed race man can overcome the odds to be the Leader of the Free World, twice, of what are the rest of us capable?

This is explained beautifully in an open letter to President Obama, by the white mother of a mixed race son. The associated picture, included above, gave me goosebumps. A president can only do so much, perhaps an icon can do more.  Here’s to hope, everyone.

Privilege on toast

13 Oct

During last week’s Conservative Party conference David Cameron said something which for me sums up the problem of how privilege works in the UK. Using classic political styling he set up a strawman: that people are asking him to justify the existence of privilege, specifically his and that of his cabinet, for example. He then blew his paltry strawman away with a very Cameronesque soundbite. He said:

I am not here to defend privilege, I am here to spread it.”

The first thought that came to mind on the thought of spreading privilege was that he was sending BoJo out on the sleaze without any condoms. Then I thought more seriously about what he might mean – buy enough bottles of Moet and eventually you’ll find one with a golden ticket to a garden party at Buck Palace? Or the deeds to a Kensington address? Or ownership of a race horse? Spread the privilege Cammers, caviar for everyone! On tiny crudités! Pass them out at the job centre along with cloth napkins and Cuban cigars.

I digress. The main “shaking my head” point for me about this Cameronism is that no-one is genuinely asking DC to defend privilege. We make potshots about his privileged background as it seems to (mis)inform his policy – he makes sweeping judgements about the lives of low/no income Brits without acknowledging that, generally, he has no personal experience nor empirical evidence to back up his stereotypes. I am not asking him, however, to defend his own existence or to come up with a reason “why David Cameron”. All I want from DC is a recognition of context and, as this is all I want from any politician, thoughtful evidence based policy enacted efficiently, justly, and sensibly.

Cameron is answering a question in order to avoid examining another, far more important question. Most people I would imagine aren’t expecting a defence of privilege. We’re adult enough to realise that within any given scenario privilege will exist or develop. We don’t all have access to the same resources when we are brought into this world or since, life just isn’t fair in that way.  What I think most critics and commenters want from Cameron is for him to explain the behaviour of those with privilege, especially the ones who treat those without their privileges with disdain.

Every millionaire seems to like being described as a self-made man, but the truth is that for most of the super-rich, they had a hand up. Even if they didn’t have an inheritance in the form of cash or property or a business, they perhaps had familial connections and were introduced to people who pulled strings for them. The very few who came from poor backgrounds are exceptional people, who have achieved great things no doubt, but I think it might be wrong for them to imagine that they would have got anywhere without the everyday consumer, or without the infrastructure, legal and transport, provided by the state through taxation. Ignoring the context in which they achieved their success can lead to conceit and a sense of self-aggrandisement, a sense of superiority over the rest of us plebs.

What Cameron has not been able to do (nor Blair before him) is to bring to account those so swelled with their own privilege that they turn their backs on the rest of society, at the least by saying nasty things about the underclasses, and at the worst by doing everything within their power to avoid paying their taxes, often whilst decrying the benefits system as full of “cheats”. What is it about privilege that limits one’s ability to feel compassion for those worse off than yourself? Except of course when raising money for deserving charities through lovely parties and extensive foreign holidays visits. I guess you can’t compel a person (or corporation) to act reasonably or with compassion (unless you OWN them, like we own the royals), but you can compel them to pay their taxes.

So perhaps, DC you can’t defend the actions of the privileged or their existence, but perhaps you can make sure they follow the rules as much as the bottom third of the triangle must. Of course, examining your own privilege, leading to greater integrity and understanding of the way our society works takes honesty, patience and will. I suggest our glorious leader tries to spread this instead.

Rude boys

25 Jul

“Fat cow, you’re so fat and disgusting. You’re so ugly I bet you’ve never had a boyfriend, you’re just a nasty fat cow. I bet you’ve never even had sex, you’re so ugly and fat no one would want you”

 
Although this sounds like the kind of tirade a teenage bully might come out with in a particularly tough episode of Grange Hill, this is actually a small snippet of some sustained abuse directed at me the other day. What did I do to inspire such eloquent ire? I asked a couple of guys who had invaded our picnic to go away and leave us alone.

It was a beautiful sunny afternoon, sat in the sunshine between the pond and the river in University Parks, Oxford, my friends and I had eaten strawberries and melon, drunk an alternative to the usual bucks fizz, and got to know the newer members of our group. The shadows were slowly getting longer, and some of the picnickers had gone home, leaving just 5 of us women. It was a perfect, silly, lazy afternoon.

As one of my friends, let’s call her America, opined on our latest topic, a voice from the path piped up
Oh my god I love your accent…
The statement came from a young fella, very skinny, wearing no shirt, pink shorts slung low enough to show his black boxers, cartoon character socks and trainers, with friendship bands or similar around his wrist. He and his friend, who was slightly less skinny, and wearing a green jumper over a shirt with cord trousers and trainers, were walking along the pathway when PinkShorts heard America’s voice and became entranced with it. She said thank you, and PinkShorts carried on…
Where are you from?
America: “Carolina”
PinkShorts: “Oh my god, that’s so amazing, I’d love to go there
America: “Well you should, it’s a great place”
PinkShorts: “Can I sit here?” Plonks himself next to where America is sitting.

My spidey-sense was tingling. I had an immediate thought of “oh here we go…”. Why? Well I guess I could see that PinkShorts “Can I sit here?” was the start of his making a play for America, who was totally unaware of this. America has a boyfriend that she adores, and although she is stunning she, like many girls, doesn’t really expect men to hit on her. In this case even more so because, as she said later, she thought PinkShorts was gay.  PinkShorts’ friend, Jumper, sat down next to him, and what followed was mostly a friendly talk, in which they said they were from Oxford, they told us what their jobs were, they asked us all what we did. Just as PinkShorts was drawn to America for her accent, Jumper took a liking to another of our group, let’s call her Eire, who has an Irish accent.

I’ll be honest, I did not like these two from the start. PinkShorts couldn’t stop scratching his balls, both of them were very demanding “what do you do? How old are you? Where do you live? Can I sit here? Can I have a picture with you?”. We mentioned our knitting group and where we meet and PinkShorts starts up with “Can you teach me to knit?” Both of them said they’d love to come along, and then Jumper said something that totally raised my hackles, he muttered it and after he said it when America said “What did you say?” he just shrugged and the natter of PinkShorts took over. Jumper had said “I’ll come along, as long as I get a little something-somethin

Sad enough for a middleclass Oxford white boy to say the phrase “a little somethin-somethin” without any sense of irony, but also – what? Did this guy really think that America/Eire/any of our other friends would be so keen to get him to come to knitting club that we would offer some sexual services? Ew.

I was bored of the repetitive, whiny conversation of the two interlopers, and started making daisy chains. “Oh my god, I want a daisy chain, will you make me a daisy chain” Ew again. By now the guys were making America uncomfortable, my phone beeped with a text from her: I am gonna say we are getting ready to leave just to get rid of them.

First though, America and Eire decided to go off to the loo, leaving the interlopers with me and two other women. They immediately zoned in on one of them as the prettiest, with PinkShorts asking to have his photo taken with her. Then Jumper said to myself and the other woman “let’s have a photo of you two. Hug!” We didn’t move. I couldn’t help myself, I replied “no thanks, I don’t respond to commands like a dog.”
That comment wounded Jumper’s sensibilities “why are you so mean?” he pouted.  I pointed out that I didn’t want my picture taken by a complete stranger, that I didn’t know who they were, where they’d been, what they’d been drinking, and I didn’t have to do anything they told me to. This led to both PinkShorts and Jumper telling me that I must have some ‘emotional damage’ to be so mean. I was thinking about asking them to leave, when America and Eire returned.

Jumper was asking for Eire’s phonenumber, she politely said no, and no she didn’t want his number. America was starting to be colder towards PinkShorts. I thought, enough is enough.

“The thing is guys, we’d like to have the rest of the evening to just us girls. We came out here to hang out with each other, so we’d really like it to be just us”

I got more of the “you’re so mean”. Finally, one of the other girls said “we’d really like it to be just us, so can you leave” they ignored her “I mean really” she said “just bugger off”. They started to protest, so America added “seriously, I think you should leave now”. PinkShorts and Jumper showed no sign of moving, and Jumper once again asked for Eire’s number. That was it, my bitch switch flipped.

“You’ve been asked to leave, I think you should leave”

Jumper suddenly seemed to decide that I was the reason Eire wouldn’t give him her phone number “you’re hideous” he said “this is all you, you’re disgusting”. Now even sweet natured Eire added “I think you really should leave”.

This started more protests, more abuse at me, and so I stood up and I laid into these idiots. I didn’t swear at them, they hadn’t sworn at me, I just said something along the lines of ‘you can’t just come over here and demand we do what you want. We don’t want you here so just go away and leave us alone’

Well that was it. Both PinkShorts and Jumper started a tirade at me about how ugly I was, how disgusting I was. They called me a fat cow, an ugly cow, a bitch. They said I was hideous, and that I probably had never had a boyfriend. Eire was distraught:“no! She’s beautiful, you can’t say things like that!” and had her hands over her ears as the guys continued, I stood up again to rant back at them and then realised it was pointless, they weren’t listening. As I sat down again America said to me “leave it, there’s no point saying anything to them” and she was right. They stood up, carrying on the abuse even as they walked away, stopping a few yards away to continue shouting and yelling at me.

Eire was astounded “I had no idea they were like that” and seemed really upset at first, and at great pains to tell me that what they had said was nasty and untrue. Whilst I definitely appreciated her kindness I felt I didn’t need her reassurance. I hadn’t even picked up an adrenalin reaction, I was just resigned. I knew these guys had one thing in mind when sitting with us, and I knew that in their heads their lack of success wasn’t due to the fact that THEY were not appealing to America or Eire, but due to ME and my evil fat cow influence on otherwise pliable females who might give them a little somethin-somethin. They thought they had every right to be pushy and to hijack our picnic and demand phone numbers and photos. I was not surprised. But I also wasn’t having it. You do not step up to MY friends and treat them that way, or harass them, because I know these women are not interested in boys like PinkShorts and Jumper, and I know they deserve some respect. If you expect me to be a good little fat cow and sit quietly whilst you take over my time with my friends to be sleazy and selfish and rude, then you are in for a shock. This cow ain’t so insecure she pipes down when there are ‘menfolk’ around. You can call me fat, I know my own dress size. You can call me ugly, I know my own face. You can tell me I’ve never been loved, I still have the letters and the photographs. Whatever you say to me I am not afraid of you, it shows your weaknesses not mine.

The rest of the evening was chilled out and nice, and actually the whole event is now a source of humour. I was pleased to note that despite the bitch in me being released I didn’t slag the boys off personally, just their behaviour.  The episode also showed that my idiot-radar was working that day, and most importantly that the girls I was with are lovely, I’m glad to know them.

One last thing that America noted: although PinkShorts and Jumper asked lots of questions to show their interest, neither of them ever asked “do you have a boyfriend?” They just assumed that because they had shown an interest, these girls MUST be available to them. Even if I hadn’t been there, they would certainly have found out that they were wrong.

Diagram of possible thought process

Was this the thought process that occured in the minds of PinkShorts and Jumper?