An Amusing Anecdote

The following post came up on my Facebook page today as an ‘on this day 2 years ago’ post. It is just such a brilliant story that I really can’t resist sharing it all over again…

An interesting evening: Fell asleep whilst cooking soup, only to be awoken by the VERY LOUD fire alarm, couldn’t work out how to turn off said fire alarm after removing charcoal soup from the grill so opened upstairs windows and front and back doors, stepped out of front door to get away from noise so I could ring an absent housemate or two to find out how to silence the alarm. Front door slams shut behind me and I am trapped on the street in only my pyjamas (no shoes, no underwear, no hiding the fact that they were clearly pyjamas). I ring housemates to ask for assistance, no one answers, I message them, consider what to do and then phone promptly dies. Consider basement window: too small, consider climbing over bike shed and manage to get up onto it before deciding the roof cannot take my weight. Find a long stick and spend a while trying to open the door with a stick through the letter box. Eventually arm starts to go numb and I realise that I need a new plan. Neither next door neighbour seems to be in so no hope for the sides of the house. I consider walking to Alberts’, the restaurant where one of my housemates works to get her key but am not sure she would appreciate me rocking up at work looking like this. Especially as I don’t know where the back entrance is. So I walk all the way down Northen Grove, Barlow Moor Road and then Burton Road (for those who don’t live in Manchester, fairly busy roads) – with no shoes or underwear and clutching a tea towel like a crazy woman. I manage to walk past the mosque just as everyone was leaving and got some VERY odd looks, eventually find the back of my house but the fence is too tall. I have to knock on a random persons door to ask for assistance to break into my house. Luckily some very friendly people saw the funny side and helped me over the fence. After some moments of relief, and pondering the continuing alarm next door (I’m suprised no one has called the police yet) our neighbour/handyman returns home and comes over to tell me how to turn off the fire alarm. Peace is finally restored. Apologies to the owner of the pan…

The pan owner was very forgiving 🙂

TTFN x

Thoughts on ‘Normalising Genitalia’

My boyfriend recently commented to me, after I’d been discussing how awful it was that people still couldn’t talk about their sex organs, that I didn’t need to make it my personal life mission to normalise talking about genitalia. Well, I thought, maybe I do. This post may not earn me friends, but here it goes.

I’ve never really bought by the idea that there is anything that you ‘shouldn’t’ discuss in front of other people. The time I got told off by my mother for mentioning periods in front of my brother when I was 9 or 10 sticks strongly in my memory – why should I have been made to feel ashamed of being a girl? Why should this thing be private from my brothers? As a teenager I don’t doubt I enjoyed the shock factor I would get for being happy to talk about anything, and have always had a reputation for being blunt, but as time went on I recognised how positive my breaching embarrassing topics brought to other people.

For example, I was a keen rower at university, but a strange thing started to happen: I was losing my butt skin. Just on the edge of my bum crack where the cheeks separate I was getting what looked like friction burns, and they got pretty nasty. I had no shame in discussing this and the senior men used to joke about me being the novice who lost her bum skin – however so many girls confided in me that they had struggled through the same problem! They gave me advice on things they had tried, or took my advice on what I had done, but only ever one on one. Even those people were surprised to hear about mine – they had all just assumed that they were the only person with this problem – when in fact to me it seems pretty common!

In general I really do think this is true – whenever i broach a subject to friends or otherwise when I have had a problem I haven’t encountered before, I too often find someone saying oh I had that problem but I have never talked about it with anyone. Or more than one people in a group of friends thinking that they have been the only one experiencing something when it turns out actually quite a few of them are.

I’m sure most of us have heard of the girl who committed suicide after starting her first period as she didn’t know what it was – the girl whose death was the reason the Samaritans charity was started, to give people who have no one else to talk to a place to ring. This is the kind of story that makes me strongly believe there should not be a single taboo subject that we can talk about. And I don’t just mean online, I mean in actual real life. I want to be able to list body parts: arms, legs, nose, belly button, armpits, penis, back, shoulders, vulva, etc without anyone frowning, shhh-ing, or really any different reaction at all when I mention one body part compared to another.

I don’t doubt that freedom to discuss anything online, the availability of chatrooms and online support groups is a wonderful wonderful thing, something that provides so many people with the support, solace and comfort that they are unable to find elsewhere. But I wonder, does it in some ways enable us to continue to ignore these issues in person? Is it like the fact that the Republic of Ireland have been getting away with illegalising abortion for so long because women can just come over to the UK to get them done? If women had been dying from backstreet abortions (which I am extremely glad that they aren’t) then I don’t doubt pressure and scrutiny would have been put on them long ago. Perhaps I’m wrong, it’s only a thought.

I recently found out that in weight watchers you call being on your period your ‘star week’. I’m tempted to go to a meeting just so I can shout PERIOD whenever someone says ‘star week’. I will resist this temptation just as I resisted throwing tampons in the general direction of a couple in my extended friendship group where the girl isn’t allowed to mention periods to her husband. How is this still happening???

I recently learnt, whilst reading Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski that the word ‘Pudendum’, which is still used to refer to the female external genitalia, comes from the latin ‘pudere’, to be ashamed. Female genitals were just your shameful parts, and shouldn’t be shown, whereas men could proudly display theirs.

I was recently reminded of this when I was visiting Munich. In the English Garden, there is a nudist area on the banks of a stream, you can swim and sunbathe much like a beach – further down, past a seemingly arbitrary line there was a similar area where there were more clothes being worn. Bizarrely, it seemed to me, there were no naked women. There were plenty of men, strolling around listening to their iPods, sunbathing legs akimbo, and swimming. However every single woman had briefs on. I struggle to get my head round this. I’m sure individually they would all say that they just don’t really want to. They probably don’t feel like that decision has been influenced by society but I am sceptical of this. I was tempted to strip off just to prove a point that we could do it to, however, after watching the head shakes and barely stifled laughter when people noticed a naked man who had wandered out of the nude beach into the clothed area, I could quite pluck up the courage.

I also have a lot of thoughts on porn laws and the rise of ‘vagino-plastys’ but I think that may take an entire blog post of its own. For now I will leave you with this bizarre string of consciousness, I just wanted to pass on my feelings that no one should be ashamed to talk about anything. And there is nothing wrong with nakedness.

I hope that the world is moving in the right direction! It probably is 🙂

TTFN x

Parched

Parched.

Beyond furry, my tongue pushes cement across the roof of my mouth, skirting my naked gums. My mouth shapeless where once my full lips pouted; there are no false teeth today. My face is merely a replica of what I once was.

My eyes skate around the room, past curtains, past white coated workers; I am insignificant here. Beside me a girl cries. I am too close to her fear, her trolley so close to mine I could reach out and touch her face. I imagine a curtain between us, carefully not seeing her as others are not seeing me. This is a private place. All so close but each in our own world; a battery of patients lined up on trolleys.

Thirst.

My breath crackles in my throat. I can see a water cooler in the corner but there is no one to help me. As I slowly shift my weight in preparation to get down from this platform a man in blue passes.

“Careful now, don’t fall off!”

He smiles at me without really looking. The bedside comes up. I am an infant, caged. Unable to care for my own needs, not trusted to stand. I drag my sandpaper tongue across my crumbling lips.

Closing my eyes I attempt to swallow. One, two, three…

The young ones pass me. They are busy, their movements tense and purposeful. They do not look my way; I am in the ‘sorted’ area. Awaiting our next destination we are no longer their concern. A girl smiles as I catch her eye, but turns her head as she sees I want to speak to her. She looks uncomfortable. I am not her job, and she steps quickly into a cubicle; there are more people to sort.

“Nurse?”

I question the next young one to pass me. A frown appears; it was not her title I realise now. Her eyes scan the room to see if there is anyone else to help me. Like me, she realises there is no one else, everyone is too busy. She is defeated, her shoulders slump as she turns towards me and her eyes meet mine.

“Can I help you?”

She is relieved at the simplicity of my request and soon there is coolness slipping down my throat.

I am a Person again.