Thursday, 26 June 2014

13 Things a Pie Can Do to be More Attractive

You are probably all to aware of the many, many articles on the net and in print that instruct a woman how to be better, usually for reasons of pleasing a man. A lot of these are written and phrased in fun friendly ways; they just want to help you! Who doesn't want to be a better person after all?!
Some of them however, are written by angry middle aged white guys with some very definite ideas about women. They are aggressive, condescending and of course, deeply misogynistic. I could link to the specific 'article' that inspired this post, but I shan't. If you want to give that page views and read it for yourself, Google it. I'll give you a hint, just replace the word pie with woman. You won't be short of search results.

1) Stay 'healthy'
A good pie will be neither too fatty nor lacking in the things that taste good. Nobody wants a pie that is one of those 'super lean, fat free, health' pies, but we don't want to be dating lumpy starch and fat pie either. Be careful when choosing ingredients though, no body should now you were considering this careful balance. Just make it work.

2) Lay of the pie decoration
Pie eaters gravitate toward a natural pie crust, tasteful and coverable patterns (if any at all) and latticework that isn't out of control and all over the place.

3) Provide your own flavour
When it comes to flavour, pie eaters couldn't care less if you have a whole lot, but you need to have enough that they don't use up all their syrup. If you are more flavourful than their syrup, great, just refrain from rubbing yourself in their face. Nobody wants to be called pieface.

4) Be PIE
Pie eaters like PIE, not cake with a crust.

5) Be easy to eat
This overlaps with being PIE. Some people think of being easy to eat as a negative, like you will just be eaten up quickly with no thought or consideration. Heaven forbid you make yourself easy to eat so as to please the pie eater. Personally I think some peoples views on PIE have made eating pie a battle. Make yourself into bite size morsels, give him a surprise flavour, don't have a filling that gets everywhere. A Good pie eater will let you know they are pleased with your efforts.

6) Your availability
A pie eater wants a pie that has clearly been taste tested and is known to be tasty, but they don't want a pie that is available in every corner shop. We get it, you want everybody to be able to taste your filling and think you have a right to be eaten anywhere. Remember though, there's a difference between being gourmet and 4 for a pound.

7) Be clever
No pie eater wants a pie that can't show of a clever technique or two.

8) Be fresh!
This is kind of the not-so-secret secret. Pie eaters don't want left over pie, nor do they want the ultimate pie shame of eating another pie's filling. This goes double if the leftovers are from more than one pie or are bi-flavoured. It doesn't matter why there were leftovers the bottom line is, you have leftovers and it doesn't belong to any of the 'elligable' pie eaters out there.

Fun Fact!: In many pie eateries, if you like the leftovers, and then try to leave, they will make you pay the bill anyway!

9) You should be home baked most of the time.
Apparently the domesticity of being able to feed somebody has deteriorated. Don't be a store bought or frozen pie.

10) Put down the gadgets
We don't need any of this new technology. Step away from the digital thermometers, electric blenders and food blogs. A good pie knows when to sit quietly and politely. You definitely don't need to show off another photograph of your delicious crust. When I got to a bakery with other pie eaters, We all place our gadgets in a neat pile on the counter and pretend for a moment we are in a Ye Olde Pie Shop.

11) Easy up on the glaze and food colour!
It's bad enough that the egg glaze and food dye industry is a billion dollar industry hell bent on telling pies they aren't good enough. To top it off most of you come out looking like a joke pie! Maybe you could go without glaze and just try and do an appealing shiny crust naturally.

12) Stop being rough
Coming from somebody who is a United States Baker, It is really not attractive to have a pie that looks like it just came off a boat. Smooth off those edges if you really want to be a pie.

13) Stop having pie eating friends.
9 out of 10 of your pie eating friends just want to eat you anyway. Pie eaters now how other pie eaters think. The first one to come and comfort you after I've questioned your flavour will also be the one to say 'he doesn't really like cherries.' in order to sabotage my chances of eating you. And then he'll be the first one to take a dessert fork to you. It's not about trust. It's about me getting the pie I want.

Well that got creepy. And now I'm hungry.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

It's all relevant

It may have come to your attention via some social media or indeed conventional media that River Island sold an offensive novelty item and then removed it from their stores when the public kicked up a stink.
The novelty item in question was a toy ball gag fashioned out of a plastic football and some elastic. It was sold with the name 'The Domestic Anti Nag Gag' which, to quote the BBC article ''urged men to 'gag' nagging women ... ''. Though clearly a novelty item, the gag wouldn't stand up to any real usage, the message behind it was clear: 'women talk to much, men should make them stop.'.
It additionally built on the stereotypes that women are over talkative harpies who only care about domestic issues ('It's your turn to do the dishes' and 'pick your clothes up off the floor' screeches the woman to be gagged on the packaging) and men are only interested in watching the footy and other such blokish activities. The notion that perhaps men and women might share domestic duties, or engage in a dialogue or even *gasp* watch sports together isn't even considered.

So that is the item that started it all. But this post isn't about the item directly; it is a response to a facebook post that claimed that people were wrong to be offended by this, that it was trivial and should be dismissed as a joke. Not because it wasn't sexist but because it was small fry in comparison to the current kidnappings in Nigeria, world starvation and, child abuse and that we shouldn't be offended by a novelty item whilst these other things going on.

I would offer a counter opinion: we should be offended by a novelty gag because these other terrible things are going on. I would also pose that a sexist novelty ball gag (and my offence) are not a separate issue from Nigerian kidnappings, starvation and child abuse (and my horror). They are linked, and fighting one is part of fighting the whole.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

You're missing the point.

from Living With HipsterGirl & GamerGirl

The above strip from webcomic Living With HipsterGirl & GamerGirl came across my Facebook feed the other day with a number of comments along the lines of 'women judge men by their looks to.' and 'male superheroes are not good aspirational figures either.' First of all this piece is not about the writing or quality of LWHG&GG - I only know it in passing and don't feel inclined to critique. This article is about some of the arguments that this strip references and spurs.
The argument made was:
  • Women dislike how female characters in comics are presented as they can not 'aspire' to possibly look like that. 
  • Additionally that women do not like that these characters can be the object of male fantasy or desire.
  • That this is hypocritical because women like to look at attractive male characters.
  • And finally that men are equally distressed because male superheroes are impossible to aspire to.
My counter argument is that this is largely missing the point. These arguments and the comic strips that illustrate them (as shown above) are ignoring the real issue and, in extreme cases, wilfully subverting the argument in order to stop any progress on the issue.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

1940s Short Hairdo

I wanted to share this because I found there was a dearth of information about short hairstyles from the 1940s, especially about how one would achieve such a style.

The early and mid-1940s favoured slightly longer styles, with gentle waves, soft curls and rolls. Shorter hair was seen as a little more unusual or old fashioned (harking back to the early 1930 or 20s). That wasn't to say women didn't have short hair. Hair doesn't become long over night and for health or hygiene, to say nothing of personal taste some women may have favoured a shorter cut.

Costuming though is all about recreating that quintessential style; something iconic and easily recognisable. For the 1940s that means curls and rolls no matter what your hair length is.

After some research I came up with this wonderful video tutorial from Vintage Dorris. She has slightly longer hair than me but it gave me something to work with and a bit of hope that  could achieve something approaching a classic 40s 'do.

So I bought some rollers and a bottle of  setting lotion (all from Sueprdrug) and bravely set to. Want to see how it went in my super short hair?

Thursday, 22 August 2013

NIN, Belsonic, Belfast 21st August 2013

Last night I went to NIN's first Belfast performance as part of the Belsonic festival. The fact that it has taken 25 years for NIN to perform here despite their world wide acclaim tells you something about the Belfast music scene but that's a ramble for another post.
What it meant was that this gig was something a little bit special; this was a gig that people had waited for. That puts a lot of pressure on a bad to say nothing of the organisers and show producers. The crowds that gathered in Belfast's Custom House Square had expectations that were felt well beyond the apartment walled auditorium.

I love going to gigs. I love the waiting and the build up. Last night was no exception. Getting on the bus and eyeing up fellow passengers who looked like they might have the same destination. Walking from bus stop to venue and seeing that the prevailing direction of travel was with me, and that it had a certain look and image to it; it was thrilling, a rising swell of anticipation and excitement that this was something we were going to enjoy together.

Crowds make a gig, and this crowd was an indication of how good a night it was going to be. A band with a career stretching over 25 years draws a broad range of followers. People dressed in plain jeans and football shirts stood next to the more stereotypical NIN fan clad in black, with piercings and partially shaved heads. Parents who had fallen in love with Trent in the early 90's stood with their teenage kids with matching expressions of anticipation and excitement. Belfast was ready this.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

fada beo Béal Feirste

Google translate tells me that the title of today's post is the Irish translation of Long Live Belfast. I'm hoping it's accurate. It might not be.

I love this city. I really do. I have lived here for four years and seven days and I can honestly say that it has been one of the most enjoyable places I have lived. Most of the time. You may have seen recent reports about rioting, protests and contentious marches. These news reports and indeed the events that spur them come up several times a year, most of the time, clearly scheduled around 'historic' dates so that we all know when to expect it. Friends that I have spoken to in he past few days will know that as well as irritated with the disruption, these marches, the arguments, riots and protests leave me tremendously sad. 
I want to tell you why they make me sad; It is because that is not an accurate portrayal of Belfast, Northern Ireland or the vast majority of the people who live here. I fell in love with this city, and it was in spite of the horrible attitudes and violent nature of some of the people. It was because of the many glorious things that are at the heart and soul of the place.

Today I went to St Georges Market in the city centre. St Georges Market perfectly condenses the things about this city that I enjoy, and I believe is a true reflection of the country and the city in particular. Let me walk you through some of the things that Belfast and Northern Ireland have to be proud of, the bits and pieces which really make up its identity.

This is me, right in the centre of Belfast, happy, content and not on fire.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Are Cat Calls and Wolf Whistles Offensive?

Short answer: In many, if not most, instances in our country cat calls, wolf whistles and unsolicited 'compliments' from strangers can cause offence or discomfort. Please not I do not say in all instances, just in many.

A few examples of the unsolicited 'compliments' and cat calling that I am referring to, which I have gathered from real people I am acquainted with.

[whilst groping] Nice tits.
Fat cow
Hey, red! Red, you gotta man?
Well, if it wasn't for that belly of yours, you'd be pretty good looking! 
Alright sexy!
She's pretty, is she yours? 
I'd like a feel of that ass.
Hey gorgeous show me some sugar.
I'd fuck you!
Nice skirt.. Do those legs go all the way up.
I don't know if you're a man or a woman but I'd still do you.
So what's the way to your heart? 
An assortment of noises often vaguely animalistic in nature.

It's a pretty mixed bag isn't it? Some of those when written down in isolation don't sound to bad at all, maybe even nice. Some of them are clearly horrible or even downright threatening. But as we should all be aware, context is everything. These are not phrases snipped from the middle of a conversation, nor are they the product of friendly banter. They aren't even politely given in one-on-one conversations. These are the stark phrases that are delivered without prequel, often at top volume, from one individual to a complete stranger or somebody who is merely an acquaintance.

Firstly, I apologise I'm going to have to make a couple of generalisations here (though I promise to address the exceptions): cat calling and street harassment traditionally takes the shape of men harassing women. Secondly the person making the cat calls is often in a group of a similar demographic to themselves.

 I would also like to introduce at this point the common defence of cat calling: women like the cat calls and it's just a way of giving a compliment.

 Well I'm afraid that that statement is just a fallacy.
Cat calls and street harassment are not giving somebody a compliment. They are not. 
Outside of friendship circles with a well established banter, wolf whistles and cat calls are rarely about telling a woman you find her attractive - if you wanted to do that you would strike up a conversation with the woman and inform her in a polite manner. They are not about paying compliments. If they were about paying genuine compliments then the men who make catcalls would do it to everybody - ‘Oi! nice shoes mate!’ ‘Who’s been hitting the gym?!’ etc . The language would also be overwhelmingly positive without slurs or derogatory content.
Cat calls and wolf whistles are about asserting dominance - usually (though not always and I'll get to that) the dominance of a straight male over any and all females. They are about power and making sure that women know that men have the right to judge and assert their opinion over women whenever they want, regardless of the social situation and relationship (or lack of).
Many men feel that they are being flattering and kind however they have been brought up in a way that they do not recognise the power play at hand. But they still bow to the reasoning that it is their right to make a cat call and it is the women’s duty to take it and like it. And that’s of course before we get into more threatening and abusive cat calling.

To readdress one of my generalisations then, yes some men receive harassment from other men and from groups of women. This is less of a regular occurrence but it still an artifact of one group trying to assert dominance over another. Men asserting dominance over men they feel are 'less manly' or different to their demographic including people who are gender ambiguous or cross dressing, or men they perceive to be gay. Groups of younger people or 'youths' harassing older people because they aren't 'cool. Women harassing men in order to re-affirm their own power and assertiveness in a world that traditionally doesn't allow it. Women harassing men because they are so used to it happening to themselves, why should they care about the feelings of others.

Let's get this absolutely clear right now. Harassment of anybody from any quarter is not acceptable, that is why it is called harassment. Cat calls and wolf whistles are more often than not a type of harassment. Two wrongs do not make a right. I have heard many men and some women say 'well it's OK for us to do it because they do it to.'. No. Just No. Is this true in any other context? Is it OK to mug people because somebody once nicked your wallet? No. Is it OK to start a career of house breaking because you had your house burgled when you were 12? No. It is not OK to harass people because you have been harassed.

Now of course that only addresses the men’s role. Some women do enjoy getting wolf whistles and cat calls. When they are delivered in a friendly and kind manner they can be pleasant and it can be nice to know that you look nice to other people. However, nobody should assume that all women, all the time like, enjoy and want cat calls. Even a woman who likes a compliment from a complete stranger about her ass may on that particular day be in a bad mood, or feeling sensitive or not want to be singled out. And even if a woman liked the first wolf whistle that morning, by the fourth fifth or sixth comment that day she might be feeling frustrated and angry and regretting her choice of attire. It is entirely possible that a woman left the house knowing full well that she was attractive but doesn't particualrly need to be told about it and would rather be complimented on her creative writing, astute wit or knowlege of the UK legal system (or whatever acomplishment she is particularly proud of that day).

Let's move on to the other generalisation I made and how this is relevant to cat calls. The person making the cat call is often part of a group made up of a similar demographic. That is to say you will often get a group of lads of a similar age; a group of women out together; the classic gaggle of builders on scaffolding being the purveyors of cat calls. Often it will be one voice speaking from the group and then looking to others for support and encouragement. The group might not always be physically present but may be a group of people with whom they can share their experiences with later in the pub or on line and receive congratulations and affirmation of their actions. 
This is about power as well but it is about personal power, confidence and self image. 
Wolf whistles etc are often a result of the individual doing it having low self esteem or confidence. It is easier for them to shout at somebody in the street than it is to calmly approach a person and actually talk to them. This isn't an attempt to excuse the behaviour but rather it paints a picture of the people doing the cat-calling as being insecure and having poorly developed social skills. This is further bolstered by the company they are in. The cat calling is an assertion of self an assertion of their own personal power in order for them to find a niche to fit into. By public asserting this power in front of their associates they establish themselves in a pecking order and re-affirm their worth in the eyes of (some) others. They have been able to appear confident and 'masculine', powerful and 'able to have a joke' in front of others in the easiest way possible. It is a short route to fitting in.
Ironically then, the cat caller is often perceived by the target and the wider public as being a little bit week and unable to interact socially with people in a normal and non confrontational way.
So even if the target enjoys unsolicited loud public compliments, finds them genuinely uplifting or complimentary, they may make judgements about the cat-callers social skills and personality which are not flattering and not particularly appealing, which in tern, makes the ‘compliment’ even less appealing.
There will also be times when the person making the cat calls is perfectly aware that what they are doing is abhorant behaviour, but still they choose to act in that way. What a delightful person they are.

Not all unsolicited attention, compliments and comments need be bad though. The reason for this is not the intent behind it; it is the respect, expectations and reactions that go with the comment. 
Shouting across a street 'Nice skirt love' is in many instances likely to cause discomfort, offence or even fear. Politely stopping somebody at an appropriate juncture (perhaps you are both standing waiting to cross a street), and saying 'Excuse me, but that skirt is nice.' or even 'May I say you look lovely in that outfit.' are probably going to be met with better responses. It's not guaranteed though. A stranger interrupting your personal space and thoughts to offer a compliment, particularly one pertaining to physical features may still illicit a negative response and that's OK. A compliment is not owed gracious or raptuous delight.
The expectation, reaction and respect is crucial now. Did you offer the comment in expectation of it escalating into a romantic or sexual proposition or did you give the comment as a genuine compliment? If the former you may be in trouble. How do you react to their negative or dismissive reaction? If you get angry, offer insults, try and convince the person that their feelings are wrong or invalid then you are in fact harassing them and your original comment was just an opening gambit. You wished to exert power by making your opinion of them important, when that failed, you have resorted to negative comments to make the person feel small, scared or bad, again in an attempt to exert power and dominance. By not reacting at all, apologising or at least showing a look of contrition you engage the third key element: respect. you have shown respect for another human being by acknowledging their feelings and accepting that your own actions, thoughts or feelings do not automatically trump theirs.

'Your hair looks lovely, miss.' Said the very nice man apropos of nothing as he passed by the young woman fixing her fringe. She smiled in surprise and said thank you. And thus the mythical respectful unsolicited genuine compliment did occur.