Kings, Queens & Queers

I recently read this story about two girls in a same sex relationship who were crowned Prom King and Queen and my heart almost burst open with pride at how accepting society is becoming of the LGBT community.

But then, as always, I ruined these happy thoughts of how progressive we are by thinking. I’m now just wondering why two girls, two biologically female individuals who, as far as I am aware, both identify with the gender that has been deemed appropriate for women, have been crowned King and Queen? The term ‘King’ is the noun used to describe a man. Given that these two women are just that, women, shouldn’t they have been crowned Prom Queen and Queen?

Maybe the girls were more than happy to take on these titles because, traditionally speaking, that is the norm. Yet, that is the heterosexual norm. They are homosexuals and, I thought it was pretty obvious that neither of them is a King. If society truly is becoming more and more accepting of the LGBT community, and are more than happy to break a tradition in order to crown a lesbian couple, then they could at least do it bloody properly and allow them to rule the party under the correct nouns. We need to wake up and realise that it is called a same sex relationship because it is a relationship between two people of the same sex. I SAW NO KINGS AT THE PARTY!

I don’t want to belittle this achievement for the LGBT community as I’m still pleased that a lesbian couple won, however, it seems an awful shame that gay people are still being made to fit into tiny little heteronormative boxes when there is nothing hetero about us.

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A Message To Men With Gay Ex Girlfriends

Many women in same sex relationships have been in heterosexual relationships in the past. That’s a fact.

What drives these women to suddenly decide that they want to be in relationships with other women? Did the men they’ve been with in the past treat them poorly so they decided to try their luck with a woman? Were their exes all so terrible in bed that these women were “turned” gay?

Nope.

These questions seem absolutely ridiculous to me yet they are the type of things that are thought by some men whose ex girlfriends have started seeing women since they have split up.

I don’t want to generalise and I obviously cannot speak for all men, however, an ex of mine has asked me in the past if it is his fault that I’m with a woman now. I know of other women in similar situations to me who have been asked the same kind of questions by their ex boyfriends who have got it into their heads that they’re the reason these woman are now in lesbian relationships.

If, as a heterosexual male, you broke up with a woman and she started seeing another man a few months, or even years, down the line  you wouldn’t even think twice about it. You would know that she had moved on and was seeing a person that she liked or had developed feelings for. You wouldn’t question the purpose of your entire existence.

So why does it have such an impact if said woman starts seeing another woman?

I’ll say this once. The fact that she is seeing a woman has nothing at all to do with you and absolutely everything to do with the woman she has met. You sound absurd. Do some bloody self esteem building exercises or something and stop making everything about you.

Morons in Mississippi

I have stayed uncharacteristically quiet on the recent passing of  the religious freedom bill in Mississippi which allows businesses to discriminate against the LGBT community.

This is partly because I’ve been rather busy and partly because I struggled to find words to discuss it that weren’t expletives.

By this point, I guess it is pretty old news and most people will be more or less aware of what’s going on so I won’t get wrapped up in the political aspects of it, however, I do want to take a few minutes just to think about the humanist aspects of it.

As a woman who is in a relationship with another woman, I find it so strange to think that there are people in the world who automatically hate me simply because of my sexual orientation. There are people in this world who harbour so much hatred and disgust for me, and the millions of other individuals who identify as part of the LGBT community, that they actively promote and encourage discrimination against us.

Perhaps it is because I’m not a narrow minded, idiotic bigot, but I just cannot comprehend how someone can have so many negative feelings towards a specific group of people for absolutely no reason other than who that group of people happened to develop romantic feelings for. Is being in a same sex relationship really so shocking and offensive? Why does my lifestyle cause people so much revulsion? I just cannot wrap my head around it.

People will argue that homosexuality isn’t natural yet it is found in almost 500 different species of animals across the world. People will argue that homosexuality is sinful because the Bible says so yet the Bible also talks about unicorns and states that you are not allowed to cut your hair.

Rather than spreading hatred we should be spreading love and acceptance. It is 2016 for fuck’s sake, let’s get a grip.

Image via Instagram.

The Problem with Social Media: Food for Thought

Social media has become a normal part of daily life for most people. In many ways it is great. It allows us to reconnect with old friends and stay in contact with new ones. It allows us to share our photos and memories. It allows us to share news stories and blog posts.

When we communicate with others via social media, we are allowed some insight into their lives. The problem with this is that, we are only shown the parts that they want us to see. We are privy to the highlight wheel of their lives whereas we see both the highs and lows of our own. This can lead us to falsely believe that our lives aren’t as great or exciting or fulfilling as the lives of others. It can lead us to compare ourselves to others and harbour feelings of jealousy and resentment as a result.

Let me use myself as an example. My favourite form of social media is, without a doubt, Instagram. I do a little bit of food blogging and I use an Instagram account to share photos of my food in order to demonstrate that healthy and nutritious food can be delicious.

Scroll through my account and you will see image after image of tasty meals and snacks presented in such a way to make them look appealing. This is what people who visit my profile see. They do not see the time that I spend arranging food on the plate so that it looks appetising. They do not see the mini photo shoot that I have from various angles trying to find the one that makes my food look the nicest. They don’t see the heavy editing that the image goes through in order to crop out the wall in the background and change the bad lighting.

They also do not see every single thing that I eat. I don’t share images of the plain salmon and boiled vegetables that I regularly consume. I don’t post my daily pre workout meal of egg whites and sweet potato. I don’t post my collapsed omelettes that turn into scrambled eggs. I don’t post images of the burnt butternut squash that I forget about and leave in the oven for an hour longer than I should.

Why don’t I post these things? Isn’t it obvious? I don’t want people to see them.

The same goes for everything else in life. We don’t share the bits we don’t want people to see. I only post the fun and exciting meals, just like people will only share the fun and exciting moments of their lives. Someone may post an image of a huge bouquet of flowers or romantic meal that their partner has cooked for them but they will not write a status about the huge argument they had that caused their partner to act so sweetly. Someone may post pictures from their glamorous five star holiday but they won’t post about the five months they had to spend working in order to pay for it. Someone may broadcast the fact they have a flashy new car but they won’t share the fact that it took them seven attempts to pass their driving test. The list goes on.

People only show us what they want us to see. Keep this in mind if ever something you see on social media makes you feel shitty about your life; it isn’t real.

Image via Instagram.

Muscle is Masculine & Wonder Woman isn’t Wonderful.

Firstly let me just say that this post is in no way meant to shame anyone for their body. It is more of a collection of thoughts than a rant and I just want to take a moment to note that men and women of all shapes and sizes are beautiful and that I do not personally believe there is a set ideal physique for either biological sex.

Last week I went to see the new Batman film at the cinema. Now, the release of the film has brought with it a revamp of the debate of the outfits that get assigned to men and women. I won’t get into it as it isn’t what I want to discuss, (I know, shock horror right?) but the basic gist is that many are outraged because the male superheroes are fully clothed whereas the female character is scantily clad. This same debate can be seen pretty much anywhere and, unfortunately for us women, is applicable to pretty much all aspects of life.

I also want to forget about the actors that were cast in this particular film and I want to think about the image of the superheroes themselves. Throw Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot out of your minds as this is not a comment on either of their physical appearances and nor will I have this post misconstrued as such.

What I want to think about is the physical appearances of the original male and female superheroes who feature in the film and by that, you guessed it, I mean mainly the female superhero. As is always the case, my focus here is on the female body. My issue is this, both Batman and Superman have large biceps, excellent pectorals and rippling abs. Wonder Woman does not.

I’m not going to pretend I have a lot of knowledge on comic book characters but, correct me if I’m wrong, the original Wonder Woman has an absolutely amazing muscular physique, does she not? WHERE IS IT?!

Being an amateur bodybuilder myself, I’m probably quite biased when it comes to this subject but I really cannot help but feel that, rather than adhering to the idealised stereotypes of what society considers to be “attractive” for men and women, the casting department or whoever was in charge should have considered a more, I’m going with the term “believable,” Wonder Woman.

The male superheroes are tall, broad and incredibly muscular; the female superhero is delicate and slim. There is nothing wrong with being delicate and slim, the actress who played the role did a great job and had a lovely figure HOWEVER the power and strength that make the male superheroes so super was reflected in their physical appearance. This was not the case for the female superhero.

Let’s be realistic, if a woman was to charge around at the speed of light wielding a huge shield and a sword that weighs more than she does then she is going to have some muscle. This was the opportunity to finally show that strong, muscular women are badass and beautiful but, unfortunately, it was missed. They simply sent out the message, once again, that muscle is masculine and women should not have it. Balls to that.

Image via Instagram.

‘Have You Always Known?’

I’ve been thinking a little more about my last post and how people react when they find out that I have a girlfriend. The more I think about it, the more I realise that even some of the people who appear to take this little snippet of information in their stride still have a lot of questions once it comes up in conversation.

Don’t get me wrong, questions can be good. Questions show curiosity and can demonstrate an open mind and willingness to learn about things that you don’t quite understand. However, it is the same questions that keep getting asked over and over again, therefore you can understand why I’m beginning to find them a little bit tedious.

When someone wants to ask me about my sexual orientation I can guarantee that they will start by asking:

“Have you always known?”

I tell them that no, I haven’t always known. At this point they look at me searchingly before proceeding to ask me a question which, essentially, requires a brief rundown of my past sexual relationships:

“Have you ever been with men?”

When I say that yes actually I have been with men, a look of understanding will fill their face and the little light bulb above their head turns on as they exclaim:

“Oh, so you’re bi?”

This is where I tend to upset people because I really prefer not to label myself as anything. I extinguish the light bulb that was shining so brightly by responding with “I’m just me,” when people demand to know exactly “what” I am.

I think there must be some kind of lesbian chart that has been kept a secret from me and people are trying to work out whereabouts I stand on it. Am I just a little bit of a lesbian, more confused than gay, or am I a full blown lezza completely past saving?

We seem to have this incessant need to know all about a person’s sexual identity so that we can label them accordingly and slot them neatly into boxes.

What I truly want to know is this; why does it even matter? How does hearing about a boyfriend I had six years ago effect someone’s understanding of the person that I am today? Let’s face it, it doesn’t. These questions are completely irrelevant yet, for some reason, people keep asking them.

Image via Instagram.

What You Don’t Realise About ‘Coming Out’

When we talk about the way that gay people “come out” it almost seems as though each individual will gather all their friends and family together in a room, make the announcement that they are sexually attracted to people of the same sex and be done with it. There, they have “come out” as gay to everyone that they know. Job done.

Except, it really isn’t that simple at all.

Not only do you have to first “come out” to yourself, (something that I really struggled with), but then you have to find a way to casually drop it into conversation with close friends and family. After that, if you feel comfortable doing so, you then have the exact same conversation with the other people in your life, such as those friends you aren’t particularly close to and your colleagues, etc.

Guess what? At this point, you still aren’t done “coming out.” Pretty much every time you meet a new person you have to go through the process all over again. That’s right, another chance to be rejected by or receive a disgusted response from each new person that you will ever meet in your entire life. Yay.

I rarely bring up my sexual orientation when I first meet new people, not because I’m ashamed of being a lesbian but simply because I don’t really think it matters. However, even though I don’t introduce myself with, “Hi, I’m Natasha and I’m a raging lesbian,” I often find that the fact I’m in a relationship with a woman does crop up in conversation.

Every time I’m participating in small talk with a new person and they ask about my life there is a chance that the word “girlfriend” will leave my mouth. If they ask what I did at the weekend, the chances are that I went on some kind of date with my girlfriend. If they ask what I’m doing that evening, there is a chance that I’ll be seeing my girlfriend. If they ask about any upcoming holidays I have booked, the chances are that I’ll be going with my girlfriend. The list goes on.

I’m pleased to say that the majority of people I meet take this little snippet of information in their stride and don’t react. Others are taken aback by the news and clearly haven’t met enough gay people to realise that we look the same as everyone else. They will usually stare at me with an open mouth for a few seconds or laugh awkwardly once they discover that I’m in a relationship with a woman. This doesn’t bother me too much as I understand that some people do still have a stereotypical image of a lesbian in their head and I just don’t fit it.

What does bother me, however, are those few people who just can’t actually grasp the concept of me being with another woman. Occasionally there will be one person who is so fucking shocked by this fact that it is all they talk about for the next ten minutes.

So you’re a lesbian? Yes. Are you really? Yes. Are you joking? No. So, you’re like actually with a woman? Yes. Wow, I wouldn’t have thought that.

Seriously, why is it so difficult to understand? Although over the last few years society’s acceptance of the LGBT community has widened enormously, the reactions of some people when they find out that I’m gay demonstrate that certain stereotypes remain and that we still have some work to do.

I can’t wait for the day that I can drop the words “with my girlfriend” into a conversation with a new person and don’t feel the need to watch them to see if they flinch. I can’t wait until the need to “come out” no longer exists.

Image via Instagram.

Dress Codes, Responsibility and Rape.

I’ve been thinking recently about the way that society regulates the female body by dictating what is considered to be appropriate clothing and what isn’t.

More specifically, I’ve been thinking about the way in which young females are policed at school through the use of a dress code that only seems to apply to one sex.

I understand that uniforms serve many purposes and that it is beneficial for students at a school to wear the same thing for various reasons. I also understand that schools want all of their students to dress “appropriately” for their age and that they do not want to contribute to the growing sexualisation of teenage girls.

What I don’t understand, however, is the long list of rules that dictate the appropriate dress for female students. I don’t understand the downright ridiculous uniform policies and I certainly don’t understand the reasoning behind them.

In many schools, fitted trousers are not considered to be appropriate because they show the female’s shape. In other schools showing your collarbones is not allowed. In most schools girls are not allowed to have their bra straps or bare shoulders visible, meaning that a basic vest top is considered to be inappropriate and too revealing for female students to wear.

Why aren’t girls allowed to show their shoulders, might you ask? Well, it’s because they will apparently be a distraction to male students.

Instead of teaching women from an early age that they must keep their body covered so that they do not distract boys, how about we start teaching boys to simply not sexualise every single inch of female flesh?

By imposing strict dress codes such as these, women are taught that keeping themselves covered so as not to tempt boys is the norm and that, essentially, the way that they dress is directly responsible for boys’ behaviour.

More worryingly about these dress codes is the fact that, in addition to leading women to believing they are responsible for the behaviour of men, they let young boys believe that they are not responsible for their own actions.

The behaviour of boys who objectify young girls based on what they’re wearing is commonly justified with phrases such as “boys will be boys” or “you know what boys are like.” This implies that boys have no self control and that it isn’t their fault if they falsely interpret a woman’s clothing as an invitation for sexual activity.

This message sticks with women into adulthood and feeds directly into rape culture. It is the woman’s job to ensure she does nothing to provoke sexual harassment or assault from a man. She should not go out late at night. She should not walk the streets alone. She should not wear revealing clothing. If she does, isn’t she kind of asking for it?

Instead of regulating women’s behaviour and clothing and holding them responsible for the behaviour of men, how about we start holding the men who objectify and attack women accountable for their actions?

Image via Instagram.