Differences

Evening guys!

I apologise for not blogging in a long while. Sometimes it’s hard to put in writing your thoughts, sometimes for fear of offending people or saying the wrong thing or not putting words together or simply time gets in the way.

I write this evening because I have just shared a lovely video on Facebook of children talking about their differences. This links to my feelings above about saying the wrong thing in a way…

In the video the children suggest differences about themselves such as where they live or what they play in sport, not the obvious racial or other physical aspects of differences to us adults perhaps.

My first thoughts were: that’s beautiful. The fact that the children don’t notice or don’t see physical, racial differences is an innocence to be appreciated and as adults if we could see people like that we might live in a kinder world.

I also wondered; at what point in our lives do we notice racial, physical and other differences, often with negative links? Does this come from media, history, family beliefs, exposure or previous experiences? Is it always negative feelings to differences or just misunderstanding of said difference? Or perhaps I’m being a pessimist and everyone sees difference positively…

Then I read the comments and it made me think. One person said should we use this as an opportunity to talk to children about racial differences and some of the issues minority groups face. I do agree with this to some extent, but then if we highlight differences to children with slightly negative links such as issues facing those people does this then make the children see their friends differently to before? And is that good or bad? Is the reason why some groups face difficulties because in history people have seen and disliked differences?

I honestly don’t have to exact answers. When thinking about how us Engligh try to be very PC wouldn’t it create more awareness differences and then divides if we highlight them? And then does that create the awkward feeling of trying to be PC simply because we are aware of a difference?

I work with young children and obviously we create opportunities for children to explore different cultures and what other people may like, do, eat etc. Therefore I am highlighting differences perhaps but not personal ones; General differences whilst making it very normal and easy for the children to understand differences are ok.

In the comments people felt the video was shying away from allowing children, or telling children, about differences. I do think it would be bad to shy away from discussing it. However I feel if and when children notice, the most important thing is that we learn differences are normal, good and celebrated. Then they may not associate difference with negative feelings as I feel many of us do. Even in school I wouldn’t like to stand out and BE different. So some encouragement to embrace difference is needed, while trying to embrace the innocence and perhaps try some for ourselves?

Em x

 

 

Guinness, Irish Cream, Coffee and Chocolate Jello Shots

emilyjamesjournal

These sound so intriguing! If you love Guinness or Baileys could be worth a try!

Ive loved experimenting with jelly shots! I have made vodka jelly ones and at Christmas made some gin and tonic jelly shots and served in a cut out lemon! These went down very well with my boyfriends family during some games on Christmas day!

Im definitely going to try these Guinness and baileys ones but they do require some more specific ingredients I will have to hunt down. Such as the Patron Cafe which after some googling have realised it is a type of coffee tequila!! Could be more expensive which can be a downfall of making more unusual things, so perhaps save for a special occasion! (Like next Christmas!)

Source: Baby Guinness Jello Shots

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Guinness, Irish Cream, Coffee and Chocolate Jello Shots

These sound so intriguing! If you love Guinness or Baileys could be worth a try!

Ive loved experimenting with jelly shots! I have made vodka jelly ones and at Christmas made some gin and tonic jelly shots and served in a cut out lemon! These went down very well with my boyfriends family during some games on Christmas day!

Im definitely going to try these Guinness and baileys ones but they do require some more specific ingredients I will have to hunt down. Such as the Patron Cafe which after some googling have realised it is a type of coffee tequila!! Could be more expensive which can be a downfall of making more unusual things, so perhaps save for a special occasion! (Like next Christmas!)

Source: Baby Guinness Jello Shots

The Troubling History of ‘Physical Descriptions’ of Women in the News

Interesting reflections on how women were (and maybe still are) described in media stories and what that means. Where weight and appearance were irrelevant to a story they were still commented on whereas not so much for men. This to me is odd but I think reflects a common trend that in any story women are often looked at for their physical appearance and not for the story itself. This also makes me think about all the stories that are purposely about women’s weight in magazines; comparing celebrities weight etc. It makes me think and worry how we are still such an appearance driven society which is partially fueled by continuous media portrayal.  Raising awareness of the negative aspects of what we are reading is surely one way forward to steer away from focusing on body image!

Source: The Troubling History of ‘Physical Descriptions’ of Women in the News

Guest Blogger Robin Black: On Learning To Spell Women’s Names While Men Buy My New Book For Their Wives

Interesting perspective from female writer Robin Black! Even though her book fits stereotypically male themes men haven’t wanted to particularly read it because they don’t read female writers books…. 🙈

On reflection I definitely go for stereotypical ‘girly’ books, chick flick type books, romantic and comedies. However personally when I’m reading in bed I don’t want to read something heavy, brutal, serious or scary! Not because I’m female! However because I chose these books it does mean I often read female authors not male. But I don’t consciously chose male or female authors. So do men make this conscious decision more because they don’t want t be seen with an imaginary pink book?

 

Source: Guest Blogger Robin Black: On Learning To Spell Women’s Names While Men Buy My New Book For Their Wives

Reflections on Call the midwife!

So or anyone who hasn’t seen it, the first episode of Call the Midwife (I haven’t caught up on the other one yet!) was fairly emotional in my opinion and highlighted some points about disability, how it was, and is, viewed and equality.

Major spoiler alert!!

In this episode a baby was born, healthy and well and beautiful, with just hands and feet but missing arms and legs. This was actually linked to complications caused by thalidomide taken by pregnant women in the 50’s and 60’s I think.

My main reflection was that, on the one hand I couldn’t believe and felt quite emotional about the fathers (and even midwives) reactions. How negative they were! And on the other hand it then made me think about how far we’ve come but how we still have to go. I think that many people still, on seeing children and grown adults with deformities, would be shocked and see it as negative thing. Whether they feel sorry for them, are disgusted or just think that their life must be very restricted.

This reminded me of the social and medical models of disability that we looked at on my degree. Basically the social model is that we should look at disability completely differently, that actually the way society is structured actually makes it harder and more restricting for those people, not their ‘disability’ itself. If more people had this view that it is society that makes it hard, our opinions, our buildings, our routines, then it might create a more positive outlook on people who are basically just a bit different!

Back to Call the Midwife more… They then collected old clothes for the baby that they adapted to make them fit the baby better. But the mother said that because they were old clothes, that people were going to through away, it wasn’t good enough! Meaning that there were no new clothes you could buy for those children. This links to the social model again! If we had made new clothes and sold them in shops to fit the baby then the baby wouldn’t have to fit into the old clothes and it might make the deformity more accepted.

In the story line it was the mothers natural, normal bond and love for the baby that really kept the family and positive outlook going. And that just shows how the baby was the same as any other!

This also reminded me of my own mums story of when my sister was born. My sister, sadly passed away 12 years ago from a brain tumour, had Downs Syndrome. She would have been born about 27 years ago but when she was born because of the Downs, the midwife said to my mum ‘you can have the weekend to think about if you want to keep her!’ This I feel was absolutely outrageous and mum did too. But my main concern was that was ONLY 27 years ago and yes even though it was a while ago it some respects, it really wasn’t in terms of history. This, linked with many other stories you hear today about inequality, makes me think we’ve come on fairly far but have so far to go still!!

Italy Braces for ‘Family Day’ Protest Against Gay Unions

Ahead of the country’s upcoming vote on civil union rights

I suppose as being a young person I still find it hard to believe that in some countries equal rights are not in place. Or perhaps in all countries some aspects on equality are still not achieved! This is relating to ethnicity, gender and disability as well as gay rights.
I also find it interesting that, quote: ‘Civil unions have been on the Italian government’s agenda in some form or another since 1988, but this is the first time a law has a real chance of being approved.’ Why is that? Because the rest of Europe is accepting that it is wrong not for everyone to have equal rights? This is a positive in some respects because it shows how if some people, countries, lead the way others will follow by example?
Also they explained how they cannot go to the EU debating some topics when they have such a burden in their own country. So is the acceptance of civil unions just useful for their own politics??

 

Source: Italy Braces for ‘Family Day’ Protest Against Gay Unions

The Danish Girl!

On Friday my friend Jess and I went to watch The Danish Girl on the cinema.

Ill try not to give any spoilers but this is based on a true story so if you know any history on the subject you might know already.

The real impact of this film on me comes from the fact that it is a true story! And it makes me sort of inspired by someone’s courage, in a time where something is unheard of, to go against the norms and do something that makes you happy! I feel this is what this film reflects overal, do what makes you happy no matter what!

I cant say however that I loved this film throughout. In some places me and Jess agreed it was uncomfortable to watch, – watching someone’s exploration of their gender, body and sexuality! Of course because it is very personal. However on reflection the fact that it made me feel uncomfortable shows how good the film is! Because we feel uncomfortable when we are forced to think about things that are (arguably) still a taboo subject and about something I don’t actually understand! This however is what I feel people should do on a daly basis! (Not in relation to gender and sexuality!! Just everyday things and also our judgements and prejudices.) I learnt a lot from my degree to challenge what people think, the assumptions they make. This could be like not bothering to vote, sighing impatiently at a crying baby and a mother, or assuming women should only work in nurseries (trust many people still think that) or automatically sitting next to a white women and not a mixed race man. To point out a few things that still happen in society according to surveys and social experiments. That’s why if we talk about it and challenge (in a relaxed sense) and make people feel slightly uncomfortable it can help to cause change in societal norms/assumptions.

I cant pretend that I can even begin to offer empathy and understanding to someone who feels that they are the wrong sex. In this case the man felt he was actually a straight woman in a mans body. Which is an odd concept for me to understand how that would feel and why. But my respect for Lilly is very high and I think her story is amazing.

However we are now in 2016 and I know that in the 1920s they did not think Lilly was amazing. Therefore I did feel sympathetic when thinking how difficult it would be to be different back then. It’s hard enough now I would imagine but at least we have improved from putting people in straight jackets just for being transgender!!!

On another note myself and Jess actually felt just as, if not more sorry for his wife. She must have felt like she lost her husband. That essentially the man she knew had died. Yet not. It is such a different unusual situation I cannot begin to understand how it feels. However our empathy was higher for her as I think everyone can understand what it feels like to loose someone. Yet my sympathy and empathy for her husband in his time of confusion and frustration was quite little. Is that wrong? Does that make me narrow minded? Prejudice? Or just shows my own confusion at trying to understand someone’s feelings?

I think the latter. And the fact that I am reflecting on how the film made me feel is a positive thing – challenging and reflecting on my thinking.

On considering the word transgender does this just encourage more gender stereotyping? By saying someone is dressing as their opposite gender is encouraging the fixed perspective that genders have certain dress codes, colours and mannerisms? Yet do we need gender differentiation? If we didn’t have any would it be boring as such? I can’t say I think I would be attracted to a man that dresses as a woman! But is that bad to say?! But if I had been brought up with no gender exposure would I be bothered?

I really don’t know the answers but it’s interesting to ponder! Gender is an interesting subject. Let me know what you think too!

 

 

 

Alternate Visions: Some Musings on Diversity in SF

‘If speculative fiction is about dealing with otherness, with difference, then these voices should be an integral and essential part of the body of speculative fiction, not pushed to the margins.’

Antariksh Yatra

I was recently in the remote Alaskan town of Barrow for an academic project.  Barrow is profoundly different from any place I have been: at 71.3 N latitude, it perches at the edge of the Arctic Ocean.  During April, when I visited, the ocean is frozen as far as you can see.  The tundra is white and flat, and there is no vegetation.  Most of the people who live there are Inupiat Eskimos.  It is as far removed as you can imagine from Delhi, where I grew up, or for that matter, Boston, near which city I now reside.

I was wandering through the bright hallways of Ilisagvik college in Barrow, looking for someone with whom I hoped to speak, when I found an efficient young administrative assistant.  She assured me she would find the person I was seeking, and took my name down.  As is usual in…

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