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Yes, I put vegan on my Tinder and I swipe left on health nuts because food politics are important to me



Sometimes I'm advised not to do it, but I do it anyway.

"You'll be seen as a preachy vegan type"

"People might be put off"

"You're revealing too much, try and have some mystery"

I'm talking about adding the word vegan to my online dating profile. It's not because I'm massively preachy or only date fellow vegans. Yeah, sure: if I could visit a shop and pick out my dream partner they'd be a vegan, but it's not a dealbreaker.

But I still put it in my bio for two reasons:

1. it means that other vegans can easily spot me, and
2. it means that anyone who is anti-vegan knows to fuck off immediately

At its most basic level, food is something we use to fuel our bodies. But, in reality, it is so much more than that. It's cultural, it's moral - and it is most definitely political. Food is brought up in parliament in relation to health policy, and Twitter has been awash the past few weeks with the news of the Amazon fires that were caused by aggressive animal agriculture. It's naive to brush food off as some neutral component of human life.

And because it is political, it means that it can become a dealbreaker in the world of dating.

While veganism might be brushed off as a personal choice or a phase someone goes through. For many of us, it is a political decision. Many vegans don't consume animal products because we believe it is wrong. And we believe it is wrong to the point where we consider it a dealbreaker when it comes to friendships and dating.

Personally, I don't have it written off as a dealbreaker and a meat-eater is welcome to court me. However, I'm not going to pretend that I wouldn't challenge the meat-eater to think about why they are eating a dead animal or remind them they are killing the planet.

And let's be honest: a lot of people would dump my ass for that kind of behaviour.

(Also, I also don't cook meat for people.)

While I don't consider veganism within itself to be a dealbreaker, I do consider politics to be a dealbreaker. I don't believe someone I'm dating has to agree on every issue under the sun, but I do want our political leanings to be similar-ish. Tories, Brexieters, pro-lifers, SWERFS and TERFs are five groups of people with political ideologies that I consider to be too polarising to my own to even consider a friendship, let alone a romantic partnership.

But under that political umbrella, there are some issues that I'm happy to disagree on (and by disagree I still mean challenge from time to time). One of those is veganism. I would prefer it if we agreed but I can live if we don't.

And I have known people who have gone veggie after falling in love with a veggie. It's not unheard of. Heck, most of my friends are veggie now but some of them weren't when I first met them.

To be honest though, people aren't particularly surprised to find any of this out. In fact, I'm regularly asked how I feel about dating a meat-eater when conversations turn to Tinder. But something that does catch people off guard is another area of food politics that is a dealbreaker to me.

And that's diet culture. 

Whenever I see "gym bunny", "I really take care of myself and don't ever eat bad" or - dear god - "raw vegan" I swipe left immediately. You can be handsome af in that cute nerd way that I like, write poetic morning texts, and own a library full of non-fiction books - and I'd still not bother with you if you insist on counting calories or won't go out for dinner because you're fasting.

Because, again, food is political. It can be more than a simple lifestyle choice.

My decision to not count calories and to prescribe to intuitive eating is a political one. In a world where eating disorders are rampant and there are industries out there that feed off of people's insecurities, deciding to nourish my body and accept its natural shape feels like a revolutionary act.

And it's a revolutionary act that I want my partner to share with me.

I fully believe that food should be enjoyed, and we should never encourage people to starve or go hungry in order to shrink themselves to a size that their body is not meant to be.

Truthfully, my aversion to dating people who count calories goes beyond politics and into mental health. While I might be all ~luv thyself~ now, it was a long journey. And it's still a journey as I am constantly surrounded by advertisements on a daily basis that don't want me to be happy in my own skin. It's a constant effort to keep myself above it. I became really skinny in my early 20s after an emotionally difficult time - and maintained my low food intake for some time after because I really liked the way skinny felt regardless of how unhealthy my behaviour was (I quit this nonsense after I was bed-bound with tonsillitis). And I don't surround myself with people who might encourage me to undo all of that hard work.

Which, obviously, includes romantic partners.

But it's more than just veganism and diet culture. These are just my own food-related dealbreakers.

Food can be a dealbreaker in many different ways.

My friend was speaking to a guy on a dating app, who was lovely enough. But he didn't drink. Which is obviously a perfectly acceptable lifestyle choice. However, my friend is a drinker and likes to actively seek out new bevvies. This wasn't what caused her to end it after two dates, but it was something she actively debated.

I've also met a handful of people who wouldn't want to date a fussy eater who only ever orders chicken nuggets.

And bad table manners.

Dealbreakers are deal-breakers. 

If you're someone with fairly mainstream eating habits, the idea that food could be a dealbreaker might not have ever occurred to you. It's similar to people who want marriage and children; they forget that some of us are child-free by choice.

And it doesn't matter whether someone finds out on a first date or a 10th date - if someone really isn't up for dating someone who is (or wants) x, y, and z then they'll end it. And that's why I think it's important to have a Tinder bio that shows off your personality - including anything that might act as a potential dealbreaker. You know that saying? Things that are for you won't go past you yadadada.

While I've not found a partner via online dating, I have met a lovely female friend on Bumble BFF. Both of us had very detailed bios - and we both double took when we saw each other for the first time. Heck, I even screenshotted her profile to send to my current friends because I was so excited! We could tell straight off the bat that we weren't going to be short of conversation topics! So while, yes, a detailed bio might mean you lose out on more right swipes - it means that people you are really suited for will definitely swipe right! Just like me and newest plantonic love affair.

So I put vegan in my bio. Saves everyone time.
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Is Final Destination 5 the best sequel ever made?




The Final Destination franchise - where every film starts with someone having a premonition, a bunch of teenagers escape death, but then death catches up and kills them in elaborate ways - has always sat on my "yeah I like it, but don't fangirl for it" film list.

I've always loved the concept of the films - that death has a design and no one can cheat it - and the kills are always brilliantly creative (if unlikely), but the annoying teenage characters grated on me. And, unlike many franchises, there wasn't a consistent final girl to root for or a villain to hate. What all the films have in common is the idea and concept, rather than a character, location, or backstory.

Currently, James A Janisse of Dead Meat YouTube fame (who is one of my favourite creators and every horror fan should be following him) is covering the Final Destination franchise on his Kill Count series. So far he has covered films 1-4, all of which I have seen and I pleasantly enjoyed James's snarky commentary. So in preparation for him covering Final Destination 5 next week, I decided to pop it on Netflix for some Friday night wild times. 

Since the fourth film, The Final Destination, was a hot piece of garbage (and just the low-standards that tend to plague sequels in general, let alone the 5th instalment) I went in there with really low expectations. 

But instead, 

I found, 

potentially, 

the world's 

greatest film sequel, 

ever. 

I'm going to warn you now, that this blog post is not a review but instead a mind-dump of OHMYGODHOWFUCKINGCOOLWASTHAT? There's a massive twist at the end, which is foreshadowed throughout but I still didn't see it coming, and I will be revealing it in a few sentences. 

So, like, go watch it first and then come back and squee with me in the comments. 

You also need to very familiar with the franchise to appreciate the twist when it comes.

But those of you who know what happens, let's hyperventilate over everything Final Destination. 

Are your eyes away now?

The outdated cultural references felt out of place but I put it down to poor scriptwriting. Even when they talked about moving to Paris the whole fucking movie I didn't make the connection with the first film. When they got on the plane my initial reaction was "why are they doing a plane scene again? You did that in the first fucking film. Have we ran out of elaborate death ideas?". 

It wasn't until I saw Kerr Smith being dragged off the plane by security that I was like HOLY FUCKING BATMAN THIS WAS A PREQUEL THE ENTIRE TIME AND THEY ARE GOING TO FUCKING DIE ON THE PLANE CRASH FROM THE FIRST FILM. 

It hit me like a bus. 

LOL. I make myself laugh (if no one else).

The only clue in the film that really stood out to me, but I ultimately put it down to a scriptwriting choice, was that they never made reference to the other films. In the other sequels, the teenagers received guidance from news stories and commentary about Flight 180 - and in the second film, they even sought the consult of a survivor. As noticeable as this was to me, I just got annoyed about it rather than making the connection that this film was set before the events of the first film. My internal dialogue was wondering why the characters weren't Googling their way out of this situation - but duh: smartphones weren't a thing circa the millennium and most homes still had dial-up.

The only advice they received was from the Coronor who randomly walks up to them at a funeral.

The filmmakers also created a nice balance between sneaking in a few nods to early 00s culture and technology, while not going so overboard that you immediately realise that this film is set in the past. There was a flip cell phone at one point (which I didn't notice), and there was a Lisa Lobe reference (which I did notice, and was like "wasn't that the chick who had one big song in the 90s then...nothing" I was nine when the millennium passed, so I wasn't super culturally-aware yet).

But there was something about the decision to return to the first film that stood out to me culturally, but only after I realised what was happening. Both films are set in 2000, but the second film was actually released in 2009. And between 2000 and 2009, the world witnessed 9/11 which had a big impact on the entertainment industry.

The first Final Destination film is painfully pre-9/11. To clarify, the first Final Destination film, where an aeroplane blows up, was released 18 months prior to 9/11 - which is uncomfortably close. If someone who is old enough to remember 9/11 watches Final Destination, without knowing its release date and storyline, they might find it a bit jarring as clothing, actors, and technology give away that its an early 00s film and was culturally in the same time frame as 9/11.

Final Destination 3 did come under fire for referencing 9/11 in a photograph.

(We also know, that these days, someone screaming "the plane will crash" will probably be shot straight in the chest, even in films.).

But because 9/11 is too powerful an event to ignore, filmmakers tend to stay clear of blowing planes up. That's why the return to the first film took me a little by surprise. The first film was made in a pre-9/11 world, while the last was made in a post-9/11 world (even if it was set at the turn of the millennium). But they looped it right back. Don't get me wrong, I'm not offended by it and I don't think we should ban film producers from using planes as plot devices, but it was a reason why the decision stood out to me. 

However, it wasn't just the twist at the end that made Final Destination 5 such a great sequel.

Firstly, the opening sequence. Most of the opening premonitions in the Final Destination franchise play on our biggest fears: flying, car crashes, and rollercoasters (but weirdly the fourth film went for a race track blowing up?). The final film goes for a bridge falling apart. Now, I don't know about you, but bridges have always made me feel uneasy. I'm not afraid of them to the point where I'll plan my entire journey to avoid them. But when I'm on one, I am consciously aware of how far off the ground (or water) I am. That's why this opening sequence unnerved me more than the others.

Secondly, the characters are fleshed out. As mentioned at the start, the Final Destination films throw stereotypical teenagers together, then concentrates on creating gory deaths. That's cool. But it's also the reason I don't think I've ever been a massive fan. They spend a lot more time on character development in this film, where the characters all know each other already (through work). Especially Peter, who develops trauma off the back of his near-death experience where he then has to discover that death will catch up with him anyway! Once upon a time, we showed trauma survivors to be "strong" and ready to prove everyone wrong, but it's becoming more common to show characters with PTSD symptoms.

Then there was the extra mythology. Since these young adults, are (chronologically) the first people to cheat death in the franchise, they don't have previous experiences to rely on. So the writers had some fun with the advice given by the coroner. The new tweak to the formula? If you kill someone else you can take their place within the living, as death will accept their life instead. This is questionably not correct as Peter does take the detective's life and then Sam takes Peter's life - but Sam and Molly still die? But it was still an interesting take on how death works and adds an extra philosophical question to the theory of death's design.

Then finally: the elaborate deaths. Now, this has always been something that the Final Destination franchise has done well. But what I really liked about the deaths in Final Destination 5 is that they were in, some ways, more believable. I, for one, am creeped out by the concept of laser eye surgery (or things coming near my eye, full stop) so a death scene involving a burnt eye got right under my skin. Then there was a gymnastic routine gone wrong (though, I did burst out laughing) and there was a straight-up murder. Then the eventual plane crash that killed Sam and Molly wasn't overly far-fetched either (previous instalments have had people flattened by signs and bathtubs falling through ceilings). It taps into real fears, albeit in an elaborate way.

And oh, the final scene of Final Destination 5 is in sync with the plane crash from the first film:



Final Destination 5 wrapped up the franchise nicely, and I hope it gets left alone. A reboot in another decade could work. As would a tv, stage, or graphic novel adaption. But this timeline of events is one that has nicely tied up loose ends and it would be great to see it left the way it is. 
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Fringe Favourites: Cruel Intentions the 90s Musical


Cruel Intentions
© The Other Richard

Love or hate it, nostalgia is big right now. Film directors, theatre companies, games producers, and record labels are cashing in on our desire to relive decades gone by. And why not? It's a widely known part of the human experience that we hold the biggest place in our hearts for the pop culture of our childhood and teenage years. I can't name a single Billie Ellish song (but I know who she is, I'm not that out of touch) but ask me to recite every song from Green Day's American Idiot album and I'm your girl.

So obviously the Edinburgh Fringe is chock full of acts attempting to tap into everyone's inner teenager. But the performance that is shouting the loudest (if posters could shout) is the musical adaption of Cruel Intentions

Cruel Intentions is a bit of a random film to adapt. I was just short of being a teenager in 1999, and while the film did perform well, it didn't have the same pop culture influence that Clueless or Mean Girls did. And as much as Sarah Michelle Geller was in her prime in the late 90s, these days we never really see her (see this YouTube video for a quick analysis as to why). Despite being a film I've always enjoyed, it doesn't stand out as one of the big ones. 

But the producers were smart and decided to tap into the audience's nostalgia for all things the 90s. In addition to bringing the story and dialogue to the stage, they sprinkled some of the most recognisable pop songs from the 90s into the script. We're talking Britney Spears, N*SYNC, TLC, Goo Goo Dolls, Natalie Imbruglia and the Dawson's Creek soundtrack. And they made reference to AOL Chat and other 90s peculiarities. 

Before I went into the theatre, I knew that this formula had the potential to really work...or fall flat on its face. 

Thankfully, it really worked. 

The singing from every cast member was on-point, Rebecca Gilhooley perfectly impersonated Sarah Michelle Geller's accent, Sophie Isaacs physically resembles Reese Whitherspoon, and a special shout out to Evelyn Hoskins for nailing the cringier scenes in her over-the-top take on the naive Cecile.

The musical adaptation also stays true to the original film but does soldier through it at a very quick pace (there's no interval). And as you would expect from any musical adaption, it is much campier than the original film (which wasn't very campy at all).

They performed the musical adaption in a pop-up marquee in George Square Gardens, which did mean they were limited by their performance space. Throughout the performance, they kept the same set that consisted of two chaise lounge-style benches (which wouldn't have looked out of place in the original film). A great set is difficult to acquire if you're limited by cost or space. And sometimes stretching a production budget to create visual set changes can make the audience painfully aware of how little budget you have (or at least it can for me). But the decision to make just one setup work for the entire show simplified the performance and meant the audiences' focus was on the story.

Saying that, if this musical gains traction (which I think it will) I would love to see what they could do with a proper stage set up and team. But I'm thankful the kept it simple at this stage. 

Was it a high-brow Shakespearean play? Absolutely not. Was it fun? Hell yes. If fun pop songs make you break out in a rant about manufactured bands who don't write their own songs, then Cruel Intentions The 90s Musical is not for you. And if you didn't live through the 90s (did you know that people born in 2000 can now legally drink alcohol? Mental) then some of the references might be lost on you. 

But if you like the original film and still boogie in your room to the Backstreet Boys, then Cruel Intentions The 90s Musical comes highly recommended. 
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What relationship anarchy means for me and how it shows up in my life






Back in April, I wrote a personal blog post exploring my (and society's!) feelings towards romantic attraction.

Within this post, I provided a brief overview of a few labels people use to wrap up their romantic attraction into one succinct word. For me personally, the two labels that I identify with are relationship anarchist and grey-romantic.

(Don't like labels? Tough! They help people - like myself - who don't fit the heteronormative babies and a house in the suburbs narrative understand our needs and feel less like freaks).

Today I want to focus on Relationship Anarchy and how it shows up in my life in a practical sense. I also have a similar blog post penned for grey-romanticism, but that's another few weeks away. An important thing to remember about Relationship Anarchy is that, in its essence, it allows people to have platonic, romantic, sexual, and familial relationships in a way that feels right for them and removes the hierarchy that some relationships should automatically be more important than others.

From the Relationship Anarchy Manifesto:

Relationship anarchy questions the idea that love is a limited resource that can only be real if restricted to a couple. You have the capacity to love more than one person, and one relationship and the love felt for that person does not diminish love felt for another. Don’t rank and compare people and relationships — cherish the individual and your connection to them. One person in your life does not need to be named primary for the relationship to be real. Each relationship is independent, and a relationship between autonomous individuals.
Please bear in mind that I'm about to talk about how Relationship Anarchy shows up for me personally, it is not how it will show up for everyone - because the whole point of Relationship Anarchy is doing what feels right for you (but with consent and communication!).

I don't consider a romantic relationship to be something that I must have

If I was to conjure up my ideal life, yes, I would have one (or multiple) steady romantic/sexual partner(s). But it's not something that keeps me awake at night. I've been legally single (notice the terminology; I'll expand on that in a bit) for almost a decade, and I'm completely okay with that (despite the aghast faces that some people will make when they find out).

It hurts my feelings that my family show no interest in my platonic relationships

Hi family, if you're reading! I doubt my parents (and especially my wider family) could tell my adult friends apart from each other. But if a serious romantic partner entered the picture, my parents would be on the first train to Glasgow and they'd be invited for Christmas. My platonic relationships mean a lot to me, and it does bother me that my family see these relationships as not worth paying attention to.

And I hate going to weddings alone

When did we decide the societal norm that plus ones to weddings have to be a serious romantic partner? Even a co-worker who will literally not know one other person at your wedding will be expected to turn up themselves?

I was having this chat with my partnered friend recently who said it annoyed her as well. Her reasoning: what if my partner is busy? Is she not allowed to take another person?

I'm not opposed to marriage, and if I do have a wedding the ceremony itself will be close friends and family but the reception can be anyone I'm friendly with - and everyone gets a plus one, regardless of relationship status.

I've had more casual relationships than serious relationships

The idea of casual relationships still gets some people's backs up. My response? If you don't like them, then don't have one.

For me, a casual relationship involves all the romance and sex that a serious relationship might have - but, yes, without the commitment. Having a relationship without commitment does not make someone a horrible person. It's just the right choice for them.

I think there's a difference between a romantic relationship and a romantic partner

To me, any relationship that is romantic counts as a romantic relationship - no matter how serious, or non-commital, it is. If it's romantic, it's romantic. Even if you choose never to label it or tick the milestones that all romantic couples are expected to.

But not every romantic relationship will be a romantic partnership. To me, a romantic partnership is when you partner with someone and commit your life to them: living together, joint bank accounts, children, marriage etc.

And it sometimes catches people really off-guard (on a date) when I ask if they are looking for a serious partnership or just a romantic relationship. Think of it in terms of polyamory: primary partner versus secondary partner. Your love for the secondary partner might be true, but you've chosen to commit yourself to the first partner. 

Some people still automatically baulk at this and accuse me of wasting my time. Look, it's my time. And it's my decisions. Non-serious romantic relationships are a common thing in Relationship Anarchy and Polyamorous circles.

I'm not opposed to a romantic partner, but they'd have to be incredible

As I mentioned earlier, my ideal life would involve a steady romantic/sexual partner. However, I don't crave one badly enough that I would reduce my standards. I see some people happily agree to be someone's partner after a few dates (how? you've met them three times?). If I'm going to partner with someone and factor them into every big life choice I make, then they're going to have to be incredible (and want similar things from life).

I am open to polyamory

Relationship Anarchy and polyamory have a lot of overlap. I mean, if you reject the societal expectation of a romantic partner being your everything then surely you're open to having more than one partner?

Not necessarily.

For me, non-monogamy is one of those bridges I'll cross, if and, when I meet someone I want to enter a formal relationship with (I do, however, have a strict rule than a casual romantic partner can never expect monogamy of me). My ideal scenario is one formal romantic/sexual partner with a few sidepieces (for a lack of better term). However, it's not a dealbreaker and I am open to negotiating the boundaries (even agreeing to make the relationship monogamous).

For those of you familiar with non-monogamy, you'll be aware that having a primary partner is sometimes seen as mock-monogamy and doesn't work in practice. I completely agree with this and get why polyamorous relationships should be free-flowing, and demanding that your partner doesn't fall in love with a secondary partner is just unrealistic. But because I so rarely meet people I want to partner with, I know the chances of me having more than one committed partner is an unlikely scenario. But if two emerge, then I'll cross that bridge.

Couples who do everything together confuse me

Almost every time I'm out shopping I see a grumpy male partner moaning because their female partner dragged them to the shops against their will. Can the girl not go shopping herself? Ask her friend who enjoys shopping to accompany her instead? Can the man not say no?

Yes, couples need to spend time together and sometimes you need to suck things up. But those sucking things up should be important things - like shopping together for a new kitchen or attending a family wedding. Quality couple time should be a meaningful activity for both of you.

This is why I love to have multiple relationships in my life - whether familial, platonic, or romantic. It means that I'm never dragging people to things against their will, and I'm never being dragged to things against my will. If you have hobbies that no one in your circle shares, then feel free to go out and find people who do share those hobbies with you. You're not balled and chained.

When I am in a relationship, I maintain a life outside it

Granted, I haven't been in a Facebook-official relationship for eight years but when I have done the Big Official Meet The Parents Relationship, I didn't glue myself to the person.

How other people structure their relationships is not my business, and if someone wants their romantic partner to be their sole source of social and emotional support then that's their choice. But I've always found it draining when someone I'm dating expects 24/7 attention or gets weird about me maintaining strong friendships (fun fact: I am platonically and romantically attracted to people who have a lot going on in their lives - and everyone I've ever had a big crush on or fallen in love with had some kind of big hobby they loved with a passion).

I specifically crave a romantic/sexual relationship for romantic/sexual needs

While I might be grey-romantic, I'm not 100% aromatic and I'm definitely allosexual. So I still crave romance and sex, albeit maybe not the first one as much as other. That's why my ideal life would still involve a romantic/sexual partner. And I know that sex with someone you love and feel comfortable with is an incredible experience (and better than an awkward one night stand)

However, about a year ago I had a proper think about why I crave a romantic/sexual relationship, especially in relation to the needs that that kind of relationship would meet. And I had a bit of a revelation. There are a lot of us (and I include myself in this) who have needs that we want to be met by a romantic relationship, that could actually be a met by a familial or platonic relationship.

I work in the travel industry and solo travellers are on the increase - with the highest demographic being divorced, empty-nesters. You might have not have a partner or young children, but do you not have a close friend you could go away with? I've also heard single people who are worried that it might take a few days for someone to notice if they went missing. I'm pretty certain my employer and flatmate would notice immediately - but I also have friends that I speak to almost every day who would get worried very quickly. The same goes for emotional support during difficult times.

If you're feeling down about being single, I recommend thinking about why you feel this way. Is it really a romantic relationship you want, or do you have needs that aren't being met (but could be met!) by the platonic relationships in your life? What are you really craving?

I don't believe that blood is thicker than water

Just the same as I don't hold romantic relationships as automatically more important than platonic relationships, familial relationships also have to be meaningful for me to put emotional energy into them. I'm not into the societal conditioning that family members - regardless of how toxic they are - should get a free pass on behaviour that makes you feel uncomfortable, unsafe, or upset. If you wouldn't accept certain behaviours from a friend, don't accept them from a family member.

I actually come from a very small family: I'm an only child with a grand total of five cousins. I also don't want children and I'm not too fussed about a life partner, so in a few decades time there's a very high likelihood that I won't really have a family. This makes some people reach out to pat me on the shoulder, but this is something I have long made my peace with - and is probably why I put a lot of effort into making meaningful connections outside the family.

I'm honest as fuck straight away when I'm dating

Generic dating advice will tell you not to talk about marriage and children on a first date. This is dating advice I tend to ignore. I actually have written on my Tinder that I don't want children. As far as I'm concerned telling someone what you want before anyone falls in love is how respectful people behave, and recognises that we are living in 2019 (not 1960 where women can't get a mortgage without a husband's signature).

Relationship Anarchy respects people's right to do what is right for then. Whether that is a traditional house in the suburbs with two kids and a dog, or having multiple casual relationships. I don't care what other people do, and I certainly don't have anything against people who stick to tradition. But it does mean being very honest with people - and recognising that there are multiple ways to practice romantic and sexual relationships so you need to lay your needs down early.

It's 2019 and various relationship styles are coming out the woodwork. It's time to acknowledge them because they're only going to grow more popular. So be honest.

If you identify as a Relationship Anarchist, how does it show up in your life? 
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July Linkables



I would ask if everyone has been enjoying the hot weather we've been having in Scotland. But because I'm me (me being a killjoy) I'm going to draw your attention to global warming. Like this is not good people. And now we're expecting a storm. A storm and a heatwave within a week of each other? The planet is dying.

Anyway, links.

Sex & Relationships

Something I've wondered a few times: when in a new relationship do you bring up past traumas?

Co-signed: moving on doesn't always mean finding a new relationship

Social Justice, Equality, & Politics 

If Brexit wasn't humiliating enough, here's Boris Johnson's take on it.

In case you weren't aware: I'm a member of the Scottish Greens and their new fox-hunting bill is one of the many reasons why.

Stonewall shares the Truth About Trans.

How to actually engage in ethical tourism (hint: it doesn't involve elephant sanctuaries).

Black women are angry - and they have every right to be!

Homophobia isn't dead: we are young, gay - and looking over our shoulders.

If your precious union of the UK means anything real then start giving a shit about Northern Ireland and the politically-sensitive border. This article is amazing, even if it makes me angry.

A reminder that recycling doesn't do that much environmental good.

Selling mindfulness as a product is dirty capitalism.

Articles I wish I had written: Moby's treatment of Natalie Portman is a masterclass in nice-guy misogyny.

A reminder that biological sex is not binary and you shouldn't use it to justify transphobia.

The Guardian published an article asking male feminist allies to start cleaning around the house. And while I think there is a lot more to supporting women, I'd say that sharing domestic duties is a fucking good start!

Surprise, surprise: Dunes at Trump's golf course due to lose protected status (I grew up near here).

Not sure why there are protests in Hawaii? Here's a foundational explanation.

Woke-ness is such a big thing now that even brands are getting in on it. Oliver Franklin-Wallis looks at why.

Geek & Pop Culture

Part of me loves this, but part of me hates that it has to be said too: Why Bend it Like Beckham is still a huge Deal 15 Years Later.

Food & Veganism

Stop the press: Tesco is launching a vegan Christmas range!

Must read: diet culture is toxic - even for those of us who don't diet!

Why every metal and hardcore fan should consider going vegan.

4 ingredients vegan Parmesan cheese.

And...

Things that shouldn't need to be explained.

What have you been reading online this month? 
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I attended the Netball World Cup, and instead of writing about the matches or players I'm defending it (again) from critics who claim it's too girly and a tool of the patriarchy



If you're a girl who grew up in the UK there's a large chance that you played netball at school.

Some of us, however, didn't stop playing after school.

While I wouldn't consider netball to be a big passion of mine, I have maintained a passing interest. I played it in university, joined a casual league (briefly) in Glasgow, attended the netball matches in Glasgow during the Commonwealth Games, and even travelled to Liverpool for the Netball World Cup earlier this month.

When people found out that I was attending the Netball World Cup they usually responded with surprise. Netball hasn't really lost its schoolgirl image and many members of the public are surprised to realise that there are fully-grown adults who take it that seriously.

Granted, the public profile of Netball is on the rise. As the conversation around women's sport becomes louder, the Netball World Cup in Liverpool had mainstream coverage on BBC News (aided by having it on English turf). The same can be said about the recent Women's Football World Cup. I don't follow football but I was still very aware of the competition for the first time in my life.

So it will come as little surprise that the organisers of the Netball World Cup were using this as an opportunity to promote female participation in sport.

On the surface of it, Netball appears to be a feminist dream. A sport where women dominate? That managed to obtain mainstream coverage? That girls play in school and create friendships through?

However, feminist circles can't agree on whether Netball is feminist or not. A quick Google and you will find feminist academics and journalists arguing that netball actually holds girls back and that it's too dainty.

I'm not going to explicitly share my opinion until the conclusion. Though it's probably obvious that as a fan of netball I'm on the pro-netball side, however, I am instead going to spend the next few minutes 1) discussing where the idea that netball is harmful to women has come from and 2) rip those reasons to shreds.

The main problem that feminist writers and scholars have with netball is its patriarchal roots. And this is the only reason that, yeah, you have a point. Netball was founded in Victorian England as a watered-down version of basketball that would allow women to engage in physical activity without getting into too much of a sweat. It was very ladylike and was even played in long pleated skirts.

So, yes. Sexist bullshit indeed.

But here's why I defend it.

The netball that was founded in Victorian England is not the same netball you now see at elite levels. Victorian netball was never designed to be an elite sport that people played professionally. The first Netball World Cup was held in 1960, making it younger than both my parents! And I can assure you that the netball played at the highest levels (by athletes with muscular bodies) can not be played in pleated skirts. You'd trip up!

Over the years, women have taken this dainty sport (and it was dainty back in the day) and upped the pace and physical prowess required for the game. And that's fucking powerful. There's a lot of debate around reclaiming things that were once used to hurt oppressed groups, and I stand firmly in the camp that oppressed groups should reclaim things. I use the word slut and queer so that they can't be used against me, and will one day reemerge as bog-standard words that are never used as slurs. The same can be said for women running beauty YouTube channels where they make crazy-money out of this feminine hobby that many deem as fluffy or a waste of their time.

And netball, to me, is another example of an oppressed group reclaiming something. You're going to not allow us a place on the elite-level sports because we're dainty women who can't handle it? Fine. We'll take your Netball and we'll turn it into an elite level sport that requires athleticism of the highest level. Oh, and we'll have a World Cup. Watch us.

The other argument that seems to crop up a lot is that netball is a restrictive game and represents how restricted women are in society. Deep. For those of you who aren't aware of the rules of netball: there are seven players who have positions and those positions have specific roles and each position can only be in certain parts of the court.

Bear with me a second, as I'm going to come back to that after this next argument and that I'll look at them together.

The other argument that gets flung around a lot is that netball is a non-contact sport. You can't tackle someone in netball like you can in football or rugby. This apparently is representative of women not being allowed to show any sign of aggression, whether that's while playing a sport or just generally living their life. Women should be well-mannered and agreeable at all times. Also deep, I know.

When I read these arguments I feel as though the writers live in a parallel universe where women only play netball and men only play rugby (and where only two genders exist). Because of this, I've decided to compile a list of other sports that are played at an elite level, are tackle-free and/or have a lot of rules. You're welcome.
  • golf
  • bowls
  • cricket
  • swimming
  • tennis
  • volleyball
  • badminton
  • snooker
  • darts
  • archery
  • curling
  • sailing
If you're complaining about netball not being aggressive enough, I hope that you're reminding any male relatives who play golf of the same thing every time they tee off.  If you don't like netball because it's non-contact but you will happily cheer on your grandpa at the bowling green then you need to ask yourself: is it really netball that I have a problem with or is it just women, especially feminine women? Because there are plenty of male-orientated sports (which would be most sports, tbh) that are much slower-paced than netball (which isn't even slow-paced, especially at the elite level).

And too schoolgirly? Have you seen schoolboys play football? It's wildly different from the standard you see at the World Cup. 

Instead of looking for reasons for why the world should dislike the same things you dislike how about you just let people like things. I don't like golf. After three summers of working in a golf club, where men who were old enough to my dad (and some of these men probably drank pints in the pub with my actual dad) made comments about my appearance and told me I'd make a good wife because I made them a cup of tea (that did, unfortunately, happen) I really can't stomach the game. But I still have better things to do with my life than foam at the mouth when the Ryder Cup is on. 

Almost everything is problematic when viewed through a social justice lens. This is why I support media literacy where people can simultaneously enjoy things but recognise problematic elements. I'm not into cancelling people unless they are Chris Brown levels of offensive.  

But but but..... girls are forced into playing netball at school while the boys get to play rugby. I can't speak for everyone's school experience but I can speak for my own. When I was in Primary 6 the girls were all sent letters asking if they wanted to stay after school on a Wednesday for netball classes. Very few girls didn't take it, but it wasn't compulsory. Netball was also part of sports day where the different school houses played matches against each other. And the girls could be part of the Sports Day football teams too (though I only remember one girl signing up). But never was it enforced. 

In high school, netball was still present. The actual netball team try-outs were for girls only. But in P.E. Netball was mixed-sex with the boys taking part. It was incredible because the girls were running circles around them as the boys entered sections of the courts their position weren't allowed into. There was no male arrogance in those PE lessons! 

As a side note though, sport isn't a big part of the state education system in Scotland. Most people who grow up sporty in Scotland come from sporty families or have parents who will pay for classes outwith school hours. Sports inequality is a very real thing in Scotland but it's more than a gender issue.

Finally, a note on feminity: 

THERE'S NOTHING WRONG WITH BEING A FEMININE-PRESENTING PERSON OR ENJOYING STREOTYPICALLY FEMININE THINGS. If you ever - and I mean ever - shit on something for being feminine I will come after you. To me shitting on something for no other reason than being a stereotypically female hobby, career, or sport is inherently anti-feminist. It's patriarchy convincing you that feminine people and their feminine hobbies deserve less respect. Let people present the gender they feel okay with. Because, as far as I am concerned, people who wear lipstick (and like netball) can sure as hell turn up to the revolution. Feminity is only wrong when it is enforced feminity. Women should be free to be as feminine or as non-feminine as they want. 

But, on the flip side, I find the idea that netball is a feminine sport laughable. I can understand why people say cheerleading and ice-skating are feminine as it is performative and usually involves make-up and thought-out outfit choices. But netball, feminine? It's not a theatre-esque sport. Players don't wear make-up. They sweat buckets. They don't always look particularly pretty while playing.

The only reason Netball is seen as feminine is because only women tend to play it. 

But, male and mixed teams are on the increase. Though it's laughable that men are complaining about gender inequality in Netball when they dominate pretty much every other sport, ever. 

My final opinion? Is netball feminist? No. Is it anti-feminist? Also no. 

Anyone who thinks netball is still the dainty back garden game from the Victorian era or the same game they played at school needs to attend the next Netball World Cup (which will be in Cape Town, swish!). 
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A personal ramble on make-up, self-expression, hair colour, the beauty industry and body positivity




Friday night I dyed my hair.

Which in itself, is not a big deal. I have been dying my hair auburn using Lush Caca Rouge Henna for seven years now. Yes, there have been gaps where I've tried other vegan hair dyes but overall this is a long time to be committed to a specific hair colour.

Over the past six months, you might have noticed that I have become increasingly brunette again. Because it is henna, it will fade rather than produce a harsh root line. But I was also experimenting with other hair colours, namely burgundy. I never found a purple vegan dye I really liked and because most of them were not permanent I got frustrated with the upkeep. But saying that, I never returned to my auburn roots (ha!) until Friday.

What changed was that in the middle of last week I wasn't feeling at home in my own body. My skin had that crawling feeling, I hated all my clothes, and I wasn't feeling myself. Because I always choose to work through my feelings - instead of ignoring them - I came home and sat with myself. Because I knew my negative feelings were connected to my physical appearance, this also involved staring at myself in the mirror where I began to notice perceived flaws that don't actually exist.

If your reaction to this is to immediately scream BUT THIS IS BULLSHIT BEAUTY STANDARDS! YOU ARE A FEMINIST! STOP SHAVING YOUR ARMS! FEMININE AND FEMINIST CAN'T CO-EXIST! FASHION IS SHIT AND WE SHOULD ALL BE NUDISTS! then I want to have a chat.

Because the purpose of this blog is not for me to talk about my hair (it's just the opening anecdote, I promise) it's to have a discussion around caring about your appearance (make-up, clothing, plucking etc) while being feminist and shouting about body positivity ten times a day - and how these two things can co-exist within the same person.

And that takes me back to my hair anecdote. I feel more at home in my body with auburn hair. I've been told by other people that I suit my fake auburn hair more than I've ever suited my natural brunette hair. But not everyone is saying that it's more aesthetically pleasing; I've had people comment about it "suiting my personality". I get that. I'm not exactly the most mainstream person ever, so it's understandable that I might not want a mainstream hair colour. The Little Mermaid is my favourite Disney Princess. And clearly, I'm not going to become a fish anytime soon so I'm settling for red hair.

And it's here where I introduce you to the reason why you can be feminist while still caring about your appearance and preach body positivity while wearing lipstick: self-expression.

Heck, Lady Gaga once wrote a song about hair and self-expression:
 

Make-up and clothing choices play a large part in how we express our self-identity. When we dress a certain way, we tell the world who we are in a non-verbal way. Do we want to proudly show off our favourite sports teams? A favourite band? Make it clear that you belong to a subculture? That you consider yourself to be a girl girly? That you're queer? Maybe you wear a political badge? Your appearance speaks a thousand words before you open your mouth. And some of us like to actively control the words our appearance makes.

When it comes to my romantic and platonic attraction I am drawn to people whose appearance suggests a certain type of personality. In all genders, I am drawn to stylish geeks and indie kids who aren't too hipster. I know many girls (and boys) who love a man in a suit - but what makes me weak at the knees is a pop culture t-shirt and converse! Plus facial hair! And the last three dudes I've dated/fancied wore glasses! You don't need to be a relationship expert here to work out why these kinds of people draw me in: I am a geek/sort-of-hipster and I'm drawn to people who give off the vibe that they are also a geek/sort-of-hipster.

(Even if you don't consciously consider the messages your appearance gives out, I'm sorry to break it to you: but people still subconsciously look for clues about your personality in your appearance).

Dieting and intense exercising, however, aren't connected to self-expression: it's limiting your food intake and wearing yourself out in order to shrink your body to a certain size (which it's probably not meant to be). That's just unhealthy and you could be causing yourself damage. Food is fuel. It's what your body needs to survive. Yes, you probably shouldn't drink 10 cans of fizzy juice a day, but that doesn't change that your body needs sugar. I would argue that in 90% of cases a calorie controlled diet isn't just unnecessary: it is dangerous. In case you (somehow) never got the memo: people do literally die from diets that get out of hand.

(Calories also only measure the fuel in your food and provide no information on how healthy the food is)

Exercise gets a bit of leeway, as it's only dangerous when it gets out of control. I swim. It's my longest running hobby and is really beneficial to my mental and emotional wellbeing. I love swimming. But I don't do it every day and I know when enough is enough. I listen to my body. And while it is difficult to not pay attention to the slimming effect it has on my body, I try to measure my success by the milestones that have nothing to do with my waistline (time improvement, how many lengths of butterfly I can do etc).

Now it's back to self-expression and why it means a lot to some people (including myself).

If you were to dig out photos to document my life you'll notice something: I yo-yoed between tomboy and girly girl for a lot of my pre-adult life. Growing up I had complicated feelings towards make-up. I was an ugly teenager with spotty skin and squint teeth so for a long time make-up was about looking "better". I would copy make-up exactly the way it was in the magazines rather than finding a look that felt right on my own face. But I also hated that I felt like this and I would enter stages where I'd refuse to wear it. I also wanted to rebel and not conform to societal beauty standards. It also didn't help that very few people in my family express their personalities through their clothing choices (at least consciously). So yes, my teenage rebellion did involve wearing clothes that I knew would piss my parents off.

When I reflect on my shift from a childhood raised in a house where clothes were nothing more than protecting yourself from the elements, to an adult who actively expresses themselves through clothes I notice two time periods when my aesthetic began to align more closely with my personality.

And, make no mistake about it, the two time periods I am referring to were when larger emotional shifts were happening in my life. My changes in physical appearance where the outward visualisation of a deeper shift within myself.

The first was when I was 20. I went through both a platonic and romantic break-up (both on very bad terms) within the space of a few months. And while this was a difficult time period for me, it was also the wake-up call I needed that I was letting people walk all over me and I needed to work on why that was (I go into more detail about that in this post). I began to assert myself in small ways: going vegetarian, moving to Glasgow, starting a blog, not doing hobbies I didn't really enjoy, and (dun dun dun) beginning to dress in a way that I felt more at home in. When you look at pictures of me from before the age of 20 I don't look like the same person. But from the age of 20 onwards, I don't look wildly different from modern-day me. You begin to see some consistency.

The other time period I am referring to is the end of my self-love journey, which was two years ago. Over the years I had begun to make choices for myself without letting other people's opinions affect me. But these were small choices where I slowly took back autonomy of my own life. Two years ago I finally had a break-through where I made two big decisions that were scary and I knew I might get backlash:

  • I removed toxic friends from my life who I went back years with
  • I came out of the closet as bisexual, having known I was bisexual since the start of high school
While I had known intellectually for years that these two decisions would make me a happier person long term, it took me until my mid-20s to burst. When I did burst, years of internal confusion were lifted and I felt like I had been re-born. 

And for the first time ever I felt confident that I knew who I was. And that was shown in my physical appearance. When I sorted out the internal shit, the external shit fell into place. I now knew how I wanted to express myself aesthetically. Turns out, the lack of consistency in my aesthetic appearance was the external expression of a confused person. Deep, I know. 

If you've never gone through a period (or lifetime!) of confusion you might not be able to relate to what I'm saying. That's okay. I'm not here to please you. 

But I know I'm not the only one. I know of at least two other queer women (one bisexual, one gay) who also didn't come out until their mid-20s whose physical appearance changed in the months that followed. One has publically said that they "got comfortable dressing more dykey". For them, they express their queerness through their clothing choices and felt more comfortable doing so once they had accepted the most honest version of themselves. 

But both women became more comfortable dressing tomboy. I was the opposite: I became more comfortable dressing feminine and sorting out my relationship with make-up. Melissa A Fabello (who is incredible and will change your life!) has spoken several times on her identity as a femme queer woman. For her, dressing feminine while being queer is making a powerful statement that bucks the myth about how queer women are supposed to look. It also flies in the face of "women wearing make-up to impress men" because some feminine women aren't even attracted to men! For some of us, wearing make-up is about marking us out as femmes in queer spaces. 

When I came out, being femme became a big part of my self-identity. And I like to convey that in my appearance. 

On the male side of things, I read an interesting anecdote in Football's Coming Out by Neil Beasley. While there is a lack of publicly out footballers for gay fans to look up to, the author writes about the comfort he took in David Beckham. I don't remember a time before Beckham, so what I didn't know was that prior to his career launch (along with his well-styled hair) football was very manly in a toxic way. And even though Beckham is heterosexual, Neil looked up to him as a gay fan because he still helped change the world's perception of footballers as rough manly men. 

Finally, society and the patriarchy mocks typically feminine hobbies. Women's football? Boybands? Chick flicks? Gender pay gap? Stereotypically female careers paying less? Make-up and hair get mocked because they are typically female hobbies. And we love to downplay female hobbies as lesser-than (just look at the way women in sport are treated!). And some feminists lap this up and let society mock beauty YouTubers. Not on. 

But that doesn't mean that make-up and fashion aren't problematic. 

I'm never going to pretend that make-up isn't layered with patriarchal and capitalist bullshit. A lot of women wear make-up - including my teenage self - to look better and hide their faces. If you're struggling to leave the house without make-up (or can't even sit at home alone without wearing it) you might want to sit with yourself about why that is. The same goes if you are copying trends blindly rather than developing a look that works for you. And trying to appear more attractive to someone you fancy (teenage me would wear more make-up on days when I had a class with my crush). Sit with that. 

The beauty industry does feed off insecurity. There's no denying that. One thing that a lot of feminine feminists do (which I could be better at) is buying their make-up from make-up companies that encourage self-expression rather than covering flaws. Some examples of beauty companies that encourage expression in their marketing (and are cruelty-free!) are Illamasqua, Urban Decay, and Barry M. 


And we can't talk about beauty and woman without mentioning The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf. While the book is written in a pompous and inaccessible tone, I agree with the general sentiment: women are encouraged to spend so much time on their appearance so that they are distracted and not using their time and money to achieve things and overthrow the patriarchy. Ouch.

Even a well-groomed man who spends a lot of time on his appearance will still not spend as much time as a well-groomed woman. Think about the Beckhams, I'd still bet my monthly salary that Victoria's beauty regime is more time-consuming than David's.

And socio-economics plays a part. Beauty costs money and people with more of it can afford more beauty treatments. There are a lot of beauty treatments I'd love to get that my salary won't stretch to. Remember when Kylie Jenner got lip fillers and told everyone she just sucked a cup? Remember young girls did the same? Because they literally believed that a multi-millionaire achieved those lips without surgery. The same goes for Khloe pretending that her make-over was 100% exercise and diet. Hunny, we know there was surgery involved.

And race. Beauty ideals are white-centric. A black girl using skin whitener is not the same as a white girl using fake tan. One is layered with racism, the other is layered with looking sunkissed. Unless you're using it as an appropriation of ghetto culture, then, in that case, I'll direct you to this article. 

White people: don't get dreads, wear Native American headdresses, or wear a kimono. These things are rich in a culture that is not yours. Sit down. 

My overall point is that yes, the beauty industry is problematic as fuck and really needs to take a good, hard look at itself. But beauty is more than skin deep and can be how people express themselves, tell the world how to read them and give out non-verbal clues as to who they are. 

You don't get to tell people that self-expression is wrong (unless is appropriated). 

Because that is still policing people's bodies, and that's not okay. Especially since it's usually women's bodies, and our bodies are already policied enough as it is. Give us a break. 

Now excuse me, I have a new auburn barnet to show off.
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How to spot a Feminist Ally in the streets, but a Misogynist Wanker in the sheets




Feminist men.

It’s a good idea in theory and it looks good on paper.

But in practice? Not so much.

I’ve come across my fair share of self-proclaimed Feminist Men in my time. Granted, many of them appear (to the outside eye) to carry out great work and seem to have a true understanding of how gender inequality works.

But I’ve also met several self-proclaimed Feminist Men who use it as a badge of honour. A bragging right. A way to appear more attractive to women. Even a dangerous smokescreen. They’re the Political Nice Guy if you will.

But any man can stand there and say he is a Feminist Man. That’s pretty easy. But we all know that many men can lie - and will lie - to get women into bed. The news stories on Ryan Adams and Moby have thrust beta-male misogyny in society’s consciousness. We’re now waking up to the idea that men don’t need to be loud, alpha males who shout “grab them by the pussy” to be a threat to women.

They can be shy with a sweet demeanour. A musician who writes love songs on an acoustic guitar. He might get along with his mum. Skinny and couldn't physically assault you if he tried. Not be sexually promiscuous. Votes progressively and goes to protests.

And boy, have I been caught out.

I’ve dated and been friends with several men over the years who like to think they are woke af but actually treated me like shit. Three men stand out in particular: two sexual/romantic and one platonic (but wanted to be sexual/romantic). Between them I’m owed money, been kept from speaking to other people at parties, intellectually insulted, demeaned, spoken down to, mansplained, scared to date other people, and been pressurised into sexual acts that I wasn’t comfortable with.

It wasn’t a fun ride.

And what makes these memories so difficult to carry around with me is that I know these men will fool other women in the future. I've dated numerous shitty men in my time but some of them were obviously shitty and I can't believe I was ever fooled. But these men: they play a pretty tight game. They know how to play the Feminist Man card to their advantage.

But women talk, and we like to keep each other safe. So I've taken a look back at these Fake Feminist Men and tried to identify the warning signs that I could have seen.

So ladies, if the Feminist Man you've just started dating showcases more than four of the following traits then he might be a phoney.

He expects a cookie for being a good person


Great, you respect women - but fuck receiving praise for being a good person. Similar to Nice Guy Syndrome, Fake Feminist Guy expects a cookie because he knows rape is wrong. The real Feminist Dudes know y'all don't get praise for being a fucking decent person.

His definition of feminism doesn't get any deeper than "women should have access to abortion"


I appreciate that people who are new to social justice might have a shallow understanding of the topic. But feminism is a lot more than not groping women in nightclubs. There's mansplaining, Gender Pay Gap, sex workers rights, beauty image, body politics, not talking over the top of women.....

If you're talking to a new guy who wants to learn more, offer him some advice and resources (Every Feminism is a great one). If you're speaking to someone who is a long-established, self-proclaimed Feminist Guy and he still isn't past the basics you should just roll your eyes and refuse that second date.

He takes a sulk when called out


We all get called out from time to time. It can be a chance to grow or a chance to sulk. Which option your dude chooses says a lot about is his commitment to the cause.

He can't admit to a period in time when he wasn't a Feminist Man


Controversial.

But even the most social justice orientated of us are not immune to the effects of the patriarchy or social conditioning. We've all fucked up at one point. I've dressed up as a Native American for Halloween, claimed that Silence of the Lambs wasn't transphobic, and voted Liberal Democrat.

And I'm okay admitting these things because a true social justice warrior knows that in order to undo oppressive structures we need to confront ourselves about the role we play in them. I probably still do oppressive shit that I'm yet to unlearn.

If he can't give you an example of his own personal growth as a Feminist Man then he's very likely not the real deal (and has very low levels of self-awareness).

He doesn't support sex-positive feminism


The feminist hill that I am willing to die on is that sex-negative feminism and sexual assault go hand in hand.

Let me break it down.

Sex-negative feminism argues that there's a right way to shag. It turns sexual preferences into a theoretical debate. It tells consenting adults what they can and can't do in their own bedroom. It tells us that women don't like rough sex, making money from sex, or watching porn - despite anecdotal evidence.

Sex-positive feminism, on the other hand, lets individuals decide for themselves what sex acts they like to engage in. It encourages open communication and seeing people as unique human beings. Though saying that, "sex-positive" men sometimes use feminism as a guilt trip to make women do kinky things they are not into but blah blah blah liberated feminist women embrace their sexuality blah blah blah don't be a prude and have sex exactly the way I want to blah blah I don't care about your needs.

Bottom line: you're looking for someone who respects your sexual choices, whether that's dungeon orgies or missionary with the lights off.

He brags about eating pussy


Eating a girl out does not make you a Feminist Man. Fucking shut up. Read this article for more because I don't have the energy to deal with these men anymore.

Doesn't take bisexuality seriously (or any LGBTQ+ identity)


How a guy reacts to me mentioning my sexuality is a make-or-break for me. If his eyes light up, I'm out. If he asks if I have a preference, I'm not out but he's getting called out. In practice dating me is like dating a monosexual. It won't affect the relationship so I don't want much of a reaction.

He listens to your romantic and sexual needs


Feminist Men like to think they treat women well. It is sort of the idea. But then they get it into their heads that "treating women well" means following a bullet-pointed list and treating women as a homogenous group who all have the same sexual and romantic needs.

That's still patriarchy at play, y'all.

A man who has truly unlearned the whole Women-Serving-Men thing will be up for honest communication about your needs and won't just arrogantly assume them.


He just mansplains in general


Whether it's how to do your job or the politics of your home town, don't put up with that shit.


He's friends with creeps


You can tell a lot about someone by the company they keep.

One of the Fake Feminist guys I dated didn't even have any friends, which should have been a massive warning sign. While the other had a wide social circle. But that social circle included men who were creepy as fuck in blatantly obvious ways. If he was fond of a guy, he wouldn't speak up - but couldn't wait to verbally jump on men who he already disliked for another reason.

And the guy I mentioned in the introduction who wanted to be romantic/sexual with me rather than just platonic? Since cutting him from my life he made the decision to stand by someone who was convicted of sexual assault!

Has no platonic female friendships


Men that are desperate for a girlfriend to the point where they will approach anyone (including swiping right on every fucking girl) irk me. It still showcasing an inability to see women as people if he's wondering if every new woman he meets might be his next romantic or sexual conquest.

A true Feminist Man isn't looking to date every woman that walks past him because he sees women as more than that. He knows what he wants in a romantic partner and recognises that not every woman will fit that criterion. And you deserve better than someone who will say yes to a date because he would say yes to anyone1

He thinks all relationships should look the same


I want to make this abundantly clear: I do not, by any means, think that anyone is less of a social justice warrior because they want an opposite-sex marriage where they move to the suburbs and have two children (and maybe a dog).

But a social justice warrior respects alternative relationship styles and won't react negatively if you want to check in on the first few dates that you want the same things long term (wanting children, opinions on marriage, polyamory/monogamy etc). Even better if he's had an active think about different relationship styles and has a good idea about what he would want. It's 2019, we can't assume everyone wants the same thing anymore!


Is intimidated by your success


I've dated (or even just met) several men who like me because I've "got depth" and "not a bimbo". But the moment they realise there's a chance I might be smarter than them they shuffle their feet or start mansplaining.

A true Feminist Man won't worry about you outperforming him. Or earning more. Or getting better grades.


Insists on paying


When I'm in a formal relationship, yes, I think the higher earner should pay more. And thanks to the sneaky Gender Pay Gap it will usually be the man. But when I'm on the first few dates with a new person I don't feel comfortable with them paying. How they react to this can demonstrate their attitude towards money within a relationship, and whether they would be comfortable with a woman earning more.

It's the same reason why I tend to swipe left on men who brag about being homeowners on their Tinder bios.

Judges your taste in pop culture

I'm not entirely sure how this came to be, but I've met a lot of "Feminist Men" who act as though pop culture that is aimed towards women is the stuff of immaturity. Think boybands and chick flicks (but not female superheroes because the Feminist Men like that stuff because, duh, comics are generally male territory and female superheroes are tough, not "fluffy"). This is not behaviour saved for nerds who live in their mother's basements; I've met a lot of progressive men who seem shocked when they learn that I enjoy stereotypically girly pop culture. I've never sat a man down to get to the bottom of this phenomenon, but my hunch is the persistent idea that feminine and feminist can't go together.

Also applies to any man who takes it far too personally when you don't like his favourite bands or whatever. For me, it was a Feminist Men perplexed by the idea I didn't like Star Wars. I don't like things set in space so I've never bothered. He was too bothered about this.

Has a house that is growing mould


When I'm dating someone new, I judge them by how clean their house is. I don't expect high-end art pieces on the wall or their kitchen to be filled with every gadget from Argos. But I expect it to be clean and functioning. You're an adult who knew they were having a guest round so make sure you have a toilet roll for Pete's sake.

Many men don't pull their weight domestically - even when they are single and living alone. It's almost as though they consider cleaning to be so unmanly that they still won't do it even when there's no woman around. The earliest warning sign that he'll expect you to do all the cleaning in a relationship is if he didn't even do it when he was single!

He is offended when you say "men are trash"


A true Feminist Man will understand your frustrations. A person of colour can say "white people are trash" to me and I'm okay with that - because we are. These statements are about systematic problems, not individual people.

He amplifies the rumour that only alpha-males can be sexist


One of the beta-misogynists I dated once said "of course he's the type to sexually assault, he is a footballer" in relation to the Ched Evans case. This same guy ignored my verbal no in the bedroom and assaulted me. Rolling my eyes at the irony helps with the trauma.

(Same guy also refused to get a Tinder account "because only creepy men use Tinder").

If a beta man actively and explicitly says that it's only alpha men that are the problem then run for the fucking hills. Don't wait for any other point on this list to show up - just go. This is a big warning sign. Get out.

He tells you to wear less make-up


I've noticed this thing with Feminist Men who try to rip down bullshit beauty standards by telling women to wear less make-up.

News flash: women don't necessarily wear make-up to attract men.

Yes, it's a personal choice that can be layered with patriarchal bullshit. However, it can also be worn for purposes of self-expression. I quite like looking a bit like a badass hipster. It gives people I've just met some non-verbal queues about me as a person.

True Feminist Men let women do what they want with their bodies.

Has a history of dating younger women


I'm not explicitly against age-gap relationships, but they are worth thinking about.

Most people's maturity plateaus around about 25, so your typical 31-year-old isn't going to have much in common with your average 23-year-old - but that was exactly the age gap with a Fake Feminist Guy of my past. I was still finding my feet in the world and hadn't fully matured yet, making me a prime candidate for someone who was incredibly immature for his age (and, uh, likes to attack people's self-esteem).

But the big warning sign is if they have a history of dating younger women.

And any man who admits that his Tinder is set to only show younger women.

His appearance is a bit scabby but doesn't fancy low-maintenance women


I once wrote a blog post on this!


Has ever muttered the phrase "real women have curves"


Go away and die.

His feminism isn't intersectional


Ask for his opinion on Trans Rights, Black Lives Matter, and trade unions.

Because if your feminism isn't intersectional then it's bullshit. 


He doesn't understand the role of an ally


Sometimes being an ally means doing nothing. It's knowing when to shut up and let the oppressed group do the talking. It's not something you "are" just because you say you are. It's a label you earn -and you earn it through actions. Ultimately, if the Feminist Guy you've just met won't STFU and can't provide a basic level definition of an ally then he, sadly, probably isn't one.


And finally, some things that don't indicate how feminist a man is: 

  • how promiscuous he is
  • likes football, rugby, golf, and other manly sports
  • gets along with his mum
  • enjoys kinky sex
  • cuts down trees with his bare hands
  • if he's LGBTQ+ in anyway
  • is a vegan
  • owns a dog
  • supports other progressive movements
  • how much effort he puts into his appearance
  • has been to a strip club

What have I missed? Probably a lot. I like to rant. 

Men are trash. Especially Nice Guys. 

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In this essay I will prove that Child's Play 2019 reboots a classic horror story with modern fears for a new generation




This weekend I took a trip to the cinema to see my favourite film franchise about toys getting up to mischief when their humans aren't watching.

No, I'm not talking about Toy Story 4.

I'm talking about the re-booted Child's Play film, which was originally released in 1988. You know, the one with the killer doll called Chucky who was possessed by the murderer Charles Lee Ray? It's great, you should watch it. While the clothing choices in the original film give away that it's older than me, the special effects and mechanics of the killer doll hold up to this day. It's still brilliant.

While I wouldn't say the Chucky franchise is a personal favourite and I certainly don't fangirl for it (creepy dolls are not a macabre favourite of mine, generally), there has never been a Child's Play film that I've not liked and as a franchise, it has held itself together. While there are a few inconsistencies, producers generally respect the established canon.

On top of that, the Chucky films tend to successfully move with the times and reflect the horror trends of their decade. The first three films released between the late 80s and early 90s follow the traditional, yet simple, slasher set-up. Then in the 00s we were introduced to the Chucky family with Bride of Chucky and Seed of Chucky. These two films slid nicely into the comedy-horror genre that was popular around the millennium thanks to Scream (which is my favourite horror franchise). Then in the last few years, Netflix released their own Chucky films: Curse of Chucky and Cult of Chucky, both of which were weirdly aesthetically pleasing with well-thought-out colour palettes. I blame Instagram.

Despite Chucky not appearing high up on my favourite horror icons list I was still a little worried about a reboot. The re-boot trend is a risky thing. On one hand, you have to stay close enough to the source material so you don't upset core fans but you also have to do something different to ensure that audiences have a reason to actually see it. Personally, I hate Rob Zombie's reboot of Halloween as I felt the added backstory on Michael Myers's descent in madness was out of place as the whole point of Myers was that he was a hollow shell. The idea that he was once a cute kid just doesn't sit with me. But I loved the Scream television show because it took the basic premise and changed what didn't need to stay. They didn't tamper with anything too important.

I am grateful to report, however, that Child's Play 2019 hits the sweet spot of respecting the source material but re-creating it for a modern audience who belong to a different generation.

[spoilers ahead]

Within the first 20 minutes, you will notice that the creators have removed a key component of the original film: Charles Lee Ray does not exist in this re-boot and Chucky is actually the product of a disgruntled Vietnamese sweatshop worker who disables the doll's safety features in revenge. Political, I like it.

You'll notice very quickly as well that instead of Chucky being a Good Guy doll, he is now a "Buddi" who can be hooked up to your electronic devices and is effectively a doll version of Alexa for children. I did roll my eyes slightly at this, but you know what? It's relevant. Smart homes are a thing now so it was only a matter of time before film producers began working it into horror films.

But some things have remained the same. Aside from the iconic image of Chucky stabbing people with a kitchen knife, Karen and Andy make a welcomed return and their relationship in this film is similar to that of the original (though 2019 Andy is a teenager). And Chucky's outfit hasn't been altered much.

And while I personally rolled my eyes at the technology bit, I can see why the producers did it. Back in 1988 dolls were still a very popular children's toy. That's what made the film so scary to some viewers: taking something as innocent as a children's toy and turning it into a murderous killing machine. But dolls aren't what children play with now, it's smartphones and that's exactly the socio-cultural update that Child's Play needed to make it scary to modern audiences.

The cast is less white than the original which is also a nod to the changing conversation around representation in media. And while I'd like to celebrate this, the producers still handed over the key roles to white actors while the non-white actors were regulated to supporting roles. Do better.

And it was funny, in a quippy, self-aware, and sarcastic way. Which I always like. That's my humour.

Bottom line: it was a good film. Whenever you go into the cinema to see a reboot you have to keep an open mind. You can't go in there thinking it will be the film you fell in love with. Try and convince yourself that you're watching it for the first time.

I've read reviews from critics who hated it. But when I'm reading these rants I see a common theme: they aren't separating their love for the original from the acknowledgement that this is a different film. It's not meant to be a line-for-line remake; if it was there would be no point. The world has moved on since 1988 and producers have chosen to create a modern re-telling of a classic film. Is it lazy to re-boot? Yeah, a little. Is it a fresh idea? Nah. But as long as a franchise has living fans who will pay money to see it there will be re-boots, sequels, and prequels. That's how capitalism works, y'all (I am chuckling at the irony that a film that taps into anti-capitalist imagery is literally a capitalist product itself looking to make money off an established horror icon instead of make something audiences arent familiar with).

I also didn't see one person in the cinema who would have been a teenager when the original came out. I looked around and everyone appeared to be my age or younger. The 50-somethings who remember the cultural significance of the original weren't out in tow.

And maybe that's the point. Maybe it's not aimed at people who hold memories of watching the original in the cinema with their friends. It's for a new generation who have a new set of cultural and political fears.

Damn millennials and their smartphones, ruining everything.

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Should you work at a marketing agency or in house?




I'm not usually one for viewing people in binary terms where everyone slots perfectly onto two neat sides. But if you were to pull together all the marketers of the world and ask them to pick between agency marketing and in-house marketing, very few would claim to have no preference. 

It took me a while to discover it for myself, but I'm an in-house girl. I love getting to know a brand inside out and truly understanding its message - especially when I get to work in an industry as fun as travel! My only brush with agency work has been through internships and work experience, where I had to learn very quickly the brand message of each client (which could differ immensely from one to the next). That wasn't for me, but some marketers thrive on a variety of projects in an agency setting.

So which should you personally choose when you enter the marketing workforce? The only way to truly know is to experience both. While you're at university try and get internships on either side to work out where you'd be happiest. But to give you an idea on where you might belong, I've asked my marketing buddies on both sides what made them choose the agency or in-house path.

The variety of work

The basic rule of thumb is this: agency marketers love a variety of work and in-house marketers like working with one brand. But like all basic rules of thumbs, there can be exceptions.

Some agencies specialise in a particular industry (I once interned at POSH Communication who specialise in hospitality) and some big agencies will have specialist teams who deal with certain types of clients (B2B, B2C, corporate, third sector etc). Plus, not all clients receive the same level of attention and the variety you crave might not realistically happen. My friend is an in-house web developer at a Glasgow branding consultancy and says he spends 80% of time carrying out web work for their biggest/most important client and the other 20% split between the rest.

On the other hand, working in-house isn't always about one brand. At Barrhead Travel we own several child companies and all their marketing is controlled by Head Office so, in reality, I'm switching my hats more often than my aforementioned agency pal.

The relationship between in-house and agency

I once heard someone (who doesn't work in marketing) say "most companies do their own social media and pay a company to do the creepy things like SEO" and another person (who does work in marketing) say "in-house tends to do strategy and the agency does the creative". Both statements have been completely untrue in my experience, and how the work is split between client and agency depends on the individual relationship.

I've worked in situations where all the creative is done in-house but the external agency is used for monthly audits, external ad-hoc support during busy periods, and training. I've also worked in situations where only certain social channels were handed over to an agency, while others were kept in-house. Sometimes a company might recruit an agency because the workload is getting bigger, but not big enough to justify a new employee salary. There is a multitude of reasons why a company hires an external agency. (Tip: when you're in an interview ask if there's an external agency involved and what their role is to get a good idea of what you're walking into).

Extrovert vs Introvert

One of the best mentors I've ever had said to me "agency life is the extrovert life and in-house work is the introvert life". Unlike the statements I shared above, there has been some truth to this one. Some agencies have account managers who do all of the front-facing work for you, but if you're looking to 'move up the ladder' into a supervisory, management or director role - you'll have to meet the clients from time to time (and it won't always be pleasant conversations) and pitch to prospects. There are also some agencies that don't have account managers, so regular employees will be expected to meet clients and attend networking events. 

On the other side, I work in-house and the only people I speak to externally are those who work for the external marketing agency we use on certain projects.

Job Security

Agency marketers tend to move around a lot more - and when I asked my agency friends why this is headhunting was the most popular answer. It's really common for agencies to keep an eye on each other and sweep in on their employees with a better salary. But another reason that came up was boredom - agency marketers typically like variation and can get fed-up if the client roaster looks the same two years down the line.

There was, unfortunately, a negative reason for this movement of people that one of my agency friends brought up. He once got made redundant because the agency lost one of their biggest clients (plus the massive monthly invoice) and they had no choice but to let people go.

Progression

Since agency marketers are more likely to switch employment at a quicker pace, supervisor and management positions open up more often. A lot of agency marketers I know have progressed into senior management while still in their mid-twenties. While in-house marketers who want a promotion might have to decide if they want to wait patiently for someone else to hand in their notice, or for the company to grow enough that they can justify new supervisors.

Cool factor and company culture

When I graduated I wanted to work in one of the super-cool agencies in Glasgow because - wait for it - it fitted the hipster aesthetic I was going for at the time. I've thankfully outgrown this ridiculous thought process but I'm still slightly jealous of the agency environment. They're usually a bit more relaxed about employee dress-codes and have office happy hours - while I'm sat in my corporate office completely sober wearing heels.

Working hours

I'm yet to learn of an agency that opens up shop on bank holidays or doesn't shut off for Christmas. So if the idea of working Easter Monday makes your stomach churn or 9-5 hours work better with your young family, agency life could be for you.

If you work in-house, you might be required to work weirder hours so social media channels can stay covered. I personally work in travel and - shockingly enough - the Facebook inbox is busier at the weekend with most of the public off work, so someone from my team has to be in work answering these messages. As glamorous as a job in travel can be, it's not for anyone who cherishes their weekends and evenings. I also don't get bank holidays off.

Salaries

I've never held a full-time salaried position at an agency so I'm basing this on what I've heard through the grapevine. But salaries don't change much between in-house and agency and are more likely to be affected by the size of the company, your experience and ability, whether you work in a price-driven industry, and how generous senior management is.

All and all though, it's very difficult to know which side you belong on until you try them out. So as I said earlier, get some experience on both sides through internships and work experience to find out where you belong.

If you're a marketer, what side do you prefer? Let me know if I've missed anything.
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morag | mo adore
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