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I prefer my International Women's Day served radical, but cutesy Instagrams are nice


Illustration by Camila Rosa

Today is International Women's Day. Which you would think would be my favourite day of the year. But, meh. Can take or leave it.

I'm going to sound like an anti-capitalist hag (which I am) but it's commercialised and lost a lot of its original feminist meaning.

According to Wikipedia:

"After women gained suffrage in Soviet Russia in 1917, March 8 became a national holiday there. The day was then predominantly celebrated by the socialist movement and communist countries until it was adopted in 1975 by the United Nations."

Today I've seen a lot of memes, inspirational quotes, and people laughing at Richard Herring. A lot of it is fluffy. A lot of it is posted by brands looking for more engagement on social media. A lot of it is not really inciting any actual change or recognising the big fight we still have on our hands.

I am 100% a believer that fluffy pop-culture feminism has its place. It's great at catching people's attention and creates a non-threatening introduction to social justice. Just as much as you shouldn't teach someone to read with a copy of Wuthering Heights, when you're introducing someone to left-wing politics you start with something like fairer taxes, or free higher education. You probably shouldn't storm in there with "most crime is created by inequality and prison is shit, sex work is real work, meat is murder, white people shouldn't wear dreads, and if you're a white, straight, male you probably have done some oppressive shit in your time. Oh, and I'm going to spit on you because you don't know what demisexual or polyamorous means".

That would scare people, and you don't change people's mind by making them feel stupid or defensive.

I might be a pure radical lefty now, but I started out a centrist. I even voted Liberal Democrats once upon a time ahahahahahahahah. Oh, my.

But I grew and learned and I'm here. Heck, I accept that I probably still have blind spots. And that's why I read about 5 non-fiction books a month trying to unlearn oppressive shit.

While fluffy feminism is a great introduction, that's where its usefulness ends. If we want to really pull down the shackles and dismantle patriarchy, we have to get radical. That means education, organisation, and tackling all kinds of oppression (because they interlinked).

One of my favourite internet people Sophie worded it perfectly:

Fluffy pop-culture feminism rarely covers any issue that doesn't relate to white, middle-class, heterosexual, thin, monogamous, cis-gendered women. Not saying that issues such as childcare, short skirts, women in sport, or leadership opportunities for university educated women aren't important - but they only scratch the surface and already receive a lot of airtime.

I've said this before, and I'll say it again: if your social justice activism only focuses on issues that affect you, then you're doing it wrong (read my review of Hot Feminist, where I originally touched upon this).

That means giving a shit about issues that might affect lots of other women but not yourself. If we want the men to take our issues seriously (because every social justice movement needs allies with privilege) then we need to take the issues that affect under-represented groups of women seriously. Read a memoir by a woman of colour. Ask people their pronouns instead of assuming. Remember that bisexuals exist. Respect someone's right to be fat. Donate money to a charity that supports sex work. Stop judging young mums. Share an article by a disabled woman. Say fuck you to capitalism.

Sharing a cutesy quote on Instagram about girls supporting girls isn't really doing anything.

I'm a big fan of the saying "the personal is political" and this is my favourite analysis of its meaning is (also from Wikipedia):

"The personal reflects the political status quo (with the implication that the personal should be examined to provide insight into the political); the personal serves the political status quo; one can make personal choices in response to or protest against the political status quo; ... one's personal choices reveal or reflect one's personal politics; one should make personal choices that are consistent with one's personal politics; personal life and personal politics are indistinguishable."

To me, social justice slips into every area of my life. From always voting for a left-wing party. To only being friends with people who share my political values. To boycotting beauty brands that test on animals. To my commitment to using non-violent communication in my personal relationships. Even just being nice to waiting staff. And definitely my decision to be vulnerable on the internet and share my stories.

All while also recognising that some of these decisions can only be made thanks to my privilege as a middle-class, white, university-educated, cis-gendered woman.

A big part of finding your own place in the social justice movement is recognising your own privilege and knowing when to sit the fuck down. Supporting trans women does not means speaking over the top of trans women. It means listening to their stories, amplifying their voices, and not using slurs (and probably other stuff too, I'm not an expert). You'll never see me write a blog on trans issues (or any issue that doesn't affect me) because what the fuck do I know about trans issues? I'd just be another cis-gendered woman clogging up the conversation.

And it means challenging yourself. This is the part where a lot of people get defensive. Changing the world does not mean shouting about how shit everyone else is and acting like your shit don't stink. We've all been subjected to the same social conditioning, albeit some more than others, so we hold oppressive views and have done oppressive stuff. I've dressed up as a Native American for Halloween, I used to judge fat people, and I got weirdly angry about teen mums. I have zero time for social justice warriors who can't admit their own problematic bullshit. It's political Nice Guy Syndrome.

I became the woke bitch I am through years of active unlearning, reading a fuck ton of feminist non-fiction, and calling out my own bullshit.

In other words: I wasn't born this way, baby.

I know this blog won't win me many party invites. But I'm not here for those anyway. It's the revolution I want an invitation to. Or I'll just turn up. But, what I know is that the path to the revolution isn't lined by pink glitter and corporate slogans of female empowerment. It's dirty, and it's uncomfortable. It might make you cry and shake with anger. But I think there's an Instagram quote somewhere that a rainbow only shines after rain?! Something like that.

Today, on International Women's Day do one thing to initiate radical change - whether it's within yourself or for the wider world. The patriarchy won't dismantle itself, no matter how many cutesy Instagram quotes you share.

Peace x
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I visited the new Glee Comedy Club in Glasgow and had a really grand time





If you're ever looking to bump into me on purpose (which I'm sure you all are), attend some comedy shows in Glasgow and I'm guaranteed to show up at some point. For the purpose of this blog, I've even worked out that I've attended an average of four comedy shows a month since September (this is when I fell into the rabbit hole that is Glasgow comedy scene). 

And because I can't quite get enough laughs in my life and four times a month isn't enough, I just had to check out the new Glee Comedy Club in Glasgow within weeks of its grand opening.  (I wasn't previously familiar with Glee Clubs, but they are a chain of comedy clubs with venues already in Birmingham, Cardiff, Nottingham and Oxford, so they're a big deal) 

Now, don't get me wrong I love the indie comedy nights I regularly attend in Glasgow (there is a blog on that half-finished in my drafts, but this blog is nipping ahead because Glee is topical and stuff). But almost all of these shows take place in a pub basement and sometimes you have to sit on those uncomfortable folding chairs with no padding. Look, I love a pub (there's booze) and I love a comedy show (there are giggles) but sometimes a girl wants a bit of glamour with her laughs. 



And that's the gap in the market that Glee fills. Not only does it put on weekly comedy shows, but it also boasts a generous food and drinks menu, and - as I would find out when I attended last night - it's also stylish and well-decorated. 

It's not bad value either. I won myself a discount code on Facebook for 50% off so me and my friend Emma (of Eat with Emma) managed to book ourselves a Show & Dinner Deal for £10 each. Normally it's £20 (which is still not bad!) and you can order your food in advance. You can choose from three pre-packaged meal choices (which is what we chose), or you can order a show ticket and add on some food from the wider menu. You can also pre-order your drinks, which includes cocktail pitchers, beer pitches (they looked a bit scary), and a bottle of wine. 


And since most people who read my blog are looking for vegan content and I need to stay on-brand: there's vegan food. Quite a bit actually. I pre-ordered the Penang Curry as part of a pre-packaged deal, but the wider menu includes a vegan Margherita pizza (which I also ordered, because food) and a superfood salad. Plus there is fish finger sandwich, and a Portobello Mushroom burger that can be veganised! They even mark out which of their alcoholic drinks are vegan (if you're new here, drinks companies use fish bladders to give drinks that clear look...eurgh). And my pizza came with a lemon-scented hand wipe! 


I know the next part of this review/rave is going to sound boring and like I'm turning into my mother, but bear with me. I'm a nervous person and a massive planner who hates leaving things to chance so I really appreciated the detailed confirmation e-mail (maybe it's the marketer in me who loves an informative e-mail). It had the normal things like confirming what show I had reserved, and for how many people. But it also confirmed that I didn't need to bring my email and instead just say my name at the desk, that we have been allocated a seat already, the rules of the club, and how I can add extra food and drink to my order. When we arrived a note was automatically sent to the kitchen to prepare our food. 

(Note: the only thing I didn't like was that you couldn't choose your seats. Thankfully, Emma and I ended up three rows back, but you could see the terror on a group's face when they realised they had the front row...lol).

So there's vegan food, and a snazzy confirmation e-mail, but what about the actual comedy?

Aye, that was good too. Glee Club stages have been graced by some of the UK's most famous comedians and to get on the stage, you have to be experienced. So while I do love an indie comedy show where I discover new and local talent...it's nice to go in and know that you'll be watching comedians who have perfected their craft. 

The comedians on last night were Rosco Mcclelland, Scott Gibson, Eleanor Tiernan & Ben Norris - and every single one of them made me clench my sides with laughter. Especially Eleanor when she talked openly about what it's like to be a vagina owner and how you never know "what will seep out of it next". I was remarking to Emma that it's refreshing to hear someone talk about a vagina on stage because (while I can appreciate dick humour) I can't relate (or always understand) when someone talks about having a penis, and a man turned around in front of us and said he agreed! 


And just one final thing: the decor. It was still in a basement because apparently comedians really like a basement. But it was a trendy basement, with portraits of famous Scottish comedians on the wall, wooden panels on the floor, hipster lighting, and flowers in the toilets. I'm not complaining. 

Seriously though, the staff at Glee Club offered some of the best customer service I've ever received anywhere, the comedians made me choke with laughter, and there was vegan food. Hands down, one of the best places in Glasgow for a low-key night out. It's a new favourite, and I might find my average number of comedy nights per month rise. 

Glee is open Friday and Saturday, and you can book your tickets in advance on their website. The venue is on Renfrew Street, beside the giant Cineworld and opposute The Flying Duck. 
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February Linkables


Babes, it's the end of winter. Okay, it might not feel like the end of winter temperature wise but the sun is beginning to shine through, and it's now sort of light when I leave work. We're getting there.

I hope you've had an incredible start to the year and everything is shaping up well. Goal-wise, I'm keeping on top on my housework, I'm swimming once (sometimes twice) a week, I've attempted a few trickier recipes (with varying results), and empowering some great books on social justice!

Ready for the first Linkables of the year? Let's go!

You might roll your eyes at the idea of a long-term singleton dishing out relationship advice. But I've witnessed multiple couples fuck up over the same things - so I am fully behind 8 relationship habits that will make everything easier, smoother, and more fun.

Related: 14 questions to ask your partner to make sure you're on the same page.

And, of course, I have a link associated with Valentine's Day: what is it like for asexuals and aromantics? 

I love self-improvement, but I don't love that it has become an industry that feeds off of people's insecurities and sells us products that do fuck all (juice cleanses, anyone?). Are We Improving Yourselves to Death? is an important article.

Related: Don't fall prey to the cult of wellness.

What everyone needs: Classic Album Covers with Cats.

The women killed by Jack the Ripper are finally having their stories told.

Hopefully, you'll never need this but if you do: How to survive gaslighting.

How to work with micro-influencers.

Yes! Can we stop recording ourselves doing good deeds, please?

A vegan's guide to reading food labels.

If you only read one thing, make it this: Why she doesn't just leave

Something local: a history of Glasgow's LGBT+ nightclubs and bars.

An analysis on British racism with a side slice of self-deprecating humour from Romesh Ranganathan.

What have you been reading this month? Send me your links! 
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I went to another clothes swap and now I need a mind dump on clothes waste, Marie Kondo, and providing women in crisis with free clothes



The dilemma goes something along the lines of:

"I have a wardrobe full of clothes but nothing to wear"

I'm not sure who said this or where I originally read it, but I know the feeling well. If you know me in real life you wouldn't consider me to be a clothes horse. But if you had a look through my wardrobe and chest of drawers you would probably think I was.

Until last August my bedroom was bursting at the seams. I still owned activewear from when I was a dancer during my time at university. Or from when I still tried to convince myself I was into running, which was a dark time. I still owned dresses that I haven't been able to fit into since I started a desk job. I owned shirts that I know longer like, or maybe never really did. I owned waist length t-shirts, even though I don't suit high necks or anything that draws attention to my mid-section. All the money I spent buying a new dress every time I went on a night out (yes, I was once one of those girls) was still hanging in my closet. Heels I was never able to walk in. Clothes I hadn't worn in years.

I owned more clothes than I owned coathangers, and I own plenty of coathangers (I bought beige for my work clothes and purple for everything else so I could easily separate my looks). I have a massive chest with four big drawers, and four small ones, brimming with underwear, accessories, sportswear, more general clothing, and my weirdly large pyjama collection. Even better, I never put my laundry away because I needed my drying rack as extra storage space.

This, my friends, is when you know you need to have a clear out.



Last August I was approaching the year mark of an anniversary where I ruffled some feathers and decided to stop caring what people thought of me (also known as ridding my life of toxic people and coming out of the closet). With this anniversary looming, I had the sudden urge to rid myself of physical belongings that represented the version of myself that I thought I was supposed to be, or the person other people wanted me to be.

I started by admitting that a few things needed to go to landfill. Which always sucks. But there's not exactly a second-hand market for broken GHDs, shoes with holes in them, and water bottles with corporate logos. Then I packed up the athletic and outdoorsy stuff that was mostly on lend from my genuinely outdoorsy parents and gave it back to my mum the next time she visited. The only sport I enjoy is swimming and it was time to own that.

Then in November I attended my first ever clothes swap, hosted by ethical fashion blogger Ruth Macgilp. I blogged about the day here, so there's no need to go into detail. I only took one small suitcase full of clothes that I really wanted rid of. But when I returned home with new clothes that I was genuinely excited to start wearing, I could now see even more clutter in my bedroom (and I still had more clothes than I did coathangers).

So last week when I attended Ruth's second clothes swap, I was ruthless. I was attending the International Improv Festival later that day and didn't want to lug a suitcase around so I filled my rucksack and two large shopping bags with clothes that served no purpose in my life. And it felt cathartic, especially since I was finally accepting my body would never be slim enough for some of those clothes again.



This time the clothes swap was taking place at the ALICAS offices. ALICAS is a charity that builds capsule wardrobes for women in need, whether that is due to homelessness or fleeing domestic abuse. They work on a referral system from charities who agree that these women would benefit from a new wardrobe. They only collect clothes that still have the label on them so the women in need don't feel as though they are receiving hand me downs. Luckily I had a dress in my wardrobe that still had tags on it and it's a great way to get rid of clothes you were meant to return, but never got round to.

The work ALICAS do might seem frivolous at first glance, but many victims of homelessness and domestic abuse (especially emotional abuse) lose their sense of self, and clothes play a large part in shaping someone's self-identity. On the day of the clothes swap, we filled boxes for two of the charity's current referrals - which included information on the women's age, clothing sizes, and style preferences. These women were going to receive clothing that would fit their personalities and lifestyles, and that's fantastic.

On the day of the clothes swap, the conversation naturally gravitated towards Marie Kondo and how much she has inspired people to clean out their lives. I've not read her book or watched her Netflix documentary, but from what I've heard second-hand I agree with the principles. I have been in the mindset for years that the organisation or cleanliness of someone's house reflects their mental health and emotional wellbeing. I used to be terrible at not keeping on top of my housework, but that was because I was busy with too many random things that I couldn't make time for basic self-care. My room reflected how disorganised my life was.

And my hoarding tendencies (in case you missed it: I mentioned that I held on to a pair of broken GHDs) were reflective of my general attitude to filling my life with things that didn't bring happiness or had long outgrown. Whether it was having frenemies, people I liked but didn't get the !!!! feeling for, staying in romantic/sexual relationships for longer than I should, having hobbies that I wasn't super-passionate about, or even staying in the closet until my mid-twenties - I was never able to throw away even non-physical things.

But there has been understandable criticism that Marie Kondo is encouraging people to send half their belongings to landfill. Which is true. But the real problem is consumerism and people buying things they don't need. This also includes gifts you feel you need to buy someone, and they end up at the back of the closet for ten years. Until people learn to live with less in the beginning, we're going to have people throwing away stuff. The trick isn't to hoard (like I did) it's to think more sensibly about your purchases in the first place.



When I got home that evening, it was without my two large shopping bags and my rucksack was now full of new clothes that reflect my current outwards appearance:
  • A polka dot blazer from M&S
  • A tartan hooded dress from Collection Vintage London
  • A stripy long-sleeved jumper from Oasis 
  • A long t-shirt with eyes on it from Neon Ninja®
  • Burgandy and white skater dress from People Tree
And the best part of my second clothes swap?

I can now fit all my clothes in my wardrobe.

Move over Marie Kondo.
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Mini-reviews from the first Edinburgh Improv Fest (which ended a week ago...but future reference?)



Remember last August when I was super organised and published mini-reviews of Fringe shows with only five days left of the Fringe?

Well, I haven't learned my lesson.

Last weekend I attended the very first Edinburgh International Festival, and this weekend I'm publishing my mini-reviews on the performers. It's over. It's in the past. So you can't pop along and catch the end of it. But there were local improv groups there who perform regularly in Edinburgh and Glasgow....so me writing these reviews has some purpose. If it becomes a yearly thing you'll know to go next year! Or maybe I just need a blog calendar that I stick to.

(If you're wondering "wtf is improv?" it's comedy that's made up on the spot....which is not as disorganised as it sounds. My friend is doing classes right now and there are techniques and psychology. The audience members are asked for suggested words, celebrities, locations etc, and the performers create something out of it. You've probably spotted stand-up comedians repeating material from time-to-time. That doesn't happen with improv.)

And uh, I was only there on Saturday. Sorry performers on Thursday, Friday and Sunday.

The Cutting Room (Edinburgh)

I've been familiar with The Cutting Room for a while, having heard incredible things about their performances at The Fringe (I've not been able to attend any of them. How do people narrow down their Fringe choices? I usually pull performances out of a hat or let my friends decide for me). I discovered on Saturday that they are worth the hype. They performed a typical Harold that managed to float between a hot dog eating competition, a 40-year-old woman having sex with goulash and posh Milton Keynes types getting a bit too rowdy over Crufts. 10/10, would see again.

Murder of Crows (Copenhagen)

When Murder of Crows took to the stage, they had a serious vibe to them. They were decked out in dapper suit trousers and white shirts (including the girls), the lights were dimmed red, and we were told they would be performing an improvised Art Noir piece. Art Noir isn't a film genre I tend to gravitate towards, so I was a mixture of intrigued and unsure. It worked so well in the end, with passive and sarcastic humour (my favourite) with plenty of gangster drama added in for good measure.

Tinderellas (Edinburgh)

The Tinderellas was the team that I was most excited to see. Their schtick is creating improv on audience dating stories and as someone who writes openly about their dating life online, you know this is up my street! They're also an all-female team so the feminist in me can get giddy. For their performance, they chose a format called The Living Room where the girls initiate a discussion between themselves (about dating) and then occasionally break into a storytelling scene. Their performance was personal and relatable, the girls came across as genuinely lovely, and their stories gave me a chuckle.

The A-Team (Los Angeles)

This was hands-down my favourite performance of the day. The A-Team, get this, create improvised musicals. Yes, they come up with a musical, based on audience suggestions, on the spot. I'm not going to pretend I wasn't cynical about this, but they really pulled it off. The talent on these guys is outstanding as not only did they have to create dialogue but they burst out into song (and some rap!) and there was even a guy playing the keyboard!

Carter & Murray (New York City)

This is the one I feel awkward reviewing as...it just wasn't for me. I know creatively and intellectually it was a good performance that other people might enjoy. I've been to enough improv shows to know it was good improv. It just felt a little bit...low key in comparison to the other performances? After watching an improvised musical, art noir film, and some goulash sex...two guys doing a Harold just got a bit lost within everything else. Carter & Murray are a super big deal in NYC and were the headline act, so maybe don't listen to me.

The Improverts (Edinburgh)

The Improverts are the University of Edinburgh's improv team. After getting over how much their baby faces reminded me that I'm edging closer to 30 than I would like, I was excited to see their half-hour performance of short form improv. Short form, if you're unfamiliar, is like improv games where the performers have a clear structure to work from - and is my favourite to watch. I liked their performance. Wasn't blown away by it but I wouldn't be put off the Improv Fest again if they performed next year.

The Inheritance (Bristol/Glasgow)

One-half of this improv team is also two-thirds of the Glasgow team Couch. Couch was the very first improv team I ever saw live, and I've seen them multiple times since. This team was different enough that it didn't feel like the same thing I see almost monthly at Blackfriars. They started their performance by asking an audience member to come up on stage who they then proceeded to ask questions to, which would then form the basis of their performance. And then it moved into a traditional long-form performance. Similar to the Improverts, enjoyed it but not blown away by it.

Did you manage to swing by the Edinburgh International Improv Festival? Let me know your thoughts on it! 
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I wrote 4,000 words on what sexual consent is because apparently we still don't get it



via GIPHY

Sexual consent.

It shouldn't be a difficult thing to grasp, but apparently it is. Working out if someone wants to bump with you shouldn't be a convoluted excavation. It also shouldn't be something we take lightly either.

But really, it shouldn't be something I find myself writing about on a Saturday night. I would rather be in the pub. But apparently we - as a society - still can't quite grasp sexual consent and I apparently have a lot of feelings on the topic as well. So I'm spending my Saturday night writing this. Not because I'm a loser with no friends but because we need to have this chat.

(Side note: I wonder what I'll do with my life when the patriarchy falls? Maybe I'll go to the pub more).

Since the #MeToo movement started I (and probably you) have seen the men asking "can we not even touch a woman's knee now without consent". No, you can't. Because going around stroking other people's knees is weird. Then you see the men who get defensive because they wouldn't (intentionally) assault a woman and they think you're trying to imply something (maybe we are).

But then you see the other men who show genuine concern that they've maybe (unknowingly) assaulted or taken advantage of a woman at some point in their life. And they want to learn how to be better.

And that's where this blog post has been born - the honest chat about what consent is. A 101 guide, if you will. Because even in the feminist community we're still debating consent. Can making money from sex ever be consensual? Is pr0n wrong? Can you enjoy getting chocked and still call yourself a feminist? Is fellatio misogynistic? If a man won't go down on you is that a sign that he thinks women shouldn't have the right to vote?

My definition of consent is: do what the fuck you want but chat it out with your partner. Fucking communicate. Realise that sexual needs and desires are unique to the person. You might decide not to fuck each other after that chat because you realise your sexual needs don't quite align. That's okay. Because the world would be boring if we were all the same (that's the saying, right?)

I see the sexual revolution as a world where sweet missionary by candlelight and a BDSM orgy in a dungeon are both valid sexual choices. And everything in between; no matter how kinky or gentle it is. Cannonball each other naked into the sky for all I care, just as long as it is consensual and you agree on safe words.

But obviously, it is a bit more complicated than this because if it wasn't we wouldn't be in this massive mess.

via GIPHY

First off, we don't really know how to talk about sex in a mature and adult way. I might be spending my Saturday night writing about sex on my blog but I used to blush at the word anus. I was always okay speaking about sex with a partner, but not so much in public or with friends. That is part of the problem. If we want consent, we need to let go of the shame that surrounds sex and learn to talk about it maturely. And that starts with schools and parents. Even at 28 years old, I lie to my parents about where I am if I'm on a date or hanging out with someone casual. I really shouldn't have to. Like, dating and sex should be a normal thing that I shouln't feel the need to actively cover up from my parents.

And....schools. Decent sex education was the first issue I ever strongly cared about, and I still do. But apparently we can't have that because then the teenagers will start humping in the school toilets. Listen, today's teenagers know what sex is. And if they want to do it, they will (hopefully not in the school toilets though). And I don't see the problem. If two (or more, because sex isn't always two people) are thirsty af at the sight of each other and everything is consensual.....I don't really see the problem. Teenage love is real as far as I'm concerned and I know people who had sex in high school (as in high school age, not physically in the school) who never regretted it.

If you have a problem with teenagers having sex (including teenagers who are emotionally ready to have sex) you really need to sit with that for a while. Think about why you get so wound up about young people engaging in consensual sex. Do you have a problem with sex in general? Because if you do have a problem with young people getting freaky then you're doing them a disservice. They will do it no matter how much the Prude Brigade tries and stop it, and you'll put them at risk.

This is where I remind you that there's an Age of Consent enshrined in law. That matters too.

Oh, and sex education when I'm finally in charge will cover more than just biology. It will cover all the contraceptive choices. Talk about STDs in a non-shameful way. And consent!!!!! Whatever consent actually means (because we're still a bit confused, but I'll cover that later).

Let's try and stop being funny around sex chat. Especially between people who are doing it together. Talk to your partner. And that doesn't mean you need to get all 50 Shades of Grey on them and get your lawyers involved (which is wrong on so many levels, as consent can be withdrawn at any time). It can be snuggling on the sofa and telling them about all the dirty things you want to do to them. Or it can be putting on your sexy voice and asking them what they like before you start.

via GIPHY

Oh, and let's agree that virginity is a social construct. I can't believe I'm admitted this on the internet because it is really fucking embarrassing: I was one of those prudish teenagers who was "technically a virgin" for two months because I viewed penetrative sex as more up there than oral sex (lol). I'm glad I'm not that person anymore.

When you hold up the idea that certain sex acts are more valid than others you are holding up the idea that certain types of assault are more valid than others. Did you know that, in the UK, rape is forced penetrative sex and everything else is sexual assault? It's bullshit, but true. Any type of sexual assault can create trauma regardless of what the sex act was. I remember in university halls a conversation broke out about "how it's harder to rape a man because of erections" and some smart-ass chimed in that you could put an elastic band at the base of the penis. Oh ffs. Even if sex is against someone's will they can still react physically to the sensations (e.g. an erection). And you can still assault a man by performing a sex act that doesn't require an erection. Because sex is more than penis in vagina.

Okay, but what is consent? I'm glad you asked. Because we get confusing af messages. 

Society likes to tell us what we should like and what we shouldn't like in bed. And here's where I call out my own feminist community. Or more specifically sex-negative feminists. You know, the ones who like to tell us that women don't really like rough sex; we only do it because the men are coercing us into it. Or because we watched some porn one time and decided to take inspiration. Apparently, we're all romantic beings who want candles and Celine Dion playing in the background.

Plus apparently, a man who doesn't enjoy period sex or going down on a woman is a misogynist. Why? Because everyone is allowed to turn down any sex act that they please. And that includes the so-called feminist sex acts. I hate period sex and I'll fight anyone who tries to make me hand over my feminist membership card.


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As far as I'm concerned, sex-negative feminists who reckon individual kinks are up for theoretical debate are part of the problem. When you decide what are "good" sex acts and "bad" sex acts you not only sound like a leader of a religious cult, you also give a free pass to assault. Yes, you do. Because you're telling people how to feel about their own bodies and what gets done to it. You make victims question their experiences. Stop it.

And just to keep the debate balanced: I need to deliver a TED talk to my own sex-positive community. People are allowed to like missionary-style sex (personally, I think it's quite underrated) with the lights off and t-shirt on. If someone isn't kink-friendly it's not because they haven't been liberated from the clutches of a sex-negative society. It's (shockingly enough) because kinky sex doesn't do it for them. That's cool. Start respecting it.

In case no one has ever told you this and you need validation:

Every time. 100%. In every lifetime. And every universe. You are the ONLY person who gets to decide what you like in bed. No one is allowed to debate that with you. Not ever. This your body. Only you get to decide who touches it, especially sexually. And you get to decide the way in which they touch it. You decide your boundaries. 


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In Hot Feminist (which is a shit book overall, but the chapter on sexual assault is v.good) Polly Vernon makes the very valid point regarding sexual assault and the law: it's a hard crime to prove as it essentially comes down to one person's version of events versus another person's.

Many of us (and I was once one of these people) think of rape as someone jumping out a bush at a lonely woman in the middle of the night and knocking her out and sticking it in. I mean, that probably makes for better television but it doesn't represent how mundane sexual assault actually can be.

Sexual assault can manifest itself in so many ways.
  • someone was drunk or high and couldn't really understand what was going
  • someone thinks being married to someone means they should drop their pants whenever
  • someone went "oh, please baby"
  • you were staying in an AirBnB and the host started coming onto you, and you were scared of being kicked out
  • the person you're dating fucking pouts when you say no (I had an ex-boyfriend who did this, I never gave in but it shows how fucking whiny men can be when you say no)
  • you were kissing someone and they make the assumption they can move their hands south
  • you complimented someone's kitchen work surface and they decided that was a cue to initiate sex (wait...what?)
And that last point is what I want to touch on first, and I'll be using the accusations levied about Aziz Ansari as my inspiration. 

For anyone who doesn't know, this time last year an article was published in Babe Magazine by a girl who had a bit of a shit date with Aziz. And by shit, I mean was coerced into sex acts she didn't feel comfortable with. The story has caused a divide within the feminist community. Some feel like Aziz did nothing wrong and this was a standard sexual encounter. They say her story mocks the #MeToo movement. Others say Aziz shouldn't haven't made (very common) assumptions and should have asked for explicit consent. 

I'm going to say something that lies in the middle. I don't believe that Aziz intentionally went out of his way to make this woman feel coerced. He actually behaved the same way so many men do: where he assumed that date = sex. And that's the problem. 

We look for signs that someone might be into us rather than putting on our big people pants and having a conversation. The girl agreed to go back to his flat after a date and he immediately took that as consent: 

When they walked back in, she complimented his marble countertops. According to Grace, Ansari turned the compliment into an invitation.
“He said something along the lines of, ‘How about you hop up and take a seat?’” Within moments, he was kissing her. “In a second, his hand was on my breast.”
Someone complimenting your choice in home decor is not consent (shockingly enough). But so many men think a woman being nice to them is "leading them on". When, in fact, the only way to know if someone wants to have sex with you is to ask and get verbal permission. Not by reading their body language.

Would you assume it was okay to borrow someone's car because of their body language? No. So stop doing it with sex.

Getting explicit consent is really important when sleeping with someone new. If you've never had sex with someone before that means you literally have no idea what they like. Your ex may have liked x, y and z, but that doesn't mean everyone does. Even someone who writes about sex on the internet (lol, me) still has to be asked. I could publish a blog post detailing exactly what I like in bed and you'd still have to check in with me. Why? Because I'm allowed to change my mind and maybe there are some sex acts I wouldn't do with certain people.


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When you've been with someone a while, sometimes the explicit consent will not be needed anymore. That's okay. It's up to the people within that partnership (whether a casual relationship or life partnership) to decide whether explicit consent is something you want to practice every time or if you're happy for your partner to stop asking once they become familiar with your sexual preferences. Style Caster have a great article on their website on creating a Yes/No/Maybe Sex Checklist with your partner. Personally, I have some sex acts I'm almost always down for and I don't require a steady partner to check in about, but I have others that I'm only-sometimes-in-the-mood-for and still require explicit consent even if I'm married to the person. But everyone's different.

I'm not suggesting that you start walking up to every attractive person in the street and asking if they want to bone you. Lol, of course not; that would still be creepy. Body language, flirtatious words, and eye contact should still be used as an indicator that someone might find you attractive. But before you start the act of sex, you need to check that sex is actually what they are looking for.

Maybe this person is demisexual or asexual. Maybe they are romantically attracted to you and want to get to know you emotionally. Maybe they don't do one night stands. Maybe they have a third-date rule. Or maybe they really don't want you at all and you read the social cues all wrong.

Asking someone if they want to have sex is one of the key ways to avoid assaulting someone (I wonder if I should make a pretty desktop wallpaper of that sentence for you all to use). The same goes for sending dick pics.

Because here is the punch line: sexual assault is how someone feels about the encounter.

If you've ever felt your skin crawl after a sexual encounter - or felt taken advantage of - then...yeah. The person didn't necessarily intentionally take advantage of you, but that doesn't change that they did. Something went wrong in that scenario that caused someone to feel like something was happening to their body that they didn't want to. Plus, the thing with a lot of people who commit sexual assault is that they somewhere in them convince themselves that they didn't do anything wrong. Men who deny sexual assault rumours and charges might honestly believe that they have done nothing wrong. The personal anecdotes I'll share later were probably done by people who really didn't think that their actions were harmful because society's definition of consent is so messed up.


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"BUT JUST SAY NO" I hear you cry.

Well, aren't you a smarty pants who did well in school. Considering that quite a lot of women do say no and it ends up getting fucking ignored your point is invalid (I've had several guys ignore a verbal no, so don't fucking @ me). Many men see no as a challenge. Remember that Blurred Lines song where Thicke sings "I know you want it"? Aye, that bullshit.

And a bit of basic psychology for you: there's a thing called fight or flight. Sometimes in traumatic experiences (you know, like being sexually assaulted) your body will break down and freeze. There really isn't much you do about it. An ex-partner once ignored a verbal no to a specific sex act and I froze up. The best way I can describe it was my mind going blank. I couldn't make much sense of what was happening which is why I wasn't able to say no again. In films we show victims fighting back and screaming, but in reality many victims freeze up and are unable to fight. Films and TV shows always portray events as more dramatic than they actually are - rape and sexual assault are no different.

Then society has a weird notion that no is a bad word. It's rude. We let people borrow things when we don't want to. We attend social events that make us want to gauge our eyes out. We make our children cuddle elderly relatives who smell of pee because it's rude for children to have some kind of autonomy over who touches them.

Society's fucked up attitude towards sexual consent is all tangled up in our confusing feelings over the word no.

I was definitely raised to believe that the word no was bad. I got into trouble when I tried to get out of social events that weren't up my street, or involved people I plain didn't like. I was told that I had hurt people's feelings, even if I hadn't. So it's no surprise that as a teenager and adult I didn't really know how to say no like I would any other word.

I'm okay with the word no now, but that shit took years to actively unlearn. Saying no to things (and in return respecting another person's right to say no) shouldn't be seen as rude. I don't have any children in my life, but if I did I would 100% never make them feel like no was a bad word. Don't want to hang out with Aunt Morag today? That's okay because I'm a grown-ass adult who knows how to handle being turned down.

And this leads us nicely onto coercion! The Office of Women's Health's describes coercion as:

Sexual coercion is unwanted sexual activity that happens when you are pressured, tricked, threatened, or forced in a nonphysical way. Coercion can make you think you owe sex to someone. It might be from someone who has power over you, like a teacher, landlord, or a boss. No person is ever required to have sex with someone else
Some of the verbal examples on their website include:
  • "If you really loved me, you’d do it.”
  • “I’ll make it worth your while.”
  • “But you’ve already gotten me all worked up.”
  • “If you don’t do this, I will tell everyone you’re gay.”
And I have my own example to add (because I've never had an opinion on anything in my life) coercion includes forcing someone closer to Yes because they're not totally against the idea. There's Flat Out No at one end, and then Enthusiastic Yes at the other - with murky grey in between. If someone is in the murky grey mid-section that's not an invitation to push them towards a Yes. Let them stay in murky grey. They should only move towards Yes on their own terms.


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Anyway, where were we?

I'm going back to feminism again because apparently this How To has no structure. I'm going to use another celebrity as an example of consent.

This time it is Ellen DeGeneres and Katy Perry.

Two years ago the men on Twitter got angry because Ellen DeGeneres complimented Katy Perry very publicly on her boobs. Why does Ellen get to tell women they have a nice rack but if I do it it is fucking creepy? they cried.

Because, consent.

I am not Katy Perry and I cannot decide for Katy Perry how she should feel about a public compliment towards her breasts. I would feel awkward but that is me. Because consent is about how that person feels about the encounter. Katy and Ellen are pals and probably know where each other's boundaries lie. A random man walking up to a random woman and proclaiming that her DDs are the best he has ever seen isn't the same scenario.

But the Twitter Men did have a slight point.

Assault is generally seen as something where a perpetrator is always a man and the victim is always a woman. Statistics back this up.

But this isn't always the case, and I've met a fair few women who could do with a consent class.

I date people of multiple genders and can confirm that creepy men are everywhere. It's a problem. They can be even more fucking awful when hiding behind a Tinder profile. Creepy women are fewer and further between but they exist. They do. They're just rarer. But the fact that they exist is still a problem. And the fact that we deny their existence is an even bigger fucking problem.

You want some anecdotes? Got them here, served fresh.

When I was still a bit of a Dundee bird, I went to a certain rock club for Halloween. One of its female regulars who identifies as a feminist (I'm not naming names, but she has dark hair and pale skin....oh, I'm feeling brave tonight) decided to start slut-dropping around my feet. I froze. Like just stood there. Clearly not wanting the attention. Then I walked off. I was 23 and not as confident sticking up for myself as I am now, and I wasn't as well-versed in consent. I still internalised the idea that women can't assault women. But I remained on guard for the rest of the night. (Even better her male partner witnessed this and his embarrassed face said everything: he knew I didn't want this attention but didn't intervene).

But it's isolated! Lol, no. Let's move onto women on dating apps. Prior to coming out of the closet, I received an explicit message from a woman on OkCupid. She had chosen to list her profile as a straight male because "I'm sick of creepy of men dropping into my profile, so I'm listed as a straight male so I can still see the ladies but dodge the men". Pot meet kettle, babe.

Here's the thing with women harassing me. It has went away since I came out as bisexual. I have a sneaking suspicion that these women (I have other stories but I would like to finish writing this post at some point) could sense that I wasn't really heterosexual, but instead of taking me aside for a compassion chat or, I don't know, let me come out in my own time - they decided to....harass it out of me instead? That's an interesting technique for queer liberation.

Anyways, my point is: believe assault stories of queer women and people of all genders.


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And a sort of related point (but I maybe could have found a better place for it but whatever, I'm mind dumping): contraception is a consent issue. If you are the sort of person who refuses to get tested, you're not giving that person all the information they need to have sex with you. Accidentally passing around an STD is a shitty thing to do. If you're a sexually active adult you should be getting your genitals (and blood) tested between partners (just like people with teeth should go to the dentist every six months).

And the "awwww, don't make me wear a condom, I want to feel closer to you" chat needs to stop. I'm not going to pretend that condoms are sexy (they aren't, and sex does feel better without them) but if a girl (or guy) doesn't feel comfortable humping you bareback respect that, or get out. I've relied on the pill and even the pullout method with guys I'm actively dating where we've had a conversation, but I'd never trust a new guy to pull out or automatically believe he is STD free. I don't personally know a woman (who I've asked this question to, at least) who feels comfortable going condom-less with a new guy. Men, start carrying a condom on a first date by default.

And ONE MORE POINT! I'm nearly done, promise.

We need to work on the way we console our friends who have been dumped, or where their love for someone is just flat out unrequited. It's shit when someone doesn't feel the same way or decides to end a relationship. But we need to start respecting their decision. Saying things like "it's their loss" or "he doesn't know what he's missing" isn't helping. The same goes for remaining eternally angry at an ex who didn't do anything wrong (e.g. adultery, theft etc) but just felt like the relationship wasn't really working for them anymore.

Same goes for setting people up. Don't force it. Your co-worker might be a "great guy", but that doesn't mean that your cousin should "give him a chance".

I know this 3,000+ words mind-dump might sound self-righteous and ho ho ho all men are out to assault women even when they're not intentionally doing so. So I'm putting on my big girl pants and admitting that I've made assumptions about taking it to the next level and let my hands slide places without checking that the person wanted to go further than kissing. I've failed to sit down with a sexual partner and create a Yes/No/Maybe checklist. I've been a dick about rejection. Consent is something I've had to sit with and check myself on. I've improved at having conversations that feel awkward because we're not used to having them. I don't try and make my love life look like the movies where they seamlessly glide from First Base to Third. I make sure moving further forward is something all parties want.

Okay, a re-cap.

What does consent in the sexual revolution look like:
  • You can register when someone is too drunk (are they slurring and wobbling when they walk?)
  • Silence is not a yes
  • When a partner tells you what they're into sexually, you don't dismiss it
  • Differing sex drives and desires are legitimate reasons to break-up (or talk about non-monogamy)
  • Get explicit consent and never assume
  • Consent can be withdrawn at any time
  • You don't take flirtatious behaviour as consent
  • In fact, you don't take anything that isn't explicit verbal consent as consent
  • Discuss contraception, and get tested 
  • Thorough sex education in schools that includes consent
  • Agree that if someone feels like they were sexually taken advantage of, then that means they were
  • If someone is willing to spend money on lawyers and go through fucking court, then they're not lying
  • Support sex workers (if they say they want to fuck for cash, believe them)

Have I missed anything?

Because I really want to go to the pub.
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A 17-point checklist for creating your dream life (or how I went from miserable teenager to happy adult)


Here's my #10YearChallenge - don't I just look happy in 2008? Probably because I wasn't. 

At the start of the 2019 I wrote a mushy-mushy post about how 2018 was the year that everything finally clicked into place for me and how I felt content af.

Which is an incredible feeling, but it took me 28 years to get there.

Not long before my 20th birthday I was hit by a murky cloud that came with a silver-lining. I got dumped (for someone else) and had been royally fucked over by a close friend (it involved money) in the space of a few short months. Both of these people had brought chaos to my life since I met them and ended up leaving my life in a dramatic fashion. Then younger me was left wondering how I ended up in this mess.

The silver living was that I woke up to the reality that I wasn't content with life, at all. I had been in the passenger seat of my own life, insecure, and had little self-identity. It also made me realise that I was a magnet for problematic people (aforementioned partner was my second relationship, but my first relationship wasn't particularly healthy either).

So on New Year's Eve 2011 I decided I would have a life makeover.

I didn't exactly know how this was going to happen. In the end it was a big mix of trial-and-error, reading a ton of self-help books, diving into the wellness industry, and listening to what my inner gut was telling me. Everything got gradually better as different areas of my life clicked into place, but it took until last year for things to feel really good.

Like everyone, I don't have a map or checklist to help me navigate this crazy thing called life. I made all of it up as I went along. Experimenting, if you will. But I'm finally in a place where I love my life, and don't have any major complaints. I can't undo anything from my past, but I can move on from it.

And in what will be potentially the most personal blog I've written, I share the different parts of my life that I changed or, at the very least, scrutinised. I'm a big believer that life is not a one-size-fits-all thing and I 100% am not suggesting that you go out and copy all my choices. But this is actually what I did in practice, and what I wish I had known 8 years ago. So if you have the same feeling brewing in you as I did back in 2010, here are some potential pointers.

1. Think about what you want
Shut your bedroom door. Turn off your phone. Go rent a cabin the woods if you think it's necessary. The important part is that you try your hardest to shut out the opinions of your parents, partner, friends, co-workers, relatives you see once a year, advertisers, and the media.

You need to try and connect with your authentic self and identify what you really want from life. This isn't always easy. Later in the blog I will explore this in more depth as we move through different areas of life, but you need to start with the correct mindset.

Importantly though, try and not go against the grain for the hell of it. That is rebellion; not building your dream life. The two are different. There's nothing wrong with wanting the mainstream; just as long as though you've sat with it and are confident that it's what you want.

For example, I'm pushing 30 and I'm long-term single, don't want kids (ever), live in a city-centre flat share, and haven't even entertained the idea of applying for a managerial role. Heck, I'm applying to go back into education this year. This isn't exactly the life anyone had hoped for me, but it is the life I actively chose.

2. I went vegetarian, and eventually vegan
I know on the face of it this doesn't exactly sound life-changing but for someone who had been uneasy about meat consumption since primary school but wasn't allowed to go vegetarian - it was a big deal. I went vegetarian in the months that followed my 'moment' and it was the first thing I did to take back control of my life.

Vegetarianism might not be right for you, but looking at your diet in another way might. Do you feel nourished? Do you feel bloated? Are you obsessive about what goes in your body? Do certain foods make your skin spotty? Could you have a better relationship with food? Do you have disordered eating?

3. I moved to a city I love
As far back I can remember I've always daydreamed of living elsewhere. The Aberdeenshire countryside never felt right. As a teenager I built up an encyclopaedic knowledge of other UK cities, which was probably driven by my desire to live elsewhere.

When I left for university, I intentionally chose a institution elsewhere. I went for Dundee (don't chose a university for its location, definitely don't copy me here). It was better, but not amazing. I knew there was somewhere else. In my final year of university I travelled to Glasgow for an event (somewhere I'd been a few times but didn't know that well) and came back knowing it was where I wanted to live post-university. I was met with a few eye-rolls, but I was determined and only applied for jobs in G-town upon graduation. It took me years to build the life I have in Glasgow now (I went to a lot of concerts alone!) but I was determined to make it work, and eventually it did. 

Some people never leave their hometown, and that's okay. Some people will move to the other side of the world. Some people do the city thing until they're 25, and then move to the suburbs. Some people like the city they grew up in, but would prefer a different area within that city. Some people love living alone, while others flat-share into their thirties. It might even take a bit of moving around to find out exactly what kind of living arrangement works for you but when you know, you know.

4. I stayed intentionally single
After two shitty relationships in a row, it was time to do some soul-searching. As easy as it would be to blame my exes for everything that went wrong, I was also part of the unhealthy dynamic and I had to own that. And that's where I promised myself that I wouldn't get into a relationship again until 1) I met someone I knew I could really work with, and 2) I worked out my own shit first.

And, uh, I'm still single. Honestly, out of every choice I mention on this list I get the most side eyes about this one.

If you're in a relationship: are you genuinely happy? Do you look at your partner and wonder how you got it so lucky? Are you happy with every aspect of the relationship, or is there something you've been biting your tongue on?

If you're single: know that you're not an unlovable loser. That's the first thing. I know what's it like to have an unhealthy relationship take its toll on me, and I'd rather die alone. There is an upside though: it's much easier to think about what you want from a relationship if you're not already in one. Do you want children? Do you believe in marriage? Do you want monogamy or polyamory? Do you have big life plans that might be good to get out of your system now? Do you have some negative personality traits that you could work on so you'll be better partner when you do meet someone?

5. I came out of the closet
So on the topic of romantic relationships: I've known I was attracted to people of multiple genders since I was 14, but didn't publicly share that information until I almost 27. Carrying that secret around for over a decade certainly had a negative impact on my emotional well-being.

I wrote an entire blog post on why it took me 10 years to come out, so I won't re-hash anything you don't already know. But if you are in the closet (or even just questioning your sexuality and would like to experiment) know that coming out was the scariest thing I ever did, but it was also incredibly liberating. My DMs are open.

6. I have friends who get me, the real me
Just like your romantic relationships, have a look at your platonic relationships. Are your social and emotional needs being met by your current social circle? Is there someone you secret dislike? Is there someone you've been friends with for years and feel obligated to stay friends with despite having moved on emotionally? Is there a super-cool girl at your work you think you could be proper pals with?

Since publicly becoming my authentic self I've found it a lot easier to naturally attract platonic connections. But something else that helped was working on being a better friend. I became an active listener, learned how to open up to someone, trust people, buy great birthday presents, and support someone during a difficult time. Being a good friend is a life skill, and all skills can be worked on.

7. Career
You spend 40+ hours a week at your job, so it's worth finding something that's a good fit. But I 100% reject the idea that if you follow your bliss, you’ll never work another day in your blahblahblahbutwhatabouttherent. It's okay to have a job that is just a job. You are not a disgrace to your parents or feminism if you're not a passionate careerist. Your career or job, however, should not be something that brings you sadness, guilt, or crippling anxiety.

I went to university for the wrong reasons. I knew this by my third year, but didn't have it in me to drop out (and, uh, my parents wouldn't let me). I accidentally fell into marketing, and I've been happy enough in it since. But I never stopped toying and researching other potential paths. And for the last two years something has been growing in me, and I've decided that 2019 will be the year that I start to put the wheels into motion.

I know very few people who decided what they wanted to do at sixteen, went to university for that specific degree, got a job in their chosen field, and then never looked at their CV again. Most people manoeuvre around a little bit. If everything goes according to my own plan, I'll be in education when I enter my thirties. That's not exactly where the Powers That Be think anyone should be at thirty, but it's where I will be.

8. I accepted my introversion (and my other personality traits)
For the bulk of my life, I've been made to feel like my introverted nature was a bad thing. And I was a bit confused because I still liked parties, roller coasters, having lots of friends, and noisy cities. Things introverts aren't meant to like.

Turns out I'm a social introvert, and realising that has improved my own attitude to socialising and how I navigate friendships.

8. I have hobbies that bring me genuine joy
I'm a couch potato now, so it might surprise you to know my parents limited indoor activities and made me go outside (even if I didn't want to). But I don't get any real joy from outdoor pursuits so that was quickly thrown in the bin when I left home.

My two 'big' hobbies these days are cooking and reading. After that I have blogging, social media, swimming, crafting, comics, and live shows. Over the years I've made attempts to become invested in a variety of hobbies (yoga, dancing, netball, and, uh, trapeze), all with varying degrees of success (trapeze went badly). If you don't have a hobby that you can speak passionately about for hours on end now is your time to find it. It might take some experimenting, and I'd say that if it doesn't fill you will love after three months then it's time to move on.

9. I explored my political and religious beliefs
I grew up in a Church of Scotland household, and it never sat with me. I then spent time in my teenage years exploring religion (mainly Buddhism, Paganism, and other branches of Christianity). These days I'm firmly non-religious, to the point where I wouldn't have a church wedding (even for show) and ask for the secular version of anything (jury duty, for example).

Politically, I've always leaned left and I've become more left as time has marched on. My left-winged views are so integral to my belief system that I refuse to be friends with someone who isn't on the left and won't date someone who isn't politically aligned.

10. I became a power for good
Apparently there's some studies floating around that people who volunteer have better self-esteem because they know they are helping people. And while I am politically against helping others for your own ego (if you really want to help, fight the system not the symptoms) I do agree. I feel a lot better about myself know that my activism is (hopefully) helping the nudge the world in a better direction.

11. I developed a self-care plan
I know that alone time, swimming, and maintaining a clean environment are critical for my mental well-being.

And that meditation, aromatherapy and yoga do nothing for me. 

12. I have well-being idols who I still follow online for inspiration and brain orgasms
These are Gala Darling, Sarah of Yes and Yes, and Melissa A.Fabello. Their advice is practical rather than inspirational, and that works best for me.

13. I got rid of the excess
I've already implied in several of the steps above about riding your life of the excess, but let's say it directly.

Excess friends. Excess apps on your phone. Excess belongings. Excess social media accounts that you don't have time to update. Excess hobbies. Excess projects. Excess committees. Excess newsletters in your inbox. Get rid of the excess and streamline things down to what you need. It will free you up for things that genuinely bring you happiness (and save you money).

14. I had a physical make-over
I was raised in a household where expression through clothing choices and make-up was seen as frivolous. So I didn't have the opportunity to play with my style until I had my own income. Then it was a long journey that involved a lot of unflattering photographs.

To make it clear I 100% reject the idea that a make-over means subscribing to society's narrow definition of beautiful. It's time to find out what makes you feel good: whether that be super feminine and glamorous; slouchy and comfortable; power-suits and French Manicures; fashionable and trendy; or quirky and gothic.

15. I got tattooed
Like vegetarianism, this might not be seen as automatically life changing. But I grew up in a family where no one had visible tattoos and anti-tattoo sentiments were around me.

So when I finally got a tattoo (albeit a hidden one) it felt like doing something for myself and not worrying about what anyone else thought of me.

(Obviously, I'm not suggesting that everyone gets a tattoo but if you've considered it maybe it's time to look into it?)

16.  I got to the root of why I am the way I am (or was)
Last year I read the Anxiety Solution by Chloe Brotheridge, and it blew me the fuck open. In it she encourages people to go back into their childhood and analyse whether their chronic shyness lies in the way they were raised. And holy fuck, I made some connections between the behaviour of adult me and the way adults treated me as a child. Being able to climb back into my past like this and rip issues out at the root was like being re-born.

If you've got issues as an adult (whether it be picking shitty romantic partners, shyness, or struggling to hold down a job) try and understand why you are like that in the first place. Once you understand where your behaviour patterns came from, you can begin to unlearn them.

17. I stopped blaming everything on everybody else
This is the most uncomfortable, but the most essential, element of building your dream life. While there are some things in my life I couldn't control, there were things I could control and chose not to. Confronting myself about my mistakes was not a fucking walk in the park, I can tell you.

Nobody is perfect, but some people are definitely more high-calibre than others. Think of it a sliding scale: you definitely want to be closer to the "High-Calibre" end than the "Absolute Gobshite" end. And when I say "work on yourself" I mean the stuff that really matters when everything is said and done. We're talking the deep emotional stuff here, not healthy eating and exercise.

I found physically sitting in front of a mirror and having a fake conversation with myself to be really beneficial (yes, really). I wasn't popular in high school, because I had eurgh social skills. I used to be stickler for rules, to the point where I was a pain. I would attempt to change romantic partners, rather than leave or accept people for who they were. I was a moody cow. I used to have really bad table manners. I was messy to the point of being a bit, well, disgusting.

Over to you.
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2019, hiya




Internet,

2018 was undoubtedly my best year to date.

Not because I received a promotion, moved country, married the love of my life, or had a baby. Heck, I didn't even go abroad. 2018 was my best year because it was the year where important internal feelings finally clicked into place, and I became the person I've wanted to be for so long.

The end of 2017 was a shitshow for me, even if it was a shitshow because I was finally flushing shitty people and their shitty opinions down the toilet. I cleared some toxic people out my life, which in turn led to shaking off my social awkwardness and finally coming out the closet as bisexual after 10 years (aforementioned toxic people and hiding my sexuality are interrelated). These things were liberating - and took a massive weight off my shoulders - but they were scary, especially since I wasn't convinced the toxic people would go away quietly (they did in the end, sort of) or that my true sexual orientation would be readily accepted (it was).

2018 was the year where I pleasantly discovered that the scary decisions I made in 2017 were 100% for the best. My birthday is in November, and for my 27th birthday (2017) I tagged onto to back of someone else's party because I literally didn't have the social or emotional energy to organise my own. Just two weeks after that birthday I would find out some news that would shake me and really wondered if I'd be happy again. (one of the toxic people? Let's just say their past caught up with them and they're now doing jail time if you want a measure of just how toxic we're talking).

Fast forward a year, and the night before my 28th birthday I'm crying my eyes out with happy tears. I did claw myself out and was going to be spending my birthday weekend doing cute dates with cute people who I love, who I don't doubt for a second if they love me.

And it made me realise that my former life as a incessant goal-chaser and Really Busy Person With No Energy had been caused by looking for happiness in external places. Not to sound like a Instagram caption (but I'm going to do so anyway): happiness really is an inside job.

So, this year my goals are pretty boring if I'm honest. I'm very happy with where I am right now, with only some tweaking here and there required. Okay, there is one big thing I'm planning to do this year but it's a decision I've been growing towards for about two years, and it's time to bite the bullet.

Domestic and Home Life

I've loved cooking since I was a little girl, but 2018 was the year where I finally began meal-prepping (thanks to a new fitness-friendly flatmate joining me in March). This is something I want to work on as I still can't get the portion sizes right and usually end up with five small boxes of food, which don't always fill me up. I know I don't need to actively improve at meal prepping, as this is the sort of thing that will become second nature as I cook every weekend.

On top of this, I also want to continue pushing my culinary skills in general. I'm very confident in my cooking abilities, and 2018 was a year where I attempted some complicated recipes (vegan meringues anyone?) and I want to continue investing my time in practising show-stopping dishes.

Also in the world of becoming a domesticated goddess, I want to actively work on getting on top of my cleaning routine. I'm a naturally messy person who had many fights with her parents as a teenager. Thankfully, I've become naturally tidier and hygienic as the years have ticked on, but I'm still a little negligent. In 2019, I'm looking to identify cleaning products to swear by, invest in cleaning equipment, pay attention to the details, and not be left in a position where I'm forced to go on a mad cleaning spree whenever I have a guest (or landlord) coming round.

Finally, I'm still serious about purchasing my own place. Will I do it this year? Who knows. I'm waiting to make a big decision like this in my own time. But I've identified that a key area where I can save money is by not buying gig tickets for bands I'm only a half fan of.

Style and Beauty

One of my main goals for 2018 was to invest in beauty treatments that cost a bomb, but are worth it in the long term. So far I've invested in laser hair removal along my bikini line, my first tattoo, my first professional hair cut in years, whitened my teeth every so slightly with an at-home kit, and re-vamped my wardrobe at the Blogger Clothes Swap. In 2019 I want to continue this, with more tattoos, one or two piercings, professional teeth whitening, zap every inch of unwanted hair off my body, and add new elements to my make-up routine. I want to look like a physically different person.

Social Justice and Activism

This is one area of my life where I am constantly evolving and growing - and 2019 won't be an exception. One of my goals for 2018 was to delve properly into allyship and read up on issues that don't directly affect me. I think I've done a decent job, but I know the job of an ally is keep being better every single day. I want to continue reading up on trans, class, body image, and race issues. I also want to donate more money to causes that don't directly impact me, especially charities and pressure groups that fight systematic issues.

One new goal I do have in relation to activism is to delve into the academic and radical stuff. Fluffy social justice that dominates the media has its place (as it does get people thinking) but I find a lot of mainstream content repeats what I already know, and doesn't initiate radical change. And I want to work on moving society (or at least my own social circle) past the baby stuff.

In 2018, I also worked on becoming more vulnerable. This was a weird step to take as I grew up a closed book who regarded telling her friends who she was a crushing on As A Big Deal. So to share my coming out story (and call out former friends and partners in the process) and write publicly about a sexual assault was something I never would have thought possible a year ago. But I've learned the importance of sharing your story (if you're safe to do so) and even sent a soppy message to an online friend whose openness about coming out in her late 20s made me realise that it wasn't too late to date who I wanted to. I want to remain open in 2019, and continue being vulnerable.

I also want to become more involved in the Scottish Green Party again. I've been a member since 2014, but never really found my 'place' in the party. Most members I'm friends with have a particular wing or committee that they are a dedicated member of, while I'm still only attending the yearly conferences. Like most other areas of my life, it will take trial and error to find that place.

Geek and Pop Culture

I read some of the best books of my life in 2018, and even began to develop a passive interest in poetry. I also watched several entertaining films and tv shows. And - most importantly, clearly - added to that Batgirl comic book collection. Morag still intends to be a geek in 2019, with the same geek goals as the past two years.

Career and Blogging

My career took an exciting twist in December, with restructuring at work that has worked in my favour. I'm now a well-rounded digital marketer, rather than a marketer who concentrates on social media with a bit of content on the side (which, tbh, was never my dream). I'm now looking after the buying journey across social, content, and Google AdWords for one of my employer's (high-end) sub-brands. I'm looking really forward to this, as it fits in so much better with my larger career goals than what I was doing previously.

However - and this is the big goal I mentioned earlier - 2019 is the year where I plan to make a return to (part-time) education. I'm not planning to say publicly what exactly I'm applying for as 1) I've not fully decided on which course and what institution and 2) I'm not keen on the idea of current/potential employers knowing until the course is completed. So you'll all find out in 2020 (or even 2021) what I was doing secretly behind the scenes.

As for blogging, I'm happy with where things are: my blog is somewhere I can update when I want with longform pieces, but I don't punish myself if I can't fit it in. Instagram gets the bulk of my attention, and that's where I plan to keep my focus in 2019. The only thing I want to refine is my brand/how I come across as a person.

Social Life and Relationships

It feels silly to say this now, as it really should have been obvious: but my refusal to be honest about what genders I am attracted to (and in what ways) was the same reason why I could never commit myself to someone romantically (even a man!) in a serious capacity. Since dating a girl (briefly) last spring and having been on other dates with people of multiple genders, I felt a shift happen in me: my commitment phobia was finally gone.

It feels weird to list "find a partner" as a resolution because we all know we should take time finding someone who complements us and not just pick the first suitor who shows up. But I suppose I can make a genuine effort by taking dating apps seriously and having the confidence to speak to someone who catches my eye. We'll see.

I also want to work on my platonic relationships, and make new ones. In the past 12 months I've discovered who truly cares about me and have whittled my close friends down to the people who nourish me. But I've always been one of those people who enjoys having a large social circle, and have always rejected the idea of a best friend as I don't expect one person to be able to fulfil all my social and emotional needs. I want to make an effort in 2019 to strengthen my current friendships, and maybe turn a few acquaintances/platonic crushes into actual friendships - but also, like romantic relationships, never settle and accept a half-friendship because it's easy.

Let me know what your goals are for this year. Do you have anything big planned or are you only planning a few tweaks as well?

Morag x
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