Shame and pain

It kind of dawned on me that what I’m about to write may be obsolete in some super-advanced mega-feminist countries but it certainly isn’t in France, so here goes…

Menstruations are practical: when you menstruate, you basically aren’t pregnant. Great.

Menstruations are also absolute shit. They can be quite messy, and they can be very painful. I for instance have quite a lengthy period every month (about 5 to 6 days) and the first two days are so painful it can get to a point where it is debilitating. I’m not saying this to get your compassion or empathy. I’m saying this to make a point: menstruations are crap. They’re shit, and they make lots of us feel like shit.

The thing is, menstruations are taboo and women and pre-op trans men are forced to deal with them as quietly and discretely as possible while staying as efficient as usual at work, regardless of how we feel. Yay.

Personally, the first two days of my period have me drained and tired and miserable. The abdominal pain can get quite severe and spread all the way down to my knees – making it hard to walk or stand – and all the way up to my breasts. Carrying any kind of load feels like hell and trying to stay calm under any amount of stress is barely possible. All I want to do is to curl up into a ball and sleep.

Yet, when this happens on a Monday (spoiler alert: it always does), I am expected to get up nice and early and teach for six hours, drive in heavy traffic for approximately one hour, and not scream at any of my 75 noisy and bustling 12-year-old students. Could you do that properly under the aforementioned circumstances? I can’t.

Yet, I get up and I try my best. And I cry out of exhaustion at break time and in the evening when I finally get home. Nobody knows this of course, so to most of my co-workers and students it basically looks like I’m having a regular-to-bad day.

So, what can I do about it? I could, of course, keep popping pills all day – a drugged-up teacher is better than an absent teacher, right? But I don’t want to do that. As I said earlier, all I really want to do on such days is sleep.

Right, so, sick leave! Nope. Unfortunately, that’s not happening anytime soon.

Think about it: all a male doctor knows is most women cope with their period and go to work anyway, so why would I need a day off? So, what if I asked a female doctor for help, one who knows my struggle and… works regardless of her painful period because she’s expected to? Hummmmm…

Like many women out there, I need a day or two off during my period: pain, exhaustion, anxiety, and just basic hygiene problems such as worrying about leakage, finding a suitable place for rinsing a moon cup or changing a pad or a tampon, and doing so soon enough to avoid getting toxic shock syndrome do not allow many of us to be efficient at work and in society in general when we are on the worst days of our period. All I need on a period Monday is a decent amount of rest, so I can do a lot better than I usually would do on a more bearable period Tuesday.

So why is it society expects women and pre-op trans men to just shut up and deal with it? I suppose the fact we make the effort to go to work when we are on our periods makes people believe they’re not as painful as I am describing them to be. Sure, the pain is different for every individual, but there is no straightforward way of proving how we feel.

I believe women should be given a two-day paid leave per month, to be used for rest and self-care during our menstruations. Some people would undoubtfully and rightfully ask for more, but the risk of course would be making women even less employable than we already are – thank you, patriarchy. In addition to a couple of days’ leave, hygienic spaces and products should be made available to women in the workplace to help us cope. We should be helped through this shitty, mandatory, repetitive, exhausting, unfair, draining and sometimes debilitating phase of every single month of a long, long, long part of our lives and not shamed into silence for it.

Shamed into silence. That’s what’s going on. We are shamed for our bodies and for this unsolicited additional feature. We are shamed into pretending it’s okay and it’s easy, into wearing dark pants only and having to carry around any products we need because it’s abnormal and graceless and unfeminine to ask anyone else for the occasional pad. We are shamed into ignoring the pain due to its recurrent and therefore habitual nature, that apparently makes it a lesser pain for some reason. Oh no, I forgot. Patriarchy.

So how do we make things better for women and pre-op trans men? We could just sit and wait until a male politician magically has his period and realises how shitty it is, but pigs don’t fly. The only other way is to spread the word and to start demanding change. Let’s do that together.


Looking up !

Ahoy there !

If you ever read this article or if you have ever spent a substantial amount of time talking – or rather listening – to me, you probably know by now that I have a huge problem with feeling down, with blues and nostalgia, especially in the evening. However, ever since writing said article, I am better. Why ? I’m not 100% sure, but what I do know is I’ve bee fighting against nostalgia, not allowing myself to go there whenever I sense it creeping up inside me.

I used to indulge in that sad, sad feeling. I used to dive right into it, sometimes for hours. Now, as soon as I feel it coming, I block it out. I think to myself “This is ridicuous Daffy ! Your life is great, you can’t get all sad about it, and you can’t keep dwelling on the past !”. So I fight against nostalgia. And though it is sometimes hard not to give in to the sadness that appears when you find a random souvenir, or when you listen to this old Damien Rice song, I am getting good at it.

I am getting good at being happier than I was before, and, I believe, at worrying a lot less, too. This is also helped by the fact the school year is over, and my stress and anxiety have gone down dramatically.

I am starting to win my uphill battle. This. Is. Amazing.

I’ve been worrying, scratching my excema and crying a lot less than before, which means I have also had more time to reflect – healthily – on my life, to read (and oh how I love to read !) and to educate myself on important issues for me, such as gender equality and LGBTQ+ rights. I am in fact working towards becoming a proper activist ; I’m trying to work out how I can introduce people to the causes I’m fighting for and how I can defend them – I believe this could be a great platform ! We’re going to be drinking some sexy but serious cups of tea together, get ready !!

As I now have quite a bit of free time on my hands, I hope to post a bit more frequently, so I’ll be putting my take on various topics over the next few weeks. I hope you’ll like it and I hope you’ll enjoy being part of the conversation !

Get cosy and boil the kettle !





That’s what they want me to be

And that’s what I want to see

When I look in the mirror

But I don’t see perfect,

All I see is – me.

What I should see is pretty

Better still, beautiful,

I should read clever

‘Cos smart is forever.

I should see kinda funny

Lighthearted, bubbly

But all I see is – ugly.

And as much as I know

Figures are unimportant

My figure is my foe

And the numbers on the scale

However irrelevant

Weigh a ton and turn me pale.

Every day I look and pick

At what is wrong,

And I forget to stick

With what makes me unique,

What makes me strong.

My mind, unlike my looks,

Will never age, and will remember

The many lessons and books

I ever loved and read,

And I will burn to cinder

The buzzing voices in my head

Which cry


This is my try at a poem about body image and self-consciousness based on my own ongoing experience of feeling imperfect due to the standards society sets for us every single day.

I do plan on writing some proper in-depth posts on this topic, and I think this poem is a good starting point for further writing.


Consent is all


Ahoy there !

If you’ve been on the internet lately – and if you haven’t been lately, you’re on it right now, so no excuses ! -, you might’ve noticed a lot of hype around the topic of consent, and around videos such as Tea consentLaci Green’s Consent 101, or The One way you should be having sex.

Well, I sure noticed it. My initial reaction was the following : “YAY ! Finally people talking about consent and making it super simple !” I really love the Tea Consent video because it is probably the most nice and easy thing I’ve ever seen, heard or read about consent, and also because it is all-audience appropriate, and I really wanna high-five the people who made it, thanks guys !

But here’s my second response : how come, in 2015, we still have to raise awareness about consent and about the boundaries between consensual sex and rape ?

What I mean is the reason people are talking about this proves there still is an issue around the topic of consent, and though these videos and posts to exist, the issue is likely to linger for years to come.

Why is consent still an issue in 2015 ? Why don’t some people seem to grasp how necessary – and also how simple – consent is ? These questions show how important education and communication is. So many people watch films like 50 shades or, I dunno, basically any film, Skyfall (“I like you better without your Beretta”), for instance, and they see people doing the thing without really asking, just taking mutual consent for granted, and they then go on to imitate those scenes in real life, barely realising a film is just that – a film -, not real life. And IRL (“in real life”), consent is all.

Consent is all. That’s it. Easy peasy.

Thanks for reading lads and lasses, and sorry for taking so long to post – I’m having trouble with my internet connection and the landlord’s away.

See ya soon


Emotions vs. Education

Last January, I went to Holland with my art history class. We spent an afternoon in Haarlem visiting the Frans Hals museum, and at the time there was an exhibition on called “Emotions : Pain and pleasure in Dutch painting of the Golden Age.”

The exhibition focused on the way the Golden Age (Seventeenth century) artists would represent specific emotions and the way those depictions would become more subtle as time went by. Now, the exhibitoon was divided into multiple sections focussing on one or more similar – or, at least, visually similar – emotions, and there would be approximately 10 paintings per section, if I remember correctly.

The last section was about “Surprise and Fear”, and I was taken aback and utterly disgusted by one of the paintings shown there. After seeing the painting, I had a horrible sick feeling in my stomach all through the afternoon, and the worse thing about it was I had the feeling I was the only visitor to feel that way.

The painting in question was a 1632 oil on canvas by Christiaen van Couwenbergh, and its title was Rape of the negro girl. You can view the painting at the Fine Arts museum in Strasbourg.

Rape of the negro girl - Christiaen van Couwenbergh, 1632

Rape of the negro girl – Christiaen van Couwenbergh, 1632

At the time van Couwenbergh painted this, Holland had been at war for approximately the last 90 years, in order to gain its independence from Spain. The Dutch Golden Age’s main figure was Rembrandt, and van Couwenbergh was quite a minor artist, or, at least, he has become a minor artist in the eyes of today’s art history.

I suppose you can guess the fact rape has always existed is problematic to me, and it should be problematic to anyone in their right mind. I can’t really criticise the use of the term “negro” in the title, since it was quite likely the usual name for coloured people at the time. However, I must emphasise the fact that  van Couwenbergh depicted this woman as an animal, or as some kind of a beast, as something – more than someone – which is not human. That, of course, is racist, and it does bother me that people who were fighting for independence and who abode by the Scripture – van Couwenbergh became a deacon in the late 1640s – would show such intolerance. The fact the word “girl” was used in the painting’s title shows the painter aswell as the characters in the painting knew she was just as human as any one of them, but still, they treated her with no respect, no human dignity whatsoever.

I tried to find out if van Couwenbergh was some sort of a human rights advocate or if he painted this scene in order to denounce these practices and behaviours, but all I found out about him was he was a Golden Age painter. And that’s it. He probably knew there was something wrong with this but I believe he painted it as a random observer, as if he were the man on the left, pointing at the scene – and who seems way too happy about what he is pointing at – or, perhaps, the fully clothed man at the back, looking sort of suprised, but I doubt he is reproaching anyone for what is going on.

Christiaen van Couwenbregh was 28 when he painted Rape of a negro girl, and I believe this was simply meant to be his way of practicing painting human bodies and facial expressions. It is, indeed, a very academic piece, and its theme was nothing more than a pretext to prove his talent and his artistic skills. Therefore, I believe the theme of the painting was pretty much irrelevant at the time. This could justify, to some extent, the fact that this particular painting was chosen by the Frans Hals museum for their “Emotions” exhibition, because, unlike the characters’ facial expressions, the subject matter was irrelevant.

However, the difference between 1632 and 2015 is that nowadays, this particular subject matter IS relevant, and in my opinion, it is WAY MORE relevant than whether or not the coloured woman in the painting looks scared. The people who organised this exhibition and who chose which works of art they would use chose them all with a reason, and they decided to look at these paintings through the eyes of a Dutch Golden Age citizen, not through our twenty-first century eyes. And as brave or clever a decision that might be, I do not think it was right. By wanting us to focus solely on the emotions shown by the characters’ facial expressions, they asked us to condone the things we were really looking at, for art’s sake, or for the “social experiment’s” sake. They asked us to be the silent observer who is standing, fully clothed, behind the bed. They asked us walk by and to be okay with it.

I am still not okay with it.

I think it is UNACCEPTABLE for anyone, in this day and age, to condone acts of racism, sexism, and violence, and worse, to condone the fact someone painted this just for academic reasons. Moreover, I believe it is unacceptable to use such a painting for the wrong means. Since the painting exists, they might as well show it to the world, but not in such a context : it SHOULD be used, but as a means to educate people : not only have these practices existed since the dawn of time, but they were never acceptable, and condoning any type of discrimination or violence is JUST AS BAD as perpetrating it. And laughing at it, or shaming the victim – like the character on the left -, are worse attitudes still. This painting should be put under the spotlight for a good cause, that of denouncing these horrors, that of denouncing terrible situations like the Steubenville High School rape case which took place just a few years ago, in August 2012, in Ohio. Laci Green tackled the issue brilliantly in this video, so please watch it :

That is why I called my article “Emotions vs. Education” : if you use this kind of document or art piece, you need to use it in the right way, to serve educational means. Using Rape of the negro girl for the “Emotions” exhibiton was a wrong move and, unfortunately, I believe people might’ve been mislead by this very casual use of a painting which tackles very important issues. Education and communication are ever so important, and that painting could’ve served a much better purpose if only it had been used correctly, by human rights advocates or sex-positive thinkers.


Sex+ : Back to Basics

Hey, what did you expect ?

Hey, what did you expect ?

Two questions :

1) Is it our first year at Hogwarts ?

2) Is sexuality the third floor ?

One unfortunate answer : YES.

That is why sex+, also known as sex positivity, exists. Yay !

Sex positivity consists in creating an open and ongoing conversation about sexuality and everything to do with it in a non-taboo and non-judgemental way, so we can make the world better by changing and refreshing people’s thoughts on topics as varied as gender identity, relationships, sexism, rape culture, and so on and so forth.

Sex positivity aims to renew sex education in order to make it more efficient and more comfy, less awkward for everyone. Hopefully, if sex+ spreads and people bring their children up in a sex positive environment, we will be faced with less cases of unwanted teenage pregnancies, slut shaming, relationship abuse, and better overall prevention and protection against STDs, for instance. Sex positivity is a new and different form of education and culture and should result in what is called sex positive thinking.

Right, so now you’ve got your head wrapped around the concept of sex positivity, you might be wondering the following :

Daffy, does that mean sex+ fights against “sex minus” ?

Yep, it does. I’m getting there, mates ! Lots of people were brought up in a sex negative environment, but that CAN change. Sexuality may well be lost in the Forbidden Forest for sex negative thinkers, but guys, it’s time for all that to change : it’s time for us all to grab a cuppa and to get comfy with sexuality, it’s time for us to speak out and talk freely about all of those topics, ’cause after all, free conversation should be natural, shouldn’t it ?

Come on, guys, we’re going on a sex positive adventure !

PS : Feel free to visit, and, three ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC sex positive websites, created by Laci Green and Hannah Witton, two youtubers who have inspired me to create this blog and to share my thoughts on sex positivity with you.