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 !

xxx

Daffy

Hello, is there anybody in there ?

Ahoy there !

New Year is on its way, and with it, New Year resolutions. My main resolution this year is to sort myself out, to get better for good.

Why, you may say, do you want to get better ? Is something wrong with you ?

Though I have never been through the process of getting a diagnosis, I can say that I have been battling mental illness for a few years, in fact I would say a good six years straight, maybe longer. I am not depressed, but I have depressive tendencies and I go from one end of my emotional spectrum to the other over very short periods of time, and rather frequently, thus being completely elated for multiple hours and then crying endlessly for a few more, all on the same day. I have very low self-esteem and self-confidence, I have body image issues (eating problems ensue) and a lot of anxiety as well as nostalgia, even though I am currently very happy with my life and I have a wonderful entourage I am ever so grateful for (Thank you guys ! I love you so much !). These mental problems result in physical problems too : I have been battling very bad eczema on my hands and wrists for over two years, I often have stomach pains, and I sometimes have breathing problems, too.

The result of this is that it parasites my professional and personal life : I flee loneliness more than all other things, if I am alone at night I (irrationally) delay my bedtime out of some kind of anxiety, I try and fill the feeling of emptiness I get in the pit of my stomach by eating a lot, and very fast, and then I feel guilty for eating so much (I never go to the extent of purging, however, due to my fear of damaging my body and my fear of sickness), I feel an urge to tidy or clean my flat because I feel disorientated and I also need to keep my mind busy, which chores seem to help with, as well as watching mind numbing videos on the internet, sometimes for hours. I find I rarely resort to one of my favourite activities, reading, because, when I am feeling down, I lose my appetite for books, which have always been an object of pleasure and curiosity for me, and, more recently, they have become an object of study and work, too.

It has become clear to me, over the last few days, that I must seek some help with these problems and that I should work on myself, because now that my “real” life has started, professionally and personally, my mental struggles are becoming a real problem and I fear that they might prevent me from reaching the goals I so dearly wish to achieve. Helping myself would allow me to thrive in my professional life as well as my personal life, and I am hoping to be able to start anew, without this (irrational) pain and sense of loss.

It is hard to write about my struggles and to make them public, especially since very few people know about this, but if this can also help other people, then that would be wonderful. I intend to seek professional help as soon as possible, and I will keep track of my progress on this page.

For now, it is time for me to get some rest, but first : time for a cuppa !

That’s all folks !

Speak to you very soon,

Daffy

We don’t need no education !

A few weeks ago, I was having dinner with a friend of mine, and he told me he’d met someone who loved Pink Floyd’s The Wall, but who disapproved of “Another Brick In The Wall – Part 2” because he was  teacher.

As a future teacher myself, I had to give that some thought : what is wrong with one of the most famous Pink Floyd songs ever ? Should I, too, disapprove of it ?

 

The whole album and both films they made out of it are “ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC !”, and that particular song is ever so catchy. I love the rhythm, the music, the lyrics, and I love it when the kids are singing. I think it’s a cool song and I understand why it was so successful back in 1979.

But it is a controversial song, and some of you might know that it was banned in South Africa because it was turned against the white authorities by the black population ; it had become somewhat of a political weapon.

Why ? Because of its message :

“We don’t need no education
We don’t need no thought control
No dark sarcasm in the classroom
Teachers leave them kids alone
Hey! Teachers! Leave them kids alone!
All in all it’s just another brick in the wall.
All in all you’re just another brick in the wall.”

At first sight, it sounds like the singer is rejecting school and education all in all.

But really, he is rejecting a certain type of education : one where students have no freedom of thought nor freedom of speech, where the contents they are taught is limited and distorted to suit the government’s liking, the church’s liking, or the business world’s liking. Teachers who conform to that and brainwash their students are despisable and hateable, because they rid them of their freedom and they prevent them from evolving and growing healthily and happily. Their students do not have the ability to think critically. They do not have the ability to become the best people they could be.

But this song also promotes a better kind of education : it does not aim to get kids to drop out of school because school is bad for them, but to reject any harmful types of education, and to search for a better, more fulfilling teaching, which encourages them to think freely and critically. It also promotes basic education for all – what some call the “three Rs”, reading, writing and arythmetic -, by using the double negative “we don’t need no education”, as in “we do need education”, and everyone in the world should have access to quality teaching.

In french, the world for student is “élève”, and the verb “élever” means to raise (to bring up). A student is a human being people such as parents and teachers should help grow and thrive. As a future teacher, I do not disapprove of this song – I can understand why one would be wary of it, in case it were misunderstood -, on the contrary, I believe people should spread the word : we don’t need no education, and we certainly don’t need thought control.

Thank you for reading !

Daffy

Perfect

Perfect.

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

Perfect.


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.

Daffy

Consent is all

consent

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

Daffy

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 :  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z86oaQ4aLcM

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.

Daffy

International Women’s Day

Today's Google logo : succesful female role models.

Today’s Google logo : succesful female role models.

Today is International Women’s Day. I’m a woman, YAY !
That means today people must show me respect and be kind to me and help me with things.

Wait – What ? Today. TODAY !?

So, women only get those things one day a year, is that it ? Shouldn’t everyday be International Women’s day ? Hold on – should we even need an international women’s day in the first place ?

I’m a woman, and here is my question : why do we need a yearly reminder that women are just as respectable and special human beings as men ? It seems logical in the sense that women and men still don’t have equal rights, so having a special day for women is important, but the problem is we have to start again every year, and we’ll keep on doing it over and over again until those equal rights are granted, unconditionally (Oh, I love that word !), everywhere on Earth. Yep, that’s it : today, March 8th, the phrase “International Women’s Day” makes sense, but tomorrow, it won’t mean a thing.

It’s the ultimatum the world is giving us : either we make today matter enough for things to change tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow, and every day after that, or we just sit here, celebrate “our special day”, and just wait, in vain, for things to change.

And don’t get me wrong, I’m not writing in the name of women alone : it is of utmost importance that men should speak up for equal rights and show that, they too, want a better life for ALL humankind. In fact, I suggest you have a look at Emma Watson’s United Nations project, #HeForShe : http://www.heforshe.org/ . I have to say that Emma Watson “has sure got her head screwed on”, as my dad said the other day, and this girl has got her priorities right and straight (sorry Ron !), go Emma !

It seems to me the best thing we can do – the only thing we can do – is work TOGETHER, everyday, for gender equality and against all forms of sexism, so we can have something real to look forward to, to be proud of, and to celebrate, whether that be every single day or on an International day like today.

PS : I know some of you will be complaining about the fact women have their international day and men don’t… It’s on November 19th, guys !

Daffy