As someone who's writing a PhD about a distinctly male-dominated field, I am constantly aware of the fact that women are, if not utterly underrepresented, then certainly overlooked in the majority of mass media. I think this is why I was rather delighted to see Dorian Lynskey explain the poor representation of women in his new book 33 Revolutions per Minute: A History of Protest Songs.
It's a very thoughtful article and largely an articulate explanation. I do think he contradicts himself to a certain extent by stating
If you were to draw up a list of the most influential 20th century world leaders, a minority of women would be an accurate reflection of the reality, but if you overwhelmingly favoured men in a tally of key 19th century novelists then you’d be doing something wrong.
After all, it wasn't until the feminist movement began searching for female voices in 19th century literature that women writers were actively added to the canon and became revered. I think the same really can be said of women in pop culture in the 20th century (and once we stop thinking 'feminist' is a dirty word, we'll start advocating them, too).
Nonetheless, Lynskey offers a particularly well-observed reflection on the backlash against female artists who dare take a stand on political issues and provides a fantastic selection of some of music's most vocal feminists. In this way, Lynskey helps to remind us that the only way we'll ever see change is to make choices that promote change -- even if the choice in question is to spend our money on strong women fighting against the double standards of patriarchy for true equality.
I hope everyone contacted their MPs, dusted off their placards and is ready to have their voices (very likely) completely ignored.
As has been noted in the debate today: the vote today represents the most profound change in university funding, and thus the system itself, since the 1920s, and yet the MPs voting will be doing so without having seen the government's white paper on it.
I feel practically violated from the betrayal we're facing. If the ConDems go ahead with their proposed cuts to education, it will be an enormous step back.
Last week I finished my first actual jumper (details here and here). While I've knit a few cardigans and am a dab hand at socks, I've always been kind of hesitant about the whole jumper thing. (For one thing, I'm still hesitant about calling it a jumper. It's one of those things I still have to consciously translate before I say it. I'm afraid they might always be 'sweaters' to me.) However, about six weeks ago I decided to take a leaf out of Jasmin's (from the Knitmore Girls) book and enter into Operation Destash, i.e. have a proper rummage through my stash and my pattern collection and match them up.
I really like this idea of destashing through knitting. It's a clean, methodical and thoroughly logical way of tackling an overrun stash. Mine is relatively tiny compared to some, but it's still far too overgrown for my liking. In fact, it has that very much in common with my garden at the moment. Sigh. The hours in the day, as Poirot might lament in his peculiar fluent pidgin English, there are not enough of them.
In any case, one Sunday I spent an entire morning rooting out all the yarns I will not and refuse to ever use, the yarns that I admittedly quite like but are destined to languish if they stay with me and all the quality yarns that I've impulse purchased collected throughout the years to sample but have not. About half have gone to our local charity shop, while the other half are on hand to be donated to whatever good cause will take them.
My stash thoroughly weeded, the rest of the day was dedicated to pattern browsing, queue perusing and squinting critically at designs through skeins held aloft to get the full measure of them. Is there anything more satisfying? It's so utterly self-indulgent and yet a completely necessary use of a knitter's time. In the end, I picked six garments I am desperate to wear in yarn I am desperate to knit, and the plan (The Plan) is to go through the list one by one until I have six new things in my wardrobe.
First on (and off!) the needles: #23 Lace Yoke Pullover by Sandi Prosser from Vogue Holiday 2008, knit in Fyberspates British Merino DK in deep plum, Heaven's Hand in saffron and Madelinetosh Eyre in dove grey.
Next up: Cobblestone by Jared Flood from Interweave Knits Fall 2007, also knit in Fyberspates British Merino DK, this time in this deep-rust-scarlet hybrid solid that makes the colour of Matthew's eyes even more hard to define but no less intense.
Before I wrap this up, I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who commented on the last post. The last six months have been pendulous to say the least, but overwhelmingly I've come out of it still bursting with all the good rather than dwelling over the rest. And there's more good things to come, of that I know.
So, I've been working in-house at my old publishers again, two days a week, for nearly a month and I cannot believe how it's affected my ability to do things. For one thing, actually having spare cash to go out -- awesome! For another, total exhaustion and a subsequent flake out on the sofa when I get home -- awful.
I've been cycling the 25 minutes from my house to Vauxhall, an exhilarating way to start the day if there ever was one, then taking the train out to the office where I induce forced brain collapse for 7 hours. Then I take the train back to Vauxhall and cycle sweatily home again. I actually rather enjoy the way this new routine makes me treasure the time I have for my research, but it's knackering.
I fully appreciate that anyone who actually works in an office FIVE DAYS a week will now either be flipping me the bird or laughing at me for being such a wuss. But as well as working in-house, I've also started teaching at uni again (little first years for critical theory, two seminar groups, loving it) and have started working with a new supervisor while my old one is on sabbatical, which means I REALLY have to work now. I'm glad for the change, really though, as I was getting too complacent with my old supervisor.
I've not had any time to sew at all for three weeks, which SUCKS. However, my knitting time has been completely amped up. The train journey affords me at least 40 minutes every day just for knitting, which is lovely. When I get home in the evening, I usually try to get some reading done but for the most part I flop in front of the TV and knit some more. I've watched more utter drivel in the last month than I have in the last five years.
My radio silence over the last few months has been driven by two key factors, both of which I've wanted to keep largely to myself but for very different reasons.
The first is I'm betrothed! I turned 30 and was whisked away by my dearheart to Paris, where, while breakfasting on the south bank of the Seine, Matthew clutched my hand nervously as he got down on one knee, produced a diamond-bedecked nose stud and asked me to marry him. I laughed and cried and said yes and it was wonderful. I LOVE being engaged, having an Engagement Freckle is giddingly lovely, but I cannot wait to get married. Marriage is going to be fucking awesome. Matthew is the most wonderful person I have ever known and it is my privilege to be part of his life. While marriage has never been something we've particularly discussed, knowing we're going to do it seems to have made everything brighter, more vivid and more pertinent.
The second thing also brought us closer, but for less awesome reasons. In August I miscarried. It was very early-stage, I couldn't have been more than about three weeks along, and quite unplanned; other than the faintest of faint pink lines on the home pregnancy test, the miscarriage was the one clear confirmation I was pregnant in the first place. Although I can rationally commend my body for rejecting a collection of unhealthy cells, I really wish it had done so less dramatically. Most early-stage miscarriages go practically unnoticed, with none of the symptoms attached. I, on the other hand, had the ginormous boobs, the strange pulling and stretching of my body as it got its womb together, the sudden waves of faintness, the hypersensitivity to smells and taste, the inability to concentrate on anything for more than three minutes... And all of that lingered with sick cruelty for the next six weeks (damn you, nature!). Regardless, it sucks but good things have come out of it: for the ten days between my beginning to think I might be pregnant and the actual miscarriage we both got super excited, which bodes well for when it does happen.
In any case, I've been mostly blogging over at Loumms, but as I've started teaching again and working in-house again, and want to start delving into my personal life again, I'll be here more often. For real this time.
I don't think I've ever gone so long without blogging here. Poor Quelle Erqsome, how I neglect you.
Regardless, hallo! I'm back! Not with a vengeance, not yet at least. I have a list as long as my route up to the British Library and back of important and exciting information to convey. For now, I break my silence with the following.
After receiving a raving with glee email from my friend Rachael about the forthcoming Punchdrunk rendition of Duchess of Malfi, involving a roving performance in an abandoned warehouse, I immediately leapt onto the Punchdrunk homepage for further investigation...
Whereupon it's otherwise delicate
hush of softing lapping waves suddenly burst boomingly from my computer, which
is currently stationed with me in the British Library, bastion and
last remaining outpost of silence and quiet study!! I could literally
heat Sweden at Yule, such is the heat of my blush.
This is adding to my progressively pissed off
state of the day, due to the stupidity of in-house editors and my own idiotic
assumptions that making things clearer would be good for everyone
involved. And the people I'm organising a conference with keep coming
back to me with revisions for the poster. Post-graduate SHOULD HAVE THE
HYPHEN! Jesus. Asshats, all of them.
PS, Happy birthday, Kate!! Yay! I hope it's awesome. See you later for mojitos and mucho grande festivities!
Today the sun is bright and strong, but there's still a real crispness
to the air. In fact, it gave me my own personal April Fools, even if in
the end it works in my favour: I've started running in the mornings
again, though I'm usually a bit of a wuss and stay in if I think it's
too cold or wet. This morning however I was completely taken in by the
brilliant sun and the startling blue skies that I slid into my running
tights and was out the door about five minutes after waking up. HUGE
SURPRISE -- it was FREEZING.
My legs were numb, my hands were red raw, my lips as they reflected back at me from parked car windows were visibly blue -- and that was before I made it to my main route. If you recall from my days of Victorian Consumption over the winter break, you might have noted I don't do very well in the cold. I love the winter, and I love the snow, but I love it when I'm bundled up. Not when I'm outside in what amounts to leggings and a thin sweatshirt.
Anyway, the sun shimmered away so I ran and ran, and then I switched to walking, and I walked and walked, and then I switched to running. And something miraculous happened. I ran. I actually ran -- not jogged or scuffled, but actually ran. I ran up hills and down, I ran across roads and through narrow passages. I ran the way I see real runner run.
I haven't been in training, as it were, since November so this is HUGE! I've been consciously taking it easy and switching between running and briskly walking; I've also been going every couple of days rather than every day, to ease myself back into it. I'm glad I have, but I'm also immensely pleased with my performance today. In the end I did a shorter loop than I normally do, as the cold really was biting, but I think if I remember to wear a pair of gloves next time I should be able to go for a full 45 minutes instead of just under half an hour.
On Sunday, Matthew and I biked down to the Horiman Museum to take in
some jellyfish. Much to Matthew's chagrin, there are indeed pots
at this museum, as well as jellyfish.
(If anyone has any suggestions in favour of museums
that have no pots in them, please, please send them my way. I'm determined to show Matthew not all museums have pots in them, but have been largely unsuccessful thus far.) The jellyfish were spectacular, however. I
could have stayed watching them for hours.
I'd rather hoped I'd be able to take some pictures of the Julia socks,
which I finished well over a month ago, but it was spotty and dark when
we finally emerged and that's no way to show off such a subtle pattern
in such awesomely plum yarn.
Good times nonetheless.
ALSO: Thank you so much to everyone who emailed me 'Get Thee To A Doctor, Fool' after grumbling about sciatica-esque pains in my leg. I haven't made an appointment yet, which is dumb, I know, but I have started getting some actual exercise -- such as this bike ride up and down Forest Hill -- and that has done wonders. I've been running most mornings and cycling and since then have only had the very occasional twinge on those days I've done nothing but move from my bedroom in the morning to my desk and stayed there working till dinner. If it persists, even after a few more weeks of regular exercise, I will absolutely go to a doctor. However, at the moment regular exercise seems to be working its magic. If I'm right, all this means is that I'm going to be stuck forced to be physically healthy by getting daily exercise for the rest of my life. And that I can live with.
1. I am in love with this poster. It cracks me up every time I look at it! I'm debating whether to get it for myself as an early birthday present or get it for Matthew for his. I'm just not sure how into zombies he is (but then, really, who isn't?).
2. With so many traditional crafts disappearing, this article is a fascinating look into those we're clinging on to. I'm torn between wanting to bring back the Sheffield Knife and making riddles.
3. In the past few weeks, I've let myself get seriously out of shape. I just feel so unhealthy, it's really bugging me. I went for a run this morning, the first since November, and I've been studying this page of yoga poses with great intent.
4. The part of me living in a small flat is really intrigued by this organisation. The part of me that's into gardening is doubly interested.
5. Long live this website. It makes my feminist roar and my femininist glee.
It turns out I'm one of those dumbasses who will go on stoically experiencing pain until it becomes chronic and ugly before I consider going to the doctor. I have some type of sciatica-esque pain in my left leg that, while not crippling, has been making daily appearances for the last couple of months. It began sporadically a couple of years ago, when I was working in-house, and I always attributed it to being stuck at a desk. I think the relative lack of exercise I get while good studenting is definitely a contributing factor, but an otherwise healthy person of my age really shouldn't be getting chronic anything. It's indicative of some old injury that hasn't healed properly is my guess, which will likely either make it the (evil) spawn of the car accident I was involved in when I was 19 (run off the road, flew down a ravine, flipped twice, ended up facing back up the hill and was nearly killed by a tyre jack tucked under the driver's seat -- lesson 1: keep that thing SECURELY IN PLACE) or from when I concussed myself by shattering a 10-pound solid glass lamp shade over my head a couple years later.
But don't let any of this fool you into thinking I've actually made a doctor's appointment. Oh no. That would be giving in. Heaven forbid my doctor think I'm a giant wussface.
I will make that appointment eventually (unless Dr Quick would like to use me as part of her experiments?), but in the meantime I've gone back to an old nightly exercise routine and am making a point of getting up every 30 minutes or so and having a wander when I'm studying and will start running again as soon as it's not cold (I may have grown up in a country where winter is Winter, but that doesn't stop me being a baby). I'm also cutting back on salt and thinking about cutting back on caffeine in the hopes that such measures might be sufficient. However, I'd really like it to stop NOW. Grr.