feathersandfractals: Leeloo Dallas, Multipass (annoyed)

avatarI’m going to a wedding this weekend and I’m super-excited because the person getting married is one of my oldest and dearest friends. Who happens to live in Toulouse. It occurred to me, as things do on occasion, that if I can go to the effort of buying and wearing a dress for Her Majesty the Queen, I can definitely go to the effort of a dress for someone far more important to me.

Thing is, I’m not much of a dressy woman. I work in a job that is either office smart or manky grubby, and when I’m not at work I’m either in sports kit comprising varying degrees of lycra, or slobbing around the house in jeans. Add to this the fact I hate shopping with a passion, and it should be clear that shopping for a dress is something I would only do for a very special occasion. (Next time I might ask people to sponsor me on behalf of the RNLI).

My body, as far as I’m concerned, is primarily for making bikes go faster, getting me around, lifting things, moving through water with speed and efficiency, walking up mountains, taking me to places where I can spoffle sea creatures, and providing the conduit between the contents of my brain and the outside world. What it’s not is a clothes hanger, or an object that exists for other people to admire (or not, as the case may be). Don’t get me wrong — I’m not saying I don’t care what I look like. I do, in as much as I don’t want to look awful. It’s more that I don’t think about it much. I don’t exactly have body confidence so much as when it’s doing what I expect it to do — ride bikes, run, swim, compete in triathlon, walk around, open jam jars, carry bags etc etc etc — then functionality outweighs any physical appearance. When I don my tri suit I may have a moment of relief that I still fit into it after 3 years of being injured out of training, but I don’t worry about what my arse looks like. Not at the time, anyway. I save that for the photos afterwards.

A number of years ago I was very ill, and for a while there was a strong chance I was going to end up in a wheelchair. That was something of a priority check. As long as my body is working, and not threatening to break down again, we’re on pretty good terms. I exercise it, feed it nice food, make sure it gets plenty of fresh air and generally take care of it as best I can.

It has never expressed an interest in fashion.

Shopping is hard. I don’t have a personal style. I don’t know what works for my body shape or type. It’s not on my agenda, most of the time. On the very rare occasion I buy clothes that are not for work or sport, I find something at a price that doesn’t make me faint, in a colour that doesn’t taste horrible, check that it fits and doesn’t look disastrous, and that’s about as much as I can bring myself to care.

Today I needed to buy a dress. I had an hour or so after work, which is my limit for time spent on shopping. I was distracted by the lady in the perfume shop (perfume being the one conventionally feminine thing about which I have strong opinions), where I had gone for a travel pump for my current favoured scent. We chatted. It was fun.

I went to a clothes shop. Everything was in triple figures. I went to another shop, which carried clothes for ladies with curves. Some nice things, but they were expensive and all the colours tasted horrid. I went to another and another, by which point my patience was thin. The fifth shop (fifth!) was quite large, open plan, and had no indication of what all the different sections were. I was a bit lost, and wandered around for a few minutes, hoping for that synaesthetic hit telling me there was at least something in the right colour.

This guy came up to me. He was a little taller than me, thin, and had horrible beard shaved within an inch of its life (I wondered what was the point in having it at all), a posture straight out of the Ministry for Silly Walks, and a staff badge.

“Were you looking for anything in particular?”
“No. I guess I’ll know when I see it.”
“What sort of thing do you want?”
“Long, light, preferably green.”
“A dress?”
“Yes.”

He looked me up and down as if I were a laboratory specimen, or one of those masochistic creatures who subject themselves to the horror of America’s Next Top Model, then gestured vaguely towards the other side of the shop.

“I suggest you try looking over there, dear,” he said, withering. “You’re a bit on the big side for this section.”

I was so shocked I just smiled vaguely and let my feet start meandering in the indicated direction.

I’m not a delicate flower by any stretch of the imagination. I have been described as ‘one solid piece of muscle’. I will never be petite, never be elegant, never be graceful and sinuous. But I can muscle my 70″ fixed up a 12% incline, swim 3km in an hour and open my own damn jam jars. I’m not huge, either. I’m somewhere between a UK size 8 and 12 (US 4-8), depending on brand.

I shouldn’t be bothered by this inconsiderate idiot’s comment. but I was shopping for a dress, to look nice for my friend’s big day, and I felt this man had just told me there was no point in looking at any of the things I liked because I was huge and horrible and far too ungainly to wear beautiful.

This particular shop will never have my custom. Ever. Maybe I was in the petite section. Maybe that was the section for teenagers. I don’t know. I don’t especially care. He could have directed me to a more appropriate part of the shop in a friendly, nice, helpful way. He said it in a way that implied I had no business being there.

And in doing so lost my business permanently.

I spent my money somewhere else, where the shop assistants were helpful, pleasant, and didn’t judge me as if I were a piece of meat and they were looking for something to feed to a fat-shy fashionista.

Big doesn’t mean unhealthy. Thin doesn’t mean fit. Size is so far down on the list of reasons to judge a person I can’t see it with a telescope. I’d rather be fit, healthy, strong and mobile than I would a fashionable size 6 any day.

This was my first ever experience of being judged too big for anything. Should it ever happen again…

Well. It had better not.

Originally published at Singularity. You can comment here or there.

feathersandfractals: Tank Girl describes ninjas (ninja)

There are a few things I have argued about so many times that I have now reached a state of acceptance regarding my inability to change the fact that not everyone agrees with me.

SOMEONE IS WRONG ON THE INTERNET

I originally started off refusing to argue about gun control. I’m so far past arguing about gun control I can almost pretend there’s even a disagreement to be had. More recently I’ve had to give up arguing about certain things to do with cycling, and as a result feel no inclination to post on cycling fora any more. Posts on cycling fora seem to fall into the same broad categories: the helmet debate, red-light jumping, use of MP3 players while riding, where to ride this week/next week/on holiday, charity rides, campaigning for cycle path installation, whinging about idiots who think we should pay “road tax”, which bike to buy and which saddle to choose. Anything else is either some sort of stupid game thread that goes on for a million posts and is utterly pointless, a series of posts about cake, or a thread about Victoria Pendleton’s arse.

I know this comes across as rather grumpy, but take away the finer nuances or the political argy-bargy that results in moderation wars and this is pretty much what’s out there.

Here, then, are the opinions I have honed through years of argument, reading, research, experimentation and experience. Feel free to disagree, but don’t assume that my failure to engage with an argument on these topics is acceptance of your opposing viewpoint. Because it’s not. I just cannot be arsed.
Read more... )

Hope that clears that up. I’m off to get me another lemsip.

Originally published at Singularity. You can comment here or there.

feathersandfractals: Leeloo Dallas, Multipass (x23)

My first ever internet forum was…

OK. Almost my first.

Almost my first ever internet forum was the sadly-defunct UC-UK (that’s Urbancyclist-UK), which I joined when I was still living in Oxford. It was an email list — what back then were called bulletin boards weren’t terribly popular as we preferred discussions delivered direct to our email boxes. It’s a whole other discussion as to why fora became more popular, although I would venture the suggestion that it’s a matter of numbers. Email groups are good for one or two threads in which tens of the most vocal members are involved. Fora are good for hundreds of active threads from which thousands of members can pick and choose.

I’ve been a member of one internet cycling community or the other ever since; a rare example of a female who cycles on the road and who is an assertive participant in internet discussions about cycling.

OK. We’re not that rare. But we do comprise a remarkably small proportion of the virtual cycling population.

One of the things I’ve noticed throughout my long experience of cycling fora is the inevitable tendency of male posters to respond to female discussion threads with blatant, unapologetic lechery. While a man could post about choice of saddle to avoid prostate problems without worrying too much about other posters joining in just to make comments about his tackle, it’s impossible for women to have a discussion on a forum about female-specific issues without men posting innuendo. In the last such thread in which I participated one male member thought it would be appropriate to post a suggestion that he sexually molest any female cyclists on his next club run.

I’ve had enough of that sort of nonsense. And I said so. Repeatedly. I suspect the laddish atmosphere that can prevail in cycling communities is what puts a lot of women off taking part.

It’s something I’ve taken to doing relatively recently. A lot of the time I feel like a killjoy, like I’m taking it too seriously. I’ve certainly been accused of taking things too seriously and over-reacting — of having a hair trigger — on numerous occasions. But it’s simply that I’m pissed off with having to tolerate comments from the lads, as one forummer once put it. I’ve even been told that if women want to discuss female-specific cycling problems we should get our own private forum, and if we don’t get our own private forum then we should put up and shut up about it.

Boys, as they say, will be boys.

Given the paucity of women taking up cycling, anything that is likely to make them feel unwelcome, in my opinion, should be stamped on and stamped out. Those of us who have the inclination and confidence to take a stand on these things should do so. It’s appalling that any woman should be made to feel she’s over-reacting or being a spoilsport for demanding a similar degree of respect and consideration to that given to the men.

I’m delighted to end this by saying that the thread in question generated some very useful discussion and led one member to express pleasure in the number of ladies present. Don’t feel bad about demanding respect, girls. No matter how foolish, out of order or hypersensitive you may feel expressing your desire to have a perfectly ordinary conversation without being interrupted by the sort of comments that would familiar to Benny Hill, I can guarantee there are other women there who will be grateful to you for making the effort.

Nip it in the bud and maybe the message will start to sink in.

And guys? If you wouldn’t go up to a bunch of women discussing something in a tea shop and interrupt them with whatever you are about to post to a forum thread, because you’d look like an idiot and a creep and a pervert, don’t post it (although if you would then it’s your call). Also, if a woman objects to something you’ve posted, don’t immediately assume she’s over-reacting but check your language. All we’ve got to go on is what you’ve written.

Remember, too, that “it’s just a bit of fun” is really, really lame if not everyone agrees with you.

I don’t want anything too ambitious, just the opportunity to share my experiences as a female cyclist with other cyclists without wondering whether the next post in the thread is going to ignore the cycling element in favour of sex.

Originally published at Singularity. You can comment here or there.

feathersandfractals: Leeloo Dallas, Multipass (x23)

I’ve been watching Doctor Who on DVD lately, and at the weekend I saw the Forest of the Dead. I expect I’m the only one who felt the episode utterly failed right at the end because the amazing River Song — adventuress, criminal, Mrs Doctor — finishes her existence as mum to three children who will never grow up: the eternal mother.

It is possible to have a career and have kids, although by no means easy, but not every woman wants that, and River Song never struck me as the sort of person who, with an entire virtual reality at her fingertips, would settle for a life of taking the kids to the park and reading them bedtime stories; and it bothers me even more that this was in a programme ostensibly for children. I hate the idea that little girls are being told that you can have your career as an archaeologist and run around adventuring, but at the end of the day what will keep you happy is looking after children, even though they can’t possibly have been made with the man you love (what with him still being alive and out in the real world).

Kids aren’t stupid. They absorb these messages.

There seems to be an idea, somewhere in cultural consciousness, that what women really want to do is stay at home and make babies; not get all oily and discuss gear ratios or whether Batman is more of a psycho than Rorschach. We want to have babies and ultimately we’re only interested in and good for things that are in some way related to the making of and caring for babies. And that hopelessly outdated idea is being perpetuated by happy endings that involve a bedtime story and a goodnight kiss.

I suppose this is also what bothers me about the way those who want to encourage girls onto bikes go about it. There appears to be a de facto assumption that girls aren’t interested in bikes. It is related, I think, to the de facto assumption that women can’t write horror or science-fiction, or don’t like playing games like Bioshock.

I wrote the following piece about the love of bicycles back in 2004 — 6 years ago, FFS. I think it bears saying again, because I still feel the same way.

tl;dr )

I don’t think that women need anything special to encourage them onto bikes, or to write horror, or to play the sorts of computer games that are traditionally thought of as being for boys. They just need people to stop telling them that the one thing in life that will ultimately make them feel fulfilled and happy, no matter what else is available, is caring for babies.

Get told something often enough and it’s damn hard not to start believing it.

Originally published at Singularity. You can comment here or there.

feathersandfractals: Tank Girl describes ninjas (ninja)

Here’s another advert that is aimed at a market to which I definitely do not belong. It’s the Michelin Sad Road commerical:

“Once there was a sad stretch of road where drivers just couldn’t stop in time. But along came the Michelin Man, who reminded them that the right tyre changes everything. With the right tyres in place that sad stretch of road wasn’t so sad any more. Michelin Hydroedge tyres stop up to 14 feet shorter.

Michelin, a better way forward.”

This makes me so angry that I honestly have to step away from the keyboard for a couple of seconds to compose myself before launching into what is wrong with this. I mean, to me it’s so bloody OBVIOUS what’s wrong with this that blogging about it is pointless. It’s worse than pointless. It’s bringing additional attention to a manufacturer that should be ashamed of itself for spouting forth complete nonsense.

A good driver will always control the speed of his vehicle such that he can stop in the distance he can see to be clear. It’s not the road’s fault the driver can’t stop in time to avoid running over the cute fluffy animals, it’s the DRIVER’S fault.

British wildlife suffers severe casualties every year. The Mammal Society estimates British annual road casualties account for 100,000 foxes, 100,000 hedgehogs, 50,000 badgers and 30,000-50,000 deer. That’s bad enough. Stick the 3500-odd human KSIs on top of that and you realise that there is carnage going on out there on the roads. Telling drivers they have 14′ more leeway isn’t going to prevent any of those deaths or serious injuries. Michelin isn’t contributing to road safety by saying it’s the fault of the infrastructure and drivers just need to buy their tyres: that’s not merely disingenuous, it’s immoral.

Do I even need to point out that the 14 feet claim is entirely dependent on what speed the car is travelling in the first place? Plus, they tested versus a Goodyear and we have to take Michelin’s word on that being the leading competitor.

Roads aren’t dangerous. Or sad. They are just roads. Take the cars away and there’s nothing dangerous about a road unless it has a live volcano underneath or a tendency to subside randomly and drop the unsuspecting traveller into a pit full of angry piranha. The answer to not being able to stop in time is to drive appropriately for the conditions, not buy different tyres.

Take the cute animated animals away and replace them with live children. How appropriate does that driving seem now?

What this advert is actually telling drivers is the following:

Once there was a stretch of road that all the Clarkson-worshippers thought was ideal for driving along pretending to be that German burd who is so great round the Nürburgring. It had some blind corners and S-bends and the surface wasn’t so great but there weren’t any speed cameras and the police didn’t go there much. There were lots of cute fluffy animals and they had a tendency to wind up flat, squidgy, stinky, entraily pancakes on the tarmac, but who cares about squirrels and bunny rabbits when there’s 500bhp under the bonnet and Golden Earring on the stereo? Then one day the Michelin Man came along and whispered that maybe the next time someone was doing 60mph around a corner with the traction control off it wouldn’t be a rabbit but a stonking great deer with a pair of antlers the size of that rocket car that nearly killed Hamster Hammond, or even a BEAR. But it would be okay if they fitted these special tyres because they’d take a whole 14′ less to stop. That’s a bit more than two Michael Schumachers! No danger of totalling their precious Audi then!

Michelin, giving drivers even more of an excuse to behave like inconsiderate morons.

What drivers SHOULD be told is:

IF YOU CAN’T STOP IN TIME THEN STOP DRIVING LIKE A TOTAL TWUNTSPUD, ARSEHOLE!

Originally published at Singularity. You can comment here or there.

Planet Sam

Oct. 30th, 2010 04:34 pm
feathersandfractals: Tank Girl describes ninjas (ninja)
I’m known to friends for my somewhat literal approach to advertisements. The commercial breaks in TV shows are more likely to provoke a furious reaction than the programme they interrupt. Here on Planet Sam, advertisements are a confusing brantub of mixed messages, inappropriate metaphor and plotlines that evidently haven’t been thought through properly.

I mean, really. Would you buy a stop smoking product that causes you to hallucinate giant cigarettes to the point of attacking them with a frozen chicken? Would you really want to buy a pair of running shoes that came with live scorpions inside?

So here’s my new project. TV ads as seen from Planet Sam, or Why I’m not the target market.

I’m going to start with one that is straightforward rant fodder. The Dulux Paintpod Compact Let’s Colour Campaign.

I shouldn’t have to point out how stupid this is as a piece of 21st century advertising. Mattel has a Barbie campaign that is admirable in telling little girls they can be whatever the hell they want to be, and I actually like the fact that this includes a ballerina. Because the freedom to be a fighter pilot or a policewoman or a surgeon or a bomb disposal expert should never get in the way of those girls who wish to dance.

So what if the baby turned out to be a girl? Is Dulux seriously telling us that their company is so stuck in sexist stereotyping that a failure to predict the sex of an unborn child correctly is a good reason for buying one of their products? A girl can become a footballer. A boy can become a dancer.

Frankly I think both pink and blue are horrible colours for a room, and that’s not just the synaesthesia talking. Blue is too cold a colour, and shading everything like that makes the room smaller and less inviting. The pink room is like being shoved into a vat of rendered animal protein before it’s turned into twizzlers.

What this advert says, on Planet Sam, is that the Dulux Compact Paintpod is the ideal product for those trapped in sexist stereotyping who have the aesthetic taste of an inebriated chicken.

That’s a market to which I can happily claim not to belong.

Originally published at Singularity. You can comment here or there.

Profile

feathersandfractals: Leeloo Dallas, Multipass (Default)
feathersandfractals

June 2015

S M T W T F S
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
282930    

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Sep. 25th, 2017 06:09 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios