Three years of blogging

I got a notification today to tell me that today is my three year blog-iversary.

(Pretty sure they didn’t phrase it like that.)

There’s a lovely story in that, about how blogging has changed my life – which it has – but that’s not a very interesting story for anyone other than me, really, or at least it’s not yet.

But I wanted to mark the occasion by writing something less introspective about writing.

Writing is interesting now in a way that it wasn’t, twenty years ago. Writing is more democratic, more mainstream, more accessible. Twenty years ago, no one was tweeting, no one was blogging, no one was setting up Tumblrs to showcase weird punctuation mistakes on food packets. People were writing, but unless you were a writer, or a journalist, it was very hard to get your writing read. An audience is not a necessity – which is dead lucky for me, with my teeny-weeny blog audience, but writing for any audience is a powerful thing. And since the internet happened (again, that’s technical phrasing) it’s a powerful thing that’s been possible for many, many more people. Normal, non-journalist, non-famous, non-literary-giant, ordinary people.

And it’s no surprise that this kind of accessibility has encouraged a kind of writing that focuses on the ordinary, the everyday things. It’s easy to mock people who -ahem- instagram their cats/children/snacks all the bloody time, but the flipside of all of this ordinary writing and recording is that it gives ordinary life, and ordinary people a platform .

Not many of us lead extraordinary lives, or have important things to say all the time. The people who do, they still have a platform, and a voice. We’re still listening. That’s why I read books and newspapers and always, always the shiny bits of the Sunday papers, still.

But now, the vast majority of people also have a platform. Maybe it’s much smaller and you can’t see many people from it, but the opportunity is there in a way it didn’t used to be. The people who want to talk about that funny time when the toddler took all her clothes off in M&S, or the appalling pasta bake they made for tea. Or rant about the small, medium and large unfairnesses in the way of things. The people who want to tell you, or not you, but somebody, that they have ideas, and thoughts and opinions and reflections; that they’ve found meaning in their experience, or something that’s happened to them.

You can listen, or not, read it, or not. But they’re saying it. They have a voice.

And I think that is just brilliant.

For a long time I’ve been slightly obsessed with an essay by Raymond Williams called ‘Culture is Ordinary.’ (1958)

In it, he says (alongside lots of other brilliant things)

“Culture is meaning generated by ordinary men and women.”
I feel like that is what is happening more and more now – more opportunities for ordinary people to speak out, to make our feelings known, to have a voice. That’s arguably not always a good thing, but in many, many cases it is.
I’d love to write a book one day. Maybe I will, maybe I won’t. If I do, it might well be awful. But if I do, it won’t be because I’m the next Virginia Wolf or anything, it’ll be because one day, three years ago, I thought hey! Maybe I have something to say. And I wrote it down.



Blurred lines.

No one knows her name.

She’s had to change it at least five times, and each time, someone’s found out and she has to run again.

But we all know his; it’s in every newspaper, on the radio at breakfast time, all over Twitter. And not in a good way, but still.

He’s calling it.

He came, he conquered, she vanished.

If the awful, bleak, mutually assured destruction – she briefly destroys his career, he destroys her indefinitely – of the Ched Evans case has taught us anything, it’s that we don’t only talk about rape with shame, but we also talk about women and sex with shame.

Rape is not always rape in the clear-cut way we need it to be. It’s not always a forceful, violent attack, with a psycho villain in a hood with a knife, sometimes it’s a lot of alcohol, a series of bad half-decisions and someone who takes advantage and then runs off down the fire escape of a hotel.

But hey – you don’t choose your rapist.

Sometimes it’s a complicated maze of conscouisness and consent. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of a few blurred lines.

Oh wait. Wasn’t that a song, last year? A couple of young men, high on their own hotness, and a parade of endless naked women?

“You know you want it. Good girl.”

The blurred lines between very drunk and too drunk to remember, the blurred lines between conscious and semi-conscious, between a yes and a not saying no.

Whatever happened that night, she was very drunk. His mate got chatting to her and text him on the way back to the hotel to tell him, “I’ve got a bird.” Like she was something he’s got at a takeaway, except that she is, becuase she fell and he was there to pick her up.

Whatever happened, his friend took her, unsteady on her feet and ‘clearly intoxicated’ to a hotel room.

Whatever happened later, Ched Evans lied to the hotel staff to get into that same room.

Whatever happened, he left her, alone and presumably unaware, in a hotel room in a name that wasn’t hers’, and escaped down the fire exit because he didn’t want to face the shame of leaving through the front door.

Her shame and her distress is irrelevent. Not his problem. And then later, his problem, but not his fault.

Whatever he did or didn’t do to her, he treated her like she was a piece of meat, a nameless conquest who was unlikely to object.

He won’t say sorry. Only to his girlfriend, for cheating on her.

(“Yeah, I had a bitch, but she ain’t bad as you.”)

And for now, he can’t play Premiership Football, and she can’t have a name. He’s lost money and time, she hasn’t seen her family in a year. He might get a reaction from the fans, she spends Christmas alone.

(“No more pretending
Hey, hey, hey
Cause now you winning.”)

No means no, but sometimes other things need to mean no, too.

Sex is not a right, ever, even if you are arrogant enought to think it should be.

(“Not many women can refuse this pimpin”)

We need to stop talking about Ched Evans and singing to Robin Thicke, and start talking about all those tiny, infinate blurry lines;  about consent, and respect, and sex without shame. We need to talk about those nameless girls, those women silenced by shame and a society that thinks you know you want it. Good girl.