The Problem With Marriage

There’s something very wrong with the formalities of marriage within England and Wales that you’re probably not aware of. I wasn’t, until my now-husband and I tied the knot. This problem applies no matter what type of wedding you have, or what kind of officiant marries you. First of all, I’d like you to take a look at this example marriage certificate which I pulled off the internet, but which represents an across-the-board-in-England-and-Wales, standard document. Hint: it’s all to do with how women are represented…

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What do you see on this piece of paper that suggests women are still draconianally under the cloche?

There are two things actually. The first is exclusively relevant to male-female marriages; I have no idea how it might play out for same-sex couples. Allow me to navigate your eyes towards the bottom left of the text boxes in the picture where it says “This marriage was solemnized between us…” Indeed, it’s assumed that the groom signs first, and the bride’s signature sits underneath his. Read: it is assumed

A few weeks ago, my now-husband and I married each other (finally, after 13 years). As we sat in the vestry mid-ceremony catching our breath, the formal personnel overseeing our marriage began to guide us through the formality of signing the register. But when it was implied that my husband sign first, he questioned it, asking whether it was possible that my signature instead appeared first. Knowing my opinions on how records read, this was his way of making a beautifully subtle statement – by championing not just me, but all women. The registrar considered his request for a few seconds and said, “Nobody’s asked us that before. But I see no reason why not.”

So my name appears before my husband’s in what I guess is a history book. That’s a nice little feeling.

But recognising women in marriage records isn’t always accommodating. Take another look at the picture, this time at the area that says ‘Father’s Name’ and ‘Rank or profession of Father’. If you’re wondering where the box that says ‘Mother’ is, you’ll be looking a long time. That’s because It is forbidden to list your mother on a marriage certificate. Yes, that’s right. The terminology is ‘forbidden’.

This fact set my thoughts alight. I’m lucky: while I am a child of divorce, my father has very much been active and present in my life, so listing him on our certificate certainly didn’t kick up any issues. However, given that my mother has been just as much of a linchpin in my life (possibly even more critically than my darling dad – I’m certain he’d agree with me if he ever read this), I would have liked to see a box for her on the paperwork also.

So how does it work for marrying individuals who either have no relationship with their father; were raised triumphantly by their mothers either single-handedly or with a step-parent; weren’t raised by a male parent at all; or who, for a number of reasons, genuinely have no idea who their father is? Step-fathers don’t count unless they officially adopted the marrying individual. And as for two female parents? I would guess that’s frustratingly complicated.

I know two people who found themselves in this predicament, both raised by their mothers. The parental boxes on both of their marriage certificates bears the word ‘Unknown’. Which frankly seems Dickensian.

This dranconian piece of legislation is baffling, and the reason behind it basically flimsy by 2016 standards: in short, it’s just the way it’s always been done. But mothers (or anyone for that matter) can walk their child down the aisle. Couples are free to shake up the traditional format of their wedding, providing the person conducting the marriage agrees to it. And what about the other stuff, like speeches? It doesn’t always have to run in a Father-of-the-Bride, Groom and Best Man order right? No, it doesn’t. The reception part of a wedding isn’t bound by legal rite, so anything goes.

In 2014, this issue was raised in Parliament after a petition on Change.org was signed by nearly 80,000 people. Like him or loathe him, this is what David Cameron said:

“The content of marriage registers in England and Wales has not changed since the beginning of Queen Victoria’s reign. At the moment, they require details of the couples’ fathers, but not their mothers. This clearly doesn’t reflect modern Britain – and it’s high time the system was updated. So I have asked the Home Office to look at how we can address this too.”

But as adamant as Cameron was for redress, the Home Office rejected it. Their reason? Because updating legislation and changing the law to include mothers on marriage certificates “wouldn’t allow for different family circumstances”. Erm…

So in 2016, official certificates of marriage haven’t changed in at least 115 years. The problem with marriage? There are some things about it that have come so brilliantly far within the last 10 years; while something as precious and gargantuan as the work of mothers still fails to be recognised.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Of Course I’m a Feminist

A few years ago on this blog, I wrote a post entitled ‘Don’t Call Me A Feminist’. I’d link back to it for you to read had I not deleted it. I deleted it because over time, I realised I completely disagreed with myself and my ‘points’. Perhaps deleting past posts for this kind of reason is cowardly, and maybe there is a little cowardliness sewn in there somewhere. But over and above anything, I decided that keeping that post up was nothing short of irresponsible and hypocritical.

In a nutshell, it was total pants.

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In it, I endeavoured to deconstruct the word ‘feminism’, rejecting its binary implications and, ignorantly, assigning it to stereotype. I made a duff job of articulating my thoughts on how the word, the term and the movement could do, maybe, possibly, perhaps, with a little bit of a redress. Not because I thought it was bad or needed stopping like I was some insane fan of oppression and subjugation: but because I didn’t feel I was seeing enough progression. Around that time, I met a run of (for want of a far more intelligent word) troubled females who talked about feminism in relation to themselves with such angry superiority, it challenged my feelings about the whole thing altogether.

One such woman especially sticks in my mind. I was introduced to her, and as I’m prone, affably asked her about herself: where she was from, what she did for a living, how she knew my friends… Her answers weren’t just obtuse; they were aggressive. She made me feel like an idiot, like being nice and polite and friendly was weak. She was quick to get on to the subject of feminism. She identified as one, and she was on a life-long campaign. Quickly, a magazine round of questions came at me, many of which I was too foxed to answer with any kind of clarity or eloquence. In fact, she was so violent in her views, I left feeling upset, insulted and worthless. Up until then, my ideals of equality and everyone simply getting on and being respectful to one another felt like completely the wrong end of the stick. And I didn’t want to align myself with what was bedding down in my mind as a shouty, angry, exclusive movement.

My mistake was that this run of angry, man-hating women I’d encountered did not speak for everyone, and certainly not for feminism in its broadest sense. In fact on reflection, it was probably just my bad luck that I’d encountered a small clutch of women with deep seated, unresolved issues.

While that might sound like a clumsy brush off on my part, I’m going to throw in a caveat: a lot of these women had genuinely had experiences that aren’t my place to repeat. But I can’t take responsibility for them, and I refuse to be a punch bag just because I wear make up and accept when my male friends offer to buy me drinks. For what it’s worth, I’ve had my own sackful of traumas, tragedies, crises and issues. But I do my level best to make my present life as happy and healthy as it can be. Everybody’s got their story after all.

But in all of this? I took to the internet to vent. I was keen to question the stasis. What actually is ‘feminism’? Who identifies with it? Is it staid? Is it working still? I said ‘Don’t Call Me A Feminist’. Which is stupid because…

Of course I am a feminist. I always have been. I was a feminist before I could talk or understood the word at all. Why?

I am a white, British, middle class female, and I was born in the early 1980s. My parents made sure I received a decent education (although owning a sturdy vocabulary doesn’t mean I’m always thinking critically). While I grew up, my family, teachers and peers encouraged me to be whatever and whoever I wanted to be (although I still encounter limitations of self-belief and practical resource – because I’m human, not because of the need for feminism). I had the option of going to university (which I did, twice; but never graduated). I have the option of buying a house (if I could: let’s not go there right now) without anyone else’s permission (controversially, I will thank Margaret Thatcher for something). I obtained my driving licence when I was 17 and I am free to operate a car on any public road I want (although I’m an appalling driver and I’m terrified of motorways). I can travel, pretty much anywhere I like, without escort or again, permission (but I don’t do this often enough). I can wear whatever the heck I want. I sit round tables with people from all genders and know that my voice is just as relevant as everybody else’s. I can read whatever the heck I want. I can watch whatever the heck I want. Nobody has to know when I have my period. I have access to free contraception. I’ve had a legal abortion. If I don’t want to have sex, I won’t have sex. In turn, my sexuality can be whatever I choose. I recently married the man I have spent the last 12.5 years co-habiting with. Before I met him, I lived with another man and we never dreamed of marrying each other. I meet my grilfriends in public places and we openly talk about anything we want to. I have male friends who I have coffee with and I tell them I love them because I do. Every morning, I walk to work, earn money, and manage my own bank account.

In my lifetime, the vote has always been available to everyone aged over 18 in the country I was born and live in.

I vote, without question (and you’ll know about it).

I can do or be whatever and whoever I like.

I am a feminist because I assume I can.

So I chose to delete my ill-judged post about how I wasn’t one. I am, I always will be because feminism is ever-changing.While it’s gone through many forms, especially today feminism is available to everyone, and I believe it should be inherent – the world over. To me, an important part of feminism – if not the most important part of it – is understanding and respecting other people. We all differ, we all have our value sets, we’ve all had our experiences. We have the right to change our mind as much as we do a duty to make the world the best place we can for everyone as much as ourselves. I think about those women I met a few years ago and wonder where they’re at with everything. I hope they’re still as passionate as they were back then. I hope they’re inspired, mobilised, just as vocal. I hope they’ve retained their courage and maintained their voice because having the right to be, say and think what and how they want is a precious thing.

I’ve got my voice. No one else stands in the way of it. It feels ace.

 

 

 

 

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Back with a bang!

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When I started this blog in 2014, I was certain of one thing: that I wasn’t certain what I wanted to say or achieve through it at all. Nothing unusual about that and blogging.

I had a seed of an idea. I would mock my truly imperfect self as much as possible as a way of communicating tougher discussions. A bit like light relief, the play-up who cracks the first joke when the atmosphere takes a nosedive. Those discussions? Woolly political ruminations most probably. Women’s stuff, more by rote than design. My experience of being a clownish female, with a reasonably well-functioning world view, a bit of a butterfly brain, a profound enjoyment of laughter and an ability to fess up when she gets it wrong – which isn’t seldom.

Anyway, a lot has happened in two years and that’s why I’m bringing The Girl With The Rabbit Tattoo out of temporary retirement. Primarily, it’s to prevent imminent laptop divorce while my computer objects to the number of Word documents I’ve committed to its memory, but it’s also because there’s so much I want to share – regardless of whether or not anyone actually reads this.

So we’re back. If you read this blog previously, you might remember a reactionary post I wrote in which I rejected the word and implied term ‘feminism’. I’m a total dick for doing that. Without feminism, I probably wouldn’t have access to the blogosphere, let alone feel I could voice myself. So while TGWTRT isn’t exclusively a blog about feminism and feminist issues, it will recur and recur and recur. Tattoos won’t, though, because I’m also a dick when it comes to those (see ‘About’).

Please read my official return post on the next page – where I revisit my previous musings on the word feminism, and what it means to me today.

 

 

 

 

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Follow Up Letter to Julien Blancmange

Dear Julien Blanc,

See, told you. I’m not the only one who thinks you’re a flagrant cunt flag. The UK, amongst other countries, also share my sentiments.

Now, go whip your shriveled flap stick elsewhere, preferably not on Planet Earth, or anywhere within this mighty Universe, if you can help it. Nobody likes you; if you think you’ve got a sense of humour as you so pitifully pleaded recently on CNN, you need your walnut-sized head read; and, by the way – women are entirely capable of growing teeth to line their vaginas if they so will. Put you off pick ups much?

(Yes, that is bollocks – about as bollocks as your desperate pick up tactics.)

Really, dude. Therapy is the only way forward for you. I suggest you work on being a gentleman, like most men I know. I can think of dozens of my male friends who could rinse your arse in giving talks about how to date effectively. You know why? Because they’re nice and respectful. I could go on but you annoy me and the rest of the world so much, I won’t. I’m just really fucking pleased you ain’t getting any grit under your stinky little Converse trainers in this country.

Yours with minimal respect,

Electric Plum, and on behalf of mankind.

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A Letter to Julien Blanc

Dear Julien Blanc,

How’s your dick today? Have you still got one even? How’s your tour going? I hear not so well; sorry about that hiccup in Australia – that must have really set your confidence back, I imagine even more so now Brazil have declared you a pariah too, and, it looks like, the UK are about to take the same line of opinion also. Dang. Major bummer. Maybe violating a woman might make you feel better? Get the oxytocin flowing, bump up the endorphins a little, make you feel like a man.

Or maybe not. Because last time I checked, rape was considered a massive crime. In fact, in the US, which I believe is where you live now, rape was punishable by execution up until around the 1930s in some states. Frankly, I don’t know why it still isn’t, but generally speaking, it’s really not cool. Because that’s what you’re promoting pretty much, isn’t it? Rape. At best you’re dehumanising women, kind of making them out to be suck bags rich for the plucking and fucking, imploring your followers to, in effect, fill their boots with their own tawdrily elicited semen. And then you tell them that women actually like it? Er, last time a bloke forced himself on me like you encourage, I came a hair’s breadth away from punching him. I didn’t feel like having sex with him at all. I wanted to burn his bollocks off with acid. It wasn’t fun and it made me feel fucking awful for being polite and talking to him in the first place.

You know what? You’re an arsehole. A complete, straight up, class A arsehole. I’m not perfect either, but I try to be a nice person and I recognise a grossly unhinged human when I see one, so I don’t wish death upon you. Loads of people do though; you might want to check that. You might also want to take a very long, hard (I’m sure you’ll see fit to make a penis-shaped pun out of that expression) look at yourself and exactly what it is you’re saying, how you’re making your money. I’ve only recently heard about you, and I’ve done my best to avoid clicking through to your website and YouTube channel because I fear encouraging you.

You’re preying on vulnerable people of both genders. You’re making it okay to 100% disrespect women, and you’re stooging vulnerable men. Underneath your incredibly sexist swagger, I think you’re probably a very intelligent person. After all, you come across well (yes, go ahead; pun pun pun) and you’ve definitely nailed the rules of engagement. But your audiences, who appear to be entirely male, may not benefit from the same degree of brain power and confidence as you. After all, they’re attending your seminars to get tips on how to ask girls out on dates. I know that can be hard for some people, but sexual violence? Sexism? Racism even? Time out, Julien, time fucking out.

Everything about you is dumbfoundingly irresponsible. I can’t believe I’m hearing you say the things you’re saying in 2014. You are the antithesis of progression and evolution and a foul figurehead of violence and exploitation. Hey, I can see you’re not the hottest coal on the fire, but I’m sure you can exercise your intelligence in a different way to get a little love interaction going. Like, talking to girls, asking them about themselves, telling them about you (maybe leave out the bit about you being a racist, sexist, quasi-rapist, though), finding a little common ground. That usually works for most people.

But Julien, tell me: what’s going on for you? Yeah, yeah, I know, you come over all confident and cocksure (ha – if you must), but I’m concerned. You clearly have intense issues with your sexuality, which I’m sure is difficult to live with. You clearly also have trouble respecting others, male and female alike. You clearly have violent, murderous urges, which could possibly use some attention. No, really, dude: you need to check yourself into therapy URGENTLY.

I’m hoping that you don’t really believe or do the things you promote. I’m hoping that it’s all just an ill-judged way to make yourself some money, and that you go back to your hotel room after every show and weep, crying to your manager, “I can’t do this anymore! It’s not right!” Because if it is what you think and do, then everybody needs to take a moment and think about the direction in which our collective humanity is heading. In a way, thanks for that; you’ve served to highlight some very pertinent issues that everybody could do with responding to.

Anyway, Julien, it probably comes as no surprise to you that when I call you a spectacular knob jockey, I’m speaking for hundreds and thousands of people. It’s such a shame to know there are people like you out there, marauding around, telling people it’s okay to violate, basing your performance on rape and covering it up with a glittery cloak like a two-bit backstreet Wizard.

All that remains to say is that you’re a cunt, not a dating guru. Please get lost forever.

Yours sincerely,

THE WORLD.

 

PS: Do everyone a favour and score a home goal by signing this petition about you, you twat.

PPS: Your flies are undone.

 

 

 

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How to Pretend You’re a Cornishperson

My previous Cornish-themed post turned out to be quite popular. So I thought it would be nice to offer a few tips to those amongst you who aren’t Cornish, but fancy having a go at it. You’re welcome.

1. Learn the correct pronunciation of deceptively spelt Cornish places. Read: Mousehole is pronounced ‘Mowzel’; Launceston is pronounced ‘Larnson’; Truro, ‘Chrurew’; St. Austell, ‘Sen Ozzel’; Liskeard, ‘Lisgard’; Camborne, ‘Cambern’; St. Ives, ‘Snives’; Falmouth, ‘Felmuff’; Bugle, ‘Boogle’; Fowey, ‘Foy’.

…Looe – ‘Loo’.

2. Know that Praze-An-Beeble is a Cornish village, NOT a comedy double-act. Although it should be a comedy double-act.

3. Try not to wash your hair more than once a month. If you want to pretend you’re a Cornish surfer, you’ll need the hair to match. People commonly mistake that don’t-have-a-care tousled look as a mixture of salt water and fresh air effect. It’s not; real surfers genuinely don’t wash their hair much. They’m too busy bein’ down Blue Bar.

4. Acquire a taste for scrumpy. Scrumpy is disgusting, especially if you’re used to Magners. But it gets you well lashed and makes you the popular one at beach parties. I used to live next door to a cider farm (well, it was 0.5 miles away from the house) that specialised in scrumpy. My dad once asked what the special ingredient was. The cider maker’s serious answer was, “Rats.” Just man up.

5. When someone asks you where you went to school, tell them, “Richard Lander.” There’s nowhere more Cornish to have gleaned your education from.

6. When somebody describes somewhere you’ve never heard of, don’t say, “Where’s that, then?” Say, “Where’s that to?” Because the latter is proper speakin’.

7. Get yourself a black and white horizontally striped top. This is a handy two-in-one fashion statement because a) it’s the Cornish colours: that’s charred up granite and melted tin in sartorial representation to you – Wikipedia the Cornish flag – and b) it gives you a piratical air.

8. Get your understanding of the acronym ‘SAS’ right. You’ll hear loads of Cornish folk refer to the SAS. The SAS they mean is a movement, primarily comprising surfers (but not exclusive to surfers) that don’t like sewerage mucking up the beaches, and who throw some heller all nighters once a year on the cliffs at Aggy. It’s not the Special Air Services. A’right?

9. Add the prefix ‘Tre’ to your surname. I don’t know what your surname is, so you’re going to have to do this by yourself. But I guarantee you, you add ‘Tre’ to the front of it, you’ve bagged yourself a county loyalty card over that there Tamar.

10. Understand that St. Piran was as good as The Lord himself. I mean, he floated onto the shore at Perranzabuloe all those centuries ago on a mill stone he rode across the sea, so not only was he perhaps the original surfer, he also knew how to ride water in style. Jesus would have just walked.

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10 Ways to Avoid Doing Your Tax Return

If you’re self-employed, and have to fill out a tax return each year, you’ll know only too well that now’s the time when the term ‘self assessment’ takes on a dirty sentiment. Its assonance as good as a foul tasting hiss, the expression is as near to an insult as it can get come January, like spitting at someone you don’t like as you pass them in the street*. January is when our kind take up highly unlikely hobbies – like colour ordering your under-sink plastic bag collection – as the self-assessment deadline looms nearer and nearer. So before we do actually hit January 31st, here’s a handy list of things for you to consider doing as means of distracting yourself from the important stuff you should be doing:

1. Epilate any part of your body with arguably unwanted hair on it. Even if you’re a guy, this could be fun. It takes ages, hurts like weeping Jesus, and means you’ll need to allocate extra time to ensure you’re moisturising sufficiently afterwards. If you don’t own an epilator already, you’ve bagged yourself an extra hour or so killed by buying one.

2. Draw up an inventory of the contents of your fridge. The great thing about this is that you’ll need to keep updating and editing your inventory, possibly several times a day. Don’t forget to update ongoing subtle changes such as milk brands, milk lid colour and volume (all of these details can oscillate considerably), and be sure to specify each bottle or carton’s expiry date. If you’re feeling the vibe of this inventory, perhaps you’d like to consider writing an essay on your theories about your personality type based on the discoveries you make from your fridge inventory?

3. Go out with your friends at any given opportunity. You know how before The Deadline you used to be quite good at taking the sensible approach and declining an invitation for a couple of Tuesday night pints? Well, sod that. Furthermore, the occurrence of a hangover the following morning will ensure your incapacitation in the face of doing anything remotely useful or necessary.

4. Read this blog from start to finish. No, really – it’s a spectacular time waster. Better still, sign up to follow it to guarantee instant distraction direct to your inbox.

5. Organise your cutlery drawer and kitchen cupboards. Now is the perfect opportunity to get one of those essential but otherwise laborious chores nailed. Be certain to use Q tips to get into those hard-to-reach, craggy cupboard corners: it’s surprising how pernicious things like maple syrup can be in the seeping stakes, even in the most unlikely places. TIP: for added time wasting, alphabetise each cupboard’s contents from left to right (or right to left, whichever you prefer) with clear and carefully written out index cards. Or maybe you prefer to colour code? Go wild and experiment.

6. Forge an unhealthy relationship with Facebook. Comment, like, share and post as much as humanly possible. Been watching an innocuous video on YouTube? Share it! It’s guaranteed your self-employed connections will be just as grateful as you are for the watch (remember, the longer, the better). Facebook comes into its own at times like these. Sift your memory as best as you can to recall as many of your mates from Kindergarten as you can manage… And go add them. This is a great moment to scour your friends list too: it’s inevitable that there’ll be one or two names you simply can’t place or recognise, let alone remember adding. See this as an opportunity to connect with any as-good-as-strangers amongst your list. Start a PM with them and ask big questions to find out what really makes them tick.

7. Get into ‘far out’ cooking. Pick an obscure recipe, with obscure ingredients, and make it your mission to perfect the dish. Google can be a lifesaver at the recipe establishment stage, but for added life wasting, you could trawl second-hand bookshops for strange and unlikely culinary suggestions. Don’t forget that you’ll be up against a lot of other people doing the same thing, so don’t expect instant results. Once you’ve found your bizarre recipe, endeavour to acquire all the ingredients you require for it and do whatever you need to do to get them (don’t cut corners with intelligent substitutes – this defeats the object). TIP: You can really set yourself a challenge by choosing a recipe where the ingredients either don’t retail in your country, or went out of production in 1977. If this is the case, eBay can cough up surprising results. It’s also an ideal chance to digress. (You definitely need that broken tin toy from the ’50s.)

8. Redress your wardrobe. Like your kitchen cupboards and drawers, now is the time to strike while the sorting iron is sweltering hot. Going through your clothes takes some time, but that’s only half of it. Once you’re happy with your ‘donate to charity’ allocations, think on what charity most resonates with you. It doesn’t matter whether the charity has representation in the town or village you live in – in fact, all the better if it doesn’t! The idea here is to make hard work for yourself by taking your donations to a charity shop as far away as you can justify (without actually leaving the region – that crosses the line between ingenious time wasting and plain pottiness). Grab your bin liners of loot and walk the distance for added time wasting points.

9. Make Buzzfeed your homepage. To be honest, there’s acres of distracting websites out there, but Buzzfeed is especially excellent as it tends to take a while to load, and if you’re really lucky, actually freeze your IT altogether. There’s nothing more time wastey than having to close a bunch of applications, Force Quit, possibly restart and restore a session. And once you’re done, there are often no less than 57 useless pictures (best animal photobombs is brill) to look at, 101 futureless quizzes to fill out (to establish precisely which Game of Thrones character you are, for instance) and generally loads of stuff you previously had no idea you were interested in (the 24 truly horrifying vintage recipes is great, and could help you out with point No.7).

10. Or just do all of the above and everything else really slowly. You’ll be surprised just how much longer everything takes when you do things slowly. For example, a simple task like washing up can potentially take 1.5 hours if you pretend you’re in a slow-mo film scene. Try drawing everything you do out – you’ll be amazed how easy it is to hone, and wonder why you never did it in the first place.

*Spitting at people is juvenile. Try hurling stale raw eggs, that you’ve been busy dying with food colouring, at unfavourable characters instead.

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