what I don't understand

at 17:06

Monday, 31 March 2008

Why is it OK for a sixteen-year-old girl to submit herself to anaesthesia, to have her flesh cut and pulled away from the muscle, to have a foreign substance put within the walls of her body, a foreign substance that can be toxic, in order to modify her appearance - to fit in with the Western ideal of physical perfection? How is this desecration of the flesh any different from binding her feet or stretching her lip? If it makes her feel more confident, more at ease in her own skin then we have to ask ourselves why. Why is it that a child, in America still not of an age to be legally able to consent to an adult sexual relationship, should feel the need to cosmetically enlarge a part of her body that is considered a sexual symbol? Why is breast size tied in to her worth as a person? Why can she not be happy with the way she looks until her chest has been cut and stuffed and sewn?

Why is doing that more acceptable than this? Or this?

Is it because it's performed by medical professionals? Because it can look "natural"? Because someone, somewhere said so?

Help me out here.

As to what got me thinking about this: there's an interesting and (dare I say it) almost balanced article trying to understand the motivations behind body modification that was brought to my attention today via needled. Of course any sweeping generalisations concerning tattooing immediately puts my hackles up but this piece made me feel altogether less stabby than usual. It's worth a read.

Oh and if anyone could answer my plastic surgery questions I'd be really grateful. It's bugging me.

an update

at 10:46

RE: my move to a new address

If you subscribe to Circular Logic (soon to become Ink&Apples) at our old blogspot address via RSS feed (though why you would is utterly beyond me) then it will no longer update. If you feel the need to update your subscriptions www.inkandapples.com now registers as actually existing, which is always useful. The old address should redirect here but I'll put a reminder up in the blog header just in case. God, this is way more hassleful than I expected. I blame Vermillion and his shiny new layout. Curses. Speaking of (new layouts, not V) one is forthcoming, I've been sourcing graphics and finding templates to cannibalise - something I'd forgotten could be so much fun, because I am a massive loser.

I would apologise for being rubbish about posting of late but I hate when people do that so I'll just say leave me a comment, damnit so that I know you still love me.

re: my life

I still hate my job but now everyone knows I'm leaving come September, including my bosses which has taken the pressure off. Also: we finally have funding so there is a minute chance that I may get to do some actual lab work before my time is through, although I'd give you even odds that we start the day after I leave. Because the universe is convinced that it's a comedian. I'm spending the next week going to gigs and socialising with my flatmates (we've been doing a lot of that recently - last night was spent bowling (at which I suck), drinking beer and playing in the arcade (both of which I am awesome at). I'm pretty sure that all that DDRing counts as exercise.)

In slightly more exciting news: I have an interview coming up for my first choice college for teacher training which is very exciting and more than a little nerve wracking - I have questions to answer in a group exercise ("Where do stars go during the day?", "Can nuclear power solve global warming?", "Why can fanning flames make them bigger if you can also blow them out?"), a teaching situation to answer questions on and a presentation to give that's appropriate for 16 year-olds. I'm supposed to organise a day in a school science department before I go but with the Easter break being timed between hmmm let's see "now" and "the time of my interview" that doesn't look too promising. Still, I have the curriculum to read through (fun fact: I also have to be prepared to teach physics, astronomy and geology in addition to the subjects I actually have knowledge of which will be... interesting).

More tattooing at the end of the month after a rather long break. We're starting work on the background so I get to spend the first hour being drawn on with marker pen. We've vaguely discussed colour schemes and the basics of how it's going to look but with Kamil I can never tell until I actually see it - and I'm never disappointed. Also this session we should finally be re-working my snowflake, which was the entire point of starting this tattoo. So: yey!

I managed the entire of lent without getting on the scales (go me) and only slipped up on the chocolate once or twice (always when eating in company, damned restaurants and their limited desert menus). Apparently I weigh exactly the same when I starve myself and exercise like a maniac as when I eat pizza and spend all day playing video games. I do feel a hell of a lot better when I work out though so I'll be continuing to do it but not beating myself up when I really don't feel like it. Check it out kids: a balanced and mature attitude, who saw that one coming?

So yes, all is groovy in the world of me. How is everyone else?

how timely!

at 10:21

In relation to what I blogged about last time from next week UK employers are required to protect staff members from sexual harassment by customers, tradesmen and other people they are contractually obliged to have contact with during their employment (source), if they fail to do so they may be liable for damages. This is fantastic news for bar and restaurant staff across the country, although I'm not too sure how effective such a law would be in actually cutting down the amount of harassment by members of the public. The worst job I ever worked in terms of getting groped (also in terms of poor pay, levels of physical labour and the resulting blisters) was catering for weddings. The female staff members used to keep a running tally of how many times each of us had been groped by liquored up guests (the winner getting first dibs on the left over alcohol from the free bar, I never once attended a wedding where everything was finished - let me tell you that would never happen if I were the one throwing the party or, you know, attending it as a guest). There was nothing that our boss could have done about this whatsoever, short of physically removing every drunken uncle and groomsman from the room (leaving a grand total of about twelve guests in some cases), she was utterly powerless. It might be slightly more useful in a controlled atmosphere, taking another example from my experience (if a little by proxy) - one of my friends used to work for a transport company. The regulations concerning harassment were clearly laid out within the company itself but she did have trouble when dealing with outside contractors, her bosses felt that their hands were tied as they had no direct control over (or legal responsibility for) workers who weren't under their direct employment. This kind of legislation could have made her working life infinitely more pleasant.

To be honest any law that moves us towards a situation where workers are able to do their job free from harassment (and I'm not just referring to female employees here either - I once worked with a guy who was pestered relentlessly by a customer "on behalf of" her daughter, culminating in an offer of £10,000 for him to take her out dancing... did I mention this customer was incredibly drunk? And too rich for her own good?) is a step in the right direction.

As for you the lovely, and silent, commenters - any stories of workplace hideousness to share?

Inequalities in the field.

at 14:46

Thursday, 27 March 2008

There is an article in the Education Guardian today with some rather disheartening, if not unexpected, statistics. It turns out that even in a field dominated by women we’re still losing out to our male counterparts. Over half of all secondary level teachers are women (it’s a percentage in the high 80s for primary level positions) and, if we judge by the number of female candidates entering postgraduate teacher training, that doesn’t look set to change. Despite all this the number of men in leadership roles after twenty years of service is more than double that of women in similar positions. As in the majority of other professions we see that men are more likely to ask for pay rises and actively seek promotions. Like I said before, this isn’t unexpected. Teaching is a popular career choice for women who intend to take time off in order to raise children – unlike jobs in the business or research sectors the teaching profession won’t move on in leaps and bounds if you take a few years out to “have a family” – your career won’t be progressing while you do it though.

"Career patterns show women are less likely to experience swift promotion and face discrimination in relation to career breaks in a profession structured around a ladder of promoted posts.

"Women are also less likely to seek promotion on account of issues such as personal priorities, as well as experiencing negative attitudes."

Part of me would expect a little more from a field “dominated” by women but experience tells me not to hold my breath. That’s beside the point, it’s the same for the majority of career paths I could have chosen, it’s universal sexism (and universally unfair) but not what I want to talk about today.

The issue at the forefront of my mind is the almost invisible inequalities of employment – not the ones that affect my pay (I’ve never been in a position where my salary is defined by anything other than an arbitrary number on a pre-defined scale so I’ve yet to experience the pay gap first hand) or my rate of career progression but rather the ones that niggle every day and make my life just that little bit harder. I’ve experienced this all the positions I’ve worked in, except my current post in academia (there I suspect any difficulty in doing my job is not brought about by my gender but rather the fact that my job really shouldn’t have existed in the first place). The obvious issues associated with being a young, female member of bar staff sadly still go with the job, sleazy customers offering back massages and well dressed professional couples leaning over the bar and confiding that I looked like “the kind of girl who really enjoys it rough and dirty” (Erm, thanks?) were par for the course and upsettingly just became part of the daily grind. Working in the store I did in my retail days meant that some customers would actively avoid me because I was a woman (only to be sent straight back to me when it turned out they had a question my non video game playing male colleagues couldn’t answer) and a primarily male environment meant that occasionally “banter” got out of hand. I did once have to threaten to file a sexual harassment complaint if the current line of conversation did not stop (this was before my days as labelling myself as a Feminist. I’m still highly impressed with myself, and with my colleagues who took it in very good grace and apologised profusely). Teaching however has thrown up some other, more interesting issues that won’t apply to my male colleagues.

Aside from having to buy an entirely new work wardrobe (appearing too “sexy” in your manner of dress is something that a relatively conservative dresser such as myself has never had a problem with before but apparently 90% of what I own is inappropriate for dealing with teenagers. Although I get the feeling that I’d still get heckled even if wearing a floor length, shapeless dress fashioned from Kevlar, which may actually be a sensible option for my inner city placement, safety-wise), issues with being 5’1” and attempting to control a class full of kids twice my size who all look older than me and all the fun sexual harassment I get to observe and have very little power to counteract to look forwards to I also have the small issue of my name.

I identify as Ms O’Irishname. Not “Miss”, not “Mrs” but “Ms”. I find the use of Miss to be infantilising and have felt uncomfortable being defined by it for as long as I can remember (I used to think it was just my old surname I took issue with, apparently it wasn’t). I’m not married and I’d like to think that if I were I’d choose not to be defined by my marital status so Mrs is out. But how in the hell do you convince kids and colleagues of that? I already have issues with getting banks and my mobile phone companies to use the correct title even my flatmates find it weird (as I’m “not divorced or in [my] forties”). It’s a minor issue when compared with classroom control, the possibility of violence or parents questioning your decisions but it’s one that bothers me all the same.

this is the new shit

at 20:36

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Something strange is happening to Circular Logic. Something strange and unnerving. Don't believe me? It's mutating into something entirely new with (shock!horror!) themed content and (in theory) a shiny new look. A Work In Progress will be shutting down once I'm done using it as a testing ground, but never fear the tattoo posting will continue, it's all going along with the theme. Actually, it's pretty much going to be business as usual around here but with slightly more direction (and frequent posting!)

Also on the agenda: a new name and location.

From now on I can be found at www.inkandapples.com (although the current blogspot address will continue to work for the next few days) the name and the post I'll be putting up this afternoon should give you some idea as to the direction this place is going to be taking.

I hope you stick around for the ride.

Blog me a tale...

at 23:07

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

I've posted my first (and certainly not my last) tale for the telling over at Blog Me A Tale. I suggest you go and read it. It's about frogs.


I have been here for almost two years and yet still do not have the responsibility to purchase even one box of staples without approval

at 17:03

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Fucking temps have more authority in this building than I do. I'm not kidding. I actually discovered today that someone who's been here two motherfucking weeks has higher approval status me. I can barely walk because I have to sit on my ass all day, which incidentally is getting fatter by the second because I can't do any freaking exercise, and it still hurts. All of the above is making me tense and snappy and mean so I'm either pissing off everyone in sight or making them cry. I'm broke because I just had to hand over £150 for someone's freaking hen weekend in June. Oh and incidentally - the wedding? Over the weekend of Leeds festival so I can't go. I still haven't heard back from my teaching course and they only have a week left to get back to me, my iPod is dead, my hair is frizzy because I was over zealous with the curlers this morning and about ten minutes ago I broke a nail.

Fuck this.

I am going home to sit on my sofa, eat cheesecake and kick the ever loving crap out of endless hoardes of pixellated evil until I feel better.

Anyway, how's your day been?

a tribute to the truly marvellous pink pills which currently reside in my purse

at 15:09

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Dear Pink Pills,

It's been a long time hasn't it? Almost seven whole years since we last crossed paths. I take partial responsibility for this, dearest Pink Pills, because I felt I didn't need you (and in truth I really didn't) and also because I couldn't get my hands on you without a prescription and, as much as I love you, my few scruples forbid me from flirting with doctors specifically to procure myself (unnecessary) medication. But this week I found myself needing you, desiring you, begging to have you back in my life (literally, I actually begged someone. Like, down on my knees, prostrate on the ground begged them). And you came through for me, Pink Pills. You made my life better - a place of happiness, light and a non-swollen ass in those hours I couldn't rely on my old mistress Red Wine to take the pain away. (Fabulous though she is, she isn't always appropriate company. Remember the mess she made the last time I enjoyed her company at work? Not. Good.)

You've helped me some tough times before, Pink Pills. Like the time we first met after I had been so roughly assaulted with a hockey stick one November morning (though others may quibble, I maintain that merely taking part in the game of hockey counts as a form of assault and so I will not be swayed in my declarations), or our encounter when you so kindly helped me recover from a tennis related injury (are you beginning to see now why I don't play sports?). But the time that I knew you were really for me, Pink Pills, when I knew that you were more than just a fairweather friend was when you helped me through the pain during my trip to Bolivia. When I pulled my Achilles tendon I thought I was going to pass out from the pain of walking on it. Being stuck in the middle of an area currently undergoing a civil war and knowing the only option was to keep on walking through the volcanic landscape to somewhere that we could finally camp was hard. The people I was travelling with bitching for over an hour about having to split my pack between them was harder. But you made it ok again, Pink Pills. You took away the pain and made it physically bearable.

And now, although I'm not asking you to help me climb mountains again, you have gotten me through the last eight hours at work. So I thank you for that, please don't think badly of me this evening when I abandon you again and run to the loving arms of my old alcoholic mistress. You know I love you - she's just more fun in social situations.

Thanks again, Pink Pills; for some you may be extra strength ibuprofen but for me you are 400 milligrams of candy coated joy.

Yours, analgesically


entirely self-inflicted

at 10:47

Monday, 3 March 2008

The following is a list of every day things that I cannot do without causing myself immense amounts of pain:

Sit down
Lay on my left side
Climb stairs
Bend down
Crouch down
Reach upwards

Considering I walked an hour in to work this morning because my travel card had run out of money and I'm currently perched very gingerly on the edge of the world's most uncomfortable chair you can probably guess what kind of a mood I'm in.

Yes indeed, ladies and gents - this little kitten got herself tattooed again. Look very carefully at the list above and you may be able to guess what part of herself she had repeatedly stabbed with needles. But my God is the result pretty. And amazingly the session was far less painful than anticipated, my cunning plan of having headphones plugged in and music playing incredibly loudly worked like an absolute charm, I actually lasted for a semi decent amount of time which bodes well for the future. As it stands I'm about an hour out from having the foreground finished (which will have to be done at a later date as I won't be healed enough to work on that spot again by my next session) - we start work on the background next session, so I get to spend an hour standing in my underwear and being scribbled all over (we're having to freehand the background to make sure everything that needs to be covered gets covered) which should be... interesting. The upshot of all this is that I may actually have the full piece finished by the end of Summer.

I'm starting to regret promising my Mother I'd wait a year before starting on my sleeves. I want to get them started NOW damnit!

Oh yes, no photos this time I'm afraid - there was way too much blood/swelling/running ink to get an even half way decent image but I'll get some next session when the new work's a couple of weeks healed.

I'm off to go and whine some more about how much pain I'm in.