“Spotted”


I must admit, reading about “Spotted” in the news once again came as no surprise to me. Sadly, it seems everyday a new wave of internet indecency or nastiness becomes part of the norm.

And, make no mistake, the materials posted upon “Spotted” are particularly grotesque. But, I still have to question; aren’t such materials in many ways merely an expression of freedom, and of being human?

In truth, it is completely normal and part of everyday life – men and women will look at, talk about, fantasise about and trade lewd comments/pictures of the opposite sex. They don’t need the internet for this either.

So, I have to ask – how far is too far on the internet?

And, has “Spotted” reached, breached and exceeded the limits?

For those of you who don’t know what ‘Spotted’ is, allow me to provide you with some shockingly foul-mouthed quotes which illustrates it clearly (warning – profanities follow);

That blonde haired girl who just walked into the 2nd floor of the library is fucking banging – ‘Spotted: Reading University Library’ (3718 likes).

To the dirty skank… for gods sake buy some new leggings!! jesus christ! i can see your minge! [sic] – ‘Spotted: Swansea University Campus’ (2407 likes).

To the girl talking about harry potter. i think your arse might be a horcrux, im gonna have to destroy it tonight – ‘Spotted: Kent Uni Library’ (4209 likes).

These comments are typical examples of what “Spotted” has to offer. Male university students and their velvet tongues, produce one disgusting comment after another, and it is shrugged off as a type of compliment that their female peers should enjoy receiving.

“Spotted” pages are in fact part of the Facebook family. They are pages that encourage students to write comments and messages about their peers, which are published anonymously by page administrators. Many of the pages target specific universities (each page supposedly run by a student at that institution), with hundreds of different pages appearing on Facebook. Many of the pages have been liked thousands of times.

The “about” sections of most of the pages innocent enough, they encourage students to share funny incidents, grievances or secret crushes, but the reality is very different. Many of the pages consist of heavily sexualised and offensive comments about students’ appearance and sexuality, and female students are targeted with particularly misogynistic comments.

To the stuck up slut who looked at me as if I’d just slipped a finger up her grandma… –‘Spotted: University of Portsmouth Library’ (7460 likes).

Some posts include images, seemingly uploaded without the subjects’ knowledge or consent.

A current post on the ‘Spotted: University of Essex’ page (3955 likes) shows a young woman sitting at a computer, apparently unaware of the fact that her underwear is exposed above the waistband of her trousers, or of the fact that she is being photographed from behind. The caption on the photograph reads: “Nice bit a crack in the reading room.” [sic]

Another picture featuring a female student, again taken from behind and apparently without consent, appears on the “Spotted: Coventry University” page (4097 likes), captioned: “Asian girls and their asses though.” Several of the posts nastily blend racism with sexism.

A post appearing on the ‘Spotted: Hotty in Hartley Library’ page (3493 likes), displays a picture of a female student from behind, and asks fellow students to identify her so the poster “can get on that”.

Many posts inform female students what their male peers would like to do to them, or are doing while watching them:

To the girl on the c+ floor with the red toshiba laptop… i was sitting next to you a few hours ago. I literally couldn’t take my hand out of my pants the whole time. [sic]

To the hot girl sitting opposite me on level 3, do you mind if I have a cheeky danger wank whilst looking at you?

To the sexy brunette on the 4th floor, will you be my girlfrien? I didn’t add the D because you’ll get that later.

 Others veer from sexual objectification towards bullying:

 To the girl in the floor 4 toilets, you’re not Niagara falls, at some point you’ve gotta stop flowing.

The fat bird standing by the printers on the first floor. Don’t want to shag, but could really do with a cuddle.

Is it all in good fun??

A National Union of Students study reveals that 68% of female students experience sexual harassment during their time at university, and one in seven are seriously physically or sexually assaulted. These statistics actually shocked me; I didn’t know this was the case, and I doubt many female students (current or future) would know either.

So, how harmless are such pages if they feed into a wider student culture which increasingly treats young women as sexual prey?

And, do such pages merely demonstrate, and ensure that sexual harassment infiltrates every part of the academic arena to the point that there are no limits?

I then wonder;

Does “Spotted” encapsulate a new culture of objectification, harassment and misogyny?

How can this freedom of speech be curtailed, or, should it be?

Is “Spotted” just boys being boys or is it more sinister than that?

If you or your daughter were on the receiving end of such grotesque comments, how would you react?

All I can say;

I am thankful “Spotted” didn’t exist when I was a student. It was daunting enough entering the new environment of a large university, leaving home, being frightened, unsure and anxious over everything. I certainly wouldn’t have appreciated contending with this form of bullying and harassment too.

“Spotted” is childish, dangerous, aggressive, soul destroying and cowardly; not the best way to demonstrate what a UK university education can teach you.

Perhaps, a little less lady spotting and a little more studying wouldn’t go amiss.    

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Learning Gender Roles Via The BBC


The BBC have recently been accused of sexism with their remake of children’s classic Topsy and Tim.

It was claimed by parents that the BBC misinterpreted the original children stories, and chose instead to reinforce traditional gender stereotypes, which were being aimed at very young children. The charecter Tospy is a little girl who is seen baking princess cakes with her Mum, while her Brother Tim is informed baking is not for him. As a boy he can play outside on his bike or help his Dad with “mans work”.

I wondered, as I have on many occasions before, how do we learn our ‘gender roles’? Is it nature or nurture, and how can we be sure?

Thinking of my own childhood, I recall never being compelled by my parents to be particularly ‘girlie’, and naturally I wasn’t this way either. I was always encouraged to just be me, and perhaps by being a headstrong child who knew what I liked, pressures to be ‘girlie’ (if they existed), never affected me. I therefore feel surprised that in the 21st century children are still being encouraged to mimic, and reflect, what their own parents deem to be acceptable gender specific stereotypes. It just seems almost self defeating and rather odd.

Why would any parent force their child to be anything, and ruin their own child’s ability to blossom and develop naturally, free of preconceived ideals laid down throughout the eons?!

What is so terrible about girls playing with cars and bikes, and boys playing with kitchens and dolls? Surely having diverse skills and interests make for more rounded and capable future adults?

I know if I had children, I would indeed encourage them to be them; who else can they be after all!

Don’t get me wrong, their is nothing wrong with traditional gender roles, if those people performing those roles are happy enough to do so. Yet, there is nothing wrong with mixing it up either!

Living in Madrid I see many more examples of the conventional family unit than I do in the UK. The wife cooks, cleans, takes care of the house and kids, while the man works, is head of the household, applies the discipline and often the education of the kids. This is almost expected and seen as the social norm.

Now my household has never been quite like this, to the surprise of the people I meet in Spain. People are shocked that I am interested in politics, and also that my degree, career and writing all have a political grounding. I have actually been told how unusual it is for a girl! Obviously they haven’t heard of Emily Pankhurst, Simone de Beauvoir, Eleanor Roosevelt, Margaret Thatcher, Naomi Wolf and Hilary Clinton; what about Eva Perón?

For me, applying any expectations upon a person, especially at a young and impressionable age, just becomes a simple case of the self fulfilling prophecy. You get what you expect. Women and men then become merely caricatures of their gender, nothing more than that! How can we then argue they are naturally as they should be?

Have women actually been able or allowed to genuinely break through that “glass ceiling”? Not if the 21st centuries depiction of gender is the reference point; a woman’s place is still at home, while the man still belongs to the world. This has to be true, the BBC even think so!

To be serious, in recent years it has been a giant step backwards for men and women alike. Adverts, marketing, media and society in general have peddled the over sexualisation of the younger generation. This has drip fed a generation with gender specific notions of beauty, relationships, sex and availability, youth, frivolousness, self obsession, celebrity culture, diets, gossip, fashion and materialism.

So, maybe reverting to the stereotypical gender roles is only the natural step forward from this re-education?

For me I feel it is difficult to distinguish, and therefore state concretely, how much of nature actually plays a part in a child’s socialisation, self perception and development. Especially with all the dross floating around their environment.

Think about how difficult it is for us as adults to really separate ourselves, and our choices from all the expectations applied upon us, what we have seen, learnt, experienced and absorbed into our psyche?

If it is so difficult for us as adults, the question then remains; how can a child?

Nature v’s nurture, for me there is no real contest to contest!

Jealousy Is The Biggest Compliment


I have been thinking recently about those people, I am sure we are all aquatinted with, who enjoy making little sly remarks, boasting about themselves, feel they have something more to say, enjoy gloating and generally revelling in making those around them feel bad about themselves.

They play a game, a very specific, but a harmful game. A game called jealousy.

Jealousy is destructive, obsessive, consuming and dangerous, but, it is also the biggest compliment anyone can pay you.

For someone to be jealous of you, they must deem you to be a threat, highly important and a person who makes them (the jealous people) feel inferior or appear inferior.

Is this your fault? No, this is their problem and not yours, but they want to aim their problem at you, to make you feel as badly about yourself and your life as they do about themselves and their lives.

If you play their game you will lose. To become embroiled in their inner turmoil you give them what they want, a reaction and ammunition to continue pulling your strings with. This game gives them and their lives some temporary meaning – harsh, but very true.

Many people feel intimidated by those who display jealousy, they often feel they cannot retaliate or they don’t even realise the person who is aggravating, upsetting and being nasty to them, are actually jealous of them.

Yet, 99% of the time, people who suffer bullying, nastiness, bitchiness, lies, back-stabbing and so on, are the victims of jealousy. Jealous causes most of the problems between people, jealousy drives people to do strange things to one another.

I have experienced people trying to hurt me because they have been jealous, and people can and will be jealous of anything! Of course I have also at times played the game of these jealous people, and sorely regretted it. Through this experience I see clearly what the outcome of such things will be, and I avoid those I see that jealousy resides within like the plague! It is difficult though, because sometimes regardless of how impartial, diplomatic, genuine or nice you are, you attract jealousy. Once these jealous people have you in their sights, they point blank refuse to let you go; well, not until they have attempted to wreak as much damage upon you as is possible.

I have experienced their damage too, and believe me, on some occasions the pure maliciousness of the jealousy aimed in my direction caused me great turmoil.

I am however a great believer in karma. What goes around does indeed come around. I have though been lucky enough to see the malignant and jealous individual fall, and was able to inform them I knew their game, jealousy.

Regardless of how much hate they muster, how much spite they spit, how much damage they claim to cause, these jealous people can never escape what they wish they could, themselves. They will always be stuck with them, long after you have been freed from their jealous radar, they will still be the vile creature they always have been. Again, this may seem harsh, but it is very, very true.

I have no qualms in feeling as I do about jealous people. I have no mercy for those who are jealous, because they have no mercy for anyone else. In fact, they take great delight in attempting to destroy people. They therefore deserve nothing more than pity, but not sympathy.

Jealousy I feel is useless though. It destroys, but not only the victim of the jealousy, but the perpetrator too. If only these people could understand that fact, and employ as much effort into changing what they feel bad about, instead of ploughing their energies into jealousy, things would be different.

When all is said and done though, it is only us who tolerate jealousy. In reality, jealousy needn’t have a place in our lives, just don’t tolerate it; call them out, name and shame, publicly humiliate them! Remember too that you are far better than those who seethe with jealousy, and also, karma is always a bitch!

Breaking Bad Becomes Child’s Play


Breaking Bad 'Lego' set :)

Breaking Bad ‘Lego’ set 🙂

What do thinking of these ‘Bricking Bad’ toys?

These ‘toys’ have been modelled upon the Breaking Bad series. Yes, the Crystal Meth lab, and all the characters of the series included; in fact, every last detail has been faithfully recreated in miniature LEGO format!

Crazy fun ‘eh?!

‘Bricking Bad’ was being marketed to the ‘LEGO’ company, but strangely they refused to see the the funny side of it all.

LEGO therefore turned down the opportunity, of what would no doubt have been lucrative sales, deeming association with such a ‘rip-off’ product as akin to sleeping with the devil.

The tweeters were twittering with indignation over the inappropriate nature of it all too (no doubt what eventually swayed LEGO’s final decision). All the social networking tribes set to work to shun ‘Bricking Bad’, before it could filter through to corrupt the young people of today!

I think this is totally off the mark, I mean what six year old’s toy box would be complete without such a unique item? How to cook Meth, isn’t it what every parent hopes their child will learn, and then recreate in their teen years! Don’t ridicule, it could be a good option in such an economic climate!

For me, I see this as an adult/collectors item, obviously! It was never likely to be marketed as anything more than a novelty item for a model shop, rather than a toy shop.

Yet, to be serious, with all the uproar this product has received you’d think the young of today led sheltered lives, instead of being the informed and savvy socialistas they really are.

Good God, they learn about sex from the ages of five now, so, Crystal Meth is far from off limits for topics of convo, surely!!!

Anyway, I’d have bought a ‘Bricking Bad’ set, I can definitely see the cheeky side of it! Can you?

Are You Being Served?


In the UK, probably like any other country, monetary transactions in a commercial shopping environment is marred by blatant rudeness. I hear people moan how the sales people in the UK just aren’t quite what they used to be; efficient, pleasant,  polite and helpful. Well, lets be honest they don’t all offer the same level of customer service as that provided in the U.S for example!!!

Yet, is this always the case? Are the sales people really the problem or is there more besides to consider?

Now I understand 1st hand what it is to be a sales person, having worked in retail during my time in college and university. I understand disaffection, dissatisfaction, resentment amongst staff, terrible working hours and wages. Many sales people who serve you in shops, supermarkets and take your telephone calls everyday, are also no doubt college students. Students feeling just as I did; bored and sick of inane complaints over inconsequential things (bad attitude right? Well that’s every college students prerogative)!

Although in mentioning a bad attitude, rudeness for the sake of it is NEVER excused. I was never a surly, lazy or nasty, that is not my style. Yet, this old adage too that “the customer is always right” is completely WRONG!!!

There are those customers who are the thoroughly horrible, nasty, rude, ill mannered, intimidating and threatening type. I know as I have experienced these people. There is something about ‘shops’ in general that induce customers to act in a way completely alien to their normal behavioural types. In fact if such behaviour transpired on public streets, they’d often be arrested for it! I mean what sane person, a grown man for example, is willing to threaten a 18yr old girl?? Only in a shop where the older man is a customer, and 18 year old is a sales person (me).

What right has any customer to call a sales person stupid, a bitch or threaten them with violence??? Is it just because the customer is annoyed with the shop, the products, or annoyed with their own lives and inadequacies? After all the sales person doesn’t own the shop, has no control on the stock and tries their best to do what they can for a customer, even a rude and nasty customer!

I mean even murderers have human rights so why doesn’t a sales person too???

What crime have they really committed except for working for a terrible company that won’t protect their own staff’s safety, by advocating a no tolerance of customer abuse and violence against them. Is it their fault they have ineffective and un-supportive managers, who allow customers to rule the roost?

All of this abuse happens more often than you’d even think too. I KNOW AS I’VE seen it all happening. Appalling,  yes it is as stores think this is OK – that their staff should be OK with this lack of support from people responsible for them, and take such abuse with a smile.

This barrage of name calling and so on can occur on a daily basis, and the customer is never ‘pulled up’ on it. Yet, if the staff say one thing deemed inappropriate, they can face discipline or even the sack. Isn’t it only fair; if you can give abuse you should expect to receive it in return, customer or not?

So, next time you are in a shop and the sale person is a little unhappy, not cheerful, and doesn’t have a fake smile plastered over their face, is a little short tempered or perhaps ill-mannered; give a thought as to why. Consider this  before you jump to conclusions, for vexing your ideals of perfect customer service.

Perhaps just before they served you they had been victims of verbal abuse, threatened with violence, not supported by their management. Perhaps they have been made to feel like garbage just because they are sales people and not Doctors or Lawyers somewhere.

Sales people are only people too; they have feelings, rights, families and aren’t there to be abused.

Think about it!

Trust Yourself


images

“Those who claim to enlighten

often have the largest egos”

“We all have our own ideas on life (et al) – no one person possesses all the answers”! 

 

The Savvy Senorita (AKA: Bex Houghagen) 2013

Are You Speaking English???


slang2

 

UK schools have recently been on on the warpath against the misuse of standard English during lessons. Teachers fear that young children are learning and using slang terms and colloquialisms, before they have a firm grasp of standard English.

A school in Middlesbrough sent letters to parent urging them to take action. Parents were told to prevent their children adopting such phrases like; ‘it’s nowt’ and ‘gizit ere’. The warning was clear enough; ‘problem’ words and phrases muddied the child’s speech and disadvantaged them.

Under fire also was pronunciation. ‘Free’ and ‘butta’ instead of ‘three’ and ‘butter’ were amongst those listed as requiring attention. ‘I done that’ and ‘I seen that’ were also blacklisted within the letter, and parents were reminded that ‘yous’ should not be permitted because ‘you is never a plural’.

In all, 11 ‘incorrect’ phrases were highlighted as particularly troublesome.

The Headteacher of the school defended the sentiment behind the letter, saying that the aim of it was to ensure that children were fully equipped to go out into the without disadvantage. Stating that all children need to learn the difference between dialect, accent and standard English. The literacy framework itself stipulates that children need to be able to write in standard English, however when this framework was brought up as a defence, nothing was mentioned about the need to read and speak standard English too. Interesting.

The Headteacher has since gone on to reiterate that the school is not demanding that the children change their dialect or accent. The schools intention is that children establish that a difference between these, and standard English exists. This little reminder sent out to parents was to ensure that they understood that their children could indeed be faced with a disadvantage whilst entering adulthood, and the world of work. If standard English was not taught and fully understood from an early stage, then problems could set in at later life.

The reaction, well, parents broadly agreed with the language initiative; though receiving the letter came as an unexpected shock to them.

Regardless of how relaxed the parents were to it all, local MP Angela Smith was not as accepting. She was reported as saying; ‘Who is going to adjudicate? Who is going to say slang, dialect or accent? And which one is right and which one is wrong?’

With reports of literacy levels in school leavers on the decline, perhaps this initiative to nip such issues in the bud is a good idea. Many 16 year olds leave school without an English qualification, which in itself is problematic. Most employers, colleges or training establishments will require an English qualification, and look for this level of learning as part of their consideration of candidates.

When children can move through, and then leave a schooling system without gaining a qualification for a language they have been learning, speaking, writing and immersed within for 16 years, surely there has to be something wrong??

If a 16 year old fails to understand and be able to use standard English, in favour of slang and text speech, how can they possibly manage to move on with their lives and secure employment and so on?????

Text speech and slang seem to be on the increase and deemed quite the ‘norm’. So much so it seems that standard English has in fact met its match.

Opinions Please!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Who, if anyone is to blame for this educational gap; the schools, the teachers, the system, the curriculum, parents or the children themselves???????

Is the lack of language skills preventing the next generation from progressing?????

Does anyone have a right to state what is correct or what is not??????

Is language just time, place and situation specific?????

Does dialect and accent play a part in altering speech and the command of a language?????? 

Does standard English even have a place in society?????

Or are we all becoming language snobs???????