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!

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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!

Here They Come, The Pretentious Ones.


A few months back I set myself a challenge of sorts, perhaps it was more of a quest! The motivation behind this ‘quest’, well I wanted to immerse myself more than I had previously decided to, within Madrid social spheres. Basically, I hoped to meet new and interesting people, to maybe form friendships with.

Well, as some of you may recall, I have achieved this. I joined countless meet-up groups, circulated, discussed and had fun. I met people I have remained in contact with, people I now call friends, and others, others I actually don’t want to meet again!

This is social trial and error!

I suppose by the very nature of being social, you cannot pick and choose who you meet! I quickly began to notice that I was coming into contact with one type of individual though; time and time again the pretentious ones would make themselves known.

So often, whilst in tne company of others, this characteristic reared its ugly, boring, childish, poisionous, carefully applied and maintained, self absorbed head.

One human characteristic I abhor, and freely admit I have no time to pretend I am interested in indulging, is pretension.

I am used to pretentious people though, I have experience in dealing with them on countless occasions; from being a student at school, being an employee, a friend and so on. Unfortunately pretension is, and always will be, here, there and everywhere; hiding in full view amongst people of all ages and backgrounds. Just like a sociopath / psychopath, the pretentious ones exist in quantities the rest of us would be surprised about!

It seems that everyone has at some point in their life, had to associate with a pretensious individual.

Why is pretension so terrible though? Well, the pretentious ones spoil and pollute not only social occasions. They turn all gatherings into a competition, a school-yard, a charade, a stage for them to flex their pretentious muscles and exert their superiority on the ‘simpletons’ surrounding them.

Yet, I ensure I remain aloof and thoroughly unimpressed by what others might deem to be high intelligence, grandeur, intimidating wonder, superiority or whatever else. I have no patience to sit, listen and feed the ego of the pretentious ones!

In my experience, there is definately something about ‘the arts’ that attracts this type of person, drawing them out from the woodwork in droves.

Intellectualism and creativity is great, but by being these things does it have to then delete all the ‘people skills’ a person might possess? Why do the pretentious ones suddenly forget they are human, only human, just like all the other flesh and bloods walking about this humble pile of dirt! I don’t understand why they adopt an attitude of superiority, when we are all learning, all of the time! None of us are impervious!

In fact though, experience dictates that such people actually feel, but conceal, a deep seated sense of insecurity. They doubt themselves, their choices and their social status; hence their attitude, their carefully applied and mainained persona, their pretension.

They battle to be seen as ‘cool’, but I only see insular, boring, supercilious, restricted and fragile.

Why do the pretentious ones derive comfort in shunning the genuine and real though? Why do they prefer not to celebrate individuality, and refuse to delve into enjoying life? Why do they restrict themselves so tightly? Why the charade? Why the fakery? Why act as though nothing is capable of impressing them, everything is passé, why be supercilious and bored by it all – even though they haven’t really actually lived!!

Why impose this on others, socially?! How social is that attitude, NOT very!

I really don’t understand why pretentious people tend to like, and pursue activities they feel identifies, and associates them with being seen as an intellectual! I doubt whether they enjoy ‘the arts’ as much as they profess they do. I feel they say they like such things to fit in, to be part of a crowd. Whether this crowd is categorised as elite or not, it is still a crowd, rather like being back in school!

Intellectual and creative pursuits are not just for the pretentious people of the world. Although amongst their cliques, the pretentious ones excel at being priggish or ‘posh’. They work to belittle, and deny anything that doesn’t fit with their ideals of what is ‘in’, what is cool, what is creative and intellectual.

They ring-fence intellect and creativity; constraining them, exerting their influence and pontificating about what they believe these things to be. Basically removing what these things symbolise fundamentally; freedom, change, diversity and so on.

What is this attitude if not one belonging to someone from a high school clique, a teenage wannabe?

They tell others what is acceptable, how to behave, function and think.

People never grow out of this pretentious behaviour either, and no one confronts them!

I just don’t get it! I just don’t like it! I just can’t tolerate it socially!

What has happened that people just can’t have fun, be silly, mess about, admit they are wrong, laugh at themselves and just live! What is wrong with that? Why can’t they be intelligent, creative and interesting without being so conceited, and self absorbed? Sometimes it seems as though they can’t smile through fear of cracking their face!

Honestly I can’t think of anything worse, going through life worrying how you appear, ignoring people and things you deem beneath you. Basically, these people are so stiff they seem dead already! This is NO way to live! No way at all! All things considered, I actually feel quite sorry for the pretentious ones. They are so constraint, they cannot change, they are stuck in a rut and can’t escape. How very sad.

NOTE: Before people critique my writing as judgemental and stereotypical, I have to state I don’t deem all intellectuals or creatives as pretentious people. I am discussing certain people, certain situations from my experiences and via my own opinions. I am not judging or commenting on ALL creative and intellectual people, merely some!