Finding a direction

So it’s now been a couple of weeks since I started this blog and whilst I’ve been going through the process of setting it up, thinking about what to write about etc, I’ve found myself getting somewhat confused about my identity.

Where to tread?

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve discovered a huge community of bloggers that I hadn’t known would be there, I’ve discovered the absolutely vast range of things people write about and the world suddenly seems so much bigger than it did before!

I wanted to blog about life as a single-woman in her mid-thirties, because it’s the element of my life that makes me feel the most like the odd-one-out, or ‘different’ to the people around me in my life, it’s the element of my life I feel so very aware of.
Being single at my age isn’t necessarily an awful thing, and I’m by no means miserable, but it does feel like there’s a spotlight shining on the fact there’s nobody at my side.

Setting up my blog Twitter account (@shelfblog) felt like something I had to do, but in doing so, I’ve found myself getting more confused and less sure of who I am, what I think or what I want to be writing about or saying.
For example, I’ve selected to follow quite a few feminist twitter accounts, like Vagenda magazine, Everyday Sexism etc. And I previously blogged about the No More Page 3 campaign which I believe strongly in.

Except now I wonder whether instead of navel-gazing about my own life and what it’s like to go through life alone, should I instead be lifting up my sword and going into battle alongside campaigners?
These are people who are campaigning for the good of my fellow women, and when I read about the level of abuse hurled at them just for doing do, I realise they are brave as well as outspoken.
Twitter led me to an article about a woman who had received the most disgusting threats and abuse, just for being a feminist, just for speaking out about equality. I read it and cried.
Twitter suddenly seems like an online portal for bullying and nastiness.

It has really made me wonder about my own approach, and whether I should (or am even able to) be as strong and outspoken as these women.
I’ve always thought of myself as a feminist, but I’ve never been a campaigner.

How far do you have to go in standing up for what you believe in? Is just believing in equality enough? Or if you’re not actively joining in the fight, are you just paying it lip-service?
But do I abandon all the thoughts and feelings that originally led me to want to blog? Because they aren’t going to go away any time soon.

I have signed up for the next Blogging U challenge and want to devote more time to exploring other blogs, discovering how other writers find their voice, set the tone for their site, discover who they are through their writing and stay on course and on topic to achieve the goals they have set for themselves.

I hope that through this I will find my way through some of the fog that seems to have descended and left me feeling a bit like I can’t see the wood for the trees.

I would, of course, absolutely love to hear from any more experienced bloggers with insight to share.


700 Words of Confusion

So this post is a bit off-topic (ish), but it feels worth it.

I set up my Twitter account for this blog at the weekend and started to have a browse around and start
selecting accounts that I would like to follow.
Among them was the No More Page 3 account, which is a campaign asking for The Sun newspaper to stop printing pictures of topless women each day.

I’ve heard of the campaign before and hugely admire and support the work the team behind it are doing.
But today, I started pondering the campaign and why it is happening. And of course then I started to think how completely bizarre it is that in 2014, this campaign even needed to happen, and yet, it does.
Somehow, Britain is still a country that allows, every day, pictures of women with their breasts out to appear in a national newspaper. So-called ‘lads mags’ are, quite rightly, on the top shelves these days to protect children from their soft porn content. And yet, right there, amongst the real news, as though it is perfectly normal, is massive soft-porn picture of a woman with her boobs out.
The more I think about it, the more downright odd it seems.

On the one hand, I feel like I should be attempting to write an insightful, thought-leading post about how wrong Page 3 is in the modern day. And on the other, I can’t stop pulling a confused face and thinking that Page 3 is just downright strange.

How? How is it okay for this page to still exist?
How is it okay for children to grow up with that paper in their home or in a public space and be so exposed to soft-porn that they become de-sensitised to it and think it is perfectly normal for a woman to just stand there, appearing like she has nothing to offer but her breasts.

Like so many women, I’ve had to put up with the misogynistic comments from men who think it’s ok to leer, tell me to ‘get your tits out for the lads’ and then laugh amongst themselves as though I’m just there for their entertainment.
Or men who think it’s ok to grope you in a bar or on the tube.
Or the men who think they have the right to judge you based on your appearance – as though that’s all a woman is.

We can’t assume that all of these idiots think the way they do because of Page 3, but how are we ever supposed to instill a sense of equality and mutual respect in our young men if they grow up believing that a woman with her boobs out is a perfectly normal and to-be-expected display in every environment where you might find a newspaper?
I cringe to think of the boys growing up seeing their father ogling Page 3 and seeing a woman being judged purely on appearance as a perfectly normal thing.

The No More Page 3 campaigners call for women to be shown doing a multitude of things instead – like the men are. Women playing sport, or running a business or working for our country or, or, or….
How are young girls ever supposed to grow up truly believing they can be admired and respected for their minds, when every day they see a woman being judged for the pertness of her boobs?

We sit in judgement on other cultures where women are not given equal rights or prevented from getting an education or not seen as being as important as men.
We wring our hands and talk about equal rights and equality and feel smug about our progressive culture.
And then we degrade a woman and reduce her to nothing more than a body, a pair of breasts, someone purely there for the sexual pleasure of men.
And when I think about it like that, it feels so bizarre and sad and depressing and ridiculous, and like our boasts of equality are nothing more than the Emperor’s New Clothes.

And nearly 700 words later, I am still pulling a confused face and wondering how and why Page 3 ever existed and how anyone at The Sun can defend it, on any level.
I don’t often feel completely ineloquent, but the very existence of Page 3 is just totally baffling.
Thankfully, the campaigners and many of their supporters say it far better than I do, and, to finish, I would highly recommend this video, and although The Sun editor has since changed, I think it is still superb.