From the Sky down

How did the world get so full of information 

every minute of every day reality tv and 24 hour news

and who thought it would be a good idea 

to fit it all right here in the back pocket of my jeans

all the information and the miss information 

and all the truth is out there but it’s hidden buried beneath the propaganda and the curated lies 

don’t get me wrong sometimes it is the good

but it’s mostly just the bad and the ugly with a filter slapped on that’s supposed to convince us that we want it

and everyone has an opinion on everything hiding behind their keyboard with the belief they’ve earned the right to share it

and no one is brave enough anymore to just admit when they don’t know

because what does it mean if the whole world fits inside your phone and it’s smaller than you are but you’re still not big enough to contain it

So we shrink ourselves down trying to make ourselves bigger

because it all so conveniently fits inside the palm of our hand as we loose time we can never get back scrolling on the device we built for connection that’s causing all this separation

while they tell us over and over again that if we would only keep on striving to do everything they said

while they sell us this dream that if we just invest enough hope and we sacrifice our mental health we can get lucky enough to go viral and catch a break or two that will turn this life around

and if that happens someday we could maybe have an Instagram feed that makes us look like we’re the one that’s normal

if we start again from the ground up maybe we could could be enough to fit inside their mould and that would make them proud

and I tried for a while I really really tried 

to shrink to conform to fit to fit in but fitting in just made it clear I didn’t have anywhere I belong

when it all came down to it I wasn’t built for this and it was a little late in the day I’ll admit but I realised I’m a bird

and I couldn’t spend my life swimming inside their fishbowl

and if those of us that are born to fly really want to change the world if we want to overcome

We have to be far too busy building something beautiful from the sky down to ever stop and listen to the voices that want to cage us.

– Louise Alexandra Erskine

Here’s to the Men

beautifullydefected.teemill.com

Here’s to the men

Here’s to the men that cry

to the ones that admit they’re failing

because they know they’re also growing 

and that limits are only in their minds

here’s to the men that take their time

Here’s to the men with empathy they don’t ration

to the ones striving to be kind

the men that place themselves in someone else’s shoes 

knowing they can never understand 

the weight that’s being carried

Here’s to the men that wash dishes and stitch dresses

to the fathers who let their sons play with dolls 

the ones that change nappies and kiss bruises

the ones who keep on fighting 

when it’s easier to walk away

Here’s to the men that understand our value

to the ones that don’t objectify us or degrade 

those that don’t call rape culture our problem

here’s to the men that can hear no

wish us well and walk away

Here’s to the men that don’t think loyalty’s embarrassing

to the ones that still love us 

when their friends are watching

here’s to the men that know needing someone

doesn’t make them weak.

Here’s to the men that don’t think the word girl is an insult 

that don’t use negging to get laid

the ones that found the courage to be who they are

here’s to the men who know what leaves them feeling empty 

and don’t just chase it anyway

Here’s to the men that have integrity 

even when we’re not around

the ones that allow themselves to fall in love with our minds

not just notch us on their bedposts

And pretend that it’s enough

Here’s to the men that buy themselves flowers

name their houseplants

and sing to help them grow

here’s to the men dancing in kitchens by themselves

thinking they’ll always be alone

Here’s to the men that call for help when they hurt

and aren’t afraid to be seen

the ones that are courageous enough 

to understand bravery is only an option 

when you know what it is to feel scared

Here’s to the men that love powerful women

and aren’t intimidated by success 

to the ones that want to build this thing together 

because that’s how we make it

strong enough to stand

Here’s to the men that recognise their battles are fought and won 

not in the final showdown 

against an enemy unknown

but in the thousand small decisions 

that led them to the fight

Here’s to the men with not only grace but grit

who understand the process

and allow for the middle to be messy

the ones that meet us where we are but don’t leave us where they found us.

Here’s to the men that don’t let history define them

no matter what is said

the ones reaching forward

knowing that though their story shapes them

they alone get to write the end

Here’s to the men that were told they weren’t enough

but found a way to rise above

the ones who see the beauty in their defects

find their weaknesses and work on them

and instead of hiding who they are step up

Here’s to the men that will change the world

the true rebels 

the mavericks the renegades the titans

here’s to those that will gently break the chains

and challenge the wrongs with love.

The Losing Game

Wow, you’re sexy for an older reader! Catch what I did there? I ran game on you. 

I made you feel good about yourself by undermining you. Depending what I went on to discuss you may have gone away still thinking – I AM pretty sexy for my age, and where’s the harm in that? Except it is harmful. I’m not only playing on insecurities you might have about the way your body is changing as you get older but its also the perpetuation of the cultural belief that ageing is unsexy. It’s a manipulation designed to make you more prone to bad decision making. If I was trying to sleep with you I’d have massively improved my odds by simultaneously making you feel both sexy and like a ticking time bomb the clocks about to run out on.

In 2005 an investigative journalist, frustrated with his own love life joined a community of “romantic” players to learn how to get women into bed. The resulting book ‘The Game’ rather than reading like an exposé became a best selling dating handbook, in which men were taught how to gain the upper hand.

Women’s rights have improved massively in the past 120 years. We have this newly empowered ‘we can do anything men can do and do it bleeding’ attitude. We work like men, dress like men, thanks to the Shewee we can even pee like men, and most importantly in the context of this article – if we want to, we can have sex like men, and if we really want to save time we can have sex without men, with no make up, wearing our intensely comfortable, ugly pyjamas before making a cuppa and binge watching Netflix.

Then comes this book and instead of teaching men to form partnerships, uplift and empower women, its reinforcing all the insecurities women have after years of oppression and lousy product marketing telling us we aren’t enough, it fortifies the idea that women exist for sexual gratification, it teaches men to identify physical attributes a woman could be self conscious about and exploit them to make her more susceptible to sexual advances.

I get it with my hair – wow you’re beautiful for a ginger / its not for everyone but I’ve always had a thing for a feisty read head, or possibly my favourite, you know when they lean in really close like they’re letting you on in a secret and tell you they know that red heads are freaky between the sheets and that its okay because they like it, as if its shameful to be a bit kinky or as if the colour of my hair in any way determines my sexual preferences. I also get “oh you’re so tiny I could keep you in my pocket” and I’m like was that a compliment or a threat? Because it would not be the first time I’ve been carried away from my friends by a complete stranger – which I assume comes under the chapter on isolating the target. 

The overarching problem with this technique is that it leaves everyone feeling alone. It seems shocking now but this is a book that was liked by 87% of readers on Goodreads, and has a 5/5 rating from Waterstones, and its not just damaging women its damaging men! We are living in a time where the leading cause of death in men between 35 and 49 is suicide.

It’s based on the idea that people can be beneath you, you’d be ‘dating down’ or ‘punching above your weight’. Are we not each of us just flesh and bones trying to hold a heart together? Can you truly believe that a person’s looks or job elevates them? It also works on the assumption that everybody has the same physical preferences. She’s really fit so she won’t like me – why not? you’ve never even spoken to her how could you know? It also discredits the possibility that sexual attraction for women especially, has less to do with physical appearance and more to do with chemistry, one of my exes was six feet tall, the rest wouldn’t let me wear heels, nor for the possibility that that intelligence or a sense of humour is sexy, I’ve asked on instagram and you know what’s REALLY sexy…

Kindness!

By creating a dating handbook designed to undermine a woman’s self esteem we inadvertently have a generation of men believing that being themselves isn’t good enough, its taught them the only way a woman will pay them attention is if they trick her. There may be a temporary high that comes with initial sexual success but this prolonged behaviour means we find ourselves in a society where everyone feels cheated and damaged, putting up walls that cut them off from feeling vulnerable and establishing real human connection.

I can’t tell you I have some genius way to fix it, I don’t. But what if the next time it happens you let him know that running game won’t work, then pay him a genuine compliment. Even if he’s not your type you can find one thing to say. You walk away feeling empowered and he feels noticed. Then maybe the next time he approaches someone he simply says “hey I noticed you from across the room and I’d really like to talk, can I buy you a drink?” maybe people start paying attention to the details of each other, maybe they don’t have to ‘blast last minute reservations’ and maybe at the end of it all we develop a culture where we feel valued enough for it to be safe enough to just walk home.