Monday, 1 September 2014

Hello September

I love waking up early. I can hear you gasping now. Yes, I like waking up early. I like being the first out of my family to get up, and being able to enjoy some peace and quiet with a cup of hot coffee and maybe some music, while I look out into my garden. For me, these are the best starts to my day, but today was an especially cozy and comforting start because it's the first of September!

In my books, summer is officially over- It's time to whip out the woolies and the hot chocolate. Maybe I'm running a bit ahead of myself, but what can I say, I'm an Autumn person, and personally, I'm welcoming it. I love that pre autumn feeling; getting ready for going back to school, the seasons are beginning to change and the mood is starting to feel more festive already, Halloween is only around the corner! For me however, this year is especially exciting because it's my first year of university, and I'll be moving into my new home soon.
As a result of my slightly excited mood, here's a little list of a few things I'm looking forward to in autumn.

Sweater Weather

 (2) Tumblr - inspiring picture on

 Cosying up with a good book and a hot drink when it's cold outside


Whipping out the camera and being able to get some stunning pictures

Canon. PAV
Did I mention my university is near Sherwood Forest? This is Sherwood Forest!!




fall ya'll  

Monday, 25 August 2014

Throw a bucket of ice water over your head

If you've logged onto any social media or browsed the interwebs lately, then I'm sure you've come across the craze that is the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. If not, then I question as to whether you've been living under a rock for the past few weeks.

The challenge, which has disputed sources but has most commonly been attributed to Pete Frates, a former Boston College baseball player, has taken the world by storm, even garnering the attention of celebrities and politicians alike. In the grand scheme of things, this craze doesn't surprise the average internet user; after the Harlem Shake, No Make up Selfie and Planking phenomenons already having had their turn of sweeping across news feeds and dashboards across the globe, the fact that people are willingly throwing buckets of ice water over themselves is no abnormal feat.
What struck me though, is the obvious reason behind the challenge, which was to raise awareness and donations for ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, the most common form of Motor Neurone Disease. The challenge has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds already across the globe, all due to people posting videos of themselves being drenched by a bucket of water. Now, charity is no odd thing, and we are all raised with the mindsets that it's moral to donate to charity and we should do it out of our own will. There are tens of thousands set up for all sorts of causes, but in all honesty, not everyone goes out of their way to donate to a certain cause. 

 But add an element of fun, and it takes the world by storm. It's weird how humans work; even though we know it's good to donate to charity, the number of people that do so at one time never encompasses the majority, but make it a social craze, and not only does it raise awareness, but people go out of their way to help a cause, and sometimes even force other people to do it. Whatever the reasons, whether it's because of social pressure as everyone gets nominated eventually, or due to humans' desire for a bit of fun, undoubtedly, social media has had a massive impact on being able to make one cause known to the world, and garner donations that would have taken months to get within a few days.

Also, to all those who are being bad sports and saying 'You're wasting so much water, children in other countries don't have any to drink and you're throwing it over yourselves for no reason', I say this: The water in those buckets cannot be magically transported from here to impoverished countries. Water is wasted on a daily basis and I bet you waste more water in your average bath than in doing the challenge. The extra water you use in your bath instead of taking a shower isn't doing anyone any good and yes, that can be classed as wasting water; the water being used in the Ice Bucket Challenge however, is part of something much broader. Someone completing the challenge not only means money is donated to ALS, but awareness for the charity is raised, other people take part and donate, and several people are also beginning to donate to water charities for the water they have 'wasted'.  One bucket of water can go a long way.

If you would also like to donate to this good cause, the links are below :)

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Is International Relations too 'hard' for women?

I've recently come across this article from E-International Relations (which for anyone interested in going down the politics/IR route, is great because it's a website aimed at students) which talked about this paper. I know, it's quite long and wordy, but the gist of it is trying to answer the question, 'why are there so few women in senior international affairs positions?' 

The paper struck me, as being a girl, I was shocked by the male dominance in these positions, but a quick think and a Google search made things a lot clearer. The current number of women world leaders comes to a grand total of...22. That's right, out of 196 countries in the world, just over a tenth of them are run by the ladies. But why is this? Can women just not be bothered? Is international diplomacy just too 'hard' for us? Or do women face a challenge both from society and culture in trying to reach these high positions?

Clearly, it's difficult to tell what the most important reason is, but no doubt there needs to be changes in all aspects of life for women to be able to fairly compete and represent themselves with men in all fields of work both including and outside of international relations. What with unequal parenting responsibilities, maternity and paternity leaves, sexism, discrimination and gender norms that render women 'out of place' in the political affairs profession all playing a potential part in hindering women in becoming the professionally successful and powerful people they have the potential to be, it's obvious society, culture, and mentalities need a change. 


Coincidentally, it was only today that I was having a conversation with my mum about my future and (hopefully) eventual career in an international organisation. She was adamant that there will come a time in my life where I will have to choose between family and my career. The sad fact is, however much my stubborn ego refuses to admit it, there probably will be. With a job in international relations probably meaning I will be travelling a lot of the time, I can only presume that there will be clashes with family life (if I manage to nab someone stupid enough to willingly spend their life with me).

 Like mother said, women always have to make the sacrifices; something I believe still rings true even in today's society. Maybe this explains much of why there seems to be a leaky pipe going up the hierarchical ladder in international affairs, as it's been shown that in entry level jobs, the number of women match men. Here's hoping that in a few years, when I'm going up to organisations asking them to hire me, waving a degree in my hand, I'll be stood there with the goal of reaching the top, not having to back out half way through the promotional ladder because a baba's on the way or my boss thinks I'm not tough enough to handle the work.With the likes of Angela Merkel, Syeda Warsi and Christine Lagarde before me, now I just want to show the world what a girl's made of.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Wanting a life like F.R.I.E.N.D.S


Halloween episode: Ross: SPUD-NIK Monica:... - Just don't shut the fuck up! | via Tumblr

Yes, uni is fast approaching, and my moving out day is looming with exactly a month to go until I lug my overpacked suitcases into the car and travel to my future home for the next three years. But, I am incredibly excited. Rewatching F.R.I.E.N.D.S episodes has made me look forward to moving out. Hopefully, the fun that comes from watching Ugly Naked Guy and having a hang out like Central Perk will follow from living with people a similar age. Chandler's humour preferred, a real life Joey compulsory.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Bindis, headdresses and flowers in your hair

It is without a doubt that the west of today, the UK and USA included, is a 'melting pot' or 'salad bowl' -whichever way you choose to look at it- of people of a varied ethnicities making up the population. It's not a surprise then, that often, people who have grown up in diverse communities pick up religious traditions and customs of other cultures they have been exposed to and surrounded by. 

Cultural appropriation is a different matter however. It has very little to do with understanding or respecting other cultures, and instead involves a dominant cultural group exploiting and 'stealing' the culture of a minority group, with a lack of regard to the latter's traditions and history. Sadly, this has become a common occurrence in today's society. 
Yes, we are all part of human race, and in an ideal world, everyone should embrace and appreciate all cultures, but it would be naive to believe that this is the case. The difference between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation, is that the former is when aspects of a culture are reduced to mere accessories and their true origin and meaning disregarded; many a time cultural symbols are used to 'look cool'. 

A quick scroll of Tumblr, a look at the latest festival fashion trends or a glance at a magazine will show you this. A quick search entry of 'coachella' and 'festival fashion', brought up the following pictures:

It's obvious that in these examples, both Native American and South Asian culture has been exploited and stripped of its original meaning in order for, dare I say it, racially privileged others to be able to use cultural symbols as accessories. The pictures were several times followed by hashtags such as, #indie #hipster #bohemiam #boho #hippie #ethnic. Since when was being 'ethnic' a fashion statement?! Last time I checked, everyone had an ethnicity. Describing a specific culture as 'ethnic' is not only making it significantly other, but providing western culture a platform allowing it to be perceived as 'norm'. 
It's sad that this appropriation has seeped into, and is being promoted by celebrity circles. Stella Hudgens? Not Native American, yet she wore the headdress as an accessory to Coachella this year. It is also without doubt and common knowledge that her older, more famous sister Vanessa Hudgens is known for her Indian inspired outfits, but again, this is without regard to the culture they are taking these things from. The eyebrow bindis that she and Kylie Jenner have donned, as well as the nose hoop connected to the ear that Kendall wears, all for Coachella, are in fact jewelry worn by South Asian Hindu brides on their wedding days, and frankly, are not in the least bit intended to be worn as festival attire. It is essentially a slap in the face to South Asian culture, to be considering their religious practices so trivial that they are used as 'dress up'.
I speak from personal testimony when I say that 'hipsters' and whites often wear bindis, tikkas and headresses and pass as 'looking cool' because they are 'fashion statements', whereas if someone like myself does so, it is ridiculed as 'otherness' and a way to show that I have not properly assimilated myself into the culture of the country I am living in. This is not okay. Why the double standards? Because racial privilege exists.This is an entrenched ideology within society that is driving forward this incorrect white supremacist view.

I agree there is a fine line between appreciation and appropriation, and there is obviously nothing wrong with the former, and personally I love it when people are genuinely interested in my culture and wish to explore it; it's an experience in itself being able to tell another person about your different customs. However, essentially stealing cultural symbols and traditions, stripping them away of their original meaning and using them for superficial purposes; well, that provides a problem. I could go on with the appropriations spread by celeb culture, and am refraining from making this blog post pages long by beginning to talk about Taylor Swift and her new 'Shake It Off' video, Katy Perry's 'Geisha' performance at the AMA's and Miley Cyrus... well, in general. If you're interested in these appropriations, a quick Youtube search will make everything clear, trust me, you won't have to look to hard to find what's wrong. 

I have to mention though, that sadly, a lot of people culturally appropriate unintentionally, and often hadn't known their accessories etc actually stem from a culture until they were informed. The only way to combat this is to educate and to be unashamed to say appropriation is wrong. Appreciate, and embrace other cultures. Explore their traditions and customs, and respect their history.

Oh, and if you're stuck on festival fashion, why not just go for the classic flowers in your hair; who doesn't love a nice floral headband?