Quote | Creation/construction of happiness

Happiness isn’t a knock of good fortune that we must await, like the end of the rainy season. Neither is it something that we must ‘find’, like a motorway exit or a lost wallet. If only we knew the secret path and if only we could acquire the right job or the right boyfriend. Interestingly, the notion that happiness must be found is so pervasive that even the familiar phrase ‘pursuit of happiness’ implies that happiness is an object that one has to chase or discover. I don’t like that phrase. I prefer to think of the ‘creation’ or ‘construction’ of happiness, because research shows that it’s in our power to fashion it for ourselves.

Sonja Lyubomirsky, The How of Happiness, p.15

Quote | Bad Feminist

At some point, I got it into my head that a feminist was a certain kind of woman. I bought into grossly inaccurate myths about who feminists are – militant, perfect in their politics and person, man–hating, humorless. I bought into these myths even though, intellectually, I know better. I’m not proud of this. I don’t want to buy into these myths anymore. I don’t want to cavalierly disavow feminism like far too many other women have done.

Bad feminism seems like the only way I can both embrace myself as a feminist and be myself, and so I write. I chatter away on Twitter about everything that makes me angry and all the small things that bring me joy. I write blog posts about the meals I cook as I try to take better care of myself, and with each new entry, I realise that I’m undeserving myself after years of allowing myself to stay damaged. The more I write, the more I put myself out into the world as a bad feminist but, I hope, a good woman — I am being open about who I am and who I was and where I faltered and who I would like to become.

No matter what issues I have with feminism, I am a feminist. I cannot and will not deny the importance and absolute necessity of feminism. Like most people, I’m full of contradictions, but I also don’t want to be treated like shit for being a woman.

I am a bad feminist. I would rather be a bad feminist than no feminist at all.

– Roxane Gay, Bad Feminist Essays, p. 317-8

Wow, reading this on the last pages of Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist Essay was a reminder I didn’t realise I needed – so I thought I’d share it incase anyone else might find it beneficial too. Ever since I started becoming aware that feminism was something you could – and really ought to (at least as a woman) – have a feeling about, I’ve gone through quite a transformation. If you’d asked me 5 years ago whether I was a feminist the answer most likely would have been “not really”. A) I was privileged and was yet to become fully aware just how many life experiences are informed by archaic gendered norms, and B) More importantly I was struggling with coming to grips with many of the norms frequently seen as prerequisite for being a “good” (read: proper) feminist. These feelings haven’t left me completely today, which is why I over the last year have spend a great deal of time and effort exploring feminist literature and history. Reading the above in Roxane Gay’s book Bad Feminist Essays was a nice reminder of where my explorations into this topic started, and an important acknowledgement that feminism isn’t something that should make you judge your performance of it on a scale from good to bad. Rather it is a thing that can take whatever form – but that needs to never loose sight of the essential element: equality for all.

Feature photo by Maryia Plashchynskaya on Pexels.com

Recommendation | E-J Scott and the Museum of Transology

As you might know, if you’ve read my post on blogging and life from back in May, I’ve struggled with finishing posts for this blog of mine since its inception. That however doesn’t mean I didn’t try to write any… The entry below is from february 2019, I found it among my unfinished posts and decided to go through it and finish editing it as its contents felt as relevant now as then. Possibly even more relevant now than then seeing as the collection mentioned in the post is without a publicly available home after the exhibition at Brighton Museum and Art Gallery closed on January 5th 2020.

Just over a week ago dress historian, curator, academic and queer cultural producer E-J Scott visited the University of Leicester to give a talk at the School of Museum Studies about his important project the Museum of Transology. The talk, titled ‘Museums and the Transgender Tipping Point,’ can be found here. Scott created the project originally in response to realising that the stories of transgender individuals were not being collected or prioritised in museums. Throughout 2017 items collected on the transgender experience went from being a “hidden” collection in E-J Scot’s care to exhibitions marking 50 years since the Sexual Offences Act of 1967 and the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality. The collection was shown at the London College of Fashion and subsequently at Brighton Museum and Art Gallery [where I was fortunate enought to get to see it in March 2019]. A hugely important story was beginning to be told and represented… But, as Scott could attest to in the talk it was not all rosy. The collection currently has no long term home, and it would appear that many of the great projects that took place in 2017 marking the aniverssary have vanished since. In 2018 Scott wrote a piece for the British Museum Association about the situation, a short but very poignant text that I believe all museum professionals would benefit from reading!

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Around the web | 1

I have a feeling that like me you’ve recently found yourself on your phone, or other internet connected device, looking for anything to entertain you and take your mind of the situation at present. I thought it would be fun to make a little selection each week highlighting things I have found “around the web” that might be of interest to others.

  • Laurel Bristow, @kinggutterbaby, on instagram. I happened upon Laurel’s instagram quite by chance after seeing her mentioned by the bloggers Young House Love. I’m so glad I checked her out. A heads up, this kinda doesn’t fall in the *taking your mind off COVID* category, but I think her approach is really good for keeping a more relaxed perspective on it all. I for one have been feeling WAY LESS worried since following. She is an Infectious Disease Researcher working on studies at Emory Hospital (Atlanta, USA) who gives really clear and well researched information about all things COVID and disease. At a time where the information disiminated from governments, newsagencies and social media can be really hard to comprehend because the information is reported with little time for explanations for us “common folk” it is nice to have someone who understands the science explain, in a concise way, what some of all the terminology and studies mean.
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Quote | Simone de Beauvoir on women’s freedom

The restrictions that education and custom impose on women limit her grasp of the universe; when the struggle to claim a place in this world gets too rough, there can be no question of tearing oneself away from it; one must first emerge within it in sovereign solitude if one wants to try to grasp it anew: what women primarily lack is learning from the practice of abandonment and transcendence, in anguish and pride.

– Simone de Beauvoir (translation Constance Borde and Sheila Malovany-Chevallier), ‘Chapter 14: The independent woman’, Extracts from The Second Sex (Vintage Feminism, 2015), p.67

Featured image by Sasha Andersen. The picture shows a closeup of a sculpture by Danish artist Eva Steen Christensen.

Books | 2019

I set out on a personal challenge to read 12 books in 2019, and gosh does it feel good to know that I did it. With 2019 being the centenary of the vote for women in England I got really interested in reading feminist literature, I started out softly with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s short, but really good book We Should All Be Feminists and have progressed from there. You might also notice a lot of Harry Potter on the list. I am one of those rare people that didn’t read the series when it came out, unlike my brother who swallowed them up whole as soon as they were out. Don’t get me wrong I think I’ve read the first one four times over and the second two and a half times… I just never got any further. However, with the challenge in mind, and newfound interest in understanding all the references to Harry Potter – thanks in part to a good friend having been on the Quidditch team at uni – I set about to rectify the situation. I enjoyed reading them, read the first two while travelling in Japan, though I must admit I got less and less interested in them as they progressed. The storylines just weren’t really my cup of tea… But to each her own.

Books read in 2019:

  1. Museum: Behind the Scenes at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Danny Danziger
  2. Becoming, Michelle Obama
  3. We Should All Be Feminists, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  4. Women & Power, Mary Beard
  5. Educated, Tara Westover
  6. Zen: The Art of Simple Living, Shunmyo Masuno
  7. The History of Bees, Maja Lunde
  8. Harry Potter The Philosopher’s Stone, J.K. Rowling
  9. Harry Potter, The Chamber of Secrets, J.K. Rowling
  10. Harry Potter, The Prisoner of Azkaban, J.K. Rowling
  11. Harry Potter, The Goblet of Fire, J.K. Rowling
  12. Harry Potter, The Order of the Phoenix, J.K. Rowling
  13. Harry Potter, The Half-Blood Prince, J.K. Rowling

Thoughts | Blogging and life

I’ve begun this sentence a hundred times over, but for some reason sitting down to give the blog the old college try just hasn’t been in the cards for me. I started this project on a whim when I was starting my masters program and we were encouraged to blog about our experience and things that interested us to get into the flow of writing. That never happened. To be honest the last year has been really tough: the masters was challenging, I lost my dear grandpa halfway through, I moved twice (to and from England either end of my masters), I’ve been dealing with a lot of mental and physical challenges as a result of all the stress and have found it really challenging to find a job.. Oh and let’s not forget the most recent headache – COVID 19… but I’ll get back to that later.

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Books | The History of Bees

The best laid plans of mice and men… The end of dissertation time has turned into the beginning of September, but there is no time like the present to take on the challenge I set myself at the beginning of the year. Read 12 books in 12 months. I haven’t made a tally of the number of books I have read so far, but have a feeling I have physically read about 6 books and listened to 3 audio books – I’m slowly making my way through the Narnia series again.

This book was recommended to me by my housemate after she learned that my father keeps bees – in fact she thought it was so good that she gave me her copy of the book to ensure I read it… And what a read it was!! I cannot recommend it enough, a confidently blended narrative filled with stories that bring facts about bees to life in a thrilling and culturally sensitive way. It reads like a loveletter to bees, while also showing how we as people are intertwined with these magnificent creatures. Okay, I might be slightly biased here – being the daughter of a beekeeper and all…

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So that happened…

Life with dyslexia while studying for a masters and moving around at the same time sure isn’t easy. At the beginning of the year I had all these plans for this blog, but I’ve had to come to terms with that a lot of them probably won’t be happening – at least not until I hand in my dissertation at the end of June. Living with dyslexia while trying to complete a masters program is proving very taxing on my mental health at the moment. I have to do a lot of reading for my literature review, and even though I know that my difficulties in getting it done right are down to my dyslexia it is causing me a lot of frustration. Don’t get me wrong, I love how dyslexia has given me tools to see and do a lot of other things really well, but at times the pressures of needing to conform to norms outside of my abilities just gets to me. I wish I could be graded on how well I hang an artwork or some other practical thing where I don’t have to fight with my brain to get it done, but where I could instead collaborate with the knowledge it holds. Anyway, all this to say that with all this happening I’ve felt zero energy to do any blogging, or rather zero energy to complete the blog posts I’ve been working on. I have 3 lined up that need varying degrees of editing, two about books I’ve read and one about a talk I went to. I’ve also finished reading another book that I need to write a blog post about. I’ve also travelled a bit over the last few weeks, so I’d love to share some pictures from the places I’ve visited. Let’s see what happens.

Featured image by Cameron Casey on Pexels.com