Mad, Sad & Bad Things

Buoys at St Anne’s Cathedral Belfast today – Photo: Jenny O’Neill 2013

There’s a lot of water falling from the sky here in the North of Ireland – rain, snow and freezing wind.  It’s going to be a weekend to stay indoors and find our thermal socks and just a short post from me today.

Right now in my own world and the wider world around me there’s a few things that are bad, sad and mad making and are all deserving of their own article, but not right now.

I’m devastated that those who commit sexual assault are side stepping sexual ethics, respect and personal responsibility by trying to clarify rape.  That a very public trial and conviction in Ohio, USA has led to conversations and questions about do’s and don’ts with young, drunk and almost unconcious people as if there is any other conversation or question different to how do I keep you safe?

I’m grieving and shaken by the trauma experienced by so many children and parents in separation, whether state managed or private/civil.  The difficulty to disagree well, the shame in exposed poor decisions and the crippling lack of self confidence that can leave you with.  The power dynamics at play whether between two partners in a relationship or between a parent and the state are frightening in their capacity for damage and joy.

I’m also pondering the genuine appreciation I have for the HBO TV series Girls (which I will write about properly soon) and an awareness I have of the critics who dislike the characters because they find them spoilt, self involved, privileged and ignorant.  I work with one said critic and we’ve had a couple of really thought provoking conversations about the expectations we place on the ‘educated’ ‘Western’ ‘informed woman’ this week.

So, I shouldn’t be surprised that some people think it’s okay to perform sex acts on and with a drunk almost unconcious teenager because I know about violence against women, rape culture, abuse and power and control.  But I am so scared, disappointed and freaked out to see it fresh, new, alive and well in this particular set of circumstances.

I also should know, because I know about separation in families.  I live and work with separated people all the time, I’ve friends and family members handling it well and/or badly.  I’ve sat with people as their families have fallen apart, as their decisions have been picked over in social work meetings, I’ve even been to court and sat outside watching the legal professionals do their merry dance of mediation, negotiation and compromise.  I know about attachment and loss, I know about court orders and I know that families shouldn’t and can’t always stay together.  It still breaks my heart when I think about the loss and the absence and the past, present and future for the lives affected.

I also know about sexism and gender dynamics and healthy relationships.  I’ve been fortunate enough to be a privileged girl, who is white, who is educated who’s had good role models, I’ve been in a good relationship for a long time.  But I still relate to Girls the TV show and applaud it’s realism, my life was nothing like any of the characters there in my early twenties, but I see the insecurity, the self-involvement and being treated like crap by a boy as good depictions of how life and relationships are (or were then), what bodies look like and how stupid, bad arguments play out.

Life can be bad and dark sometimes or at least less than goodRegardless of where we are in the structures of privilege, education and background it doesn’t stop us reacting and responding to our or others wins and successes or pain.  I know it’s important to emphasise perspective and proportionality – but right now I’m taking a little sad, bad, mad whiney moment – before I go pour myself some rum.

1 Comment

Filed under Gender

One response to “Mad, Sad & Bad Things

  1. Harriet, you write so well. Trying to locate where you’re at….seems to be a good place, at any rate!

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