#Atta Boy

#Atta Boy

5 girls huddle in the corner of the school yard: a five pointed star becomes a circle, leaning in, warm breath mingling with a high note of sweet, pubescent sweat. Limb tingle; no boys; don’t get caught; let me see. Neckline stretch, shoulder strap drop; vest tops roll up fumble to reveal a puff of nipple, the swell and stretch of new formed breasts, pink scarred criss cross skin rising like the green burial mounds on the the way to Egerdon Hill. Steals my breath, how different they are. Like our hand prints in nursery: every shade of pink and red and brown, strange pimples and dimples and flesh feel look and size. Drop our tops and bend with laughter; flick our hair and lick our lips like the girls on TV, stick out our chests and catwalk to the centre of the playground, drunk. On what? – on something – we don’t know yet but it’s coming –

#lisadavies#bryonysmith#GuðjónsdóttirHafdís#IngaHelgudóttir#sarahscott#lucyanderson#angelinafowler#GuðrúnHelga#Sigurðardóttir#GuðrúnLínberg#sarahbrant#niralpanjali#charleneyi#alyssamilano#reesewitherspoon#americaferrara#mollyringwald#jenniferlawrence#gwynethpaltrow#mirasevino#heathergraham#ashleyjudd#tanushreedutta#Edda Ýr Garðarsdóttir

8 of you, crammed into the PE shed with the blue plastic throwing hoops, balls and sacks and goals. 5 girls, 3 boys. Look, don’t look, yuk and yes and no way, hot blood to your face, rising like panic when the shed door closes behind you. Musty, earthy mushroom shed smells and a whiff of acid yellow piss. The taste of metal in my mouth. The raw red ooze of Scott’s eczema, asthma wheezing, like air from a tyre, as he unzips his pants. Half soft, half hard, it emerges amongst sparse hairs. He spreads and bends his legs and thrusts it around, yeahhhh. The girls squeal and jump back: don’t get tagged. I stumble and hit my head on a shelf, still rubbing the sore spot when the bell goes. Stumble fall from the shed; scatter like roaches, all running in different directions for the same classroom.

In 2017, #metoo began spreading virally as a hashtag movement when the American actress Alyssa Milano posted on Twitter, “If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too.’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”

If you want to smoke weed you have to buy weed. You are 17 and you were brought up as a fundamental Christian. You left home 4 weeks ago with 3 bin bags and the devil in your back pocket. You have lived 7 lifetimes since then, one for each head of the beast in Revelations. You had your first snog 24 hours in and lost your virginity the next day. You became a hardened smoker on day 5; tried your first joint on the same day, and rolled for your first, loose, sleeping bag joint later the same night. Your dropped acid in week 2 and snorted coke with a rolled up bank note on a Sunday morning in week three.You spent a decade passing as a Christian and you left home because you knew you weren’t really a Christian. Now you are passing as something else: something more fun, something harder and wilder and sexier and dangerous.

Milano’s #metoo post had been used more than 200,000 times by the end of its first day online and tweeted more than 500,000 times by the end of the following day. On Facebook, the hashtag was used by more than 4.7 million people in 12 million posts during the first 24 hours.

The preacher says your body belongs to God.

There are three men in the lounge, in varying states of disintegration, surrounded by foil packets and Rizla papers. The air is tobacco smog. No one here has ever been to church. You are sure, at least, of that. What are you supposed to do here? You, who was brought up wearing Laura Ashley and Lily of the Valley. Is it rude to just ask for a sixteenth of blow, or should you sit down and talk first? Simon, the dealer, gestures at an empty chair; a benevolent king. You fall into the chair and watch him make a joint. He does not make eye contact with you. The four men laugh at nothing. There is music coming from a corner. There are 3 empty cigarette packets on the floor.

By December of 2019, #metoo had been used more than 19 million times on Twitter alone: that’s a little over 55,000 uses of the hashtag per day. #metoo began to be described as “an international movement for justice for marginalised people in marginalised communities.”

When the dog comes in you are relieved. He comes straight to you, his tail wagging. You share some of the joint, careful not to take too many, or too few, tokes. The dog puts his head on your knee and looks up at you with kind, brown eyes. It is comforting. You look back at him, right into his eyes, as you stroke his head and ears. He is silky. It feels nice, comforting. The dog loves you. You love the dog. Your breathing slows and you think that maybe everything is going to be ok. Not just this, like, everything. Maybe ten minutes pass like this. You pluck up the courage to ask for a teenth. Simon goes to get his weigh scales as you search your pockets for the money, still stroking the dogs ears with your free hand.

Simon passes you your cling film wrapped teenth and you pass him seven pounds. His eyes travel down your legs and then his mouth opens and he begins to laugh. The 3 men in the room follow his eyes and they start to laugh too. The dog chooses this moment to mount your lap. You push him back down but he is strong. He licks your face and a blob of his saliva feels wet on your top lip. You look down too and see the dog’s cock, hard and pink, leaving a trail of slime on your ripped tights. You stand up and the dog jumps up too, rubbing his dick on your leg. The four men are still laughing and laughing, their mouths gape. You mutter ‘thanks, for the teenth,’ as you pull your leg away. The dog follows you out into the hall. Simon’s voice, still laughing, behind you, says, ‘Atta boy.’

#Elísabet Ýr Atladóttir#Elva Hrönn Hjartardóttir#Erla Hlynsdóttir#Fríða Rós#Valdimarsdóttir#jasminbhasin#tinadatta#tanushreeduatta#sanjjanaglarani#mandanakareenee#poojamisra#khadjasiddiqi#raniafahmy#dinasmalova#monicaosagie#priyaramani#mayelshami#yuezin#gracestarling#Anna Lind Vignisdóttir#Brynhildur Heiðar#ogÓmarsdóttir#Drífa Snædal

He creeps into your room at night, tells you you are pretty and you like that, kind smiles, special girl, waiting in the blanket dark for him to come and stroke the hair back from your face, gentle, little peck kisses on your mouth, feathers, secret, first love, you will marry him one day.

The sick strange of it now though – you don’t want to touch it but he puts the lotion, squirt, into the palm of your hand and curls your hand around it with his own. Up and down, your hand, his hand. Panting, it curves, too big for your small hands. Feel the middle of you fly up, and out of the top of your head, to a place else. Maybe the wardrobe where you sat once to wait for your brother to come in so you could ambush him, when the world wasn’t this upside down place. Your belly hurts, you try to stay out of it, what is happening here, you don’t know what it is, but you don’t want it. Your mouth stays shut tight.

#lisadavies#bryonysmith#GuðjónsdóttirHafdís#IngaHelgudóttir#sarahscott#lucyanderson#angelinafowler#GuðrúnHelga#Sigurðardóttir#GuðrúnLínberg#sarahbrant#niralpanjali#charleneyi#alyssamilano#reesewitherspoon#americaferrara#mollyringwald#jenniferlawrence#gwynethpaltrow#mirasevino#heathergraham#ashleyjudd#tanushreedutta#Edda Ýr Garðarsdóttir

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Showdown- Love Vs the Need Monster

Confession, I have spent a life time in the pursuit of love, any love, I can find. For most of my youth I was like a sort of human cat – stroke me, and I’d rub myself on your legs. I got into relationships with people who alternated between loving me and ignoring me, but as long as I thought there was the chance that I might get a tickle behind the ears, I stayed. In fact I didn’t just stay, I chased: I chased breadcrumbs of love; minuscule particles of love smaller than atoms. Little me thought this was just the way of things: to get love you had to chase and you had to get love to be safe.

Cat

Inevitably my romantic relationships have been driven by this need for love and of course it’s natural to some extent to want to be loved. The problem with needing to be loved so desperately is that it blinds you to all sorts of far more important things, like who other people are; the extent of your choices; what it is that YOU actually want and who YOU actually are (when you are not tying yourself in knots to get the love and attention you so desperately seek). This level of need can be so utterly compelling that it goes hand in hand with the notion that love which you have to chase for is somehow more valuable, so you miss, or don’t value, love without challenge, love without chase. 

Because I have learned to be with myself, fully, and to meet my own needs, more and more these days I feel the sweet relief of loving with detachment. I still really love people, but because I don’t need them to love me back all the time, I’m not a paranoid monkey, reading everything they do and say, or don’t do and say, through a lens of fear and lack. If they piss me off, so be it; if I piss them off, shit happens: we’ll sort it out. If I am not going to be with them forever; ah well, best enjoy the sweet time we have in this moment. I am safe because I am me and because these days, I find love and connection everywhere: in my friends, family, nature and the quiet moments when I sit in solitude with myself, read a book, sing a song, listen to music…or otherwise feed myself.

The other bonus is that when I am not desperately seeking love and stop turning myself inside out to get it, I am free to receive any love that comes my way as a gift, something genuine, because of who I really am. Conversely, my switched down nervous system can really soak up all of YOU in your realness: I am interested in YOU, not what I can get from you. When I stop panicking about whether or not you love me enough, I get to make choices about who I want to be close to, based on how GOOD it feels when we are together.

The need monster still lives in me: I have made friends with her. I hold her hand now. I say ‘hi, thanks for trying to keep me safe. I love you but you are not in the driving seat anymore.’ The gift of her is that she is super intuitive and really charming (when she’s not re-reading your text at 3am for the 200th time to decode its subtext) and these attributes can be used for healing, not harming, self or others.

If you would like to know more about how I made friends with her, and the dozen other crazy people living in my head, leave a comment, and I’ll get back to you. I’m off to tickle my own ears.

 

 

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Guest Post – Lady Anon – On abuse, forgiveness and a need for change.

Now this is really moving…

Rule of Stupid

The primitive part of our brain is hard wired for simple decisions: flight or flight, survive or die. The need to belong is a powerful drive, and so we humans have an almost primordial fear of swimming against the consensus. Our newer monkey mind is more playful: it can throw up moments of inspiration and genius, but it can also invent phantoms and fears out of nothing. It allows us to escape conformity, but leaves us vulnerable to error. Therefor while it is difficult, it is also essential that we come to see the difference between what really is, and what we have fooled ourselves into thinking.

This might seem a strange way to begin a blog post about sex offenders, but I was inspired to write by a paragraph in Jamie Catto’s brilliant book ‘Insanely Gifted’, in which he dares to write briefly about this subject, describing them as

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Playing trust games with life

This little gem blew me away. Hope you like it too.x

Lucy Rose White

You may be familiar with trust games, from school or team building or some other facilitated group experience. A common version is where you stand on a chair and fall backwards and trust the group to catch you, and they do, and each time they do, something inside you melts and opens.

I have been playing this game with life itself for about three years now,and I finally feel I’m getting to the point where we don’t need to keep playing the game any more. I get it, I get that life will catch me and I can stop throwing myself of chairs for no reason!

What do I mean by life? I’m talking about everything that is, inside and out, existence itself. You might call it the universe, you might call it other people, you might call it Gaia,  you might call it the Dao, you might call it…

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Dear potential boyfriend…

Dear [insert name]

You are just a normal guy in a world where we are constantly exposed to casual nudity and sex…where women’s bodies are used to sell everything from email providers to oranges…where nobody has to try anymore because marriage isn’t sacred, divorce is cheap, unfaithfulness is common…where we are constantly encouraged to look for the bigger, better deal…

And here I am, in the midst of this world, trying to carve out a comfortable place for myself as a woman, where I can look pretty without being objectified; feel sexy without being called a slut; love a man wholeheartedly without feeling that I need to be perfect, like the airbrushed bodies on the internet, or he will look elsewhere: for me, gender is political and I’m angry that I am part of a race so relentlessly associated with the body, when the truth is that what matters most to me, and I hope to those that love me, is my brain and my heart…

I think it’s sad, the world we live in, because it glorifies sex and makes so little of love…but the truth is that to be fully human, we need both, together, because in the absence of emotion, sex is just two animals, scratching an itch…

As a little girl growing up, I was in no doubt that the most important thing for a girl to be was pretty. I can remember being 6 or 7 and looking at myself in the mirror, examining my face from every angle to try and work out if I was going to be attractive. I didn’t think so. And then the first boy that told me I was pretty, who was some years my senior, did some scary, horrible stuff to my body which I really wasn’t ready for, and I guess that was the beginning of this tension in me, between wanting to be pretty and sensing that being pretty might be dangerous. At the same time, he taught me that my body didn’t belong to me, that it was there for the taking and that to get male attention, I had better be prepared to share it. Refer back to paragraph 1, and you’ll see that the world has done nothing to disabuse me of this notion, quite the contrary. My political anger intersects with my personal experiences, which is why when we talk about feminism and gender politics I will get so agitated. It’s not just opinions which will burst out of me, it’s my lived experience of being a girl and a woman and it has been, and continues to be hard…

The truth is I am soft as butter, like my alter ego, Softy Butterpants!  I am a romantic. I am a born monogamist. I want to live in a world where love means more than sex. I want to live in a world where people get married and stay together forever. We’ve lost something, cheapened something really beautiful, and central to our happiness, by creating a world where you can watch strangers screwing anytime you like, 24/7…where you can go to your email client and see someone else’s wife gyrating in her knickers…and for me, to go with it, to watch that stuff, to engage with it, is a betrayal of my values because, titillating as it is, it’s not healthy for us on a personal level, or as a society. Maybe you feel, that in the moment, it doesn’t hurt anyone, but it’s more complicated than that, because if everyone stopped clicking on that stuff, maybe our world would change. (I won’t even get into the shocking statistics about the amount of females in the sex industry who have been abused as children). Where has it got us, as people, as societies, this impersonal, sexually driven world and our quest for female perfection and readily available bodies? – We have higher divorce rates than ever, a higher instance of mental health issues than ever…it’s just one of the factors in an increasingly unhappy society…because we are meant to pair for life…we live longer, we smile more, we hug more, we are healthier, we live better, and more meaningfully when we do.

You’re not me. You might not feel this way and you are entitled to your opinion: you share these opinions with millions of other people, who think ‘what’s the harm?’ and that because the people they look at are on a screen, it doesn’t constitute unfaithfulness and that because women’s bodies are everywhere, we might as well take a peek now and again. But, these are my core values, old fashioned as they are and I want you to share them.

I know we are animals. I know there are prettier women in the world than me. I know you will want to look when you see a pretty face. I know you will fancy other people. I know how easy it is to find female nudity and porn: you don’t even have to look for it, it’s right there when you go to sign in to your email client. I’m not naive and it’s no different for me; although, I am less visually driven than any man I have ever met and most women I know. But, you don’t have to entertain it. You don’t have to look twice. You don’t have to click on it just because it’s there. For me there is a relationship between cyberspace and the real world: if you met a gorgeous woman in a bar and she offered to strip down to her knickers for you, I hope you’d walk away, so why should it be any different because she’s on a screen? I know that in the real world, she’d constitute more of a threat to our relationship, but it’s not really about that. It’s about choices. It’s about values. It’s about respect for me and for what we could have together and the distance offered by the internet does not mean that what we do does not have consequences. Following the same logic, would it be OK to watch animals being tortured, or children abused on the internet, because they are not in the same room with you?

If I see that you have casually clicked on videos of other naked women, it will make me feel inadequate because I will never achieve that level of airbrushed perfection: she probably doesn’t even look like that in real life; it will make me feel betrayed because you actively chose to see another woman in a sexual way; it will cheapen what we have because it will make me feel like when I offer you my body, it’s nothing special, it’s just something you can get anywhere, anytime and it will threaten me for the same reason. If you can’t resist a click now, can you blame me for worrying about what it is you might not be able to resist in five years, ten years?

Do you want the kind of girlfriend who can laugh it off? If so, walk away now. I am an old fashioned girl, and in return for your total faithfulness I will give you mine, my heart and my body, with 100% commitment and I am a deeply passionate woman. I will never do more than look once. But I can’t be with you unless you want that too: there are no half measures, it’s all or nothing. I will never make you feel bad for finding other people attractive (and yes, I will probably know when you do!): that’s just being human. But acting on that, in any context, will always be a a step too far for me and that’s just the way I am. Life has made me that way, experience has made me that way and I don’t think I can ever change.

I hope you can understand me; I hope that you think I am worth it, but if you can’t, if you don’t, then please leave me be.

Love, Face x

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Softy Butter Pants or I am sorry I am always so serious

Who invented non-butter spreads, or margarine as we Brits call it, and why?

Butter is a delicious gift from cows, to say thank you for hundreds of years of slaughter and mistreatment. It makes everything taste better, literally everything: you could spread it on 3 day old monkey turd and eat it and it would still taste better than any low fat spread on the market. Anything with the word ‘butter’ in it is good: butterscotch, apple butter, toffee butter, butternut cups, and whipped butter, brandy butter!!! The only exception to this rule are things masquerading as butter, taking the name of butter in vain; such as, ‘I can’t believe it’s not butter’ and ‘tastes like butter’ and ‘Wow, I totally thought it was butter.’ These products are the devils polyunsaturates and should be burned at the stake: do not be fooled! If I ever win the lottery, I will buy the factories that produce this tasteless, oxymoronic paste and rename these products ‘I bet you wish I was butter’, ‘Jesus, I’m so depressed I’m not butter’, and ‘If you think this tastes like butter you have a phantom taste disorder.’

 

I have an alter ego called Softy Butter-pants: it’s the name I call myself when I am being loving and sweet. Sometimes I use it when the kids are trying to fool me about something: ‘Pull the other one, who do you think I am- Softy Butter-pants?’

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After-birth

A white room.
The clock swam,
Wavered and loomed,
Like an artificial moon.
While I rippled in 
Concentric circles.

Buried in my cocoon
She beat with paper wings
Against the drum of my belly
A light tattoo

And then
Pushed her way through
The darkness
Took to her wings
And flew.

He came dressed in the coat

Of my womb

Delicate china head

Miles of Aegean eyes

Soft mouth that suckles

Helpless pink hands waver

Unaware

Featherless birds above his head;

When he cried my breasts

Ached milk

Like split coconuts

Into the paradise

Of his mouth.

Today he is four

I look into his eyes

And see

War.

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Hope is the fuel of progress and fear is the prison in which you put yourself. Tony Benn

My work as a mentor and personal development trainer brings me into contact with people who have lost all hope: their script is so powerfully bleak that it would be easy to feel as though I am drowning, just by listening to them talk. But it is my job to throw them a lifeline, not to drown with them: if I can’t see beyond their hopelessness, then how can I expect them to? I tell the people I work with that they are absolutely brilliant at convincing themselves that life will never be anything but hellish, but that no matter how powerfully they project this I will never, ever believe them. This often makes people angry and afraid in the short term but sometimes by the time we say goodbye, together we have sketched a mental note which says ‘I can and I will’ and this is the beginning of a new chapter.

I consider it a privilege to hold on to hope for someone that isn’t ready to reach out and grab it yet, but to be truly effective in my work I have to walk the walk, not just talk the talk: people know whether you are authentic. It leaks from your every pore. Part of what I do is simple salesmanship: I can’t sell the idea that life can be brilliant unless I am walking advert for the notion. If I am miserable, you won’t believe there is any point in reaching out for something different. I don’t give the impression that my life is perfect: I have subtle ways of letting people know that I have problems too, but that it is possible to accept this and still move forward, even if just inch by inch. Integral to this process is the ability to hold on to hope, no matter how bleak your circumstances feel. Our experiences shape our beliefs and our beliefs shape our experiences: it’s a subtle interplay between the two that creates our world. Many of the people I work with have had some awful things happen to them, and for this I have enormous compassion; however, I also believe it is possible to draw a line under the past and start with a blank slate, tomorrow. All that is required is hope, which is essentially the belief that things can be different than they are. A lot of what holds people back from making this leap of faith is fear: a negative script can also be comforting. It is what you know and feel comfortable with. To live in hope requires something more of you, opens possibilities: light, when you have been in the darkness for so long can hurt the eyes. But in light we can see where we are going, direct our steps and choose a path.

I am so grateful for the opportunity to do the work I do and I don’t believe it is any coincidence I was drawn to it. It has given me meaning and my desire to be good at it has meant that I have made changes to my own script, and begun to further evolve and grow as a person. Changes are afoot in my career, but I will never forget the people I have worked with over the past year: they have taught me so much. I hold the hope of progress still for every single one.

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Pebbles

Pebbles knock against my bones

I turn like a dog in his basket

sway in the hollows beneath my numb limbs

but the light is fading

Flies swarm our picnic leavings

so we pack the dirty plates

and wrapped in our crumby blanket

sore stumble to the car

 

In the car park

a lone plastic cooler stands

on a white line at the edge of a parking space

well used and forlorn

 

I talk through the medium of car door

 

Words fall from my dry mouth

like stones

instead of water

I drink you in

taste days spent writing

the metallic tang of dehydration

italics and ideas

half boy half man

the small animal

of your tongue

resting on my upper lip

 

Days and nights

of liquid bliss

whispers, wishes, wanting

and kisses so

long

we come up for air

divers

contorted limbs burning

heads bursting

staggering drunk on lust

blood migrating south

on the updraft of our breath

 

Curtains half drawn against

the summer light

I forgot to guard my heart

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Genealogy

 

At the railway station she pushes and elbows her way through the crowd. She just wants to get on the train, not to lose sight of her sister, for this part of her journey to be over. She doesn’t know that she will never see her parents alive again. She doesn’t guess that this moment will be replayed forever in the scribble of her pen. She doesn’t know that she is a poet, this Jew child escaping Hitler. Forty years later she sits at a desk in the semi dark of twilight and writes a poem for the grandson she will only ever see twice. He is tied to a dining room chair by a bed sheet, pulling faces at his sister, similarly restrained. His mother is sitting in the kitchen next door, crying softly, her cheeks red from the effort of wrapping the sheets around her children, tying tight knots. In an hour the children will be asleep, forcing the chairs to tip, their small faces soft in repose. A string of drool escaping from the lips of her son makes a wet patch on her shirt as she carries him to bed, her eyes still red. Somewhere in the endless heat of the Middle East their father is learning to fire a gun in the desert. The children are as far from his mind as the reality of death, so life affirming is this moment; what purpose is in the crook of his arm as he aims and fires at the horizon, how much a man he feels. In a bar five miles from the home of the children, a man with a jowly face and sallow skin around his eyes is drinking whiskey. He does not look like a monster. He has sad eyes. He is lonely. One day a woman who he has never met will be hanging dead from a noose made from shoelaces and neckties knotted together, and her last thought will be of this man. But he will never know her; never look into her eyes and see the hatred floating on the surface, like filthy petrol scum.

 

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