15/05/2018

GENDER | queering up the everyday

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so you’ve familiarized yourself with feminist and queer theory. you’ve realized that the gender binary is bullshit, that our society is incredibly sexist and racist and classist, that not everyone is born with the same privileges, that even feminist and queer movement itself has a lot of issues within itself. but what now? how can you, as an individual, practice your queer and feminist beliefs and, so to say, get them out there? how to turn the theory into, at least some form of, activism?

well, worry no further, i’ve compiled a short list of things i myself try to incorporate into my everyday life to act according to my beliefs and share them irl!

ask people for their pronouns – it can be as simple as saying “what are your pronouns?”. or saying “i’m Anna and i go by she/her. what about you?”. i really believe this is a practice we should incorporate everywhere and at every occasion to finally break the gender binary!

use gender neutral language – “they” instead of “he or she.” use other neutral terms when describing people. while it might seem like a whole new thing, this is actually incredibly easy in English. it might be more difficult in other languages that are very gendered by default, but it’s possible too.

don’t assume anyone’s gender until they explicitly tell you (and respect that after) – refer to people as “they” until you’re really sure how they identify.

continue to educate yourself – follow feminist and queer Instagram/Facebook/Twitter/... accounts, join online groups and forums, check out articles on websites and online platforms, read books, attend events,...

support/participate in the community – whether financially (if you can afford it) or just by your attendance or voluntary labor, there’s so many ways you can help out organizations promoting feminist agenda.

use your channels to promote feminism – people always slam social media but i believe they have a great potential in encouraging social change. share interesting articles. express your opinions. highlight others doing great work. of course, this doesn’t apply to the Internet realm only – you can also promote your beliefs simply by your choice of clothing and accessories (e.g. feminist merch such as tees, pins, stickers,...), talking to people around you, distributing leaflets/posters of like-minded communities and projects etc. etc. – the list is endless.

stand up in the events of violence and discrimination – of course, first you need to evaluate whether the situation is safe enough for you to challenge the discriminating person. but, you know, i really believe in the saying “silence is violence,” and by deciding to overlook occurrences of oppression, you are perpetuating and participating in it too.

educate others – share your knowledge. recommend articles, books, courses, videos and so on you enjoy. explain to others when they do something wrong, why it is not ok and how can they change their behavior.

empower others – step away to give platform to those less privileged than you. support causes that might not affect you directly but harm others significantly. think outside of your own reality, and support anything that goes beyond.

support others – highlight other activists that do brilliant work. amplify other people’s voices. sustain a supportive, strong community!

these are a few examples you can practice in your everyday life and contribute to changing the society, step by step. most of them are really simple and easy to incorporate, and while they might seem like they’re small acts that might not have much effect on their own, trust me, they can push the norms a bunch.

how do you incorporate feminism into your daily activities and who you are in general? do you have any tips? please let me know!

31/03/2018

WORD UP | five (vegan) years

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um, the title is quite a lame take on David Bowie’s song “Five Years,” and naming my blogposts after the songs i liked used to be quite my thing back in the days i was the good ol’ ~lifestyle~ blogger (lol). this post is all about reflecting on my vegan history, and i remember being very open about my diet switch on the blog, so i guess some weird blogger spirit possessed me for a bit when i was coming up with the headline, haha.

ok, now to the main point of this article. it turns out it will be five years since i turned vegan next month. crazy, huh? my vegan rebirth happened quite unplanned, and it was more of a bet with myself in the beginning – i was diagnosed with cow milk intolerance, and having already been a vegetarian for a few years, i decided to try the next level of the veggie diet. in fact, i was pretty devastated when i found i was not destined to snack on milk and cheese anymore, and “pretty” is quite an understatement, to be honest. but veganism has grown on me (um, surprise surprise, otherwise i wouldn’t be writing this article) as soon as i got more into the ethical reasons behind it.

five years is quite a while, right? well it wouldn’t be me without celebrating this lil anniversary of mine with a highly opinionated article, a reflection on the reality of being a vegan in this case. have fun reading, i’ll sit here quietly waiting for all hell to break loose.

veganism is difficult 
you kind of have to relearn your eating and cooking habits. you have to stop doing mindless grocery shopping and start reading labels. you have to give up quite a few foods/meals you might love with your whole heart. you have to get used to being faced with endless questions about your protein intake and dumb jokes about bacon. you have to get really good at fighting your own cravings (anything Kinder is still giving a lot of trouble).

but it’s also easy 
listen, there’s shitloads of great meals that have zero animal products in them. finding vegan options in the supermarket/restaurant isn’t so rare (especially since veganism is trending more and more lately). yeah, sometimes you need to stick to French fries with ketchup as it’s the only vegan option on the menu when you go out with non-vegan friends. but you definitely won’t die of starvation, and can in fact have a really good foodie experience every single day.

meat substitutes are overrated 
BUT WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR PROTEIN? meat substitutes, like veg sausages, schnitzels, gyros etc. sure might be an easy way to get your daily fix of protein, but often the taste is nowhere near the original thing (hey, i love the Vegetaria schnitzel, but it has nothing to do with the Viennese piece of meat) and the products are incredibly processed, not to mention overpriced and packed in an insane amount of plastic. there’s so many recipes you can cook instead; and legumes and tofu and plant milk are basically all you—or i, at least—need.

you can cook tasty vegan dishes without using twenty high-end ingredients 
while i really enjoy browsing vegan cooking blogs, i find it funny, and very misleading, how complicated all the recipes are. liquid smoke? almond flour? date paste? not in my Caucasian house! (sorry, i don’t think i’ll ever get bored of this Joanne the Scammer quote) there’s no need to buy out all the fancy ingredients section at your local Marks&Spencer to prepare a nice dish. my personal fave: spaghetti a la puttanesca (which literally means spaghetti a la “whore”—but we are all woke enough to know we should use the term “sex worker” now, right??—, which is just another reason why i love it so much). you can literally dump a handful of spaghetti, minced garlic, a splash of oil, capers, olives, canned tomatoes (i prefer fresh but you do you), dried basil and parsley into one pot and let the magic happen. you’re welcome.

veganism ≠ healthy diet
fries. pizza (sans cheese, ofc). chips. burritos. Oreos. instant noodles. plus all the veganized versions of regular meals, like burgers and mac and cheese and hot dogs and what not, either from restaurants or supermarkets. it’s not all sprouted beans and quinoa. long live crappy vegan food.

the (cheap) vegan snacks offer is incredibly limited 
please give me more interesting flavors of chips and ice cream. paprika and vanilla is getting boring, and dark chocolate sure ain't no fun. i can’t stand the Lidl vegan cookies anymore.

no matter what anyone says, veganism IS expensive 
ok, if you stick to a really basic, staple-ingredients-only diet, it can be cheap. but a diverse, healthy vegan diet, especially if you’re trying to buy from local and eco sources only, is expensive. most vegan versions of regular foods are about 8 times more expensive, and are often not available everywhere, so add the travelling/hunting down time to that, and time is money (in our capitalist society for sure), right?

veganism is mostly for privileged people 
as i’ve said in the previous part, varied vegan diet may make your wallet skinnier than you’d like. if you’re trying to eat unprocessed foods, shop package-free, shop local and organic and stuff like that, it only adds up, or rather deducts the cash out of your bank account, to be precise. i’m really sick of all the well-meant advice telling people to just make their own snacks, like cookies and granola bars, at home (not everyone has time or even the equipment for that), to make that extra mile to the zero packaging store (time! transport!), to buy in bulk (you need to have some extra cash in your account to be able to afford buying in bulk – it’s the “poor will always pay the most” theory, you know?), and so on. add the fact that as a vegan, you’re supposed to only go for non-tested all-vegan cosmetics and household products, which, again, are very pricey and sometimes rare to find. people who can do all that are very privileged. veganism caters to the privileged. end of discussion.

it’s almost impossible to be 100% vegan
animal products are in so many things around us you’d have to live in a land completely untouched by the Western, consumerist society to be able to pull of full-on veganism. it’s sad, but that’s how it is. we can all still try our best though!

it’s ok to slip 
while many hardcore vegans definitely wouldn’t agree with me on this point, i’m very do-what-feels-the-best-to-you in many aspects, dietary choices included. vegan diet is restrictive in many ways, and with restrictions come urges to break away. you’re most probably still doing way better and are nicer to the planet than most people, so that one non-vegan thing you bought/ate is not in fact such a big deal. and sometimes you don’t even give up to your urges to break your own veganism – i’m talking forgetting to check the ingredient list and accidentally buying candy (or eyeliner) with beeswax or cookies with powdered milk, or ordering a dish that comes with a bit of grated cheese on top. it happens. you’re not gonna throw that thing away, are you? whatever. you’re doing your best, anyway.

07/03/2018

SEX ED | sex is not a contest

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i guess it wasn’t always like this, but it is quite obvious that sex has become yet another premise where we’re supposed to compete against each other and gain hypothetical prizes and medals. we compare sizes of dicks and boobs and labia and i-don’t-know-what, not our own but of those we’ve slept with (as if the people could influence that somehow when they were born); discuss whether circumcized/uncircumcized is better, or shaved/unshaved or whatever; we share our partners’ skills with others without a blink of an eye, not stopping to think about the fact that it is actually not ok to share such intimate details without someone’s knowledge (oh how i wish i could say i was completely guilt-free of all these things). we’re constantly showered with articles giving us tips on how to “please your man right”, how to perform the perfect blowjob, how to look hot, how to be the sexiest in bed, how to do this and that (let me just say that i have nothing against educational articles on how to perform certain techniques in a safe and enjoyable way, these are a much-needed sex ed all of us can benefit from). having a small or no number of sex partners raises an eyebrow, because, um, “you don’t have enough experience to be good” (LOL).

all this pressure has a great influence on all of us. sex has thus become yet another contest we are supposed to perpetually participate in. instead of focusing on whether the sexual activity feels good, we focus on whether we are good at it, which takes out all of the fun off of it, doesn’t it? instead of taking in the excitement of seeing and touching and caressing someone else’s naked body, we try to put all the previously studied tips in use and sometimes even get entangled in the ridiculous fear of not being “good enough” (aka why i, for example, didn’t want to perform blowjobs for a very long time). it almost seems like we think of sex as a showcase, ready to impress the imaginary judges with our A+ skills.

contrary to what the majority of “lifestyle” magazines are trying to tell you, i don’t think someone’s skills determine whether the sexual act will or will not be good. first of all, it is impossible to identify a foolproof method that gets everyone off as each body works differently (e.g. so many articles are all about the importance of deepthroat but it definitely doesn’t hit the spot for every penis-owner, nor is it possible to perform for many). while i might be on the edge of losing my mind while someone does a certain thing to me (not gonna go into details, sorry), another person might hate it with their whole heart. this idea of a universal, always-successful method is just really stupid because it assumes all bodies are the same and react identically, which is just not how it works in real life.

secondly, i believe that whether your experience of a sexual encounter with someone is pleasant or not has much more to do with the vibe and general good fit between those participating, no matter what techniques or high-end skills are used. maybe i’m old-fashioned, but i really do think that what makes good sex good is the shared energy and compassion and not whether someone has the skills of a famous porn star and can make you cum in under 2 minutes.

from my personal experience, sex is always more pleasant when all participants are equally into it, communicate, and are not afraid to make mistakes. it’s important to listen and pay attention to your partner(s), to express what you personally like and dislike, what your limits and boundaries are. sex is not a fucking contest, it is a game everyone should enjoy playing. trying to be the best at sex might as well ruin the chance to have the best sex of your life.

sex shouldn’t make you nervous or feel like you’re not good enough, sex should be fun. if it doesn’t make you feel good, don’t do it. and if someone belittles you for your sex skills, screw them – not literally, of course.