Category Archives: Social Issues

Words are Powerful, Words are Poisonous

All statistics in this article came from the “Ditch the Label” 2016 Annual Bullying Survey: Annual Bullying Survey 2016.

What in the world would drive a person to want to hurt, humiliate and degrade another person so badly that it would make them want to die? A question that should not have an answer…yet according to the 2016 annual bullying survey of the UK, 1.5 million young people aged 12 to 20  — that’s a staggering 50% of young people — had been bullied in that year. Of these, 33% were having suicidal thoughts. Biologically speaking, surely the aim of our lives is survival? So, for humans to be considering ending their own lives, something somewhere has gone catastrophically and unforgivably wrong.

Continue reading Words are Powerful, Words are Poisonous

Power Imbalance

Featured Image: “Don’t Rape – D7K 9862 ep” by Eric Parker is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0. Link to the license deed. 

This poem is aimed at a culture that is founded on a lack of respect and a power imbalance that is instilled from a young age. This poem attacks a system that excuses, tolerates and even encourages rape through everyday actions undertaken by all of us. Rape and sexual assault do not discriminate based on gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity or religion. In this poem and article I am primarily focusing on gender inequality in society in terms of the age-old power imbalance that is still very much present today for women when it comes to women as sexual beings and the rights a woman has over her own body. 

To be a girl is to be asked to be afraid

to wake up every day

made to feel it’s not your place to say

to feel intimidated,

forced to back away,


because you’re laughed at for taking a stand

against something they don’t understand,

like trying to ignore an unwanted hand,

to conform to societal standards

so deeply ingrained we automatically obey

to feel like you can’t trust a man

unless you’re prepared to pay

with your body not your brain

is the validation worth the pain?


tell yourself you aren’t worthless,

tell yourself that you deserved it,

convince yourself it was worth it,

that he didn’t do it on purpose,


expected to allow yourself to be objectified

lad culture that fakes being rectified

because of the idea that no means yes,

means “how about convince me instead”

but you don’t belong inside my head,


rape isn’t about sex,

it’s about power and violence

failed education

a need to remain silent

because of an existence of tolerance

a subject that is trivialised,

joked about with slander,

catastrophically undermined.


Don’t rate me, we are people not hotels

on the contrary to archaic, yet relevant, opinion,

I do have a brain and feelings as well,

so don’t call me a bitch, forget the word slut

don’t decide whether I am worthy

based on my boobs or my butt,

I am not a prize or a possession

going to say something crude?

then please just be quiet

I hear you judge girls so loudly

and I’m so sick and tired,


Your indifference isn’t powerful or cool,

it’s narrow-minded and it’s cruel,

don’t tell me I’m on my period when I challenge your views

don’t dismiss what I’m saying,

or assume that I’ll lose,

if  you feel uncomfortable,

if you think this is unnecessary

that women don’t battle every day

that we don’t walk alone at night

paranoid that we’re being chased

then maybe you should break your mould,

hurry home in her shoes, think a different way, 


realise that we still live in a society

that judges a girl for what her body has to offer

mostly in the way a girl looks, will she prosper

my worth is attributed to my physical appearance,

dependent on rib shattering corsets in the clearance


an ‘equal’ society where girls aren’t even aware

that in relationships, in jobs,

they don’t get their share,

a generation obscured by the illusion

that everything nowadays is equal and fair,

ladies, this is still a fight for our rights

being catcalled,

being inappropriately touched because it’s “flirting”

should not be a normal part of every day life


It’s a removal of autonomy,

taking away my right to decide

what happens to my own body,

to strip me of my dignity, my pride,


A question triggered by rape culture:

when you make a sexist joke,

or objectify with something vulgar

when dehumanising remarks are excused

with “boys will be boys”

does that mean all I am as a woman

is simply a man’s toy?


We teach little girls that if a boy hits them

it’s because he likes her

that if a boy is mean to you

it’s just because he wants to be with you,

so what did we expect to happen next

when that same boy becomes a teenager

and he abuses a girl and has no respect,

because he was taught that’s how to connect,

to mistreat her and touch her like she’s his pet.


On the flip side girls are taught to allow it to happen

the idea it’s normal and it’s because he loves her

instilled in her when he forces himself above her,

then, society labels her a pushover

people don’t have to say it, they think it’s her fault

after all…“she allowed him to control her”


it’s a vicious cycle of slut shaming

of “banter”, bets and victim blaming

this leads to normalisation

this creates a society that condones degradation,

because of our horrific inability to hold a conversation,

to call people out on sickening comments,

to talk to them about how their mind-set

is the catalyst for a system

that breeds harassment and rape,

that covers a woman’s mouth with tape,


whistling and making lewd comments,

acting as though you are superior

only ever focused on the exterior

exerting dominance and power,

it’s an age-old imbalance

of girl as the unwilling, delicate flower


sexual coercion, threats and groping,

your pathetic response is that you were only joking,

but tell me whether you’re still laughing

when your own little girl can’t walk alone at night

for fear of being violated again,

unable to tell anyone

a rapist tells her to stop overreacting

that it was just a bit of “fun”,


she would be slated

so it won’t be reported

she feels it would be disregarded, labelled unimportant

thrown out of court, she’d be told that

she wanted it, told that it’s a grey area

with no deterrence, walking alone’s even scarier


a justice system that allows rapists to walk free

a justice system that doesn’t bring women peace.

Molestation can make girls feel dirty and weak,

they feel they don’t have a right to speak

because she’s a slut and she’s a liar,

because she was drunk and vulnerable

and you somehow mistook that for desire.


Encouraged through a sense of normality

if a girl’s skirt is too short

“she’s clearly asking for it”

making a girl change her clothes

rather making a boy change his mindset

attitudes like this are not uncommon

in fact they’re so typical

you won’t even realise it’s a problem


a romanticised portrayal

of sex without consent, of controlling abuse,

of fantasised relationships where women

are on a lead, can’t be let loose,


welcome to a world that can successfully market

irrelevant products with a half-naked woman

welcome to a world that places a target

on the backs, on the bodies of young girls,

making it seem right

like a girl shouldn’t put up a fight

because their bodies are exploited

constantly sexualised,

in television, in music, in the media

this is what marketing is feeding us


capitalising on a woman’s insecurities

picking out appearance-based flaws rather than making her believe

teaching young boys that girls are meek

that they’re main purpose is to look pretty,

to give you pleasure

definitely not to stand up, to speak,

because if they do then they must “hate all men”…

get over yourself, we just want it to end.


Being progressive isn’t just not expecting girls to play

with barbies and dolls and princesses

when, to social media influenced standard beauty conventions,

young girls are defenceless


growing up being told you aren’t good enough

that if you aren’t pretty then you won’t be loved

cutthroat comments revolving around appearance

the shape of her body prioritised over achievements,

female celebrities are scrutinised

make the front cover of magazines

because they have cellulite on their thighs

and wait, god forbid they should have stretch marks

acne, a bloated stomach, blemishes and scars


when society and media dissect a woman

and tear her apart,

all that is natural, normal and wonderful

has been ridiculed and deemed repulsive,

an unspoken acceptance,

both men and women are the ones who condone this


forcing a woman to look a certain way

disregarding what she has to say,

because she’s a “man hater who’s just annoyed

that nobody wants to sleep with her and she can’t get boys”


why is a woman’s duty to please others?

to satisfy and pleasure a man,

to raise a child, to forget her own plans.


Girls are taught they are not sexual beings

love is the only thing a girl should be feeling

and if not she’s humiliated, she’s called a “slag”

while boys are congratulated, clapped on the back


why is it that girls are always sexualised

feminists are vilified

young girls are victimised?


but it’s not just boys belittling girls

girls putting down each other

hell bent on trying to make each other suffer,

ridiculing, bitching, judging, alienating

not sticking together as one

being divided by internalised misogyny and aiming the gun


let’s instead unite and destroy rape culture

because I would love to live in a world

where I feel comfortable and safe on my own

where I don’t walk the streets with my only comfort

being I have the emergency number already dialled on my phone.


So finally, if you ever look at me and

probably subconsciously

think that I am not strong

that I can be hurt and pushed around

that you can force me into backing down

simply because I’m a woman,

well, take your best shot,

patronise me, dismiss me, call me a “thot”

my sexuality and my body are mine


sexual assault isn’t just wrong because it’s a crime

it’s wrong because it’s the sickening silencing of a person’s voice,

the evil theft of a human being’s choice,

an abominable and monstrously violent act

that is excused and normalised and that’s a fact,

but you can’t take my power or make me shut up

so maybe you should back down

because your time is up.

Rape culture is the normalisation of sexual violence such as assault and abuse, it often involves the idea that the victim is in some way culpable for the actions taken by their aggressor. Unfortunately rape is viewed as something that is inevitable, it is systematic and encouraged through jokes, music, advertising, everyday language and images we are exposed to. Small actions can reinforce and excuse more detrimental actions such as sexual harassment and rape. In our society there exists a trivialisation of sexual harassment as seemingly harmless actions, such as a man putting his hand on a girl’s thigh when the touch is unwanted, making inappropriate or lewd comments on someone’s appearance, catcalling, making sexist jokes These actions are not compliments, they are threats,  although this may not be apparent, what you have to think of it as is one human being exerting power over another, degrading them perhaps without meaning to and potentially making them feel vulnerable or uncomfortable and unsafe.

Some girls do not mind being catcalled, as it is commonly perceived to be a compliment. Being praised for the way one looks can make a person feel good about themselves. Taking pride in yourself and feeling self-confident is a wonderful and important thing – being objectified and made to feel uncomfortable is not. This permanent focus and expectation on a girl’s physical appearance is extremely damaging, it teaches young girls that all that really matters is the way they look, that this is how they can validate themselves, in gaining the approval of men. It prioritises looking good for others over being comfortable within yourself and loving yourself. Equally there are far more socially acceptable and polite, respectful ways to go about complimenting a girl than whistling at her, she is a human beingnot a dog and treating her in this degrading way has a knock on effect, excusing far more extreme actions because degradation becomes normal and tolerated. While I am sure that many boys do not catcall with the intention of humiliating a girl, unfortunately that is not far from what this is, catcalling or calling out an obscene comment relating to a woman’s body as she walks by is an example of a man exercising his power over a woman, it is said for no reason other than to comment on a woman’s body as though it is public property and there is nothing a woman can do in response to this. This means that no matter how inappropriate the comment is and how uncomfortable it makes the woman feel the man is in control because he feels he has the right to make this remark to a woman he does not know and will likely never see again, which is why such crude comments and actions are for no other reason than because he can, the man expects no outcome, and although it seems innocent enough it is actually a reassertion of dominance that continues to reinforce this power imbalance for women in society.

Recently with many allegations of rape and sexual assault coming to light in Hollywood, it seems as though some people have entirely misinterpreted the positive and brave message of the Time’s Up movement, instead complaining that girls are overreacting and that flirting and friendly touches are not sexual assault, I agree, no they are not intended to be, but that choice is an individual one, it is not about simply patting someone’s shoulder playfully and wondering what the big deal is, it is about judging a situation. If a woman is clearly uncomfortable with being touched then don’t do it again, I do not understand why it seems to be so difficult to comprehend. You cannot just assume that a woman is perfectly fine with being touched, but then again maybe she might be, either way it is her choice and that is important to remember to remove the power imbalance and ensure the choice a woman has over her body is her own. It is all about reading a situation and making sure that boundaries are not being inappropriately crossed. This is not about women “overreacting”, it is about finally eradicating a culture of women being sexual objects, of fighting against this judgement instilled in so many people that if a girl is inappropriately touched or raped she is in some way “asking for it”.

It is so easy to sit and read this and think that you would never ever follow that train of thought and victim blame but it is something that is ingrained in our society, when something happens we question what a girl was wearing or whether she had been drinking and that in itself is taking focus away from the fact that rape is rape and rape is always inexcusable, it cannot be “slightly excused” or made to seem like less of an issue by challenging the victim’s part in it because THE VICTIM HAS NO PART IN RAPE, THE FAULT ONLY EVER LIES WITH THE RAPIST. I accept that people have responsibilities and that girls should be aware of the dangers they could  potentially face, when walking alone at night for example, but how sad is it that it has to be that way, if only we lived in a society that could teach humans not to rape as well as it teaches girls that they should compete for male attention.

Victims can feel unable to do anything to stop what they are experiencing, resulting in feelings of helplessness and creating an obvious power imbalance within society between men and women. This behaviour is still completely unacceptable, regardless of how small or irrelevant it appears making victims feel as though they have lost the rights over their own body or humiliated and objectified is never acceptable. Failure to address this as an issue can be seen in something known as  “lad culture” casual comments that degrade others, words such as “slut” and “slag” are thrown around a lot, usually in reference to a female, this makes women feel shame, they are told they are not allowed to be sexual beings yet girls are sexualised constantly by men, this means that a girl does not have power over her own sexuality but instead a man has this power that should belong to her. We are making it socially acceptable to label and dehumanise another person, and this can result in people not respecting the rights an individual has over their own bodies, exploiting, controlling and harassing them out of a lack of understanding and normality. 

Women are told from a young age not to dress “provocatively”, not to walk alone at night and to watch how much alcohol they consume. We teach girls to not get raped rather than teaching boys not to rape. Girls are frowned upon for being sexual beings but are sexualised every single day, the problem is not with a girl’s clothing, a girl has the right to wear whatever she wants, the problem is with a society that has sexualised the bodies of young girls and all women, implying they are public property, that they exist to appease men and although this is an indirect and subliminal message, it is a troubling one that goes hand in hand with rape culture. We are all completely aware that rape itself is wrong, but the little things like unwanted touch and degrading words make rape seem that bit less serious and makes it much more understandable as to why it happens so much more often than anyone would expect, people do not realise that what they are doing is wrong because it seems so normal. It’s the “grey” area surrounding rape that needs to be considered, for example a man who excuses rape because he was drunk can allow him to escape jail time or receive a much shorter sentence however a woman being drunk at the time of rape is blamed for her actions and made to feel ashamed and as though she is to blame for not being “more sensible”.  Alcohol, being on streets at night, provocative clothing are not at all causes of rape. The cause is always, the rapists themselves. A culture has been created where rapists and offenders do not even realise they are taking advantage of another person. These perceptions must be changed.

85,000 women and 12,000 men (aged 16-59) are raped each year in England and Wales alone, that’s roughly 11 adults raped an hour, an enormous and terrifying number, however only around 15% of these cases get reported. This is a startling figure and the reasons behind the low percentage of reports are even more disturbing. People do not feel comfortable coming forward and reporting rape, 20% fear retaliation from people who may blame them in some way for the rape, while many also believe the police would not do anything to help or that it was not important enough to report, these feelings are all a product of rape culture which acts to silence victims and encourage the normality of actions that condone sex crimes.

Take Off Your Blindfold

Featured Image: ‘Modern Man Television Brainwash‘ by Dimitris Vetsikas on Pixabay.

This is a poem about indifference and the selfish attitudes of the modern age that prevent us from opening our eyes to the real world.  It is about how we play straight into the hands of the media because we are successfully made to feel as though we are lacking and not meeting the required expectations for certain elements of our being. We are made to feel as though we are not pretty enough, not manly enough, not cool enough, not desirable enough. All of which, in turn, makes us inward looking and not appreciative of what we do have; as well as allowing us to live in ignorance and turn a blind eye to the suffering of others, even when we possess the privilege to help.

The oblivious ignorance of a western nation,

lives dictated by technology infiltration,

an inability to look at the world beyond a screen,

arrogant ideology, inward looking,

yet we do not mean

to alienate, to excommunicate


a refusal to acknowledge problematic

behaviour unless it’s at our own expense,

instead we live in a bubble of blissful pretence,

rose tinted goggles are our item of choice,

no real use of our voice,


irrelevant chatter, pointless conversation,

reality TV, watching intoxicated misogynists mock

an entire working generation,

while another human has their rights stolen.

Without a voice, without a choice,

but we have voices, we have choices,

talk is cheap and our morals are weak,

we don’t use our freedom of speech to actually speak

for someone who does not have that same privilege.


A generation made in the image of indifference

a simple minded misunderstanding of respect,

consuming misinformation, refusing intellect

no hunger for knowledge, no curiosity for life,

the misplaced values of our culture

Not humans, no humanity, lacking in empathy,

desensitised vultures

shaped and moulded to behave a certain way,


television teaches girls to compete for men,

online searches say acting ‘unthreateningly’ dumb is sexier than picking up a pen,

boys don’t think it’s okay to cry,

toxic masculinity, it’s impossible to deny

we’re poisoning our minds, poisoning a new generation,

frying our brains, encouraging objectification,

advertisement of genital mutilation as a cosmetic procedure

while we try to stop it happening to frightened young girls against their will,

a stomach-churning act of enforced control,

the need to change a stomach-turning, backwards and unprogressive protocol,

a display of nefarious dominance in the name of protection,

when destructive religious tradition meets western ideas of perfection,

there is a worryingly apparent intersection,

two equally disturbed ideologies,

a paradox of cosmetic, self serving plastic surgery jobs

and an uneducated mother’s muffled apologies.


So tear your eyes away from the screen 

open your eyes to the sickening social expectations becoming a reality,

open your eyes to your deteriorating lack of intellectuality,

to the old fashioned and barbaric lack of sanity

to the similar needless use of inappropriate,

demeaning profanity,

to the irrelevant “celebrities” with an absence of integrity,

to the social division,

to the violent and sexist, hate encouraging television,

to the loss of an age old inquisition

and a return to an age old oppression,

to our need for a revolution, an intervention

to our constant need for attention.


Practice what you performative preach,

believe in what you self-righteously teach

I am aware that sometimes I don’t

but keep the blindfold over my eyes from now on?

I definitely won’t.

Before you read this, I should probably make the important point that I am not generalising everyone. When I refer to the western community as “we”, I of course do not mean every single member of our society. I am instead making references to common notions that in my own opinion, are prominent within our society but not ones that necessarily apply to each individual.

We are becoming far too immersed in a materialistic lifestyle, one where we are so deeply submerged in a world ruled by social networks and modern media publicity, constantly surrounded by ideas of perfection and how we should be living our lives. This can make it so difficult for us to escape the new information age and to remain conscious of what is actually taking place in the real world, we are turning a blind eye to important values such as respect and compassion, values that are degraded and definitely lacking every time you turn on the television to be repeatedly exposed to violence and hate speech, to reality television that entertains the general public by filming unknown, conceited individuals who prance across a screen wearing little clothing before watching them drink themselves into a violent state, pushing each other around, screaming senseless profanities, watching girls pull out each other’s hair

extensions, while their faces are streaked with black mascara tears and fake eyelashes dangle from their eyelids at an awkward angle, and for some reason this is expected to give people some warped sense of enjoyment…

Now, I am not saying that reality television and horrifically violent and graphic shows need to be buried and forgotten or that absolutely no good comes from such shows (although that is a different matter entirely) but I am saying that when watching them we need to recognise and understand the damage that this is no doubt causing a generation who’s whole lives are dictated and influenced by these sources. We need to bear in mind that this is not the behaviour we should seek to replicate but the behaviour that highlights the wrongs within our society. I’m talking about children who are being raised to believe that drugs should be romanticised, that you won’t ever be loved unless you can make yourself look like the unachievable and unrealistic goals set for you.  Those broadcast by social media, even if this means risking your own life by going under the knife in the hopes of meeting conventional beauty standards.  The constant exposure to humans insulting and discrediting other humans because of the way they look, to the snide and derogatory comments made by not just men but women on reality TV in regard to the way another woman looks, simply because her boyfriend or love interest glanced in the direction of this other woman.  Perhaps it’s a man showcasing inexcusable lad culture by objectifying and “rating” women, using them and playing with their emotions, acting as a role model for boys everywhere who copy him because they deem him to be “cool”, rather than using him as an example of exactly how not to behave.

We are living in an age where we all need this constant validation of our own self worth and in order to achieve it we feel it necessary to put someone else down to build ourselves up. This in turn means that we are too busy worrying about how we act and what we say, the way we look, focusing all of our energy on ourselves.  In a highly judgemental and malicious society, who can really blame us for being self centred when we are the product of such a superficial and intolerant set of ideals? We do not take note of all the chaos and injustice in other people’s lives or in other parts of the world. It is clear to see that our western society has its own downfalls and its own systematic flaws to deal with, however the one luxury we often fail to acknowledge is our power to make a difference.  Our freedom to protest corrupt activity and our freedom to give a voice to those who cannot speak out, by using our freedom of speech not for demeaning and disrespecting but for rightfully fighting for the good of humanity and what will help and liberate people rather than tear them down.

I am suggesting that we need to discourage people from being small-minded and from accepting social media and television as a reality that need not be challenged because it has become a normality and instead to live in the real world and begin making a change so that we can eradicate the ignorance and the indifference and actually all make a real difference. There is no denying that technology, internet and the media has provided an amazing platform to spread a positive message to inspire change and to allow our voices and opinions to be heard and so I believe we should channel this and make the most of the opportunity. We need to stop technology from exploiting and manipulating us so that social drama and self hate becomes the top of our list of priorities and instead open our minds to looking away from the screen, to rediscovering imagination, curiosity, a hunger for knowledge, an ability to resist what we feel challenges our human rights as well as the human rights of others, an ability to want to help others and an ability to speak out rather than living in our own heads, constantly feeling as though we aren’t good enough.

Freedom of Belief

We are currently living in a society where there still appears to be a lack of respect for the beliefs of others. One where stereotypes are unfortunately not uncommon, whether it’s racial stereotypes, gender stereotypes, ethnic stereotypes or religious stereotypes.

The poem below addresses such stereotypes, as well as the way in which people of authority and power (throughout history) have sometimes attempted to take away culture and diversity because it does not fit in with their beliefs or their vision. Or, maybe because they have made stereotypical assumptions about a whole group of peoples depending on their religion or race. They mask this desire to control using the rhetoric of “freedom” but in fact are actually just dictating the way they feel someone should be living and making that choice for them as opposed to targeting extremism. This serves to show how terrorism can be a course of action taken to supposedly combat acts of terrorism committed by other groups of people. The poem also touches on the way we, in the western world, are becoming desensitised to what is going on in other countries due to continuous media exposure to “nameless” people who have died, remembered as a statistic as opposed to a valued human life.

What’s the cost of keeping people safe,

another human’s life at stake?

So, torture of people of a certain race

is allowed, because you think it’s justified,

if it makes your anxious fears subside,

looking for someone “different” to yourself,

a place to shift the blame,

but look to your own,

look to the people you know,

it’s homegrown,

but I’m glad you feel protected

while a 5 year old daughter cries

because her daddy is having to hide,

hunted for his race, for the colour of his face,

an assumption of a person’s identity

based on their religion, reasons for their entity,

an unforgiving, irreversible label

an uneducated collectivisation of minds,

an elimination of individuality,

“because if someone is of the same religion

surely they must all be the same”,

the only option to you seems clear

the murder of a million innocent civilians,

a mass genocide,

an air strike to target terrorism

that only serves to recruit


but then again terrorism exists

in all religions,

in all types of peoples,

radicalism, extremism,

the dark side of human nature,

those hungry for power and control.

So why do we antagonise one religion,

insulting their judgement,

their intelligence,

dictating their temperament,

one race, one ethnicity

when everyone is capable of atrocity,

terrorism is not bound to religion,

if your son, your brother, your mother

were killed by a foreign government,

would you not seek to rise up

to fight against the evil, the corrupt,

for enforcing their culture on a broken nation

so many people


a product of hate grown and then bred,

grown from an abundance of

ignorant perceptions,

choices made throughout history,

spread by modern media, publicity,

carried out with merciless artillery,

children lying dead in a war zone,

a war zone that was their home,

but you see everything in black and white,

your mind is monochrome.

So see the wider picture, 

peace from violence is non existent,

war and conflict serves to fuel hate,

maybe not now but for a future date.

The problem is people,

the problem is me,

the problem is you,

the problem is us,

being desensitised to murder,

murder of the average man on the street

only looking to provide for his family,

nameless children in faraway countries

killed by our own,

and yet we feel so detached from it,

dodgy deals and lying politicians,

the problem is an unchallenged vision,

the problem is a vicious cycle,

a repeating cycle of history, an unsolved mystery,

a need to end discrimination targeted at a specific

group of people,

a need to stand for our rights

and defend the rights of those that remain voiceless

without enforcing our beliefs on other people,

leaving them choice-less.

Freedom is not freedom,

if you are choosing what belief system

people should follow,

whether religious, whether political, this is

when freedom becomes suppression,

when freedom is filtered,

because you believe in freedom but only if

it is your idea of freedom.

This blog post will primarily focus on religious stereotypes and religious beliefs. I would firstly like to address what “terrorism” is, as well as the views some people hold in regard to terrorism and the way in which this relates to religion. It is crucial to drive the words “terrorism has no religion, terrorism has no race” so deep into your mind, until you feel as though you will never inadvertently stereotype and speak hatefully or hurtfully towards a certain population of peoples who are just as distressed by terrorism as you are.

The definition of terrorism:

The use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes.
The state of fear and submission produced by terrorism or terrorisation.
A terroristic method of governing or of resisting a government.

Now, perhaps one person, from one religion, commits an act of terrorism in the name of this religion. This is not religion. This is one person, whose ideology differs from the majority of others within the religion. This is one person, one psychologically disturbed individual who feels justified in murdering and terrorising, in inciting fear within citizens and societies. The same can be said for terrorist groups who make up the minority of a religious population, this is a grouping of individuals who do not share in the same ideologies as other of followers of the same faith. So, all the followers of this faith should in no way be held accountable or blamed for actions taken by individuals who definitely do not represent the religion as a whole nor the mindset of all its followers.

Religion should not have to be a label, a person’s defining factor, each individual will have their own thoughts, their own opinions, an ability to make up their own mind. Being part of a religious community can give someone a sense of belonging and some would argue, a sense of identity, but I believe people do have a right to decide, only they can decide on who they want to be, on what makes them the person they are. I am no expert on this topic, but I do have the fundamental belief that everyone is entitled to their own thoughts and opinions, that every race, every ethnicity, every faith, every way of life should be respected as should every individual, unless there is any known discrimination or intolerance of other cultures and beliefs, unless there is violence being actively encouraged and abided by within a population of believers, then I do not see the harm in one person seeking a greater meaning or sharing in a purpose with other believers. We should eradicate our preconceived judgement of religions and instead value believers as individuals, for their own views and opinions, for what they have to offer to the world as a person, the relationship between them and their God, despite what people seem to think, is absolutely nothing to do with us.

For me, problems begin to arise when when outdated and prejudiced religious teachings from centuries ago are applied to current times, for example, these teachings may encourage mistreatment of women or discriminate against gay people or people of different ethnicities. I do see a problem with people in a developing world who continue to live by these old fashioned values and practices as I would prefer to live in a socially progressive world where everyone has a right to be respected and everyone has a right to live in a safe and secure environment free of age old beliefs that could result in hate crimes and inequalities, or a belief that one human being is superior to another human being. Although I completely understand these ancient teachings may undoubtedly be embedded in these societies as teachings that are instilled in them from an early age and in order for this to change it will take education and time. We are now living in  a nation that should stand for values of acceptance, freedom, safety, and rights for everyone, in a nation that should show an intolerance for acts that contradict or go against these values, and for this reason people need to adapt any ancient and discriminatory values from a completely different time to more accepting values that fit in with modern times, times that I hope encourage and fight for acceptance, progression and social equality.

To judge someone’s character based on a narrow minded and unjustly appointed stereotype says more about your character than about theirs. To put it more confusingly, your hate of the hate of a group of individuals who have terrorised your way of life has overcome your sense of what is right and wrong, your sense of level headed observation, and now you are the one who is inspiring and directing hate towards an innocent group of people because your black and white vision has given you an inability to differentiate individual choice from religion.

Society’s Perception of Beauty

Featured Image: ‘Face 10‘ from Flickr by Paul Xhrouet is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0. Link to license deed.

Do not base your worth on a social construct that varies so broadly dependent on time and place. I beg you.

For people to love themselves and be happy with their own appearance, comparing individuals in terms of how “hot” or how “beautiful” they are needs to stop. Who is to say that one human is more beautiful than another? We all posses our own unique qualities, which shape our individuality. Subjective views on beauty arise from different people who are simply looking for different qualities.

We are being so heavily influenced by the environment we are in, which has created this idea of beauty—which is nothing more than an ephemeral social construct dependent on place and time. That beauty is an outcome of social conditioning should always be remembered. By falsely believing that current media crazes provide a fixed definition of beauty, we create a malicious and judgemental environment that breeds insecurity amongst individuals who are questioning their self worth. Self worth should never be based on physical appearance, yet we are such an appearance-obsessed society, with people constantly comparing themselves to others and feeling as though they are somehow inferior or inadequate.

However, all it takes is a look around the world and a history lesson on beauty standards to see that we can each find a number of our physical characteristics (likely ones that, according to current standards, make us feel insecure) reflected as the ideal at some stage of existence or in some society.

This poem addresses beauty as an ever-changing social construct and the negative impacts that modern day influencers, celebrities, television and the media can have on the younger generation, as well as the vicious cycle of unhappiness that inspires insecurity and self hatred as these children grow up feeling uncomfortable in their own skin. This dangerous mindset can lead to people taking potentially harmful health risks out of desperation to look a certain way because of the stigma surrounding beauty and the qualities that are perceived as “beautiful”.

A strive for perfection

a need for protection,

characterised by unrealistic expectation

the selfish desires of a nation

so it’s approval you seek

without beauty you’re weak

a disease of insecurity

infecting the population

the product of an appearance driven society

media influence and magazines inciting

the sadistic nature of conformity

an unspoken rule to look a certain way

deeply disturbing superficial hearsay

with a devastating effect on intellect

a social construct driven into young minds

little girls using anything they can find

to change themselves, to tear themselves down

aged 15 waiting in line for a cosmetic procedure,

a growing self hatred taking control like a seizure

wearing degrading clothing and a nature defying frown

values upheld through social media, in every city, every town,

a vanity desk crowded with makeup and new faces

lotions and potions reinforcing the devotion

to removing identity, to becoming a clone

spending all day looking up diets, eyes glued to a phone

self absorbed celebrities posting modified bodies,

captions reading  “be yourself” coupled with unnatural people

this is an outrage, shocking hypocrisy

steroids and protein shakes,

a requirement to be a certain weight

for your hair to sit a certain way

for your nose to be a certain shape

qualities we were born with

are judged and scrutinised

we are told to make a health compromise

to fit in with normality, in order to be loved

and those born “beautiful” don’t understand the fuss,

but that’s my issue,

your warped vision does not determine my worth,

my self value,

so who are you to tell me what beautiful is

to tell me it’s not desirable for my hair to have frizz

that my arse is great, but my legs are too big

because my purpose is not to please you,

10 year olds are starving themselves

and maybe you are too.

Social expectations and a company’s wealth

put before my mental health

and those 10 year olds become 40 year olds

hating themselves

because faces like theirs aren’t sold

aren’t publicised on television

aren’t featured in magazines

an infinite cycle that needs to be broken,

so forget what you know,

forget destructive taught values that you hold

corrupt ideas, social necessities you’re told

instead make individuality

your new sense of normality

to stop this nation wide health, happiness and identity