I’m the black sheep, and I’m OK with it

Ah, the notorious black sheep. The outsider, the odd one out, the third wheel; whatever you want to call it.

I feel that being the black sheep of ones’ family can often be perceived as a terrible thing; that you don’t have a good relationship with your family, that you don’t want one, and you’re just “too different to work”.

black sheep

But, I’ve come to the revelation that being the black sheep doesn’t always have to be a bad thing. Firstly, I do firmly believe that the majority of families have black sheep. But, there is a sliding scale of black sheep. On the bottom, you have the cuckoo, estranged black sheep whom everyone can conclude is unhinged in some way. On the top, you have a black sheep whose only contrasting trait could be something as trivial as different likes and dislikes. And then there’s somewhere in the middle; where I, and many black sheep, lie.

I come from a very close family. Over the years we’ve shared everything with one another. We support each other, we try not to judge one another, and most importantly, we all love each other. Sadly though, over the years, I’ve realised that not all families are quite as fortunate as us Kellehers.

family meme

 

I have a loving mother and father, a younger brother and an older sister. That’s right; I’m the middle child *gasp*. And truthfully, although it has become somewhat of a satirical stereotype, I can tell you that there are problems associated with being the middle child.

I think that for me, having an older sister meant that I was unfortunately compared to her quite frequently in childhood in terms of progression, achievements, interests and personality. I dealt with this just fine as a child; it was never completely over the top, but it did exist in my upbringing. On the other side of this, my younger brother, being the “only boy”, was often seen as a unique entity from my perspective. As the three of us grew up, my brother and I shared similar talents and attributes; most notably, my brother and I loved to write stories and “novels” from a young age, but I sadly felt in my brother’s shadow.

My brother was much more confident and upfront about his writing abilities; whereas I, for some reason, felt shy and secretive about mine. My brother was proud of his writing and happily exclaimed to others his desire to become a novelist when he grew up. I strongly admire my brother’s childhood confidence, and am not trying to undermine him and his strong abilities as a child. However, to sum up, I felt throughout my upbringing as the middle child that I was simultaneously in my older sister’s shadow and my younger brothers’.

middle chid

 

As children, my siblings and I weren’t noticeably different to one another. The three of us were actually incredibly similar. However, as we grew into our teenage years, and our personalities began to progress, it became evident from my perspective that I was quite different to my siblings in a lot of ways.

This is by no means any shade on my siblings. I truthfully adore the two of them with my whole heart. My brother and my sister began to develop the same ideologies, ways of thinking, interest in arts and personality traits as the three of us grew up. At this point, I did not even consider the possibility of being a “black sheep”.

However, as the three of us further developed into young adulthood, it became apparent to me that my siblings not only shared extremely similar viewpoints on things, but they also responded very similarly to distress, and in times of discomfort, my brother and sister tended to come to the same or a similar conclusion.

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My brother and sister, now as grown adults in their twenties, are remarkably similar individuals. Not only do they look alike; they think alike. I find a new similarity between the two of them almost on a daily basis. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I believe that these similarities are entirely transparent. I do not see them as pretentious. I genuinely do believe that my siblings are just, by nature and/or nurture, extremely alike.

I’ve realised in recent years that I am different. But more importantly, I’ve realised that this is a good thing. I am quite happy to be my authentic self whenever I can; and if that’s “different”, I am happy to embrace it.

So yes, I am a black sheep of sorts. If my siblings and I express our opinions about a situation, my brother and sister will almost always express the same or similar beliefs. I, however, tend to think in a different way.

I am not only a black sheep in my family; but I’ve come to the conclusion that I may in fact be a black sheep of society. I find more and more over the years that I’m on a different wavelength to my colleagues and peers in many regards. And truthfully, I think that is largely due to the fact that I am naturally such a daydreamer.

But, I will no longer feel bad about being different. And, I have decided instead to embrace it.

Being the “black sheep” can, and does, of course lead to various trials and tribulations at times. But, what’s the alternative? Try to fit in? Become agreeable just for the sake of it? For me, I have no interest in that anymore.

To fellow black sheep, you’re perfect the way you are. You don’t have to be the same as your family. That’s the beauty of humankind; we are all different. And in some regards, we are all black sheep.

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The Republic of Ireland is NOT Southern Ireland. Southern Ireland is Munster.

face palm

So, I moved to Cambridge in the UK from Ireland in early 2018. To clarify, I’m a born and bred Irish woah-man. I was raised between Co. Mayo and Co. Roscommon and courageously fled further afield to Carlow for my studies, then to Co. Cork for work and to Co. Kilkenny, too (please note my sarcasm, this was not courageous, this is a thing boggers do to work. Note: boggers are people from the cionthrayyy!)

So anywho, wanting a change and more employment opportunities and to experience life outside of the Emerald Isle, I packed up and moved to the UK. My name is Aisling (or Dream, if you ask Google Translate). For the non-Irish folk, it’s pronounced “Ash-ling”. Lots of British people rightfully presumed it was Ace-ling. I don’t have a problem with this at all, because logically that’s what one would assume if they’re not familiar with the name. Like, if you asked a non-native English speaker to pronounce “photographer”, they might struggle too.

However, I did soon find myself becoming embarrassed by my name. I can’t quite explain why, or even pinpoint the exact moment it happened for me. But rather quickly, I started introducing myself as Ash to Brits (for Irish folk, you’ll know this is a common abbreviation, but still not my actual name).

I soon found myself repeating and explaining my name to British people. Without thinking, I would start defensively babbling “Oh, it’s an Irish name. It’s an Irish word. It means Dream.” It was like I was trying to sell my “foreign name” to the United Kingdom. It was almost apologetic, pathetic even… Please accept me! Please love me! Please take me as one of your own! 

It suddenly dawned on me that I too have been ignorant about foreign names back in Ireland. I used to work in a call centre (which was by far the best job I’ve ever had) and I used to grimace whenever I saw a non-national customer’s name on my screen. What should I call him? Maybe I should just stick to “Sir”?! And what if he can barely speak English?!

indian stereotype

Now, to be clear, I’m not by any stretch of the imagination comparing the life of an Irish person living in the UK to the life of an emigrant who has a completely different culture and has to learn the native tongue from scratch. I completely appreciate this is ten times more difficult for the Irish in the UK. I am simply stating that being different, being from a different nation, can be embarrassing. It can be uncomfortable, isolating even. In a sense, you’ll always be an outsider.

It is worth mentioning though that many British people have told me how much they love Ireland. They see the West of Ireland, in particular, as a leafy-green landscape of crystal-clear oceans and peaceful solitude. “It’s so beautiful!” they’ll exclaim, before (normally) telling me they have Irish descent.

However, I have also noticed an ignorance about Ireland from British people. After contemplating for a while, I understand it. I really do. If you think about it, Irish people are exposed to British media so much more than British people are exposed to Irish media.

And that comes to my next point, and the motivation really to write this blog… Southern. Ireland. is. not. a. country.

I’ve come to the realisation that many British people distinguish the Republic of Ireland from Northern Ireland by claiming one is the North and one is the South. Irish people don’t ever refer to the Republic as Southern Ireland, because quite frankly, it is not Southern Ireland. It is simply Ireland. It is its own independent country. It is its own independent culture, currency, economy and laws.

I’ve also come to the realisation that many British people do not see Northern Ireland as associated with them… when it is literally part of the United Kingdom!

So, for Northern Irish people (and I can only assume this), Irish people don’t see them as theirs, and nor do British people. Where does that leave them, culturally speaking?

In Ireland, Southern Ireland refers to Munster. The part of the island in the south of the Republic. I wonder if British people would be fond of Irish people referring to their land as Western Ireland? I’d assume they wouldn’t be too keen on that terminology.

I’ve also discovered that many British people are completely unaware of the fact they dominated and owned Ireland for so long. I’ve even spoken to British people who didn’t even know Irish was a language, and that we only speak English because of Britain’s control.

kayne

Don’t worry. I’m not one of those people who think a nation of people should feel guilty or responsible in some way for their ancestor’s actions. I just think that as there is such a strong link between Ireland and the UK, and there always has been, surely some knowledge of each other can only be a good thing?

Of course there are probably plenty of Irish people, too, who know next to nothing about the UK. This isn’t right either. Why don’t we settle our grudges, and learn from each other?

To my British buddies, is mise le meas!

 

 

 

 

Scary Movie is a sexist and racist mess

Earlier today, I found myself browsing through Netflix and stumbled across Scary Movie, the 2000 “comedy” parodying teenage slasher and horror flicks. I’d seen the movie years ago, but was too young to understand the jokes and horror references. Now, as a 23 year old, I was less than pleased.

scary-movie

The movie pokes fun at Scream and I know what you did last Summer, at the expense of young women and black people.

Marlon Wayans portrays Shorty Meeks, a black, stoner teenager who has a juvenile sense of humour and is stoned for most of the movie. Stereotype #1: black guy is a waster who contributes nothing to society.

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Anna Faris portrays Cindy Campbell, a somewhat clueless teenage girl whose boyfriend keeps pressuring her to have sex. Stereotype #2: teenage girl holds virginity as “precious” and “valuable”.

Throughout the movie, her boyfriend (Jon Abrahams as Bobby Loomis) persistently pressures her, mainly to perform oral sex on him. While the group of teenagers are driving together, their mutual friend (Lochlyn Munro as Greg Cox) stands up from the back of the car outside the ceiling window. Meanwhile, Bobby takes his penis out in the driver seat and tries to convince Cindy to go near it. While Greg is hanging out of the car, he steps on Cindy and forces her head down on top of Bobby’s dick. Bobby eggs Cindy on while she is essentially forced into his lap. This – the lack of consent and objectification of women – is seen as a “joke”.

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Later on in the movie, Cindy finally “gives in” and has sex with Bobby. During foreplay, Bobby keeps pushing Cindy’s head down to his crotch, again trying to force her to perform oral sex on him.

sex-scene-scary-movie

On top of that, Greg frequently assaults Cindy throughout the movie. He beats her up out of anger, or to demonstrate a point.

So, what have we learned? That Scary Movie makes a satire out of sexual consent and domestic violence against women.

The white men remain characters in their own right, and are not stereotyped as a group in society.

I know, I know. It’s “comedy”, and “a satire”. But, at this expense? Satire is based on truth, on real life. Comedy that makes fun of sensitive issues such as these, in my opinion, is comedy in bad taste.

 

 

 

Feminist Myths Debunked

Myth #1 Feminists hate men.

Quite the contrary. You see, feminists strive for gender equality. This means that a proper feminist recognises the inequalities of both genders and discusses them to raise awareness and encourage progression. In fact, feminism is primarily about the issue of gender! Both, and all, genders! It has the word “feminine” in the word itself, so people shrug and scratch, and label feminism as a “women’s issue”.

It is a gender issue! Women in general suffer more inequality than men throughout the world, which is why we call it feminism. We of course recognise the male issues also and we focus on all issues! The right feminists do…

Myth #2 Feminists are angry or on their periods.

This goes back to the notion we all have, men and women, that females should be soft, delicate, reserved and… not very opinionated. Look pretty, girls, look pretty… It has become so normal for us to think of women as strictly either weak, sexual or potential mothers that we still have not gotten to the stage in the 21st century where we value a woman’s brain. Wow Aisling, what kind of people are you speaking to! Of course I value a woman’s brain! I’m sure you do. Wonderful! It would be helpful if the general, mainstream society did the same. #kthanksbye

Myth #3 Feminists think they are oppressed when they couldn’t possibly have any more entitlements.

Feminists themselves generally do not feel oppressed. They do however feel there are issues and restrictions regarding gender that may, possibly, I dunno, like, oppress ya. ‘Cause ya know, it’s only been happening a few hundred years and all that jazz. It’s like saying Irish Catholics think they are oppressed when they couldn’t possibly be less oppressed. Hello, culturally-mandatory-baptism-of-baby and condemnation-of-homosexuals, how ya doin’? You’re not feeling oppressed, are you? Are you???? Good, didn’t think so… #awks

Myth #4 Feminists are usually fat and ugly.

Fan girl moment, but have you seen Laci Green? #justsaying. Feminists can be, and are in actuality, of any shape and size…and level of physical attractiveness. In fact, my dearest male viewers, did you know that men can be feminists too? #shockhorror. I jest of course. The reason this myth exists is just another way of dismissing feminism as a valid movement. In other words, people spew out this myth as another way of deciding a woman’s personal happiness is, of course, determined by her physical attractiveness. Unfortunately, due to our sexist media, women will often judge themselves based primarily on physical appearance. But this is, of course, hugely damaging. It is also, of course, a subject for a totes different blog…

Myth #5 Male feminists are gay or womanly.

Do I even need to try and debunk this one? My IQ just dropped significantly (temporarily, I hope) from writing it, then reading it back over again. Phew, I’m feeling dizzy just glancing at it through my computer screen…

Again, we use this myth because a fem word is associated as being strictly feminine. (Whereas the word manager could apply to both genders… #justsayin

So yeah, anyone can be feminist, is what I was trying to say. Ya get me?!

Why I’m A Feminist

Caution: contains some language as reference/quotes.

Gender Roles.

In society, females are born into a world that will constantly put pressure on them throughout their lifetime. Pressure to be beautiful, pressure to be sexy. Pressure to bear children, pressure to be emotional and maternal. Pressure to keep a good home, pressure to look after the men that surround them.

Equally, males are born with the expectation they will be “men”. Pressure to be dominant, successful, strong, independent, high-earning, emotionally-absent figures of authority.

When we try to challenge these gender roles that been involuntarily assigned to us, the people around us seem to think we’re crazy, weird or just “different”.

I am a feminist because I would prefer to live in a world where every human being, regardless of their race, gender or sexual orientation, can become whatever person they damn well want to be. Without being questioned or disliked for it.

Rape Culture

Both men and women are raped in this destructive world. But what is rape? It seems that through the media we are exposed to, the lines have become very blurred as to what rape or sexual assault is.

We are programmed to think that we are not actually being sexually assaulted at all if we’re not actually being raped. In fact, women in today’s world experience casual sexual harassment in their normal lives and don’t even question it, because it has become so normal to us.

All you have to do is watch some modern music videos from big artists to see some casual sexual harassment and objectification. The R’n’B genre particularly features dominant male leads singing about “hoes” and “bitches” and “fucking them”. We’ve become so numb to it that we don’t even question it anymore.

pic 1 why i'm a feminist

But the music video that particularly comes to mind of course is “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke. I have never seen such blatant sexual objectification in mainstream music. In a nutshell, the lyrics and music video describe men chasing women to have sex with regardless of whether they have consent or not. “I know you want it” is repeatedly played throughout the pop song; a common opinion held in society, which ultimately contributes to rape culture like nothing else.

Any sexual activity between two parties must be consensual. This does not just refer to vaginal sex. This refers to any sexual contact. Otherwise, it’s sexual assault.

Mainstream media such as this is a big reason as to why I’m a feminist. I would love to see women being represented as equals in the media (men do not have to be dehumanized in the process to make this happen.)

3. Men and women in business

“European Commission statistics show that Irish women earn, on average, 14.4 per cent less than men.”

“In 2009, men in Ireland had an average income of €34,317 while the average for women was €25,103, or 73.1 per cent of men’s income.”

In the United States: “Today, women earn about 81 cents on the dollar compared to men — a gap that results in hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost wages. For African-American women and Latinas, the pay gap is even greater.”

These statistics are worrying. Some will turn around and say that it is “the fault of women”, that “no-one is stopping them from progressing in their field”. But this is simply not the case.

It is a direct product of our upbringing and our society that women do not make the same numbers professionally as men do.

As women, we are taught to only have a certain amount of ambition. We are taught to be modest, silent. Men are taught that they should be as successful as they possibly can be, without feeling guilt or pressure in their personal/family lives. Women, on the other hand, are indirectly taught that their ultimate focus should be their family; that their career should always come second.

I am a feminist because I would like to see both women and men equally reaching the top of their profession in the modern world. Women aren’t making it to the top post in any field. I can’t just step back and accept that as being normal.

A world where both men and women are equally represented would be a better world.

Why am I a feminist? These reasons, and many more. I encounter casual sexism on a daily basis. Often, not towards me personally, but towards other women and indeed men. I see women being catcalled for just walking to and from class. I see men listen intently to other men but not to women. I see women being spoken to differently. I see other women treat other men like they’re messy, untidy etc without even knowing if they are or not.

I am about equality. I’m not a “feminazi” (whatever that term means.) I am a human being in a misogynist world.

I would like to be a feminist without having to put down men in the process. I do not hate men or disrespect them. But on the same token I do not hate or disrespect my fellow women; yet I still somehow see them being represented as inferior. Sexually inferior, professionally inferior, socially inferior.

I would like to live in a world where women could be taken seriously without being judged first and foremost by their appearance.

Would you?

We should all be feminists, as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie would argue.

feminist

My Goodbye Speech Should The World End 21st December 2012

 

Let’s be honest – the likelihood of the world ending tomorrow is more or less non existent. But, if you’re like me, you’re used to things NOT going to plan. This is why I have decided to take this opportunity to look back on my last NEARLY 20 years alive, and reflect on the good, the bad and the WTF’s.

Firstly though, I feel it justified to express my sincere regret and feelings of victimisation at having NOT hit the magic 20. Yes, my birthday is 9th January, and this guesstimation for the world to end couldn’t have come on more of a teasing date – 19 days until I was due to officially turn 20! I feel so hard-done by! I mean, I was so close to having reached the old and decrepit milestone of two decades.

But that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

Enough dwelling, now let’s hit the juicy stuff. That’s right, reflection. On my last nearly 20 years on the Earth.

The Good Times

1. Let’s start with the obvious (although it’s obvious that doesn’t take away from its importance!) I was born to a good family, always had a home, food, drink, etc. I was not born into poverty, murdered, abused in any way. In this sense, I have been extremely lucky, and I am grateful for this. I have never had to worry about disease, I still have both of my parents. I didn’t have any childhood traumatic experience which greatly effected by current well-being. In this respect, I have been blessed compared to other unfortunate souls. Some children just want to be loved for Christmas. Some babies die from illness, or worse, murder and abuse. I would give my life for them to have lived, because I’ve had nearly 20 years and they haven’t gotten to live life at all. Tragic.

2. I am a hyper individual and I’ve always been able to cheer other people up. This may be something small but I do feel it is significant. I’ve not always been able to cheer myself up with the same strategy, but my mother used to call me a born entertainer, which was possibly more accurate when I was a child. Currently, many know me by my loud laughter, eccentricity and hyperactivity. For quite some time, I was self-conscious about this. But now, as someone who has experienced nearly two decades on the planet, I can see that maybe I contributed more to other people than I realised. Maybe I have cheered people up, helped them etc on a wider level which I was not even aware of at the time. This, to me, is something I can safely celebrate without sounding big-headed (Even if I do, there’s no point changing now. I’m due to die tomorrow, as are the rest of you!)

3. Obviously my personal achievements, although I regret that I have not even fully explored my interests nor had the time to do so in such a short time in the world. However, I have written numerous poems, one of which was published (I don’t mean to brag) and others which are of a generally melancholic theme, which can be found online at  http://allpoetry.com/AislingKell I’ve had a lot of people compliment me in this regard, which has been wonderful. However, I feel that at the young age of nearly 20 I still have a bundle load of poetry inside of me which I still need to write; but which have not been written yet due to a lack of life experience in many areas. Secondly, I would like to reflect over my Youtube Channel. I started the channel in 2011, and started doing vlogs and such. Now, it’s not a very successful channel, but through it I began getting interested in video-making, editing and scriptwriting in particular, which is what made me decide to go to college and study it there. I got into a college and studied a PLC course in TV and Film, then got into an Institute of Technology to study TV and Media Production; so yes, I would regard these as achievements (Getting into college is an achievement, right?) You can find my Youtube channel at http://www.youtube.com/AshyShash Also I’d like to recognise my creativity in many areas although I am self critical and realise that if I wasn’t as lazy, I would’ve expressed my creativity a lot better in the last nearly 20 years.

I won’t harp on about The Good Times anymore as I’m sure it’s rather boring. Besides, I have had many good times and trying to remember all of them in detail here would be impossible. But I will conclude this section in two blissful words – Santa Clause (and of course other childhood heroes – the epitome of the good times for me.)

The Bad Times

I am not a believer of dwelling on bad parts of my life. But I will briefly touch on this (I’ll spare the details) Growing up wasn’t always easy. I had low self-esteem, I suffered with bad depression, I had no self worth. All of this became very bad when I was around 17 years old, but thankfully through medical help and support from my family, I overcame the majority of my demons, and should they arise again, I deal with them in a much more productive way. Aside from this, I cannot think of any other major bad times in my life. I have had ill family members but it has never been anything too serious. Finances have always been hard, especially where college is concerned. But my family and I have always been able to manage, even if we’re short a few bob, which is fantastic.

How I saw the next 20 years going

I have/had all sorts of plans of how the future was going to go for me. Obviously, I was going to graduate college, in 2015 to be precise. Then I am/was going to travel. I want to go everywhere, I know everyone says that, but I LITERALLY want to go everywhere. Wherever I go, I’ll go with an open mind and have a job in TV production hopefully, and meet a lot of friends while traveling. In my mid 20’s or so I’ll calm down the traveling a bit and settle into one place, perhaps back to Ireland. But only if the economy has improved by this time. I would have liked to meet someone and have children, but I wouldn’t have liked to get married, at least not in a traditional ceremony performed by a Priest (Let’s not get into that) I’d have one or two children and I have no idea what they would have been like but I haven’t thought that far ahead because really, who the hell knows? I would have liked a nice house, materialistic stuff, not A LOT of money, but over enough money to just survive. I haven’t really thought about much else in the future. I suppose that’s why you’re not supposed to plan your future and you’re just supposed to live in the moment.

 

Yes, there is a lot I would’ve done differently. But I’ve had my chance, I lived it. Maybe I didn’t always live it right, but I lived it my way, mistakes an’ all!

It was lovely knowing everyone, of course! See you on the other side!