Sunday, 23 March 2014

A Galaxy Of Poems & A Bed Of Vines

I was at a small local secondhand bookshop when the lovely 60's print of this wonderful book of poems caught my eye. I grabbed it excitedly and added to my haul of books. It's the perfect book for reading on a relaxed afternoon in the garden, enjoying poems and poets both familiar and unfamiliar. It has work from poets and writers such as Shakespeare, Tennyson, Keats, Thomas Hardy, Gerard Manley Hopkins and Lord Byron, to others less heard of. To me it has similar qualities to charity shops. I love that charity shops have a range of things, old and new, to search through until you find something to treasure. You don't have to look for anything in particular, just search until something catches your eye (perhaps something that you're surprised you like, either because it's not what would be your usual style or because it's by a creator that you don't usually like). The same goes for this book. I find myself enjoying a variety of different poems and poets. From dark, morbid poems to seasonal poems with autumnal descriptions of golden pears, crisp light and overripe fruits, spring and summer poems telling of babbling brooks, blooming daffodils and faerie feasts.

I have only recently taken an interest in poetry and this book was an excellent place to start. I have taken a particular liking to Byron and Keats and I keep going back to Keats' poem 'To Autumn' every time I open the book. The lines in this beautiful poem are to be savoured, I particularly loved: "With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run; To bend with apples the moss'd cottage trees" and "While barr├ęd clouds bloom the soft-dying day...".
Anyway, I just wanted to share my love of this book with you. The photos were taken by my mum this afternoon, we sat amongst the green vines that cover a large part of our garden, laughed and took pictures of each other. The vines are not as comfortable as they look.
Oh, and while we were on the subject of poetry, has anyone read this rather brilliant poem 'Our Generation' by a fourteen year old named Jordan Nichols?

In other news, I have just joined Pip Lincolne of Meet Me At Mike's and many other bloggers in Pip's A Year Of Ethical Fashion. I am taking the pledge to only wear ethically. "If I'm looking for things to wear I will only:
a) Buy from ethical makers or
b) Buy second-hand or
c) Make it myself  or
d) Wear things I already own or
e) Borrow or swap garments with friends" - The A Year Of Ethical Fashion pledge.  

You can join in here or on the YOEF Facebook group. I took the pledge in April last year after the tragic Bangladesh factory collapse that killed over one thousand workers. This year I'm continuing to wear ethically and have been introduced to some excellent labels thanks to what's been shared in the facebook group. 
On that note, I should tell you about my the clothes I'm wearing. The shorts (which are actually a darker emerald green) are vintage and were a present from my mum. The silk top is Little Green Dress and was borrowed from my sister. Little Green Dress is a 'slow fashion' label, the clothes are made from sustainable end of run fabrics and are Australian made. I'm even being ethical with my underwear choices: my bra underneath was bought a year or two ago (thankfully still fits well) and my knickers are from Who Made Your Pants? which is a company in the UK that gives fair wage jobs to women who need them to make underwear from end of run fabrics. They also tell you exactly who made them (my very comfortable Cecilia pants were made by Batol & Friends). I was also meant to have a hand-me-down black cardigan with that (so I could match the print of the book) but it was forgotten during the shoot.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Let's Talk About Sex [Education]

My sister and I were home schooled from the ages of six and eight. When she was ten and I was eight, we moved from our small house near the beach, to a large rural property in a different town. It was decided that we'd go to school in this new town to make friends...we lasted two terms. School crushed our creativity and desire to learn. While teachers thought we were way ahead of the other students, we didn't thrive. My sister and I enjoyed learning, but the school system was a very negative experience for us.
At the beginning of 2012, when we were a few months away from me turning thirteen and my sister fifteen, we agreed we wanted to go to the high school there. We both wanted a high school experience and our parents wanted to support whatever decision we made.

High school was even more damaging for us. My sister had nervous breakdowns, couldn't learn in that environment and left school pretty quickly. I stayed a little longer and I did surprisingly well coping without Ireland (my sister), although I was still incredibly socially awkward and stuttered on occasion. I quickly learnt that I didn't care what other people thought, was quite happy to stand up for myself, I ignored the kids who were negative and I didn't take any bullshit. In that respect, I think high school was good for me - I needed to realise how confident I was in myself and in my own morals and ethics. I got by, I didn't make any friends but was happy on my own and my grades were an average of As, Bs and Cs. But I was infuriated by the school system and the terrible education we were receiving, particularly for HPE.

Health and Physical Education - basically, teaching teenagers how to barn dance. Regarding Sex Ed, we learnt a little bit about a few venereal diseases and menstruation. The subject of rape was briefly discussed - girls were told to be careful: about what they wear, how much they drink, who they talk to and how they behave. Rape is caused by a rapist, not the victim. I worry about what that puts in their minds. They are almost saying to girls that it's their responsibility if they get raped. What if a girl doesn't report a rape because she is practically being taught that it's her fault? Teachers are telling this to the girls (forgetting that men get raped too), in front of the boys. I wonder what that could make them think, subconsciously or otherwise? I'm male and I can't control myself, it's her responsibility, she's been warned about what she should wear and she's still wearing something besides a hessian sack, she's a "slut" and "asking for it".  They should be teaching "don't rape" rather than "don't get raped".

That was all my experience of sex education at school, but I have talked to people from different grades at that school and other schools, teachers, read about the school system and have found out a lot of what goes on in sexual education.

The education we receive is discreet and sex shaming. We are taught about sex by teachers who pretend they don't know what a vagina is. We should be taught about peer pressure, body image and how to have safe, healthy sex, both physically and mentally, in an honest, sex-positive manner. I'm not talking about encouraging teenagers to have sex - if they want to, they're likely to be doing it anyway. Which is why, instead of attempting to discourage them by talking about sex like it's shameful and unnatural, what should be done, is to ensure that if they are going to have sex, they will be safe and healthy. Some sexually transmitted diseases are life threatening, but something that is still so, so, so important is for us to be shown what is healthy - both physically and emotionally, and what is positive. Show us the importance of treating your sexual partner as an equal and the importance of being able to openly discuss how you feel and what you do and don't want to do.
Some kids (like my sister and I) will have parents that make sure they're setting good examples for their children. My sister and I have a very open and honest relationship with each other and our mum, but there are parents who leave stuff like Sex Ed up to school. This is why having good sex education (and teachers/counsellors) is so very important. 

I know this is very different to the usual posts on my blog. But I really wanted to write about it and decided I wanted to put this on my blog and see if anyone else was angered by the Sex Ed that kids are receiving at school. So what are your thoughts?

Oh, and sorry if the title to this post got Salt-N-Pepa's song 'Let's Talk About Sex' stuck in your head!