Provocative opinions aired on the clothes line of life.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

If you're happy and you know it

At the beginning of January while most people are making fervent fitness resolutions (which range from joining a gym to idly watching a fitness DVD of someone who used to be on Coronation Street) I find myself in a transient state. Unable to change for the better until I've turned one year older. For I never officially make a new start until after my birthday, which conveniently for me falls during the last week of the month. This is because undoubtedly any promises I make to myself will come undone during the celebrations and will probably do so all at once. Now that the birthday fire has burned out and nothing but a handful of pitiful embers remain, I am free to embark on 2014 with a fresh perspective. And I'd like to feel better about myself in the coming year, wouldn't we all?

So in order to start 2014 as I mean to go on i.e. making everyone feel better about themselves, I have decided to warn you about an ominous website. A website which will slowly drain your soul of light and radiance and replace it with an empty tin of Heinz tomato soup. (If you look up Heinz tomato soup in the dictionary you won't find a definition, but fortunately I am on hand to tell you that it is soulless).

"Can you be happy for 100 days in a row?"
Such happiness, so Stepford

I encountered the sinister website 100HappyDays, as one often does these days through a Twitter hashtag, having originally clicked because I thought what a funny satirical joke it was. However a few minutes of incredulous scrowling* later, I discovered that it is in fact an initiative instructing people to upload a daily photograph conveying what they consider to be personal happiness.

So very obviously not a joke.

In the words of the wonderfully clinical and pragmatic Mycroft Holmes, "This is a matter of national importance. Grow up!" Out of all the wide ranging and character arcing emotions which we experience as fickle human beings throughout our daily lives, happiness is the most boring.Yes it is immensely satisfying to be content, but it's completely unnecessary to explain to other people why you are happy because you will inevitably be accused of gloating and you probably are. Besides isn't posting a positive spin on our lives through a social media platform what we do all-day every-day anyway? Happiness overload!

But lets seriously consider this for a moment. Does spending several agonised minutes uploading a photo of "the very tasty cake in the nearby coffee place" to Instagram (once you've ensured the appropriate filter portrays it in the best light and the hashtags are sufficiently optimised) equate to true happiness? Now, taking a screen shot of the reverence your photograph receives from your followers is surely a more accurate reflection of what makes you happy. A nice itemised list of happiness. Because that's what it's really all about:: validation. We're just not happy until other people know about it. Plus, not everyone experiences happiness in a robotic Stepford Wife fashion as 100HappyDays would have you believe. Personal joy isn't always clean-cut good family fun. Who decides what the criteria is for personal joy and fulfillment?

But then again who cares? Frankly the assumption that anyone will find the banality of what you consider to be happiness at all interesting is insulting. I understand that in your dream scenario you envision your legions of fictitious life-spectators to engage with you encouragingly and in turn be happy for you. Unfortunately no one experiences happiness when other people are happy. In the real world people roll their eyes and glower at the screen while a tidal wave of self-loathing fills the room and bursts through the window into the street, taking everyone and everything with them into a swirling abyss of hateful despair.

But I digress, I just don't like initiatives. They're usually the precursor to a sect which results in its members committing mass suicide and the website is worded frighteningly so. "People successfully completing the challenge claimed to start receiving more compliments from other people and fall in love during the challenge." By taking photos of cakes which you haven't eaten or paid for? I don't think so. Actually people receive compliments and fall in love simply by embracing all of their emotions and living their lives.

Otherwise known as "real life"

The longer you spend reading 100HappyDays the less you will notice the residual numbness which will inevitably engulf you. The childish nonchalance of the font subdues you and the blinding yellow hue is probably supposed to be reminiscent of butter or gold or sunlight and other inherently nice things which we associate with the colour. It's best to scan it quickly and immediately click the x button, lest you should yield to sharing the forced experience of an everyday commonplace emotion with people you don't particularly like or even know.

In order to feel good about your life you need to remember that you're perfectly able to be happy without this website or anyone else knowing about it. But only if you allow yourself to be. After all, happiness depends upon ourselves.

*Scrowling, verb "To scroll through a web page while scowling."

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Burlesque is more

Ruby Woo

At the beginning of the year I was treated to a private burlesque performance as a special birthday treat. What was originally intended as a prequel to the event resulted in stealing the entire show and primed the elite few I had invited, leaving them reeling for the rest of the night. The performer (who I shall call Ruby Woo after her favourite shade of Mac lipstick, as she prefers to remain anonymous) was a strikingly beautiful and vivacious redhead. She sashayed into the candlelit room to a sensual 50s number and titillated my guests, who were mostly all experiencing burlesque for the first time.

After the performance each female guest conveyed their admiration of Ruby to each other and their envious compliments weren't just limited to the superficial. They (myself included) were overwhelmed by Ruby's confidence and wanted to know how to emulate it for themselves.

Of course this desire to be a more sensual woman raised a lot of questions. Was this just due to theatricality? Can amplifying the sexy streak in your persona really shed your insecurities? I decided to find out by talking to Ruby herself.

Dirty Knickers: How do you rehearse, and how much of your performance is improvised?
Ruby Woo: I listen to the song(s) over and over again and pick out the really fun parts which I try to incorporate a shimmy, butt shake or boob wiggle to! Apart from that I love to be in the moment and express myself through the movements. I don't like super choreographed routines because its too forced and loses the magic.

DK: Do you ever get nervous before you perform? And if so, how do you combat that?
RW: I get "good nerves". I find it really exciting rather than daunting. I think because you're all dolled up and are able to show bits you like and hide things you don't like its a real thrill to get up there and shimmy about. Sometimes a stiff drink helps too! At the shows one of the girls used to chant "everybody wants to fuck me, everybody wants to fuck me" over and over which I adopted a few times! It's good to get in character and let go.

DK: Do you have a muse or a style icon who inspires you? 
RW: In the burlesque world I love Immodesty Blaize. I saw her headlining the first show I ever went to and have followed her career over the years. I am inspired by so many women and have a lot of girl crushes.

DK: What are your must-have items for completing your look?
RW: Well I certainly wouldn't feel ready for burlesque without bright red lipstick. I love MAC's Ruby Woo and Russian Red and of course black eyeliner flicks. I also love all the pomp and flamboyance, I don't usually do much with my hair but I love trying out vintage styles and adding feathers or a bow. Getting ready is an opportunity to extend into a much more grand version of yourself .

DK: If you could name one thing which makes a woman sexy, what would it be?
RW: Confidence is the first word that springs to mind but I don't want to sound wanky. Some women's confidence can be totally unsexy. I think it can be a combination of things and can even be just a moment like the way she flicks her hair or raises her brow. I think its different for every woman and for every beholder. Its definitely a feeling and an energy rather than a thing.

DK: A lot of women have trouble combining glamour with sexiness. What advice would you give to women who want to find this balance which you maintain so well?
RW: I think its about attitude. Like I was saying before about sexiness being a feeling and an energy, so thats whether you're dolled up to the nines or just hanging out in your pj's. Have you ever got all dressed up but not felt like going out and you just kinda plod along anyway and go through the motions? I think glamour and sexiness can only go together when theres the feeling and energy, attitude, confidence and a bit of sassiness in the background.

DK: Are there any local burlesque nights which you can recommend? Or perhaps you’re considering putting one on yourself?
RW: Having lived in Bristol for almost three years I'm totally out of the loop with Cardiff events, here there is The Hoochie Coochie Kabaret which is a big big show. I'm thinking of starting another night up so watch this space!

Ruby's approach to life is enlightening as it is encouraging: feeling sexy is about being bold in an understated way which is truly your own. It's about amplifying that streak of your personality which you mainly keep hidden and demonstrating your belief in yourself through humour, glamour and subtlety. If we all implemented this hint of burlesque to our attitudes we would soon ebb away at our inner critic, which is the only critic who matters and often is the only one who really exists.

Picture source: Female First

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Online Dating: The seemingly good, the inherently bad and everything confusing in between

Game face

Over the last two years I've been a sporadic online dater and by sporadic, I mean I've taken it seriously when it has suited me and by suited me I mean when I've felt lonely.

There are only so many wistful quotations you can reblog on Tumblr before you decide that you're no longer being ironic and take romantic matters into your own fingertips. Loneliness is the key component to every dating site and worldwide there are over 20,000 to choose from - with 15 million of us single narcissists registered in the UK alone!

If social networking is our PR machine, online dating profiles are our company website. Virtual outlets where we eagerly curate wholesome representations of ourselves. Compartmentalising our tastes in art and literature, inserting witty captions to vanity shots and fabricating what we do in our spare time.

For me, free dating sites have become a natural transition from social networking and my experiences have afforded me wisdom and insight which could never be taught through institutionalised schooling. But I'm by no means an expert. I see online dating for what it is: fun and occasionally useful. I don't herald it as the definitive method to achieving a meaningful relationship. It is simply a method.

And through this method I've met and gone on dates with an array of men, some of whom were misogynists while others were quiet psychopaths. I've met men who were cheap, men who dress like my dad, men who dress like hipster 17 year olds, men who have made me listen to Alicia Keys while walking next to them and men with meaningful tattoos which they talked about at length. Yes it was cringe inducing, but I've also met men who are now good friends of mine and have introduced me to many other good friends. So if any of these men are reading (which I suspect that they might be), I'm not going to discuss you on my blog any further.

I am however going to discuss the profiles of incidental men I happen to come across, who are very noteworthy and sadly representational of the bulk of who you encounter. Whether it be because they've sent me a message or simply because of their own misfortune for appearing on my home page. And this isn't a gender thing; I'm quite sure if I was a man browsing women, that I'd have an equivalent story to tell about what happens when mundane meets mental. An understanding of how people choose to represent themselves via online dating profiles is a source of not only a great curiosity but great fulfillment. (Well, to me anyway!)

Village hypocrites 

Sometimes I like to think of my blog as the stocks and right now, it's brown lettuce time.

Everyone can be hypocritical on occasion, but the depths to which people are so incredibly hypocritical that you laugh out loud and actually point is never so glaring than when captured on a dating profile. These men are obviously not reading anything which they've written back to themselves. Proof reading for spelling and grammar errors is just not enough. The most ridiculous level of hypocrisy occurs when they demand a certain criteria from their ideal partner, which they're clearly not emulating themselves. We'll call them the village hypocrites.

He's looking for a lady who is selective, yet the green light stipulates that he replies to messages often. So by his own definition he too is a "village bike", yet he would reject a woman who is as accommodating with her correspondence as he is. He's also looking for a woman who is sane which would make him a fantasist, not to mention the fact that he is very obviously insane himself for not realising the stark hypocrisy of his statements.

The darker side to a man like this is the fact that he considers a woman who has had a lot of online conversations with different men to be tainted and damaged goods so to speak. The quiet psychopaths are always the most ominous and judging by what he considers to be slutty behaviour when it comes to other men, this simple statement has shone a light on what appears to be a sinister jealousy streak.

Women: Don't write this man a message. Even if you do reply selectively and feel smug about it.
Men: Don't copy this tactic because I've just instructed women everywhere to ignore it.

Besides everyone knows if you're looking for the village bicycle you're not likely to be on OkCupid where the village hypocrite resides. No, if you're looking to arrange a date quickly and easily you head over to POF (Plenty of Fish or plenty of people who prompt you to quit dating and resign yourself to actually fishing for the rest of your life). Which is where I encountered this confused man-child:

Apart from the fact that he's made a Star Wars reference to avoid admitting he still lives with his mother, he's also unwittingly incorporated one of his pet hates into his own profile. I wouldn't be so aggrieved that the profession he'd chosen for himself was an evil genius if that level of intellect was present in his ability to write.  Which predictably it isn't. While I can empathise with his first point (I also require someone who is able to write a sentence in its entirety), I'm incredulous as to how he's gone through life this far mistaking commas for full stops when numbering bullet points.

The darker side to a man-child such as this is that he's very clear and detailed about what he doesn't want, but is vague and uninspired about what he enjoys. From his short sentence about himself all I've gathered is that he occasionally leaves his mothers house to get drunk, having spent the day watching slasher films and operates vehicles at random presumably while still drunk. Next.

Women: No instruction needed here, this type of profile is text book avoidance.
Men: List characteristics you find desirable in a potential partner, not the opposite.


The trouble with misanthropy is that while it can be very amusing to read in other areas of literature, it's just not an attractive quality in an online dating profile. Take it from a seasoned misanthropist who rants about her dislike of everything all of the time.  As a result I've been defined by what I don't like as opposed to what I do like. In fact, people who know me are still skeptical as to whether I take pleasure from anything at all.

This is not the first impression you want to make in a dating profile, it's the kind of impression which makes someone roll their eyes and click next. Online dating is kind of like what voting is for everyone else, you just pick the person you dislike the least. So, as with politicians, online daters need to eliminate the obvious traits which pose a threat to the results of their opinion polls. When laying out what you expect from a potential partner, it's one rule for everyone. Not just yourself. 

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Your new year resolutions are so last year

Put the past into perspective in 2013

Throughout the course of the year, the collective consciousness is never at its most predictable and monotonous than during the month of January. Frenzied waves of new year declarations to look better, feel better and generally just be better sweep across cyberspace. All racing to crash and break upon the perceptions of others, before finally coming to settle upon the shores of vanity. Public resolutions aren't about personal growth.They're about ensuring the healthier, more cultured and better intentions which you're not going to stick to this year are acknowledged by people you don't particularly like or spend any time with. 

Talking about your gym membership in a Facebook status is more convenient than actually going. Taking retro snaps of your organic breakfast on Instagram is far more rewarding than simply eating it. Typing lies into your bio on is much easier than acknowledging that you're helping people purely to strengthen your C.V. This year, instead of focusing on the superficial aspects of improvement everyone could benefit from being a little bit more honest with themselves and just focus on doing what they enjoy. It's one thing to challenge yourself but it's quite another to spend time pesudo-challenging yourself just to impress other people. 

Being happy with yourself is better than being your desired weight. Being happy is better than being in a bad relationship. Being happy is better than than being in a perpetual state of personal scrutiny. Sure it looks obvious when it's written down, but it's not so obvious when attempting a fresh start. Stringent lists about an exercise regime and the correct diet isn't about achieving happiness, it's only resetting dissatisfaction. True healthiness is assessing your insecurities and admitting why you're comparing yourself to other people. Going public with your resolutions should make you notice a difference in yourself instead of relying on other people to notice it.

If you're having difficulty wondering what it is that makes you happy, look to where your mind wanders when you're daydreaming. It could be a person, a place or an idea but what's important is what you feel. It'll provide perspective on the two big Es of life: what you should eradicate and what you should encourage. So for the sake of being predictable, here's what people should do more and less of in 2013 according to me:

Do have seconds, have more sex, go for walks, look people in the eye when you talk to them, have conviction with what you say, meet up with old friends, spend less time getting ready to leave the house, let your guard down, listen to someone, play songs because you like them, be uncouth, be bold, make opportunities, accept rejection, cry, smile, frown, laugh unabashedly and be unashamed.

Don't weigh yourself, look down when you're walking, dwell on past indiscretions, cringe when other people are happy, pretend to laugh, feign enjoyment, feign pleasure, suffer in silence, waste time envying. 

Because if you're not enjoying yourself there's just no point. Add a brand new year onto 2012 instead of becoming the same version just older.

“But those who seek only reassurance from life will never be more than tourists—seeing everything and trying to possess what can only be felt. Beauty is the shadow of imperfection.” 

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Go Public and Smile

My social media endeavours have been particularly vain today, as I've been publishing a few cheeky shots from the photo shoot @MartynKelly arranged for me in his studio last night. (For the record, I think I think I'd be about 15% more attractive if my nose wasn't so bulbous. However I don't think I'd be as funny if this was the case because I'd rely too much on my looks, therefore I like my nose). But I've been thinking about negative criticism and how it can be beneficial to go public with your mirth for it.

I watch a lot of Stewart Lee, who I’ve liked for a while but have recently become rather fond of because unlike a lot of stand-up comedians, I think he takes his criticism reasonably wellI’m currently reading through the selection of negative comments he has on his website which have been taken from both mainstream publications and online forums. And of course the most horrifically offensive comments are from the people hiding behind an internet pseudonym. 
Some statements are just laughably generic but nonetheless brutal:
“I hope Stewart Lee dies.” (So final).
Others are quite comedic and draw a wry smile:
“One man I would love to beat with a shit covered cricket bat.” (Just the one?)
“I hate Stewart Lee with a passion. He’s like Ian Huntley to me.” (This is just incredible and my favourite).
But the one comment about Stewart Lee I particularly empathised with is this one taken from Twitter:
“I used to think stewart lee was quite good, then i spoke to him at edinburgh festival. Arse doesn’t cover it. Ah well.”
This review in particular is what I fear the most. People having a certain opinion of you online, which you fail to live up to when you finally meet them offline. It’s happened to me previously at events where I've met up with the online world. You’re introduced and they can’t hold back their emphatic praise for how funny they find you. Then of course they’re treated to your dazzling social awkwardness, inability to maintain eye contact, painfully hesitant silences, stunted attempts at small talk and cringe worthy amateur attempts at addressing a crowd. You can visibly see the fervent admiration draining out of them.
The thought of the anti-climax other people are experiencing because of what a disappointment you are can engulf you if you let it. It's not real. And even if it is, who cares? The biggest and most harmful critic is inside. Don’t be a hindrance to yourself and don’t give credence to other people just because what they've said about you is negative. Their criticism doesn't define you. It’s just an opinion, which fortunately isn't unanimous. Now, go and make a contribution to the world and bask in the reaction you provoke.
And you can start with @CardiffSocial TONIGHT 7pm at BUFFALO!

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Cardiff Social - Social Media Mojitos & Meetup

People of Cardiff, today I shall be a town crier (of sorts) as I'm taking it upon myself to invite and inform. A social meetup is taking place Thursday 2nd August (yes tomorrow) at Buffalo and it's named very aptly after its two important principles: Cardiff Social.

What is Cardiff Social?
The concept is simple, if you live in Cardiff, are a keen user of social media platforms (Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, perhaps you even have a blog?) and you'd like to chat at an informal gathering with some of the local funny people you connect with or stalk follow every day then this is the place for you. We're going to be drinking, we're going to be exchanging witty anecdotes and tips about our social media endeavours (whether they be for business or personal use) and most importantly it's going to be unstructured and laid back.

When is it?
It's Thursday 2nd August at 7pm. Yes, tomorrow. What else are you doing on a Thursday besides reblogging wistful quotes on Tumblr, taking vanity shots on Instagram and tweeting passive aggressive statements about how mundane your working week has been and your excitement for the weekend? It's going to be held at Buffalo Bar , where there's a very popular offer on which is called buy one get one. Selected drinks are cheaper if you know what to ask for, so come and find me to reap the economical rewards.

If you haven't already guessed I'm @Samanthropy or @DirtyKnickers_.

Some other local fun and friendly attendees are:

** For anyone who is wondering what dirty knickers is, it is a blog, this blog in fact and it is about relationships. What do you like to blog/tweet/tumble about? Wait, don't tell me, save it until tomorrow!

What do I need to do?
Sign up to the event on our Eventbrite to let us know you're coming. Walk into Buffalo with a shy look on your face and either approach us or be prepared to be approached! We're going to be there from 7pm. We're all lovely, some of us are attractive and we'll be wearing name badges. You will also get a name badge. So, see you there!

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Steak and Blow Job Day - how are you going to spend it?

soft heart

Last month, like many other people I sat back and let a digital slush fest unfold courtesy of simpering couples. All were making their spontaneous romantic gestures to each other coordinated by a pre-determined holiday. As with our love lives in general, Valentine's Day had gone public. It seemed that the whole world was in a relationship, as people desperately clamored to out-do one another with their public gestures of love and consumerism. Sometimes it's just not enough to purchase an overpriced novelty gift, for some people if others don't know about it then it isn't significant.

Fast forward precisely one month later and today the so-called male equivalent to Valentine's, entitled 'Steak and Blowjob Day' is apparently just as worthy of our attention. The occasion cleverly incorporates two pursuits most revered by the typical man: meat and an orgasm. (And connecting those together is what funds the official website, if the giant porn banners are anything to go by anyway). I'm not particularly bothered about either Valentine's Day or Steak and Blowjob Day. They're inoffensive and I'm perfectly able to tailor how I feel about them depending on my current relationship status: they're a nice idea if you're attached, but if you're not it's fairly easy to ignore them and go about your daily business as usual.

However online opinions about these events have become extreme in their opposition to each other. Some people are woefully distressed at having no one to share the occasion with but are otherwise happy about spending the rest of the year alone. While others are angrily incredulous that the event is being forced on them and suffocating the free service which they use. In my opinion the latter is definitely the more irritating. If I honestly don't like something I tend to not give it any credence by talking about my irrational hatred for it or how much I'm not celebrating it.

But what bothers me about Steak and Blowjob Day is the idea that it's the masculine antithesis to the apparently feminine Valentine's Day. It's such an insulting stereotype for both genders. They would have us believe that the way to win a woman's affection is through flowers, chocolate and pink fluffy things. And in order to please a man you must cook him red meat and perform a sex act. Both occasions imply that in order to make the other person happy you must not derive any enjoyment from it and treat it as an obligation. Men are perceived as rolling their eyes at having to be romantic and women are portrayed as performing the annual mandatory blow job which they take no pleasure from.Well actually, there are plenty of men who enjoy spending time with their wives and girlfriends which doesn't involve rattling the headboard like a sailor on leave. Just as there are plenty of women who enjoy performing blow jobs because it's a perfectly natural expression of love and sexuality.

Besides, people who are in love with each other take enjoyment from making the other person happy. So instead, what should be applied on these days is how to do that based on individual desires. I'm not advocating that you should only make an effort for someone once a year, but these occasions serve as gentle encouragement for nice activities to flourish. So what if it's commercial? Tailor it to what you both enjoy doing. Just remember, the way you choose to do it doesn't need to be broadcast. I don't make a habit of writing about people who make me happy because the moments I have with them are sacred and for me alone to enjoy.

The ironic thing is that it's not the single people who annoy me the most over whinging about how commercial the respective days of Valentine's and Steak and Blowjob have become, but instead it's the smug couples who take themselves far too seriously. You know the ones. They proudly declare that they make each other happy every day of the year and don't buy into a commercial holiday. That's wonderful but if you feel the need to broadcast why you don't do something, you're just as bad as the people you're striving to set yourself apart from. It's interesting to note that these same people also celebrate Christmas, Hallowe'en, Mothers Day and every other commercially pre-determined holiday.What they could really do with is just piping down and continuing their low-key true love without us having to hear about how it's better than everyone else's. Or as I like to call it: boring.