January 30, 2006

Changes

I think its interesting how much I've changed since coming to uni, interesting to me I mean, doubtfully interesting to anyone else but hell it's my blog and I'll write I want on it…

It was definately one of the most contributing factors that lead to the end of my relationship, how much we both changed since going to uni, and the distance that then grew between us. For one, most people would barely believe now that I used to be shy, introverted, pretty much everyone's doormat, and I mean in a way that's still the case but I am most definately a lot more confident and a lot louder than I used to be, mostly thanks/due to RAG. So would see this as a bad change, she did, personally I think it's both good and bad in different ways…but there you go…

There's one specific change that I've been thinking about recently, which I suspect links in again with my seperation from her in the way that almost everything seemingly does. In my time before coming to uni, the two years I spent at my 6th form and the gap year following I again changed a lot, largely due to her influence as well as many others, and probably also following my 'coming out' as it were, and the various reactions I got from friends and family etc. The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler was one of my favourite books, and everytime I read it I felt fired up and inspired to try to make a difference and stop violence against women etc. I couldn't wait to come to uni and hopefully get involved in a production of it, or even start one if needs be. On top of that I was really looking forward to getting involved in WarwickPride, to go on Pride socials and meet up with other like minded people, who liked the same books, films, music I did, or even if not felt the same way I did about wanting to change the world. I wanted to stand up and campaign against homophobia and legislature such as Section 28 and for same sex marriage. I used to visit the Stonewall website to find out what was going on, and in the months before coming to uni I even began visiting the WarwickPride website in the hopes of finding out more about how I could get involved and maybe finding a forum I could post on and get to know current members and others who would soon be at Warwick.

Yet 2 and a half years later, and nearly half way exactly through my academic time at Warwick and, Glitter Ball's and start of year Welcome Buffet's aside, I've yet to actually attend a single Pride social. Actually thats a lie, I managed to go to one back in my first term last year, we went to the Oriental Star in Leam and then to Oxygen, but that is it. I even put down my intention to join Pride on my accommodation application for God's sake, in an attempt to ensure that I didn't get put with anyone potentially homophobic and that I would hopefully get put with other 'gays' (although thinking about it now how Warwick Accommodation would know someone is homophobic seems somewhat dubious, as I doubt anyone would write that on their application!).

When I went round the fresher's fair in my first few formative weeks here, I gave my email to so many societies, half of which was purely to get them to leave me alone, but some I actually thought I might be interested in. WASS was one of those societies, yet after almost an entire year on their mailing list I never felt inspired to join, and generally just deleted the emails without even reading them. Even this year I've been promising myself I'd get involved in Pride, start going to the socials more regularly, by which I mean at all, run for an exec position, and hopefully get a chance to, as originally intended, make a difference, but now it all seems a bit too late.

Now anyone who knows me knows that its not as though the Warwick Apathy so many complain of hasn't exactly got me completely. After being guilted into going on the RAG Dublin hitch back in my first ever term, I'm now intending to run for RAG President following a year as raid co-ordinator. RAG is my life now, it has completely taken over, largely because I've let it, and I'm even thinking now of pursuing charity organisation into a career when I finally finish here (since lets face it, what am I really going to do with a Philosophy degree). It's an amazing society, filled with people who are so accepting and have so much fun, and yet ultimately do it all for charity, to raise money for people who really need it, and I guess actually 'make a difference' to people's lives. If I'm really honest too, it's largely my commitment to RAG's fault that I haven't found the time to get involved with Pride, because I'm always busy with some other "RAG stuff". Yet I can't seem to shake the feeling that if I really wanted to I would find the time to get involved in other societies, i.e. Pride, the way I've intended too since before I even started here. So why haven't I?

For one I feel the fact that then I had a girlfriend, and now I don't is probably a contributing factor to my renewed desire to actually bloody get myself to a social, but I wouldn't say that's the reason I never got involved at all, since I clearly wasn't out to get involved originally to get myself laid! I wonder whether it is perhaps the Warwick Apathy that's gotten to me, or the 'Bubble Effect' which causes me to forget the real world thanks to the safety and accepting nature of campus. I wouldn't think twice about being openly affectionate with another girl in the piazza, or even in Leam, yet back home I certainly still would, and I live in Manchester for God's sake! I swear there's something in the water round those parts, so many people I know from there have come out, and I even know people who go there to uni and come back gay! Yet despite being out to my parents and my friends, and generally comfortable to be with my girlfriend in public, everytime I go back to work there I go back into the closet, even to the point of telling my co-workers, in the place I spent my gap year, that I had a 'boy'friend. Why? I shouldn't have to do that! Chances are I probably don't have to do that, that it's just me being neurotic and they'd probably be fine if I did 'come out', but then there's also a chance they wouldn't be, and I wonder whether I'll do the same thing and how long I'll try to keep the charade up when I do leave the bubble and have to make my way out there in the 'Real World'

I've become so cynical and jaded since coming to uni, and in a way I suppose that's a not such a bad thing, but in others it really is. I've lost a lot of my child like innocence, naiviety and enthusiasim. I hear about and read about the campaigning efforts of Pride and WASS now-a-days, and instead of feeling inspired to join in half the time I just feel sarcastic and snipey, like what they're doing doesn't really matter, when it really does! I need to overcome this cynical, sarcastic person I've become, fitting as she seems to be to the nature of my degree, my friends, and my general life here at Warwick. I need to regain some of that child like innocence and actually try to get involved before it really is too late.


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  1. The trouble is, from my perspective at least, that the Warwick Apathy (as you so rightly capitalise it), is a horrible, cancerous thing. By virtue of the fact that things are associated with a 'society' in any way the apathy is transmitted across and begins to eat away at it. Things that I am personally motivated by begin to lose meaning and motivational power over me when they move into the 'society' sphere (I'm putting inverted commas around societies because I don't mean 'in public'. I'm specifically referring to organisations within the union).

    I'm not quite sure why this is. I think it's because of the mental connections I've made between certain instituions/societies and some sort of massive personal cynnicism. The egoism and personality contests (whether they're some bizarre mental projection on my part or otherwise) which make up the sabb elections are a pretty good example. I'm interested in and motivated by politics, yet as soon as a practical instance of politics comes into my 'university sphere' I'm not at all interested and automatically move into hostile cynic mode. Why? Because I perceive that some other factor is at work that I have no interest in, namely the egoism of others.

    I enjoy doing things that I like doing with other people who enjoy doing them but within the context of a 'society' as an organised institution I get edgy. Suddenly it's less about your personal interests and more about the society's line: some general will, an aggragate, an approximation. So long as participation in society events is in keeping with my personal interests then that's all good, but when it comes to doing other things, less so. If I like people I will make efforts to get to know them better. I'm not going to take part in a social just because everyone else is.

    With things like Pride, I'm not really in a position to comment. However I will say this, sexuality is a personal matter. Societies are excellent up to a point for support and interaction. But beyond that point their purpose becomes less clear. Obviously sexuality is very distinct to something like paintballing or playing poker. Maybe there should be some different approach to the organisation of a group such as Pride, some sort of meta-society rather than the conventional ones we have for hobbies and the like. It seems much more important to me and should therefore be of a different status.

    It seems bad to subject important things to Apathy by associating them with the tawdry processes of certain societies and institutions (not referring to Pride or Rag here, more to groups whose main end seems to be the enhancement of the CVs of their exec. I appreciate there are plenty of societies that do excellent things). In a sense one is trivialising extremely signifcant matters by compromising on them.

    I don't really have a conclusion, except perhaps to say that in some respects societies are conduicive to the enhancement of one's personality. In other aspects that very same society can be limiting and restrictive. It's up to the individual to realise for themselves where the line is drawn between beneficial and detrimental. I come across as quite negative towards the society process but that's simply from my constrained world view. For many full participation in all activities organised by a group might be the best course of action, but it's important that you don't feel obliged to take part more than you are comfortable with. Like certain other things that we're discussed before, it's an elusive balance.

    :) sorry I wrote so much.

    30 Jan 2006, 12:34

  2. Surely one of the few things you should have realised about me by now is that you never have to apologise for writing too much, since it would be massively and obviously hypocritical of me to ever fault anyone of that following one of my mammoth brain-to-blog rants! Plus I quite like long responses, it gets a discussion going and gives a much greater insight into the issues than tiny one off comments like "I agree" do, I think thatís part of the reason I write so much in my blogs, that and I'm an Arts student and thus by nature wordy!

    I think I definitely agree with you about the restrictive nature of 'societies' as an institution and that its up to the individual to ensure that they don't get too caught up in whatís best for the society at the expense of themselves, as I have to admit I've probably been guilty off on more than a few occasions. The problem comes I think when people who are of a quieter nervous disposition join societies which give them a safe supportive environment to develop in, but only within the confines of that society. Its kind of like the roots of a plant, its all very well and good to put it in a pot with the right soil and nutrients etc to grow, but once it gets to a certain size keeping it confined within that same pot will only stunt its growth and eventually kill it. Now I don't think in these sorts of cases itís necessarily the society itself or its members that are to blame, but rather the concept of a 'society' as an institution that you then have to remain loyal too. This is probably a subconscious self-imposed perception on the part of the individual, but it remains a problem to be overcome. From the outside of course a society can then seem incredibly cliquey to those who aren't involved members, or who didn't get fully involved from the start. The idea of trying to get involved with a group which can amount to "exec and friends" can seem massively daunting to those on the outside or those less active members who want to do more. I know from personal experience that now, despite wanting to run for Pride exec I wouldn't feel confident enough to do so just because the core group as it were of current exec and active members seems so difficult to break into.

    All this factored of course with the cursed Warwick Apathy is a breeding ground for cynicism and hostility towards those who want to actively promote their society's agenda. As you so rightly pointed out to feel moved towards action on an issue personally may be fine, even to rally friends and like minded people around you to try to actually get something done, however once such an issue is put within the institution of a 'society' the issue you actually wanted to get across can get lost in all the bureaucracy, socials and the aggregate agenda's of the entire membership, or worse the personal agenda's of the exec.

    30 Jan 2006, 14:41

  3. I think this is one of the key factor's contributing to the Warwick Apathy, something that is reflected in recent election campaigns and the AGM's poor attendance. Many are all in favour of Union democracy in theory, but when it's put into practice the bureaucracy and faffing involved in actually getting anything decided upon, let alone actually done, is mind numbing! With such a massive student body raising issues which everybody personally feels passionate about is of course impossible, and so those with the loudest voices, the most aggressive campaigns and occasionally the most obnoxious attitudes get heard above everyone else, to the detriment of most of the student body who simply don't bother anymore since the issues being discussed are no longer anything they personally care about. And of course the very fact that it is the loudest, most aggressive, obnoxious people who get heard can in turn alienate those who do feel somewhat inspired by some of the issues raised by these campaigning societies, but not to the aggressive extent that the society wants to take it. It that case they might rather not get involved at all than be seen to be one of those shouting loudly about this or that issue and telling people what they should and shouldn't care about rather than taking the time to try to explain to people why they feel the way they do.

    In fact I think that is the key issue here, aggression. Someone I know commented to me the other day on guys who he feels are aggressively gay and how they irritated him in the way that they felt the had to force their sexuality down everybody elseís throats. Now I know this guy and he definitely isn't homophobic, and in actual fact I felt inclined to agree with him. He was very clear to distinguish that he wasn't talking about guys who are just camp in their demeanour, we have friends who are incredibly so, some people are just like that. Its the guys, and in my experience of it all girls too to a less high profile extent, who feel that they have to make sure that wherever they are everybody knows that they are gay and that they don't care what we think about it! Good! We don't care what we think about it half the time! We don't care what you think about it! Just bloody well get on with it and leave us alone!

    Okay…sorry, granted that was a bit hostile itself. Now I'm not saying under any circumstances that raising awareness of the issues of homophobia in this country and to a larger extent in other parts of the world aren't important, of course they are. But its that kind of aggressive confrontational behaviour that certain societies project in pursuing their agendas that I think dissuade some people from getting involved at all, people who are then liable to easily slip into cynicism and the all encompassing void that is Warwick Apathy.

    I wonder if I'll now get comments berating me for undermining important issues or being judgemental of others, perhaps. The real question though I suppose is, I wonder if I'll care…

    N.B. Told you not to worry about writing too much…I just got told my comment was too long to post! Hand to cut it down into two seperate sections to be able to post it all! Hehe..

    30 Jan 2006, 14:43

  4. I think that you're right about the agression, because it definitely exists in some people. While that type of attitude might have had a legitimate basis at some point (i.e. express homophobia on a greater scale in the past) the majority of this generation don't see sexuality as as significant as it used to be. Granted that homophobia still does exist and needs to be kept in check, but it's self-defeating to take an aggressive stance in anticipation of it.

    There's nothing wrong with the taking pride in one's sexuality and to a certain extent the active expressionof this pride is also affirming. However whenever it manifests itself in aggression a line needs to be drawn. This also applies to the society thing as well. Trying to do well in a society is fine so long as you don't stoop to aggression or slip into a look-how-many-friends-i-have mentality about it. When those in charge of socieites are acting out of a genuine desire to improve and educate people about whatever their society is intended to support then that's fine. The second that their personal interest takes precedent then their role is compromised. This applies to things on a much grander scale, i.e. politics, but if often seems to be the case that those who take part in politics are more interested in themselves than the improvement of society as a whole. But that's another rant completely.

    I'm sure just about everyone would agree that a certain amount of apathy is healthy, we can't all be expected to be as equally excited about knitting as we are about juggling or firebreathing. It's when insitutions actively promote apathy beyond that healthy level that action needs to be taken.

    30 Jan 2006, 16:59

  5. Argh, I wrote that comment, signed off, walked to my 3pm lecture and decided that actually I wasn't happy with it and I'd delete it and re-post it after the lecture, thought I couldn't be bothered with campus anymore and I'd do it when I got home, got back, tried to sign on but was foiled multiple times by our crap wireless internet connection, finally managed to sign on, and now I can't change it cause unlike the actual blog itself the only way to do so would be to delete it and re-post it changed, except then the post would follow the response which wouldn't make sense…damn you foiling my ever changing mind!

    If I'm honest most of the comment would have been the same, I just wanted to remove what my friend had said about people acting aggressively gay because I wasn't sure how comfortable I was with that bit when I originally wrote it, and on reflection I decided that it was one of those comments that's had to express, especially when its something someone else has said to you, and so not wanting to offend anyone in anyway I came back to delete it…ah well…

    Thing is with that bit, I know how much of a delicate issue it all is, because some people would say that they act in that way because they're proud etc, and that they shouldn't be judged by it, and a lot of me is inclined to agree, which would make me a massive hypocrite for the above comment. I suppose thatís the activist and the cynic in me conflicting, and in this way both get their say.

    I've had so many arguments with people, mostly on various forums or message boards, trying to explain the mentality behind Pride parades etc to people who thought that there was no need for it to be so publicly, well, paraded. Not that they were necessarily homophobic, although obviously some were, just that they felt making a big deal out of being gay was partly what made other people think that there could be something wrong with it. The idea that in going on the defensive in anticipation of attack was in fact what riled people into thinking they should attack, that people didn't want it thrown in their faces but that they wouldn't care if same-sex couples just acted 'normal'. Loads of people in this sort of argument/discussion made the clichťd claim that there should be a "Straight Pride Parade", thus completely missing the point. Yes, everyone should be free to be proud of who they are, but if you ask me I wouldn't say that sexuality is anything to really be proud of. Why should it be? You're attracted to who you're attracted to, be it nature or nurture, psychological or physiological, either way its not something anyone controls or makes a conscious decision over so how can you be proud? To me having pride in something is having achieved something, normally against the odds. Being proud that you're attracted to one sex rather than the other, or both, or neither, seems to me as ridiculous as taking pride in having brown hair, or being able to walk. Yet if say for example someone had been in some sort of accident and had been unable to walk, had had to undergo surgery or physiotherapy in order to regain the proper movement in their legs then they would have something to be proud of in the same way people claim that they are proud to be gay.

    30 Jan 2006, 18:02

  6. As far as I'm concerned it shouldn't be that they're proud to be gay because they're gay, but rather they're proud that they're not ashamed of it, and proud of all those who've gone before them who've made this openness possible. This is what I'd try to explain to people who'd make claims that there should be a 'Straight Pride' parade, that itís not about the sexuality as such but rather the overcoming of the stigma, shame, oppression and prejudice associated with being LGBTU or whatever! In a perfect world there wouldn't be gay pride parades, just pride parades, or parades, a celebration of everything and everyone. I mean really I should say there wouldn't be any parades, since there would be no need to celebrate sexuality at all...but I've been to these things and there's I even I wouldn't want to 'possible world' anything that fun out of existence!

    So that's why people act aggressively about their sexuality I suppose, and feel that they need to declare it and their pride in it before anyone has a chance to attack them. It's kind of like an anti-victim mentality. Only problem is as a result it riles people up and causes them to get frustrated with the whole thing, breeding cynicism, irritation, and even homophobia in extreme cases. I think the phrase you used earlier, although obviously in reference to a completely different topic, regarding the "elusive balance" was the right one to use. I think even I'm guilty if I'm really honest of something similar, back in my pre-bubble days. I was never aggressive about my sexuality, but I was incredibly defensive about it whenever faced with anyone who didn't yet know. The people who are now my friends have told me they noticed it when they first met me back in halls and found out I was gay. Obviously they didn't care but its sort of an 'oh' moment since apparently I don't come across as particularly 'dykey' is the only word I can think of! Any kind of pausing moment however would immediately get my defences up; in fact they were usually up before that in anticipation of which of any range of reactions I would get. This defensiveness however would then come across as hostile to people who really didn't have any kind of problem with who I was attracted to!

    Anyway, that was completely tangential but unfortunately thatís the way I blog it seems, thought to blog in a pretty much direct stream of consciousness. I guess there is a fair bit of the old me in there somewhere just waiting for a chance to be unleashed on a forum! Itís definitely good to know the cynicism and apathy haven't completely jaded me, and I feel a lot better for setting everything I was thinking straight.

    See, if you hadn't posted that comment so quickly I would have just changed my old one and the blogsphere would have missed out rambling wander through my consciousness! Hmm…good thing or bad thing…I'm not really sure either way… :)

    Plus I did it again! I really need to learn to curtail my commenting…

    30 Jan 2006, 18:04

  7. I haven't read any of these comments, as quite frankly, i don't have the energy. But thought I should own up to the fact that your entering into the jaded world of cynicism is probably down, in large part, to my own cyncical ways. Oh to be innocent and optimistic once more….
    I apologise anyway. But if it's any consolation, I love the new Becca more than anything.

    08 Feb 2006, 01:01

  8. bloody hell there are some long comments! sorry didn't read them all, but i know what u mean about going into / out of the closet, although for me it was the opposite. at home i was out, first term here i was very much closeted. though now i'm out, yet to find a g/f though, so i'm going to shamelessly use ur blog as a personals ad.
    wanted: attractive female smoker between ages of 18–25 to share wine and appreciate desperate housewives with. pref in the cov area. replies to my blog xx
    (love u Becca!)

    04 Mar 2006, 17:15


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