GUILT-FREE BREEKS

On the fourth of May this year, I was lucky enough to be invited to an event held by R:evolve Recycle. If you haven’t heard about them before, R:evolve Recycle is an initiative which is run by LEAP (Lightburn Elderly Association Project). The project focuses on prolonging the life of clothes and accessories, so to reduce harmful emissions and general waste (yass!). R:evolve Recycle operate a number of swap shops in Hamilton, Rutherglen and Cambuslang – where people can bring in their old clothes and trade them for new items. An evidently intriguing initiative, I was really keen to attend their event and learn more.

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#NoTags was held in a bike shop in Rutherglen, which had been completely revamped to look like a cool, underground fashionista’s dream! The event kicked off with a sustainable fashion show, with all outfits being sourced from the projects swap shops. There were some really diverse looks, for all different fashion tastes and body sizes. I think people can be quite unsure about shopping in charity shops, or visiting swap shops like the ones managed by R:evolve, but this fashion show put any concerns about second-hand fashion firmly to bed. From casual day-to-day to more glam looks, they had the lot!

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The event was hosted by Eunice Olumide, a Scottish supermodel and actress. Eunice is a massively positive presence, and has been active in charity work and vocal against oppression throughout her career. She was the absolutely perfect choice to host the event. It was with her guidance, that we were also shown videos about the impact manufacturing clothes has on the environment. The production and transportation of a t-shirt, for instance, combined with how often you wash, wear iron and dry it produces a whole lot of Co2 emissions. Studies have found that across the whole life cycle of a t-shirt, from production to disposal, the Co2 emissions add up to an average of over 10 kilograms (www.tshared.eu/blog-of-tshared) – for one t-shirt. It’s madness!

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So! What can we do? It’s all about making our purchases last as long as possible, so that the turnover of our wardrobe isn’t as constant and our demand on the manufacturing and distribution of clothes isn’t as constant. It is absolutely invaluable that we look at our own actions and how they impact our carbon footprint. We’ve been told this for years, and it sounds almost laborious, but R:evolve Recycle have provided us with an easy and exciting way to make our fashion sustainable, and protect the environment in the process. I will leave their social media and website below if you would like to find out how you can get involved. Pop into one of their shops if there is one near you. Go in for a chat, see how it works and for joining the initiative you get 5 free points which can go towards whatever takes your fancy! During a time where the world is doomed, we can feel helpless doing our bit to help the environment – but here’s a starting point. Change starts from the bottom up, so get involved in your local community. Trends change all the time, but loving the environment is a trend that’s here to stay – and we should all be following it. Get on it troops!

SOCIAL MEDIA:
WEBSITE: http://www.revolve-recycle.co.uk/home/4592435509
INSTAGRAM: @revolverecycle
TWITTER: @revolverecycle

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ONTO VICTORY

At the end of March, we (Mikaela McKinley, Orlaith Duffy and I) began a campaign for free sanitary product provision at Celtic Park. We have publicised it massively and have answered all the questions thrown our way. Now, we can say the campaign has been a success – Celtic will provide sanitary products free of charge by the start of the 18/19 season. It has been a relatively short-lived campaign, but I’d like to give you an insight into the journey from start to finish.

I’ve been aware of all the debate and discussion surrounding period poverty over the last year or so. There is work going through the Scottish Parliament at present, headed up by Monica Lennon MSP, to implement free sanitary product provision – primarily in schools, universities and college. With this in mind, the idea came to me whilst using the toilets at the football earlier this year. Why couldn’t we look to implement this in Celtic Park? Local councils, some schools and universities have introduced free sanitary product provision so that no women or girls miss out on education – but social inclusion is just as important. Celtic have an inclusive and charitable reputation which can be traced right back to our founding principles. If any club was to set the precedent of identifying and meeting female needs in their stadium, it had to be Celtic.

The idea stuck in my mind for a wee while, but I didn’t know how to even begin putting it into action, so I kinda put it aside. Mid-March this year we seen the repeal of the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act (yass!) and what a result it was. For me, it was one of the first instances where I had seen how working-class people organising can be victorious. This left me feeling really politically energised. Having gone through to watch the final debate of the Repeal Bill, I discussed my idea about Celtic providing sanitary products for free with Mikaela and Orlaith. We were all in, we were going to go for it.

A week or so later, we started a petition on Change.org. We did this to get the feelers out, and see how much support an initiative like this would have. We would need some support behind us in any future meetings with Celtic, to show that we had backing and it was not just us three that wanted this. On the same day, we emailed Celtic to share our ideas about free sanitary product provision, to advise that we had started the petition and to request a meeting. Our point of contact was on annual leave for a week at this time, so it was a wee while before we got the wheels turning.

The petition took off quite quickly. I have to say, I think the majority of the signatures were Orlaith’s doing – she is a popular and persuasive lady! The week or so following its commencement was madness. We had journalists contacting us, politicians, fan magazines, podcasts – we were thrilled. Even if this campaign wasn’t a success, we were delighted to have been beginning discussion and debate about sanitary products – it was the only way that menstruation could even begin to be normalised.

Our point of contact at Celtic Park got back to us and our communications with the club were open throughout this campaign. A lot of people seem to think we were pressuring the club, and that we were raging at them for whatever reason – but we weren’t! This became a possibility because of the club’s co-operation with us, they have been great.

We got a date in the diary to meet with Celtic to discuss our ideas going forward. We looked into options for the club if they were to go ahead and implement this. I have to give a lot of the credit to Mikaela here, she phoned around a number of different suppliers and organisations to explore options and pricing for free product provision – she is relentless! We did lots of research throughout, speaking to people fighting similar causes across the UK. With all the investigating we’d done, we felt really well-equipped to continue urging the club to implement this.

The initial meeting with Celtic went well, we think so anyway! The individuals we met with seemed really keen to learn more and were more than happy to explore any options they had to implement this going forward. We were to be updated with any developments, and left feeling quietly confident.

From the beginning of the campaign, we had been in touch with Monica Lennon MSP who has been incredibly supportive. Her work towards tackling period poverty is absolutely magic and I highly recommend checking out her ‘End Period Poverty campaign website – loads to read into and think about. Not long after the meeting with Celtic, she invited us to the Scottish Parliament to meet with her and to watch First Ministers Questions. With Mikaela unable to attend, Orlaith and I headed through to Edinburgh a couple of Thursdays ago – absolutely buzzing. We couldn’t believe our campaign had gained not just interest, but support at parliamentary level. Monica continues to support us and has undoubtedly laid the foundations for work like ours to be done. We are so so grateful.

It all sounds dead rosey, but we got a lot a lot of backlash. If you followed us online throughout, you’ll know this. We weren’t interested in getting into arguments. Personal attacks were ignored and concerns (no matter how harshly put) were met with explanations and facts. Through progressive discussion, minds were being changed – arguments would get us nowhere. People were agitated that the petition seemed to be everywhere and it was all that they were hearing about, but we were just saying our bit, it was out of our hands how many people shared it, made their own posts and started their own debates about it. A lot of the arguments against us were quite similar. “If you can afford tickets, you can afford tampons” was definitely the most popular, and we’re still hearing a lot of that now. We can’t assume that everyone buys their own ticket, there’s people there using spares that they haven’t paid for, people there with charities, foundations – e.g. The Kano. Also, there are young girls there with friends or family who haven’t paid for their ticket – its socially uncomfortable for them to have to go and ask a parent for a couple of pounds (got to be the exact change mind!) for a tampon. Women and girls get caught short all the time, periods can come unexpectedly and they’re unprepared, most women don’t even take a bag to the football! All that aside, it’s the principle. It feels wrong that we have to pay for sanitary products when toilet roll and soap are free – tampons and sanitary towels are just as necessary. No, this isn’t just a Celtic-only issue – but it’s a good place to start in terms of setting the precedent for Scottish football.

So, last week we were contacted by Celtic to advise they were going ahead – they will be making the machines free to vend by the start of next season. This will run for a trial until December, and is expected to be implemented permanently thereafter. We are absolutely thrilled to be able to share this news with everybody, and striving towards this has been worth every minute! Thanks so much to everybody who signed the petition, and everyone who offered us a helping hand. I also can’t go without thanking Jeanette Findlay, who offered us guidance and support on a number of occasions. Also massive thank you to Monica Lennon MSP and Kirsty-Louise who have been great friends to us throughout this. Thank you again one and all, and please see this as a call to action. If you’re not a Celtic fan, maybe not even a football fan – take this to your own clubs. Any football team, rugby team, any league, any part of the country – push your own teams. You can do it. We did. This is just the beginning.

I DONT WANTY WEAR PINK TO THE FITBA!

I can hear folk reading this title already. “God almighty, here this yin goes again wae the gender and football patter – gees peace!” – and I don’t blame you! The reason this is becoming a bit of a theme across my wee blog posts is because its important! I am massively interested in how different genders’ life experiences and opportunities vary. So, it feels only natural for me to consider this in the context of football, which is another interest of mine. I think in situations where there is a minority group, you need to hear from the minority group to fully understand the dynamic and the circumstances of their lives. This is why I think it is important for women to make their voices heard in areas which are male dominated like in politics, football etc.

The under representation of women in terms of football as both supporters and players, is reflected in a number of other factors relevant to the game. Before I go ahead, I’m not saying that the gender balance within football is a massive social issue. Gender inequality doesn’t exist in a vacuum within football support. But I think it’s useful to consider how the gender imbalance plays out across different platforms – and I’d like to focus on football.

I’ve being going to football matches since I was a wee lassie (wee-er – I’m still just shy a 5ft!). I personally dont have any complaints about how I’ve been treated at any time in football stadiums, ticket offices, supporter’s buses or pubs surrounding football grounds, I know a lot of other female football fans identify with this. Of course, there are exceptions to this and these women’s experiences are valid and deserving of attention but harassment based solely on gender is not what I’m looking to talk about.

What I’m wanting to focus on is some of the more minor points that could be considered when thinking about the demographic of male and female football fans – how is wider spread gender inequality visible within the context of football support? I can mind being a wee lassie and being accused of wearing football tops that obviously ‘weren’t mine’ cos I was a girl – “you’re just wearing that for attention!” “bet you canny name 5 players!”. It goes without saying, an absolute minor, comical wee thing to note but I think it sets us up nicely for what I’m going to talk about next.

I think that women, primarily young women, sometimes have to strive that wee bit more to establish a status of having “earned” a place in football support. I don’t mean that it is as visible and blatant as swarms of da’s hucklin lassies out of stadiums while they’re waiting for a pie. What I’m talking about Is the casual discourse that you see on social media and in conversation. There are ideas (which I don’t think are massively dominant but are definitely pressing enough to mention) that girls maybe don’t take the football as seriously, that they don’t know what they’re talking about or they’re doing it for male attention. An example of this that I have seen on social media a number of times is lassies getting hassle for getting tickets for certain fixtures and having to justify how they managed to get them while other ‘more deserving fans’ are struggling. Of course, I am not suggesting this is a solely gendered issue, as the demand for tickets in Scottish football combined with the collapse of folk’s away records and shoddy allocations have an impact on all supporters. All football fans – men, women, children – will face pressure under these kind of circumstances. However, with this in mind it does appear somewhat evident that women sometimes have to work that wee bit harder to establish a position there they are ‘deserving’ of a ticket or indeed an opinion.

I am not pointing the finger at anyone here. I am not saying that any individual, clique, group, committee or football team are responsible for this. I am not saying women are immune to criticism, because no one is immune in any walk of life. The reality is that football has historically been a male dominated sport. This is why it’s almost impossible to blame anyone for the frequent disregard for female opinion in football, as this disregard is almost inherent as we are essentially a minority group. I have spoke many times on social media and on my wee blog about how women are under-represented in the stands. As aforementioned, this is not a massive societal issue – if you’re not into football, you’re not into it – but why the female demand for the game is not as high as men is reflective of the wider gender dynamic across society and it’s interesting to consider. Women have always been, and continue to be, the minority. Explicitly, I don’t believe the pressure we sometimes face for following a football team is pressure that is consciously placed on us by male fans or indeed, other females – but it is an almost inherent consequence of being the minority gender.

Another, perhaps trivial, wee thing that is reflective of this issue is the plethora of pink gear for women in terms of football merchandise. I know folk are reading this and laughing, I’m laughing too, but what is that all about?! It almost makes sense. Folk doing the marketing at a football team (and any other enterprise to be fair) are almost instinctively gonny put elements of pink in the women’s merchandise for that respective football team. Gender stereotypes and ‘colour coding’ is a topic for a different blog post in itself, but please research it! It’s the idea that if we raise boys and girls to assign themselves to blue or pink that they will then stick to tasks, toys and roles relative to those colours. Pink linking to dolls, dresses, dressing up, sewing etc. Again, a completely different issue but with an important point to note. There is something a wee bit uncomfortable about how – with the exception of football kits – that your female sportswear, merchandise, pyjamas etc. are all either pink or shimmery or glittery instead of some of the same gear on offer in the menswear section. If you are intae the pink stuff your football team sells then that is absolutely cool – you do you – but there is something to consider about how you might not be into that, and end up buying ill-fitting menswear instead. It is also almost suggestive that the team has to be dolled up to be upsold to the burds. Gees the green taps that are on offer to the guys – in our size!

For people that don’t experience it, the previously discussed points will seem minor and petty – and they are very minor, I agree. However, I still think it interesting to consider how the wider societal issue of gender inequality can be seen within the context of football. Some women and, indeed, some guys will most definitely think differently but I think it’s important for as many voices to be raised when considering any issue – not less when considering the dynamic across football support. I don’t wanty be silenced, and I don’t wanty wear pink to the fitba!

WHAT’S YOUR FEED FEEDING YOU?

I can’t help but feel that as time goes on, social media is becoming even more of a hub of toxicity. Slating other people in posts, slating strangers even – we have all done it, directly or indirectly. There are times when it’s appropriate to call people out for saying a certain thing, for promoting hate or harm. But there’s a difference between opposing what you consider as wrongdoing and basically bullying! What I wanted to have a blether about in this post was just how your social media feeds impact you, and what actions (if any) we can take to make our Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or whatever else a bit more a safe and encouraging place.

I can confidently say that as long as social media, and the internet in general, are in existence that people are going to continue harassing, slating and bullying others online. Folk will be reading this going “I’ve never done that!” but you’d be surprised. There’s a difference between replying to a racist and calling them out for promoting hate and directly or indirectly making jokes about other people’s thoughts, ideas, and pictures at their expense for RT’s, likes and whatever else. If you are posting hateful stuff for gratification online – patch it! What’s the point? There’s no real, transferable reward for this kinda patter!

I think part of us kind of enjoy it. Seeing people coming up on our timelines spouting a lot nonsense and having a giggle. Sometimes it’s funny to get annoyed or angry – but why? I spoke briefly about this on Twitter recently but it can be dead simple. If folk are consistently posting stuff that makes you want to dedicate anything from a few minutes to a few hours of your day to poke fun at them – unfollow them! It’s a waste of time for everybody! It’s about protecting yourself as well. It canny be good to be sitting bubbling over with rage at stuff that’s coming up on the internet when we’ve got other things going on!

Just to expand on the idea of protecting yourself online, I think it’s important to diversify your feed in a number of ways. Most notably, in terms of body positivity. The likes of Instagram have been shown to have a real impact on people’s body image – both men and women (have you seen the explore page!). This is because a lot of the images we see on Instagram on your typical “insta-blogger accounts” (which I am big intae btw) look very similar – they often have similar body shapes, similar colour of skin. Let me be clear, all body types and all skin colours are beautiful – but when it’s the same type you’re seeing all the time and you can’t identify with that – it can make you feel abnormal! I can remember up until I was about 16 genuinely thinking that everybody had prominent collar bones, a flat tummy and toned legs except from me because of what I’d been seeing in the media. Both men and women with this body type are beautiful, but it’s about familiarising ourselves with body types we’re not often shown in mainstream media unless we search for them independently. Diversify your feed! Follow people from different ethnic backgrounds, religions, sexualities, abilities and with different body shapes! Fill your feed with people that you can relate to, and also people that you can’t – its good to keep learning!

The internet is colossal and there is folk from all backgrounds and ideologies using it – that can’t be avoided, and it’s part of what makes the internet such a useful tool. However, what you make of social media is in your hands. It’s not selfish to make your accounts private and to follow and unfollow certain people. It’s about self preservation to a degree. If you disagree with what someones posting, yes – call them out! But try it in a way that demonstrates respect and will hopefully be progressive. Follow people who post content that you enjoy, who make you laugh, who educate you, who make you think. Make it as safe and enjoyable a place as you can! Dae your hing!

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant”

THE OBFA: A WOMAN’S PERSPECTIVE

This article first appeared in the Scottish Socialist Voice.

Since the introduction of the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act in 2012, there has been much debate about the legitimacy of the legislation. The Act went through Parliament in a manner many say was ‘rushed’, and the legislation’s content is scarily vague. It is also problematic in that its definition of offensive behaviour is unclear and, because of this, it is ultimately down to the personal opinion of individual police officers to determine whether ‘offensive behaviour’ has been practiced.

The above are just some of the many issues with this much disputed legislation. With these in mind, it is understandable that a potential repeal of the Act spearheaded by James Kelly MSP has been welcomed with open arms by many. However, whilst this bid for repeal has brought some hope, the response from some sectors has disheartened myself and many other female football fans.

Reading the written submissions of evidence for the repeal bid from different individuals and organisations once they were published was a generally positive experience. I know that myself, and many other women, were naturally eager to read the submission from the Scottish Women’s Convention (SWC). Yet, I couldn’t have felt more unrepresented.

The SWC state in their submission that they have a number of events and roadshows where they gather the opinions of women, and it is from these events they gathered the ‘insight’ that was shared in their written submission. However, the contents seem vague and there is no clarity on where or when these events took place, whether the women asked actually attended football matches nor the demographic of women involved. Some other female football fans and myself directly contacted SWC to ask about this, but the responses were unclear and the majority didn’t get responses at all.

The SWC were due in Parliament on 7 November to give oral evidence in regards to their submission. With this in mind, over 40 emails were sent to the organisation over the preceding weekend from female football fans who felt passionately that they should reconsider their approach. 7 November came around and, with hope, we waited to see if our requests had been considered. Unfortunately, they hadn’t.

Debbie Figures, the SWC representative in Holyrood that day, acknowledged that she had received some emails over the weekend – but didn’t disclose what they said. She explicitly said that whatever was in those emails couldn’t be considered because they only consider the opinions of women at her organisation’s events and roadshows.

This is a thoroughly disappointing stance from an organisation who are truly capable of making change. Representatives of the organisation proudly claimed on the day that the SWC hears frequently from women online. However, it seems as if the ‘inclusive’ organisation just weren’t willing to consider the 40 emails they received from female football fans prior to their appearance at Parliament that week.

What was most alarming about the SWC’s both written and oral submission was the mention of women contending with sexual harassment and rape threats at football matches. The SWC said that this in itself was enough reason for the Act to remain, as women weren’t included in hate crime legislation. This is hugely problematic in a number of ways.

Firstly – I agree, the sooner women are included in hate crime legislation the better (and this is being worked on currently). However, it’s not relevant. As is the overriding argument against this Act, legislation is already in place to deal with the incidents detailed. The Sexual Offences Act 2009 deals with all manners of sexual violence and inappropriate communications. To suggest sexual violence exists in a vacuum in and around football grounds is immensely insulting to survivors. The patriarchal divisions and gender inequality which lead to sexual violence are deep-rooted in the very foundations of society and are wide-spread. To trivialise this and suggest such harassment and abuse be dealt with under football-related legislation, especially with the Sexual Offences Act in place, is massively disrespectful.

At the beginning of the oral evidence session in Parliament on 7 November, all panel representatives were asked what their experiences were like at the football. All of them responded that they didn’t attend regularly enough to say. SWC’s Debbie Figures said she had “no strong interest in football”, and this was made clear as the session progressed.

The Offensive Behaviour Act is arguably one of the most problematic in recent years and is essentially classist in its criminalisation of a traditionally working-class sport. SWC, being a feminist organisation that I would assume seeks to support all women of all classes, are failing by championing this law which criminalises working class football fans and impacts their lives and families. The SWC’s dismissal of emails from female football fans shows no willingness to listen to or engage with our thoughts and opinions.

Organisations can submit additional evidence to the Justice Committee on top of previous submissions and I would hope that an organisation which preaches inclusivity would perhaps consider an additional submission including some of the concerns shared with them via email that have been left out of their earlier evidence.

Women are already an under-represented gender in football, both on the pitch and in the stands. But we do exist, and our voices shouldn’t be ignored.

FAITH VS FEMINISM

(Throughout this blog, I’m gonny be referring to Catholicism quite a lot. This is only because I am a Catholic, and it’s the one I have most experience with. I am wholly accepting that other faiths might pose different challenges for young men and women, but since I’m not experienced in any other religion it would be wrong of me to refer to such and try and represent their main beliefs and values)

Expressing religious beliefs in this day and age can be scary man. Especially in Scotland, sectarianism is a very real problem. When I tell people that I am a practicing Catholic, they’re usually a wee bit baffled. “Thats quite unusual innit, for somebody so young?” “What, so you go to mass n that?”. I welcome these sorts of comments, and any opportunity to share the values of my faith and learn about others – it’s exciting! My faith is important to me, but another thing I hold dear is my devotion to feminism. I’m aware that for some people this is a bit of a conflict of interest, as I’ve been challenged more than a few times about how I can be a practicing Catholic as well as a feminist. I get it. I get why it can be difficult for people to understand. This generation seems to be more open minded and clued up on ‘taboo’ issues than generations before. People aren’t scared to talk about hings like sexuality and abortion, which is amazing since people were and some are still oppressed when it comes to these hings. However, when you compare this newly liberated generations views and ideas to the historic writings of the Church and some of it’s arguably rigid beliefs, it’s quite a stark contrast.

It’s this stark contrast that I think can estrange young people from their faith. People are arguably more accepting of other sexualities beyond heterosexuality, and talking about contraception and abortion isn’t as condemned as it once was. So I get it. I get why people are asking themselves whether they want to practice a faith or even not at all when their social views and religious beliefs conflict. I’m not here to tell anybody to go to mass and I’m definitely no here to preach! What I’m trying to say is that it doesn’t have to be one or the other. Religion aside, I think that applies to everything. We’re often taught that hings are black and white, “you can believe in this but that means you need to steer clear fae that”, “aye but if you’re intae x you canny be intae y” – You can, make your own rules!

I went to a Catholic primary and secondary school. I made all the relevant sacraments for my age group throughout education, and now at 20 I still go to mass. Going to Catholic schools means the teaching is based off a Catholic curriculum – I’m grateful for the curriculum, it taught me a lot about my faith. However, it could be seen as dated. I know that for me, sitting in a Catholic classroom hearing the Church’s traditional view on homosexuality and abortion made me quite uncomfortable. I loved my faith, and almost didny want to hear about the parts of it that conflicted with my views on sexuality and women’s rights. I’d hate to think that there’s young people whose sexuality is anything other than heterosexual, going through school feeling they can’t be themselves because of the prevalence of religion throughout their school. Or even young people that have had an abortion, feeling like they are abnormal because they are being taught abortion is wrong.

It doesny have to be as black and white as this. I can understand the Church’s views on sexuality, abortion and contraception, but I don’t agree with them. I think we’re all a bit guilty of forgetting that you can understand things without agreeing with them. It’s okay to acknowledge that people think differently from you and no give them hassle! I can understand why folk think the Church’s stance on a number of issues are dated and even problematic. It’s okay for religion and personal thoughts and opinions on other things to conflict, it doesn’t mean it has to be one or the other. This is why different faiths are prevalent around the world, to offer solace and to help us deal with the things we don’t understand. Anything that’s troubling me, anything I don’t understand about the world or the Church or myself, is part of my own relationship between God and I and my own faith journey. Even if you’re not intae religion at all, even if you’re no on any sort a ‘faith journey’ thats cool as well! The main hing I’m trying to say here is that don’t let folk lead you to believe different parts of your life and your different beliefs and ideas all have to stay in their own box – let them overlap! For me, faith and feminism were the two important presences in my life that I thought had to oppose each other for a long time – but I was wrong. Feminism should be intersectional and inclusive of all classes, sexualities, races and religions and in order to achieve such a goal, we need people from all backgrounds to be involved. God isn’t gonny turn round at the gates of heaven and be like “no the night, mate” just ’cause you support gay marriage, and are pro-choice, or you’re homosexual or you have the copper coil or you’ve had an abortion. Just be the best person you can, whether you’re religious or not, do your hing! Religion and sexuality don’t have to be polarized!

“The Lord your God is merciful; God will not abandon or destroy you.”

GENERALLY ELECTING

It seems like no matter how many tweets and texts and ranting and raving I do, I still have more to say about the general election campaign. With that in mind, I thought this was good grounds upon which to make a wee comeback to the blog!

I really like election time, I think the build up and the debate are exciting particularly in Scotland post-independence referendum – it’s class! I seen a lot of harsh debating, aye, but I seen a lot of folk from opposing sides genuinely just helping each other out on social media etc this time around. A lot a people were posting about how they were undecided with their pals on social media responding and asking about their constituency and helping them find somebody that suited them. I think this time, people just tried to raise the importance of voting altogether and encourage as many people to do the same regardless of what party! But this election was really tough for me, and I know for a lot of others too. I’m only 20 but I voted for the first time when I was 17 in the independence referendum and since then have lost count of referenda and local and general votes that have cropped up. Although it feels like we haven’t been out of the polling stations over the past few years, this general election posed a great challenge for me. Do I vote for the SNP and try n ‘strengthen Scotlands voice’ and basically concede to the acceptance of another Tory govt? Or do I vote Labour, compromise independence for a time and support Corbyns unparalleled socialist manifesto despite Scottish Labour’s discrepancies?

I’ve always found it quite hard finding a party that totally represented me. I have a lot of respect for individuals like Nicola Sturgeon and Mhairi Black as strong and successful female role models, but I don’t like the SNP and their diluted so-called ‘socialist’ policies. I really like the Greens, Patrick Harvie is a refreshing and positive influence, but their inconsistent approach to Catholic schooling has challenged me a wee bit. I was a member of the SSP for a while also, but I sorta grew apart from the party once the formation of RISE came about. Voting Labour seemed like a no-go ever again after the inept running of Scottish Labour and their cosying up the Tories in the past and in the lead up to the independence referendum. And there was no chance I was voting Tory.

I sorta had to give myself a bit of a shake. Aye, do you know what – it is shite living in Scotland and feeling like you have to make the best of a bad bunch when finding a party that you can truly align with. But am I going to spend more time feeling sorry for myself that I’m not 1000% represented by any one party or am I going to work with what’s on offer and use my vote to to incite positive change not just for me but for the many?

SO, that said – giving myself a shake is exactly what I did. I felt like Corbyn’s manifesto was the strongest and most progressive manifesto I’d seen in recent years and it really resonated with me. And I know the argument – ‘How can you vote for Labour knowing the tragedy of Scottish Labour? And what about independence?’ Aye, do you know what – Scottish Labour just aren’t too sharp but how could I call myself a socialist and look back on years to come knowing that I passed up on that manifesto? Independence is important to me, and I do believe I’ll see independence in my life time, but it’s something I’m willing to compromise for a time in an attempt to see change on a greater scale across the UK. It was always going to be hard for Corbyn to gain a majority and find himself in No.10, but I see the seats he gained, the prevention of a Tory majority and the opposition he has now built as a success, not a loss. I know that when I look back on this election I will be happy knowing that I stuck to my beliefs, and voted for the manifesto that I believed would be the most likely to tackle the struggles of the many and to oppose a divisive and unequal society. Maybe it will pay off, maybe it won’t  – but I didn’t want to tactically vote!

Social Media is your best and worst friend in the build up to an election. When you’re connected with all like-minded people on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc it can seem like everybody thinks the same as you and it can lure you into a false sense of security. If I had judged the electoral outcome based on my Twitter, I coulda stuck a score on a Labour landslide and Jeremy Corbyn as PM – the same way social media had me thinking Scotland would be independent and we would DEFINITELY remain in the EU..

It’s this false sense of security that can sometimes make people think they don’t really have to vote or talk to as many folk as they can about politics – but we do! That’s one thing that I’ve taken from this election – the importance of the vote. Women were imprisoned, on hunger strike, being force fed with Emily Davison even dying for the cause of votes for women. Equal voting rights were fought for, for years and with that in mind especially, the right to vote is truly valuable – for all genders! You hear a lot of people saying “Awk, my vote doesn’t count” “I’m just going to waste the ballot” but theres a reason why there are often re-counts on election night – a few votes really can make the difference. I completely get why people are scunnered and want to waste their ballot, cause you can vote in 48393 elections over your life and feel like none of them go your way. It was sore not waking up to Jeremy Corbyn as PM and hearing the Tories looking to pair up with the DUP, it hurts and it’s frustrating when the results aren’t how you would like. Regardless, would you rather wake up unhappy with the election result, but knowing you at least done your bit and tried for your morals and beliefs, or would you rather not vote and wake up to a system or a party that you don’t like because you’ve written your side off before the final whistle?

For the many x