Stroke, sexuality, sexism…back on track!

Harmless fun? If my meal's going to be unnecessarily gendered I hope it comes with pink icing and glitter

Harmless fun? If my meal’s going to be unnecessarily gendered I hope it comes with pink icing and glitter

After a long hiatus I’ve finally got time to get back to this blog. I can see that my last entry was Halloween 2013 – which was about 6 months before my thesis hand-in (so you can imagine how the time following this was spent). I’ve now completed my studies, qualified and am working as a clinical psychologist in a brain injury service. Getting up to speed on my new job (not to mention actually having to go to work 5 days a week, without a study day in sight!) has left me pretty shattered but I’m slowly adjusting to my new routine. A quick update on my recent movements:

  • I recently submitted my thesis (which was about sexual issues post-stroke and how rehab professionals work with these) for publication and I also presented it as part of a talk on sexuality and acquired brain injury that I did at the last SHADA (Sexual Health and Disability Alliance) meeting. I think I’ve now exhausted the potential to spread this piece of research (until it’s finally published), I’m ready to move onto studying something a little different now and also getting back to writing.
  • Following the submission I finally got round to writing something for my university blog, “Discursive of Tunbridge Wells”, something I’ve been meaning to do for ages. Salomons runs their own blog as part of their public engagement drive, it covers a whole range of issues related to applied psychology – debates within mental health, professional roles, lived experiences. It has some great content from a really wide range of contributors and I’m quite proud that my old department is putting something like this out there – I think it’s the only clinical psychology course to do so. My piece is about supporting people with cognitive impairments (e.g. brain injury, LD) to vote and how mental capacity relates to this (or doesn’t). It’s something I’d come across in my work recently and I definitely feel it needs more awareness! I’m hoping to do more writing relating to health and disability issues in forums such as this.
  • A couple of days ago I received a request from a journalist. I was initially quite excited as I thought maybe they’d picked up my voting piece (it is topical after all…). But alas no, they were running a piece on something on twitter I’d responded to the other day. The “story” relates to a picture of a cafe menu in Bristol that has “for him” and “for her” breakfasts. The masculine meal is a greasy Full English whilst ladies get a lighter option with salad leaves and blueberries. Whilst I don’t think a gendered breakfast is the biggest threat to feminism, this kind of lazy stereotyping annoys me, especially the underlying idea that women should have the diet-friendly dish. The story was originally published in the Bristol Post, but was then picked up by several other media sources (including the Daily Mail) which pretty much recycled the entire article and quotes “Outrage at Sexist Menu!!”. The article has of course attracted many entertaining commenters who see us as miserable feminazis with nothing better to do than get offended. I’m amused that this has generated far far more interest than any of my research or any of the many articles I’ve written over the years!  I feel sorry for the cafe who admittedly acted thoughtlessly but didn’t really deserve the level of attention this piece of non-news has achieved.
No need to actually go on the Daily Mail website, here's the bit that mentions me as if I have some kind of special knowledge on these matters.

No need to actually go on the Daily Mail website, here’s the bit that mentions me as if I have some kind of special knowledge on these matters.

So I’m hoping to do much more writing, presenting and generally getting out into the world in the coming year. If anyone needs a comment or piece written on any of my usual topics (brain injury and rehabilitation, neuropsychology, sex and disability, ableism and “invisible disabilities”, sexual and gender minority issues and related things) do let me know! Or I can comment on minor acts of unintentional sexism, I’m versatile.


Save St Paul’s Carnival!

I may be living in London now, but I think I left my heart in Bristol.

Sad news today as I heard that the famous St Pauls Carnival is being scaled back due to lack of funding. This will mean the carnival is contained within the Portland Square and there won’t be any late-night sound systems. If you’ve never been to the carnival before, it really is one of the highlights of the Bristol year. In the middle of the summer, the event sees a massive parade through the St Pauls area, with floats, dancers, musicians and other performers. Similar in some ways to the Notting Hill Carnival, the event has an afro-carribean flavour, celebrating the city’s rich multicultural heritage. The masses are attracted to come and see bands and DJs play the various make-shift stages, visit the fairground rides, eat some jerk-chicken from a stall set-up in someone’s garden and lounge on the grass with a pint of cider. The entire area has a festival atmosphere to it as streets are closed off to cars and masses mill around. The event attracts people from all over Bristol and beyond. In the evening various sound-stages are set up to play an eclectic mix of music, one of the most famous being in the Malcolm X centre car-park, and hoards of people dance their way into the next day.

It’s a truly fantastic event. Being there made me really feel part of the city, wandering around, taking in the spicy scent on the air, seeing so many different people of all ages and backgrounds coming together. It feels like this is what Bristol is about, art, diversity and community. St Pauls does have a bad reputation from the past as an area for drugs and crime, which has been hard to shift. But this event really pulls people in and celebrates all that’s special in the area, its unique character. Seeing school children in the parade with their hand-made costumes and banners sends a strong message that this is not an area to be ashamed of, this is the true beating heart of the city.

The event costs £250,000 to stage and sadly they only received £3,000 in donations at the event last year. This hasn’t been well-publicised so there hasn’t been much opportunity to fundraise before the decision to down-size the event was announced. But there is still something we can do to help this event stay great. On the St Pauls Carnival website they have details of how donations can be made by text, I’ve just done mine. See you next summer!

Photos by me.