Have the power to empower others

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As I published yesterday, I will be reviewing and commenting on the second panel discussion from the Level Up Conference on the 3rd of March. The topic was ‘Women in power; change in the world’ and the invitees were none better than the other. I especially liked Jeanette Forbes and Vicky Brock because both their experience included failure and drastic failure from which they recovered, pushed through, and succeeded better than if they didn’t fail! The moderator had really good points to talk about and I can only enumerate a few.

The topics merged one with another but what gave me food for thought are two of them, one critically and one emotionally. They have been talking about equality (expected, right?), but my issue here is that we don’t need that. Equality in the sense of rights has been very well obtained ages ago, and I am grateful for that, but today we need to take it one step further. And I’m quite upset that not even Mrs Brock talked about because she seemed quite critical and happy to share the downsides of a lot of actions. Anyway, I was mentioning it yesterday in the review of the university too, and I will very much do this again. Equity, this is the step we need to make. Because the panel was discussing how girls are raised compared to boys etc., so that to begin with talks about equity – giving the right tools, not the same! Because what should we do with equality? Give kids the same toys, trucks and building legos and math books? No! Not at all, so should we then gift boys make-up and girls trucks? No way! Shouldn’t we gift what they lack? Further when they grow as well, shouldn’t we teach them what they need to be at the same level, rather than teach them the same things? Equity. That is it. And I cannot wrap my head around it, how no one is open to talking about this! Is this term unknown to people – I am seriously pointing out, maybe it is not and because of my background, I am just very familiar with it. I mean equity, this has been around for ages:

And it’s exactly what should happen today. To begin with, women obviously wouldn’t be able, in general, and literally, do the exact same jobs as men do. I mean, obviously no woman ‘fights’ for her place in a constructions sites and whatnot. They ‘fight’ for their place on boards, CEOs and CFOs and all the Cs. And that is ok, but we need to address it – because this very reason is why they don’t, actually, ‘fight’ for equality. And I’m saying they because I have a different opinion on the matter. So, I say it again: equity. Bold, italic, how can I make it more outstanding?! Eq-ui-ty! As long as we’d give everyone the tools they need to level up at the same stage, then we’d be quite a fine society. But it’s not happening. However, this is not a bad story. I can understand these actions quite well and, in all honesty, I am happy to hear about successful women. But I do have critics of the whole ‘women and power thingy’ because I will simply say that: why?! And this has also been raised as a question at the end, and to be honest the answers let me down very much. So here it goes, why in the world are women trying to stand up to men, when the most problematic segment are women themselves. I am not saying that men aren’t, to some extent everywhere, trying to take over some jobs or at least being slightly arrogant and ignorant – but the worst enemy of women are women. And I say this, I would shout it out. It’s women who judge, not men. Women stare at your dress if you wear twice, women are jealous if you do something better than them, women are jealous of others’ families, women say they are precious little diamonds but when it comes to it they only cut and don’t shine if there’s no one who sheds light on them (diamonds reflect, refract, and disperse, they don’t shine). What I’m saying is, women are precious but they need attention all the time in order to shine, they cannot be self-content, if no woman knows their success, they’ll make it known, get awards, say stuff, look at me, here, I’m successful. And that is just a cycle which doesn’t end and does two very bad things: 1. gives anyone the impression that women can’t do the jobs because all they look for is attention and 2. makes them look superficial and pathetic. Now, I know these are very harsh words and I know a lot of women who are exceptions, but if what I’m talking about isn’t the majority, then what in the world are they trying to ‘fight’? Men don’t give up half of their life to put make-up on for others, they don’t need societal reassurance. And I know the history, but we’re past that, we’re not living in history, we’ve got the equality thanks to very hard working women and men at the time, so now we need to take it a step further. That is why feminism today has turned into a massive f-up. Because it ‘fights’ for whatnot but what’s important, that is telling women to stop being so interested in others’ businesses and, again, equity. Men today become themselves less and less manly as they were (good or bad, not the issue here), men themselves know that their female counterparts are powerful, but women manage to sustain this battle when they come up with 1. fake news, 2. fake everything godammit. I mean it does all tie in together and unfortunately for those women who are ‘alright’, these false accusations everywhere, the attention seeking and spending more time to advertise oneself than actually do whatever it is to be done, these obviously make anyone, men or other women, think that it’s a sham, it’s a ‘wtf’. And that splits this world, not the fact that some men are still sarcastic, ironic and demise a woman in power, that is easily fought by that woman and end of, because men are ridiculed by women as well, we know that, right? So it’s quite a two-way street here, there are no saints in the world. Even women who ‘fight’ for whatever equality they ridicule men, they say ‘oh these men are the big bad wolf’ no, you are the worst enemy of yourself. Call me traditional, with old perspective, or conservative, whatever you may, but in 2019 there’s no issue such as ‘men don’t cook’, ‘men don’t look after babies’ etc., they very much do so, the majority, for that matter! Because some a-holes don’t shouldn’t fuel a whole ‘fight’ because it’s 1. for the wrong reasons and 2. for the wrong aim. What do you want? To work in constructions on the field carrying blocks of rock or whatever they are called? No! Then get out there and tell the world about equity and then feminism may just regain its status and good face and, mostly, trust. So in saying this, I have to disagree with all this equal environment thing.

I am aware that this is a very sensitive topic and to be honest I don’t think I’m 100% right, I mean I will never claim that even I feel that I am. I know that the truth is always somewhere in the middle, but the extremes have to be addressed in order to find that middle. Right now we’re in a world that 1. is feminist or 2. hates feminism – overall, because I have met people, both men and women who are true feminists and deal with the right issues and have fine thinking. But, unfortunately, the majority decides.

Anyway, the panel wasn’t ‘feminism and its issues’, so I’ll reflect on the second part of it, the change in the world. This is what has to change, the equity instead of equality and the diminishing of the ‘women are women’s worst enemy’ issue. For the sake of it, I’ll say that I don’t care who is successful, man or woman, as long as the success is rightfully achieved and tells a story of hard work and not a superficial entitlement, then I couldn’t care less and I’ll applaud. I literally couldn’t care less what the sex of that person is and in all honesty, I ask you too, why do you care? What makes it so important what they hold in their… excuse me?! IT shouldn’t matter, as long as this society is built for the better, why does it matter so bloody much who build it? We’re spending more time caring about sexes and genders and crap than dealing with how we actually survive, because the world’s on a survival mode right now… Women do have the rights to do stuff, they’re no longer captives of a male dominant society, they can go out there and do what they know they have to do! There’s no one standing at the gates of businesses or investors saying ‘you’re a woman, I can’t let you in’. It’s hard, but it’s hard for everyone. Males have their stereotypes ‘oh you’re a male, you’re aggressive, you’re polite only on the surface, not trustworthy’ etc., so excuse me, but this thing is a highway to hell for everyone. … But hey, maybe it’s just me who sees it this way. I’d be the only one to fight for equity and, now, that’s something I’d do and I am already trying to raise awareness in a lot of ways. But I’m not entitled enough to have the coverage that hm ‘others’ do (I hope you see the irony in it and exactly why equity is needed).

However, now let this calm down and I’ll get emotional to talk about the second tapped into the topic: the impostor syndrome. Now for this, they made it very clear that it’s not just women who suffer it, so I can’t go on a rant for that, which is good. They said how one feels that they aren’t supposed to the job although they are literally trained for it. That they are bluffing, that they have no idea what they are doing and how are they then doing it? Now, I feel that as well, you see, and it gave me troubles with anxieties and depression phases, bipolar characteristics sometimes. It f- s-ks. It’s a terrible thing and a lot of people have this thinking, that ‘what the f- am I doing here’, and that is from a lot of reasons but I think the main one is security in the society. I am talking about this whole ‘gig job’ culture and the alienation from the importance of relationships. I am one who is damn focused on my career and there aren’t too many things I’d sacrifice, but to open up as I barely do, I am very aware that security is so important, and having security in your personal life is such a fuel, it empowers to go through whatever stuff because you can get home after it, you have that home, not the walls, not a house, you have a home. So in saying that, I have thought why this security can’t be established at the careers level. And the answer is simple: politics. The root of all evil is money, money which drives politics. Terrible little thing, that is money. Because of the open borders and migration patterns and the bloody-blah, you cannot have stable jobs. It’s a very complicated matter and besides the main point of this blog post, so I won’t go too much into it, but roughly these are the reasons why the gig job culture cannot defuse at this point in time. I do hope that at some point it will, but as a fact it cannot happen now – and it’s not a bad thing, to be honest, for a lot of people is golden – like migrants, like unskilled workers, like people who aren’t entitled, who don’t have ‘status’ whatever that is these days. So then I get back to say, to diminish these feelings of being an impostor in your own mind, in your own being and career for which you strived for, we need to care for our personal life, we need to learn and learn again how to have homes, how to be a home for someone – friends, lovers, whatever you want, anything counts. We need to let ourselves be in a home. Because… because we cannot live alone. We are social animals, like it or not, we cannot be individualistic to the point of suicide. That is what alienation leads to, I know it’s harsh, but I would know, honestly, that is where it gets us: mental suicide if not the actual job of it. And I know there are people who don’t have this impostor syndrome, that never had and will never have a clue of it. You guys, good for you! I’m not sarcastic, it is, but do know about it, get yourself educated, because you may have a friend who does, you may have someone who (as one would) hides it, who does suffer in silence. Do know about it and don’t judge it. It’s not an illness, it’s a thought, but a thought which may very well lead to serious illnesses if not ‘thrown’ off the edge of the minds.

So, I’ll wrap it up, I could go on and on about both issues, but there’s so much you guys would read anyway (ha ha ha).

99 problems but critical thinking isn’t one of them

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As I was writing the other day, I’ve been participating in the Level Up Conference 2019 over this past weekend, 2nd and 3rd March. On the first day, the discussion panel was alright [Climate Change Talk]. However, the intriguing topics seem to have been kept for the second day.

3rd March brought two panel discussions, none better than the other, with issues in the focused interest within the University of Aberdeen. ‘Scottish University of the Year – A deserved title?’ and ‘Women in power; change in the world’. Both exciting to witness and I’m eager to review the points. I will do so in separate posts as I may want to refer to them in future, separately. So here is:

Scottish University of the Year

Like any devoted to critical thinking individual, I’ve taken notes which rise some issues on what has been said, but I must begin by saying that I’m quite happy that the panel didn’t just praise the university, they did accept to see downsides and issues. The moderator managed to include key questions but, some of them were answered politically, in the sense that the answer was turned to be something but not on point. All the comments I’ll bring up will tie in together at the end, so bare with sort of a bullet-point report until all this will make even more sense at the end.

One of the very first questions was how many hours should a student dedicate to their studies, as the previous question was what is the main scope of the university, and everyone agreed that is much more than studying, is socialisation, co-curricular, time for oneself to relax, etc. So the answer came from what I concluded that could be a great lecturer, Dr. Ilia Xypola (in International Relations – politics).

SnapShot from the videos I’ve taken

So I’m not arguing with her, but I’ll point out that the reality is far from what she explained. Ok, so she said about 600 a half-session, that would be 40 hours a week, reasoning that, as a full-time student, the university is your job, thus 40 hours a week is roughly what a full-time job is. I couldn’t agree more, but she underlined that ‘a module…’. That is what I thought, initially, is a mistake, she meant the whole. But then I remembered my UG degree and I’ve gone here [new tab] and took a 3rd-year Politics and IR course. The lecturing and tutorials themselves are 33 hours (the average for UG courses is 30), so you’d be left with about 7 hours to write essays, further readings, etc. But that is one course only.

In UG students have, on average, 4 courses. That is 40×4, 160 hours a week. So I come to critique the ‘full-time-like’ because as far as I’m concerned, studying is 4 full-time jobs at a time if done ‘as it should’ with the provided readings and good individual research. So let’s not ‘exaggerate’ and I’ll say, out of my experience as well, need about 100 hours a week only to study and be in lectures, that is still more than two full-time jobs, almost three, not counting the commuting time. But no one from the panel raised an eyebrow at her statement, which is alright, because I think that unless you really wanted to pay 100% attention, the ‘a module’ might have passed right by your ears. But it will be ironic by the end because this ’40 hours a week’ was introduced into the next Q&A in the panel. So let me tell you more.

SnapShot from the videos I’ve taken

One of the following questions was related to the students’ quality of life. And Maggie Chapman (Rector and a great person as far as I’m concerned) has commented about the accommodation issues back in 2014 when a couple of first years were put in hotels as the university accepted more students than it can handle. Now, that’s alright, but she said how the university works hard to provide great accommodation and then mentioned that private landlords sort of ‘take the business’. Now, my critic to that is one and only, as I disregard that sharing with 7 people is by far fun in student accommodation. Well, the university may strive for quality, but the student accommodation from the university is much more expensive than almost everything that private landlords offer – so, to begin with, it’s not value for money at all. Anyway, this will tie in with the rest by the end as well. So let me tell you even more. One of the other questions was relating to mental health and how students are stressed and whatnot. Harry Chalkin (AUSA Welfare Sabbatical Officer) commented on how students must have part-time work to actually afford basic needs (food, as one of them).

And he said, well, handling the 40 hours a week (we said that’s about 100, yeah?), students may put 15 to 20 hours a week in part-time working. Now let me say this, from my very own experience through three types of jobs I’ve had. Student jobs are in hotels, retail: food and clothing, kitchen porters, etc., and these pay next to nothing, sometimes lower than credible because they pay you less if you’re under 24, that is when you are an UG.

https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/national-minimum-wage

So: the cheapest university-provided accommodation (share with 7 people and it’s in Hillhead) is ‘from £89 a week’, that is £360 a month, adding to that food about £150 a month unless you’d eat instant noodles 4 packs for £1 all the time. Let’s say £100 for food. So, nothing else such as books and clothing and toiletries is £460. To have this money when you’re under 24 with the latest rate 2018/19 you would need to work 63 hours a month, that is 16 hours. But since one actually spends about £200 for food and toiletries a month and the average accommodation is actually £400 a month (add all up, divide at the number, multiple with 4 weeks). So that is £600 a month for literally only living. That is 82 hours a month, 20 hours a week. Adding the commuting for this, make it 22 hours. And let’s leave it at this, enough maths. But I will only add that, everyone that I ever knew in my UG and were just living, no fussing, was working a minimum of 25 hours, with the commuting time of 3, so 27 hours a week. Disclaimer: yes, we are calculating for individuals who need to fully support themselves, as they are not only the vast majority but is what the so-called system should allow: students with an affordable background to join the university (& keep in mind we are international students, there are conversion rates involved).

So let’s sum these up: students would need about 100 hours a week to study and 25 to work, regardless of travel time, socialisation, let alone sleep. That’s 125 hours from a week that has 168 hours in total! That leaves 6 hours a day for anything else, which should be sleep because we’d be absolutely terribly tired. It’s quite some balance that the university provides, is it not? If you sleep four hours a night you catch some time.

The next questions were about how the university improved, that they offer critical thinking skills and confidence. Which is entirely true, except the confidence part. How do you think that overworked, scared for their grades students will ever be confident? Students who are constantly told about co-curriculars when they barely hang on to assessments and have to ace their courses to have one chance to go to further studies or leave the student jobs after graduation? But let’s say that’s not the majority… I’m joking, it is, I can vouch with five years experience and the huge amount of students I’ve met on the way. Anyway, further questions were about the university staff could sort of track students’ mental states, for example through tutorials and such. I would be very happy for that to be possible, but there’s not much chance since each tutor sees hundreds of students and then has their own issues to deal with etc., it’s not their fault, they wouldn’t really want to and shouldn’t be asked to take on jobs which could be avoided if the university would actually provide equity and a real sense of equality, not just political correctness. We don’t need PC, we need true equity! But that’s complicated, meritocracy – just a fine joke (see the book from Jo Litter: Against Meritocracy. It’s absolutely brilliant!). From these kinds of questions, the moderator opened the Q&A to the floor. And I swear I loved this chick who took the mic and said:

[not a direct quote] So, what did the university actually do to deserve the title, what’s the innovation? trust me, I was about to hysterically laugh and applaud her. Because I’ll tell you what it did: nothing, nada, rien, nix…

They claim that their alumni have those attributes, that was the panel’s answer, that the title is deserved because the alumni have the attributes. And I am like: that’s great! But what about the current students? Are they surviving this? Is anything actually happening? Because when I’m 25-26 and quite sure what I want to do is great, yeah. So the changes are not within, but only that the face is kept.

The face, it’s all about the face, innit? Grand. Now that is not an issue, and face should be very important, because that’s why we choose a university, for the face, for what it will mean that our diplomas will be issued by it and not another! But what should also matter is whether the university actually improved, if it really provides a better environment, a more inclusive environment, and I’m not talking about political correctness because that is pure crap in academia right now.

Academia needs equity, not political correctness. When it will provide equity, satisfy contemporary needs such as smart classrooms and current topics rather than waking Marx up for four years in a Social Science UG degree, when the university will realise that exams being 80% is nothing but theft on students’ mental health, and that each student has various skills and not everyone can write 6 pages but they may be better at presenting or team working, when it will individualise the process and when they will care about who the student is, not how much (s)he is paying, then they could go on talking about political correctness. Until then, the university shouldn’t win anything because the alumni are working in different places or because they have critical thinking – how do you even measure that?! Like, cool story, but how do you measure it and how are you sure that those great jobs are taken by alumni because of the university and not because of their own connections – because that’s my only impression since we all know that this world works on connections and nothing else.

Now let me be nice as well, I’m quite proud that it turned out to be the Scottish University of the Yeah, I mean hey, it’s for face. But I am so sick of doing stuff for face only that I have to comment it this way. I mean that’s what the uni taught me, to critically assess. Ironic and funny. I love my uni, don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t be here otherwise, I consciously chose to remain one more year and I am really anxious and upset in a way that I might leave after. So I do love this university. But that doesn’t mean I’ll give it credit for what’s not happening or I’ll play along. No, I’m here because this university taught me to challenge everything and that’s why I’m proud it has the title. Because it doesn’t deserve it when you tackle each bit of it, but you wouldn’t know to assess each bit if you didn’t study here. Fake news everywhere and this university doesn’t bite. It has 99 problems but teaching critical thinking isn’t one of them!

Talking about climate change 🤔? Let me tell you that you should be a vegetarian 🌱 (or vegan) 🤦🏽‍♀️

I know I didn’t update the blog for a long while, and I feel bad for coming back with some negative talk. However, I feel that this should be addressed.

I’m at this brilliant one weekend conference, Level Up, and I loved it through the years, as well as at this very moment.

Nonetheless, there’s always a down side, and here’s what happened.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for taking care of the climate, but there’s so many ways we can talk about it without being hostile, right?

There’s two men and two lassies, guys talking about solar panels, industry action etc. The two lassies started with

Meat consumption. We shouldn’t eat meat. We may love it, but that’s individually what we can change, we shouldn’t eat meat.

Now I’m not saying don’t be a vegetarian or vegan. Wouldn’t be my place, nor the situation to talk about it.

However, you, as most probably a vegetarian, did take this opportunity to try and convince people that any different opinion than yours is wrong. An opinion, meat consumption is complex… Heard about bread for consumption? Heard about activists trying to get animal cruelty off the table, but not their consumption? All’s well and the least of the issues of climate change to be tackled in a one hour panel.

All I’m asking is, heard about staying on topic?

This is why people are staying away from these subjects and aren’t willing to get involved.

Because of people who use these to impose opinions when they’re not asked for, because some people feel alright to create a hostile environment through their behaviour: oh y’all don’t do as I do, no good.

However, the way the two men handled the panel was great and they gave good guidance, the two women having to adapt to the better talk. Consumerism: it kills, but is vital – the paradox, how does this tie in with climate change. Absolutely great.

Anyway, apologies for being negative here and I’ll come up with something just great as soon as possible, hopefully from the same conference, Level Up!

‘I know half the money I spend on advertising is wasted, but I do not know which half’

(J. Wannamaker) in “Semiotic answers to perennial branding troubles” by George Rossolatos, Department of English, University of Kassel, Kassel, Germany (final version received 5 February 2013)

Research method: SPI

Subjective Personal Introspection

From Holbrook, 2005: it’s an extreme form of participant observation (a.n. as the participant is your own self and thus requires a deep understanding of the working pattern of your mind) that focuses on impressionistic narrative accounts of the writer’s own private consumption experiences with a phenomenon from the viewpoint of an informed and deeply involved insider. A.n. the researcher is the only participant.