The Long, Dark Teatime of the Soul

Bear with me on this one, it will be worth it.


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Daniel Craig stars as James Bond in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures/Columbia Pictures/EON Productions’ action adventure SKYFALL.

This week, a video went viral of how badly James Bond has treated his women in five decades. It is, I suppose, like that moment in The Emperor’s New Clothes when the young boy says what he sees, and only then does everybody else grasp that they’ve been had. Bond has NEVER been above conventional outrage, even during the 1960’s. For a woman like me, who fell in love with Roger Moore and then came to understand that these movies were a fiction, the allure of Bond isn’t the casual means by which he deals with the emotional. It is the fact that he so beautifully typifies how I feel about the World. It always needs saving, the pleasure gained by doing so is ultimately short-lived and nobody really cares about your commitment as long as they’re happy in the end. It is escapism, pure and simple… except now, you can’t even do that in reality.

All that matters right now is truth and honesty, which is great… but to a point.

Bond doesn’t do emotional, or at least he didn’t until Daniel Craig came along and made 007 something more than the misogynist, sexist Dinosaur that Judi Dench accuses Piers Brosnan of being in Goldeneye. Bond since Casino Royale isn’t the same fellow as his predecessors, but that’s not what the evangelising liberators will see. All men are evil when they dominate and subjugate women, and although I agree 100% with this statement, there comes a point where you don’t need to be told. Please continue to hang spurious toerags who do this in reality out to dry, but be careful when you start impinging on other people’s fantasies because this is a dangerous game to even contemplate playing.

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Today is Time to Talk Day and instead of talking about my own mental health, I want to talk about Bond’s. Yup, if you can attack a fictional character in mainstream media for being too brutish, I’m going to ask how many people will have considered the long-term psychological effects of being a 00 agent. In my own fictional version of this world, I decided that Bond is probably encouraged to be bad boyfriend material for a reason: emotional attachments in his job, let’s face it, are hardly conducive, and the one time he did fall in love, the woman ends up dead in a canal in Venice. It is a simple and damning reminder that emotions have consequences, but more significantly it isn’t just the woman’s feelings that can be destroyed. Bond is damaged for a reason. If the plan now is to cast him aside as an outdated trope, what the hell will that do long term to stop this kind of behaviour from taking place?

How will we change this kind of thinking without treating the root causes of the problem?

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Learning to end discrimination also involves the understanding that people with mental health issues can often be violent and unpredictable. They can also be highly intelligent, controlling and flat out lie in order to maintain their notions of safety. In case you think I’m generalising here, I’m not, this is me speaking from extremely personal experience. In my life, I have been all of these things, and have had others do the same to me in order to deal with what they saw were my ‘issues.’ If you’ve never had a mental health problem, it can be impossible to understand the motivations behind actions. Talking to each other isn’t just about making your illness the discussion: it is only part of a complex equation that involves emotional support and understanding.

Many people are violent because of mental health issues that have gone undiagnosed for decades. It is not ‘brutish’ behaviour, and most certainly not unconsciously meted. The world we live in now seems happy to condemn everyone without nearly enough thought and consideration, and media right now is in danger of causing more harm than good with ill-conceived pronouncements. The real trick, ultimately, is to teach people how to deal with their version of reality (that which they experience and that which surrounds them) when it comes into contact with everybody else’s. If others are not capable of accurately understanding their behaviour, it must be up to us to not only be able to objectively do that for them, and ourselves.

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The key here is objectivity: being able not to tar everybody with the same brush, to step back from stereotyping, being able to accurately separate fiction from fact. Please don’t start condemning my entire life history, modern feminists. If you reacted badly to Friends and you think Bond’s had his day, most of my childhood’s now on time and you’ll be petitioning soon to pretend that most of the 1970’s never happened. History is there to teach us, not to condemn everything as bad, wrong, and worth ignoring. On this #TimeToTalk day, why not stop making posts as you somehow feel as if that’s the right thing to do. Why not start looking for answers: not other people’s, but your own.

Stop sitting and waiting for the answers to come to you, or be dictated by the latest media outrage. Go and find solutions for yourself.

Words

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Once upon a time I had no fear over words that were used, and wrote them without consideration of consequence. Now, I am learning the lessons of what happens when words are used in various situations: anger, disbelief, amazement, surprise. Suddenly, the world is full of experts. Everybody knows better: you’re expected to do research, come to the table organised and attentive. If you rain on somebody’s parade, expect retaliation. Heaven forbid you might become popular or feel confident enough to voice an opinion, because down this particular route madness and deception lie.

Yes, I can suffer from anxiety and still want to do stuff that scares me.

There was a very important point in the last few years where the realisation registered that there has to be something better than what has come before. Perhaps age is the issue, or maybe it is an increase in mental facility driven by more exercise and less procrastination… until I remember the exact moment when it happened. In fact, I doubt I’ll ever forget that place or time. It was when I felt comfortable to admit out loud something, which then stopped mattering as a hindrance.

It was the first time I told someone I was bisexual.

This is not something I feel the need to stick in my Twitter bio, ram down people’s throats, or wave in people’s faces. I am what I am, effectively, and it has taken since my teens to truly understand what that meant. This doesn’t mean I’m about to divorce my husband either and go undertake some massive mid-life crisis spree of debaucheries and excess. It means that, yesterday, I applied to be an advocate and on the form where it asked me for my sexuality, I ticked a different box.

This will be the first time I’ve ever written my sexual preference in a blog post. That probably ought to be a big deal, but what is going to happen will now, at least for me, be an exercise in who does really pay attention, and who’s just here pretending they care. All the people I consider truly close in my life already know. Nobody has, as yet, rejected me as a freak but inevitably that will happen. When it does, I’ll know that I was right about them all along, and they never really got me to begin with, and honestly it will not be a loss.

That’s the thing here: I am not the same as you. I have never been the same for as long as I can remember and it is a precarious combination of factors that leads to this conclusion. I can be bisexual and happily married, with children and never sleep with a woman in my life. Yes, I’ve always found everybody sexually attractive. I just never understood until very recently what that meant I was. But, when the revelation hit, it was as if the entire Universe quietly and unobtrusively realigned in my favour.

No, I won’t be changing my Social media biographies any time soon. No, I don’t feel the need to keep reminding you. This is a journey I’m still in the early years of, and there are a lot of considerations at play. For now, and considering I’ve applied for a number of significant mentorships and advocacies under this banner, I can say it has been said, that I am ‘out’ and that’s it, basically.

Time to move forward.