Oppression or liberation?: the headscarf

Oppression or liberation?: the headscarf

I read just yesterday that the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that Islamic headscarves can be banned in the workplace, following two female employees being dismissed from work for refusing to remove their headscarves. This would be an umbrella ban presumably, prohibiting the ban of the khimar, burqa, niqab, hijab and chador. What with the fear in Western society of a Islamist attack being prevalent, many are quick to associate a woman wearing a headscarf as dangerous. But to discriminate in a generalised manner does not remove the problem. The problem is one of religious and feminist freedom in a woman.

If wearing a headscarf does not impede on that woman’s ability to carry out her job, why should there be a ban? Tabassum emailed the BBC to say that she would “definitely choose [her] head scarf” over her job. A headscarf is not a fashion accessory, so of course the religious connotations should come paramount. This ruling reminds me of the many occasions where typically male teachers would not allow schoolgirls to wear short skirts because they are ‘distracting’ which is just a whole other problem in itself.

There is an argument that children who have not become accustomed to the symbols of other religions or cultures may become naturally fearful of somebody who is wearing a niqab, for example. Yet, then surely it is the role of that child’s parents to ensure the child does encounter people and experiences that are out of their conception of ‘ordinary’. Our society is a multicultural one, therefore not only should we be aware of other religions but we must respect them too.

Many associate the Islamic headscarf with the woman being subservient to the men’s needs, what with the man having more freedom than the women in Islamic culture. The ban is therefore an abominable ridicule of hypocrisy. If we can point the finger at Muslim societies for oppressing women, then why should European societies have the right to demean them even more?

Many female Muslims perceive wearing a headscarf as being a symbol of liberation and feminism, rather than the opposite. In a world where women are still being objectified for their sexual prowess, wearing a headscarf rejects this notion which I think is incredibly empowering.Hanna Yusuf opined that in a society where women are being told how to look by the media, the hijab, along with other headscarves, resists the capitalist concept that women are not only the merchandise but also the consumers.

As she rightly states, there are women who are forced into wearing the headscarf, which of course is what is derogatory and belittling. But, “liberation lies in the choice”. Having laws which disallow wearing the headscarf imposes on the right to choose. Yusuf goes on to question “why is social pressure, or legal pressure, to not wear [a headscarf] excused as female emancipation?”

It is not the headscarf which controls sexuality, it is the powers in place such as the ECJ’s ruling which are powerfully dangerous. Either way, law should play no part in religion, ideally. To ban Islamic headscarves should mean that any and every religious symbol should be banned surely? If not, then that illustrates that the reason for banning only Islamic symbols is due to racism and Islamophobia.

Now having a legal basis to prevent a woman from wearing her headscarf is undoubtedly going to cause more problems for these women. Somebody who has quietly become fearful of the headscarf may now audibly protest at the sight of one, knowing he has the ECJ on his side. This is what is oppressive.

For my degree I was reading a journal article by Professor Susan Marks called ‘Backlash: the undeclared war against human rights’, regarding whether our conservative government are against such human rights, particularly of women. Marks makes the point that we are facing a certain backlash against women, quoting Susan Faludi in that this movement attempts to push women back into their ‘acceptable’ roles – whether as Daddy’s girl or fluttery romantic, active nester or passive love object”. Furthermore, feminists are not taken seriously, but either as ‘whores’ or ‘witches’. According to Marks and Faludi, there is an undeclared war on a women’s rights, whether that be her choice over her body or otherwise.

While I truly recommend anybody to read the article, I find the final paragraph the most compelling. In that, “the problem is not ultimately the Daily Mail‘s “Hey you, get that veil off!” bully-boy. The problem is the world that produces him”. In other words, while women are objectified in the media and told not that they are too skinny and have to look younger, but they are also too fat and look too fake. Such notions are only prevalent because of the antifeminist views of those around us. In an ideal world of feminists, if advertising were to still exist, it would simply encourage women to establish a much more progressive society. Capitalist greed in exploiting the rights of women, wherever they come from, is wholly regressive.

Despite the ECJ’s ruling, I hope that no Muslim woman feels any less empowered to wear her headscarf. Resistance of the ruling is key to social change. And, maybe one day, we will live in a world where the choice of a woman’s clothing does not require a ruling in the highest court in the European Union.




The place that doesn’t exist: the friend zone

The place that doesn’t exist: the friend zone

When I visited Bali last summer, I was overwhelmed at the amount of Balinese folk who actually came up to me to ask the rather invasive question of “where are you going?” Thanks to reading the ever so shallow novel of a white-girl-who-found-herself-abroad i.e. Eat Pray Love while sunbathing, I realised that the Balinese aren’t just nosey. They want to insert people into their own map, apparently, as this gives them a sense of order and balance.

Then there would be the question of “are you married?” if you’re a woman. If you say no, they’ll probably seem shocked and asked whether you will be soon. In Bali, you’re either married or you’re not married. There’s no compromise.

Upon arriving back in England, I then entered into a relationship with somebody I had been dating for a while which is now long distance. And I cannot lie, suddenly exiting Singlesville may as well require you being branded with hot coals stating that you are in fact married and you have to alert the Balinese that your situation has changed, as that’s how it felt. I lost a handful of male friends simply because I was now somebody’s girlfriend.

If you’re friends with a guy for a long period of time, and you then enter into a relationship with somebody else, you’d expect that friendship to still sustain and be maintained regardless of your relationship status. In an ideal world this would be the eventuality anyway.

To have a male ‘friend’ cut off all communication with you just because you now have a boyfriend basically presumes that that person was never a friend in the first place. To have romantic intentions implies you need some sort of genuine platonic background first surely, but not for a sexual intention. So, perhaps it is a good thing for a significant other to practically indirectly audit your ‘friends’, removing the ones who were basically only there to get in your pants. Like, what I was I meant to do, ask the permission of all my male friends before I could have a relationship? Will this be the same when I’m married? Modern dating has too many unspoken rules.

If a friend, regardless of gender, liked me platonically, they would get over the fact that I am unavailable to date. If they fancied me or wanted to enter into a relationship with me, they did have their chance at asking whether I wanted to go on a date. If I were having drinks or a meal with a male friend, this does not automatically mean we’re on a date unless one of us stated expressly and the other accepted. But then, if they merely wanted sex, then good riddance.

I still think the concept of a ‘friend zone’ is ridiculous though. Why should my friends be painted with the same brush anyway? I have different levels of friends. There are my close, tight friends, then friends who I probably only talk to because it’s convenient, then mere acquaintances, people you work with, etc. Does that mean my parents are in the friend zone? Is there a people-I-hate zone? Does the zone have Netflix? This is how absurd the term is.

Of course, as with my situation, this zone is barren of any so-called friendship. Real friends support each other, whether they’ve broken up with somebody or have just become Facebook offish with somebody. The zone is an excuse for an individual to wave off their rejected efforts of seduction and sexual advances in an attempt to restore their ego and pride. It’s as if this person assumes the other on the receiving end will say yes to them, should something transpire.

Being nice to somebody, being a friend, does not entitle you to sex. Not even a kiss. We don’t owe everybody who is friendly to us any romance or sexual reward. A lovely old lady at the post office helped me the other day, but I didn’t pull down my trousers then and there and demand she pleasure me, did I?

The other thorny issue is when these guys are rejected. Things can turn violent with all sorts of abuse being thrown at the girl’s end, when all that the girl has done has been a caring friend and actually perceived this other person as a decent, honest person. The hilarity.

Back when I used Tinder, sometimes a match would pop up on the chat complimenting me in some way or another. I was the worst replier so didn’t of course reply straightaway. Then soon enough the guy would put “f*ck you then you ugly b*tch” which I still can’t get my head around. I don’t think my lecturers would appreciate it if, upon them not responding to my email queries, I tell them “actually, you know what, I hate your journal articles”. It doesn’t really achieve a lot.

The friend zone doesn’t exist. Rejection is rejection. There’s absolutely no need to fake a friendship just for the possibility that the other will bend over backwards for you. Of course, if you do suspect such a fake friend pretending to be nice to you, you can always quote Trump and tell them they’re fake news. That’s one way of scaring them off.








Why I will never become vegan

Why I will never become vegan

I call myself a bona fide meat eater. I am not vegetarian, but I care for animals and their welfare. While I have tried vegetarianism and even pescatarianism, one diet I could never embark on is veganism. But there is a great case to go vegan. I respect vegans but something I do not respect is them almost bullying somebody for eating meat. What you put in your own body is your choice, but I think everyone should know where their food is coming from, and whether it’s of cruel means or not.

Got milk?

I’ve always been described as a ‘milk baby’ by my parents, explained by my tenacious cravings for milk as a chubby baby. Now, at 21, not a lot has changed. I will buy the largest carton of milk at the supermarket just so I can revel in a glass of cold milk every so often. When living at home, my dad would end up buying UHT cartons of milk for me, so the fresh milk could still be used by my parents wanting endless coffees and morning cereal.

Milk is rich in calcium, necessary for your bones. Probably why the only broken bones I’ve encountered have mainly been fingers. However, apparently there is a link with drinking milk and developing acne. Perhaps I’m an anomaly, I rarely even got a spot during puberty. Lactose makes us rather flatulent too. But then so do lentils and pulses, but we aren’t condemning these?

The big problem with milk isn’t necessarily what’s in it, therefore, but where it has come from.

Being painfully aware

If you follow PETA on any social media, or you’ve just done your research, you’ll know the horrors of the dairy industry. In short, female cows will be artificially inseminated in order to later give birth. If we took a human woman and restrained her in a small cage with barely enough room to turn around and inserted semen inside of her, it would be a human rights scandal and very close to rape. I understand that artificial insemination is a controlled measure, but this isn’t the worst part of the industry. Exploiting the reproduction of an animal is the first of a plethora of issues.

After about nine months, the calf will be born, before baby and mother will then be separated. About 97% of calves will be taken away in the first 24 hours following birth.  There are ‘humane’ dairy farms which take the calf away in the first hour, since it means the mother and calf are therefore unable to establish a bond, so the experience is less stressful, more ‘humane’. Either way, it is a cruel practice, but necessary for the industry and human consumption. Every drop of cow milk wasted on the calf is a loss of profits. The calves will then be fed on milk-replacer for the first few months of their life. In humans, we are thought to think that ‘Breast is Best’ until the baby can be weaned off on to powder milk anyway. Cannot animals receive the same respect?

The mother cow is now able to lactate out of her udders of course, which has been the primary reason for allowing this cow to be pregnant. This female cow is both a vessel for another cow to be forced into such animal slavery, and a source of consumer goods: milk. Milk achieved from painful vacuum machines which can cause cow teat flesh to scar as well as becoming dead.

What keeps the cow producing milk is the constant cycle of insemination, birth, lactation. Due to the high supply, calves are nearly worthless to sell off, whether that be for veal, another dairy victim, or to be ground down into your next McDonalds.

I am not blissfully ignorant to the dairy industry, and neither should anybody else. Especially if you do drink milk. I buy milk being painfully aware of what cruel industry I’m buying into. Maybe I am a hypocrite. But it is sure better than not knowing about the industry.

The alternatives?

I have tried coconut milk, almond milk, soy milk. Almond milk is possibly the only substitute that tastes decent in a cup of tea. The only reason I cannot go purely dairy free is because of cheese. Until every kind of cheese can be replicated with non-dairy products, I will be happy. The other problem is how expensive it is to be vegan. I guess if all you ate were lentils and vegetables, it would be bearable. But whatever diet or lifestyle you lead, you should always vary your pallet. The more people that demand vegan products, the more that supply will increase, as a basic principle of economics. Therefore, to want to go vegan but say that price is an obstacle may be so in the short term only.

Of course, going vegan or cutting any meat or dairy out of your diet doesn’t mean you don’t miss eating a steak or mozzarella sticks. Seriously committed individuals will simply treat the ethical implications as overriding the taste of cruelly acquired foods.

Meat: a real treat

It’s sometimes a strange thought to remember that while we are human beings, we are also part of the animal kingdom too. We are omnivores, meaning we obtain our nutrients from both plants and animals. To solely rely on eating plant based foods means we need to substitute the nutrients we are wired to receive from animals. Whether that be Quorn or protein-rich foods such as pulses, there are still certain benefits to eating meat and fish.

I have tried the pescatarian diet and I loved trying different kinds of fish. Fish is a great source of omega-3 fats and vitamin D. If you want to try the renowned Mediterranean diet, oily fish is abundant, and a superb food to incorporate into your diet. While meat can be replicated to a degree with Quorn and strange synthetic things that can create a meatless burger and even make it ooze with ‘blood’, fish could never be substituted.

Of course, if you are conscious of the environment, as anyone should be, be sure that you are supporting sustainable fishing and farming only. This is the same with eggs. It is a shame that due to the recent bird flu risks, free range chickens have had to be kept inside. Although fortunately, the relabelling of free range eggs should be over now.

Local produce

It’s all well eating fruit and vegetables, but your first point of purchased should be from your nearest market, not supermarket. It is not practical to purchase natural foods from a supermarket where the produce has either been imported from other countries or elsewhere in the UK. The fruit and vegetables I buy at markets not only are of better quality, but I know where they’ve come from. Sometimes you are dealing directly with the farmer too. I’ve also been able to buy twenty of the juiciest oranges for just one quid. While the food might not last as long as supermarket produce, this is merely a good indicator that the local produce hasn’t been tainted with various chemicals for life longevity.

My verdict

I probably will never become fully vegan. There are probably always going to be significant ethical issues with eggs, meat, dairy. If we want the most ethical farming, either certain foods wouldn’t exist or we would have to shell out too much money, which would probably turn us all into seed and kale eaters anyway.

I have only touched on the serious animal rights issues at stake. The egg industry is a whole other story, what with male chicks being slaughtered without hesitation.

My best advice is to stay knowledgeable of what you consume, whatever diet you’re following, so long as you get the right nutrients and vitamins out of that diet. Humans were not born to live off quinoa and spinach smoothies. If you’re relying on multivitamin tablets, you need to change your diet. Though, as a student and generally being skint, I’ll always recommend taking daily multivitamins.

For more information, visit PETA or Animal Aid. Also if you feel differently to anything I’ve said, let me know; I like a bit of debate.







Endangered level: not that critical at all

Endangered level: not that critical at all

I had to laugh when I saw Tesco’s chairman, John Allan, stating that white men were becoming an “endangered species” on the board. Absolute nonsense.

While more companies are diversifying the range of ethnicities and genders on the board, I don’t think companies should be doing this because they need a non-white person as a director. That completely overshadows the objective of being on the board, which is to lead a particular area of the company. Next, it’ll be that ‘redhead directors’ are becoming endangered. That’s how ridiculous John Allan’s claim is.

If you are the CEO of a company and are choosing between a woman and a man to be the next CFO, the woman should not be picked for being a woman. If she were to get the job, it should be out of skill and ability. To deliberately choose a non-white, non-male director to be appointed is basically implying they are alike to a trophy wife, there for status and maybe a PR stunt that customers can trust this company is ‘open-minded’ and ’embracing change’. You can envisage the marketing techniques already.

Of course, for hundreds of years, white males have led the country, led companies, led wars, and have been the ‘heads of the household’. In the UK anyway, it is now a redundant concept that men are superior, especially that 26% of women hold board positions in some of the UK’s largest companies. My only hope is that if we ever reach 50% male and 50% female board representation, it has resulted from genuinely wanting these people for their skills. I also believe that women are only becoming less inferior to match men, not that women are becoming superior to them. That would undermine gender inequality to condemn men in the name of women.

As well, in 2011, 86% of the UK population were white. I can only imagine that this figure has dropped significantly, what with the settlement of refugees from various countries and general globalisation. But, to call white men “endangered” and having to “work twice as hard” is almost outrageous, coming from the chairman of a company with eight other white men and just three white women on the board.

I would like to see more ethnic minorities and women on company boards, but to choose them for purely not being white males is undiplomatic.

John Allan did later clarify what he meant, that his statement “was intended to be humorous, a bit hyperbolic”. Well John, your sense of humour is just as frivolous as the state of your company’s finances.



The stress of stress

The stress of stress

Being a university student isn’t just drinking to oblivion and recollecting none of the night’s events but a lanky scrap of doner meat between your fingers, hovering just not close enough to your mouth. University can be the best experience of your life where you make lifelong friends, understanding petty tasks like how to live off pasta for a month or encounter fundamental learning such as how to use your degree to progress into your dream career.

Yet, it can also be the worst. Not only can the assignments and exams be so stressful, but you aren’t necessarily going to make friends. Just because you’ve been randomly allocated into a flat of a few other people doesn’t mean you’ll keep in contact until death do you part. Although, many a time coincidence rebuts this. For me, my solid friend group are the ones back in my hometown. Not only this, but the maintenance loan offered by student finance doesn’t even cover rent costs a lot of the time. I could write a mini-dissertation about my dissatisfaction with the presumptive loan system and it not catering for all backgrounds. But maybe I’ll save that for another time. Even so, these stressors add up.

As a result, you might find yourself not sleeping at night, or oversleeping completely. Having no or little motivation to pick a pen up let alone walking to your seminar.

What I want to highlight is the vast number of students who experience mental health problems, which stands at around 25% along with the rest of the population. That might be fifty people in your lecture theatre. Two of your housemates. It might be you.

I forget how lucky I am sometimes that when I do feel at my lowest, I can just catch a two hour train home. Be immersed in the scent of my own house surrounded by family, comforting food that isn’t canned or frozen. See my friends, feel like the real me. I couldn’t even fathom being homesick for a home that is a twelve hour flight away.

I’m in my final year now, so I have undoubtedly calmed down my party habits to probably once or twice a month if that. Yet, as a fresher, it seemed that I would have FOMO every time I said no to a night out. That refusal soon enough turned into a ‘go on then’ at 11pm as I started applying my makeup while still in my pyjamas and swigging own-brand vodka and orange squash. It was more than the fear of missing out on a good time though. It was as though I was trying to prove myself and model myself into having a false persona that I was outgoing, fun, wild, likeable. A façade.

You could even say that I had an irrational fear that I no longer would be accepted and approved of by other students if I missed a night out. A night out where nothing new ever happens, where there’s vomit, another piece of clothing for the laundry pile, a bigger hole in the overdraft, and a fuzzy head disabling any motivation to do any intellectual or productive task the following day.

Right now, it’s a Friday night, and other than writing this post I’m listening to Alt-J with apple and cinnamon flavoured green tea in my dressing gown in my room. Would I have done this in first year? Absolutely no chance.

I was so, so, so naïve for thinking the way I did those few years ago. I had no concept of how to relax, wind down, or even enjoy my own company.

Whether you’re a student, whatever the year, or otherwise, never underestimate the importance of relaxing. If your career involves your persona to be constantly energetic, positive and on the ball, then relaxation is even more paramount. I may have reverted back to my usual introverted self, but I can still take the time to relax even after a day of being alone writing an essay or reading.

I am fully aware that when you land a new job, it seems obligatory to jump at every available task and be the first one in the office and the last one to leave. This is bullshit. If your employer is allowing you to do this, then you shouldn’t be working for them. A company who does not respect health and wellbeing is not the place for anybody. Of course, some people are workaholics, utilise work to distract themselves from other issues, or are just genuinely keen or want a promotion.

Even still, we should not be afraid to give a firm ‘no’ when our body and mind requires it.

At universities, student unions are particularly adept in offering mental health services, such as counselling. Though, feeling stressed or low is not necessarily an indicator of a wider problem most of the time. It is a mere part of being human. It doesn’t help that media and social networks may romanticise the ideal of being ‘broken’ and  mentally ‘vulnerable’, which I call bullsh*t on. While on one hand there’s nothing beautiful about depression, there is nothing ugly about it either. To stigmatise mental illness and make sufferers feel ashamed for feeling any fraction of it on a spectrum is what dehumanises them.

Time to Talk Day 2017 was just last week, but its object promotes conversations around mental health in order to establish better relationships with others and overcome what can be the worst part of suffering from a mental illness. University Mental Health Day also took place last week too. Yet, just like with my views on International Women Day, a designated day does not mean this is the only time of year to talk. If mental health can be a problem at any time of year, there can be a solution to it at any time of year too. Surely, we can create conversation 365 days a year.

For more information on mental health, visit the UK’s leading charity, Mind.




The sensitised snowflakes

The sensitised snowflakes

You may have come across the live feed of a giraffe in a very long period of labour. While humans are entitled to a right to privacy, we somewhat extend this right to animals. For instance, animals in captivity should have an area from the gaze of onlookers in a hidden away den or shelter area.

Does a live video of an animal giving birth encroach these rights at all? I don’t think so – for birth is a miraculous and beautiful act, whatever type of animal. If the owner of the zoo in New York had kept the giraffe displayed out in the open for hundreds of onlookers to watch, this would be cruel. The giraffe’s unawareness of technology is blissful ignorance in this case.

Many animal rights activists also complained that the live video was ‘sexually explicit’ and ‘contained nudity’. Before I become a keyboard warrior, I will just take a deep breath and list my annoyances:

  1. Animals don’t wear clothes, therefore they cannot be nude if their natural appearance is their norm.
  2. Even a human woman must expose her genitalia in order to give birth. We don’t think of this as erotic or distasteful when it is wholly to give life into the world. Nudity does not correlate with sex. Just like the naked body or a short skirt does not mean you are ‘asking’ to be raped.
  3. In conjunction to the above, there is nothing sexual about birth. Women have already been subject to the ridiculous perverted comments about the sexual connotations with breastfeeding, which is purely to feed a baby.
  4. As such, how can we sexualise an animal? It is the same with sexualising a 6 year old pageant queen singing to Ariana Grande on stage. If you perceive there to be a sexual association, that is due to the workings of your mind, not the actual subject matter.

We really are living in a snowflake generation, where the smallest of comments cause a mass population to be offended. I was reading an interview with Stephen Merchant yesterday, who even admitted that The Office wouldn’t have been so successful if it were released today. I completely agree. The outrage on social media would never stop, completely deflecting from the light-heartedly offensive comedy which the show intends to be.

When the time comes that I am welcoming life into the world, I would hate for my child to be submerged in a prolonged snowflake culture. Children need to be taught to toughen up, so to speak. As a child playing on my bike and accidentally winding myself from crashing into a tree, that did not stop me from riding a bike and it certainly did not cause me to slander cyclists and curse those who played outside.

Setbacks are opportunities, whether you’re a child or an adult. We cannot live in a society which becomes horrified at something we slightly disagree with or have been hurt by.

At one point, I was certain that we were becoming desensitised to the media – sex, violence, general crime. Maybe in fact we are actually becoming sensitised, or perhaps just afraid to accept controversy.

For a humorous take on the politically correct generation of millennials, see Bryony Gordon’s article on the Telegraph here.





More love and less hate

More love and less hate

Love actually is all around, which not only is a quote from a spectacular film but a truth that should not be overlooked. We can all somewhat agree that we are living in an age of disenchantment and disenfranchisement; wishing to be free from the corrupt systems we are shackled to. Such attitude can pave the way for even more loathing and despair, which makes us somewhat hypocritical to protest at the system itself.

The term ‘love trumps hate’ that has been coined recently, does not mean that we should be angry with those Brexiteers or Republicans, or MPs who voted against something you were really passionate about. Love does conquer all, and when we are surrounded by positivity, we are more prosperous and productive.

I have extremely mixed views about Trump’s presidency but I also have mixed views on liberals who shout ‘hope not hate’, in an attempt to frighten and intimidate Trump’s supporters as if they are an incarnation of evil. I clearly did not exist when Germany was governed by the Nazis, but such behaviour is no different to the hypnotic scaremongering that Hitler and his propaganda minister was known well for – being able to sway public opinion rather than allow citizens to make informed decisions from a range of sources.

But hey, Valentine’s Day is just days away, and I am treating it as a 24 hour period of bliss by not reading the news and turning the notifications off for my news apps. Yet, I will then have to deactivate every form of social media too in order to distance myself from global affairs. Maybe even barricade myself in my room all day to avoid any one-sided information being transmitted to me.

Maybe that’s too far to have a sound mind nowadays when global communications are so abundant. My only hope is for people to be open to love and care, rather than searching for a way to complain about anything and everything that is generated by the media, which is then spun subjectively to form these ‘alternative facts’ which become ‘fake news’ for those who do not surround themselves with objectivity.

2016 was a slimeball of a year, but then again so was several years in the 1300s when the Black Death took tens of millions of victims. 2017 has been personally very positive for me albeit the occasional setback, but from a global perspective, the last few weeks have just been like any other 21st century year with its own problems amounting. World peace may never happen, and nations have always and will continue to have internal and external clashes.

I guess we, as human beings, feel almost superhuman and untouchable that nothing bad could ever happen to us, what with the advancement of technology, medicine, and general wellbeing. When misfortune makes an appearance, we want to run for the hills believing that the apocalypse is near because how could this world be so scary and brutal.

We are too susceptible to setbacks which we perceive as mountains rather than the molehills which they really are. The media does not help in its exaggerations and sensationalism, making its viewers and readers jump to ridiculous conclusions which they then share on social media, causing a snowball in skewed opinions of world events. A very good recent example is the headline by The Independent: ‘Germany elects ‘anti-Trump’ candidate as president’. While Steinmeier has openly stated his distaste with Trump, why should this be a headline? The answer is most probably to make money.

I am not declaring that the refugee crisis, the Syrian civil war, the Iraqi war, or the insurgence of Boko Haram are simple events spun by the media to generate revenue. But when it comes to small affairs such as Trump pretending he can understand Japanese because he has too much pride to admit he does not have his earpiece on him, it’s seen as almost scandalous. If it had been Obama, I’m sure everyone would deem it utterly hilarious and YouTubers would have made a parody of it.

I hate to use this phrase, but we should all ‘stay woke’ by being objectively informed of what’s really going on around us. This also means respecting other views and actually being open to listening to very contrasting opinions. There’s nothing loving about being somebody who only surrounds themselves with subjective, dangerous opinions. I am left-wing, but I know that to only interact with those with a similar political agenda to my own would result in being hostile to those with different opinions.

My simple request is that on the 14th February, accept love and be open to it. Do not let hyped-up versions of real events from the biased media affect your emotional capacity.