12 Ways to Protest During Lockdown (Without Being a Typhoid Mary)

There are some people who refuse to accept universal medical advice about COVID-19, and are outside putting vulnerable people at risk as a “protest”. Typhoid Mary is one of the cleanest and politest names for this behaviour, especially as the main concern seems to be “getting a haircut”. This article is not aimed at them, because the lockdown is our best method of slowing the spread of disease and keeping people alive. This article is aimed at the activists who were protesting inequality, oppression and injustice before all this, and at the people who want to protest things that have come up during this time.

Indoor Things That We’ve Always Done

Due to distance, physical limitations, vulnerability and many other reasons, not everyone can attend standard protests anyway. There are things that you can do inside, and people have been doing these instead of or as well as outdoor, gathered protests.

1 Write letters to your MP

MPs are obliged by protocol to reply to their constituents, and technically they do work for us and are employed to represent the people who live in their constituency. You can write to them at the House of Commons or email them at their government email address. Writing to them is hard evidence that real people care about a topic, and prompts them to address it in some way. The more people write, the more the pressure is on them to act – you can organise a group to all write to your MPs about the same issue.

Find your MP here: https://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/find-your-mp/

Tips on writing to MPs here: https://www.gingerbread.org.uk/policy-campaigns/our-campaigns/campaign-toolkit/how-to-write-to-your-mp/

2 Make and Sign Petitions

The government has an official website for petitions. Only British Citizens and UK Residents can create or sign petitions, and can only sign once per petition. Petitions will only be rejected if they don’t fit the standards listed on the official site’s help page, and if any petition gets 10,000 signatures it will get a response from the government. Any petition that gets 100,000 signatures is raised as a potential topic of debate in Parliament.

There’s also Change.org, which works in a similar way but with a much wider scope. Anyone in the world can create or sign a petition, and the targets can be companies, world leaders, organisations etc. There isn’t the same guaranteed response system, but it’s a huge petition platform that has gotten solutions for hundred of petitions.

Official petition site: https://petition.parliament.uk/

Change.org: https://www.change.org/

3 Social Media Awareness

A lot of things are less about reaching the government, and more about reaching as many people as possible. You might only have your real friend and family on Facebook, but platforms like Twitter and Instagram are perfect for sharing things with hundreds of strangers. Even on Facebook, there are pages and the friends of your friends; every conversation you have online is a chance to spread a message. And unlike an in-person conversation, your points stay there forever for other people to read. It’s not just gaining allies, either, as you can bring your points to people on the fence and even debate people who so far disagree with you; you might even win them over.

Solo or Distanced Outdoor Things

4 Civil Disobedience

Civil disobedience is, at its core, breaking of unjust laws and/or breaking laws for activist effect. Obviously, for legal reasons, I am not recommending any of these illegal acts. Graffiti is a clear example – for every illegible name tag, there is a striking political statement. Resources online offer methods to disrupt construction such as putting sugar in cement, to disrupt businesses such as glueing locks shut, and to disrupt demolition by chaining yourself to the structure in question.

There are even companies that will send glitter parcels, embarrassingly labelled packages and rancid smelling food products, should you wish to take your protest to an individual in particular.

5 Banner Drops

Speaking of things that are technically illegal, you could drop a banner over a wall, bridge or out of a window. It takes a team but can be done with two or three depending on the size. If you have a banner big enough to need four, you can meet on-site and keep as far apart as you can. There are three parts to dropping a banner. You can make a banner out of a bedsheet or sewing together spare fabric and painting your message on it, and some next-level things to do include weighting the bottom and including padlocks to lock your banner in place for a longer protest.

Choosing your drop place and time is where the question of legality comes in. Places that can be seen or that are context-appropriate might be restricted, and locked banners can be classed as vandalism. Give yourself time to access the place and set up your banner in time for it to be seen by as many people as possible.

How To article about banner drops: https://destructables.org/node/56

6 One Person, One Sign

In fact, you can stage a street protest all by yourself, without any huge and high effort banners or breaking any laws. Make a protest sign out of a large piece of card or cardboard and pen or paint. You might already own a few, as a seasoned activist. Choose a place where people will see you, and possibly combine this with the blockage part of civil disobedience. If you would already wear a face covering to protest, get ready as you normally do to protest. If you don’t, consider it for your own safety, and then don’t forget to wear a mask or bandana over your mouth and nose.

All that’s left is to get out there and get your message seen and heard!

Some safe protest advice: https://www.itspronouncedmetrosexual.com/2017/01/a-few-small-tips-for-attending-your-first-protest-march/

 

Virtual Things

7 Online Rallies

People are already taking to platforms like Zoom to protest during the lockdown. Over 200 people joined a Zoom rally set up by staff and students at Forth Valley College in Scotland on 1st April, almost 500 Irish protestors attended an event on Zoom to demand justice for sacked Debenhams staff on 29th April and various unions held online rallies on 1st May for the historically celebrated International Workers Day.

While these online rallies aren’t quite as effective as rallies in locations where people pass by, they can easily get much higher attendance. There’s no need to be able to physically attend, so international, disabled and time-constrained people can join in. This numbers advantage means that while bystanders aren’t as easily reached, the companies and governments being protested against do see a bigger potential impact. As a new phenomenon, news media is more likely to report your rally, as it’ll have that topical lockdown factor.

Facebook’s Portal App: https://portal.facebook.com/gb/

Skype: https://www.skype.com/en/

Zoom: https://zoom.us

8 Panels and Parties

Similarly, you can host or attend parties and panels. You can have speakers and performers on a zoom chat or party, just like you would at a physical event. Unlike a rally, which only attracts protestors and rally watchers, these ideas can attract people interested in the content itself. The bigger the names you can get to talk or perform, the bigger the viewership you can get. Themes of talks or performances attract viewers too, and a party setting can get non-activist people interested.

Event names and things like Facebook event listings give you the option to hype the event up and point to clear numbers of people interested in your cause. You can use them to raise money as well as awareness, and explore new events such as vigils, readings and skill-sharing.

9 Map Pins and Geo-Tagging

Key locations can be protested at without physically going there! The Russian equivalent of Google Maps, Yandex.Maps and Yandex.Navigator, has been used by Russian protestors to leave public messages at public government buildings. Pins can be dropped on the map and shared publicly, so whatever is written is visible to people looking at that area. Coordinated protests have led to slogans and complaints covering government buildings and routes on the map service.

While Google Maps doesn’t have the same ease of public pin-dropping, locations can be added, and geo-tagging can be used to a similar effect on other platforms. Facebook statuses can be checked in to locations, Instagram posts can be tagged with locations, and while you can’t geotag tweets you can set your whole Twitter account to a location.

COVID-related protests

10 Rent Strike

You may have seen the discourse around rent – many people are out of work, unpaid or on reduced pay, and unable to pay their bills. Many reasonable landlord companies are offering rent reductions and even non-collection of rent during this time. Some, however, are demanding full rent from their tenants and threatening homelessness during this terrifying period. The obvious protest is rent strikes, which is the refusal to pay rent with no access to the property and broadcast of the facts.

Rent Strike London and the London Renters Union are among the groups sharing the 2020 rent strike campaign, with university student unions and other activism groups encouraging people. There are template letters to send to your landlords, official demands of suspended rent and rent debt cancellation, and a movement to hang white sheet banners from home windows.

Rent Strike London on Twitter: https://twitter.com/RentStrikeLDN

London Renters Union: https://londonrentersunion.org/

Template Letter to Landlords: https://londonrentersunion.org/coronavirus-landlord-letter/

11 NHS PPE

A lot of the current protest and activism is related to the terrible situation that NHS staff has been forced into. People are clapping for them weekly and calling them heroes, but more effectively people and businesses have been donating personal protection equipment or PPE, such as masks, gloves and disinfectant. Despite UK taxpayers paying more than £100 billion a year, and the Brexit promise to spend an extra £350 million a week on the NHS, funding has not increased and PPE orders have not been filled.

A video was NHS staff explained about staff deaths and begged the government for PPE was projected onto the Palace of Westminster on 17th April. This was organised by the government protest group Led By Donkeys and could be replicated and boosted.

12 Lockdown Counter-Protest Content

The Typhoid Mary’s that this is a guide to NOT being, however, are protesting as normal. They’re also gathering and refusing to follow guidelines, and demanding businesses open and serve them. All of the ways in which they’re endangering hundreds of people, including NHS staff, don’t need to be re-explained yet again. It is possible to protest against them by making a political statement about following the guidelines.

Using hashtags on Twitter and Instagram to share your stay-at-home activities and PPE outfits is one easy way to promote helpful behaviour. Masks are not just for literal germ safety, but a visual signal that you’re following the rules. People have sewn their own, worn costume masks and worn fashion items such as bandanas. Sharing counter-protest content and advice on social media is quick, easy and effective, as is shaming all protestors and those who refuse to follow guidelines.

NHS hand-washing advice: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/best-way-to-wash-your-hands/

Government Social Distancing Guide: www.gov.uk/government/publications/full-guidance-on-staying-at-home-and-away-from-others

A Dyspraxic’s Thoughts on Doctor Who’s Dyspraxic Character

Note: there are some mild character spoilers, but I’ve tried to keep spoilers to a minimum; no plot details or details on any other character!

As a lifelong Doctor Who fan, I’d been waiting for this season and the new female Doctor with baited breath. Unlike a lot of naysayers, I had high hopes and one episode in I’m already thrilled. However, Jodie’s performance and all the other new and exciting things aside, I feel a special connection to a certain non-Doctor character. In his introduction, the 19-year-old Ryan mentions that he can’t ride a bike and says it’s because of a condition the listener already know about. We, the audience, don’t know what condition but my immediate reaction was ‘imagine if it was dyspraxia!’. I myself can’t ride a bike, so it was a very relatable confession, and my cause is dyspraxia.

Later another character confirms it as such, and I almost yelled at the television! Dyspraxia, also known as Developmental Co-Ordination Disorder, is a condition that affects physical and mental co-ordination. The most obvious symptoms are the issues with ‘gross motor skills’ and ‘fine motor skills’, which as basically larger body movement and smaller precise movements – balance, hand-eye co-ordination and things like posture or gracefulness. It can even effect speech, planning and your internal sense of time.

There are a lot of symptoms and issues, and they vary from person to person. Symptoms, separated into groups, are listed on the Dyspraxia Foundation’s Adults page [http://dyspraxiafoundation.org.uk/dyspraxia-adults/]. People with dyspraxia don’t all have exactly the same issues to exactly the same extent, but it’s a very good resource for understanding dyspraxia in yourself or others. The large movement issues are the clearest and easiest to show, which is why the bike riding and ladder climbing were a good choice for his introduction.

The struggle of bike riding is a common one and a strong visual to introduce him. His feeling of failure and determination to succeed in this task spoke to me, and inspired me to try harder in my own bike riding. Another character’s outburst about his capability also feels familiar; whether the criticism from other people or my own feelings of inadequacy, dyspraxia is an invisible disability and the idea that you’re lazy and useless does come up. For me, as I don’t have an official diagnosis, the idea that it’s an excuse does feel like a familiar insult.

While I don’t have a diagnosis, I am part of a few forums and Facebook groups for adults with dyspraxia where many members do. While there were some that didn’t like his character, no group is a hivemind and the general consensus was positive. His most obvious problem is my own most telling issue, and others felt various levels of connection to it – some felt it a bit stereotypical. Others felt his mountain edge seat was unrealistic enough to break their belief, as they would be too afraid of getting so close to the edge.

Everyone I’ve spoken to agrees on one thing, though, and that’s that having a character with dyspraxia is fantastic representation! Being an ‘invisible’ disability and not a particularly well-known condition, telling someone that you have dyspraxia almost always needs an explanation of what it is afterwards. Ryan is potentially the first ever character with dyspraxia in main stream fiction; I can’t think of a single dyspraxic character and Google searching only brings up a handful of lesser known book that seem to be about dyspraxia. Being able to say “like Ryan in Doctor Who” can take the explanation of your condition from a long conversation to a single sentence.

However, representation by itself isn’t the be-all and end-all. If, as the rest of the series continues, their representation of Ryan and his dyspraxia doesn’t go beyond balance or is portrayed only as a problem, that would have negative effects for dyspraxic people everywhere. Being the first mainstream character with dyspraxia is a big responsibility for positive and helpful representation. There are nine more episodes of this series, and I’ll wait and watch on the edge of my seat to see how it unfolds.

One concern brought up in a dyspraxia group was whether the actor or writer are, themselves, dyspraxic. So far, it doesn’t appear that the actor who plays Ryan, Tosin Cole, has dyspraxia or any related condition. The new writer, Chris Chibnall, said in an interview that his decision to have a dyspraxic character was influenced by his nephew with dyspraxia. With non-dyspraxic people writing and portraying him, there is a risk that this will be an unrealistic, outside view of dyspraxia. One episode in seems good to me, though, so it seems a good amount of research has been done.

Having a dyspraxic actor play Ryan would be fantastic, but it isn’t a visible condition so it isn’t necessarily mandatory. How many actors with dyspraxia there are isn’t easy information to find, and Doctor Who may not have had anyone dyspraxic audition. Dyspraxic actors and dyspraxic roles are not as urgent or vital an issue as – for example – white washing, able bodied actors playing characters in wheelchairs, or transgender women being portrayed by cisgender men.

One actor who does have dyspraxia but would be wholly inappropriate for the role is now twenty-nine-year-old white Daniel Radcliffe! Celebrities with dyspraxia are few and far between, with the only other one I’m aware of being singer Florence Welch. Having a fictional character to add to this sparse group to look to makes a huge difference. The social media conversations about dyspraxia this will spark could also bring more famous person to mention their own experiences and diagnoses!

Doctor Who has always been a show with aspirational characters, and the big character for this in the new season is the female Doctor, letting girls have their chance to want to be her. Plenty of girls and feminist groups have been talking about their excitement since Jodie Whittaker was announced. Her appearance is also accompanied by a mostly non-white companion team, what appear to be other genuinely strong female characters and this character with an invisible disability. Some great characters for plenty of people to look up to! As well as another great series of aliens and adventures, the Thirteenth Doctor could bring some fantastic representation and conversation starters all round!

101 Tips For Home Chores

Laundry

  1. Most people know to wash white, black and coloured clothes separately, but washing each colour separately (or even by shade as well!) keeps your clothes brighter for longer.
  2. Put pillow cases and duvet covers on easily by starting with them inside out, then putting your hands in to each top corner. Hold the corners of the pillow or duvet, and shake the case right side out onto it without letting go of the corners.
  3. Get your sports injury or menstrual blood stains out by soaking your clothes in vinegar before washing as normal.
  4. Never lose socks in the washing machine again by washing them in one of those mesh bags for washing ‘delicates’ in.
  5. Jeans, designed to only need occasional cleaning, don’t need fabric softener and last longer without it – there are often denim settings for doing separate jean washes.
  6. If you’re the type to avoid washing your jeans, vodka elements odours and putting them in the freezer keeps them cleaner and darker longer.
  7. Sitting or crouching in front of the washing machine, if you can still see the back of the drum it’s not overfilled.
  8. Hanging t shirts, jeans and sportswear to dry prevents them getting wrinkled and saves ironing things that just need to be smooth.
  9. Clean your washing machine by putting a mixture of two parts vinegar, half a part bicarbonate of soda in as detergent on an empty, hot cycle.
  10. Hang brightly coloured items inside out to prevent colour fading.
  11. Avoid outdoor line drying if you have asthma or hay fever, as pollen and other things stick to the fabric.
  12. Dry items that might stretch, like sweaters, on a flat surface.

 

Bedroom

  1. Getting out of bed with some leg kicks not only wakes you up, but straightens the duvet out for making your bed.
  2. Fill your drawers like a filing cabinet rather than stacking things, to help you find things easier and quicker, and prevent making a mess by looking for certain items.
  3. Open the window while you tidy, even if it’s cold, to get fresh air circulating in the room and prevent that musty feet smell that can build up.
  4. Sit on the bed to change the duvet covers; there’s space for the duvet so there’s space to change the covers properly.
  5. To remember to change your sheets once or twice a month, line it up with the first of the month, payday or another monthly event, or any fortnightly event.
  6. It’s best to change your duvet and pillows with the seasons, so having a box under the bed with the light summer set, heavy winter set and regular autumn/spring set to swap makes it easy to wash (and remember) each change.
  7. Sort any clothes on the floor, bed or side into dirty and clean, with the clean pile sorted by type. Putting it all away at once, when you’ve finished, will make the task feel quicker and easier than putting things away as you find them.
  8. Dust plastic and wooden surfaces, and hoover fabric surfaces regularly to keep dust and dust mites at bay, as this is the room you’ll be breathing in for up to 8 hours straight.
  9. When you sort out your wardrobe, be ruthless. Get rid of everything that doesn’t fit, that you don’t like, and that has damage that you won’t or can’t fix. Bin things you know people wouldn’t want, and take the rest to charity shops, boot sales or friends and family that would want them.
  10. Make your storage part of your décor. A neat shoe rack at the end of the bed looks like a feature, not clutter; keeping things in a hang-rack on the back of the door looks nicer and is easier to use than a pile of things on a bedside table; putting your jewellery on an upright display shows them off far better than a box or tray full of bits and pieces.
  11. Keep a hamper or basket in your room and throw clothes you don’t want in it as soon as you decide it. Putting them in the wash with regular clothes or putting them back in the drawer to sort later just means you’ll forget you decided to get rid of them.
  12. Keep your mattress fresh by patting it down with a sponge, and laundry detergent in water. Dry it with a blow drier to stop it getting musty.
  13. Organise your bedside or getting ready table and keep it minimalist. This means you don’t accidentally keep things that are broken or out of date, and helps you find what you need quickly.

 

Bathroom

  1. Keep your toilet brush holder half-full of soapy water, so the brush is cleaned every time it’s moved or used.
  2. Avoid smudgy, smeared mirrors by rubbing them dry with newspaper.
  3. Wrapping vinegar soaked kitchen or toilet roll around metal taps to make wiping that grime and cloudiness off easy.
  4. Pouring cola down drains can help to unclog them when they’re draining slowly.
  5. Wiping your tiles off with a squeegee after a hot bath or shower to stop moisture build up and mould.
  6. Likewise, keep a spray bottle next to your bath or shower to give them a quick spritz after every use.
  7. Fill a plastic bag with lemon juice, tie it around the showerhead and leave overnight to get the residue off.
  8. Power clean the bathtub or tiles by attaching a scrubbing brush to an electric drill.
  9. Kitchen storage works fantastically in the bathroom; spice racks are great for your lotions and shampoo bottles, and those multilevel cake stands are fantastic for vertical storage.
  10. One way to clean the scum from your bathtub is by sprinkling salt on a grapefruit and using that to scrub the stains away.
  11. Get that mirror clean and perfect with black tea. Brew some nice strong black tea, multiple bags worth, and use it as your cleaner liquid. Go ahead and have a nice cuppa, too.
  12. Save one of your old toothbrushes to clean all kinds of things around the house.
  13. Give your no-slip bath mat a good clean by unsticking it and running the bath with laundry detergent. After a good soak, hang it to dry.

 

Kitchen

  1. If you have wooden chopping boards, get the ingrained dirt out by rubbing them with coarse salt and scrubbing the salty board with a lemon half.
  2. Lining the grill or toaster oven with tin foil before using it stops it getting dirty as quickly. Roll it up and take all the fat, spillage or other food mess with it to the bin or recycling.
  3. Clean the blender by ‘blending’ soapy water, rather than try to clean the sharp blades normally.
  4. Clean cheese graters by grating some raw potato, and just rinsing it off afterwards.
  5. Make it easier to clean food out of your microwave by heating a cup of water and chopped lemon first.
  6. You use the washing up sponge clean the plates you eat off of and cutlery you eat with, so give it a quick minute in the microwave to kill off dangerous germs.
  7. Designate a space next to your sink or near your dishwasher for dirty dishes, to make washing up and dishwasher loading quick and easy.
  8. Before you do your big shop, clear out the fridge and cupboards of old food and wipe down the shelves to make a clean space for your new food. It also helps you know what you need to buy!
  9. Even if you don’t feel like washing up right after your meal, run the water and put the pans and trays in to soak, wipe down the surfaces and scrape off the plates, so there’s less work when you do wash up.
  10. Don’t fret about cutting yourself cleaning up broken glass, use a piece of bread to safely pick up the tiny sharp shards.
  11. Empty the dishwasher or clear the draining board while you brew your morning tea or coffee. It’s time you’d just be standing and waiting, and it’s better to find a clean cup and tidy than to get one from the cupboard and leave the clean dishes to pile up.
  12. It’s easy to forget how dirty the tea towels get when they dry off our plates, but remember that they get warm and damp with every use. Swap them out every day if you can, to keep your cutlery clean.
  13. If you have a dishwasher, set it going before you go to bed. It’ll mean there are clean, dry dishes in the morning and not take any time out of your day.

 

Living Room

  1. You can buy microfiber cleaning cloths in high numbers for low prices. Don’t just use them to clean your specs, but wipe down your phone and computer screen too!
  2. If you have a ceiling fan, a pillow case is a nice easy way to dust the blades.
  3. To get rid of cobwebs on the ceiling or dusty ceiling lampshades, a regular broom will do the trick. If there are more fiddly parts, tie a fluffy tea towel to the broom.
  4. If you can’t realistically remove the sofa and chair covers to wash them, use carpet cleaner or a shampoo setting on the vacuum cleaner.
  5. Books, DVDs and the like can seem like clutter. Arranging them neatly in a good space, like next to the TV or beside the sofa, makes them seem more like they’re on a shelf.
  6. Using throw blankets and rugs makes cleaning quicker, as you can just pick them up and wash or shake them, leaving the carpet and upholstery underneath cleaner.
  7. If you have children, incorporating storage boxes and larger toys into the room’s furniture keeps tidying up to the same room.
  8. Baskets are the best thing to add to your living room. Suddenly the last few weeks’ worth of magazines are a tidy collection, the evidence of your stationery addiction is a useful stationery box, and your annoying amount of remote controls never go missing.
  9. Keep carpets clean if you have them by creating a ‘shoe space’ between the front door and the living room, and designating house shoes or slippers to keep your feet warm.
  10. Take everything off the shelves, dust or wipe them clean, then clean everything as you put it back. This not only gets everything very clean, but gets the shelf more organised and reveals anything that’s broken or unwanted.
  11. Keep a recycling bin in the living room so you can throw newspapers and magazines in there as soon as you’re done with them, to stop them piling up.
  12. Plump up cushions whenever you stand up to keep them fluffier and give the room that just-tidied look.
  13. Sprinkle baking soda over the carpet half an hour before vacuuming to get it extra clean. A spritz spray of vinegar or vodka helps with odour, too.

 

Office

  1. Keep your long term documents such as birth certificates, passports and contracts in one folder, by person, easy to find when needed and not cluttered by other documents.
  2. Keep everything you need for budgeting and tax in one place, easy to go through and in date order, so you can work quickly and without confusion.
  3. You only need bank statements, receipts and similar for 3 months, so go through them every few months and throw away old documents to stop them piling up.
  4. Clean keyboard with sprayed air. There are cans designed for this, with narrow plastic nozzles, but anything that sprays clean air like a bellows will blow dirt and dust from your keyboard keys. One thing that works is a condiment bottle.
  5. Empty out all your pens, check them on a piece of scrap paper, and bin every one that doesn’t work. Put the working ones back in a pen holder, and find a new home for anything else.
  6. If you have an overly cluttered desk take everything off of it, sort it though it all, and find desk and non-desk places to put everything. Even having neater piles of things on your desk will make it feel less cluttered.
  7. If you have a craft or art table, arrange it with the ‘in reach’ system. Lay everything out around a clear work space in the middle, with the most used things loose beside it and storage containers in height order.
  8. Take everything that isn’t work related out of the area; you wouldn’t sleep in the bath or cook in the living room, so don’t bring non-work activities into your office.
  9. Sort any physical work things into a classic “In” “Current” and “Out” filing system, so you don’t forget to do things, misplace finished things, or have too many projects on the go at once.
  10. If you use a lot of post it notes and make endless lists, collate them in a to-do notebook or even download an app or programme to type up your notes and lists in.
  11. Keep screen cleaner and a microfiber cloth by your computer screen, and clean it regularly. Use that time to clean your phone, glasses, and other screens too.
  12. Empty out your school bag or work bag every weekend, and repack it. It will mean you always have the things you need, won’t forget important things in your bag for weeks, and stops your bag filling up with unneeded items.

 

Pets

  1. Tape is great for picking up cat hair, saving time and preventing fluffy sofas and clothes.
  2. Sprinkle baby powder on your dogs matted hair to loosen it up so you can brush it out.
  3. Get fur and other fluff out of the carpet by using a squeegee, the thing you dry windows and mirrors with.
  4. Avoid ammonia based cleaning products, as its urine-like smell can stress pets out and cause them to spray and mark their territory.
  5. Dab out ‘accidents’ with equal parts water and white vinegar, then spray a little dishwashing liquid on the area.
  6. Vacuum pet beds before washing, and add baking powder to the washing machine to neutralise the odour
  7. Wash your pets’ collars with some pet shampoo and hot water.
  8. Use a spray-cooking-oil to make it easier to wash bowls out.
  9. Wash your dog sooner rather than later to stop the dirt on them getting all over the house. Use this time to trim their nails if they need it and remember to dry them off properly.
  10. Change any litter areas as soon as they’re pooped in, and keep air freshener nearby to stop smells lingering. Sprinkling baking soda in there reduces smells, too.
  11. Soak collars and toys in a pet shampoo and water mix to give them a deep clean, then rinse them off and leave to dry.
  12. Keep pet supplies near a designated space. Keep the food near the bowls, the litter near the trays and the spare bedding by the cage. This way they won’t get lost or spread unwanted pet mess into other spaces of your house.

 

Miscellaneous

  1. First thing first, get yourself in a motivated mood; put on music that makes your feel productive, roll up your sleeves, wear a headband or do anything else that makes you feel like you’re in cleaning mode, and don’t be doing anything else at the same time.
  2. Dust and even mop the floor with socks! Cheap fluffy socks make for great floor cleaners, picking up dust when dry and making a no-bending down mop. You will have to change them after mopping, though.
  3. Put some baking soda in your trainers after you wear them to freshen them up, pouring it out just before putting them on again.
  4. Get your trainers shiny white again by using some toothpaste to clean them.
  5. Take out the trash when you leave the house in the morning. You’re leaving anyway, so it takes an extra chore off the list.
  6. Clean your hairbrushes and combs with liquid dish soap mixed with water.
  7. Acetone-based nail polish remover is perfect for getting glue off of scissor blades and other non-painted things that might get all gummed up.
  8. Keep on top of your housework by setting aside a regular time to tidy. Ten minutes every day, half an hour on Tuesdays and Thursdays, an hour every week; however you sort it out make sure you keep at it to stop mess and dirt building up and overwhelming you.
  9. When you’re throwing things away, remember the William Morris quote, “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”
  10. Separating the ‘get rid of’ pile into bin, donate and sell type piles makes it easier to get rid of things. It’s not a case of keep or throw away, it’s a case of keep, donate, sell, or throw away.
  11. Keeping any bags or boxes that you need to take to the dump or charity shop in the way of your routine means you can’t forget about them, and you’ll have to take the time to take them there to stop them annoying you.
  12. Leave any sentimental items aside until last; trying to tidy up your gifts or photo albums is sure to distract you, and you’ll stop and look through, so do it after the other stuff!
  13. Take a step back when you’ve finished and admire the difference you’ve made. Appreciating the fruit of your effort and the way a cleaner tidier home makes your feel more motivated to do it more often.

Everything Wrong With Gender Reveal Parties…

1. You don’t know if your baby is a boy or a girl

Yes, yes, yes, you’re sick of trans people and ‘woke’ cis people pointing out that gender isn’t the same as birth-assigned sex. But it isn’t! What you’re revealing isn’t whether your baby is a boy or a girl, but what genitals your baby has and the category they will be put in because of it. As adults, male and female look different, but before puberty, the only difference between ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ is the shape of their genitals. And that’s a creepy reason to throw a party.

Your child could grow up to be transgender, and the more importance you place on determining gender from genitals the more trouble you’re going to have with that.

2. Assumed gender is not the main fact about your baby

People always ask if your baby is a boy or a girl as if that’s the only thing that matters about a baby. The health of the baby, the health of the mum, weight, appearance, what you’re going to name them, whether they have any birthmarks etc; these are also facts about a baby you could be asking or announcing.

To be quite honest? You had a baby, and a new person now exists. That’s the main fact here, not what supposed gender they are. There is the amazing feat of birth, the fact that everyone has yet to meet this baby and while be excited they were born, and the sheer fact that they’re a human being not a one in two option. But yet, the gender is the big reveal.

3. It revolves around silly gender stereotypes

These parties are never just the announcement and then unrelated partying; the reveal is visual and the party that follows is connected to the gender announced. It’s a baby, and people are very complicated, so how do people and products reveal gender in these parties? Stereotypes. Using the dull pink or blue, or having some stereotypical interests the child might or might not have based on their gender.

None of the adults in your life has personalities based on one or two interests that are shared by everyone that’s the same gender as them. None of the women in your life only wear pink and none of the men only blue. Why is the baby being shoved into one or two gendered traits or revealed as pink-themed or blue-themed?

4. Enforcing gender roles is damaging to all children

It isn’t just transgender people who are damaged by enforcing gender on them; gender roles limit all children and cause them to limit themselves. It isn’t just saying that girls do A and boys do B, which pressures girls into A and boys into B, it pressures boys away from A and girls away from B. There is a serious lack of women in STEM careers, and it stems from gender stereotyping. If sports are for boys, girls feel like they can’t do it before they even try, and the idea that it’s for boys is ‘proven’ by the lack of girls who like sport. Likewise, if boys who don’t like sport are made to feel less than and pushed into taking part, and the idea that it’s for boys is ‘proven’ by all the boys who play sports.

It might not seem like a big deal, but putting one gender role on a child is just shutting off the other options from them. These gender reveal parties tend to have really narrow roles for boys and girls, and separating children into two groups and assigning things to one or the other is damaging for any child.

5. The gender roles for baby girls are misogynistic

All the pink… but it’s not just pink, it’s the activities and interests that people use to represent ‘girl’ in gender reveals. It’s always almost an aesthetic thing; a feminine item of clothing that is decorative, an accessory, something to make you look more attractive. To the gender reveal, a girl is a pretty thing, and a pretty thing only.

This narrow view is basically the dictionary definition of misogyny – women are capable, skilled and valuable as more than aesthetically pleasing objects. Women should be allowed to be unattractive.

6. The gender roles for baby boys are toxic

The pastel blue is the last soft thing in the gender stereotypes for boys that aren’t scarily violent. While girls are represented by aesthetic things, boys are represented by weapons or war. Guns, camo, army clothing… boys are trained to be aggressive from birth, and this is a huge part of a problem called “toxic masculinity” where men feel unable to express any emotion other than anger.

This not only makes them push joy, sadness, and worry inside them to eat them up, it causes them to define their interactions with other people via violence. Men should be able to have and express feelings, and this starts by not categorising boys as bullets.

7. It’s just one more pointless thing you feel pressured to spend money on

It’s a well-known fact that having a baby is an expensive decision. Eighteen years plus of expenses, with some very pricey necessities right when they’re born. Preparing your home, cots, clothes, nappies, pushchairs, food, medical bills, pregnancy clothing, the list goes on and on. Not to miss an opportunity, however, society has decreed you must have multiple parties and events where people have to buy you presents and you have to pay to host a good party. Pregnancy announcements with professional photoshoots, baby showers with pre-birth gifts, and gender reveals with huge reveal displays… and all before the baby is born.

The announcement needs to be in the form of a visual display, with a professionally made cake that’s pink or blue inside, a fancy box filled with helium balloons or a jack-in-the-box style confetti popper. These things are priced to match the supposed ‘need’ and replace a simple spoken announcement – the party itself replaces a card or even text to family and friends.

8. It only works if you pretend intersex isn’t a thing

Of course, these sex reveals rely on the belief that your newborn baby will one hundred percent have easily identifiable genitals and their hormones will develop in the expected way, with expected reproductive organs etc. It’s estimated that one in a hundred children are born intersex, and many of those will have “ambiguous genitals”. Even if the ultrasound technician can see genitals that they can categorise, this doesn’t rule out intersex conditions.

Intersex children may have ‘normal’ genitals of one sex category but the full appearance otherwise of the other sex category. One in a hundred may seem like a small chance, but when nearly 700,000 babies born each year in the UK, that’s nearly 7,000 intersex babies every year, or an average of 19 a day. Intersex people are real and cannot be ignored for your comfort.

9. It adds to the culture of ‘corrective’ genital surgery

Not only do intersex babies get born despite the insistence that all babies are either 100% male or 100% female, they are a much-mistreated group. For the babies that are born with ambiguous genitals, a sad truth is the idea that it’s abnormal means unnecessary surgery is done to ‘fix’ them. These babies often grow up with no idea they are intersex until puberty because they have been made to appear non-intersex and obviously this aesthetic surgery doesn’t magically make them non-intersex and their hormones and reproductive systems are still those of an intersex person.

In an era where religious people are criticised for circumcising their babies, and there is much debate on whether non-life-threatening medical issues should be dealt with via surgery when surgery on babies is so risky… The idea that performing such severe surgery on children to pretend they aren’t intersex is horrifying, and it all stems from this need to announce children as ‘boys’ or ‘girls’ before they’re even born.

[Follow up article: …And a Bunch of Things You Can Do Instead]

Why Reusable Menstrual Pads are The Best Option and Not “Icky”

The logic of what is and isn’t socially acceptable can be odd; reusable cloth nappies are an admirable choice when you have a baby and ‘moon cups’, reusable plastic menstrual cups, are gaining popularity. Despite those two things being socially acceptable, reusable cloth menstrual pads just aren’t something people have positive reactions to hearing about.

While ‘moon cups’ are written about and shown off as THE reusable menstrual item, their insertable nature means they are only really comparable to tampons. For people who use pads for whatever reason they do, reusable pads are the alternative to disposable pads. After all, some people just don’t trust insertables not to leak, find them too invasive and upsetting, find them uncomfortable, or just don’t like the idea. Plus, it’s reusable pads that don’t get the praise they deserve.

All three products have the same main drawback. You have to clean them. Cleaning plastic cups only means a quick rinse, but cloth does has to be washed. Washing cloth pads isn’t too hands-on or laborious, as after a soak they’re fine to put in the washing machine. One little waterproof bin with a lid in the bathroom and it’s a small chore. Pouring the dirty water away and chucking the pads in the washing machine is far less unpleasant than cleaning the poop from socially acceptable cloth nappies!

There are many benefits to cloth pads, from the eco-friendliness of reusing them to the trans pleasure of them being infinitely less gendered a product. They work out much, much cheaper in the long run than disposable pads, too. While a full set can cost around £80, depending on what thickness you need, a month’s supply of disposable pads can be as much as £4. It doesn’t seem like much, but it soon adds up. £4 a month is over £200 a year! Even if you only spend £1.50 a month, it’s only a year before you’re saving money with cloth pads. If you’re handy with a sewing machine you could even make your own, meaning they’d only cost as much as the fabric itself.

The fact that they’re reusable is why they’re eco-friendly, too. Instead of binning at three or more pads a day for an average of five days a month, filling landfills with at least 180 pads a year, you could avoid that altogether. That’s the main appeal of cloth nappies too, and in this era of global warming and realisation that we can’t keep just binning everything, environmental choices are admirable. If you sort your recycling and buy products with less packaging, this should be just your cup of tea. Metaphorically speaking. Make sure your pads have some peace signs and flowers on them, you hippy, you’re helping to save the Earth.

Yes, peace signs and flowers. Cloth pads aren’t plain white with sticky backs, they’re coloured fabric with pop button wings. The lack of glue is fantastic for someone like me, as I have a skin allergy to glue. If you’re prone to sweat, itching or discomfort, the breathable fabric is a wonder. The colour choices take menstrual pads from function object you hide away to item of clothing. You can choose light fabrics to see how heavy your flow is being or dark colours to hide any staining, you can have them all in your favourite colour or match different colour pads to different colour pants, and you can choose patterns like flowers, skulls and cross bones or birds. You’ll want to hang them to dry in your living room so people can see how nice they are. You’ll want to store them in full view, and flash your pants at people when you are wearing them.

Those pretty and funky patterns are just the tip of the iceberg of how different an idea the people making cloth pads and the companies making disposable pads have of their products of menstruation itself. Far less ashamed of natural bodily functions, the product descriptions on Etsy don’t avoid saying what they actually are and use words like menstrual and blood. Feminist and hippy words like ‘moon’ for ‘period’ come up, too, but the euphemisms are positive instead of embarrassed.

For trans men and other non-women who menstruate, the lack of words like “feminine hygiene product” are great in that reusable pads are often completely ungendered. Some shops go on about womanliness, but many are gender neutral and some cater towards trans people. Those colours and patterns are good on this point, too, as you can completely avoid the pinks and purples and the soft girly packet patterns most menstrual products have, and opt for whatever makes you feel manly or genderless about your period. Having dark pads hides the blood, too, so is fantastic for anyone who feels dysphoric or just squicked out by seeing it.

One benefit that won’t cross your mind until you actually use them is the comfort. Allergies aside, wearing disposable menstrual pads aren’t as comfortable as not wearing them. They might rub or make you sweat, but they just aren’t made of soft fabric. Cloth pads, being cloth, are. The initial chill you might feel of the metal pop-clip on your leg aside, having pads made of fabric won’t feel any different to regular underwear. All those discrete and unnoticeable disposable pads have nothing on pads that feel like any other fabric. For people with heavy periods, the rustle of a heavy or night pad as you move makes it feel more like a nappy than the secret it claims to be. You know what doesn’t have a plastic-y rustle? Fabric.

Here’s hoping these wonders get more socially acceptable, and more people get to experience them. The downsides are few and the upsides are abundant; if you’re using disposables it’s the perfect time to switch!