Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Holy Schmidt, my Kimmy cosplay went viral!

So I went to my first MCM London Comic Con in October last year and loved it so much I've decided to make it a regular part of my calendar.

Lara Croft cosplay
My Lara Croft Cosplay
Back in October, I cosplayed as Lara Croft, but this time I had a more comedic character in mind.

I'm a massive fan of Tina Fey's work, so when Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt appeared on Netflix, I KNEW I was going to love it, and love it I did. And whilst I was watching the first episode, I found I had a great affinity for Kimmy and her happy upbeat nature. I also noticed something.  "Hey," I thought to myself. "I have half of that outfit already, and I've still not decided what to wear to MCM this May..."

Kimmy Schmidt
Kimmy in New York
And that's when I decided to be Kimmy for London Comic Con. Before I'd even finished the series, I knew I HAD to be her. I trawled shops and the Internet for the items I didn't already have: a ginger wig (I'm brunette, yo), a yellow cardigan (and butterflies to sew on), a flowery shirt (which are surprisingly hard to find in women's sizes...!) and a purple backpack. I was so excited...!

Kimmy Schmidt cosplay
Before I left for MCM (yes I went on public transport like this)

Kimmy Schmidt cosplay
Kimmy enjoying Comic Con!
Then something occured to me.

I was going to a convention FILLED with wonderful cosplaying geeks. Iron Man is a thing geeks like. And this is a thing that happens in episode 1:

Kimmy Schmidt and Metal Hero Friend
Kimmy has a best friend. His name is Titus and in episode one, he has a job where he dresses up as Iron Man knock-off "Metal Hero Friend", handing out fliers in Times Square. Kimmy sings the Circle of Life with Titus to encourage them to grab life with both hands, resulting in the above frame, used for much of the show's advertising on Netflix.

I knew there would be Iron Man cosplayers at MCM. I made it my mission to recreate that frame.

So I went to MCM London Comic Con dressed as Kimmy Schmidt, and my wonderful friends helped me to get photos with two incredibly accommodating Iron Men to get two fabulous photos:

Iron Man and Kimmy Schmidt Cosplay
This is Matt - he was so confused
Iron Man and Kimmy Schmidt cosplay
This is Ashley - he was also confused, but totally got into it
On the Monday after MCM I put up a tweet sharing these photos and an actual frame of Kimmy Schmidt for reference. It did pretty well but then blew up a couple of days later (after I'd just come out of hospital after an operation! I wondered if I was just dreaming it up on the anaesthetic!!!).

I have no idea what sparked the sudden flux of retweets (I have a feeling it was a combination of tweeters with large followers and Reddit), but it was a wonderful and bizarre experience, and I ended up getting featured on several websites!

Some ee Cards



Fashionably Geek




Quick mention on the Cape Crisis podcast (about 45 mins in!)

The one I am most proud of, however, is actually getting featured on Wired's weekly round up of the Internet:

They thought I was an unmissable part of the Internet for that week! They called me "the Unbreakable Ellen Rose"! Eep...!

Anyway, it was all weird and wonderful, so thank you, Internet. You're really awesome sometimes.

Go check out the awesome Iron Man Cosplayers who played along and were generally lovely people:

MB CustomDesign on Twitter
Facebook Page:

Ashley Piper on Twitter
Facebook page:

...and I will leave you with my vlog from the day I WAS Kimmy Schmidt.

Monday, 2 June 2014

The Patriarchy & Male Victims/Survivors

You have likely heard of the word "patriarchy" - now, before anyone jumps to conclusions and starts ranting about "feminazis", I want to tell you this: it doesn't refer to some secret male society or some "conspiracy theory that blames all men, even decent men, for all women's woes", as some would like to tell you.

However, after someone on Twitter said I was victim-blaming male victims of domestic violence because I said they were negatively affected by patriarchal systems, I thought I'd explain what people mean when they talk about "the patriarchy".

At its most basic definition, a patriarchal society is one where there are unequal power relations between men & women, with men holding the vast majority of positions of power & men being traditionally seen as the more powerful/important gender. Men are heads of countries, businesses, families, are traditionally the first in line for inheritance, etc., whilst women are seen as "unable" to lead men, often accused of being too "emotional", "not logical" or some other sexist bollocks. Men are seen as (and encouraged to be) authoritative, women are seen as (and encouraged to be) submissive.

It also means that men in this society are expected to want to be in power positions and fit in with other set definitions of masculinity (i.e. fit their gender role). Men who do not fit traditional, patriarchal gender roles are often looked down upon (e.g. homosexual men, effeminate men, men who fall into the 'submissive' role of 'victim', etc.).

With regards to problems faced by male victims/survivors of domestic violence due to patriarchy (which I was trying to point out to this person), patriarchal values mean they are not taken seriously because that society (in general) holds these types of opinions:
  • a man should stand up for himself, because that is the 'manly' thing to do
  • a man cannot be victimised by a woman, because men are stronger than women
  • women are incapable of being violent or a threat to any man because they are delicate & weak
  • a man being victimised by a woman is the ultimate 'joke' as it "can't happen"
  • a man being victimised by a woman is the ultimate sign that a man is not a "real man", as a "real man" would know how to "control his woman" or would be strong/assertive/authoritative enough to stop her, or to stop her from doing anything in the first place.
Men are supposed to be the authoritative ones in a patriarchy, so when a man does not fit that idea and instead is in the "submissive" role of a victim, people either mock him or don't believe him. Also, the male DV victims/survivors are also attacked by men (apparently more so than by women), so they also suffer thanks to men that buy into the patriarchal idea that real men are strong men who "assert" themselves and choose to be "authoritative" by use of violence, threats and anger.

Male DV victims will be told to "man up", "grow a pair", "tell him/her who's boss", when they should be told "they do NOT have the right to hurt you like that".

Excellent poster campaign highlighting that men can be victims of DV too
and points out that the perpetrator is not always male

The reason I got into this discussion at all? Because this person retweeted a picture of a great progressive advert for a domestic violence helpline from Surrey Police (which had been previously tweeted by a Surrey Police Inspector with a thoughtful caption), but instead of saying "This is brilliant, more people need to be aware of this", the original Tweeter / OP said this:

"The feminazi sisterhood will be FEWMIN at this."

Yup. The original poster didn't use this as an opportunity to bring real awareness (although his tweet makes people 'aware' of it in some fashion because of the poster, not his comments), or to say how happy he was that this was being recognised and that male victims of DV are being taken seriously and getting better help through this campaign.

It was to bitch about feminists.

Now, I know I should have left it. It's a pointless argument & I also don't want to be all "not all feminists!", as I know there ARE problematic people in feminism who I try to stay the hell away from & not associate myself with. I really don't think saying "but I'm not like that!" helps anyone. Also, pointing out that feminism is trying to derail gender roles that also negatively affect men (as is the case with male victims of DV) is just not going to get through to some people.

However, I stepped in to say something, because:
  1. this guy (the retweeter, not the OP) has actively asked me questions about feminism in the past, seems open to learning about it & I didn't want him to be someone to help turn this serious issue into an "us v them" thing, with feminists & male DV victims on either side. It is divisive and unhelpful.
  2. I wanted to point out that feminists - whether they realise it or not & whether they are directly helping male DV victims or not - are fighting the very social system that makes it hard for men to feel like they can report certain crimes against them 
  3. what I am SICK of seeing online is male victims/survivors of abuse (such as DV and rape) being used by anti-feminists to derail conversations, imply feminism is somehow evil, & try to undermine the efforts of people trying to make a real change for everyone, often those who address the very issues male victims have to deal with.
However, I didn't get a chance to get to that third argument as being accused of blaming male victims for their own abuse kinda pissed me off and made me have to 'defend' myself and ultimately step away from that conversation.

My problem is this: whenever women/feminists discuss the problems we face with regards to any kind of harassment, assault, abuse, etc., we get this:

"men get raped too!" "men can be victims of domestic violence too!"

It is extremely rare for me to come across a feminist who denies that men can be victims; as much as I try to "stay away" from extreme feminists, I do try to educate myself about them and get an overall picture of feminism. In countless discussions I have seen and been a part of online, women have always been sure to point out the problems faced by male victims and criticise those who forget male victims in these discussions; they also do this in a way that doesn't negate from the fact that women are more likely to be victims, but makes sure men are not ignored and doesn't imply women cannot be perpetrators. Feminism has overlooked male victims too much in the past, and lots of feminists I follow/know are now trying to rectify that problem; whilst sometimes feminists may focus on female victims, male victims are not ignored, at least not in the feminist circles I find myself in (i.e. the feminists who actually study what feminism is, it's implications and the vast spectrum of ideas within it, not just women/girls who don't know much about feminism & just say "girl power!!! men are stupid and smelly! lol!!").

I once found myself in a conversation online with a guy who felt like he'd been taken advantage of by a girl whilst drunk; I sympathised with him as I know the pressures put on men to automatically enjoy sex & not feel like they can say no or that they were too drunk to consent drunk & didn't want it. He reached out to me after I complained (in a discussion of a weird rape scene on TV) how a female-on-male rape scene in a TV show was not dealt with as seriously as male-on-male/male-on-female rape in most things I've seen, and I'd said that had made me feel really uncomfortable. I let him know that he was allowed to be upset at what happened to him & he appreciated my words. (This sounds like a weird humble-brag but this is honestly just me laying out the fact that I'm not ignoring male victims of violence & actively bring them up in conversations about this stuff to bring attention to their problems.)

What happens too often though, is that anti-feminists bring up male victims in a way that implies women can't be upset that this happens to them, or that because it happens to men too, it's not an issue for women, despite women still being the majority of victims and men the majority of perpetrators for crimes such as rape and DV.

Too often guys are not bringing up these victims & survivors in order to bring attention to them and get them help, but purely to undermine female victims and feminists that address these issues. They turn a serious issue into a competition of who is more 'victimised', but often do nothing to solve either genders' issues. Male victims/survivors are just an argument tactic to these guys. And you know what? That can really piss off guys who are actual victims of violence and assault.

I saw that tweet and I snapped. Well, really, I thought "oh ffs." and tried to explain to the guy that retweeted it that feminists often bring light to these issues by discussing the problems male victims face and fighting the patriarchal structures that imply men cannot be victims. He's someone I've had sensible and intriguing discussions with before, even if we haven't always agreed on things, and I thought I might add some insight & be all "please don't bitch about a movement that has been helping bring this stuff to light; that doesn't help the victims at all".

However, he saw "patriarchal values" and immediately thought I was saying "it's men's fault" (rather than the fault of the society that buys into these ideas) and therefore extrapolated from that, that I was saying the victims, being men, are to blame for their own assaults against them.

Yeeeeeaaaaaahhhhhhhh, no. No. No no no. No.

I'm sick of people not understanding what feminists mean when they talk about "patriarchy". It's not a word feminists made up. It's a word that's been around for hundreds of years, a way to describe a social system where men are more likely to be in authority positions than women and are EXPECTED to want to BE in those positions. As our society changes from a patriarchal to a more equal one, male victims will be given more and more help and less and less hate.

Anyway. Thanks to that guy for then also mentioning the original tweeter when replying to me as it meant I got some lovely messages from people telling me to "make me a sammich" and other such bollocks, encouraged by the original tweeter, as shown below.

Yeah, "McHoebag". Classy.

But yeah, those tweets didn't bother me (I've gotten much worse, believe me!), it was more that the guy I tweeted opened me up to those comments when I was just trying to talk to someone who I felt would be understanding & listen.

I thought he was better than that. Oh well.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Godzilla is BIG - but the Clichés are Bigger...


So, Friday night I went to see the new Godzilla film (a.k.a. Godzilla 2014). Having seen the trailer for it, I was pretty excited to see a monster/disaster film on the big screen.

Well, here are some things I liked about the film:
  1. Excellent visual effects
  2. Bryan Cranston
  3. Excellent music
  4. Bryan Cranston
  5. Great action sequences not completely given away by the trailer
  6. Bryan Cranston
  7. Godzilla's roar
  8. Bryan Cranston
However, despite still enjoying the film, I didn't enjoy it half as much as I thought I would. See, there were a few problems I had with it, some with the film itself and some with how the film vastly differs from the trailer (in a less "kindly avoiding spoilers" way and a more "slightly misleading the audience" way). I'd like to share those things now, but BEWARE - SPOILERS ABOUND!!!

Thursday, 1 May 2014

My Cystine Kidney Stones

So I have a rare condition called Cystinuria, which basically means my kidneys are super great at making special rare kidney stones. Wooooooo...

I was in hospital a couple of weeks ago with intense kidney pains, but with a little bit of help from the Nurses & Drs (and drugs, lots of drugs), I managed to pass the 0.7mm stone myself along with lots of smaller stones, or "gravel"; this meant I avoided the need for surgery to get it out & could go home the day after. Wooo!

For those of you who are curious to see these rare stones I make (as I know many people are, because people often ask what they look like), here is a picture I took for my records & to show my consultant at a different hospital down in London (I'm currently up in bonnie Scotland). 

WARNING: this photo also includes some of my pee. Enjoy!


Monday, 10 March 2014

"Fantasy" Disney Wedding Venues

This one was edited to add the bits in brackets, after many people pointed out the mistake ^^

This one, however, remains the same.

*screams internally*

Tuesday, 25 February 2014


Hello all,

So this year I've decided it's going to be the year of me putting extra effort into my online "presence".

I've already updated my YouTube Channel banner to a nice one, rather than one I just hurriedly made because YouTube forced me to. I've used the same banner for my Facebook page, changed my Twitter background and have now updated this blog so I have nice matching "branding" across all of my social networking sites (might be doing my Tumblr next...just changed the colour to match for now). Basically I've been working really hard to make everything shiny & nice for you all & make everything a bit more welcoming than the black and white & grey look my old channel banner had.

I've also added links to EVERYTHING in the tabs on this blog, so you can easily find all my social network accounts & YouTube channel up there if you want to see more regular postings than this blog.

Another thing I've been doing is editing some old BioShock vids to make highlight videos; not everyone wants to sit through hours of gameplay, but they might enjoy shorter clips of me squeaking with fear and going "what the f*** was that??" at the tiniest of noises. More full BioShock Let's Plays will hopefully be coming soon too - I just have to set up my recording device again...

I want to make sure I make regular videos for everyone to enjoy and for me to keep sane whilst I job search. But, don't worry - I don't just want to churn stuff out. I want to work hard on it all & be proud of everything I put out. I also want to try and do some "lighter" vloggy-style videos alongside my more scripted stuff; it will be a little bit more relaxed & I just think it would be a nice addition to my channel for you to learn a bit more about me and some of my more embarrassing moments...


Friday, 14 February 2014

Valentine's Day rant

Valentine’s day is something that has so much potential.

It’s a chance to let people in your life know that you love them.

It’s a chance to give someone a confidence boost by sending an anonymous card (without being creepy), just to let someone know that there is someone out there that thinks they’re great.

It’s a chance to fully confess your love for someone, an excuse to get it out there.

It’s a reminder to always make the special person in your life feel special, when your life is otherwise too hectic.

It’s an excuse for the romantics to do something nice for the person they love.

It’s a chance for people to learn about all different kinds of love between all different kinds of people, by seeing it everywhere all at once.

Instead, however, it has gone beyond simple card giving and gestures of love to become a massive thing to shame men into buying crap for their wives/fiancees/girlfriends.

All the adverts I’ve heard regarding Valentine’s Day have been this:









You know what? If you’re a dude with a special ladyfriend this Valentine’s Day, don’t feel pressured by advertisers. Get her flowers and chocolates if you want to; take her out for a meal if you want to; but don’t feel like you HAVE to. The main thing is just let her know she’s loved on a day where love is being rubbed in everyone’s faces.

And LADIES - we should not be exempt from gift-giving. Do not be like those women who expect their man to just buy them tonnes of crap in order to “prove” himself to them. Valentine’s Day marketing preys upon this and is SO one-sided and deep-rooted in awful out-of-date gender roles where the guy pretty much buys himself into a woman’s pants or buys crap to “prove” himself or avoid being put in “the dog house”. Not very romantic, is it? They should want to buy you flowers, not feel like they have to, or else it’s not a day of love, but of fear.

I do understand with some things - it can feel rubbish if someone you know gets flowers when you don’t; it’s LOVELY to get flowers but it’s not the end of the world if you don’t get any. Do not - I repeat, DO NOT - feed the stereotype of the angry screaming-harpy lady who gets annoyed that her man did not get Valentine’s Day gifts/gestures right. Also, did you bother to send them flowers?

Make Valentine’s Day a MUTUAL thing. Everyone wants to know they’re loved. Don’t pander to the marketing execs and outdated ideas of chivalry, or be scared into buying tonnes of stuff.

Oh, and btw - marketing execs: LGBTQ+ PEOPLE EXIST TOO. Honestly, some of the most romantic people I know are gay - I cried my eyes out at my friends’ civil partnership ceremony because of they lovely things they said to each other. Not only is it rude & discriminatory to ignore them, but it’s also BLOODY STUPID TO CUT OUT A HUGE POTENTIAL MARKET.


Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Tube Strikes and Broken Promises

So, there's been a lot of stuff on my Facebook & Twitter about the Tube Strike. It's mainly been people I know complaining about "selfish" Tube workers who decided to strike, saying things like "I hope you're happy" after a long commute home in the rain.

You know what? I don't think they're happy about you getting soaked in a rainstorm, gleefully laughing as they sit watching the news at home; I really doubt they did this just to give you a shitty journey home so you could bitch about them on Facebook.

They are angry & they did it to send a message to someone that broke a promise & they wanted ALL of London to hear that message.

In 2008, Boris said that if he was made Mayor of London, he would ensure that all ticket offices that were currently in use would remain open. He reiterated this several times after that as Mayor. Now he wants to close them and cut 950 jobs in the process.

This is about TfL putting people into unemployment so they can save a little extra cash each year (which I doubt will be passed onto commuters' fares). This is about Boris Johnson getting votes off of a false promise.

I don't think strikes should be done willy-nilly. They are annoying for people just trying to get to work and are definitely not a good way to get the commuting members of the public on the side of the Tube workers. But these strikes were because people are angry that Boris - *gasp* - broke a promise.

If you want to be angry at anyone, be angry at Boris for talking bollocks during his campaigning and getting into power thanks to false promises.

Some people don't see ANY need for these people to be angry and are perfectly happy with all stations just having ticket machines, but not me. I like having the option of speaking to a person when buying a ticket or topping up my Oyster card. I like knowing that someone has a job and is there to help people not confident enough to use the machine (of which there are many). Computers are great, they help us do so much, I have studied them and written programs for them, but too many people use them to completely replace people and label it as "progress". If it was just restructuring, if all the people were just being transferred to have all staff out and about in stations, I'd be fine with that, but the problem is, they're not. Most of those jobs are just being cut & replaced with machines.

Sadly, we live in a world right now where all we hear about is companies doing anything to to cut low/modest-paid staff on the ground & replace them with technology to save money, but giving bigger and bigger paycheques to executives. People are getting angrier and angrier about it, and when people get angrier, they are more likely to protest and say "screw you" to the powers-that-be - especially in a job where they are often at the end of verbal and physical abuse (which is one reason why I doubt I could do the job).

I don't think Tube strikes are the best way for them to get their point across or make commuters like them, but I understand why they are doing it. They don't want TfL to walk all over them and they want people to listen.

So please, feel free to be annoyed at your commute, but do take the time to think about why these strikes are happening, why these workers are so angry and who your anger is best directed towards. Is it the little guys doing the only thing they feel they can do to be heard, using the little bit of power that they have through their union, knowing that they could get a backlash from the public? Or is it the Mayor that breaks his promises & forces people into unemployment in a recession?

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Woman disowns 'gay' cat

Seriously. I'm not making this up.

An unnamed resident of the town of Lafia, Nigeria, discovered (or at least claims) that her seven year old moggy, Bull, had certain 'tendencies'. Instead of pursuing the female cats in the house, the woman claimed that he shunned them and made advances towards the other male cats. The woman called this "an unnatural sexual behaviour" & said that it was "a contradiction of the laws of nature". She sounds lovely...

What I think the cat should look like 
(picture found via Tumblr user 'mygaycat')

Now, as we all know, Nigeria is extremely progressive towards gay people (ahem), so her first reaction was to kick the kitty (not literally, I hope) out into the streets. Her second was to out it, declaring it gay to Nigerian newspaper Leadership and offer it to anyone who would take it away from her, saying, "anybody interested in this gay cat can have it because I have no further use of it".

Such is the dislike of homosexuality in Nigeria right now that, so far, no one seems to have come forward to give the cat a home. However, it has been reported that lots of people have gone to the house to try and 'see things for themselves' (wtf?).

If anyone knows of a way for the cat to be sent over to the UK, I would be more than happy to have a gay kitty.


Wednesday, 29 January 2014

"Reverse Racism" and False Equivalence

It's been a while, so I thought I'd share this with you.

So, someone kept writing comments on this video of mine (which discussed the topic of racism) about the Black Panther Party and the crime problems in South Africa (particularly those aimed at white people), and how this is PROOF of how racism against white people is totally a thing. All I had said about this “reverse racism” in the video was that those spouting how racism against white people was “totally a thing" should go look up the words false equivalence.

Anyway, he kept replying to most of my posts and said I shouldn’t be “taking things so personally” (I wasn’t taking anything personally, btw, just explaining various things to racist people & overly-defensive white boys), and kept bringing up the BPP and the situation in SA like he was trying to convert me or something. So, I decided to finally address his 2 examples, and I’d like to share my reply with you as it took a bit of time to write and I have seen arguments similar to his elsewhere.

No? Its not taking it personally, it’s purely deciding to explain things to those that choose not to listen & point out small extreme groups like the BPP.
Also, I know about South Africa. My mum’s friend (who actually lives there) was visiting someone (another white family) when they got robbed & she had a gun pointed at her. There is a LOT of crime directed at white people in SA right now, it’s bloody scary, but I’m pretty sure white people would not be targeted like this if it weren’t for the years of abuse at the hands of previous white colonists; segregation, apartheid, theft of land, restrictions on voting… None of those things excuse what certain people are doing, but for them it is a kind of “retaliation”. It is stupid & wrong & misguided & messed up in its approach, but they’re not just doing it because these people are “different”: they do it because they feel that those people represent the oppression they have faced & they are angry at things still being hugely unequal, like unequal wealth distribution (e.g. only two of South Africa’s 14 richest people of 2013 are black, despite black people making up 80% of the population). Also, factors that increase a country’s general crime rate include: “high levels of inequality, poverty, unemployment, social exclusion and marginalisation" (note the highlighted words); basically, what is happening in SA is likely caused by (and is basically an extreme and violent backlash to) white privilege.
Your argument fails because both things you have pointed out would not exist if it weren’t for the racism of white people. They are a direct result of white racism against black people. Discrimination based on race has created lot of groups of upset and righteously-angry people, but some get so angry that they attack anyone that represents the people that made life hard for them; that is “racism” of a sort, lumping people together based on race, but not the same dehumanising and restricting racism that is faced by POC. 
You cannot just throw in 2 examples to go “Seeeee!!! Racism against white people!!! They’re JUST AS BAD.” without looking at why those examples might exist in the first place.

So yeah, false equivalence.