Antony Slack – “I try to smile and have positive interactions as much as I can because I think life’s too short for negative ones”

How do you self-define?

Male.

What does feminism mean to you?

Feminism means people of different genders trying to work for the betterment of different genders which have been traditionally marginalized, so it’s not just about women, it’s also about non-binary people and it’s about helping men understand that the patriarchy negatively affects them too; so together we can make a more equal world.

What do the words “woman” and “man” mean to you? 

A woman is somebody who self-identifies as a woman. That isn’t necessarily related to physical sex, and it’s the same with men but we use different pronouns.

When did you become aware of your gender?

I don’t know. I feel it’s just a thing I always felt, it’s not something I became aware of.

Do you ever feel unsafe due to your gender?

No, I don’t think so.

Do you feel treated differently by men and women?

I’ve not thought of that before, but I don’t think so. It’s not something I’ve ever thought about or been conscious of so I am inclined to say no.

What do you think are positive ways that the world views women?

Are there any? I don’t know. There is a huge amount of sexism that exists around the world, and you know, it looks different in different societies, so I mean it’s good that women around the world are progressing towards equality, but I don’t think there are many, because we aren’t there yet.

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Photo Credit: Nicky Moffat

Did you encounter any obstacles on your path to manhood?

No, not that I can recall.

What do you think about casual sex?

Yeah it’s alright, if people want to do it, then they should do it and if they don’t want to, that’s cool too.

Are you pro-life or pro-choice, and why?

I am pro-choice. I didn’t use to have an opinion because it was never going to be something that would affect me because obviously I can’t give birth, so I just didn’t consider it an issue. But I learnt relatively recently that I had a family member who was forced to have a backstreet abortion back in the day and it made me think, if we don’t have safe and legal abortions then there will be lots of women who go through these terrible ordeals. You know, if they have been a victim of sexual assault or violence or are physically incapable of carrying a baby, why should a society force a women to do something against her will and limit her options in life because of a potential life? That’s my view anyway.

What are your feelings about contraception? 

People should use whatever contraception they like or prefer. It’s not something I give a great deal of thought to; if people want to use a type of contraception they can and if they don’t then they don’t. I think it’s good that condoms are often free and available, especially around Keele. If a person is on contraception it should be reasonable in terms of cost, like the IUD is relatively cheap but I don’t know if that is on the NHS or not. But like, the coil would be quite expensive for example.

What are your thoughts on marriage and monogamy?

If people want to get married then they should be allowed to, regardless of whether they are in a homosexual or heterosexual relationship. As for monogamy, it works for some people and it doesn’t work for others. I don’t think you should force people to live in little monogamous boxes.

What are your thoughts on parenthood?

It’s about supporting children really. It’s about supporting a child to develop their own views on the world and, you know, helping them get the best out of life. Because you’re always going to be there and be a massive influence on that child’s life, even when they are seventy odd, they’ll remember things you’ve said. So I think it’s very, very important to take it seriously.

What are your thoughts on parenthood? 

I think there are different expectations for men and women, even if society doesn’t say it openly anymore. The mother is supposed to be the lovely caring one, who bakes cakes and does the knitting and the father is supposed to take them to football and have some fun. Even though these are the stereotypes people laugh at, they are still sort of expected in way. The father is still expected to be the “manly man” and provide financially whereas the women can have a part time job because “it’s nice that women work too”. The father does the fun stuff with children while the mother is there to pick up the pieces and you know, do most of the emotional work. Even studies say that if the mother goes out to work, she’s still doing most of the domestic roles too, which is so silly.

Do you think your sex education was sufficient?

It wasn’t sufficient. There was “there is the thing and that is how it works”. There wasn’t relationship education, and there wasn’t stuff about alternative relationships, like LGBT+ issues were not discussed and if they were then it was ever so briefly because I don’t even remember it. So, I think it is a huge problem. I also think it’s a very British thing that we don’t talk about sex. We have come a long way, but I think we are very peculiar people sometimes.

Has your sexuality ever been used against you?

No, but I feel it’s a bit different when you are gay, because you’re sort of more expected to be a bit more of a “slut”.  You use more stereotypically female language to communicate with each other, and you call each other sluts and whores, in a sort of funny way. It’s in a very positive way, it’s not a negative thing. Even if you were having lots of partners or something, I’ve never experienced that to be a negative thing. It’s a different language, and it’s used very differently to how people call women sluts and whores – that is quite a serious thing.

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Photo Credit: Nicky Moffat

Is there anyone you would undermine your principles for?

Not necessarily, but it’s all about the way you communicate. There are some people I argue quite strongly with and I can do that, or in certain situations it is very appropriate. For example if it’s an important meeting, you might need to be a bit shouty and a bit nasty. But if it’s with friends you can give them a bit of a side eye. To me it’s not that I’m undermining my principles because if you live your life the way you want to be then that’s fine. Older family members are more difficult, but I wouldn’t be undermining my principles, I would just be presenting them slightly differently.

In which situations do you feel safe to speak your mind or stand up for yourself?

Well, I’m really gobby! So there are a lot of situations where I can. Like Keele is very good at being a supportive community in that sense. It’s not always easy to be as strong and as fiery as I am at Keele. I always try to stand up for myself, so ninety-eight times out of a hundred I will do. But I’m human, I get tired, I get hungry. Sometimes I just want to eat and sleep and I can’t always take on the world.

Do you feel satisfied with how women are depicted in film, TV, and advertising?

No, I’m not happy, it makes me sad. First of all, in films the main roles are generally given to a certain type of white attractive man. They often excludes women, and women of colour especially are depicted, if at all, as “from the ghetto”? Especially in American film, which i’m pretty sure isn’t a good representation of most of the lives of women of colour. I mean obviously there are issues with poverty but those issues are stereotyped and unexplored. As for advertising, it’s just boobs. Women are more than sticks with boobs and the advertising industry hasn’t learnt that yet, but hopefully they will in time. There are some companies like Dove which have a range of women with different body shapes and ages which is of course positive, but it it is so remarkable that even in this day and age we have to think that “oh that was very good and that should be commended”. It’s incredible just because they are actually representative of women. It really is a problem. In television I think that there are more women than there have been in the 90’s and the early 2000’s but even so, they are always depicted around men. Like men are the essential ones and these female characters are just part of the men’s lives. Even though there are women, we are still focusing on these white, heterosexual men to represent how society is. It’s good that there is more representation coming through but the way we talk about it is still as if it is very remarkable.

How do you feel about products marketed to women?

Oh they’re awful, aren’t they? Half the time I don’t even know what is being advertised because all we see is just boobs on a stick body. I’m not even sure what it is about and then I am like “oh, okay, it’s about some perfume.” Also products for women cost more and it’s not fair! I tend to get generic brand shower gel and shaving foam, but the women’s stuff is you know, nice and pretty – and it’s pink, and it’s quite a lot more. But why? It’s so silly.

What are your biggest fears?

Being alone. Not having beautiful friends around me who are fun and who I can agree with. I don’t need friends who agree with me on everything, like sometimes you just want companionship.  I think it’s one of my biggest concerns, not finding a place where I can fit in. Sometimes I have to make a space where I can fit in, I have to claw through for it, and I don’t mind that, as long as I’m going to be happy and comfortable in the end. Oh and I’m also worried about what Donald Trump will do as the new president.

What are your greatest accomplishments?

Well I got a 2:1 undergraduate degree at Keele for my history and philosophy degree, which an achievement. I got full marks once on a test at A-level, and that was amazing. I got out of sixth form; it took me three years but I got out, and now I get to wake up every day and see Keele. I get to walk around the woods if I want to, and that’s an accomplishment, not many people can do that. There’s always food in my belly. It’s just being happy and trying to take each day as it comes and achieve even a little thing is fantastic. You can make one person’s day better, and you know, that can change their life. Not to be totally dramatic but it can help people so much.

What image do you think you project on a day to day basis? 

Someone that people can talk to I think. Somebody who is mostly bubbly and sort of happy to listen and be there for people, and just generally quite jolly I think. I like my wine and people know that. And my clothing, I like to wear shirts now that I’m doing my masters, and a nice pair of jeans and a pair of good shoes. I like to dress presentably. I like to wear my pagan necklaces and my arm rings, so that’s one way I present myself on a daily basis as it’s a visual identification of my faith.

What image would you like to project in an ideal world, absolving social expectations?

The one I am presenting now. I think it’s a job done. I think that sometimes I’ve not always been lovely and jolly and skipping down the road. I have had my bad days, and I don’t like getting out of bed sometimes, but everyone is like that, we all feel upset and we all feel angry and sad, but it’s part of being human, isn’t it? Sometimes, even if it’s very difficult, you just have to suck it up and get on with it. Not to put anyone down, but sometimes you have to and if you really can’t then that is when you might need help, but if you’re having a bad day you’ve just got to suck it up, have a bottle of wine and get on with it. Maybe have two, or three.

Which are your most positive relationships?

At Keele I have my relationship with the campus and my interactions with my lovely friends who are around here. I have my dad, who’s alright, and my younger brother. I very much enjoy that interaction and the positivity that comes from it. I have my older brother as well, he is very disabled but I think he likes me and I think we get on. It is difficult sometimes, but I think we get on. I have a picture of him in my room and I have a connection with him through that, even if he isn’t aware or if he doesn’t always understand why I do things the way I do; even if I think it’s in his best interests. I don’t know, it doesn’t sound like a lot of people but really is. Keele is very big community and even on a daily basis if I buy something at the shop, I always try to say “hello,” I try to smile and have positive interactions because I think life’s too short for negative ones.

What do you deeply love about yourself?

Oh I don’t know. Deeply love? Not just love or think it’s alright? I have to deeply love it? Alright then. I love the way I can make peoples days better, even if it’s a little interaction or if I can make somebody smile, if I can say “thank-you very much” or “how was your day?” Even if it is in the SU shop or the Select and Scam, or even if it is just one of the librarians or a lecturer. If you can make them smile or tell them you’re excited about a project or ask them how their day has been, sometimes you can see it makes a real difference on people. I love it when I can make somebody’s day better.

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Photo Credit: Nicky Moffat

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