Saturday, 7 March 2015

The PINK SOFA meets Jess Simmonds

Jess is one of my English students. She's about to sit her GCSEs before going on to Sixth Form. Jess is a writer and a thinker with plenty to say, and the SOFA is delighted to give her some space to share her views. I asked her about her writing, how she saw herself as a modern teenager, and as a young woman and to chat about life in general

 ''I don’t recall the exact age or book that got me into reading…I always read as a child and it’s been an interest that's stayed with me. At the moment I love reading horror, true crime and sci fi, but I also love classics such as Vladimir Nabokov’s ‘Lolita’, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s ‘The Great Gatsby’, and all of George Orwell’s books. I am inspired constantly by Stephen King especially, the quote “they can’t scare me if I scare them first” is something of a personal motivator.

I see my identity as whatever I want it to be, despite the surrounding pressures I feel to be this or that. I feel the pressure to be skinny but curvy, pretty but not intimidatingly pretty, submissive but assertive, and dumb but intelligently dumb. I feel like one day I’m being told to be something then the next I’m being told to be the opposite. 

And even when I fit the bill EXACTLY, its still not right. My dictated identity is, however, a “bitch” because I don’t sugar-coat my feelings or thoughts and I don’t feel the need to flatter stupid little boys and immature little girls wearing masks of maturity; a “nerd” because I care about my future and what happens in it, and I have a “wrong” obsession with video games (which are, as I’ve been told, for boys only), as well as lastly a “hypocrite” because I claim to be a feminist despite looking down on and criticising the majority of girls in my generation (I can’t help that the majority of them only share one brain cell, but, whatever…). 

And radfems (as a general population, I’m sure some of them are nice) can go and die in the hole they built in the “patriarchy, in the words of Frances Bean Cobain. You don’t have to fight for your right to not wear a bra or not shave your armpits, those are things you just do. Ruining the whole concept of feminism however, may be something you have to fight for a right to do…

 Although sometimes I immensely dislike who I am, I’ve actually quite come to like me. You are, after all, your only real life companion. You are born alone, you die alone and all that…however sometimes I wish I was a few years into the future with a criminology and English degree under my belt, working at a nice well paid job in a psychiatric prison, writing books on the sde.

I’ve seen a lot of people saying that they wish cheap space travel would come quicker. I sincerely hope for all the other living organisms in the galaxy, this never happens. It’s bad enough that we’ve already destroyed one planet, if it dies, we should die with it and let the rest of the galaxy finally live in peace, like it was supposed to. Modern politics ticks me off, modern education ticks me off. I’m a pessimist that gets ticked off by a lot of things, including the human race itself, more often than not. Why can’t we find a middle ground? Between capitalism and communism, peace and war, discipline and freewill? 

The stupidity of humans never ceases to amaze me; one of the reasons why I think I’m so interested in serial killers: I can relate to their lack of understanding of (and sometimes, lack of empathy towards) people. Not that I don’t think the world has its nice moments, however few and far between they are, and I still keep a little faith in the kindness of strangers. I think about a lot of different things constantly, my head is like a little machine that is continually whirring over a million things at one. I find it difficult to stay in one place.''


  1. Well what an eyeopener, not yet eight thirty,and some home truths kick you straight between the eyes. I love that Jess (Hi Jess) almost speaks as if there is the human race and then there is Jess. A very philosophical young woman that (other than horrid video games) is a realist. I remember saying we should have pillow fights to replace wars, i was about her age and At fifty blugh de blugh! Still think it is the way forward; make them laugh. Good luck to Jess and all her endeavours, and thanks for making me Think! As a race we probably only challenge ourselves and need to be open to external challenges more often.

  2. 'I see my identity as whatever I want it to be'

    You go, girl. You can try on a lot of hats till you find one that suits you. And know that - ten, twenty years down the line, when it doesn't look so fresh, you can try some more.

  3. Jess, you rock. Never stop saying what you think. And say it more than once for good measure. You're identified as a 'bitch' because opinionated independent women scare weaker people (especially men). An obsession with video games is not "wrong", but don't let it get in the way of your exam revision.

    Good luck with your GCSEs Jess. I'm sure - and I hope - that we haven't heard the last from you.

    Kate Bod

  4. I think all politicians and decision-makers should be made to read this post. This is what happens as a result of all their f***ed up wars and dumbing down and obsession with labelling everything and everyone - this anger and disillusionment and cynicism. And I know so many teenagers who feel exactly the same as Jess. Great post - so powerfully and passionately written. Like the previous comment says, the truths hit you right between the eyes

  5. Hello there Jess!...Well, I thoroughly enjoyed that! I feel your perception of the world is most astute and it is refreshing to see you are not one of the drones who have succumbed to the pressures of a tyrannous society, particularly that governed by the media, and abandoned your own values for the sake of theirs.
    Of course, for others to accept who we are, we also have to accept who they are, and if it pleases them to run with the pack, sobeit, we each harbour our own coping mechanisms, I 'spose.
    Oh, by the way, Stephen King sits on my book shelf too! Such a deliciously dark and strange individual, I do like him haha! Have you read any of his sons work, Joe Hill? Just curious for your opinion.
    Anyway, sorry, I'm a serial rambler...( of words not walks ) I'd better shut up now! Loved meeting you Jess and I know you've a bright future ahead, enjoy every bite of it...:)

    1. Hi there :) no I haven't read any Joe Hill, I might try him out, I've recently got into Edgar Allan Poe, so I've been reading a lot of his work and have also developed a taste for zombie apocalypse fiction. Thanks for the recommendation :)

  6. Smart and speaks her mind. Like that. Thank you.

  7. This young lady is one to watch. Love her attitude to just about everything, in fact we have more than one shared opinion.
    Hopefully life will treat her as she deserves...

  8. Hi, this is Jess :) so happy people enjoyed this post, I was hesitant about putting it up as I am a very outspoken person and am sometimes anxious I offend people with my opinions. Thank you for all your kind comments, you have encouraged me to write more blog posts and maybe start one of my own!

    1. I do hope Carol will let us know if/when Jess starts her own blog, I for one will most definitely follow it.


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