Sunday, 14 December 2014

Christmas gifts for her*

 *If by her you mean an independent-minded individual with her own unique interests and a passing interest in feminism.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Am I a bad feminist?

I should preface what I’m about to say with the fact that I do consider myself a feminist. Like total badass and all-round babe Caitlin Moran, I believe that all women simply have to be feminists. It’s a bit strange not to want equal rights for yourself and your gender.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Feminism in London Conference - The crafty fight against Patriarchy

What's the difference between craft and art? Is there one? It can hardly argued that they use different mediums - art can be crafted from anything, be it paint, fabric, elephant dung, or a thirteen-foot tiger shark. Yet there's something about the word 'craft' that leads many people to associate it with primary school projects or baby bonnets handmade by the WI. Most damaging to craft's reputation is that it's guilty of that most heinous crime: being  associated with women and children. Stitching and sewing are seen a form of sub-art that women do as part and parcel of their domestic chores. Surely something so innocuous, so much the epitome of female domesticity, can't be used in acts of protest, can it? 

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Don't be a sad lonely feminist - meet some feminist friends at the Feminism in London conference!!

It can get lonely being a sad angry feminazi, sitting in your house full of cats and weeping into your keyboard. Three cheers then for rousing feminist get togethers!

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

My pants are political

Topshop are currently flogging these pants. The picture above is an arse-view. Now, I don't know about you, but personally I think my boyfriend would be a bit creeped out to find his amorous advances towards my nether-regions met with this whiny school-girl plea. And so he should. As a general rule I don't consult my boyfriend's feelings on my outfits (as evidenced by a life lived in my flatmate's cast off Primark tracky bottoms) - but then, I don't often feel that said outfits would justifiably make him recoil with horror. Why Topshop thinks one would want to bring one's father into one's pants I don't know. Even writing that sentence gives me the creeps.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Summer 2014 - How was it for you?

Cameron's Cabinet, July 2014. Source: BBC news 

Due to a brief sojourn in Croatia on my part, and a fairly large parliamentary recess, I’ve rolled July and August in to one great big mega Summer Westminster round-up. Contrary to popular wisdom, quite a lot actually does happen whilst the MPs and peers are on their ‘holidays’. So don’t expect a wash-out.

Friday, 22 August 2014

The ‘P’ Word (Perfection, not Pussy)
Glamour's list of 30 things by 30

I have an addiction to lists.  I have a daily work-tasks list, often two work lists (on super-busy days I have been known to have three), a daily non-work task list, a beauty/health to do list, food/diet planning lists, a life-plan list, lists of things to buy in terms of clothes, beauty products, furniture and other things to turn the new flat I’ve moved into from a shiny new shell to a ‘proper home’, daily lists, weekly lists, monthly lists, seasonal lists. I haven’t got to yearly to do lists yet, but give me time.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

First Wave

Identifying yourself as a feminist isn’t as simple as you’d think. To some it’s worse than stating that you vote for the BNP. Often it’s followed by an exclamation regarding how ridiculous it is for a sensible girl to have such notions, or a diatribe against man-hating lesbians with hairy armpits. The media is full of articles that reduce women and girls to the roles of victim, whore or ball-breaker. The internet is a place that can demean, demoralise and brutalise a person for simply identifying as a women. Feminism is under attack, but it is also a resurgent movement that is gaining activists and supporters.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Page 3 - Eleanor Marx

Most commonly known as the daughter of Karl, Eleanor Marx was an impressive figure in her own right. Raised in a household that unsurprisingly instilled a sense of social responsibility in its children, she nevertheless took her father’s towering legacy and diverted it in her own, more practical direction.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

June 2014 - How was it for you?

June started with the government setting out its legislative agenda for the next year in the Queen’s Speech. For the first time ever both the proposer and seconder of the Speech were female, with both Penny Mordaunt (Con, Portsmouth North) and Annette Brook (Lib Dem, Mid Dorset and North Poole) receiving much praise for their respective work in welcoming the traditional opening of Parliament. Not being expected to cause any great political earthquakes, the day conformed to expectations. The Childcare Payments Bill and Modern Slavery Bill had already been confirmed in the months leading up to June, so perhaps the announcements that will have the most impact on women in particular were regarding the two pensions bills or the Armed Forces Bill.

Monday, 2 June 2014

May 2014 - How was it for you?

Natalie Bennett, Green Party leader.

This month was set to be all about the local and European elections from the start. It would be churlish not to mention the rise and rise of UKIP, but the obvious points have, at least for now, been done to death by the mainstream media. Whether the coverage of UKIP was justified or not, one thing seems fairly clear: the lack of comparable coverage of the Green Party was shocking. Now the fourth UK party in terms of MEPs (they have 3, 2 more than the Lib Dems), their leader Natalie Bennett didn’t feature in the BBC European results coverage until 2.30am, at which point the presenters were filling due to the delayed London results.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Blobbed off

Picture the scene, dear reader: there I was, mindlessly flopping into a seat on the Central line after a long Saturday traipsing round in the sun giving out council leaflets. My eyes wandered to the advert directly across from me, read it, and returned to contemplating the floor, my expression one of someone who has stared into the depths of political apathy. Then I had the almost physical sensation of my tired mind doing a double-take. Wait a minute, what did I just read?

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Page 3 - Manuela Sáenz, never just a lover

Manuela Sáenz is one of Latin America’s ultimate Hussies. She lived her life as a mistress to another man, betraying not only her husband, but also her country. Yet, until 2010 when she was given a state burial, she was one of the region’s unsung heroes, a leader, and a revolutionary. She fought for her own freedom and for the freedom of the people that she loved.

Monday, 5 May 2014

April 2014 - How was it for you?

After a big month for women in Westminster the idea of disciplining myself to write a monthly feminist round-up seemed like a good one. An awful lot happens in the political world that never hits the new headlines, but April shone a spotlight on the often maligned culture and equalities briefs. Four female secretaries of state became three when Maria Miller resigned after being ordered to repay £5800 of mis-claimed expenses and, embarrassingly, to apologise for her attitude to the investigation into her actions. This meant that we not only lost a secretary of state, but also that a new minister for women and equalities needed to be appointed.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

What have Workers' Rights ever done for us?

Unless you genuinely live under a rock, you will have noticed a recent upturn in European Union trash talking by white male population of this country. Whenever I hear a middle aged brandy drinker trot out the racist, xenophobic drivel that UKIP call policy, I cannot help but recall that Monty Python sketch from The Life of Brian in which Reg asks “What have the Romans ever done for us?” So on this International Workers' Rights Day, I’d like to lay out for you a few reasons why being in the EU is just as useful to women as aqueducts, roads and the alphabet.

Industries are violating women's human rights. Here's how.

Women face MASSIVE human rights violations in the workplace. To mark International Workers' Day, we've outlined some of the biggest issues, and what you can do to help...

This pair had a feminist marriage... in 1855!

On May Day in 1855 a man and a woman decided to spend the rest of their lives together in ‘an equal and permanent partnership.’ Revolutionary, hunh? Well, I have to admit that before I started this article I hadn’t heard of Lucy Stone and Henry Blackwell’s marriage protest either, but what a step it was on the path towards equality.

Monday, 28 April 2014

Bird Lines

Recently a discussion amongst a group of friends turned to a friend’s date night with his girlfriend or ‘bird’ as one of my male friends put it. Fear not, this isn’t a naming and shaming of that individual fellow, who used the term in a joking, ironic sort-of-way. The implication was the ridiculousness of the term, in his use anyway.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Earth Day 2014 - Why women should fight consumerism

Somewhat appropriately timed to fall right after the orgy of excess food, cheap chocolate and plastic wrapping that characterises the modern celebration of Easter, today we mark a newer annual tradition: Earth Day. Instigated in 1970 by a United States senator as a day of environmental education, the event spread worldwide by the 1990s. Now individuals and organisations all around the globe stop and pause for a moment, consider the impact they are having on the Earth’s delicate ecosystem, and use this moment - when the fickle mind of the world’s media is briefly focused on environmental issues - to promote awareness, start and accelerate campaigns ranging from tree-planting to eating less meat, and generally pledge to focus less on themselves and more on the future of the planet.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Do mothers have the "toughest job in the world"?

So the point of this video (which went viral earlier this week) is to tell everyone in America how great "moms" are (psssst, buy a card from Cardstore). Cynicism aside, celebrating mums is great! We all need reminding of the amount of blood sweat and tears that goes into birthing and nurturing sprogs, and women definitely do not get enough recognition for the work they do. In fact, UN Special Rapporteur Magdalena Sepulveda said that women's unpaid care work is a major human rights issue.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

In Defence of FEMEN

FEMEN – the marmite of feminist organisations. At first I thought “what the hell? How on earth does this help?” which was followed closely by “when did the Page 3 girls get together and form a political organisation?”

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

"To crack the glass ceiling you don’t need a sharp stick , you need a sharp suit."

"To crack the glass ceiling you don’t need a sharp stick , you need a sharp suit."

This was the sage advice administered by clothing company Wardrobe as I waited at Waterloo.

For starters, suggesting that women are robbing themselves of top jobs as a result of their imprudent fashion choices is irresponsible, especially when so many barriers to women's participation in male-dominated spheres exist. What about lack of affordable childcare, bosses undervaluing women's contributions, unequal domestic burdens, nepotism, demeaning media coverage that adds to an overall societal impression that women are unable to contribute anything meaningful, etc. etc...?

Friday, 21 March 2014

Can porn be empowering?

I have recently watched one of the most fascinating interviews I have ever seen with Belle Knox, the 18 year-old Duke University student in the United States who has become a porn actress in order to pay for her education. She is doing Women’s Studies and Sociology. That makes me assume that she considers herself a feminist, although the “f word” is not mentioned anywhere in the interview. Belle speaks out against all the hypocrisy around sexuality in our patriarchal society. Which I applaud. She also claims that she enjoys doing porn very much because it is “freeing” and “empowering”. Now I have a few problems with that.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Can feminists be right-wing?

Since attending a talk by a well-known feminist writer in which it was asserted that ‘to be feminist is to be left-wing’, I have been pondering the question of whether this is irredeemably the case. Does being a feminist - and the attendant pursuit of equality for women in every sphere of life - lead inescapably to left-wing or welfarist views of economic issues?

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Feminist Crib Sheets - The World's Wife

Depending on your exam board and your tendency to flick through to more interesting poems in the Anthology while your teacher tried desperately to make another Gillian Clarke poem about lambing interesting, then like me you most likely first encountered the work of Carol Ann Duffy around the age of fifteen. At the time I remember being somewhat taken aback by her graphic and sometimes violent descriptive and sexual poetry, though enjoying it a lot more than descriptions of Welsh farmhouses (sorry Gillian). However, sadly Duffy was not one of the poets on the required study list of AQA English Language GCSE, and so I largely forgot about Duffy and her vibrant imagery until a friend gave me ‘The World’s Wife’ for my birthday last year.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

"Without Feminism There Is No Revolution" - Feminism in Chile

Mujeres” is a beautiful word for “women”, especially because it doesn’t include the word "men". Why is Spanish important in this article? Well, because it is the language spoken in my country, Chile.
The feminist fight is something known worldwide, because women struggle in all the corners of the world. I am a feminist, born in the 90´s, living in a conservative country in South America. We’re mostly known for our wine, the accident of the 33 miners and the moai statues. But I believe Chile is a lot more than that.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Page 3 - Doris Lessing

When accosted by reporters two hours after the announcement that she had won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2007, Doris Lessing responded with an ‘Oh Christ.’ She then went on to snap rather irritably, when asked what it meant to her, that she ‘had won every bloody prize in Europe, OK, so it was nice to get all of them. It’s a royal flush’. Later, when being handed flowers on her steps, she bemoaned that she ‘was going to have to think of nice things to say, any minute’, when really she should have been ‘left in peace’. These scenes form the opening few minutes of a recent Imagine documentary about this extraordinary novelist, give the impression of a cantankerous and frankly rude woman, and I’m ashamed to say I took rather an instant dislike to her as a person, as much as her novels are beautiful pieces of literature.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Vodka for MEN

A few days ago, I was sneaking a teeny bit of winter sun in Florida, stopping off for a couple of days in Miami. In between drag racing on Miami beach in a yellow Lamborghini, hanging out with drug barons and otherwise partying in the place where the heat is on, I found myself in a taxi after a cocktail or two en route to a night club.

Sitting in traffic, I noticed the ad on the taxi next to mine, for Ketel One vodka: 'Gentlemen, this is vodka.' Now, it may have been the lychee martini taking effect, but I found myself feeling quite hurt by this gender-specific advertising. I like my V&T and martini as much as the next person - hell, I enjoyed it neat in my heyday - and I earn good money to spend on it. What's wrong with me as a vodka-consuming consumer??

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Are feminists bitches?

If you have read at least one feminist article in your life or pay the minimal attention to feminist issues you are probably aware of the role labels play in constructing gender stereotypes. One of the most criticised manifestations of that in our society is when men and women get labelled differently for doing the same thing. Watch the Philippines Pantene commercial, Labels Against Women, for example. It shows hard-working career men and women while different words flash up in the background depending on the person’s gender: “boss” for a man, “bossy” for a woman, “persuasive”-“pushy”, “dedicated”-“selfish” and so on, you get the idea. At the end of the video the message is clear: “Don’t let labels hold you back.” Now, setting aside the fact that the main purpose of this ad is to sell their products by manipulating our emotions, their message is all well and good. Yes, we do need to speak up against the different labels attached to our genders and the effect it has on our lives. However, I started to wonder whether ads like this actually did more harm than good by perpetuating these stereotypes.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Look like a girl, think like a man?

Doesn’t it seem there’s a lot of talk about gender equality at the moment? In the past month alone, there have been numerous news stories showing the extent of male power. We’ve watched over 2,000 business leaders meet at DAVOS and found that only one in seven were women. We’ve been reminded that male entitlement is by no means dead when Lord Rennard, refusing to apologise for alleged cases of sexual assault – galling in itself – was backed up by fellow Lib Dem Chris Davies who brushed aside certain types of molestation as unimportant. As if there’s an acceptable kind of sexual assault. Then, UK Parliament was shown to be quite literally a picture of male privilege and, more than this, white, male privilege. Off the back of these stories, criticism has flowed. I’ve heard journalists, colleagues and friends criticise the evident gender imbalance in our society and agree that things need to change.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Can "Women's" Magazines be Feminist?
Alongside shaving, high heels and crash diets, the consensus seems to be that so-called ‘women’s magazines’ represent one of the soul-sapping lower level sexist annoyances faced by the modern woman, who must apparently attempt to navigate life and career while remaining AT ALL TIMES eminently fuckable. Magazines seem to be just another eddy tugging you down into the swirling whirlpool of insecurity, self-doubt and limitations that is endemic of contemporary culture’s attitude to women. 

Friday, 7 February 2014

Page 3 - Gráinne Mhaol/Grace O’Malley


Grainne/Grace was born in 1530, the daughter of the Chieftain of the O’Malley Clan. According to legend upon being told she could not join her father on an expedition to Spain because her long hair would get caught in the ropes, a young Grace cut off her hair thus earning the nickname ‘Gráinne Mhaol’ meaning ‘bald O’Malley’.

Monday, 3 February 2014

To Eat, Or Not To Eat...

I would consider myself a confident young woman, content with my capabilities and the skin in which I live. However, as a lot of individuals do, I struggle a little with my weight. It does not help that I have one of those boyfriends who eats food like Noo-Noo from the Teletubbies, and somehow transfers those excess trans-fats over to me instead of him. I also have terrible commitment problems with exercise. It is not my friend. This morning I decided to go for a ‘run’, 20 minutes later I was back in the sofa eating a cookie watching ‘How I Met Your Mother’. I fully acknowledge that my NHS proclaimed overweightness is due to my own doing and regardless, as previously stated, I remain confident in myself.

Friday, 31 January 2014

Undie Ads - revolutionary or just plain pants?

There's been some strange goings on in the pants department recently.

First, American Apparel, never usually ones to shy away from porn aesthetic in their advertising, put be-merkined mannequins in their windows. Apparently the bush is back. Cameron Diaz (movie star and personal spokeswoman for the pubic hair of all women everywhere) announced that hibernation for the furry critter was officially over.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Are women desperate to couple up?

The questions of how and why people decide to ‘couple up’ have always interested me. In Sociology we do not consider ‘love’ to be the ultimate determining factor. So if it's not love, why do we seek a mate in our Western society? When reading, observing the media, and talking to people around me, a pattern started to emerge. Even though more than four decades have passed since the beginning of the sexual revolution, finding a partner still seems to be significantly more important for women than men who generally seem to enjoy being single more than women do.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Sex with Glass. Wait, what?!

So, the first image that sprung to mind with the phrase "sex with glass" was of a creepy voyeur rubbing themselves against my double glazing. Or a bloke on a late night trip to A&E with his knob trapped in the neck of a beer bottle. Apparently, though, sex with glass is an app - an app which lets you see what your partner sees during sex, via the magic of Google Glass.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Offended by sexism? Here's why we shouldn't just look the other way.

What movie will you be watching this month?

Captain Philips? Thor? Superman? Spiderman? Last trip to Las Vegas? Bad Grandpa? Olympus has fallen?

It doesn’t matter. The great majority of the last stock of blockbuster movies still portray a man living the most exciting range of adventures, and women who are either hot 23 year olds, (older) caring mothers/wives, or hysterical bitches (all of them absolutely secondary). Or, in the case of 'leading, cool, non objectifying roles', we'll almost certainly see a woman trying to get married / get a boyfriend / complaining that she’s turning 30 (30 something) and is still single.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Some things are more important than money.

After I finished grumbling at an article on Nigel Farage this week, I got thinking about some of the less obvious implications of the policy he’s calling for.

Friday, 10 January 2014

No Sex Please, We're British.

It may seem at first glance that this article is about sex. It’s not. It’s about the beauty of communication and the many, many, and (let me stress again) many advantages that come from open, honest conversation.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

And the award for the best Lead Performer goes to….

Cate Blanchett plays Bob Dylan in I'm Not There

Pete Brook tells us why we should do away with gender-segregated Oscars.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Games for Girls?

Who is sitting in their bath in a cocktail dress?! Please!

I'm a tutor working for a big company providing after-school booster sessions. In many respects, our sessions are completely gender neutral. Our role is to encourage all children, regardless of gender, to do their best and pursue their goals. At the end of their sessions, kids are allowed some downtime to play games or browse the internet. By far the most popular activity, despite my infinite but seemingly isolated enthusiasm for Pictionary, is the online entertainment platform, Friv.