Happy International Women’s Day!

International Women's DayWell I couldn’t really let today go past without saying something, could I?

Happy International Women’s Day everyone. 😁

It feels like something of a birthday today for me. This time last year, I felt the first stirrings of something resembling pride in simply being a woman. And on the train home from work a year ago today, I opened up and read a tiny little penguin book called “The Suffragettes”, that my aunt had given to me months previously.

And for the first time I fully grasped just how hard those women had fought and what they went through as a result.

It’s very easy to talk about ‘women winning the vote’, but honestly that makes it sound like they just won a prize in a competition.

In fact, what they won was a war. And no war is fought without pain, sacrifice and violence, which is what those women went through. They were tortured for their efforts. Actually tortured, and they still came back for more.

It opened my eyes. Opened them to what those women were trying to achieve and also to how little has been achieved since.

Well that was a year ago. And what a year it’s been. I’ve talked before about all the movements for change we’re witnessing at the moment – I don’t need to say it again. But it is amazing.

Actually what I wanted to do today is preemptively address a lot of the negative comments that you may hear today. “Hasn’t feminism gone too far?” “When is International Men’s Day then?” “What about the men in society who are being marginalised by feminism?”

To all of which I just want to say:


Sorry. I know that’s not helpful. But seriously. Poor men, poor men – the women are getting lippy again. Ugh.

When men are genuinely being overlooked for jobs because they may have children soon. When men are assumed to be the admin assistant in a business meeting, before anyone has said a word. When men start to find their careers are stalling after having children. And when the pay gap results show a significant discrepancy in how much more women are earning than men… Then and ONLY THEN am I interested in listening to any of this crap!

But not today!

So today, do NOT come up to me to tell me that we’ve already achieved equality, so why the fuss? Do not tell me that we’re in the middle of an ‘overcorrection’. Do not tell me that feminism has gone too fucking far. Because I don’t want to hear it. Not any of it.

Gone too far? We’re only just getting started!

So Happy International Women’s Day everyone. Today is all about the women. Be proud and loud and confident. You are all incredible.

And maybe I’ll stay off Twitter today – just to be on the safe side!


My top 5 feminist clothing issues

High heels

I’ve got it! I’ve worked it out everyone.

I’ve worked out how it is that the patriarchy managed to pin us down under its thumb so many moons ago and why women been struggling to rise up ever since.

It’s pockets.

Fucking pockets, man! Men have always had pockets and they’ve stuffed them full of all their important useful things, leaving their hands free to build the patriarchy.

Women – laden down with bags (due to a dire lack of pockets) – never had a hope of keeping up! And then when the corset was invented – well, it’s hard to rise up in protest when your main concern is not fainting…

So with that in mind, today’s burning subject matter is: My Top 5 Feminist Clothing Issues. This is serious business folks, so pay attention…

1. Tights

Oh goddam tights. The bane of my life AND, I will warrant, the bane of every other woman’s life who has ever worn them. What is even the point of most of them? They provide zero protection from the elements – certainly not like trousers, which all the men are strutting around in. In fact, tights are so flimsy that they are measured in their own special unit of measurement – deniers. What, pray tell, is a bloody denier? Never got taught that one in science. You must need a microscope to see it or something.

And then there’s the fit. As in, they never bloody do. Is there really any other item of clothing that you would willingly buy that is guaranteed to fit so poorly?? Apparently sold only in M, L or XL – tights will, without fail, either slowly slide down to gather attractively around an ankle, knee or crotch, leaving you constantly struggling to hitch them up. Or they will cut across your stomach so tightly that you will feel like you are being cut in half. Or both!

And should you be in the unfortunate position of having to wear tights to work, it will affect your concentration.

I’m serious!

There will always be at least 0.1% of your brain focused on just how damn uncomfortable you are in ‘these goddamn tights’. This is a productivity issue people – studies should be done!

And don’t get me started on stockings… ugh.

2. High heels

Well, you must have seen this one coming. Obvious really.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I love a high heel. In fact, given I’m only 5’1″ – I bloody adore a high heel. But you can’t get away from the fact that they are a fucking stupid idea. I wince when I see girls walking down the street who are clearly CLEARLY in agony – they can barely mince along. But they struggle on regardless, all for that ‘extra half an inch’, as Victoria Beckham would put it (this being a woman who has been known to play sport in high heel trainers!)

On that note – have you seen the state of good ol’ VB’s feet? They’re not pretty. Bunions are NOT sexy, on anyone. It is a fact – high heels can wreck your feet. In fact, they can wreck your body. They throw your posture out, putting strain on your back, knees and hips. There is a reason that you don’t see little old ladies tottering along in a sexy 4 inch heeled pump. Even the stylish ones! It’s agony.

And again, they can disadvantage you at work. A successful man buys a couple of pairs of expensive brogues. He’s good to go. They’re quality – they’re comfortable – and they will possibly see him through his career, with a re-sole or two along the way. Off he strides, with confidence and style.

In contrast, I still vividly remember a work experience placement early in my career where I was wearing my nicest, highest heels (to make a good impression an’ all) and the guy I was working with suggested walking 15 minutes to our next appointment. He chatted all the way there. I took in not one word. All I could think about was the sheer burning agony that my feet were in and whether I would make it to the appointment without crying. Never again.

I now, where possible, try and ensure that if there is any walking to be done for work, I wear flats and pack the heels in my bag. Or – even better – if I’m staying in the office, I wear flats all day. God bless you ballet slippers. You may be the saving of us all.

And never ever commute in heels. You think trainers look silly? Well us trainer clad girls think you look ridiculous!

3. Thongs

I’m gonna keep this short.

Fuck no.

No to thongs.

I don’t care if they don’t give you a VPL. A VPL is a lot bloody better than having fish your ‘underwear’ (if we can even call it that) out of your undercarriage every 15 minutes for fear of causing permanent damage down there. For the record, there is a lot of attractive underwear out there that actually covers your arse and is still sexy and lovely and not necessarily visible through your clothes.

I sincerely wish that someone had told me in my teens/twenties to ditch these fucking instruments of torture sooner.

No more thongs ladies – this one tip alone will immeasurably improve your quality of life. Guaranteed.

4. Handbags

Oh I have a real struggle with this one. Every day on the way to work I see men striding along, hands free – perhaps carrying a paper or, at most, a laptop in one of those cool protective sleeves under one arm. And that’s it.

The women, on the other hand are often laden down with not one, but sometimes two, or even three bags apiece. Like pack animals! Lunch boxes, spare shoes (see ‘high heels’ above), make up, books, gym kit – god knows what else. It looks miserable.

And I am not immune. My issue is that I try quite hard to travel light – but I also live in fear of ‘what if’ and I like to be prepared. So I like to have everything to hand if needed. Water bottle, iPad, sewing kit, painkillers – you name it, I can usually dig it out of my handbag at a moment’s notice. I will definitely look smug when I do.

But it comes at price. You don’t get to stroll around with that casual, ‘I am all that I need in life’ confidence that some guys portray so well. You are carrying your baggage wherever you go. And it can also weigh you down – literally.

Several years ago I bought a designer handbag. Second hand but beautiful. It’s the only one I have – I use it for special occasions or work meetings – and I do love it. But one of the main reasons I won’t use it on a daily basis is it is really bloody heavy! And that’s when it’s empty. Full, it’s like carting around a bag of bricks. It makes my shoulders and neck ache. For something that cost as much as it did, it’s ridiculous. I just don’t need that sort of thing weighing me down – literally or metaphorically.

So I told myself when I started my job that I was not going to be one of those laden women. I would be carefree and hands free if it killed me. And the answer to this conundrum is…. a backpack.

Oh yes. That good old school staple. Turns out, they knew what they were talking about.

Originally I invested in a huge carry-all backpack that was, frankly, brilliant. Once, when pregnant and going to stay with a friend, I even stuffed a pillow into it (you need ALL the pillows when pregnant – I couldn’t risk being caught short!). However, after some unfavourable comparisons by work colleagues to looking like a swotty school girl, I decided to upgrade to a cute faux leather backpack with shiny gold zips. It’s small, smart and perfect. I am, as far as possible, hands and care free.

And to deal with my ‘what if’ fear, I’ve stuffed a cloth bag into the bottom of it so that – worst case scenario – I can still carry my shoes, lunch box, make up, gym kit etc. as well if need be.

5. Pockets

Oh yes, here we are – back where we started. Fucking pockets.

I won’t go on about this one too much – I’ve ranted enough. But suffice to say that, if you are ever in any doubt as to how sorely serviced women are in the pocket department – witness the excitement of a woman who discovers that her dress or skirt has pockets… Winning the lottery barely comes close.

Down with the patriarchy and up with pockets I say!

That is all. X

Can feminism be a problem and an answer?

I like to think of myself as a progressive person.

I’ve actively spoken out against racism when it’s been blatantly demonstrated in front of me. I’ve never understood why people have an issue with gay people marrying or having children and I’ve been incredibly angry when I’ve heard of prejudice against my gay friends.

And I’ve obviously always believed in equality for women in my heart, even if I haven’t always known how to express it.

However, since I started writing this blog I’ve thought a lot more about a whole host of issues, and the more I think about them, the more I realise how, to some, I could be seen as part of the problem.

This starkly came to my attention when looking at the Instagram feed of Feminist Fight Club (@Feminist Fight Club). They had posted an image of Susan B. Anthony and described how she was a pioneer for feminism.

Now I’d never heard of Susan B. Anthony, and I still know very little about her, but under this post there were a whole load of comments saying that Anthony may have been a feminist but she was also a racist and that (given that it was Black History Month at the time) this was an example of the problem with ‘white feminism’ and that the feed should be promoting notable black feminists instead.

Now I don’t disagree with the comments. Fair point you might say. Indeed, Feminist Fight Club then amended the caption to make reference to Susan B. Anthony’s less desirable qualities. But the bit that took me aback was the level of anger expressed at the problem of ‘white feminism’ when I hadn’t even the slightest inkling up until then that this was even a thing!

Now, as you may have guessed, I am white. However, as it happens, I don’t in any way see my particular brand of feminism as excluding anyone of any race or gender. Man, woman, transgender, black, white, gay, straight – you name it and I welcome you to the cause! But the point that was raised in those comments did make me think about this issue and I realised something.

I don’t ever really spend any time at all thinking about the privilege that I have purely as a result of my skin colour. I’m objectively aware that if you are not white, you are more likely to be disadvantaged at every stage of your life. And I’m very aware that in my particularly cloistered little world, there is a shameful lack of diversity and I think that is fundamentally wrong.

But I don’t spend much time, if any, thinking about what I take for granted simply because I am white. I just go about my daily life as I always have done. Like many people do. And then it dawned on me – this is the problem with men!

Maybe not all men – maybe some are more enlightened than me and credit to them. But I bet you that while many men do believe that equality for women should be a thing (and let’s ignore the ones that don’t for now) and in theory they support it wholeheartedly – they may just not get what our point is half the time because they don’t see or think about how, in many ways, their lives are easier simply by virtue of being male. They’re just not walking around thinking, “Gosh, isn’t my life so much easier because the guys at the car repair shop will start from the assumption that I am not completely stupid.”

And so here’s my point – can feminism be a problem? Yes, if those leading the charge are not actively thinking about making sure that we are taking everyone along with us for the ride. It’s not much of a fight for equality if we are sidelining whole groups of people in the process. But is it also the answer? Well, if you take me as an example, then yes – absolutely. If it wasn’t for feminism, I wouldn’t even be aware of some of these issues – they may never have crossed my mind – and, as I keep bloody saying, in order to fix a problem you must first bring it into the light.

So the more we talk about the inequality we face, the everyday sexism, the injustice and the abuse, maybe the more men will start to wake up and realise just how skewed things are in their favour. And that would be half the problem solved in my view!

Keep on fightin’, one and all. X

Are you really a feminist if you haven’t read Germaine Greer?

The Female Eunuch - Germaine Greer

Ok, confession time. I think it’s fair to say that I consider myself to be a card carrying feminist these days. And I try and educate myself on the subject where I can.

However, at the risk of having that card revoked, I’m going to come out and say, right now, that I have never read any book written by Germaine Greer. In fact, I’m going to go further and say that I actually don’t know very much about her.

What I do know about her has been gleaned other things I’ve read, (like, er, her Wikipedia page) and various newspaper articles. And I’m afraid that nothing has yet persuaded me that I wish to purchase, ‘The Female Eunuch’ and invest the several hours of my time that it would take me to read it.

Now, I do know that Ms Greer was instrumental in fighting for women’s liberation during a time when women really didn’t have any voice at all. And the impact that she made by writing and publishing ‘The Female Eunuch’ should not be underestimated. I’ve no statistical evidence to back this up, but just generally, it seems that she was the face of feminism, at a time when feminism had no face at all.

So, I get it – she was on the front lines fighting the good fight, at a time when there was nobody really backing her up. She, understandably, must feel like this is a very personal fight for her.

But I fear that, in this modern age of feminism, every time I hear Germaine Greer’s voice at the moment, the message she is spreading just seems…off. Like her views against transgender people calling themselves women. Or criticising the #metoo movement as ‘whingeing

Now Ms Greer is clearly an intelligent woman. So one has to suppose that she’s not throwing these comments out there without having really thought about what she’s saying. Clearly she feels that somewhere along the line, we’ve strayed off the path that is so clear in her mind. However, as I have said before and I’ll say again – does it really matter if the shape of the feminist fight doesn’t look quite how you want it to? Isn’t it more important that we stand together in solidarity, rather than fight amongst ourselves?

Is the current feminist ‘movement’ (if you want to call it that) perfect? No, probably not. Do some elements of the #metoo campaign (again – need a better word) run the risk of perhaps resulting in an over correction? Maybe.

But let’s try and remember how we got here. This isn’t some campaign cooked up in a board room by the directors of the ‘Feminist Organisation Co. Plc’. This is a completely organic and reactive outpouring of emotion, hurt and pain – which was triggered by the experiences of sexual assault and harassment of women. By men.

Ms Greer – we didn’t plan this. The #metoo movement is not an orchestrated event. It is the emotional equivalent of decades of rage bursting through a dam. It’s going to be messy! And uncoordinated. And at times, incoherent. It is also totally necessary. The underlying problem can’t and won’t be properly addressed until it is fully brought into the light and examined. Only then can we all start to heal. And I’m all for that happening in any way that women feel they need to right now. We haven’t had a voice for generations. Possibly ever. And now that it appears that this might change, it’s going to take a little while for us to work out where we go from here.

So please. Please! Keep your negativity to yourself. If you have had the benefit of decades more experience of thinking about these issues and formulating a clear way forward, then please use that knowledge in a constructive way to help us all, rather than knocking down women who are finally starting to think that maybe feminism is for them after all! Be part of the goddamn solution – rather than yet another person we have to fight and defend ourselves against.

And in the meantime, I will maybe – maybe – get around to reading the Female Eunuch.

Feminism: Is 2018 the year the world changes?

Full disclosure: I’ve never been much of a trend setter. You know those really cool people who always seem just ahead of the curve with the latest new thing?

Yeah, that’s soooo not me.

I’m usually so far behind these people I’m a speck in the distance. When iPads first came out I think my, much voiced, opinion was that they were ridiculous things that would ‘never catch on.’

See what I mean? I really hit the nail on the head with that one, didn’t I? You can always trust me to read the zeitgeist – incorrectly.

However, I may have broken my pattern. It occurred to me this morning that even though I only started this blog in September last year (and so, in blog years, that means it’s still in nappies), the world of feminism looked completely different back then.

Yes, there was a slow drift towards recognising that the issue of equality was something that still needed to be addressed, and everyone was very impressed with Emma Watson’s speech about the ‘HeForShe’ campaign, but generally feminism was still a subject that, if you brought it up at a dinner party, would cause slightly pained expressions to cross the faces of your dining companions (particularly if they were men), and everyone would either politely try and change the subject or someone would say that we now had a female Prime Minister, so, ‘job done, am I right?’ Err…no, actually, but let’s not go there today.

I started this blog because I truly felt that the situation was becoming unbearable. Here we were in 2017, I had a baby girl and the pace of substantive change was so painfully slow that I simply didn’t believe that things would be drastically improved by the time she was all grown up and looking to enter the workplace. That made me really angry, and I felt that the very least I could do for her – the very very least -was to start speaking up about the issue. I didn’t necessarily expect anyone else to agree – I was fully prepared to be all, ‘the girl stands alone’ about it.

But then #MeToo happened. Just weeks after I wrote about the issue of sexual harassment at work and mentioned that I hadn’t met a woman who didn’t have a story – suddenly there were stories everywhere! On Twitter, in the press, on TV… all these incredible and brave women finally feeling able to speak up and share what they had experienced.

And it felt like the world changed. Suddenly I wasn’t alone. Suddenly feminism and equality was THE subject to talk about. I was ahead of the curve people – ahead of the curve! Who could have known when I started this blog in September 2017 that by the end of the year, the feminist fight would look so very different?

And call me optimistic (which no-one does, ever) but I’m truly hopeful that what we are witnessing will amount to real change. And I’m hoping that 2018 is the year it happens. It’s only 16th January 2018 today but I thought I would have a quick recap of the year so far:

  • Toby Young was forced to resign from his appointment to the Office of Students following a public outcry as a result of his many years of sexist and misogynistic tweets (oh, and his penchant for attending eugenics conferences – yuck)
  • Carrie Gracie publicly resigned her post as China editor as a result of the BBCs dismal failure to deal with her request for equal pay
  • John Humphreys was publicly shamed for mocking the above mentioned issue of equal pay at the BBC (always nice to see privileged white males really revelling in that privilege)
  • The first few companies with over 250 employees began to publish their pay stats, proving once and for all that the gender pay gap is very much a real thing. (Phase Eight – I’m looking at you)
  • #TimesUp was launched and Golden Globe attendees wore black in protest and took female activists as their dates on the red carpet, totally changing the conversation.
  • Mark Wahlberg donated the $1.5million he earned from the reshoot of ‘All the Money in the World’ to #TimesUp, after learning that Michelle Williams was only paid about $1000 for the same thing

Now I don’t know about you, but that looks like a pretty good two weeks for feminism to me. If we keep this up, I really do think that 2018 might be the year the world changes.

And I really fucking hope so. Because I quite enjoy being on trend for once. 😉

Feminist book love: “How To Be a Woman” – Caitlin Moran

Oh Caitlin Moran… how have I written a feminist blog for this long and not yet mentioned Caitlin Moran??

I love Caitlin (I’m sure she’d let me use her first name if we met). She’s pretty much, kinda, sort of, who I would like to be when I grow up. Ever seen the TV show, “Raised by Wolves”? It was written by Caitlin and her sister as a semi-autobiographical show. It’s hilarious and so is this book.

However, notwithstanding the fact that this book contains some of the best one liners and caustic wit around (although the meaning of caustic wit has forever been ruined by Boris ‘douchebag’ Johnson’s defence of Toby ‘knob jockey’ Young), this book is also one of the fundamental ‘feminist texts’ of our time (in my humble opinion)!

I’ve actually bought this book twice in my life. The first time, I was in my early twenties and grabbed it off the shelf in WH Smith’s coz I liked the cover and thought the title was funny. I thought it was going to be some kind of mildly amusing chick lit novel. It is not.Do not read this book thinking it will be a chick lit novel – you will find yourself thrown into a confusing world of teenage angst, workplace harassment and a scorching diatribe covering menstruation, abortion and the patriarchy. You will not be prepared and you will be left bewildered and vaguely stunned. You *may* feel slightly cheated, give the book away to charity and head out to buy the latest Jane Green novel which you know will be safe.

“How to be a Woman” is dynamite and should be handled with care!

However, in my thirties, with my newly awakened sense of feminist righteousness, I realised what an error I had made and promptly headed out to re-buy and re-read the book. Read with the correct mind frame this book simply is the bomb. As opposed to dynamite. Dare I say it’s explosive…?? You get the point. I love it.

Basically if you have an unsettled feeling that life just seems to treat women slightly wrong – like we’ve headed down the wrong path somewhere along the line – then this book tells you exactly why you feel like that and which path you should be blazing down instead.

I’m not saying that I agree with everything that Caitlin (still on first name terms here ) writes in the book but if you’re looking for a role model to demonstrate just how brilliant, funny, intelligent and fierce a feminist can look like in this day and age, then you need to look no further than her.

Caitlin = Big loves forever.

(You can buy “How to be a Woman” from Amazon by clicking here)

#TimesUp – is wearing black the new black?

I have to confess that when I saw the headlines and coverage of the Golden Globes award ceremony this year, I welled up. I thought it was beautiful. A sea of men and women in black, making an incredibly strong statement that sexual harassment and assault in Hollywood and, indeed, in any industry will no longer be tolerated. The intention was to change the conversation and my god did they ever achieve that. Oprah for the win!

However, as ever, the protest was not without some controversy. For starters I think it’s fair to say that Rose McGowan, one of the most vocal victims of the #MeToo outpouring, was less than impressed.

And then there was the bizarrely tone deaf tweet from Ivanka Trump, proudly declaring her support for the #TimesUp movement. All whilst holding a senior official position in the administration of her father, Donald Trump, who has 20 women accusing him of sexual assault or harassment. It’s hard to see how she could be blind to how weird and hypocritical that looks, so who the hell knows what she was trying to achieve there! Seems that the entire Trump family may suffer from the inability to engage brain before opening mouth. Perhaps it’s genetic…

And finally, just to really set the whole thing off, you have Paris Hilton proudly tweeting a picture of herself wearing black in support of #TimesUp, only for Twitter to throw her own words back at her from a few months ago when she said in an interview with Marie Claire that the accusers of Trump were simply seeking fame and attention.

So is Rose McGowan right? Is this simply everyone jumping on the bandwagon of what’s the fashionable cause right now and none of it is more than skin deep? Well, honestly, in some cases she is probably right. You have those for whom this has been a heartfelt issue for years and have spoken about it many times (Oprah and Emma Watson, to name just two) and then there will be those who have probably not given it a moment’s thought previously and, while not necessarily in support of sexual harassment or assault (coz who is?!), may feel deep down that this has not and does not vastly impact upon them. Human beings do have a tendency to be selfish after all.

But to this I say, who cares? Does it really matter? Does it detract from the overall effect if some of the Golden Globes’ attendees were perhaps more focused on finding the most perfect looking black dress, rather than focusing on the message behind it? I don’t think it does. The point is, the overall impact still CHANGED THE CONVERSATION. And it was a conversation that needed to be had.

I read the tabloid headlines on the Golden Globes this year – as I usually end up doing most years (don’t judge me) – and, for the first time, I can’t tell you who was wearing what designer or who did their hair… Because who cared? It was all about Oprah’s amazing speech, and Debra Messing’s red carpet interview with E! where she called them out on their equal pay scandal, and Natalie Portman’s beautiful mic drop moment when reading out the ‘male’ nominations for best director. It was all about the women, and women’s voices, and our collective refusal to take this shit anymore. It was a fucking awesome show of strength.

So whether or not some of the attendees really had their heart and soul in the cause, or were just jumping on the bandwagon, I don’t think it really matters. The most important thing was presenting a collective front, so the message is clear: things have got to change. #TIMESUP