Feminist Fridays: The Sun Can’t Handle Emma Watson’s success

screen-shot-2016-09-24-at-12-00-49

Emma Watson gave a brilliant speech this week in regards to sexual assault in universities in colleges. Emma has been vocal in a thought provoking and honest way about gender equality after becoming a UN Goodwill Ambassador. Once again, the Sun has shown is misogynistic colours and highlighting the fact that it cannot be considered a newspaper, due to it not reporting the facts. The Sun as a paper has had multiple issues in regards to sexism over the years from Page 3 to their coverage of women in general, this is it’s latest blow. By refusing to call Emma by her name, merely by a character’s, the Sun appear childish and petty, while making it appear to be something to laugh about. Clearly the ‘journalist’ who wrote the piece thought that a young woman of high intelligence (who achieved consistently high grades and studied at Oxford and Brown for her degree) who is attempting to promote equality of the sexes was a threat, just as many of their colleagues at the Sun have done previously.

Perhaps what is most horrific, the writer has deemed a call for equality and highlighting the high statistics of rape that are happening around the world as ‘whinging leftie crap’ shows a shocking amount of ignorance. Rape, whether that is towards men or women, is a violent sexual act, if standing up and standing out is ‘whinging leftie crap’ then call me what you like. They continue to state that ‘all actresses’ will talk about such issues if ‘given the chance’, a woman using her voice to do good in the world you say? The horror. Again, the author of the piece highlights women in this context specifically, by noting only actresses they leave it open for men to speak out and take up causes, but allude to women having to stay silent. Oh no that they are allowed opinions, but shouldn’t be taken seriously (because that makes it ok). The author also took a jab at actress Angelina Jolie, known for her high profile charity campaigns as well as acting talents, and her impending divorce. The sexism is astounding and I question the editor that allowed what I can only describe as poison, to be published in a national paper.

It’s obvious to me that a large majority of those who work at the Sun fear young and intelligent women speaking out. They fear women stepping forward and challenging ideas, rather than just being something to undress and look at. Time and time again women have been shamed for how they look or disrespected by tabloid press for how they choose to act. They use their prying eyes to take pictures of young actresses and use headlines such as ‘all grown up’ to describe young women who have only just turned eighteen, so that they can present them to readers in sexualised formats. These are all tactics to keep women silent, to keep their opinions to themselves. It is in light of this that both women and men need to stand up against such blatant sexism in the press.

Book Review: The Perfect Girl – Gilly Macmillan

27999751

To the rest of the world Zoe is perfect, a model daughter and musical genius on Piano, but Zoe has a secret. She’s not as perfect as she may seem because Zoe was responsible for the deaths of three other teenagers. While she’s tried her best to leave it all behind that past has a way of catching up to you, after her recital is interrupted the truth comes spilling out, 12 hours later her mother is dead. I received a copy of The Perfect Girl in return for an honest review from the publishers at Little Brown Books.

I love a good Thriller, but after the hype surrounding Gone Girl and my later disappointment I’m always a little sceptical  picking one up that’s been recommended. I’m pleased to let you know that this is not one of those times. The Perfect Girl deserves every bit of praise it gets. While I have seen mixed reviews it was thoroughly enjoyable to read and had some definite twists and turns within the plot. It also looks at the life and pressures of being someone so young and yet so talented, something I haven’t seen in this genre and adds the realism it needs to be believable.

The novel has multiple narrators Zoe, her Aunt and her Lawyer. As the novel opens Zoe is preparing for another performance with her step-brother. This performance, however, is disrupted and the perfect illusion that Zoe and her mother created is quickly put under the spotlight. While they have spent months rebuilding their lives and now her mother is happily remarried and Zoe dotes on her baby sister, Grace. Will Zoe’s second chance family be able to survive the truth coming out? Or will the curse of the perfect girl strike again? At first the blurb leaves you questioning why you would need another narrator, Zoe’s Aunt and Lawyer give different insights into how the story unfolds, adding more to the plot.

The novel does have elements of being incredibly creepy, which are needed and the further in you get the darker the plot becomes. This really stepped up the plot at a time where it could have otherwise slipped because the plot wasn’t without any potential holes, however Macmillan makes sure these are covered by the end of the novel, while also ending up giving the reader a few surprises along the way. Without spoiling the plot I will say that the plot is enriched by multiple subplots, that said there is one that I felt was stopped rather abruptly and could have been left out but was a nice additional nonetheless.

I ended up giving the novel 4 stars. It was the first thriller I’ve really enjoyed in a long time, one that I couldn’t put down for too long because it was always on my mind, I always had questions about it. There were a few issues I had, for example, I’m still not sure how I feel about the ending of the novel and certain decisions that are made by certain characters, but I have read a lot, lot worse. Overall this was a thoroughly enjoyable read and one that is worth picking up if you like a solid thriller.

Pondering Life and Bridget.

old-letters-old-letter-handwriting-51331-large

I’ve been 22 now for 3 days. I know that one day doesn’t make life miraculously change anything but it’s made me just think about where my life is right now and what I want to do with it. I wrote on Sunday about 7 things I want to do this year, but it goes deeper than that. It’s been a big year of change and challenges, it’s taken me a long time to admit that I can’t control everything and life’s going to do what it does. It doesn’t mean that I sometimes get a little down because everything isn’t 100% how I thought or wanted it to be.

It’s funny because last weekend (on my last day of being 21) I went to see the latest Bridget Jones film. While growing up I loved Bridget and for a period of time I watched the first film almost every night. Even as a teen there was something I saw in Bridget, that she wasn’t perfect and she messed up from time to time but she just got on with it. In the latest film, watching as a 20 something, while Bridget is a 40 something, I felt comforted again. Bridget may seem like an odd person to be cheered up by, but the fact that life didn’t go perfectly but she made the best of what she had filled me with hope.

A lot of people look at my life and think what do you have to complain about?! You’re in a loving relationship, you have a good job and you passed your degree. All those things are true and while I acknowledge that I am in a good position it doesn’t mean I don’t worry like every other 20 something. I worry about how my career is going to go, whether we’ll be able to buy a house or will we just rent? Will we want children. I think I’m pretty normal in the fact that sometimes my brain goes into overdrive and I think WHAT IS THE FUTURE WHY IS IT SO BIG AND SCARY.

I’m hoping that while I know that life is going to do what it does and I’ll try and steer it the right way. I don’t really know what this post is about or if there was a big reason. I guess I just needed to write about how I feel because like all the songs say, 22 is confusing as hell. Let’s hope I can look to Bridget for a little more inspiration and understanding the older I get.

Sunday Seven: 22, The Year Ahead

img_0705

Today is a special Sunday, I’ve turned 22! So for this week I want to talk about 7 things I want to do in the next year, before I turn 23. Enjoy!

This Year I Will…

Start Writing My First Book

Get Settled in a New Home

Sew Myself Some Clothes

Feel Confident in My Job

Buy and Make the Lego Millennium Falcon

Book to Go Back to America

Read 150 Books

Should be simple…right?

Feminist Fridays: Little Girls and Lipstick

love-heart-makeup-beauty.jpg

I’m a firm believer that women should do what empowers them and not take any notice of anyone else. For some this means putting on their make up or perhaps a lipstick to go out, to make them feel confident. Hell, I know I’ve put on a splash of lipstick to make me feel more confident than I really am. While I’m not a frequent make up wearer, I understand that others do and respect their choice. Banning make up isn’t going to sole gender inequality in the world. This week, however, I did have a serious think about children and make up.

When I was a little girl I thought my Mum’s red lipstick was the most classy thing ever ( which is probably where my love for a good red lip comes from), but she only did this when we were going out somewhere special. Day to day, while my Mum used make up it wasn’t made out to be a big thing, she could go out without it if she wanted too, and often did. Now she has two daughters, one who has minimal interest in make up (me) and another who can shame some make up artists if she tried (my sister). I thought back to our childhoods and the way make up was presented to us, it was just another thing. Did we want our nails painted like our Mums? Of course we did but that’s all it was, Mum never showed us a desperation or a need for make up.

Now, when I look for presents for my Goddaughter, due to the fact she’ll be a big sister soon, I find myself increasingly frustrated about what is put on the shelves and the child models themselves. Someone on my Facebook shared an image of a toy that was marketed as 5+ but, alarmingly, the little girls on the front appeared to have red lips. There are piles upon piles of ‘toys’ that have nail varnishes, lipgloss etc with Disney Princesses on. I fully understand little girls wanting to be like their Mums and Sisters but at the same time I’m worried that at the age of 3 or 4 little girls are introduced to an idea that playing, for them, is to do with their appearance.

We all know that growing up is not easy, so why are the toy companies cashing in on making little girls grow up even quicker? I know it’s about business, I know it’s about profit but there’s something I find deeply uncomfortable about it. You don’t want a 4 year old thinking that all they can do is play with dolls and lipgloss. I’m a big believer in letting children be children, because they are for such a short time. Women are told to worry about their bodies from all kinds of media for their entire lives, but putting lipstick on a child that’s going to go on a toy box? It’s too far. We need to take back the toy aisles. We need to tell girls it’s ok to want to play with other things, that they can build whatever they like about lego and we need the kids on the boxes to look like happy and healthy kids, not a dressed up version.

Sometimes, when I write these, I just feel an overwhelming sadness. I struggled so much to fit in even at secondary school because the only make up I was interested was eyeliner, and a lot of it. I struggled when girls would be making up dance routines or playing ‘Mums and Dads’, because I was leading an army in the woods with the boys. I’m not saying that I didn’t LOVE body glitter the age of 10 or put on my Mum’s make up like other girls, of course I did at home. The thing is for almost al of my life I’ve felt like make up was just a thing, not the be all and end all. I don’t care if I go on without it, but I worry about what little girls are seeing now. Look at everyone on Youtube doing make up tutorials, the images used on boxes and the pop stars they watch. There’s never a hair out of place and images are photoshopped for perfection. It may only be a little bit of make up on a model but I for one want to give kids as much time to be kids as possible, before they have to deal with growing up.

Book Review: Others Of My Kind – James Sallis

bc8c0-othersofmymind

Jenny Rowan has spent years re-building her life. After being kidnapped at the age of eight by a paedophile and kept under his bed for two years, she finally managed to break free and ends up living in her local mall. It takes 18 months for the urban legend of ‘mall girl’ to be found and placed in the state care system after she can’t even remember her real name. We meet Jenny yeas later after she’s built herself a life and career, but her past starts catching up with her.

Although I fell in love with Sallis’s style and generally the way he writes I didn’t really understand the meaning of the novella. It was as if there were so many avenues that Sallis could have taken and so many unanswered questions remained at the end. The story moves quite quickly and you can generally assume that this is building up to a key part of the story. It wasn’t until after I finished I realised that there isn’t a  huge moment in this novel, instead, the plot actually seems to reflect the personality of the protagonist.

I found the character of Jenny to be sweet but I don’t feel like I really knew her throughout the novel. The changes were almost too quick and despite knowing her back story the reader doesn’t have a relationship with her. The novel doesn’t focus on Jenny’s past, which although others say is one of the perks, I found quite disappointing. I also didn’t understand the relationship between Jenny and Jack, it didn’t really make sense to me and perhaps that is due to the lack of context. They just seemed to be thrown together and get on instantly, it didn’t seem real or likely. As did Jenny’s relationship with Cheryl, while it highlighted Jenny’s open and caring nature, this also seemed rushed, perhaps because this is a novella. That said Jenny’s empathy for the squatters was what, for me, showed her as the ‘good person’ she is described as on the back of the book.

Overall I enjoyed the short story and it was interesting but it could have done with more suspense or general push behind it. I’m going to give this 3 stars ***, I did enjoy it but I found it difficult to follow. For example, Sallis also brings in some sort of political agenda, one which I struggled to understand. While it relates to Jenny’s past I wish it had added more suspense rather than just being there as an issue and a link. This would definitely have made a much better full length novel in my opinion.

Why I’m Not Studying a Postgrad Degree

why-im-not-studying-a-postgrad-degree

A year ago I truly believed that I would be preparing for Fresher’s week again, with a stack of new stationary and pre prepared novels read. Instead I am sitting back in Basingstoke, curled up on the sofa, fairly relaxed with a to do list for work tomorrow. I’ve spent the summer earning money and reading whatever I like. I never thought I’d be so happy to be working, but I’m finally finding a rhythm for myself. That said, many people wouldn’t believe me when I said I was happy, because all I spoke about, wrote about, breathed about was becoming an Academic, so what changed?

Third year made me realise that I needed a break. I worked myself half to insanity, I was in hospital because I was so stressed and probably spent more time in tears than I did happy in my third year. I’m not saying all third years will fare this way but dealing with the recovery of my spine, depression and other personal issues on top of the pressure I put on myself to get a first made me very ill. On top of that, I realised that part of my decision to continue study was through fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of not knowing who I was outside of education. I’d always been the smart girl, I had always been the hard worker and over achiever, hence why my mental health struggled when my grades didn’t come back as constant firsts, as they had before. I saw myself in Plath, when she wrote of her struggles with what she should do, should she chase education, something she knew she could do?

In short, I didn’t carry on studying because I need a break. I realised that most of my ambitions were based on a false security. Education was safe for me, something I could do. I could work hard and be good. I’d stay in the library late, I’d keep winning prizes and scholarships and then I’d be an academic. I was scared to step out of that box I’d been in since I was 4 years old. And now, after speaking to countless other new graduates, I see that I wasn’t the only one and so many have gone into masters programmes after saying they don’t know what else to do.

This doesn’t mean I won’t go back and study later on. I still have a passion for literature, I’m still interested in looking at Gender, Sexuality, about the impact of literature on young people’s lives, about Mental Health in post WW1 literature.  I still have a passion for it and I still read things about these issues. BUT! Now I have another passion, something I love and want to get into. I love my job and the more I get into it, the more I feel like a masters isn’t something I need, it’s something I might do at some point. I’ve moved on though, I no longer feel trapped by being the ‘smart girl’. I have people around me in a job that value my opinions without me having to be the ‘know it all’, because I’m not stupid I know that there were occasions people spoke to me because they thought I had the answers. I finally feel that my self worth is tied to more than grades.

Of course this is all personal, this is all how I feel right now. In a year it might change, I might save and go back part time but it’s good for me to get away from feeling like a number and someone’s opinion defines me.  I’m not doing a masters because I needed a break, I needed to grow on my own and I’m enjoying it.