Feminist Friday with… Jess Willby

Feminism is… Listening to other women

This is a guest post by Jess Wilby, a Manchester based lifestyle blogger who writes for philocalist.co.uk.

My only brief is write about what feminism means to you.” This was my only guidance from Chloe and it really got me thinking. The commute home isn’t one that usually inspires me. Believe me, the wet armpit of another commuter certainly isn’t my regular muse. But as I made my way, trapped on a hot & sticky Metrolink carriage, I thought about all the ways I’d been wronged as a woman. Being paid less, because I am a woman. Being cat called in the street, because I am a woman. Travelling in fear that someone might grope me during the commuter rush because I am a woman.

But really, that’s just me in my little bubble. Feminism is about that – but also, it’s about something much bigger. Feminism to me is actually more about knowing what it means to you.

We all live within our own parameters. Try as we might, we will never be able to truly understand what it’s like to live someone else’s life. Empathy is one thing, but I mean truly understanding. That’s why the modern day feminist will never quite have all the answers and actually, our greatest tool is listening to someone else and letting them tell their own story.

There is power in silence; in the ability to shut the fuck up for a moment and stop banging on about your own personal brand of girl power.

The task of achieving absolute gender equality is almost unfathomable but you’re not going to achieve anything if you only exclusively focus on your own goals. Self-care is dope but contrary to popular belief we’re not just out here spinning on a space rock for our own personal development, you know?

It’s time we stopped excusing our ignorance and instead actively seek out varying experiences of womanhood. The internet might be a big place, but it’s not hard to find and share stories from women living a life different to your own.

Whether it’s Grace Victory talking to you about the lack of diversity in blogging, Stephanie Yeboah telling you how black fat women matter too or Ali Catrin explaining what it’s like to live with Autism, we need to take their words on board and celebrate their voice. Devour every word and pass it on, champion them for speaking out.

By listening and sharing these stories, you are empowering the women who truly need to hear them. The girls who feel alone; who are in the same position, needing someone to look up to. I’ll say it again, there’s power in listening to these experiences. You don’t need to put your own spin on it, we only need to take these women at their word.

Believing, listening, sharing – it doesn’t matter if you haven’t experienced the issues yourself, you can still be part of the domino effect. Not only will your own mindset start to change by exposing yourself to new ideas, so will those around you. Suddenly women who previously may not have been willing to share their voice feel empowered to do so because they know there are people who will listen.

And so – if like me – you ever find yourself armpit-deep on a sweaty, commuter-packed Metrolink take a moment to think about how the other women around you are feeling in that moment. What story do they have to tell and would you be there to listen?

 

Thank you so much to Jessica for this post, I completely agree. If YOU want to get involved with Feminist Fridays email chloefmetzer@gmail.com with ‘Feminist Friday’ in the subject line.

Calling all Feminists!

A few weeks ago I had a conversation with some other women my age about feminism. They didn’t call themselves Feminists and asked me what I write about and what a feminist is. I was honest and said that overall it’s about equality but for each person, feminism means something different. Which got me thinking…

All around the world, there are feminists of every race and background. I’ve been writing my Feminist Friday posts for a few months now but I’m a cis, white, university educated female. There’s nothing wrong with that but I want to share with my reader’s other people’s feminism, why they are a feminist and what it means to them. I want to include everyone, which is a big part of MY feminism.

So, this is where you come in. I want to share your stories, I want to talk about you all and really explore what Feminism is to you.

If you’re interested please email chloefmetzger@gmail.com or drop me a tweet on @chloemetzger, I really can’t wait to hear from you all!

 

 

Book Review: The Sun is Also a Star – Nicola Yoon

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Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true? 

All I can say first of all is wow, wow, wow. I wasn’t sure whether or not I was going to pick this up. I’d read Yoon’s other novel Everything, Everything earlier in the year and while I liked it I struggled with certain elements and their likelihood. That said I kept seeing this novel everywhere and heard nothing but good things about it, reflecting on the fact I’d actually really liked Yoon’s style previously I thought I would give this a go, and I’m so glad I was offered a copy for review.

The Sun Is Also A Star is more than simply a YA novel. This is a story of identity, personality, nationality, love, loss, strained relationships and taking chances. Natasha and Daniel could not be more different on the surface, while she is a deeply serious and studious young woman, he is a dreamer struggling with the pressures put upon him. For both of them this day will change their lives, after a chance encounter they realise that life won’t always go as they planned.

Not only did I fall in love with these characters I loved that this book didn’t have the typical American boy/ American girl set up. Daniel is from an American-Korean family, while Natasha and her family are from Jamaica, while she considers herself American. This adds a whole other level to the plot and the narrative. This isn’t a simple boy meets girl story, it’s so much more complex. It looks at their relationship with their ethnicity, stereotypes and others around them. I welcomed this, I welcomed characters that were part of an ethnic minority and the impact it has on their lives in 21st century America.

It took a little while to get used to but I loved that there were these strange sections within the novel that explained concepts, people and their stories. It seems strange and at first I didn’t think it would work but as the novel went on it showed off not only Yoon’s brilliant research capabilities but also the lengths she has gone to when creating her characters, their worlds, stories and families.

It is because of these traits in the novel that I found myself getting deeply and emotionally attached to the characters and their issues. It’s rare that I’ll become attached to a novel that features romance but I could not stop reading it, I wanted and rooted for both Daniel and Natasha. I will say make sure you read to the end because there are twists that you don’t expect to happen, there are emotions that you don’t know you will feel.

I gave this a high 4 stars. I really enjoyed this novel, I thought it was well written and well executed. I suppose it also had a sense of realism too. I don’t think there is anything I actively disliked about the novel, I just felt that occasionally Daniel came across a little too much as a perfect romantic type, but that’s just my personal taste.

Feminist Fridays: Including All Women

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Feminism is about equality. Equality for all women to be treated the same as women. There are two key words in that sentence equality and all. When I was 18 I wrote a project on ‘The image of African-American women in post-1900s literature’, while writing it I read a lot about black feminism, I found it interesting but didn’t really understand it at the time. Recently I’ve noticed the distinct lack of inclusion of women of ethnic minorities when I read about feminism. So many of the great feminist writers and speakers are white, and often middle class. There’s nothing wrong with hearing their experiences, but they cannot speak for all women. I am also a white, educated young women and the important thing is that I realise other women have opinions and stories and we need to listen to them. We need more diversity.

For a long time I thought wearing a hijab was oppressive, how dare a religion tell a woman what she can and cannot wear. That was until I met a friend of mine at university, Salma, as well as speaking to other girls in my class about why they chose to cover their heads. Now Salma is one of the most kick ass people I met at uni, we spoke a few times and it isn’t a big deal to her. She wears a scarf because she wants to. Good for her. It doesn’t stop her being who she is, funny and kind, but instead of feminism trying to tell her what she does it wrong, we should stand up for the right for women to wear what they like. I’ve heard countless accounts of black women I’ve known being treated unfairly because they are black and female, or I’ve read about black women not being allowed to wear their hair naturally at work. We should be working together to beat this discrimination.

I also can’t understand why some people,I’m looking at you Germaine Greer, won’t accept Trans women into feminism. They are women, they have been born into the wrong body. Hell being a woman is hard, anyone who’s willing to go through the immense pressure and change of making your body how it should be is a kind of hero to me. Why can’t people accept these women into feminism and fight for their rights, the right for them to use the damn bathroom or get access to good medical care.

I completely understand that different women will have difference issues and opinions but we’re all women. If we work together, respecting each others choices and personal feminism think of how much we could get achieved and how much we could learn too. I’m a feminist and I care about ALL women’s rights, regardless of race,choice or sexual orientation. Who’s with me??

I survived second year! – 10 best bits

I did it! I’ve reached the end of the second year of my blog and second year of university. As of tomorrow it will be September again and I’ll be heading back to uni at the end of the month to take on my third year!

This year has been pretty special I’ve learnt a lot and changed a lot. I’ve lived with Ali for over a year now, I was finally allowed to join full field English Literature, made more friends than I thought I possibly would, made a good dent in my mental health recovery, been generally happier, played a load of shows with the boys, took up a sport for the first time since I was 9, won a KU Talent Award, got another job that I love, travelled for uni and broken a part of my back. If that isn’t a crazy year I don’t know what is. I’ve absolutely loved second year. I’m not going to say there weren’t point when I really struggled, because I did but the difference is that I had more people to support me through this year than I have in a long time.

I could write so much about every aspect of second year because it’s been one of the greatest, no matter how it ended. I’ve made new friends and stayed in touch with some others and the thought that I’m going into my last year of undergrad is scary! So for you all tonight I’ve put 10 of my best bits of second year and I’ll remember it with warm memories for the rest of my life.

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  1. I finally got my two little adorables this year, Noodle and Hamski. Even if they have had to be separated now I’m so in love with both of them ❤

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2. No People Club played a lot this year. We spent a lot of our weekends loading up my little car and driving to shows in London, Kingston, Basingstoke and Portsmouth. I’m gutted we had to take a break while my spine healed but we’ve got more stuff planned for the next year and it’s going to be awesome. We also have our awesome fan and sticker guy, one of my best friends Joe, who’s stuck around too.

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3. My second tattoo finally happened! When I found out I wouldn’t be going to Foo Fighters because they’d sold out of disabled tickets I was heartbroken so I got this tattoo instead. I’ve been very up and down this year and not as stable as I’d like but I’m assured that most people would have lows after a big break and spinal brace let alone someone with depression.

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4. I got to go to Athens. I was so, so thankful to be given the opportunity to go to Athens and not have to pay the Creative Writing course fee. Although I was supposed to be going on my own initially, Ali got to come with me because I was still using my wheelchair and not able to move as much. A fab first holiday and it got my creative brain going!

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5. I got my KU Talent award for Overcoming Adversity to Achieve, awarded to be by Sir Trevor McDonald who I actually had a great conversation with while we were sitting at the same table. I’m still gobsmacked I won as there were so many amazing people. I’m so proud that I now work for KU Talent and will get to attend this years awards too!

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6. I started Horse Riding! In October I had my first ride and I was hooked. I had a great 6 months before my fall, including meeting this cutie who really stole my heart. Even though I still have a long way to go in terms of recovery and I don’t know if I’ll go back to riding, but I’ve been voted to run the society this year so I’ll be around the horses anyway. I also made an amazing friend in Laura, who’s been with me every step of the way.

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7. I gave a speech about living with mental health for the university’s diversity conference. It was a great way to connect with people and share my experience and if you want to watch you can click here to watch.

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8. I finished second year with a 66% average, a 2:1. I’m slightly bummed out that I dropped a few percent from last year but I surprised myself with some assignments. It’s made me even more determined to get what I need to get a first this year.

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9. I had some absolutely amazing friends by my side through everything. Here’s a picture of me and the girls as Alissa’s birthday meal, my first outing in my wheelchair which they managed to make fun!

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10. I got to live with a boy, and I still kind of like him.

Oh and a sneaky 11, I’m still working and awesome job and I’ve got another one, always fun!