Book Review: Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls – Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo

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It’s well known that there are a lot of kick ass ladies in history who aren’t taught about or who are looked over. It’s also well known that little girls need people to look up to. So, let me introduce you to a book that covers both of these things. A book that has been raved about online, and I completely understand why.

I just need to say I absolutely adore this book and want to give it to every little girl I know and plan to always have a copy in my home.  Although this is aimed at children I learned so much from it about women I’d never even heard of and I feel like I should have.  There is also great diversity in this book women from across the world with many different achievements, backgrounds, and goals are included.

I did see some complaints online that there wasn’t enough to the stories or they didn’t give that much info but we need to remember that some of these stories didn’t play out so well and this is aimed at children. To me, this was more of a snapshot, I imagine if a little girl, or boy, found someone really cool from this book they might look into them more or ask questions. That’s one of the most beautiful things about this book, it invites thinking and questions and intelligence.

Each woman chosen has their own unique portrait alongside the piece about them and they are stunning. Illustrated in different styles and colours no two looks the same. Additionally, there is a quote from every woman within the illustration to really sum them up as a person, which was a really nice touch.

If you haven’t guessed already, I gave this five stars. I’m in love with it, I would recommend it to absolutely EVERYONE because I honestly think there’s something for everyone to learn from it. There are all these amazing women from all over the world who have done incredible things for humanity, it’s about time they are all celebrated and that’s exactly what this book does.

 

A Typical Night Out

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As I write this I’m not a big party person. I usually try to have one big night out with Abbie once a month, normally on a Friday, but what exactly happens on those nights? Which I’ll admit have been getting a little more frequent recently much to our amusement. So, here’s what a typical night out looks like for me.

4.30pm – Finish work 

It’s the start of the weekend, you’ll normally see me with the windows down (if it’s not raining, we are in England after all) party music blasting as I leave the car park, I’m pretty sure my colleagues always know it’s me. The weekend has begun.

5.00pm – Time to start getting ready 

I don’t take an age to get ready, if I can help it I like to be able to take my time and enjoy myself. A long shower is my go to, with my phone still blasting music. For every emotion music is my go to. Sometimes I get a little anxious about nights out, the amount of people, lots of drunk people etc. so my music helps me battle that anxiety.

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7.00pm – Meet up and get some food, Wetherspoons special

I love a good Wetherspoons, it’s cheap with a good atmosphere and you can order alcohol on an app. We usually meet at 7 and get some food, Chicken Strips are a go to for me. Then we start on some drinks.

9.00pm – Cocktails and selfies 

Around 9ish we’ll move on to somewhere for 2 for 1 cocktails, it’s also the prime time for selfie taking…

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10.30pm – On to the Bar 

Which leads us on to go to one of the few bars in Basingstoke. More cocktails, a bit of dancing and a lot of laughing. We like going somewhere where we can sit and chill as well as have fun rather than stand in crowded spaces.

12:30 am – We usually give up

We’re not the kind of people who go out until 3am, we never have been! I’m more than happy to go home, get in my PJs in a nice tipsy state and get some sleep.

Feminist Friday: The ‘Girls’ in modern thrillers

Have you ever noticed a trend in modern thrillers? The Girl on the Train, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Gone Girl or the other couple of thousands I found when I typed in ‘The Girl’ into a thriller search. I can hear some, what’s the problem? Are you making a mountain out of a molehill here?! When this was initially pointed out to me I wondered the same thing but it goes deeper than that. In all of the books that I’ve read with a similar title, there is no ‘girl’, just a grown woman. So, why are publishers so persistent in presenting them this way?

Now, it could be as simple as this is a catchier title, but I’m not buying it. It seems to go further. When we hear the word girl as a society there are connotations of weakness, naivety and childishness. I know for a fact in ‘Gone Girl’ and ‘The Girl on the Train’ both of these characters aren’t seen as reliable narrators, which is only added to the fact that they are referred to as ‘girls’ in the title.  If we switch this, trying to find instances of men being called boys is incredibly low. Which just screams inequality to me.

I’m aware that this isn’t a huge issue, that this isn’t the most important thing that feminism should address but it is an issue. It just shows how there is a, sometimes unconscious, bias against women in our everyday language. I’m not a linguist but even I can see that by branding these women ‘girls’ we are doing women a disservice. If you’ve ever read Gone Girl for example, Amy is not a one-dimensional character, far from it, nor is Rachel from The Girl on the Train.

It’s definitely something I think we should be mindful of. Call these characters what they are, women! It’s just something that has been playing on my mind. As always let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Feminist Fridays: Why I’m excited about some dolls.

As we all know, little girls are expected to like and play with dolls of all variety, I was no different. I had a box of Barbies, piles of Polly Pockets and stacks of generic Baby Dolls. There was something missing though, of course my Barbies started to have jobs (Vet Barbie was a personal favourite), but they rarely kicked butt. They didn’t say to me that girls could be as cool as boys in films, that we weren’t confined to pink and only pink. I didn’t get into Star Wars until I was 20 but damn I needed it. I needed to be reminded that women were powerful and could lead a war.

There are going to be new Star Wars Dolls for Star Wars: Forces of Destiny to accompany a new TV show. I read the news over on the brilliant Heroic Girls and when I saw these dolls I had a wave of excitement. These were posable dolls of some of the most fearless women in the galaxy. Of course, these are going to be collected by fans but for the little girls of today? Little girls who have seen Star Wars and what a girl can do, these dolls are something else. Of course, as time goes by we are starting to see more kick ass dolls on the market, ones that appeal to both boys and girls. Let’s not forget the boys in this, the ones who are told that ‘dolls are for girls’, WRONG.

When I was a kid I used to draw these dolls called ‘Jenny’, I used to draw her in every job that I knew, particularly jobs that I knew people said that boys did. The dolls weren’t there for me so I designed my own. That and I know for a fact one of the boxes for Army Barbie came with the slogan ‘hat and short skirt too!’ Yeah, because that’s going to help when the enemy is firing at you, a short skirt.

Corny or not, kids are the future. How can we expect them to be any better if we don’t teach them about equality as children. That girls and boys can be what they want and play with the toys I want.

Damn right I’m excited about these dolls, and I hope it’s just the beginning.

Book Review: Here We Are: Feminism For The Real World – Edited by Kelly Jensen

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What is Feminism? Does doing certain things mean you’re not a Feminist? How can I see myself in Feminism? Being young and trying to be a feminist is tough. Actually, scratch that, being a feminist at any age is tough. When I was younger there was little on feminism, I’ve always believed women can do anything, but didn’t want to use the word ‘Feminist’ (I wrote about it here), I truly believe if there were more books like this I wouldn’t have gone through that awkward phase of insisting I was a ‘humanist’ (urgh). Jensen and the writers behind Here We Are have made an incredible book.

I cannot contain my excitement over this book. I want to go out any buy copies for all my friends, female and male nad just urge them to read it. Unlike any feminist book I’ve read before this collection of essays, stories, art, lists and more will speak to everyone. Jensen and her fellow writers just seem to get what being a modern feminist is, because they aren’t trying to tell you what is right. The book is diverse and doesn’t shy away from topics such as not wanting children, intersectional feminism, racism, mental illness. While I believe this is aimed at young adults, I learnt a lot from its pages.

When I requested this on Netgalley I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did. I hoped it would be good and that it would get the message across, but it did so much more. Women and men from all walks of life have contributed their thoughts on such a variety of issues that I struggle to find flaws in its pages. There were some individual quotes that I didn’t agree with, but that’s part of the beauty of feminism, we don’t all have to agree on everything (something else that was mentioned in the book).

The freedom of expressing yourself in your own way is also celebrated in the book. Artist have taken to creating comic strips, there are poems, songs, general essays, interviews, pictures and artwork, all of which make the message of feminism easier to identify with. By doing so the team of artists and writer have all given a breath of fresh air to self-expression in feminism, something which is definitely needed because not everyone is going to side down and read The Second Sex.

This is a wonderful, smart and encouraging read. I don’t think it’s for one age or one gender. The ideas, layout and overall message of the book is creativity, acceptance, equality and, most importantly, love. I hope this book goes far because it definitely deserves to. Pick up a copy now!

 

Thank you so much to the publishers who sent me an advance copy!

Of course my period is a luxury…right?

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Every year since I was about 12 I have been blessed with the greatest luxury according to my government. I’ve gone out and bought a box of tampons or pads, my ‘luxury item’ and paid tax, meanwhile if I’d have bought some jaffa cakes I would have paid no tax, my boyfriend buying his razor isn’t taxed.

When I heard that the tampon tax would be debated I stupidly had some hope, of course anyone who was intelligent would end a tax on tampons and pads it’s something 50% of the population need. I saw the news after and remembered that the stupidly high percentage of tory men obviously aren’t intelligent and I was stupid to believe they were. Now I used to roll my eyes at this I was like but they’re not that much right? Then I sat and thought about it, actually if I add up how much I have spent and will spend it’s an obscene amount of money and simply because I am a woman. I didn’t ask for my period, I really don’t want it and it causes a stupid amount of trouble as well as eating my money.

I then saw something else, women around the world who can’t afford these items. Women in my own country, one of the most forward in the world, are having to ask food banks if they can get hold of tampons and pads because they’re having to use things they have made themselves to stop the flow. I don’t understand how it’s gotten to this. You can walk into a clinic and get free condoms but you can’t get anything free for your period? So those who can’t afford it risk their health because the blood is seen as unsanitary.

On that note I was thinking about the girl whose picture was taken off Instagram because it showed that she had bled through her pajama bottoms.

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Now, hands up ladies who’s had an accident at some point or another? Whether that be at night when mother nature surprises you or just in your pants. If I could see through the screen I would see everyone who had had a period with their hand up. These things happen more often than people would like to admit. Now I admit do I like looking at this picture? No. Is it because it’s her period? Also no. I don’t like blood! I don’t like blood coming from anywhere I’m a squeamish person! But without periods none of us would be here. None at all.

What I’m really begging for here is common sense. Periods (literally) make the world go round, they hurt and they’re irritating without having to pay extra on the items to please other people and you know not ruin our clothes. I have no doubt if it was more acceptable some people would just you know bleed and not give a damn, not me personally but some people would. Our periods are necessary whether some stuck up men who run the country are intelligent enough to know that or not, so don’t tax us on what we need!

We need to value female education

We must value education. I more than most hated school as a teenager, it was dull repetitive and a source of daily hell for me. There is a lot of work that needs to be done in the British school system but at least we have it. Each child can go to school and get the opportunity to learn. I may have had to teach myself a lot while I was at home struggling with mental illness but I could still take the exams for free.

I watched the above Ted talk last week and it struck me how lucky I am as a woman to be in education and attempting to go into the world of education as a career. I think that this is one of the few accounts that don’t demonise all men, it educates us that some places in the world still need help with gender equality. It shows us that things are changing and compromise is the way forward, finding a way to educate and reason with age old traditions and hopefully end FGM along the way.

I find that now in my darkest times my love for academia can help me so much, it gives me something else to focus on and something that is so much bigger than me. My other love of course is music but my hope is that if we work on all young women receiving an education they can be exposed to the arts and find their own passions and loves. I hope that in 50 years we can go a long way in making education equal for girls and women no matter where they are in the world.