Sunday Seven: 7 of my Famous Feminist Heroes

This week I’ve been working on my dissertation, doing hours or reading on being a woman. On what a woman is, about feminism, motherhood and work. My dissertation may be on Plath, but the research goes further than that and it’s got me thinking about some of the famous feminists I look up to. So for this Sunday Seven I want to celebrate some of the most awesome feminists around.

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1. Malala Yousafzai

I don’t think there’s anyone who embodies the spirit of feminism like Malala. Even after the Taliban attempted to murder her, she carried on and made her voice louder than ever on an international stage. Malala stands for something that every feminist, I think, should fight for. Equal education for girls in all areas of the world. Malala’s story reminded us all that just because we have these things in the Western world does not mean we can take them for granted. Equal education should be for every child around the world, regardless of gender.

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2. Jennifer Lawrence

Even though I wasn’t a huge fan of The Hunger Games I caught on early that Jennifer Lawrence was something incredible. Not only does she not pretend to be an always glam, super cool actress, she reminds all of us she is just another woman. The quote above really hits home that alongside acting, Jennifer wants to change the way women are viewed by the media and the pay gap. Her, quite frankly, brave piece about why she gets paid less than her male costars made headlines around the world. I say brave because it could have made her career suffer. It could have meant that the film industry refused to work with her and that her fear of being called ‘difficult’ or ‘spoilt’ had come true. She make a point though and by raising this issue in public, she puts it in the spotlight for the rest of us in ‘normal’ jobs too. It get’s people talking, and that’s exactly what we need to do.

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3. Laura bates

While Laura might not be known internationally, she is a force to be reckoned with in the UK. Her Ted Talk and book of the same name ‘Everyday Sexism’ is an incredible piece of work. Personally, I read this and felt both sad and strengthened. I realised that it was ok to get pissed off when someone touched me, made me out to be just a sexual object or made fun of me for my gender. I basically did a U turn on a lot of things because I read her research, her statistics and her stats, I talked about things I’d never thought I could before  and it was all because of Laura. download (1)

4. Emma Watson

Again, a huge reason that I am now such a proud feminist. Emma’s He for She speech spoke to me as someone who didn’t want to use the label feminist and who resisted it at all costs.Emma is one of the amazing women of my generation who is reclaiming the word and what feminism means, as well as talking about real equality between the sexes. 0f6d1ce1e7f99e8b5a2be97b77a0ab8e

5. Sylvia Plath

There are a lot of arguments about whether or not Plath is a feminist. She is to me because she acknowledges the struggle between wanting a family and wanting a career. She believes she can be anything, but she also has self doubt. Her work on the 1950s and 1960s and the attitude towards women is something really incredible, as is the character of Esther in The Bell Jar. Plath is one of my heroes because she isn’t perfect and she doesn’t 100% seem to know what she believes, she changes her mind as as she gets older and I can’t help but resonate with that.

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6. Caitlin Moran

I have to include the woman who had me walking/ hobbling around my house shouting ‘I’m a feminist’, while clutching a copy of her book. Ah Caitlin Moran, what has the world done to deserve you. I’d read how to be a woman when I was about 12 and thought it was weird and terrifying and ended up throwing it in a fit of grossness. Fast forward to the age of 21 and it’s one of my favourite books. It’s funny, honest and makes you think. It’s thanks to Caitlin I am a feminist, I am a proud feminist and that I’m not afraid to say it loudly to anyone. All her other books are amazing too.

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7. J.K Rowling

Think about the women in the Harry Potter series they are almost all strong, independent and good. The fact that one of the main characters in one of the biggest selling series’ of all time was a girl with bushy hair, big teeth and a love for books,  while being friends with two boys and the smartest witch of her age. It gave those of us who didn’t always fit in someone to read about who was like us, it made being the smart girl cool! Women were not weak in the Harry Potter books (unlike some of the movies), they were often the strength and intelligence. For a lot of girls, she changed the way they saw themselves and saw the world, including me.

 

 

I do not own any of these images, they are the products of very talented people I found online. 

Book Review: How to Build a Girl – Caitlin Moran

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“In the end, I go where I always go when I need information on something baffling, poisonous, or terrifying: the library.”

Influenced by Moran’s own life, How to Build a Girl follows teenager Johanna as she decides to ‘kill herself’, meaning killing the boring Johanna and instead becoming Dolly Wilde. Dolly Wilde is meant to be interesting, covered in eyeliner, smart and generally more desirable than what Johanna has been. Although as all of us who have tried to change ourselves as teenagers  will know, it doesn’t always work out how you planned ( I myself went through a phase of hating my name and trying to get everyone to call me Frankie…a shortened version of my middle name).

While this is not Moran’s autobiography, anyone who has read How to Be a Woman will see that Caitlin’s younger life does have a number of parallels (which she addresses before the start of the novel). This isn’t lazy writing, while the similarities are obvious such as Johanna living in a small flat with a lot of siblings and her ambition to be a writer, the character is definitely her own person and absolutely hilarious. To draw one last parallel, the novel talks a lot about masterbation, so much so it opens with Johanna masterbating…in somewhat questionable circumstances.

For anyone who’s ever felt like the odd one out or anyone who’s wished they could just become someone else, you’ll like the character. She’s young and headstrong but also incredibly funny. Most of all though, she’s a teenager who’s trying to get through her life and work out what she’s going to do with it. The only person really at her side the whole time is the dog, as she doesn’t have many friends. In fact she sends a lot of time being yelled at by the local yobs. After thinking she’s gotten her family into big trouble, Johanna needs to get money fast and so she has to come up with a plan using one of the few talents she has.

To go further than that would ruin the fun of How to Build a Girl. I will say though that Moran’s wit comes through just as strong in this novel. It’s also fun and nostalgic to see the world through the eyes of a young teenager again and that sense of being able to  just decide to do something and work out how it’s all going to work out later. One of the best things about Johanna though is that because she is flawed is what creates a loveable character. She gets into all kinds of mischief throughout, but at the end of the day there is a big heart too and a real love for the family who sometimes drives her mad.

I gave How to Build a Girl five stars *****. If you’ve read any other books or articles by Moran it’s very much in the same chatty style and doesn’t hold back from what she thinks. The best part is that How to Build a Girl is also supposed to be the first in a trilogy! Johanna is set to come back for more and if, like me, you can’t wait for more Moran after this her new book Moranfesto comes out next week (I’m not sponsored, just super excited). It really is an entertaining read and worth picking up the next time you’re in a bookshop!

A quarter life crisis (five years early) – growing up, meltdowns and questions.

Sometimes I am sure that I’m actually still a sixteen year old trapped in a twenty year olds body. It’s my annual crisis, you know the one I mean don’t you? The whole, what am I doing with my life, am I behind? Look at what my friends are doing while I’m stuck at home. Yup all that came today. I’ve said it once I’ll say it again, the pictures of people’s kids, engagement rings and weddings make me break out into a cold sweat, I don’t feel ready for this stuff!

I get so worried about what I should be doing that I freak out. Never mind the fact that I’m not keen on having a small person around right now, would probably burst out laughing if I got proposed to and am too broke/ addicted to expensive things to get married. Yup, that pile of books get in my amazon cart, a sale on handbags well it would be rude not to look and as for Topshop? Well I’m like a bloody magpie.

So I sat this afternoon, like many hormonal girls before me, in my PJs, my hair atrocious with chocolate in one hand and a coming of age book in the other (book of choice this time Caitlin Moran’s How to be a Woman) sobbing my little heart out. I had a bit of a fit at Ali, locked myself in the bedroom and let it all out. I cried because I don’t feel like a grown up, I have no idea whatsoever about grown up things like marriage and mortgages and I don’t have a life plan. Yup, yup, yup feeling sorry for myself and a little bit of self indulgence.

I get told that it’s perfectly normal to have days where you completely lose your shit and feel like a child again. There are days when I want to crawl up into my Mum’s lap and let her tell me it’s going to be ok. Well, nowadays I have to settle with cuddling up to Ali while he does the same thing and assures me that doing badly on that one assignment will not balls up my entire life or a phone call to my Mum about what job I’m going to go into.

You can probably guess that I’ve calmed down now, had some good old comfort food and vented to my Mum. I guess I’m writing because it should be something we can talk to each other about, all us 20 somethings who really feel like everyone else has their shit together and you’re clutching at straws. So I’m allowed to feel a little lost and scared that two of my best friends are moving across the world and another is getting a real proper job with proper (not student loan) money. I’m allowed to get a little freaked out that it’s my last year of undergrad and the next few years are going to be grown up and scary because, well, that’s what you’re 20s are for right?

So I’m sorry to everyone who’s waiting for any big announcements from me, I’m still in Little Mermaid Pjs (thank you Primark) and working out how to be a woman in the first place. Basically, I’m just being a 20 year old student who doesn’t have a clue.

Chloe’s Book Haul – June 20th

If there’s one thing I cannot resist it’s offers on books, wherever I can get my hands on them bookshops, car boot sales, charity shops, online, Kindle books, you name it. While I like libraries and they were certainly important when I was younger, I love having my own books. I had two books to exchange and a £10 voucher for Waterstones, so of course I had a little buying spree today. I got six books in today’s haul, mostly on buy one get one half price and another book from Amazon that I ordered a few days ago.
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All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr

This novel was recommended to me by a bookseller a while ago, he had just finished reading it and said it was incredible. The novel is set in World War Two (one of my favourite settings) and it’s protagonists are a young Hitler Youth and a Blind Girl on the run with her father, I’m intrigued. I’m interested to see how Doerr presents a blind persons perspective, it’s exciting and is probably part of what sold the book to me!
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The Bone Clocks – David Mitchell 

The Bone Clocks has a stunning cover, which it what initially caught my eye. There wasn’t much information about the novel on the back but after a quick search it sounded worth picking up. If this isn’t interesting enough, I don’t know what is ‘Holly is no typical teenage runaway: a sensitive child once contacted by voices she knew only as “the radio people,” Holly is a lightning rod for psychic phenomena.’ I’m taking a total risk with this novel, I’ve never heard anything about it but I’m really hoping it’s something great.

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The Following Girls – Louise Levene 

I picked this up because it sounded fun but seemed to have a heart. Set in the 1970s with a 16 year old protagonist who seems like a normal teenager and possibly a little lost. According to the front cover the Sunday Telegraph called it ‘acidic social satire’, sounds good to me!

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We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves – Karen Joy Fowler 

I have hear a lot about this novel. It’s been everywhere, recommended by everyone and involves one of my favourite things in literature, complex relationships. I hate the ‘normal family’ because frankly it doesn’t exist so knowing that this novel is about a whole family (although only narrated by one of them) drew me in as well as it’s raving reviews. I hope it lives up to the hype.

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Bonjour Tristesse – Françoise Sagan

Another ‘wildcard’ I had to pick another on buy one get one half price, it was at the till point and all I was told was that it was good and ‘very French’. So let’s see…

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Funny Girl – Nick Hornby 

Another recommended read. Again I’ve heard a lot of good things and haven’t read much of Hornby and I might be going to a reading of his this week so I thought I might as well pick it up. I was also surprised to learn he studied at Kingston University, so hopefully I’ll enjoy it.

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How To Be a Woman – Caitlin Moran

Now I read this when I was a young teenager and hated it, but now I think I didn’t really understand it, not properly at least. Now I’m going to be studying it or partly at least and I’ve watched some of her youtube videos, so let’s try again.