Feminist Fridays: Women’s Glossy Mags

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Pop down to any local supermarket or corner shop and in one section you’ll see a spread of glossy covers with pink lettering and ‘perfect’ women gracing the cover. You can’t hide the fact that women’s glossies are a huge industry and not one that’s slowing down anytime soon.

So, how does that sit with my feminist instincts? In the last few years, there have been subtle changes in the writing, less ‘how to please your man’ and more ‘how to be successful’. But there is still endless articles on relationships, fashion and makeup. It’s a thin line.

A year or so ago I stopped reading women’s mags because they didn’t make me feel great about myself and because after reading The Vagenda, I felt that a break might be good. In the last month or so I’ve found myself picking them up again, browsing and just reading bits I want to but it’s troubled me.

Am I less of a feminist for buying into the culture? Does it matter what I read? Am I influenced by articles and wrinkles and cellulite? I think I’m not but sometimes I fear I am. I write for a magazine (pre-order it here) and hope that it is inspiring. I want my writing to empower women, not make them want to change themselves.

Of course, there are steps in the right direction, talking of women’s plights around the world, politics, women’s marches, LGBTQ rights, and more. There is definitely a shift in the issues, but is it enough? Can we put issues of cosmetic surgery, brands that only the elite can afford and similar sit that close to each other?

So lovely reader, I ask you, can glossy mags still be Feminist? Let me know in the comments below!

 

Let me know in the comments below!

Feminist Fridays: What Makes Me Feel Empowered?

What Makes Me Feel Empowered

Empowerment ‘the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one’s life and claiming one’s rights’. We hear a lot about women’s empowerment when talking about Feminism but, I wonder how many of us think about that it means to us. I feel that this will be different for each and every woman based on their lives and choices. Because feminism is about choice, even if you don’t agree with that choice personally.

So what makes me feel empowered?

Earning my own money

Being able to support myself makes me feel empowered and greatful for the women who came before me and fought for it. I don’t have to rely on anyone if I want to buy something or live somewhere, it’s all me!

Having control over my body

I’m lucky enough to have access to contraception in the UK for free. This means I can choose if and when I become a mother. I can make those decisions. Similarly, I can dress how I like and it’s not subject to anyone else’s orders.

Gaining an education 

I could my education as one of the greatest things in my life. I’m as smart as any male and earned my degree and awards. No one can ever take that away from me.

Having an opinion 

This blog is full of my opinions and how I wish to express them. Being able to share my thoughts and feelings gives me empowerment.

What makes you feel empowered? Let me know in the comments below or give me a tweet on @chloemetzger

 

Why I’m Not Studying a Postgrad Degree

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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.

Feminist Fridays: Can Women Ever Really Win?

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Today the French High Court ruled that the ‘burkini ban’ as it has been dubbed is illegal. After images of a woman being forced to undress on a beach in France made headlines around the world, it lead me to think about whether a woman can ever really win in terms of what they wear. So, when seeing this image I don’t think anyone else has quite summed it up in better way. It’s apparent that women from all backgrounds and walks of life a judged and/ or deemed unsuitable by someone.

Women are told that they should cover up, have respect for themselves, because they need to have pride, but not too much. You need to look attractive for work, but not too attractive because otherwise you won’t be taken seriously. If you don’t put on make-up or style your hair you’re lazy and don’t want to make an effort. And hair on your body? Do you have no pride? As for breasts, don’t even think about feeding your child in public, get to the toilet it’s too vulgar, but if you want to show them online or in a magazine you’re more than welcome. As long as you’re thin enough that is. You want to cover up? Why would you want to do that are you fridged? Of course you are with a skirt length like that. Covering your face and your hair for a religion? You must be oppressed, stand up to them. You want to cover up on a beach? We can’t allow that, it’s illegal here.

There are so many contradictions and expectations upon women, of course there are also issues for men in terms of what is expected of them, that I’m not denying. The Burkini ban, however, shows the extent of the ridiculousness that we have found ourselves in. The swimming costume was not offensive and didn’t do any harm, instead it allowed a woman to feel comfortable while enjoying time with her family. Feminism, after all, is about women having the right to choose what they do with their bodies. It’s not different to someone wearing a swimming cap and wetsuit. There is so many more problems that police and law makers should be focusing on, instead of alienating women simply for what they chose to wear.

 

A HUGE thank you to @LaSauvageJaune for letting me use this image.

 

Book Review: Sane New World: Taming the Mind – Ruby Wax

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As this week is Depression Awareness Week I decided to add this weeks book review into the theme and have picked Ruby Wax’s first book about Mental Health and Mindfulness. The choice behind this was because Ruby was coming to visit my university and I wanted to know more about her views on Mental Health. Unfortunately I couldn’t go to the talk because I just had too much work to get on with and finish BUT I did manage to work my way through Ruby’s first book.I will say before I start this is not what I would class as a memoir, although there are snippets into Wax’s life it more of a big jumble of personal opinion, science and illustrations . Not what I expected, but not bad either.

Although Ruby Wax is a known entertainer she also studied the brain at Oxford University in an attempt to better understand her own mind and the problems she has. Through the book wax tries to simplify the complex nature of the brain into something that anyone with an interest can understand. Apart from the diagrams and scientific names for all parts of the brain, Wax also tries to engage with the practice of Mindfulness and how it can be used in our busy everyday lives. It is because of this that the four sections of the book don’t seem to fit as well as they possibly could have, while I admire Wax for trying to speak about these incredibly complex scientific matters, it does at time feel like too much information that isn’t resolved. For example the second half of the book is focused on Mindfulness and techniques, exercises and stories of the use, leaving the science pretty much forgotten (in my case at least). It almost felt as if this would have worked much better as two books, or even one much bigger book because both seem like they need more time and space to be fully understood.

I think the way to describe her opinion and how it is portrayed is very marmite, you either love it or hate it. Unfortunately I was not a fan of some of Wax’s opinions, I feel like she could come across as slightly rude or even ignorant of other people. There is a heavy presence of wanting to prove herself to people in her past, and while there is nothing wrong with that the sections about her mother in particular seem to be misplaced in the book, almost as if it was a haha look at how far I’ve come. While Wax is incredibly honest about her experiences, it can leave people feeling slightly negative, there are some instances where Wax has tried to make jokes and in the process can come across as quite mean or rude to whole scores of people. This is one of the main problems with the book, it appears that Wax still has a great deal to learn about the people behind the statistics and the lives of others. She may be incredibly open about her own experiences but it comes across that she only see’s others as the numbers and reports she saw at Oxford, rather than the people behind them.

I will say though that the exercises that are in the book are great and a good way to start looking into Mindfulness. It’s definitely something that I want to look into further after reading Wax’s suggestions, thoughts and experiences. That said, I did find her very dismissive of the practice of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), something I myself use. Again Wax quotes statistics to back up her point, but this was another instance where I felt that she didn’t see it through the eyes of someone who does get a great deal of help from CBT.

Overall I gave Wax’s first book 3 stars (***), while I appreciate the topic and the fact that it opened conversations it felt really all over the place as a book. It was almost as if Wax couldn’t decide whether she wanted the book to be science based, opinion based or technique based and so all three have been kind of thrown together in a few hundred pages. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy reading, I did, but I found the narrative and some of the comments to really put me off of reading and so it took me a long time to sit and get myself through it.

As always I’d love to hear your comments, what do you think of this book, of CBT? Leave me a message down below!

 

 

Date Night, Live Music, and the New York Times

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Today and yesterday have been a whirlwind of crazy. A lot of exciting things have been happening in the past week as well as having to deal with a lot of stressful situations…I think today was just very weird.

Last night I got to finally take a trip to Bush Hall where Ali works part time as a Sound Engineer. I had no idea how special this place was on the walls there are pictures of Amy Winehouse, Courtney Love, Panic at the Disco, Paul Weller, Adele, Duffy, Ed Sheeran, Florence and the Machine, Lily Allen and The Killers to name just a few. It makes me incredibly proud that Ali works there. We got tickets to see a band called Little May, they are from Australia and I think they’re definitely one to watch, I also fell in love with a singer called Gordie, another one I’ll be watching closely.

I love spending time doing things with Ali, we both get so busy that when we’re back at the we just kind of fall into a chair and talk across the room, or just lay in bed and watch TV together. We have a lot planned together in the next month or so, it’s going to be great to actually do couples things. Which started with a trip to Nandos, as you do.

So that was the awesome part, now on to the weird. I received a tweet this morning saying that I’d been quoted in the New York Times… yep! I didn’t get contacted about it so it was a total surprise, you can read it here.

So it’s been a crazy few days! I have a lot planned for the rest of the week too, obviously Thursdays book review and my first society social, Friday I’m going to be at a show so I’ll be putting up another post, Saturday I’m working and then I might actually get to relax and rest on Sunday. Phew. As always thank you so much for reading and to my great followers!

Book Review: We Are Completely Beside Ourselves – Karen Joy Fowler

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‘In most families, there is a favourite child…I was our mother’s favourite child’

The story follows Rosemary throughout her life, although on her father’s advice it’s best to start with the middle of the story, and so she does. In the middle of the story it’s 1996 and Rosemary is in college, it’s been years since her sister Fern disappeared completely and she’s done her best to make sure no one even finds out she existed. Fern is not spoken about at home, no pictures hang on the wall, but Rosemary is haunted by the sister she just can’t forget and after being given her mother’s journals she is reminded that she can never really escape her past.

I was looking forward to reading this one because it had a lot of hype surrounding it. The quotes on the front were saying how ‘irresistible’ it was and that the twist was the ‘best in years’. Now I’m a sucker for a good twist and I won’t say that it’s a bad one,it’s just not great. The twist takes over the whole novel, meaning that not only is it hard to review but it’s also kind of boring. There is also the issue of how the novel weaves in and out of different times, at points it’s hard to remember what point of the story it is and where the characters are at this point.

There does seem to be an underlying ethical issue which kind of takes over the entire book, it’s an interesting argument and I definitely think twice about my shopping habits as a result of reading it, but it gets a little boring after a while. While I agree with the idea that is being put across, I also got bored of this ethical issue being shoved in my face constantly while I was trying to read and get involved with the characters.

I don’t know if it’s intentional but Fowler has made a lot of the characters distant and unloveable. From the beginning there was something I didn’t like about the family dynamic and something I really didn’t trust about Rosemary. The descriptions of her father went from one extreme to the other at one point he is a kind and caring man, the other he’s very strange and easy to hate. I felt like I couldn’t relate to any of the characters that much, which is upsetting because they were well written.

I’ve given this three stars ***, although it wasn’t badly written the ‘twists and turns’ were all just very underwhelming. At times it felt like the novel was building to something fantastic only to be let down, it seemed to me that by the end of the novel Fowler has just run out of steam and come up with a safe ending, which was quite boring to me. I don’t think this was a book for me but I know other people who I think would enjoy it, it’s possibly because when I read the word ‘twist’ I think it’s going to be earth shattering, which unfortunately this twist was not.

My experience of Acupuncture

As a part of my fracture recovery I semi-voluntarily get stabbed with tiny needles all over my spine and occasionally my legs. Doesn’t that sound like fun? What I thought was just something that you paid people to do if you were slightly mad, is actually funded on the NHS. Now I’ll be honest I was very sceptical about the way this works and if it works at all. I’m still trying to figure it out myself. After weeks and weeks of still not being able to move and a little persuasion I was booked in to acupuncture.

I said last week that things are only slightly improving with my spine, leading me to be willing to try anything and everything to get rid of some of this pain and get a more active lifestyle back (I was supposed to be super ripped by this point, then I decided to fall off a horse). Meeting Nicola I was nervous, more than nervous but because she is absolutely fab she managed to make me feel informed enough to give it a try. Nicola is the most amazing physio, she answers any and all of my questions, encourages me and understands when the pain is a little bit too much. I don’t think I would have let anyone else use me as a dart board three times.

A lot of people ask me things like what does it feel like? Does it hurt? Do you watch? I can answer honestly that it feels like someone is jabbing you, not in an ‘oh my god what the hell are you doing’ kind of way. Some lucky so and sos don’t feel it at all apparently, I most definitely do. For me there are certain points which are quite painful, whereas others are just a bit annoying, for example there’s one in the middle of my lower back that I’ve had every time and I can usually ignore it. Another point that I had today was on my hip which lead me to swear out loud, it didn’t feel great and the weirdest one I’ve had so far is the backs of my knees, I don’t even know how to describe that. Obviously with it being on my back I can’t watch it, nor would I want to.

If you don’t like needles, scroll past this next image…

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Sometimes it can cause pain afterwards and, you guessed it, I’m one of the lucky few who get a fair bit of pain after. I can also get sleepy too. I’ve had 3 sessions and I haven’t seen any incredible results yet unfortunately. I’m going to have a few more sessions, partly because we tried the alternative today and I nearly cried in pain as Nicola tried to relax the muscles. I can’t say that I’d recommend it to people other than to help curb a needle phobia, I’m starting to not be that bothered as long as I don’t have to see it.

I think if I wasn’t struggling so much with pain and it hadn’t been so long I would have held off. I don’t see it as anything magical or groundbreaking, that said it might be more to do with what’s wrong with me rather than the actual treatment, who knows. I’m hoping that after pain clinic and seeing the Neurosurgeon I can finally get back on track, get rid of acupuncture and get back into some fitness!

Image from paramount-physiotherapy.com

Book Review: Go Set a Watchman – Harper Lee

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Five minutes ago I put down my copy of Go Set a Watchman in a state of, well, loss but also amazement. To Kill a Mockingbird is without a doubt one of my favourite books ever. I fell in love with it as a sixteen year old and it sparked a love that not many other books have. I’ve been worried about reading it because of all the controversy in the news but I had to read it anyway, it’s a sequel to a novel I’ve treasured for years.

While there have been numerous bad reviews of the novel, this will not be one. Is this novel as polished as To Kill a Mockingbird? No, I don’t think so. I also think that the negativity is because of what people wanted to read. They wanted the world to be free from racism and for Scout to still be the lovable kid we first read about. The difference is that Scout, now called by her real name Jean Louise, has grown up. She’s twenty-six years old and a lot has changed for her. She no longer had older brother Jem and her best friend Dill to rely on (something which initially upset me but made sense at the end of the novel) and has to make her own sense of the world.

Before long and reader familiar with Lee’s work falls into Maycomb again. While 20 years have passed, it seems to Jean Louise Maycomb has stayed frozen in time. She’s still told off by Aunt Alexandra for not being as feminine as she should be, which made me laugh. While the sleepy town is the same, the reader is introduced to Henry, a Maycomb County boy, Atticus’s law partner and Jean Louise’s on, off love interest. The relationship between the two characters is vital to the plot and to Jean Louise becoming who she is at the end of the novel.

There has been a lot of controversy about Atticus, people have screamed about him being racist and letting go of everything he stood for in To Kill a Mockingbird. I don’t want to spoil the novel, but I do want to say wait. Read the book before you get mad and start ranting. If you start reading and want to throw it at all wall, carry on because I promise you there is a reason for this, a reason that is vital for Scout to grow into JEan Louise.

I could not put this book down for the life of me. I needed to read it, even when I was frustrated or didn’t understand (there is a lot of historical knowledge that I wasn’t too sharp on) I needed to get to the end. I found that I really connected with Jean Louise, she will always be Scout to me though. I just felt what she was feeling, when you go back to your hometown and you just feel like you stick out. When you need to realise that ultimately, everyone is human, even if it hurts.

Aside from the heavy parts of this novel, some of which had me on the edge of sobbing my heart out, there is laughter. The novel gives us glimpses of our favourite trio growing up. It felt almost like a comfort blanket reading about Scout, Jem and Dill and the things they got up to after that eventful summer, as well as who they grew up to be.

I thought long and hard while reading about how I was going to rate this and what I thought of it. While reading the majority of it I had a solid 3 star review in my head, and then I got to part seven, which changed everything. It explained what I needed explaining and made me think about my own life. I have to give it to Harper Lee if she can take credit for anything it’s making people think.

I want to give the novel four stars ****. Before people question it, let me just say there was something in this novel that caught me. Jean Louise is only six years older than me and I felt a connection with what she see’s and how she tries to make sense of the world around her. Lee has taken To Kill a Mockingbird and shown us again that life isn’t clearly divided into good and bad, black and white. I think for anyone who loved To Kill a Mockingbird, Go Set a Watchman is a must read, especially for those of us at a confusing time in our lives.

Review by Chloe Metzger

My Big Mouth: How about No means no Carter.

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Scrolling through my Twitter feed tonight I come across the trending list to see what’s going on in the world. Something that caught my eye is the #westillloveyouCarter trend, there seemed to be a lot of anger so naturally I followed the story up. Carter, 19, is big on social media for his vines, as is his 16 year old ex girlfriend. This week a video was leaked of Carter trying to force the girl to not only give him oral sex but to also let it be filmed. Feeling sorry for himself after the backlash against him he created his own hashtag #weloveyouCarter about the situation which he insists has been ‘blown out of proportion’ on his twitter page. Ha, ha, no.

As a human being I’m disgusted and think that as there is VIDEO EVIDENCE he should have been arrested by now. Sexual abuse is not funny or something to defend as many of his followers have. As a woman I’m shocked and concerned at the sheer amount of young girls that are using the hashtag to support him. The kind of worship he has from these young girls is terrifying and it may lead to some of them accepting that this kind of activity is ‘normal’ from their boyfriends, partners, future husbands and not something that they can say no to.

Basically no means no. End of. No deal. The majority of young men understand this and respect it but there are some who feel that they can do whatever they like to a woman, that women are there for them. They feel that they can slap their bums in a club, make a sesxist comment at work or during sport, look at our boobs and not our faces and the absolute worst touch a woman in a place she does not want to be or force and act upon her.

I feel truly sorry for his ex girlfriend, he filmed her whilst she was saying no in a vulnerable position. That video is all over the internet and I’ll bet there are still some lowlifes saying it in some way is her fault. This will follow her for the rest of her life, how do you think she feels when her friends, her family know about this? It’s wrong. So my question is WHY are so many people supporting him and not her? Why is there not a hashtag #westandwithMaggie because that, after all, is who we should be supporting. That is who I as not just a woman but also as a human I am supporting her because no means no.

image from here.