Book Review: Everywoman – Jess Phillips

Everywoman Jess Phillips

 

A lot of people scoff at the thought of going into politics. Even more so if you’re from a less wealthy background because it’s not what someone ‘like us’ does is it? Be prepared to completely change your mind and want to start a revolution of diversity and equality and it’s all thanks to Jess Phillips.

I picked this up after watching an interview with Jess online, I finally saw someone who I could identify with who works in our government. This book is much more than politics, this is about women, empowerment and just giving things a go! Previously, Jess worked for Women’s Aid, an incredibly important charity supporting women who need help most. Some of the stories were harrowing but show the fire behind Jess’s speeches in parliament, such as those about domestic violence.

From Mum guilt to just about getting through university Jess talks about anything and everything. That said, she also touches on some heartbreaking topics. There were many moments in this book that touched me but it was the parts talking about Jo Cox that really got me. Jo Cox was an MP in the UK, a rising star in the Labour Party, Jo was murdered for doing her job and being a compassionate human. Jess was a friend of Jo’s and I can’t imagine how hard it was going through such a horrific loss.

Not only is Jess a kick-ass MP for Labour, she’s a friend, a proud Feminist, a Mum, a Wife and, by the sounds of this book, the kind of person I’d want to have as a friend. This book fell into my hands when I needed it most. I was feeling like I was struggling as a woman, I was feeling a little beaten down by the world. Then I realised I can do this because there is so much to do! It really gave me the pick me up I needed.

I’ve recommended this to almost every one of my friends because it’s the kind of book that can and will start a revolution. Of course, I gave this 5 stars, I could not stop listening to the audiobook at every opportunity I had. I’m pretty sure I’ll not only be buying this as a gift for a few people but I’ll also be listening again very soon!

Feminist Friday: 10 Kick Ass Pop Songs to Start Your Weekend

There’s nothing better than getting your groove on at the weekend. This week for Feminist Friday I wanted to share with you all some of my favourite feminist tunes.

Just a girl is a song to belt out when someone tells you that you can’t do something because you’re a woman.

Need a pick me up? You’re a survivor and you’re gonna make it. Just listen to Destiny’s Child.

A new take on an old classic. I love listening to this it makes me feel empowered and sexy.

Christina has been singing about the double standards that women face for over a decade. This song is still a belter.

Using music and one of my favourite speeches about feminism? You can’t really go wrong.

While people have questioned some of the lyrics, this song always makes me feel beautiful.

This goes out to all the boys who think I go out for them.

Fluent in sarcasm, heavy in criticism.

I’m a big fan of Blondie and this song is all about getting what you want.

Could I really leave off five of the women who shaped my love of girl power? Of course not.

What are some of your favourite? Let me know in the comments below!

International Women’s Day 2016

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Happy International Women’s Day you lovely lot! I found this awesome illustration online today and had to share it with you all! On a side note if anyone can let me know who the artist is I’d really appreciate it.  I was supposed to be watching the incredible Caitlin Moran tonight but for a bunch of reasons I’m sat at home instead thinking about what this day means to me.

In the past year I’m lucky enough to have had a huge and brilliant feminist epiphany after spending my whole summer propped up with books for company. I read everything I could get my hands on Caitlin Moran, Lena Dunham, Polly Vernon, Mindy Kaling, Natasha Walter and I still have a pile that I’m slowly adding more and more books. I scoured the internet for Ted Talks and I’ve watched every one I can find.

I’m not claiming I have it right, that I’m a perfect feminist. I know I’m not. I’ve said stupid things before because I wasn’t educated but now I am and I want to join everyone who wants to fight for gender equality all over the world.

We might not have it the easiest and I know I have it easier than a lot of women around the world and we still have a lot to change. That said I feel lucky to be a woman, I feel lucky to be in the company of some incredible fellow females. I feel grateful for the women who made me who I am today, whether that be by bringing me up, teaching me or the words of women who I’ve never met.

Happy International Women’s Day to all you Wonder Women out there!

I’m a Feminist.

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A lot of people may see the title of this post and think, so what? I’ve thought about writing this for a while and put it off for no reason other than I didn’t want to get this wrong. I am publicly declaring I am a feminist and anything I thought or wrote before is now over written. I’ve always been a feminist but I hadn’t always liked or used the word. I’ve been a feminist since I was a little girl where I’d shout GIRL POWER at everyone while wearing girl power temporary tattoos and would play armies at school and take charge. I’ve been a feminist since I got bored of barbie and used to sketch out my own dolls who could do anything and be anything. I’ve been a feminist since I was a passionate and angry teenager and later and excited 17 year old who saw a poster for the feminist society at university. Then something changed. I came to uni and got in an argument with a male feminist about how oppressed and angry I should feel. As a rule I hate being told what I should and shouldn’t do or feel, more people tried to fit me into a mold so I decided I didn’t want to be a feminist if that’s what people expected of me.

For a long time I, like a lot of young women, refused to call myself a feminist. I didn’t like the way the word had ugly connotations of man hating, being angry and not wanting to shave or wear a bra. I hate body hair on any human and I love a good bra. I’d say I was a humanist and other things like that, I got in arguments at uni and a lot of ‘feminists’ made me feel like I had to conform to their way of life. Fast forward to when I broke my spine and had a lot of spare time on my hands and something changed. I picked up a copy of How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran for my Writing Women class and it spoke to me. I suddenly felt like I belonged and I could be a feminist and still be myself.

I read and continue to read every book on feminism and strong women that I could get my hands on. I got more interested in politics and women in an international context. I was happy talking about feminism and debating with others. I wanted to be part of a great group of men and women who wanted positivity and empowerment. I’ve said too many that I feel feminism is something you need to discover for yourself and not just tell people WELL YOU ARE, that just pisses people off. I found, fell in love and embraced feminism. I love women like Roxanne Gay too who question what it means to be a feminist in her book ‘Bad Feminist’, because I don’t think there is one true way of being a feminist.

I’m all for women going out and getting a career but I’m also totally supportive of stay at home Mums. My first female role models who I spent time looking up to were my Mum, my Aunt and my Nanna all three are incredible, powerful, kick ass women and all three were stay at home Mums. I also admire working women too, I’ve learnt a lot from my boyfriend’s Mum, who’s always worked. They’re all different and all deserve to be respected for different things.

I also feel that a woman can do what they like with their bodies. I’m not against glamour modelling or the porn industry. Don’t get me wrong there are issues and that’s a whole new blog post but if women WANT to do that to their bodies then who is anyone else to dictate to them? Because to me feminism is all about having a choice.

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I could go on and say all the things we need to fight and put right in the world gender stereotypes, rape, female education around the world, the children debate, etc. I could write about all the men on Twitter, when I posted about equality, who told me I was wrong that the pay gap was a myth and feminism wasn’t needed anymore. I could apologise for being young and naive when I said I wasn’t a feminist. Really though, I just want to say that I’m a big fan of feminism and other women. I don’t want to get angry and compete with them or knock them for every little thing. I certainly don’t want to stand up and go well women are better and men suck, I love men!

I’m writing this because I felt like it was the right time for me to say. I’ve been thinking about feminism instead of sleeping and looking up more books to add to my collection. I know there are some fantastic women out there who I’ve yet to meet and I also know there are people who will judge me first on being a woman before anything else, but you know what I’m excited. I’m excited that I’m a part of this community and that we live in a time where there are so many people working for equality and hopefully less hatred.

So there you go, I’m a feminist, how about you?

Milestones

I’ve been thinking lately about milestones. I don’t know what it was exactly but I’m guessing it’s a combination of turning 21 (which I don’t understand why it’s a big deal in the UK), seeing more and more of the people I went to school with having children and getting engaged and a lot of my other friends graduating, starting careers and all that jazz. To put it simply milestones freak me out, I’m sure they do for most people. You’re supposed to do this, do that at a certain age, a certain time. For girls there’s a choice between being a mother and being a career woman, because we’re told we can’t have it all.

In some ways I’m lucky, I found the love of my life when I was 13 years old and we live together. Now we’re more than happy together, we’re both doing degrees we love and have careers that we want, but for everyone else it’s not enough. Everyone asks me when we’ll get married, when we’ll have a baby (never if). I just feel a bit stuck and part of that is because I am a woman. Ali NEVER gets asked when he’ll be a father, he’s asked about his job and what he’s going to do for work, it’s all pretty frustrating. I know that I’m an intelligent woman and I have big aspirations, so why do people ask about these ‘traditional’ things.

I’m in no way saying that people my age shouldn’t be married or have children, most of the women in my family had babies by the time they were my age and they’ve all taught me so much. My best friend became a mother at 17 and she’s one of the most awesome ones I know.The thing is my dream right now is walking across that stage to pick up my degree, being able to treat myself with money I’ve earnt and being happy. I will have children, I’d love to be a mum at some point but I wish people would understand there is so much more to me than the fact I can grow a human. I liked this picture below, it definitely made me smile.

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This isn’t an anti-children post, which is how some will read it, it’s just a frustration that sometimes I’m judged by these milestones when I have other amazing things going on. I hate that I have to think about body clocks and all that crap when I’m trying to plan things out about where I want to be in my life, because I’ve been bombarded with media listing risks and problems. Like I said why am I even thinking about this as a twenty year old!

I appreciate that this post might not make much sense, I don’t even know if it does to me, but I can’t be the only one who feels like this. Who knows how I’ll feel in a month, a year or ten but I just want it to be on my own terms, not because of supposed milestones and other people’s ideas of what happiness is.

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.