A week on Twitter: Morris, Murray and privilege

Privilege is a funny thing and not something I really think about all that often (probably because I’m privileged enough not to have to). However, having done three years of a social science undergrad I have read more papers and written more essays on gender, class, race and sexual privilege than I care to even dwell on.

And every so often something happens which makes the hierarchy of privilege so painfully obvious that it is difficult not to think about it. This week has been a interesting one.

I have been on placement all week which has had me doing a whole range of things, namely getting up at 6 (vom), enduring the busy commute and then looking for stories. All of these activities bar getting up in the middle of the night (because 6 basically is the middle of the night) generally features twitter.

I do love twitter. I love that it’s quick, newsy but opinionated. When the news broke this week that tory MP, Anne Marie Morris was ordered to resign after using the ‘n’ word in a meeting (and absolutely rightly so) I was (already) angrily scrolling through my feed on the train.

It threw up a lot of questions, primarily, what the hell? Why was that saying in her head? What age are we living in? Is this real life?Colin-Farrell-WTF.gif

Her complete ignorance to how it had caused offence got me thinking about how people often don’t think something is an issue if it isn’t happening to them. They say ignorance is bliss. I can 100% guarantee Morris has never had her whiteness called into question. Her race is probably something she doesn’t even think about. But come on. I couldn’t believe there were debates going on as to whether her resignation was an overreaction.

Twitter wasn’t a complete annoyance though. It also provided me with the gem that is the video of Andy Murray correcting a journalist after his loss at Wimbledon. If you haven’t seen the video, where have you been and I very strongly recommend it. As a journalist makes the statement that “Sam is the first US player to reach a major semi-final since 2009” Murray very smoothly interjects and says “Male Player”. There is a lot of nervous laughter (from the journalist) and Murray continues to look completely disinterested.

I would have loved this interaction, however it had played out- if Murray had jumped up on the table, thrown a copy of the female eunuch at the journalist and ripped his top off to reveal a ‘females are the future’ top hiding underneath. But the reason it was so brilliant was that Murray corrected the journalist so casually, so naturally because he legitimately see’s the likes of Serena Williams, Johanna Konta, Caroline Wozniacki as his peers, his equals.giphy (5).gif

This is not performative feminism in any way shape or form. He’s not doing it to get in his wife’s good books or look like the ‘nice guy’. We have got good at putting up a front of being socially accepting and aware. Progressiveness is sexy. So many people were against Trumps Muslim ban, holding it up as a blatant injustice. Yet those same people get offended when being pulled up for saying “Oh but they’re not like other Muslims.” Millions of people will attend Pride across the world yet some of those people will not use the pronouns that trans men and women go by because “well they’re not really a man/woman are they?”

There are so many Andy Murray’s out there,  people who are genuinely socially aware. Who care not because it is going to get them 10 more followers but because it is the right thing. It’s just a shame that some of the people we voted into power don’t seem to feel the same way.

The Girls by Emma Cline

I don’t know if it is just me but I find that university completely kills my desire to read. I used to love reading- be that novels, non-fiction, biographies but when you have been in a library for ten hours, the last thing you want to do is pick up a book.

After not reading at all last year I made, what I thought would be a really easy resolution (as I am pretty anti-new year’s resolutions). I decided I wanted to read a bit more; maybe a book every one or two months. It is now July and I can finally say I finished a book, cover to cover, for the first time in a very long time.

The book in question was ‘The Girls’ by Emma Cline and oh my word! I cannot remember for the life of me where I first heard of Clines debut novel, whether it was recommended or I was just drawn in by the cover (I’m a sucker for a nice cover).File_000 (2).jpeg

From start to finish ‘The Girls’ completely broke my heart. It captured my imagination and by the end, well and truly blew my mind. If I am half the writer that Cline is in my lifetime I will be more than overjoyed.

*SPOILER ALERT*

The book is set in two different time periods, following Evie Boyd in the present day and 1960’s California. Disenfranchised by day to day life and estranged from her parents, Evie is lured into a cult by a charismatic leader, Russel and mysteriously beautiful member, Susanne. Mirroring the Manson cult, there is inevitably a bloody conclusion.

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The colour in Clines prose and the dreamlike way she describes the lost girls and the ranch they live on is sexy and intensely consuming. You won’t be able to put the book down. While Evie’s situation becomes very foreign to the majority of us, Cline describes the awkwardness of being 14, negotiating the adult world when you aren’t quite a child, so acutely it is like she is telling you exactly how you felt.

I have never come across a writer with such an amazing understanding of the human condition. If you haven’t read it, it is the perfect summer read!

 

 

Everything is about to change…

So, as it turns out when life gets busy, I seem to drop everything and turn into a lethargic mess, hence the lack of blog posts over the last couple of weeks (look at me sounding like a broken record).

I am writing this from what can only be described as a cave made out of my own ‘stuff’. Like so many other students, I moved out of my university flat this week (sob sob). Saying goodbye to my flat 9 babes came round far too quickly and took me completely by surprise.15043432_1196998870335579_8330948759835901952_n

If you have ever done the ceremonial move as a student you know the cleaning process that goes before it. So naturally, instead of getting an early night so we would feel fully refreshed for our day(s) of tidying and scrubbing we decided to demolish all of the alcohol left in the flat and go out one last time. Waste not want not.

After being faced with the sheer amount of crap that I have managed to accumulate over the last four years I packed up my life, cleaned my room only to anticipate my deposit being ripped away from me and drove home (the suspension on the car will never be the same again).

I hadn’t thought about unpacking the car again until I was sat on the sofa with a cup of tea, thighs burning from walking up and down the stairs, so I decided I deserved a break. A three day break actually.

After a fun long weekend of catching up with family, going out for food and bingeing love island from my bed, I am now finally forced to move back into my old bedroom. That or setting up camp in the middle of the room and hoping my parents wouldn’t notice that all of their suitcases are gone.pack.gif

This is the first time I won’t be going back to Sheffield (or any other educational establishment) in September in my entire life. I thought I would feel more euphoric about it than I do.

In reality, it is really bloody scary. I have to get a job now, something I so craftily avoided last year. I wrote a post about how I felt finishing my undergrad but this feels completely different. There is no way I want to stay at university but the uncertainty of ‘what next’ is killing me.

If you have followed my blog for a little while you’ll know I like a recap post– a post looking back on my year or three.

There is no doubt that this year has, perhaps been one of the hardest but most rewarding years of my life. I haven’t been able to see some of my main gals everyday which has sucked but I have also had some of the best opportunities and made friends I know I will have for life.

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I won’t miss living in student halls, although my house does feel deafeningly quiet and the prospect of not seeing out hangovers over pizza and crap TV is a little bit heart breaking. But after 4 years of being a student I can (almost) say it is over.

Now I can either go and find myself in Asia or start a vicious cycle of underpaid internships for the next ten years of my life. The options are endless…

How important is Wonder Woman?

I’m not a fan of crying at films in my own home, let alone the cinema. Whilst some people can be moved and shed a tear or two, I go from calm and collected to full ‘Kim Kardashian when she lost her earring in the ocean’. It’s not ideal. But this weekend I saw Wonder Woman…all I can say is if you haven’t already seen it, go now!

Obviously I loved it *shock*. Being innately curious I checked twitter before going into the cinema which resulted in me reading about five feminist takedowns of the film before it had even started. I was sceptical. If she was the goddess to end all war, why did she have to fight in something that looked like it was from agent provocateur? I soon forgot all of the criticisms though.

This wasn’t a guilty pleasure watch- a film I would put on if I was really in the mood to fight the patriarchy (which is good because I already have too many of those). This was a genuinely good film which I absolutely adored.

For the first time in as long as I can remember I sat there and escaped. It became so clear to me why boys love these movies. This was a story of action, strength and adventure- the things that little boys live and breathe through Hollywood. In an industry and society that is so good at telling white, straight, cis male stories it was a little bit overwhelming to see a women be at the centre of her own.ww.jpg

It almost became irrelevant what Gal Gadot was wearing or the fact that her sexuality was blatantly hinted at throughout. If anything the film did so well in highlighting the ways women are disempowered both in film and life. Yes, Wonder Womens outfit isn’t the most conservative but so what? In reality that absolutely has nothing to do with the movie and if people want to sit and objectify and sexualise an action movie then all the power to them.

Gadot was not sexualised or objectified throughout. Her power did not come from her worth as a sexual being. Neither was she masculinised. The film made it abundantly clear that her power came from compassion. Yes, she is absolutely beautiful, intelligent and witty but that wasn’t what made her powerful.

It is so often the case that the bigger the budget, the safer directors and producers play it. It is easy to follow the disappointing habits of films gone by because you’ve spent a lot of money and you need to bring in audiences (don’t get me started on Suicide Squad). The courage of Wonder Woman as a film, it’s director Patty Jenkins and producers, is almost bigger than the movie itself.

This is the movie I wanted as a 9 year old girl and still needed age 22.

 

We are ready and we’ve brought t-shirts

Paris fashion week showcased it. Topshop and ASOS are all over it. Hell, you can even get a version of it in Primark if you look hard enough. I am of course talking about the feminist t-shirt. Whether you prefer a more subtle ‘girl gang’ graphic or ‘the future is female, they’re everywhere on the high street and all over your Instagram feed.

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The feminist tee isn’t a new phenomenon, however. The feminist icon Gloria Steinem sported a tee shirt back in 2004 with the words “I had an abortion” in a documentary. No More Page 3 used t-shirts in their campaign in 2013 withdemonstrators wearing them to parliament. Perhaps my favourite example of the feminist tee was when the Fawcett Society designed the ‘This is what a Feminist looks like’ t-shirt and none other than Ed Millibae and Nick Clegg wore them. Be still my beating heart.

There is no denying it, feminism became fashionable a couple of years ago and to call yourself a feminist isn’t really a radical stand point anymore. And why should it? As far as I understand it feminism is the advocacy of economic, social and political equality of the sexes. Simple as. Men, women, children- it is an all-inclusive term, anyone can be a feminist and we all stand to benefit.

 

But of course, as with any trend there has been massive backlash. The term ‘t-shirt feminism’ has been coined by those who deem this to be a superficial, attack on the cause. Viewing the trend as a frivolous, flaky attempt to make profit off the struggle of so many women all in the name of consumerism. And do you know what? I am about 100% sure Topshop aren’t putting the money they make off their ‘Girl Gang’ t-shirts back into women’s shelters. But there is something to be said about picking your battles.

This year I read Polly Vernon’s ‘Hot Feminist’. Without wanting to get embarrassing and fan girl-ish, Polly is the definition of goals (if you don’t know who she is, I implore you to look her up). One of the many things I took from it is that whatever you think you need to be, to be a ‘proper’ real feminist, you don’t. Shave or don’t shave, go to the gym and loose that weight if you want to, if you’re brave enough get your body waxed from shoulder to toe…

We are taught such backwards things from such a young age: that being funny negates sexiness and sexiness compromises feminism. So you can be hilarious and feel utterly shit about yourself but you can call yourself a feminist. Isn’t feminism about walking into a room of your best girlfriends and them all wolf whistling and giving you ridiculous compliments because you look great? What are friends for if not to be your biggest fans? When did it become a crime to put on a dress and look in the mirror and think “yes, today I look hot”?jenna.gif

I am not talking about dressing for men, but in this day and age when a naked pallet costs £45 any man who thinks it’s all for them is frankly delusional. I have been lucky enough to surround myself with beautiful, strong, intelligent women who push me every single day to be better. I firmly believe they will rule the world one day and can match any man you put in front of them. I also know they are going to look damn good doing it in the process.

Your outward appearance is absolutely an expression of you as a person. We use clothes, tattoos, piercings and the like to create an image of our inner selves. Isn’t accosting a woman for wearing a feminist slogan tee or crop top and heels just perpetuating horrendous patriarchal views of how women should dress?

When Trump is sat in the white house and Theresa May is about to get into bed with the DUP, we have a hell of a lot more to worry about than what each other are wearing. There is something to be said for empowered women empowering women. We could all do with being one big girl gang.

Am I an adult yet?

Periodically I write one of these posts. It is generally around January, Easter or summer when I have found myself in a work/ exam/ exhaustion hole with all my time either spent in the library or watching rubbish reality TV (Love Island is back on and oh lord help me).

I feel bad that I drop the ball at these times with most things, including my blog. I am sorry. Not only for anyone out there who follows it but a little bit for myself. For someone with an overactive internal monologue and too many thoughts, having a blog is actually really therapeutic. This aside, I can say that I can no longer use exams as a reason for not posting (hopefully) as this week I finished uni!

This is super premature as I do have a final summer project. However, after four years of nine o’clock starts and back to back exams I can say that I am pretty much done. I just didn’t think it would feel like this. On my last day of lectures I headed to the pub (because any excuse) and celebrated with a glass of wine but I can’t say that I feel massively different.wines

I wrote a piece similar to this, this time last year if you want to have a nosy. I don’t know if I am the only one who expected to have some sort of epiphany moment where all of a sudden I knew what I was doing and where I was going with my life but it never came.

My mum always says to me that she feels exactly the same now as she did when she was my age and I used to laugh along and never really believe her. Isn’t it the case that you wake up one morning and realise “oh I am an adult now, I should probably stop making poor life choices”?

Leaving uni is a milestone but the only thing I have noticed is that I am generally now amongst the oldest people at the students union and getting chatted up by boys on nights out is a dangerous game when they have the potential to be nearly 5 years younger than you.mclovin

Is growing up a state of mind? Do you have to force yourself to get there or will it just never happen? If you have read any other posts you’d know that I can be slightly neurotic about planning ahead. For the last 4 years I have had the fuzzy comfort blanket of university and a student loan. Come September it’s the real world. When did the time for work experience end and the real working world begin (who am I kidding I will be doing unpaid internships for the next 10 years)?

So, while I am not completely sure I am ready for the adult world, after 17 years in education I am done.

Mental Health Awareness Week: Anxiety and Depression

It’s Mental Health Week (or by the time that I actually get my act together and post this it may be over). Raising awareness for issues surrounding mental health is really important to me. I think one of the best ways to get rid of the ridiculous stigma is by talking about it. Some of the best therapy I have ever had is a cup of tea and someone telling me “me too.”

This week I actually had my first experience of therapy. I walked into a very warm office and was asked ‘so are you okay?’ What do you think? I am in therapy for the first time…No I just came for a chat with a stranger.

Despite it not being a wholly positive experience I did learn one thing. You know what is normal for you and just because you are not on the edge doesn’t mean that you are not going through something.

Rather than living with depression full time I go through depressive and anxious episodes. Instead of spending a week curled up, rocking in a ball I generally just feel nothing; I am not overly sad, or panicked, it is like being hollow. When you’re anxious, you can’t control your thoughts because their racing, when I’m having a depressive episode there is nothing at all.

I can’t get out of bed in the morning. Not in a ‘5 more minutes’ kind of way, in a ‘what is the point of today’ sort of way. I intentionally exclude myself or leave class or social events in the fear that I will get so irritated I will snap at someone. I physically can’t bring myself to do work. My bedroom becomes my sanctuary and completely suffocating.

I came off hormonal contraception about 5 months ago (something I wrote about). I figured if I’m crazy enough as it is I don’t need the added help of more hormones. Many women take the pill and experience none of the side effects but depression is listed as a potential by product.

I think I was disappointed in myself when I realised I can’t just pick myself up when I feel low because there is nothing triggering my mood. Like I said, sometimes the best comforts are the ‘me too’ moments. If you can’t talk to a therapist start to talk to someone close to you.

I love Ingrid Nilsen and Cat Valdes podcast ‘Ladies Who Lunch’. They cover a range of topics and both speak honestly about their experiences with depression and anxiety. They’re also really funny! When I am feeling low and not in a place where I want to talk about it listening to their experiences is really comforting. There is something to be said for hearing someone vocalise exactly how you feel at a time when you cannot.

Other things I have found that help and blogs such as teacupsandtrainers.com, quietclub.org, https://www.youtube.com/user/meowitslucy and https://www.youtube.com/doddlevloggle

People aren’t the same and we all have different coping mechanisms but if no one is talking about mental health, no one wins.