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.

It may be time to hang up my heels (at least while I’m at home)

In the last couple of weeks I have faced a dilemma. I am 22, I am a student and I very much enjoy a large glass of wine. However, for more weeks than I care to admit, I have spent my Friday and Saturday nights in bed by 10:30 with a cup of tea and either Suits or surrounded by uni work.

The worst part is, I’m not even mad about it. I like that I wake up on Sunday with a spring in my step as I go and grab a coffee. It tastes so much sweeter hangover-free.

I am a 22 year old grandma. When I came home for Easter break my parents asked if I would be going out and confidently I answered no.

It wasn’t exactly something I had to think about- the town I live in is small. There are three ‘clubs’ that I have ventured to in my time and they’re generally populated with over-excited 18 year olds and leery married men. Not to mention, now my brother is of legal drinking age the thought of seeing his school friends out makes me want to vomit in my mouth.

So, how I found myself in the centre of town at 1am on Easter Sunday was a bit of a loss to me. It started at the pub the night before. I have persuasive friends and (more importantly) wine in hand, I agreed to go to pre-drinks with people that I hadn’t seen in a long time so it would actually be nice to catch up.

And I was right, seeing people I went to school with was really nice. On the other hand, revisiting the first (sticky, sweaty) club I ever went to was not so pleasant. Upon arrival a boy kindly showered me with a jaeger bomb (it was my own fault for wearing a white top) so I headed straight for the toilets.

After washing the residue off my face I asked the girl next to me if I could borrow her brush. She said yes and proceeded to tell me all about her love for Avril Lavigne (complicated was playing) and how someone had been stabbed in these toilets just weeks before (comforting). But in true girl fashion, we basically became best friends even just for the ten minutes we were in the loos.

This is what I love about nights out. No matter where you are, there will always be a chick in the toilet who will save your hair from looking like a sticky mess and have a right good chat with you in the process.

She then asked me which college I went to…

Establishing that she was celebrating her 18th birthday and I was too old to be there we parted ways. Not before doing a birthday shot at the bar of course.

And I couldn’t help but notice that her friends were my friends 4 years ago, just with higher heels and better eye liner. They were so excited to be there and I was getting sad that I had slightly outgrown what used to be my favourite night out. Realistically, it was the only night out I had ever been on.

I am by no means hanging up the heels (like I ever wear heels) but I think I have moved on and am okay sticking with bars where you can say more than three words to each other without being drowned out.

Time to explore the ‘Strange and Familiar’

There are a few things in life which I wish I liked and understood. The first is green tea (it tastes like ash to me). The second is running and the last is art. While I have made my peace with the fact that I will never like the taste of green tea and running is nice if you aren’t as blessed in the chest department as I am, I refuse to give up on art.

I want to like it, I want it to make me feel something. Recently I found a half way point, something that allowed me to go to galleries and actually enjoy it- photography. On the hunt for something to do over Easter weekend (and avoiding doing all work) I ended up coming across the Strange and Familiar exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery.

The British photographer Martin Parr has curated the exhibition, bringing together over 250 moving portraits and images that explore what modern British culture is from international perspectives.

Artists such as Henri Cartier-Bresson , Evelyn Hoffer and Rineke Dijksra are featured with pictures dating back as far as the 1930’s being exhibited.

As someone who is generally interested in people (a nice way of saying I’m nosy) this exhibition was so interesting. Rather than just showing the elite or the body beautiful the photographs portrayed people from all over the UK, in normal walks of life and exposed the stories of those that may not have been heard otherwise. It was powerful.

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Post- Brexit Britain feels like a nation divided, it is difficult to say whether there is a national identity anymore. However, Parr highlights (through the work of the photographers) that there has always been unrest in Britain- from the world wars to the conflict in Northern Ireland. As a journalist I think words are really important (obviously) but there was something very poignant about seeing the graphic interpretations of these photographers.

The exhibition ends with a series of specially commissioned photographs from Romanian photographer Alex Beldea capturing contemporary Manchester as it is perceived by those who live there.

The exhibition will run until the end of May 2017 at Manchester Art Gallery and if you can get yourself there I completely recommend it.

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Escape to London

University is very much its own bubble. I think you get to the point where you have been there so long (four years) and you forget why you are there and that, hopefully at the end of it all, you might actually get a job. This can sometimes be a good thing- you rarely get ‘the guilt’ when you go out mid-week but I also find that it can be really draining.

I hate to say it but I think I’m sick of being a student. I know, I will read this back in a year or two when I am (hopefully) working and resent it but the rubbish meals, pitiful bank balance and student halls can all be gone.

It doesn’t help that last week I went down to London to go on placement. Coming home after staying with a friend all week made Warrington seem small and so quiet. As this was my first placement at a magazine I was slightly apprehensive (slightly being the biggest understatement in the world, I was bricking it.)IMG_5438

The truth is, I have never actually been to London by myself. I have always had a trusty friend who knows how to get around on the tubes or my parents to plan out my whole trip. So, citymapper in hand, I over packed my extremely large suitcase (because what would I do without clothing options) and set off down south.

After meeting my friend at Euston (and avoiding some very drunk football fans) I then negotiated the tubes with my impractical suitcase. Word to the wise, always make sure you can comfortably lift your baggage if you are going to take it on the tube.  After the second set of stairs I had to carry it up I was resenting cancelling my gym pass and by the fifth set I genuinely thought I was having a panic attack. We got back to her house, it was the best work out I have done in a good year.

Once we had caught up and I had cast the bag out of my sight (it brought back too many painful memories) I remembered why I was actually in London.  I think there is only so much planning you can do for a placement. Obviously, know where you are going and about the brand but beyond that it’s hard.

I woke up the next day ready to face my arch nemesis once again, the tube. It turns out with a normal size handbag it’s just about bearable. So long as you’re willing to stand a little bit too close to a few strangers before your morning coffee (this was a sharp learning curve for me).IMG_5437.JPG

Like anywhere, the first day on placement is always going to be a little bit tougher than the others. For starters you don’t know who anyone is, where the loos are and you’ll probably spend your first lunchbreak on the phone to your mum because you don’t know how long you’ve got and don’t want to walk in ridiculously early or late. It’s just a lot of ‘not knowing things’ but why would you?

There is so much useful advice I got before going on placement; always ask if you can do anything for anyone and network network network. But I think the best thing I was told to do was just be normal. Smiling goes a long way and they probably don’t want a silent, odd student sat at their desk with them as much as you don’t want people to ignore you or be mean.

It sounds silly but it surprised me that Editors are actually people too. They’re not all like Miranda Priestly and they want to see you get something out of your time with them. Do what they ask you to do, quickly and accurately and then ask if there is anything else. When I was feeling awkward and getting lost in my own head (which was more often than I would like to admit) I just set little goals. Try to speak to at least one new person on the desk a day and really ask them what their role is, ask them to show you.

It sounds cheesy but I feel so lucky to have been able to go to a magazine that I love, I had a smile plastered on my face all week. I think in a time when uni is getting a bit too much it is good to be reminded of the end goal.IMG_5464