Why I am no longer being the ‘cool’ girl…

I find a lot of things funny. People slipping in the snow is funny, David Baddiel is hilarious and you can give me a Kristin Wiig film any day of the week and I’ll be a happy girl. As someone who seems to be able to hold onto stress like it is going out of fashion I have also found a loyal number of friends who can be relied upon to tease me until I lighten up a bit.
Yet we have all found ourselves in situations where you have been at the pub or party and someone has said something downright offensive. Last year I remember sitting at the pub with the person I was seeing and some of their friends. I was nervous, meeting the friends is basically meeting the university family. In tinder terms we were getting married.


As the conversation moved from football to Tory politics (I know, I hate me too) I zoned out. Then, out of nowhere a quiffy boy at the end of the table, who up until this point had been very quiet, pipped up “It’s not rape if she secretly liked it” in reference to an ex-girlfriend. If looks could kill the world would be rid of one more ignorant misogynist.
The man child that I was with turned to me, evidently sensing that 100 years of feminism was about to hit his dipshit friend in the face, and whispered “be cool, be cool”.

Be cool with what?

With rape jokes?

With rape itself?

Oh you don’t think rape is funny either?

No, why would you? It is one of the most sickening things that someone can do to another human. It must be nice to be able to joke about sexual violence coming from a place where you will have never had to consider it a remote threat. Watch yourself, your privilege is showing.

Why does being the ‘cool’ girl mean being silent and not standing against something which not only, isn’t a joke it is a crime. I have listened to friends and acquaintances and strangers recount the details of harassment in work, being sexually assaulted and raped and do you know what it wasn’t? It wasn’t in the slightest bit funny. It was and still is heart-breaking.

Yes, have free speech and make jokes out of bad situations to lighten the mood. But just because you have the ability to make a joke doesn’t mean you should. It doesn’t make it right and know the consequences of reducing sexual violence for a cheap laugh.
In a report conducted by sociologist Heather Hlavka, it was revealed that many young women “regard sexual violence against them as normal.” The worst part about joking about rape and sexual assault is that there are serious consequences. Young men and women have killed themselves because of the aftermath of sexual abuse and rape. An estimated 33 percent of people who have been raped have suicidal thoughts and around 13 percent of rape victims will try to commit suicide.

Is that funny?

Across the globe, in the midst of #MeToo and #TimesUp the world seems to have started to wake up to the fact that it just isn’t acceptable anymore. I can’t imagine the bravery that it took for a group of women to come together to call out a very powerful man and an industry fraught with sexual harassment and misconduct on its bullshit. Society is slowly changing. But it starts in your local pub, in friendship groups and the way we talk to one another.

There are a lot of other things to laugh at in the world. Trump is in the White House for Christ sake. International Women’s Day reminds people so much of the awesome things women and girls are doing around the globe but also the threat that we are still under and the sacrifices that have been made along the way. Just because you can’t or refuse to fully comprehend that don’t cheapen it. Educate yourself. It isn’t our job to.


Activism, Glitter and Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging

March is fast upon us (how? Just how?) which means only one thing. It is nearly one of my favourite days of the year. Whilst it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that I think we should shout from the rooftops the successes of the women in our lives every single day, Thursday 8th March is officially International Women’s Day.

Last year the theme for this most magnificent day was #BeBoldForChange (read more here). In the context of Trumps inauguration and the first Women’s March it is insane how poignant this phrase has become.

With #MeToo and #TimesUp, it is a pretty wicked time to be a woman. Chicks coming together to support each other, men standing alongside the women in their lives to say time is up on the toxic masculinity that has gone ignored for so long.

Yet I know, like last year, I will have more than a handful of conversations with men asking why we still need International Women’s Day and when is International Men’s Day?

To answer your second question- officially it is November 19th but it is mediocre white, middle class men’s day every day of the year. And I get it, it is uncomfortable to come face to face with the ways that women are still being harassed and silenced. I am not so hot on it myself.

But the reason we still need International Women’s Day is that when you joke with your friends that a girl is a slut for wearing a short skirt (because apparently that is still a thing) it makes it dangerous for us to walk home alone at night. It allows judges to tell girls who have been raped that maybe if they had fought back harder they wouldn’t have been attacked. It enforces the belief that victims are to blame. We are used to the headlines that 100 more school girls have been taken by Boko Haram, millions of girls still do not have access to education and reproductive rights for women around the world are continuing to be violated.

The World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Gender Gap Report told us that gender parity is still over 200 years away. There has never been a better time to keep up momentum- to come together with all of your friends, have some cocktails or a coffee and recognize the ambition and ability of the women around you. To unite under the theme #PressforProgress.

If, like me, you intend to be as loud about International Women’s Day as you can possibly be then why not do it with other people? If you want to find a space to do this go to https://www.internationalwomensday.com/events

As I will be spending the run up in Manchester here are some of the places you should join me-

Walk for Women: Saturday 3rd March 1:30 St Peters Square 

Ending with speeches from some of Manchester’s most brill women ( Claire Mooney, Shirley May, Sarah Judge, Aisha Mirza and Jackie Hagan to name a few) providing the beast from the east has spared us and we really aren’t facing Snowmagedon, the walk for women will be a great opportunity to get together with friends and meet new people. For more information…


Pen:Chant & Gorilla present ‘SHE PWR’: Thursday 8th March 6pm- 1am Gorila

This is essentially a massive party bursting at the seams with art, craft, performance, talks, DJs, music and glitter (GLITTER)! Between 6 and 8 entry is free and there will be  Q&A sessions with prominent female creatives and entrepreneurs, a maker’s market selling locally made crafts, an art exhibition, live music, DJs, cocktails, canapés and a glitter station! 8 until late you’ll need a ticket and the main club space will host a special show from Pen:Chant guest hosted by alt-cabaret live wires Eggs Collective. Think drinks and glitter, spoken word and live music.

Dancing in my Nuddy Pants: Thursday 8th March 11pm- 3am The Deaf Institute

With a strap line like ” Apply your longest boy entrancers, assemble your Ace Gang, and strap up your basoomas; we’re bringing a celebration of Georgia Nicolson” how was I supposed to miss this event? Celebrating 10 years since Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging changed your life this will be the only way to spend next Thursday night. There will be 00’s pop and indie hits, hopefully all the Sex Gods of Manchester and your gal pals. Organizers will also be collecting sanitary products for The Monthly Gift – a charity which provides tampons and sanitary towels for homeless women across Manchester. This is the spirit of International Women’s Day wrapped up in one! You will need tickets (search on Facebook).

There are so many more spaces around the city exhibiting art and photography, Q&A’s and meet-ups. Get on twitter, source your glitter and get excited!


And breathe…

Hey! So it has been a minute. The last couple of weeks have been a little bit mad. Going from working back to back shifts (I can’t complain, I treat myself too much for that) to heading to Paris for four days and then back into a week of night shifts, I have barely had time to sit down with a cup of tea. Netflix has seriously been neglected. But admittedly so has my blog.

I wanted to get this post out last week but between drinking my body weight in coffee and taking in enough culture to last a lifetime I didn’t quite get there. However, I have found this time really useful in its own way. Before I went away I was suffering some real writers block. I didn’t know where I wanted to go with this blog or what I had to say at all, period.

Being away from twitter, my laptop and news apps informing me that the end of the world is nigh left me to actually sit with my own thoughts and it turned out I did have some. I wrote more notes on my phone (34 to be exact) and felt more inspired in those four days than I have felt in months.

I was out there over Valentine’s Day- I know clichéd. For someone who doesn’t usually mark the day of sickening love with anything other than a jaeger bomb and subsequent hangover, this was a little different for me. I can’t say I am a convert and I’m not ready to give up Galentines Day but it was kind of nice wandering around Versailles with someone else not feeling like I am about to have a red bull induced heart attack. But what also became abundantly clear to me this V Day was that I hadn’t really had any me time on the run up to the holiday and it was showing.

So in the spirit of all things self-love here are the 5 things that get me back to me:

  • Halsey/ Dua Lipa/ Hayley Kiyoko/ Lorde •

I list all four because who would want to pick? I remember driving home from uni in a friend’s car just before we finished our Masters belting out New Rules, there is nothing that puts me in a better mood. What unites all of these gals is I put them on and instantly feel stronger. I can be in the worst mood and it will be instantly changed by the opener of Now or Never. As my old flatmate so often says we function best when we are scorned and no one does scorned quite like these women.


  • Perks of being a Wallflower (book and film) •

If you haven’t read Perks of being a Wallflower where were you at 14? Stephen Chbosky writes coming of age better than I felt it. I re-read this every year and whilst it always takes me back to being a horrible, ‘misunderstood’ teenager I also always get something new from it. You will fall in love with the characters so just be prepared for it to break you too. And I can’t help but hope that Greta Gerwigs’ ‘Ladybird’ is going to be like this but better.

  • Olivia Bee •

I stumbled across Olivia Bee about 2 years ago when I was supposed to be finishing my undergraduate dissertation (funnily enough I found a lot of new hobbies in that time). Documenting her adolescence Bee’s images are hazy and sexy and really intimate. There is no denying she is also really bloody good at what she does.  By the time she was 15, Bee had shot a Converse campaign, and by 17, her work landed on the cover of The New York Times Magazine. She has gone on to shoot for Elle, Gucci, Unpublished Playboy and so many more.


  • Rupi Kaur •

Rupi Kaur cleanses my soul, pure and simple. There is no other way for me to explain how I feel about her. She writes about sex, race, love, rejection and rebirth in such a way that she expresses the experience of millions of women in so few lines. Whilst some have criticised her and her work, Kaur is the kind of poet who prompts heated debate, from people you never knew had any sort of interest in poetry, because among other things she is young, female, from a Punjabi-Sikh immigrant family, relatively uncredentialed and insanely successful.



  • Joan Didion •

What did you want to be when you were growing up? I wanted to be a cat. Once I realised that was an unattainable goal I decided I should probably focus at school and do what everyone else does, go to university. But then what? I discovered Joan Didion at the right time. A confused student, coming to the end of my undergraduate with a love for writing and photography but no comprehension that some people get paid to do those things I stumbled across Didions first essay for American Vogue ‘self-respect’. Her voice wasn’t really like anything I had heard of the time (1961). I consumed her work like so many other people that love her- quickly! Researching her personal life, her experience covering 1960’s California and watching David Hares adaptation of ‘A Year of Magical Thinking’ didn’t just make me want to write, it made me want to report and investigate and experience.

So there we have it, the 5 things that make me feel more me. I can’t help but notice that so many of these have a running ‘coming of age’ theme further confirming that I haven’t quite grown out of being 15 yet. But in the mean time I am willing to indulge this and you should too.

Finding my (written) voice

Finally, it’s over- what feels like the longest January in human history. There was me thinking, as this was the first January I haven’t had exams in six years, the month would fly by and be filled with nothing but residual festive cheer. But no, it turns out January mornings are equally unpleasant when you have to get up for work…who knew?

I have struggled this month. Not just with the Baltic weather conditions and the fact that Christmas coffee has so cruelly been snatched away from me before I was ready. I had a lot of plans going into 2018 (like everyone else). One such plan was a more consistent blogging schedule- as you can see that went really well (or not).

I am no stranger to writer’s block- my final portfolio was about as difficult to complete as squeezing blood from a stone. But it has felt like for the entirety of January I haven’t had anything to say. A usual remedy is to go away, put down your pen and read as much as you possibly can. Taking in other people’s voices helps you find your own.

Like everyone has a spoken voice, you have a written voice too. You can try and develop it- to sound more profound or intelligent but it has inherent qualities that makes it yours. In the midst of my silence this month I found this quote.


There are a lot of things I like reading. I have spent the majority of this month reading round ups of the last year in politics (so Brexit), about the homelessness crisis in the UK and researching chronic pain. If you have a second…

I am passionate about all of these things and there are writers that articulate these issues in completely different ways than I ever would. I really respect and enjoy Tim Shipman, the Times Political Editors work. Both his books and articles inspire me to be better, to push harder and carry on with what I want to do. But I am under no illusion that my voice is anything like his. He has been in the business for decades, his personal experiences in no way mirror my own and we are probably quite different people. That doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy his writing.

Similarly, as per usual I have inhaled everything that Amelia Gentleman has written for The Guardian this month. There is so much that Gentleman writes that leaves me wishing I had written it first. Her in-depth, longform piece on the Presidents Club trumped every other article on the same scandal (big BIG statement).

What I am trying to say is I love both of these writers and it is so easy to think if you don’t sound like a certain writer then your work can be no good. That is why my pitching inbox has been a wasteland and blog posts have been so scarce.

I think I am finally learning that no matter how hard I push I am not going to be able to take on Louis Therouxs’ voice (believe me, I’ve really tried). Trying to write a piece to deadline in your own way is god damn hard, never mind attempting to pretend to be someone else on top of it.

I believe there is no bigger compliment when it comes to writing than when someone tells you they really connected with what you were trying to say, even if they disagreed. It is the fact that they felt like they could hear the person’s voice in the piece that is important, so it isn’t just words on a screen.

Writing from the gut- like three promises, the hollaback girls and all I want for Christmas is…no news, Tom Hardy and a puppy was easy because it is just like sitting and talking to a friend. It gets difficult and disconnected when you try and write to impress or please someone else.  So whilst I know that I am not going to be able to steal her voice any time soon, Stacey Dooley has just released a new documentary series- you may have lost me for another month. All in the name of research, of course.

Today I am channelling the girl on the platform

It is 9:30 on Sunday night and I am stood on the tram platform in Manchester Piccadilly waiting to go into work. The air is a bit sticky and I am wearing three layers too many. After the first Saturday night off I have had in the last couple of months; a delicious tea made for me and copious amounts of wine, seeing in the early hours of Monday at my desk wasn’t too appealing.

I stood, leaning against the ticket machine fully engrossed in this weeks Women’s Hour podcast when a girl walked down the platform and tapped my arm.

“Excuse me, sorry for interrupting you. (interrupting me looking gormlessly into the distance) I just wanted to say I love your jumpsuit- where did you get it?”

Taken aback I pulled at my Breton stipe, jersey jumpsuit that only gets a day out when I can’t face wearing real clothes but it isn’t socially acceptable to wear pyjamas. Blushing I thanked her and directed her to Topshop (where else).

She walked off and I couldn’t shake the little happy feeling she had left with me- even as I walked out of the building at the end of my shift at 4am.

After gushing to a friend about how good a shift I had had, he asked, “but if a guy did that would it be catcalling?” After thinking about it I recalled a story my flatmate told me a couple of weeks ago.

She had just received an (extremely well earned) job promotion and was stressed about going into work to take on her new role. Prior to her first day she treated herself to a new suit and pair of heels. Walking off the tram and up to her building, hesitating before the door a co-worker she vaguely knew passed her. He turned and said “well done on that promotion, you’re looking like the absolute boss you are.” She marched through the door and aced her first day. She’s great so she would have done well regardless but the compliment gave her the little push through the door.

A compliment can completely change your mood. It is a truth universally known that girls in club toilets on nights out are the purest of all humans. In need of support for your new red lipstick that you’re not sure you can pull off? They can do that. Gone out without a tampon? They got you, Need to cry to someone about your shit bag ex? 10 will flock around you. It is my favourite thing- feminism in the form of a gaggle of gin merry strangers.

We all do it- eye up a sequin top across the room, some hot red boots, the perfect denim jacket. But so rarely do I ever go up to the person and tell them. Why is that? The endorphin hit I got from the kind stranger on the tram platform made me feel completely differently about a jumpsuit I otherwise classed as pyjamas.

There is always somewhere to be, someone to speak to, an email that needs a reply. If, like me, you can’t properly wake up before scrolling down you twitter feed and fully accepting the end of the world is nigh, the next high profile sexual harassment scandal is around the corner and everyone you know is either engaged, pregnant or owns a cute dog (for which you are deprived) we could all do with a bit of an uplift in mood. So from now on, as we come to the end of the longest January on record, I have decided to be a little bit more like the girl on the platform.

Sex and Consent

It always starts with a kiss. People fail to mention the heavy night out that is generally the precursor. The bottle of cheap wine that you painstakingly analysed the shelves of Tesco for. The multiple jaeger bombs that you were bought throughout the night, most of which you couldn’t stomach so gifted to strangers or dotted on the various surfaces around the floor. The dancing with your friends, arms flailing and overconfident rapping to songs you’d only ever heard on the radio a couple of times before but who cares? Hugging and telling each other how truly in love you are with one another.

Or maybe it’s the date that has gone quite well (surprisingly). You arrived early wearing your best ‘nice top and jeans’ top and heeled boots so you actually feel like a grown ass woman for once. They were already there and stood when you arrived, confirming that they aren’t a liar- evidently they do work out and are taller than 6 foot. You had a bit in common, the conversation wasn’t the best you’ve ever had in your life but they can talk about more than their gym routine and their favourite sports team so you aren’t planning your escape route out of the bathroom window. No need for your flatmate to call with that ‘emergency’.

So there you are, in a flat (yours or there’s it doesn’t matter) kissing. Then they make the next move. And then the next. And it gets to a point where you think maybe it is enough. Only, for some completely illogical reason you feel like you’re past the point of no return. You object but it goes unnoticed. You speak up again and they start to try and talk you round- ‘oh come on’ ‘don’t be that girl’ ‘why?’ ‘What’s wrong with you?’ Your stomach drops and it dawns on you- am I being an inconvenience? Would it be easier to just shut up and wait it out? The good ending is you gather your things, call a taxi and leave. More often than not, you don’t.

And people will ask why not? Why wouldn’t you leave if you were so unhappy? And hell, you’ll ask yourself that over and over, until you stop hating yourself and move on. There is no black and white answer. Very few words can describe the obligation felt in that moment when someone is looking down on you, questioning your own gut instinct for which you have no other answer than ‘I just don’t want to’ and that just isn’t good enough.

Over the last day or two I have had more conversations about sexual consent and rape culture than maybe ever before, certainly since the #metoo movement began. An article in Babe.net documented the experience of a 23 year old photographer from New York, when she went on a date with Aziz Ansari. Instead of unpacking the article the link is below.


The experience of Grace is painfully reminiscent of the encounter detailed in Cat Person, a short story by Kristen Roupenian published in the New Yorker in December.


Both of these stories have gone viral because they tap into a female experience that had never before been considered worthy of discussion.

The difference between Ansari and Weinstein is that as the latter’s crimes have become more visible and more survivors have stepped forward, he has become increasingly distanced from most men. They wouldn’t dream of the kind of sexual harassment, coercion and assault that went on behind closed hotel room doors in the Hollywood hills. Yet this isn’t to say that women should have to be summoned, threatened, assaulted and raped before we have a serious conversation about our attitudes towards sex and consent. The article in Babe shook us because it threw away all of our notions of sexual acceptability. It had women across the world standing in solidarity that this had happened to them too- on multiple occasions and men questioning their own behaviour in ‘the heat of the moment’.

Ansari is a generally respected guy. He is a funny man. He has shown that self-deprecation can sell out Madison Square Garden. I read his book, Modern Romance last year and loved it so much I wrote about it. Yet, many critics of the article have used Ansari’s likeability and reputation for not being a complete idiot as a reason as to why the accusations couldn’t possibility be true.

When it comes down to it Ansaris personal credentials- whether he is or isn’t a nice person to sit, have a coffee and a chat with, is by the by. If someone asks you if you want a cup of tea, you say no and after 45 minutes of them questioning you and shoving their range of tea bags in your face they force a mug down your throat you’d think them absolutely insane. So why is it okay to think that you are entitled to use your position of power to violate another person’s body?

The bottom line is, no does not mean convince me. It doesn’t mean ‘I’m being cute, I want to know how much you want it’ and it certainly doesn’t mean go for it and I will physically have to try and move you away from me. Yes both Cat Person and Graces story are not exceptional, they happen all the bloody time. In what backwards world does that mean it’s less of a problem?

Three Promises

First things first, HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope you had the best, messiest, most magical New Year’s Eve and are ready for the year ahead. I find, as much as I fight it, I get really reflective at this time of year. Once the wine headache passes and I can concentrate on anything other than how much I would just like to go back to bed, thinking about the previous year and what you might want to change is almost inevitable.

I find resolutions really problematic because they put so much pressure on you to change aspects of yourself, therefore insinuating that parts of you are wrong or bad. Confidence doesn’t happen in a vacuum. For many years, and I would actually say up until very recently it is fake it until you make it. I didn’t like myself or my appearance for a very long time and everyone has their struggles with that.

Because like so many other people who grew up in an environment where academic achievement and a hot body were signifiers of success, I constantly felt like there was more that could be done. I was never truly happy in the moment because I felt shitty about the way my stomach looked in a certain dress which would ruin parties for me or I didn’t have the confidence to speak up and pitch my own ideas which meant working underneath people who couldn’t see my abilities because I was hiding them from them. And don’t get me wrong, I feel that way now sometimes. There will always be people around you that are so insecure in themselves that they have to bring you down with them. Whether that is calling you stupid so they don’t have to face that you might not share the same opinions or calling you fat to silence and shame you.

So, instead of deciding to lose 20 pounds for someone who still won’t see your beauty because they can’t get past their own hurt, I have worked out the three things I will be leaving behind in 2017.

I will not be convenient. I am not good at sitting down, being quiet and making myself pretty for the ease of someone else. That’s just not me. I am personable, funny and I like talking to people about what really sets them on fire- even if I don’t share those opinions. I can’t dim my light for someone else’s insecurities. I can’t apologise for working towards being as confident as I can be.

I am not going to give myself the time or the head space to make myself feel bad about how I look or what or who I love. I work out, I eat fairly well and I treat myself and that has nothing to do with anyone but myself. I love watching back to back episodes of Made in Chelsea and spending time on my makeup- that doesn’t make me stupid or vapid. It is good to feel like you’re progressing and moving forward but if 2017 taught me anything, it is most important to be happy.

Lastly, investing time, energy and money into people who build me up rather than tear me down is only going to make me happier. I am leaving behind the time wasters. I have too many people who I don’t see enough of already. To the ones who made finishing my degree without having a full mental breakdown a remote possibility. Who spent hours on end with me in the library revising the most pernickety details of media law, sharing snacks, not judging when it was my turn to question all of my life choices up until that point. To the girls who would snuggle into my bed in the morning after an undoubtedly eventful night before to debrief, and cuddle and laugh. And the people who push me out of my comfort zone to do more and grow and actually feel things rather than living a safe, stagnant, numb existence.

2017 wasn’t such a great mental health year. There were amazing highs but also really painful lows. Whilst some of this was out of my control, making these positive steps- not resolutions will hopefully mean I will spend 2018 brighter, happier and more successful.