We can speak louder than ignorance…

We are living in a, frankly, terrifying world. The march to the political right, climate chaos, human rights violations, erosion of reproductive rights are just the tip of the nightmare. It is easy to feel powerless in the face of such monumental issues.

I feel especially frustrated when my health limits my participation in protest. Signing petitions, sending emails & sharing information doesn’t feel like enough. In an effort to feel like I am trying to facilitate change I put my money where my mouth is.

For a few years now I have tried to pick a different charity or organisation each month to donate to. It’s not always a huge donation, but I think every little helps. It also really helps me deal with life to feel that I am supporting action that betters the world.

It occurred to me that I often discover people doing amazing work via social media, friends raising money and the content I consume. Thus I have decided to share the groups I am supporting each month in the hope that others might also feel moved to donate.

Immigration policy on both sides of the Atlantic are alarming. The American situation is beyond compression. Facist dehumanising techniques are in full force & repugnant acts are being committed. Raices are on the ground in Texas fighting for asylum at the border. They support those who have been detained, try to reunite separated families & advocate for unaccompanied minors. This work is vital. We can do nothing whilst sickening acts are waged against desperate people seeking safety. If you can, please consider making a donation.

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This women’s world…

I hate the damn patriarchy. I hate the structures that allow it to continue to function, the men who deny its existence and those who just close their eyes to it. I am tired of rape culture and wage gaps and micro aggressions and attacks on reproductive rights. It all sickens me. However, what angers me most are the women who refuse to join the feminist ranks. The traitors in our midst are worse than the enemy at the gate.

The simple truth is that women must fight for each other. Allies are great, but we cannot rely on anyone else to secure our rights. Although men may care about the treatment of individual women, the have proven that they aren’t all that concerned with our fight for genuine equality. Even so-called decent men exhibit shock when women discuss the nitty gritty of our lives and how misogyny affects us. If almost every woman you know has been sexually assaulted or harassed, how is it possible that almost every man in your life has no idea that it was happening? How can women be cat called, groped and demeaned from the moment the grow boobs and no men ever participate or see it happening? It is isn’t possible. They know. Just like they know we’re side-lined in the work place. They same way they are completely aware that women still carry most of the burden of child rearing and home keeping. Not to mention the emotional labour of explaining this (& oh so many other things). Our patriarchal society is very comfortable for men. Hoping they will tear down their own kingdom is naïve. We have got to have each other’s back.

Shall we start with the basics?
Other women are not the competition. The pie is big enough for everyone to get a slice. You do not have to engage in that ‘I’m not like other girls’ bullshit. Women don’t create anymore drama than men. Female bosses aren’t inherently bitchy. Slut shaming isn’t cool. Trying to distinguish yourself at the expense of the entire sisterhood is a stupid move. Everyone knows what you’re up to and almost no one likes it. You think you’re winning cool girl points with the men folk, but they’ll stomp on you just as quickly as they do anyone other chick who gets in their way. In short, don’t be a desperate pick me. It’s just sad.

Offer genuine solidarity.
Support other women in all aspects of life. Vote for the women who deserve to hold office. Consume the art of talented women. Shout out your friend’s endeavours. Fight for representation with your voice and your purse. Don’t judge women for every little thing. Stay at home Mum’s aren’t better than those with careers outside the home. There is no perfect size. Trans women are women. We’re all real and we’re all just trying out best. If your feminism isn’t intersectional, it’s worthless.

Actions speak louder…
If there is any chance of breaking down the barriers that women face, we must be prepared to stand up for each other in practical ways. We must be willing to stand with our sisters even when it’s difficult. Don’t automatically dismiss reports of misconduct against men that you like. Abusers (of all types) often cultivate a nice guy persona precisely because it makes their predation easier to get away with. Listen and be prepared to question.

Back female colleagues. Shut down mansplaining and the co-opting of ideas. It is so easy for a third party to interject a simple ‘I think X already covered that’. Do not tolerate inappropriate talk. Don’t laugh or ignore sexist ‘banter’. Be clear that you are not amused, and you will not work in a toxic environment. If you witness discrimination, harassment, bullying approach the victim and offer your assistance. Not just a shoulder to cry on, but pragmatic help. Go on record with HR regarding what you’ve witnessed, testify at tribunals etc. This is even more important if the woman in question is also a member of another oppressed group. Use whatever power you hold to institute practices that make your workplace a place that women can thrive. Then fight to have to those polices enforced. Protect and encourage the warranted career progression of women who utilise maternity or family leave. We must be willing to stick our heads above the parapet. Even/especially when we may be the only female voice in a room.

Do not reward collaborators.
This is very simple. Women who purposely back the patriarchy do not deserve your support. If they are willing to inhibit the opportunities of other women for personal gain, they are not worthy of your backing. Don’t vote for, align yourself with or rely on them. A sisterhood of women is a very powerful thing. Devote your energy to building and sustaining your own.

Friday favourites…

Wow, it has been a big week. I’ve felt all the feelings & did all the things. I will catch you up on my goings on soonish. In the meantime please content yourself with a variety of my current favourite things. You know the deal, all the wee bits that get me through the good & bad days.

First up is appropriately named First Aid Kit . I am rather in love with their new album Ruins . It has just enough melancholy to nurture my ‘ i just need a small cry’ moments whilst also containing sufficient uplifting ditties. It’s folksy & soothing, but also pleasantly raw in places. It is an added bonus that the band wear the most divine clothes. Their hard hippie aesthetic wets my whistle. In short, three cheers for the Swedish sisters charming my senses.

First aid kit, ruins Album cover

Next is a yummy little treat that pleases my tum. Yes, I take comfort in food, sue me. I have always been a lover of jelly, but obviously not all jelly is vegan friendly & some vegan brands lacked a satisfactory wobble. I am chick who likes some wibble. This winter my cupboards have been packed with Hartley’s 10 cal jelly pots. I first discovered these years ago during an insane starvation diet, but they are utterly delicious. These days I couldn’t care less about the calorie count, but do love their variety of fruity flavours. Everything from classic strawberry & orange to elderflower lemonade and Black Forest gateau. Every single variety is packed full of fruity flavour and not a single non vegan ingredient. They are also exceptionally easy going on the stomach meaning I have something tasty to eat even when mine is at it’s most uncooperative. Yeah!

Vegan jelly

No fav list of mine would be complete without some reading material. My current book just happens to be one of my all time favourite writers, Alan Bennett. I absolutely adore everything he does, but in particular I love his diaries & memoirs. I find his writing as comforting as a cup of mint tea. Even when he tackles heavy subjects he does so with such a light hand that it soothes me to read his words. I love that I can trust his politics, his wit & his decency. He writes about complex, sensitive issues with an honesty & compassion missing from so much of modern life. His most recent collection of prose, Keeping on Keeping on is as enchanting as ever. His daily doings & opinions on the world at large have been getting me through a tricky start to the year. If you need your faith in humanity (& beautiful writing) restored, Bennett is the man for the job.

Cat poking his head over a book

Bronan doesn’t enjoy Alan Bennett as much as I do. He’s a less reading, more ear rubbing kind of cat.

Another small item bringing joy to my life this week is badges. I am a longtime fan of the humble pin badge & am rejoicing in their revival. Not so long ago I had to search for badges that pleased me. Now pins with messages that delight are everywhere I look. There’s nothing better than wearing your heart (& your politics) on your sleeve or in my case chest. I have taken to expressing my mood with a collection of badges each day. They are a darling embellishment to every outfit. Plus, no one can say they haven’t been warned; they tell you what to expect before I even open my mouth.

Feminist badges

Last but not least is Now Tv. I had a Sky package of one kind or another for years, but constantly had problems with it. My broadband dropped, I lost signal for no reason and it always took 3 weeks to get through to customer services. So, I ditched it and got Now instead. It’s so much simpler and cheaper. Oh & now my internet consistently works. I am useless with services like this & tend to put up with problems forever because I worry changing will be just too much hassle. This switch was so easy that I am now checking out what else I could benefit from changing. Suppliers beware.

Power to the people…

If like me, you are firmly planted on the left of politics, you are probably despairing at the moment. Trump has been in power for 13 days & he’s already making terrifying changes. It’s easy to feel far away & powerless, especially when you have a disability. However, the truth is there is lots we can all do & it’s essential that everyone does what they can. 


The most obvious sign of dissent are protests. Taking to the streets & making your opposition clear can be very powerful. I know this can be difficult & sometimes down right impossible for those with disabilities. The most important thing is not to feel guilty about missing protests. You have to put your health first. You can still engage with the movement by sharing details and pictures of marches on social media. If you can manage for 10 or 20 mins, go for that time only. Every little bit counts. 


Another great way to combat Trump’s facist agenda when differently abled is to make strategic charitable donations. 

Southern Poverty Law Centre is an organisation that fights intolerance. The monitor & inform the public of hate groups, help the most vulnerable seek justice, educate communities to reduce prejudice & much more. Racists & extremists are emboldened in the current climate, funding a group like this pushes back. 

American Civil Liberties Union defends freedom of expression & equal rights for all. The first weeks of this new administration have already shown signs of hostility towards free press. Rumoured changes to laws protecting the LBGTQ community are very worrying. Now more than ever a group that can fight injustice through the courts is required. 
Planned Parenthood Aims to provide affordable health & reproductive care to all women (& others who need their services). Along with vital access to contraceptives and abortion PP also offer sex education, sti testing,smear tests & breast exams. With a president on record as believing that people who have an abortion should be punished, this safe access must be preserved. The entirety of PP’s services save & improve incalculable lives. It is an essential organisation.

There are of course many other charities worthy of your support. From refugee orgs to LBGTQ rights groups, there are no shortage of worthy non profits. Anything you can give will help. If eveyone gave even 50p it would make a massive difference. Having said that, I know not eveyone has any money to spare. Again, you can help by sharing groups on social media & getting their message to a wider audience. 

Try to engage with bigotry in your own friendship/family groups. Trust me I know how infuriating this can be. It hurts so much more to discover someone you care about holds these vile beliefs , but some folk can be saved from the dark side. Know your history & use it. There are so many similarities to be drawn between the period between the world wars & the period after the financial crisis. For example the conditions in Germany during the Weimer Republic helped to create an environment for Hitler to flourish in. Compare Trump’s strategies to that of Hitler’s, the parallels are frightening. Learn about American history, having an understanding of it’s story helps to illustrate what is so wrong about modern racism, xenophobia misogyny. Do remember it is also ok to withdraw. If someone stubbornly sticks with toxic views, you are entirely with your rights to ditch them

Share your message in as many forums as possible. Share articles & graphics on social media. Join local political groups, help distribute leaflets or raise funds if your health allows. Talk about your opinions on the ‘alt right’ on your blog or in your art. Make your voice heard in any way you can. Their is value in solidarity, it is massively comforting to know one is not alone. 

Last, but absolutely not least, do not forget about what’s happening at home. Post brexit Britain is no picnic; hate crimes have seen a 40% increase since the referendum. Our government is purposely defunding the NHS & cuts in benefits for the most vulnerable members of society are ongoing. There is work to be done  here too. Write  to your Mp about important votes & any issues you feel are critical. Apply all of the suggestions above when fighting on the home front. 

Finally, support local charities too. This month I’m turning my charitable attentions to Refuweegee. They are committed to ensuring refugees arriving in Glasgow receive a warm Glaswegian welcome. You can donate money or goods & even write a nice letter for our new arrivals. 

Go forth & fight the good, inclusive fight! 

There is a crack in everything….

So, here I am apologising for my absence again. I’ve had an iffy few weeks. To begin with there was bad health news, which left me struggling to keep my mood boyant. Then there was a new medication that makes me nauseous 24/7 & vom almost everything I eat. Finally, there is the Trump debacle & that’s hit me even harder than I thought it would. 

For a bleeding heart leftie like me the current political climate is an anathma. I don’t want to write another horrified how did this happen piece, but I don’t feel able to say nothing. I perhaps sounds naive, but I really do believe in governing for the greater good. Sometimes that involves sacrifices & I am happy to make some to ensure the basic well being of everyone. I am utterly disgusted by the rise of the politic of fear & hate. I have watched with growing dismay as we slip further to the right & minds slide closed. I’m tired of hearing about downtrodden people voting against the establishment. There is no excuse for supporting racism, misogyny, homophobia & all manner of vile prejudice. Raising the privileged & corrupt is not only wrong, it’s incredibly stupid. As already witnessed in the UK, those who already have the least lose the most. 

With far right parties gaining popularity across Europe; I fear the worst is yet to come. Marine Le Pen is already talking about creating a new world. That world is not one that I care to live in. For the first time in my life I am scared of the direction society is being pushed. I say that in the full knowledge that I live in a progressive country & hold privileges many don’t. I cannot even begin to imagine the terror others must be feeling. 

So, forgive me if I am lack inspiration & my words are ineloquent. It feels as though decent people have received a damaging blow. I know we must stay in the fight & I intend to keep my fists up.  I hope you will be with me. 

inequality promises that it’s here to stay…

Last week I had a flick through glamour & immediately remembered why I stopped buying women’s magazines. I felt a rush of anger at the content. Despite nods to feminism (tiny footnote on feminist websites), the magazine continues to be a bastion of incredibly thin women, articles about the calorie content of food & men’s preferences about a variety of issues.
Let’s start with Dawn O’Porter’s column on women in panel shows. She expresses rather unhelpful opinions such as
‘Or a channel is brave enough to commission female- strong panel show where women don’t have to compete with men; the problem will be the same’.
Whilst I’m all for more female strong programming, I strongly reject the suggestion that women will do better when they are not forced to compete with men. Claiming we need men free zones in order to be accomplished is bullshit. Women can hold their own in mixed panel shows the same way they can in any area of life.
O’ porter’s next gem was to declare women as funny as men, but not as competitive, therefore females on panel shows will just sit back & let the men battle out it. Eh, what? Clearly no one has told dawn that attributing emotions & characteristics to a specific gender is sexism. These tired old tropes about the differences between men and women are feeding into our patriarchal society. When women are still telling other women that they aren’t up to playing with the big boys, we have a problem.
Next up, the ’hey, it’s ok’ page. This is basically a list of female gender stereotypes, but hey it’s ok, don’t worry you’re only a woman. This issue contained the following gem,
‘….to have mainlined a coke, small popcorn & cracked into the revels before they’ve even started the film trailers.’
Did you get that? It’s ok to eat. Absolutely fine to make a pig of yourself, well as long as you don’t forget it’s a SMALL popcorn. Girls eat small. Remember that.

If you can bear to read on you will reach an article named ‘pluck what?’ written by Luke Leith. This piece is handily labelled G MEN, just in case you missed the fact that it is written by man. The man in question first gives us a row for casually insulting men’s appearance. I’d suggest that if your partner is talking to you in any of the ways mentioned the issue is not gender based, but related to the fact that you are dating an arsehole. He goes on to give us a little potted history of gender politics in the UK. Apparently we are not-quite-there-but-almost (a sexism free society), phew, what a relief. Which leads him to his big point; all this feminism has hurt men. Men are now sometimes portrayed in an unflattering light in advertising. We women are just too harsh on the poor men folk these days. We must not hurt their feelings. Oh, those poor men. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think objectifying men or labelling them imbeciles is ok. However, the painting of men as victims of sexism is laughable. Reverse sexism isn’t a thing. It doesn’t exist because it is not institutionalised. White, cis, males still overwhelming hold the power in society. When the world is constructed in favour of your sex, sexism is not a discriminatory factor.
We are then presented with a guide on how to approach our partners about them balding, putting on weight o their sartorial choices. This is insulting because it assume that
a/ we care about those things, rather than, you know, loving our partners for who they are.
b/ that we are cruel bitches who would mock a person we supposedly care about
Of course what is most annoying is that a women’s magazine feels the need to employ a man to instruct us.

My next bone of contention is yet another piece by a man. This time Eric Sullivan tells how men feel about our sex toys. Why what men think about what we use to masturbate is even an issue, I don’t know. Eric tells us that when he stumbled upon his girlfriend’s dildo he felt aggrieved; he went so far as to accuse her of cheating on him with a plastic cock. Eric’s girlfriend explained that she wasn’t replacing him. Eric was of course skilled & competent in the bedroom. This made his fragile ego feel a little better. Nevertheless, the only way to make Eric feel completely comfortable was to involve him in the dildo’s use. So, there we have it, women have no right to own their sexuality. We must satisfy all our desires in a manner that does not intimidate men. We must consider how men feel about tools that are designed for our pleasure.
After what seems like a million pages of fashion, make up & advertising this issue ends with ‘dos & don’ts’ a page which congratulates celebs they magazine deems to look good & ridicules those whose clothing choices they do not approve of. Screw the sisterhood, eh?
Besides these troublesome pieces the magazine continues to perpetuate the thin is beautiful myth. There is no sign of anyone who even remotely resembles me. None of the insanely expensive clothes featured would be available in my size; larger women do not exist in glamour world. It is a world that is also predominately white, assumes that everyone is straight & that how we look is our main concern. All this from a magazine that frequently tries to attach itself to feminism, I despair.

 

Lily Allen Hard out here