Let’s talk about…

Let’s talk about breasts. Boobs, titties, knickers, baps. Whatever you want to call them. Just a human body part. So, what is all the fuss?

For a long time I thought I hated my breasts. I resented the attention they brought, the assumptions & limitations they imposed. I even looked into a surgical reduction to be rid of their weight. It’s only in recent years that I have realised that there is actually lots I enjoy about breasts. I didn’t hate them, they had just been weaponised against me.

Boobs are great. They feel nice. Breasts can be comforting. Nipples can have incredible sensation. They add lovely curves to the body. Mine look great in lots of things. They can sustain new life. Sure I wish my own didn’t give me back ache but they’re part of me and I like me.

Why all the hate, then? Well, we live in a world that projects so much onto these mounds of tissue. It starts so young. If you are a late bloomer, you are free game for mocking. Develop fast or bountifully and you will be Objectified. I managed to combine both. I was flat as a pancake and then between 14-15 years old my breasts went into overdrive. There’s years of being sexualised. Your peers will do it and you’re told ‘boys will be boys’. Then it somehow becomes a teenage girl’s fault that adult teachers are uncomfortable that they can see bra lines through a white school shirt or that her breasts bounce in P.E. Strange adults on the street will shout gross comments at a child in a school uniform. The bus driver will come onto you every day on the way home from school. Friend’s Mums will view you suspiciously because your body means you are not a ‘nice girl’. All along assumptions are made about who you are and how you can be treated purely by the fact that the tissue on your chest grew bigger than other girls your age.

As you grew older it just becomes more overt. Men in bars will comment on your body and if you complain you’re told it’s your own fault for showing cleavage. Any night out will include at least one random groping from a person you didn’t even say hello to. Getting angry garners insults. You are a slut or you’re ugly because you object to being sexually assaulted. Friends of friends will refer to you as ‘that girl with the huge boobs’. Jokes are made, envy expressed, inappropriate bra size enquiries are never ending. All the while there is an underlying implication that this is your fault. You are judged because of a body that you didn’t choose or have any control over.

It extends way beyond individual experiences. Everyone in possession of a pair is bombarded with messages about our own form. We have all had lists of things we can & cannot do. Don’t show bra straps, but you need a bra to control or enhance your shape. Clothes that aren’t ok for your body. Clothes that are sending a message. Activities we give up because we’re so tired of the attention we attract. We’re shamed if someone can see the outline of a nipple. Censored everywhere because a female presenting chest is sexual; even when it is feeding an infant. We still live in a world where using a breast for its intended purpose can be controversial. It’s all patriarchal bullshit.

ly is wearing a white t shirt with red print saying , if you can see my nipples under this t shirt it’a because i have nipples.
Tee – Curated by Girls

Our bodies are not inherently sexual. Seeing a nipple isn’t provocative. Breasts are just fat and tissue and skin. No more or less obscene than a nose or an armpit. The size and shape of our constituent parts bears no indication of who we are. Neither does how we choose to adorn them.

I feel sad that I ever considered surgically changing my body purely to avoid misogyny in its many forms. I am exhausted that at 41 I still have to explain the same point I was making at 16. None of this new. Yet, there are still umpteen men in my DMs every week talking only about my tits. I still get cat called and disapproving looks. A few years back a GP pointed out that she could see my bra poking out of a vest top and asked what message I thought that sent. This educated, professional woman could not understand my anger or the reason I complained about her comments.

I don’t how or when we bring this to an end. I do know it starts with me (& you) taking back my body. I am not for public consumption. I will continue to wear whatever pleases me. I’ll delete gross comments and if you dare to sexually harass me the very least you can expect is a loud fuck off. My breasts are large, my cleavage exquisite, but most of all they are mine.

ly  is lying in a circular swing wearing black & white print dress ad harness bra

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Let’s hear it for the girls…

It’s International Women’s Day again and we’re all applauding the amazing women who are soaring in all manner of ways. Whilst I am very much here for that, I also want to give a standing ovation to the women who are just about holding it together. I really want to shine a light on a different kind achievement. So often we overlook the strength it takes to just keep going on the face of adversity.

Neon together we will burn brighter

I want this IWD to be about the women living with chronic illness, mental illness, inequality in the workplace, trying to make ends meet, shitty relationships & everything else that weighs you down. Perhaps you’re not launching your own collection, pulling in 6 figures or living the insta glam life. That does not mean you aren’t striving and succeeding. Every day that you get out of bed despite being wracked with pain, you’re killing it. Every single mother who loves, feeds & inspires her child(ren) every day is changing the world. Forcing yourself out the door when you’d rather curl into a ball & cry, is winning. Steering your own course in a workplace that is designed for the comfort & advancement of men makes you a boss. All the women who have to fight stigma & danger to claim their womanhood, you are queens. Even if you were unable to wash your face or get dressed today the fact that you are still here, still living, still fighting is enough.

We are all Wonder Woman

*

We all know smart, talented women who are doing the best with the hand they’ve been dealt. That may mean that their successes aren’t as big & shiny as those we’ve become accustomed to celebrating, but they count. Those hard won achievements deserve acclaim. This year let’s hear for the women who keep their worlds spinning every day in spite of universe’s attempts to thwart them.

*Wonder women print by SaturnTwinsArtShop.

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.

I got all my sisters with me…

Ok, the left is down, but it’s not out. With evil pricks sweeping into power the world over it’s important to take a stand. We can all make a difference; none of us have to look far to find a worthy project to support.My plan this Xmas is to give locally & hopefully encourage others to do the same. 

If anyone needed a reminder that the patriarchy still isn’t smashed recent events have certainly served that purpose. Women are still under threat from numerous directions. Unfortunately those closest to us can be the most dangerous. In the uk 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. There are still 2 women dying every week at the hands of a male partner or ex partner. With 90% of women reporting their children witnessing attacks it is clear how far reaching this problem is. The human impact of these figures is devastating. Being outraged is not enough, we can all do something to help. 

Glasgow Women’s Aid provide support & refuge accommodation to women, children & young people experiencing domestic abuse. Their services are far reaching, from emergency housing, to legal advice & counselling services. Even a small donation could help keep someone safe this Christmas. If money is tight you can still support Women’s Aid by following them on social media. They often post request for items needed to allow women & their children to start a new life. You may have things lying around unused to that can ease that process or a simple share  could bring it to the attention of someone who does. 

Twitter – @GWA1973

Facebook – @GlasgowWomensAid

There really isn’t any excuse not make this festive period feminist. Let’s get giving.