It’s later than you think…

I think it’s universally acknowledged that getting older is a wee bit scary. As one approaches those big milestone ages it is hard not to ponder the big questions. 39 is frightening mainly because of its proximity to 40 & all that entails.

I remember being worried in the run up to the big 30 too. Mainly because I felt like I wasn’t where I had imagined I would be at that stage of my life. That little measure of fear probably helped in the long run. It helped me make some needed changes. My thirties have been far happier than the preceding years. I believe what made that possible was time. I had time to think and plan and manoeuvre.

Ultimately, though, I’m approaching 40 still missing the crucial piece of my puzzle. However, this time I am very nearly out of time. My options are ever shrinking. That is frightening on a whole other level.

I sometimes feel like the proverbial guilty feminist when I have this conversation. Fear of ageing is often assumed to be about vanity. It’s thought silly to worry about grey hairs or crows feet. It’s assumed the desire to stay young is about adherence to sexist beauty standards. Or if it runs deeper the biological clock is referenced in demeaning tones. Ageing childless and/or single women are often perceived as desperate or pathetic. I suspect much of this is internalised, but I had to get these messages somewhere!

Balloon with sorry about my internalised misogyny

Where am I going with this? I suppose I just want to say it is ok. Things become a cliche for a reason. Ageing is scary. Whether that is because you are worried about physical changes, not achieving goals, your own mortality or a all of the above. It’s ok. Most folk struggle a little with change. It’s perfectly understandable to feel uncomfortable with the alterations you see on the mirror. It’s fine to be concerned about the irrevocable biological changes that age brings. Knowing that some opportunities have passed you by can be hard to accept. The unstoppable nature of the passage of time can be alarming.

In many ways age is just a number. Nevertheless, ageing does have concrete ramifications. It isn’t anti feminist to accept or care about them. A big part of the significance of our appearances is routed in living in a patriarchal society. It isn’t merely a shallow obsession with attractiveness; women’s ageing is not as viewed sympathetically. There are real life implications beyond aesthetics. Career prospects, financial considerations, medical and fertility issues are a big deal. Even if you just really lovely your hair and don’t want it to go grey, you’re allowed to have a wobble about that.

ly looking in mirror sign towel around body and hair

In the end the thing that makes it so worrisome is also what helps me deal with it. You can’t stop time. It is entirely out with our control. Feel whatever feel. Talk it out. Then carry right on living because it always later than you think.

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.

A strange play…

Last night I pretended I was a hip young thing & went to The Twistettes album launch. Of course I am in fact a tired old thing so I didn’t stay until the end, but I did have a very good time. Also, today I’m broken.

A strange play album launch flyer

The Twistettes are a riotous two piece. Before last night I did not realise they are sisters, somehow this knowledge increases their cool factor for me. The launch party for their new album A Strange Play was exactly the loud feminist event that I expected. Housed in the cellar club space of Stereo (excellent vegan food FYI). The night kicked off with Quotes of the Dead, a very enjoyable cross between 90’s girl attitude & early 00’s goth rock. Their set was followed by the most excellent Leyla Josephine. Her angry, amusing & awesome poetry really made my night. Give me 3mins of non earnest spoken word on the vagina & I’m sold.

ly & toyboy Twistettes album launch

Next to take the stage was The Honey Farm, possibly Scotland’s only female rap group. I didn’t expect to enjoy them quite as much as I did. Rap isn’t my preferred genre, but I suppose intelligent women with attitude can make anything agreeable. Girobabies turned out a buoyant performance & then it was time for the main act.

The Twistettes A Strange Play Album Launch
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The Twistettes were absolutely worth tarting my old arse up for. For a two piece they create a tremendous onslaught of sound. Riot Grrrl influence was definitely in evidence with an undercurrent of 90’s indie rock chick. Their lyrics are captivating & I particularly loved the slightly spooky bent of the title track. Original material is intriguing, their encore covers were large & in charge. If powerful talented women are your thing, give this punkish duo a listen.

The Twistettes, Stereo sept 18
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* Photo Credit – Stephen Black

Don’t worry, my arse…

I worry. Quite a lot actually. I stress over things great, small & possibly non existent. I probably worry much more than is either necessary or prudent. That’s the nature of worrying, though.

So, I while I confess to sometimes wishing I could turn off the worrying I find it incredibly frustrating when people suggest that is possible. There are of course strategies to deal with disquieting situations, merely deciding not to worry about it is not one of them.

I keep seeing this sort of thing offered as some kind of wisdom. This isn’t wise, it isn’t even sensible. It just displays an inability to understand what worry is. If it were possible for a person to decide no to worry, worry wouldn’t be a thing.

Obviously this is abelist. Anxiety is not always rational. Many people struggling with mental illness have spiralling worries. Ranging from the practical (money, employment, relationships) to the irrational & far reaching concerns that mental illness can bring. When you tell someone they can choose to stop, you’re kind of saying their anguish is their own fault. Advising a person to just stop worrying is as pointless as telling them to just not be ill.

Setting aside the ableism it’s still infuriatingly useless advice. Let me break it down,

Do you have a problem?

If I didn’t consider the issue a problem, I wouldn’t be concerned about it. So, yes, regardless of what an outsider might think, I clearly think it’s a problem.

Can you do something about it?

If I can, the solution must still be troubling or uncertain otherwise I wouldn’t be worrying.

If there is nothing I can do ignoring or pretending the issue doesn’t exist will not help me. Plus, lets me face it, if you are facing a problem that you cannot solve it’s unlikely that you can just magically forget it.

Saying this to someone in distress is unkind. It basically translates to I don’t care. Telling someone not to worry is not a suggestion of self care. It’s dismissive. Instead, perhaps try listening. Sometimes just saying it out loud can be helpful. If you can offer practical help, do. If you don’t know what someone needs, ask. A simple ‘what can I do’ can be so valuable. A little bit of time goes a long way.

Like the moon needs poetry…

I didn’t have time to mark World Poetry Day through the week, but it would make me sad to ignore it all together. I’ve been smitten with the art form for as long as I can remember. It has basically provided me with a literary landscape to wander around with my feelings. Thus, I must pay homage to some poetic masters & share a few lines of my own.

What better place to start than with Plath. I suspect Sylvia Plath is probably a favourite of every girl who’s had a brush with crazy. I actually read her prose before her poetry, but obviously fell hard immediately upon discovering her poetic genius. This is one of my favourites because it mixes prime fucked up Sylvia with some classic romantic imagery.

Melissa Lozada-Oliva is new discovery, but I can’t get enough of her. Her work covers feminism & race & more. She gets right to the nitty gritty of the female of colour experience with both clarity & humour. I love the structure of her poems & the words she chooses to place her emphasis on.

If I Got Paid For All My Emotional Labour.

Maya Angelou is another writer whose poetry came second to me. I read her autobiographies first & once I had begun reading her words I never wanted to stop. Every single line she ever put to paper is so utterly & completely Maya. A women who knows who she is & embodies herself in everything she does is the ultimate inspiration. Her poetry gives me life, which I believe is exactly what she intended it do.

Which just leaves me. I wrote a lot more poetry in my darker days. It seems my mind reaches peak poetic prowess when in despair. So, this one’s an oldie.

Just another manic Monday…

My very clever sister decided that instead of having a baby shower type affair she would just invite some lovely women to join her for a spa day. Thus I spent my Monday being a luxury bitch at beautiful spa. Thank you, little sister.

The setting of our unmanic monday was Gleddoch House Hotel & Spa. It looked extra scenic surrounded by snow, but once wrapped up in the soft, fluffy robes the cold wasn’t touching us. 


After my treatment there was a gorgeously calm & comfortable relaxation room to unwind in. Suitably soothed I returned to pool for some laps & general floating around. I love being in the water because my body hurts so much less when submerged. I love it even more when in the company of smart & funny women. 


Of course it wouldn’t be a spa day without a dip in a hot tub & what’s the point of a hot tub if it isn’t really cold? The Gleddoch had us covered with this amazing roof top hot tub; enjoying the steamy bubbles whilst surrounded by snowy mountains is definitely a good way to spend a Monday. 


After all the relaxing we had a bite with more views and the already mums gave the mum to be a little tongue in cheek advice. We sneaked in a few forbidden presents & headed home to enjoy our spa day afterglow. 


So, thank you little sister not only for making a whole new person for me to love, but for providing me an opportunity to really enjoy a Monday. 

A dignified period…

Simon Community Scotland are a wonderful organisation who provide support & services for people experiencing homelessness. Every year they help over 500 women dealing with being homeless, offering gendering specfic services through their street teams. 

The traumatic histories of homeless women create a need for multiple branches of support. Often issues beginning in childhood can lead a woman to the streets. Childhood abuse or neglect can be replayed through domestic violence & exploitation, which can result in substance abuse, mental & physical health problems. All of which add up to a shocking low life expectancy of 43. The Simon Community aim to help women rebuild their lives by providing emergency accommodation & a variety of tailored services. This month they add to their excellent support portfolio with a Period Friendly programme. 

The programme will be comprised of education, communication & making sanitary itemsessily available. Simon Community have found that homeless women often lack basic knowledge about their menstrual cycle. Growing up in care or a troubled home can mean that they never had a chance to learn about periods. homeless women can feel particularly embarrassed or ashamed about their periods. As a result they may struggle to talk about their periods and lack opportunities to seek advice. On top of this the hardships of living on the street can lead to irregular cycles, infections & other problems. 

The Simon Community hope to tackle these issues with the launch of Period Friendly Points (PFP). Intially the points will be located at places specifically catering to homeless people, with they hope they may spread to include other sites. PFPs will provide free access to products required for a period; wipes, tampons, towels, pants, disposable bags along with information on how to use the sanitary products. Pregnancy & infection tests will also be available. These offer reassurance for women who experience irregular periods. They are also essential for women who have been victims of sexual violence. The Simon Community street teams will also be giving out Period Paxs comprising Period essentials, which can be refilled st PFPs


The PFPs will also give homeless women the chance the speak to staff about any queries or problems they are having. A study of homeless women undertaken by Simon Community discovered that,

78% didn’t know how long a tampon should be kept in.

61% had to go without sanitary products on multiple occasions – instead using rags or newspapers. 

70% had never spoken to anyone about their period & didn’t even know what a period is. 

These fact underline how important Period Friendly Points are. There is a desperate need for not only access to necessary products, but also a someone to listen & offer reliable advice. 

No women should ever have to make her own tampons or wear the same pants for a week. This goes beyond personal hygien, it is about dignity & respect. 

As a charitable organisation The Simon Community is always on need of donations & support. You can help grow this new intiative in a number of ways. If you have some time to volunteer you can become a Period Friendly Pal. 

P.F.Pals will :

Restock PFPs.

Collect & sort donations into Pax at SC warehouse in Glasgow.

Help raise funds & products to maintain PFPs.

Support, promote & raise awareness of issues that homeless women experience. 

Be a listening ear to the women SC reach out to. 

You can also donate by texting PFPR28 to 70070 staying your donation amount – £5 or £10.

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. 

‘Cos every inch of you is perfect….

On my way to Dublin last week something happened that not so long ago would have been a massive issue for me. The fact that it didn’t really phase me proved to me how far I’ve come. 

The incident was an airplane seat belt that didn’t fit. This is something that I actually used to fear. A while back every time I boarded a plane I braced myself for the humiliation of being too fat to fit. It turned out to be no big deal. I had a brief moment of panic, my thoughts raced through all the seat belts that had fitted & how big I was then. Then it dawned on me that I didn’t care. It didn’t matter if I was bigger or this particular seat belt was smaller. It just didn’t fit & there was an easy rememdy for that. I asked for an extender & stopped thinking about. 

Until yesterday when it dawned on me what that meant. I wasn’t embarassed to ask for the extender meaning I wasn’t ashamed to acknowledge my fat body. That is incredible. Being a part of the body positivity community has led me to a place where I can genuinely appreciate my body. Once I realised that I started thinking about all the little things that marked real progress. 

It recently occurred to me that I had gained some weight on my bum. The marvellous part was I liked it. I’ve found myself dressing to show off my bigger arse &  I am so chuffed about that. 


Then on Saturday as I was dressing I automatically tucked my top into my skirt. Not a very momentous act except that I spent years of my life ensuring that my top always covered my stomach. I was that person tugging at my clothes to ensure I was hiding flabby bits. Now I just wear what I feel nice in & here’s the kicker, I look better tucked in or in clingy vests. 


Along the same lines whilst out with my sister I asked her to take blog photos. I am usually a pain the arse about pictures. Never happy with who I look, probably because I wasn’t happy with my body. In the past I have ducked out of pictures at big events & special moments, which  I’ve come to regret. So, in recent times I have made a conscious effort to push through my discomfort & mark significant times. I was however still dissatisfied with my appearance in the photographs. This weekend was different. My sister snapped pics of me in various poses & I loved them all. Break through!

The last and probably most obvious symbol of acceptance of myself is how comfortable I am naked. I run about my house in the buff all the time. I look at myself in a full length mirror whilst I dry my hair and I do not feel critical. I have no desire to hide. I notice the parts of my body that look amazing rather than hating my stomach or chubby arms. This carries through to being naked with others. I no longer feel worried about comparisons when changing with female friends. In the same vein I confidently show my body to anyone I get jiggy with. 

This may strike a lot of people as unremarkable, but it’s a life changing shift. Immersing myself in the body positive has helped me alter how I think & feel about my body. I’ve gone from yo yo dieting, disordered eating & choosing clothes to specfically hide ‘problem’ areas to being a woman who no longer believes there are any bad body parts. I like me. I like my curves, my wobbly bits & everything else. Body positivity works. Women supporting & encouraging each other moves mountains. So, I owe a big thank you to all of you who read, comment & create fat friendly content. High five, ladies, we’re changing the world. 

I hate you so much right now….

I’m having one of those days when life seems determined to subvert my plans. It is, to say the least, infuriating. So, I thought I would vent my frustrations by having a little bitch about the smaller things that get my goat.

If you’re wearing anything with a wizard on it, you might want to stop skip this bit. I’m afraid when I see an adult reading a Harry Potter book I have to suppress the urge to scream. Those stories are for kids. Read a grown up book. 

Staring. Stop it. It’s just basic manners. I know I’m fat. I know my boobs are enormous. My clothes are weird clothes, but continued looks won’t alter that. Yup, I have scars & piercings & tattoos. Stop gawking. Oh & whilst we’re on the topic quite nudging your mates & whispering too. I see you & it’s rude. Seriously, just stop it. 

  
Carol Vorderman. She’s not a genius. She’s not even likeable. She does morally questionable adverts & her face just annoys me. I don’t have very good reasons for my hatred. I just can’t stand her. No more woman. No more. 

Gin. It’s horrid, but only recently has it made my list. Some marketing dept somewhere clearly decided they needed to make gin cool & man alive have they been successful. It is now almost impossible to find a cocktail that doesn’t have gin lurking in it. Events have gin only bars. Everyone in the bloody world suddenly lists it as their favourite tipple. It’s taking over. Go away gin. I don’t want you.

  

I’m going to wrap this up with my current top level pet hate. Basic bitches. I think my interpretation of this phrase may be slightly different from other folks, so I shall explain. What really winds me up is chicks whose understanding of feminism & womanhood is peripheral. The type of person who doesn’t think trans women are ‘real women’. They love a bit of slut shaming & feel gender roles must be adhered too. This is a girl who conforms, they will  mock anyone who dares to be different. Solidarity is not their watch word. They’re basic & more often than not, they’re bitchy AF. 

  
(I’m amused by this meme because Judy can be basic herself)

Disclaimer : If you’re a gin swilling, Harry Potter loving relative of Carol Vorderman, the majority of this post is just a tongue in cheek rant.