I Was A Shitty Feminist Once (and sometimes I still am)

In the words of Usher, this is my confession.

usher
I used to be that girl. The girl who said she wasn’t like other girls. The girl who looked down on women who wore heels and short skirts, who weren’t into getting sweaty at punk gigs, the girl who talked about how much drama other girls were and how judgemental they were while in reality I was the judgemental one. So first up, I’m really fucking sorry. To everyone.

When I first started getting into feminism my idea of feminism was still incredibly exclusive, the phrase not all men have definitely fallen from my lips at some point, I hated on girls that “friend zoned” my male friends and it basically came with a healthy dose of superiority because of how aware and learned I was (wasn’t) compared to other women. Basically I was an entitled cunt with a few shitty articles I had read in Sociology A level ready to bust out whenever anyone argued with me.

And then I heard about intersectionality, something I hadn’t heard of or even thought of before. Being an incredibly priveleged white, cis, het female it took me a long time to realise that not every woman’s experience was the same as mine and that fighting for me also meant fighting for all women and people who identified as such. Intersectionality is so fucking important, to be able to be an ally to every woman means recognising your own privilege and knowing when is the right time to get angry and shout and when to shut the fuck up and listen.

And I still fuck up. A lot. I still post things for people to then call them out, and I still feel hurt when they do. But only for a second until I realise that feeling uncomfortable is absolutely a necessary part of learning. It can be hard to empathise with a situation or experience when it is not your own but instead of being defensive listen to those who have experienced it, take on board what they are saying, perhaps read more from people who have experienced it too, internalise it, move on.

So this was my confession, but it is now your invitation, to keep calling me out, to keep telling me I’m wrong and if you wish to help me develop my feminism into something that includes everyone.

Breast Is Best….But Only If You Don’t Do It Publicly

Last week Samantha Faeirs of The Only Way is Essex fame went on This Morning, not exactly something I would normally take notice of, let alone write a blog post about but afterwards social media was in absolute uproar. Why, you ask? Because she had the audacity to breastfeed her child on national tv. Quelle horreur. 
Sometimes I wonder if I’m maybe a little naive, or too ready to assume people are inherently good, when I first heard about it I thought it was awesome but pretty unremarkable, a woman and her child were being interviewed, child got hungry, woman fed child. No biggy, right? But the fall out was absolutely huge, from the “breasts are used in sex and I am incapable of separating that from their ability to produce food for infants” brigade who were utterly shocked and appalled that a hint of a woman’s unmentionables be shown on tv (despite her using a breastfeeding cover) to the people suggesting that she was doing it for “attention”.
Sadly I saw this idea banded about more than once and even by other mothers. I’m not ignorant enough to have not foreseen the other argument but this one really shocked and confused me. First off breastfeeding is hard, really fucking hard. Feeding a baby that wants to be fed is hard enough, feeding one that doesn’t so you can gain “attention” from it? Impossible. Secondly, why would she want attention, and what attention would she gain from feeding her baby? One particularly irksome comment I saw said that she was doing it as an excuse to get her boobs out on tv, as if all women have some inate desire to be nothing but a sexual object made to satisfy the male gaze. 
The Equality Act of 2010 covers negative language used against breastfeeding women as an act of discrimination. This is to protect women, like Sam, from exactly this kind of backlash for breastfeeding in public places, but because she is a reality TV star suddenly people think it’s ok to spout vile abuse about her. There seems to be almost a fashion of hating female reality TV personalities and it’s so apparent when stuff like this happens, as if being in the public eye makes them immune to the barrage of misogynistic abuse that they get. 
As a formula feeding mother I have dealt with people telling me that breast is best, or that I am not giving my child the best start in life but never been subjected to comments as perverse as the ones I hear about mothers who breastfeed. And that’s out of the public eye, put it on TV and everyone’s opinions suddenly become amplified due to the dehumanisation of the woman involved. We, as mothers, and as women simply can’t fucking win.
Sam’s kid was hungry. Sam fed her kid in the way she had decided was best for them. Why can’t it just be as simple as that?

Lush Products for Pregnancy and Early Mamahood

I’ve been asked a few times what Lush products I used during pregnancy and so I thought I would do a bit of a guide, some of these absolutely saved me, or at least made me a little less grumpy for a while, so hopefully I can help put a smile on your face too.
Avoid


First up there is one product you need to avoid, especially before you’re full term. That’s the Sex Bomb bath bomb as the mix of Jasmine and Clary Sage is known to induce labour. On the plus side I used two in one bath when I was 8 days overdue with Luna and went into labour the next day. Obviously it could be a coincidence but having a bath sure beats bouncing on a yoga ball while simultaneously eating a vindaloo and enough pineapple to kill a small mammal!

Stretch Marks

Aint nothin’ wrong with stretch marks, but I ended up looking like a highly detailed AA road map and wanted to try and lessen the damage. Therapy massage bar has neroli oil in it which gets down to the lower dermis repairing skin from within so is great for stretch marks and scarring. It hasn’t got rid of my stretch marks entirely (they’re a genetic thing, nothing can stop them) but it has faded them significantly and made them way less purple. The cutest thing about this bar is the 3 dimples and one nobble (technical term) on the top representing the 1 in 4 babies with an outie belly button.

All massage bars have a base of cocoa butter and Shea butter too so are mega moisturising and this one has orange oil so is a lovely, uplifting fragrance as well as the serotonin boosting effects of the neroli oil. Bonus points if you can pin someone down for long enough wo give you a cheeky little back rub with it too.

Sore feet

I worked behind a bar on my feet when I was pregnant so painful feet was absolutely THE most annoying symptom for me. They were constantly hot, swollen and incredibly painful. But luckily I found a product that pretty much saved me from chopping my own feet off Saw style.

Volcano foot mask has tons of mint in it. Mint is endo/exothermic which means if your skins hot it cools it down, if it’s warm it heats it up. Slather it on, cling film it (because if you’re anything like me you’ve left your brew in another room and don’t want to traipse it all over your nice, clean….well,relatively clean….carpet) and let it sit for as long as you want. Warning: it tingles, but in an ‘oh my god my feet don’t feel like the surface of the sun for once’ type of way. This mask also has pumice in to give your feet a good scrub and has antibacterial, anti fungal, anti all the gross stuff that feet do properties.


Pink Peppermint foot lotion also has similar ingredients to Volcano so is an extra boost of all that goodness when you don’t have time to do a full mask. It also has arnica in it which is traditionally used for bruising so is super awesome for taking down swelling and has a slight anaesthetic to it. Sweet sweeeet anaesthetic.

Dry, itchy skin

This was another absolute bug bear of mine. I swear in every bump shot I took there’s a hand, just out of shot, scratching the living hell out of my skin. I’m pretty sure 9 month of non-stop itchiness is some kind of psychological torture. Anyway, there’s a couple of products that can really help ease that itchiness, even if just for a while.

So let’s wind down a bit, have a long relaxing bath while also making our skin reflect our inner goddess rather than our outer crocodile.

Butterball bath bomb is the little white one, nestling in almost incognito between all the bright coloured, in-yer-face show ponies. But he’s smug as all hell because he knows he doesn’t need to be flashy to be one of the best bath bombs in town. Butterball is packed FULL of cocoa butter and is so skin softening I can’t even describe it. I feel like a cloud with legs whenever I use it. It also has quite a sweet white chocolate kinda scent to it. Yum. Which means you HAVE to eat chocolate while using it. It’s the law or something.


Ceridwens Cauldron is a bath melt. It’s got tons of oatmeal and rose oil in it as well as cocoa butter which is incredible for soothing and restoring the skin. This product is made for people with eczema and psoriasis so it’s hella gentle. It also turns your bath a lovely milky colour so you can splash around pretending to be a heavily pregnant Cleopatra while demanding people fan you with papyrus leaves and feed you grapes. Just don’t start crushing beetles and using them as lipstick, ya big weirdo.

Again, a product suitable for people with eczema and psoriasis, Dream Cream is totally perfect for easily irritated preggo skin. The main ingredients are olive oil and oatmeal so very impactful moisturising while restoring the skin with all the goodness it needs. I could go on and on about how amazing this product is, but Google reviews…. They’re amazing… And do all the hard work for me! The whole company sold out of it for weeks on the back of one of them it’s THAT amazing. You can get two types in store, normal and self preserving, SP just means that it has no chemical preservatives as water has been taken out and the glycerine and olive oil quantities have gone up. I prefer the SP as the texture feels more luxurious but both are fab and do the same thing.


After baby!

I only managed to breastfeed Luna for a little while but my main memory THE PAIN, oh Lordy, my poor, shredded nips. Ultrabalm is an all-purpose balm that works amazingly as a nipple cream it has candelia wax (a kind of vegan alternative to beeswax), rose wax and jojoba oil in it…and that’s it. It gives instant relief to your sore bits and then you can use it on your lips, elbows and chafe-y bits too!


Ickle Baby Bot

Had to end on this cos it’s JUST SO CUTE. It’s a little bath bomb suitable from 6 months old. It has calamine and chammomile blue (or chammomile and calamine blue, i always get those mixed up) so is super gentle on baby skin and has a baby talc scent to it. ALSO IT’S A ROBOT.


Remember, the Lush website is super helpful and has ingredients lists, sourcing info and will let you know if things are vegan and if you go instore staff are always mega helpful (seriously let us chat about how much we love the products and we will love you forever) so always ask if there’s anything you’re unsure of!

Are Snapchat Filters Deceitful?

I’m not saying that cavemen looked at cave drawings and discussed how the self portraits of women made them look, thinner, prettier or more put together than they were, but, I mean, it’s possible.
It feels like a tale as old as the Internet itself, if not older, woman posts a picture of themselves feeling hot, sassy and powerful and someone has to come along and chip in with their opinion. Their make up is deceiving, the angle makes them look different, it’s over filtered and not a realistic representation of the person. And it’s true, we present the best possible version of ourself online and off, but I fail to see why that is a negative thing. It’s very easy to feel awful about yourself so why do we chastise others for doing whatever it takes to feel good?
Snapchat filters have made this argument more prevalent than ever, from dog ears to eye colour changes, to gold fucking butterflies surrounding your head, snapchat filters are not only something fun to play with but a powerful tool on the route to self love. If you feel like a sass queen ready to take on the world because you have a flower crown super-imposed on your head then so be it. You do you, honey. But the fall out of these has been huge. All you have to do is search “deceiving filters” on Twitter and you’ll see a barrage of hate towards people, mainly women, who use them, mainly revolving around the idea that women shouldn’t make themselves look “more attractive” than they are because those poor men could be tricked into being sexually attracted to them. Because, obviously, that is a woman’s main aim, always. The ones I have featured in the photo above are a very, very small portion of the ones I’ve seen, and they’re not just coming from men but women too.
Not only are people ragging on people for making themselves “more attractive”, as if accentuating your beauty is something to be looked down on, but now your choice of filter leaves you open to slut shaming. The dog filter has been nicknamed the “#hoefilter” (seriously, check that hashtag on Twitter or Instagram and try not to go into a murderous rage) as if adding dog ears and nose defines you and your sexual exploits, as if calling someone degrading names for sleeping with a lot of people isn’t bad enough, applying those terms to something that couldn’t be FURTHER REMOVED from your sexual prowess is pure ridiculousness.
“Filters are deceitful and make you look like something you’re not”

So are mirrors, mother fuckers, and social norms, and all the voices inside your head telling you you’re unworthy, fat and not good enough.

I choose to listen to the filters.

Guest Post – Celebrate Women For Their Sporting Acheivements Not Their Bodies

Like many people on Facebook, when I have nothing to do I aimlessly scroll through the newsfeed to occupy time. However, recently I came across a video which really pissed me off. It was a short one minute and thirty second video of a clearly a passion driven women’s netball team playing a match. The caption of this video was “Now I have a reason to watch this sport.” So I clicked on it to watch and was hoping to see some bad ass women in sport action, but as is often the case with women and sport this wasn’t the case. The entirety of the video was focused on the body of a singular petite, beautiful woman rather than her talent at playing this sport. 

Throughout the video, there were shots of the camera being zoomed in on her body in her tight uniform, mainly being around her butt, face and chest area as she was playing the match- which of course included her jumping around and falling to the ground, all of which the camera took an opportunity to zoom into the certain areas of her body. 

So naturally, this infuriated me. The fact that a woman playing sports is only ‘worth watching’ if she’s wearing a skimpy outfit and how some people who were watching were paying more attention to her ass and boobs rather than her playing the game.

 Scrolling through the comments just pissed me off even more. It was mostly men commenting on her body and what they would do to it, but one comment stood out. It was another woman saying how we should stop objectifying this woman and focus on the athletic ability and skill this woman had, which I agreed with. But, the replies to her were once again males telling her to “shut the fuck up” and “just because you don’t have an ass like hers”.

Women are already not being taken as seriously as men in sport. Just look at women in football, with England Captain for the Women’s team Steph Houghton being paid a mere £65,000 salary compared to male Premier League players being payed up to 1.7 million. Even powerful women in the sports world such as Serena Williams get more attention for how she looks rather than the fact she is ranked No. 1 in Women’s Singles Tennis- but no, people would rather focus on the idea that she “looks like a man”, as if they can justify her success by focusing on “masculine” traits.

Google “women’s beach volleyball”, seriously, do it. I just did and all of the top hits were articles about the best butts in beach volleyball. (See photo). To see an entire sport belittled like this is shocking, but not at all surprising.

I am so sick of this shit where women are only deemed important in sport or ‘worth watching’ if they are attractive or have a ‘good body’. We need to stop objectifying women especially in sport, these women wear ‘tight’ clothing because they are doing EXERCISE. They are going to SWEAT and get HOT. They are wearing specifically designed sports clothing to help them deal with that, NOT to please certain male members of the audience. Do you really think these powerful, talented, and skilled women have worked and trained for years to be deemed ‘worth watching’ by a man if they’re attractive in their sports wear? 

We need to empower the young girls who play sport and who enjoy it to carry on with it, it’s far too often we see young girls, especially in high school drop out of sports teams because it’s considered to be to ‘manly’ for them. Let’s encourage girls to carry on because it’s time now to start taking skilled, athletic women seriously and not just because they have a tight arse in some ‘skimpy’ shorts.

My body’s worth is not determined by it’s ability to produce children

My body has changed a LOT since I’ve had Luna. I went from a size 10 to a size 14/16, from no boobs to bazukas and from a nearly flat stomach to a c section, capital B shaped overhang. But I’m kind of ok with that. This picture is probably the best way of showing just how much it’s changed, these are my pre baby bikini bottoms and there’s no way these hips and ass are ever getting back into them! 

The last year or so my body confidence has improved dramatically. I realise now that constantly striving to be a bit thinner, a bit more toned a bit more “perfect” was destroying me mentally and my relationship with my body changed dramatically.

I still have bad days, I don’t think anyone in the world doesn’t. I’d be lying if I said I loved what I see in the mirror every day or didn’t have days when I would love to be able to chop off the excess chub and say goodbye to it for ever, but on the whole, I’m happy. I’m very open about my long and winding journey to self love and sometimes post on social media about my feelings toward my body and self. Every time I do I get told that my body has made a human and therefore it is wonderful, and although I hugely appreciate the sentiment I can’t help but give a secret eye roll every time and here’s why.

My body is wonderful. Period. There needs be no end to that sentence. Not only do I feel like that idea takes away my individuality as a human and lumps me under the label “mother” I can’t help but think of the people reading it who have not had children, through choice or otherwise, who may read it as they’re bodies are anything less than amazing as a result. Which is NOT true, all bodies are fucking fabulous. Period.

Teach them self-love

When I first had Luna I was a ball of self doubt. Before having her I literally hadn’t even held a new born before, I had no idea what I was doing and spent most of my pregnancy terrified that they would put her in my arms, leave me and I wouldn’t have a clue what to do with myself or her. And although to a degree that was true and the first few weeks of her life involved me in a constant state of panic, googling manically and calling my mum every time she made a noise I slowly learned to trust my instincts. 

As I got more into the swing of things I realised that actually the less stressed about being “perfect” I was the more I enjoyed being Luna’s mum and the happier and more settled she was too. Instincts are powerful, powerful things and I’ve started to truly believe that in some ways we end up with the baby we should have. That are souls are so intrisically linked that we just know what is best for them. I can feel the weight of dozens of eye rolls at my hippy bullshit and if someone had said that to me before I had her I probably would have laughed in their face, but something about growing a human for 9 months makes them forever linked to you.

This approach has made me feel way more confident about my parenting choices and also in my faith that I can lead her down the right path into being an empowered, strong and confident woman, which, fundamentally is all I want from her.

But tonight, while pondering her future, as I often do, I suddenly realised that the day may come that she doesn’t see her self the way I do, that she may look in the mirror and not see the incredible creature I see and instead see her own insecurities and that almost moved me to the point of tears (tell anyone I nearly had an emotion and I may have to kill you).I can be as secure as I want in the things that I can control, but there are still so many outside influences that could affect her and that’s so scary. I know that growing up I had serious struggles with body dysmorphia, I had an eating disorder, was bullied and found it incredibly hard to find anything to love about myself. That has changed a lot as I have got older but the idea that Luna could have a similar experience is one I completely dread.

We all know how hard it is growing up in a society that focuses so heavily on ideals of beauty, we are force fed an ideal to strive toward from the moment we wake up to the moment we go to sleep, advertising is made to make us feel shitty about ourselves so that we buy products in the vain hope that it will make us feel better. 

I know that I can not protect Luna from these things forever and that she will inevitably have insecurities, I can’t keep her in a bubble away from the media, advertising and even friends at school so I feel like my job is to make her as strong and hardy as possible so as little of the negativity is internalized as possible.

Every day I try to tell her not only that she is beautiful but that she is hard working, talented and strong. I shower her in love and affection, although step back if she doesn’t want it, and try not to show my frustrations too heavily. Instead of telling her off when she is “naughty” I try to explain things gently and allow her to be a child and make mistakes. By doing this I hope that she grows up aware that she is loved, but not smothered, supported but allowed to form her own opinions, educated but not instructed. I want her to internalize that she can be a headstrong, emotional person, that she can be demanding and stand up for herself as long as she is empathetic, humble and polite too. That she is beautiful inside and out and sometimes it’s ok to shout “fuck you” at the people that tell you differently.

Theresa May is NOT a feminist icon

So now that Leadsom is out of the race its a pretty safe bet that Theresa May is going to be our next prime minister. In the last few weeks I have had a few people imply that I should be happy that a woman is going to be in a position in power, and although I would normally be screaming and jumping, shouting “yasss kween” and lamenting about smashed glass ceilings the truth is that Theresa May coming into power is going to be nothing but a step BACK for feminism.

Theresa May is a right wing politician no matter her sex, and however she wants to try and spin it right wingers do NOT have the interests of the marginalised at heart. My personal belief is that having a female leader of the Tory party is an attempt at a smoke screen, with them thinking by putting a female face on their policies that they can appeal to a wider range of people and thus gain even more control by making people believe that they are being represented and that there has been changes in the party when in reality nothing has changed at all and the white, middle class, hetero male will still thrive.
Through Theresa May’s right wing immigration policies women have been deported and forced to flea violence and rape. She also voted to cut abortion rights, causing women to have to be questioned about their motives to abort and, on occassion refused, meaning women are either having to have children they do not want or having to put themselves in considerable harm doing it illegally. Seperately, she is very loud and proud about having voted for same sex marriage to be legalised but voted for the age of consent in homosexual relationships to stay at 18 rather than 16 in heterosexual relationships. She also voted for benefits cuts which will hit single mothers the hardest.

So, although, at the top this looks like a massive stride for gender equality I very much doubt that this will trickle down to ground level. We still need to fight “the man” but sometimes the man can be a woman.

Mama-ing without mama

image

First up, I’d like to say how fucking lucky I was to have my mum for 28 years of my life and the first year of Luna’s. She was an absolute rock in so many ways, and I know many, many people who didn’t even have that, so I will always be thankful for that.

BUT, no matter how much of a positive spin I try and put on things not having my mum around anymore SUCKS. And it sucks on so many levels and for so many reasons but today I’m going to talk about why bringing up Luna without my mums influence sucks.

There are many reasons why women may find themselves bringing up a child without the support of their mother, it could be distance, a bad relationship between them, or as in my case, their mother could have passed away. But, for whatever reason, that nurturing bond is no longer there. I think, throughout your journey into motherhood the person you wish to talk to the most is the person who brought you up. The person with whom you have the bond that you would like to create with your child already. Not only is it instinctual but it is an image that is thrown into our faces throughout the media constantly, new grandparents rushing to be at their daughters side straight after she gives birth, mother and daughter chatting over a cup of tea while the new baby naps, calling mum for parenting advice when child is throwing a tantrum. But for a lot of people those images are not a reality.

Like I have said before I was lucky enough to have my mum around when Luna was small, and we had cultivated an incredibly good relationship by then, after years of pigheaded teenage rebellion. So I got a taste of the picture perfect bond created by our newly shared motherhood. And it was great. Here was someone who was genuinely as enthralled by every new development that Luna made, who settled my nerves when I felt like everything I was doing was wrong, who was a shoulder to cry on when I felt that I was losing my identity and becoming someone I could not recognise. It was a time where we grew closer and closer because of our increased empathy of each others positions.

And then it was gone. Like that. Not only was I grieving the person who brought me up but I was grieving the person who was helping me to bring up my child. Very few of my pre-Luna friends had children, I had not really found any mama friends I could confide in and my lifeline to normality had been snatched away.

It made me hyper-aware of how hard it must be for all new mums without their own mums as a role model to look up to. And obviously I didn’t agree with every single thing my mum did when I was growing up and I wouldn’t do things in exactly the way that she would, but having a guideline and a voice of experience had made everything a hell of a lot easier.

Not having that voice on the end of the phone with very genuine enthusiasm and interest in the fact that Luna had nearly rolled over but hadn’t quite, or who could calm me when the lack of sleep was driving me crazy, or I could moan about my partner to without judgement made early motherhood, a time that can be terrifying and isolating and alienating at the best of times, even scarier, and harder and the feeling that I was going in blind and completely ill equipped intensified.

Through this I learnt the importance of having “mama friends”, friends who are awesome, strong, empowering people who just so happen to be mums themselves. Although they do not take away from the friends I have that don’t have kids (who are all awesome too) having the perspective of someone who has had similar experiences to you, who you can laugh at all the stupid things kids do, who understand the excitement of every developmental step will never replace having my mum, but, at least in this small area, help to elleviate some of the pain and loneliness mama-ing without mama causes.

Brexit and Women’s Rights

I’ll be honest, before the referendum was announced the only thoughts I had on the EU was that it made going on holiday easier. I honestly didn’t know much more about it than that! But recently my circumstances have changed, what with having a child and my transition to full raging feminist status so I decided to really research what leaving the EU would mean for me, my daughter’s future and wider society. 
The thing that really shocked me the most is how many laws and acts that we take for granted are regulated by them, when I had assumed they had been brought in by our government. Although there are vast, vast amounts of these I really want to focus on the ways they could effect women, and even more specifically, mums. 

The EU have brought in regulations regarding there being equal pay for jobs of equal value. Before this the idea of equal pay in the same position in the same field existed, however as men and women were socialised into having different jobs this made no massive difference and women still went home with a significant amount less than men. Obviously, this still isn’t perfect and the wage gap still exists but it has worked towards levelling the playing field a bit with people with the same skill set being able to get equal pay, for example cleaners and refuse collectors and speech therapists and clinical psychologists.
The EU also recognises that part time workers having less rights is indirect sex discrimination. Women tend to be in PT positions more than men, often due to child care restrictions. Because of the EU 400,000 women got work place pensions and pro rata benefits for the first time.
The EU also made giant strides for pregnant women and mothers. Paid time off for antenatal appointments, a minimum pay for maternity leave and jobs having to hold positions for women on maternity leave are all because of them. As well as employers having a duty of care for pregnant or breastfeeding women, giving them the right to pump in private at work. 
I’m not saying that these rights necessarily WILL change if we leave the EU but knowing that they COULD change is scary enough. I believe that when it comes to progression against any form of discrimination that multiple heads are better than one, and without the EU we are relying on the experiences of a middle aged, middle class, predominantly white, predominantly male government to represent us and that is genuinely terrifying.