• Feminism

    Dress Rules for Women over 40

    Another summer, another list of rules for women on what they should and shouldn’t wear. From the ‘how to get a bikini body’ articles (top tip – buy a bikini, put it on your body, done!) to this incredibly stupid list of rules for women over 40 years. Here are my dress rules for women over 40. 1. Problem Zones I try to hide my problem zones. This is generally done by throwing a dish towel over the un-washed dinner dishes or shoving the ironing basket into a cupboard when visitors are due. If you have bits of your body that you don’t particularly like (and let’s be honest, most…

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    Feminism

    Inspiring Women – Dum Spiro Spero

    “While I breathe, I hope” This morning Rebecca from Artemis Mindset asked a question on her Facebook Group. Which women inspire you? Inspirational … it’s a word that gets thrown around a lot when it comes to women. To inspire someone is to ‘ exert an animating, enlivening, or exalting influence on‘ them.  Millie Slavidou breaks down the word inspire: in = Latin prefix meaning ‘in’. spire = from Latin spirare meaning ‘breathe’. And suggests that we ‘think of it as a breathing in of ideas, or atmosphere, a filling with the air of imagination’. This was a hard list to write because I was conscious of the women who would not be…

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    Feminism

    Why Facebook & Apple Egg Freezing Won’t Get Women into Tech

      When I linked to an article on Jump! Mag about why Americans wash and refrigerate eggs, a follower on Twitter asked if I was referring to the story about Apple’s egg freezing offer. It seems that Apple and Facebook are offering a perk to women employees. The companies will pay for ‘ocyte-cryptopreservation’, so that their employees can delay having children until later in their careers. According to the Telegraph, the process  “typically costs between $10,000 and $15,000, plus an additional $1,000-a-year to keep the harvested eggs on ice.” What surprised me is that this story is being sold as an amazing way of encouraging women into tech companies. According…

  • Feminism

    Feminism and Motherhood – On Choice, Criticism and Self-Confidence

    The organisers of Mumsnet Blogfest set the question, ‘Can Feminists be Mummybloggers’ at a rather volatile panel discussion yesterday. I won’t say much about the events of yesterday, as I didn’t attend, but did want to look at the feminism and motherhood issue. If you want to read a bit of the background, you can find a list of blogs on Louise’s post on this matter.  This post is going to be a game of two halves, and if you like football, do follow the shameless plug to find out about Jump! Mag‘s search for an aspiring journalist to cover the UEFA U17 Women’s Championship Finals.    An event such…

  • Feminism

    Volkswagen Small But Tough Girl vs Barclay Precious Pink Girl

    No, Barclays. This is NOT how I see my daughter’s relationship with her father.       I have been known to throw things at the TV when that advert comes on. As this blogger notes, ‘Unconditional Love’ does not mean raising selfish kids. We may give up sleeping through the night and drinking tea while it is hot, at least for the first few years, but we draw the line at giving up our entire lives for our kids It is no sacrifice, the changes that we have made since becoming parents. It is being part of a family, and making compromises to ensure that everyone in the family…

  • Feminism

    Mary Robinson Everybody Matters

    When Mary Robinson speaks, people listen.  Not because she is the former President of Ireland, and the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, but because she is an inspiring and compelling woman.    My ten year old daughter and I went to hear her give the Christmas Lecture at Dundee University this weekend, and were not in the least disappointed. I had heard Mary talk at the London Summit of Family Planning earlier this year, when her speech was sadly cut short as she had a plane to catch. The scent of mulled wine and a sense of anticipation filled the air of the foyer when we arrived. As the…

  • Feminism

    Avoid The Knife – FGM in Kenya

        I met Vivian in Nairobi. We were told that we were to meet a young woman who had narrowly escaped Female Genital Circumcision (FGM), a practice that is barbaric and abusive. She had escaped being cut, not because of the intervention of Western aid workers or other incomers to her rural Kenyan community, but because her parents forbade it. The Luo community, to which Vivian and her parents belong do not practice FGM, but she grew up in a Kuria community where girls are cut. It is seen as a rite of passage,  which most girls eagerly anticipate . When Vivian’s parents refused permission for her to be cut,…

  • Feminism

    Four Born Every Second – Saving Lives of Women and Children

    Numbers are funny things, aren’t they? 287,000 If I said a house I bought a house in London  that cost £287,000, then you would know that it was not a particularly posh area of the city. If I said I earned a bonus of £287,000 last year, you would think I was a high powered executive (sadly, these two examples are not true) If I said that Mumsnet clocked up 287,000 page views in around 5 hours, you would imagine that it was quite a popular and influential website   How about this statistic: Around 287,000 women die every year from pregnancy related causes. Most of these deaths are preventable,…

  • Feminism

    Asda Christmas Ad – MartyrMum Strikes Again

    I am flabbergasted at Asda’s Christmas ad.   There are people in this country who sat down, thought up this ad, presented it to another group of people, one or several of whom said, ‘I love it, darling!’ and then went on to produce it and put it on national TV. Did no one think, ‘Hey, hang on. Isn’t this a bit sexist?’. And bloody insulting to men.   I have a massive problem with crap ads that show MartyrMum doing everything to make Xmas special. Dad is relegated to helping to carry the Xmas tree (cause of course silly Mum can’t be expected to know that the tree won’t…

  • Feminism

    Feminism Is Over … Say Women

    ‘Feminism is over … say women’    Wow. That is a snappy headline. The alternative headline, “Feminism is over according a small sample of mothers on a parenting website that doesn’t really ‘do’ feminism” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, but would be more accurate.        FEMINISM IS OVER… SAY WOMEN – Daily Express   FEMINISM in the modern world is viewed as outdated and aggressive and is being shunned by women, research has found. One in seven would describe themselves as a feminist with many believing they have achieved equality with men on issues like fair pay and skills.They believe single mother turned multi-millionaire author…

  • Feminism

    The Cult of Motherhood

    What does the phrase ‘the cult of motherhood’ mean to you? Nora Heyson  It came to me this morning during an interesting discussion on Twitter about being a mother. I have storified it, so you can see the whole exchange, rather than just the quote later in the blog.    The discussion started when we were talking about the excellent article by Rowan Davies in the Guardian about ‘Yummymummy Hate’.  Now, anyone who has been following my blog for a while will know that ‘yummymummy’ is a term that makes me narrow my eyes and grit my teeth. I hate it for its twee-ness, for the assumption that mummies must…

  • Feminism

    The Signs of Controlling Behaviour – Red Flags and How to Spot Them

    If we were able to teach young people to recognise the signs of controlling behaviour, the ‘red flags’, would we be able to protect them from abusive relationships? If we were to teach children in schools how to spot a controlling person, would be help save them from misery and self-doubt? If we talk openly with friends about the ‘red flags’ would they recognise their own relationships and find the strength to walk away? I hope so. For this reason, I am writing two blog posts today. One for adults, here on this blog, and one for tweens and teens on Jump! Mag When writing for kids, I am very concious of…

  • Feminism

    The Family Planning Summit London 2012 – More Than Statistics and Soundbites

    The Family Planning Summit of 2012 took place in London today. A stones throw from the UK Houses of Parliament, world leaders, activists and health care workers and providers gather together to put Family Planning back on table in developing countries around the globe.     Melinda Gates began by calling it ‘an important milestone in the history of Family Planning’. In Ban Ki-Moon’s pre-recorded video address he expressed the wish that ‘no child should be born unwanted, and no woman should die needlessly in childbirth’. There followed a lot of speeches by ministers of various countries, expressing their commitment to the cause.  Speeches filled with statistics and soundbites. ‘One in three…

  • Feminism

    Family Planning in Kenya – A Tale of Two Women

    This week I will be blogging from the London Summit on Family Planning, organised by the UK government and the Gates Foundation. The ambitious aim is to provide family planning methods to an additional 120 million women worldwide by 2020. I have already blogged at length about this, so will simply give you all an impression of what this means for two  of the women I met on my recent trip to Kenya. Miriam is 32 years old and was at the Marura Village Dispensary in Laikipia District with her 3 month old son, Peter. She already has five girls at home and is struggling to keep them in school.…

  • Feminism

    Oi! P&G. THIS is how to advertise to women

    Ok, before I start, I have to say that I know this is advertising. I am aware that Nike are trying to sell me their brand and they are cynically tugging at my heartstrings to do so. BUT at least the message is better than the P&G Sponsors of Moms advertising that I ranted about earlier this year. Advertisers should take note that women are not all mums and those of us who are mums don’t all define ourselves by our “status” as a mother. I am a mother by an accident of reproductive luck. It is not something that requires particular skill. I just got lucky. It does not…

  • Feminism

    Living (HIV) Positively

    Jasinta lives with the knowledge that she has HIV. She was diagnosed in 2009 but kept it a secret, even from her husband. ‘I lived in stigma and denial’, she told me. The stigma of HIV is a big problem here in Kenya. Newly diagnosed patients find that their neighbours and friends turn away from them and their customers shun their businesses. It is a lonely life for many Kenyans with HIV. When she discovered she was pregnant, a year after her her diagnosis, she went to the local health clinic. She was lucky that the clinic she visited was one that offered a support group for mothers with HIV. She…

  • Feminism

    Introducing JUMP! Mag For Girls

    It is done. The online magazine for pre-teen girls Jump! has launched.       It has been a great experience, I have met fantastically talented writers and learnt lots about setting up and designing a (very basic)  website, logo design and other technical stuff that I admit to being Not Very Good At. If Jump! takes off, I will certainly need help with that. For now, it is being read and shared, and that it immensely satisfying. For me and for the wide range of contributors who are giving up their time and talent to bring something new and exciting for girls.   Do have a look, let me…

  • Feminism

    Who Will Believe Me, If I Don’t Believe Myself – Kelly’s Story

    Kelly contacted me to ask if I would tell her story. She has never told anyone before. I believe you, Kelly.     (TRIGGER WARNING)     As a completely naive and rather lonely 16 year old I was invited to a boys house for dinner. I was spotty, had zero self confidence and was really rather delighted to be asked to such a grown up affair – the boy was in my year. I did not really know him. The week before I had kissed him at the only party I had ever been to and I was so shy I had got drunk to share my first kiss with him.…

  • Feminism

    Who Will Believe Me, If I Don’t Even Believe Myself – Part 2 – Gwen’s Story

    The last post seemed to have touched a nerve. Already, within a few hours of posting it, I have had two emails from readers with similar stories. Their tales are heart rending, and rage inducing. And very thought provoking. How many women have a “sexual encounter” in their past that they have put chalked up to naivety and inexperience, or to a bad decision? How many of us look back and think, “Actually, that was not  a consensual encounter. He *knew* I did not want sex”, but at the time were pressured into it. How many were made to feel guilty, that they had led him on? How many were taken…

  • Feminism

    Who Will Believe Me If I Don’t Even Believe Myself – A Guest Post

    (Trigger Warning)   During the discussions on Mumsnet over the past few weeks, as the #WeBelieveYou campaign got under way, many many women posted their story online. Some of them were telling their story for the very first time, while others had talked to friends and family, or seen a rape counsellor. Some were still scared and wary of starting a new relationship, others were happily married or co-habiting. Every story is different, and every story deserves to be heard and to be believed. Many women have returned to say that being told “I believe you” has helped them immensely. Tears have been shed, on both sides of the computer screen,…

  • Feminism

    Mary’s Story – We Believe You

    Mary was just 23 years old when she met the man who would caused her so much pain. A rapist. An abusive man who later admitted that he sought out vulnerable women who he could dominate. Her story was featured in the Independent this week. This is a longer version of the events that unfolded after that first meeting between her and her husband. With this, I end my week of blogging for the Mumsnet #WeBelieveYou Rape awareness campaign. If this and my other Rape Survivor posts show us anything, it is how resiliant and brave women can be. How they CAN escape abusive relationships, if given the support and…

  • Feminism

    A Survivor’s Story – We Believe You

      This interview with a domestic abuse and rape survivor shows the importance of the Mumsnet We Believe You campaign. Read the posts of other bloggers and rape survivors on our blog hop, follow the discussion on Talk and join in the chat on Twitter, using #WeBelieveYou  (Trigger Warning) How did you meet your ex? What attracted you to him? I met him on a night out.  His friend approached me on his behalf and forced an introduction. I wasn’t at all physically attracted to him but he had a gentle voice and a kind of vulnerability about him. I remember thinking that he seemed gormless ;-).  He told me he…

  • Feminism

    MYTH: Rape Can’t Take Place In an Ongoing Relationship

    MYTH: Rape can’t take place in an ongoing relationship   It has not been so very long since women stopped promising to “love, honour and obey” their husbands. All of my friends replaced “obey” with “respect”. The idea that the man, whether joined in matrimony or co-habiting, in any way owns or commands his partner, is now seen as terribly old fashioned. Changing the attitudes of men, their behaviour towards their partners is sometimes more difficult than swapping one word for another in a 30 minute ceremony that forms such a short part of the couple’s life together. Obey – to obey a person is to hand over power to…

  • Feminism

    A Guest Post – We Believe You

    This is a guest post. The writer wishes to remain anonymous. The saddest thing about this story, is that she thinks that many would not empathise with her situation. I certainly did, and I suspect there are few who would not.     (pic credit)     I’d like to start by saying I never intended on becoming The Other Woman. I met P at my new job in Paris. We shared an office, and were both in relationships. There was a spark, and a few weeks after meeting we made a pact to break it off with our other halves, and start a new life together. I kept my…

  • Feminism

    We BelieveYou – Mumsnet Rape Campaign

    I was about 16 years old, already interested in politics and current affairs. I read newspaper articles, debated politics in school and with friends.  I had read about rape, I knew what it meant but one day I realised something new about this awful crime. When Mumsnet asked me to blog about their rape campaign, I thought back to that moment of realisation.       My friend J was babysitting for a young couple who lived nearby. They had gone out for the evening and left J in charge of their two children. Late that evening, J phoned me.”Hi, it is J. Something really awful just happened. You know…

  • Feminism

    Happy International Women’s Day

    Traditionally in Germany, the women take over the country on Weiberfastnacht – the last Thursday before Lent. As part of the Karneval celebrations, this day is the official start of the carousing. Our first year in Düsseldorf, I was amazed to see a grown man dressed as a teddy bear buying rolls in the baker at 7am. On my way home, I saw other adults in fancy dress, all heading for the train station to go into the town centre for the 11.11am kick off. The women storm the town halls – literally, using ladders – and cut of the ties of any men they meet to symbolise taking the…

  • Feminism

    Seeking Contributors For Pre-Teen Blog for Girls – No Fluffy Kittens or Pink Glitter

    In a supermarket recently, my kids asked if they could have a comic. We headed for the newspaper stands and they browsed for a while but my daughter found it really difficult to choose one. She remarked that she was sometimes a girly girl but sometimes a tomboy too and the girl comics were all about make up and boys, horses and cats. Nothing against cute pictures of cats, but after 5 minutes of looking at them, what was she supposed to do? The articles are generally boring and not terribly well written. Who decided that all pre-teen girls are only interested in fluff like that? I think that they…

  • Feminism

    Quotas For Women – For or Against?

    Quotas for women – a vital step towards equality or demeaning and patronising?   It is something that I was thinking about last week. Are we doing ourselves a favour when we insist on quotas for women, whether in the workplace, in politics, or in education. In this article from the Independent, Helena Morrissey argues that the impetuous from companies themselves, and the investors are more important than quotas set by governments or the EU. The attitudes of employers need to change, and this will not happen overnight. Recently a friend told me that her boss had remarked that it was good that she was a woman, because they wanted…

  • Feminism

    Waxing Children – Bannatyne vs Mumsnet

    When is an acceptable age to allow your daughter to wax? And would you take her to a salon to have this done? Tricky question, and one I have been pondering this morning since reading on Twitter that Duncan Bannatyne has taken umbrage at the comments made by Mumsnet founder Justine Roberts, about his spa offering waxing to 13 year old girls. Linking to the article in the Daily Star, Bannatyne posted   I am disgusted to see Mumsnet founder Justine Roberts saying mothers should not have individual choice of how to bring up daughters   What Justine actually said was   You’d hope there’d be a longer period of…

  • Feminism

    Sponsors Of Mums

    It is not often that a multinational company so misjudges their advertising audience as Proctor and Gamble has with their “Sponsors of Mums” campaign. Maybe it is just me, but their ad makes me want to throw things at the TV. The dog goes into hiding when she hears the advert start as she knows that I will be shouting before long. If you haven’t seen it, it is part of P&G’s Olympic advertising campaign. Info here   We are informed: “For 80 years in the UK and more than 170 years around the world, Mums have been our boss at P&G. They’ve driven our product innovation and they’ve led…