Not your typical holiday post

Hello blog. It’s been a while.

Disclaimer: this post could go anywhere. I’m out of practice.

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I’ve been determined to feature the boys faces less on here (with E starting school this September it feels right to respect his privacy more) but we’ve just come back from a little holiday in Wales and it was such a glorious ray of light during a shitty year, that I thought I’d share. The boys had so much fun, and I felt a calmness and clarity that I’ve not done in ages.

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We stayed in an Under The Thatch cottage in West Wales. It’s the third one we’ve holidayed in and I’m sure they’ll be many more to come, we love them. But this isn’t a review post – it’s safe to say that writing them doesn’t come naturally to me, in fact after some reviews I’m pretty sure parts of me shrivel up and die inside. What I will say is that UTT properties are beautiful, often old, always lovingly restored, and you can find them all over Europe. I’d recommend them to anyone who likes quirky, eco-friendly, or historic properties.

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The boys had an amazing few days. Each night before bed they helped J make a fire, and E would ask if we could live in the cottage forever. They learnt the art of old fashioned childhood fun – drawing, imaginary play, ‘reading’ in their beds, and telling stories.

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We took them to beaches, waterfalls, to see wild animals and to play in adventure parks. They barely noticed the lack of TV or internet. And we even managed without phone reception – those who know us will understand that this is nothing short of a miracle.

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It was a proper disconnect from the instant technological gratification of our normal life. And it was so needed. I felt cleansed.

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Going back to West Wales, where J and I spent our uni years (and then some), seems to be turning into an annual pilgrimage of sorts, which is odd because I distinctly remember us saying that we’d never set foot in the place again. I think the actual words were ‘over our dead bodies’. We’ve always had a love/hate relationship with the place. It’s beautiful, the people are kind, warm and generous. I made brilliant friendships there. It’s where J and I met. And where we had some of the best times of our life.15 years on and 2 babies later, it’s impossible not to feel a strong attachment to the place. But it’s tinged with a lot of pain. At just 4 months into our relationship, in a tiny little a Welsh town with no train station or means of escape, I was disowned. J and I felt grown up at the time, but we were just children really, naive, and broken. We were forced to make very difficult decisions, not understanding how huge or dark our situation was, how alone we were, or how hard our lives would become.

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Over the years I tried to focus on the old adages: ‘it could be worse’, ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’, ‘it’s in the past’, etc. But diminishing pain by claiming it as irrelevant always seemed a pretty cruel and short-sighted coping mechanism – it only works if you want to bury something, usually for the sake of everyone but yourself. And the thing is, in my experience, pain refuses to stay buried.

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Going back to the place where my world shifted so terribly was cathartic, and it showed me how much I’ve changed. I’ve learnt that when the trajectory of life forces you into dark places that you can’t imagine escaping, and your self esteem and relationships are stripped to their bones, the best thing you can do is reclaim your story. I’m still learning how to not feel selfish or ashamed for wanting to talk about my past. Some days, like today, I manage it. Other days I’m not so successful; judgement, dismissal, and the echo chamber of silence in response to my words, grinds me to a self-conscious halt, and I wonder whether the things that nearly destroyed me, whether I, matter at all.

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This isn’t your typical holiday blog post. If I’d gone on the Mediterranean jolly that I daydream of I guess I’d be posting a more upbeat, beach photo saturated, post. But I’m glad we took the boys back to where it all began. It felt like closure. We stopped off in our university town for lunch and walked passed the building where I had my lectures. Immediately I felt a huge and unexpected knot in my stomach, and then tears. E looked up and asked me why I was sad. I told him they were happy tears. As I stood there clasping his hand in the town where I fell apart, the extent of how far I’ve come hit me. I remembered how lost I felt in that place. How I fell again and again, convinced that I was too broken to be loved. I remembered wondering how on earth J and I would survive and make it beyond the fog and sadness to have a family and a future.

And now I know. You survive by owning the pain you endure. And by telling your story, over and over, until you know how to write the next chapter.

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I don’t want this for my children

Mum-blogging often has an air of ‘dinner party’ about it. “No politics, sex, or religion, thank you very much”. But those are 3 of my favourite subjects, damnit. So, at the risk of totally alienating myself, here’s my take on the general election, and why I’m now nervous to be raising my children in this country. Brace yourselves, it’s a bigun’…

As we inched closer to the result of the British general election the days took on a surreal, limbo-like quality. I was distracted, desperate for change, and I genuinely hoped we’d see a cultural shift within government to allow for fairer, more humane politics. As it stands more than 1 in 4 children live in poverty in the UK, and the latest figures from The Trussell Trust show a 163% increase in demand for foodbanks over recent years.  Our loudest political and media voices depict benefits fraud and immigration as the source of Britain’s financial and social problems, and actively dismiss the huge elephant in the room: tax evasion. We have the world’s most billionaires per capita, and our richest 1% has reached giddy new heights, having accumulated as much wealth as the poorest 55% of the population put together. These facts have undoubtedly contributed to Britain becoming the only country in the G7 group of leading economies with worse inequality than at the turn of the century.

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On the day of the election result I woke up and grabbed my phone to check the news. I was nervous, but hopeful. It didn’t seem possible to me that things could get worse, not when inequality is forcing so many into destitution. Within seconds social media informed me that the Conservative party had achieved a 37% ‘majority’. I was devastated. The day itself was a blur, punctuated with tears, anxiety, and people wondering why on earth I was being so dramatic. Inside I was reeling from my own political naivety and terrified about Conservative plans for a further £12billion in cuts to the welfare state; a system already so underfunded and brutally managed that it’s driven people to their death.

In the days following the election result a host of articles were written in defence of our new government and its plans for continued austerity. Each time I read one it felt like a kick in the guts. But contrary to popular opinion, my upset wasn’t sour grapes at ‘losing’ the election. It wasn’t even frustration that privileged white men are once again dictating the future of our country. It was about being frightened. I’m frightened because British politics perpetuates a culture of victim blaming that labels the vulnerable as tiresome, dispensable inconveniences. I’m frightened because I understand what it’s like to be vulnerable and to fall from a tiny precipice of financial security. And I’m frightened because after escaping relative poverty once already I’m within touching distance of it again.

Growing up in a low income household taught me early on what it’s like to have no money. In simple terms: it’s shit. All those typographically pretty motivational quotes about happiness not coming from what you have, but who you have are all well and good if you’re an adult with a bit of cash in the bank, but they mean nothing when you’re 13 and the house becomes glacial with tension each time the food runs out. Or when you’re 8 and bailiffs try to force their way through your front door and the only thing stopping them is your step-dad, hulk-like, but exhausted, pushing back with everything he has. My memories of growing up with little money are less about a lack of ‘stuff’ and more about an abundance of stress. I remember the tension and tears. The resentment and envy. The false hopes. Feeling helpless, hopeless, and always so bloody ashamed.

Then I went to university, before the days of epic fees (which, incidentally, the Conservatives haven’t ruled out raising beyond the current £9000 a year) and my world opened up. I met people, learnt ideas and had experiences that I wouldn’t have done at home. Suddenly it seemed to me that with a lot of false confidence, a shift in my language, and by brushing over the details of my socio-economic background, I could ‘better’ myself. I studied to post graduate level, got a middle class job in a ridiculously middle class establishment and, despite the odd blip where I felt like I’d sold my soul, I finally felt safe, immune from inequality. I wouldn’t make the same ‘mistakes’ as my parents. I knew better. As they say, ignorance is bliss.

Several years later and the cold hard facts are staring me in the face: I come from a low income family, I left home almost 15 years ago without a penny to my name and almost zero life skills to boot, I studied to postgraduate level (hello mountain of debt), and in the last few years a succession of health problems have massively impacted my family’s income. But despite all that I’ve never struggled to feed my children, and I’m not welfare dependent. Go me, right? Wrong. I haven’t ‘earned’ my way out of poverty. I haven’t been ‘saved’ by my middle class job, or the fact that I work really bloody hard. What stops me from being caught in a welfare dependency trap is that I married a man with privilege.

In simple terms I’m kept safe by middle class privilege. That is: the economic extras the middle classes gain, mostly through virtue of birth. Things like wealth, cultural capital, status, a support network, and a good education. These opportunities are passed down through the generations to become inherited characteristics, and they have a phenomenal impact on a person’s life chances. Just take a look at THIS. Please. It’s just brilliant. It’s this privilege that means my family is lucky enough to have a network of people with the desire and the resources to catch us each time we fall. And this is why I find it so hard to listen to the Conservatives (who are overwhelmingly made up of the three most privileged groups in our society – white, middle-class, men) perpetuate the cruel, self-serving, half-truth, that success is a consequence of hard work, and poverty the result of ‘idleness’. Even David Cameron’s former advisor, Steve Hilton, acknowledges the inherent social closure that reproduces wealth and privilege within government and media circles. As George Monbiot says “many of those who are rich today got there because they were able to capture certain jobs. This capture owes less to talent and intelligence than to a combination of the ruthless exploitation of others and accidents of birth, as such jobs are taken disproportionately by people born in certain places and into certain classes.”

Politics has always been the preserve of the most privileged in a society and our new government is proof that we won’t be getting rid of that awful dynamic anytime soon. As Ian Martin writes, “the uncomfortable truth is that despite knowing precisely what will happen to NHS patients, disabled people, hard non-working families, refugees and whoever else Iain Duncan Smith decides may now be hunted like foxes, this country has returned a Conservative government. “We” did it. This is who we are now. Our country is 37% Tory”. This is something I have to accept. The voters voted. But I refuse to accept the inhumanity of Conservative politics. It’s abhorrent to me that the most vulnerable among us are punished though cruel rhetoric and policy, like the capping of benefits at £23,000 per household (for a 2 person household this works out at below minimum wage), cutting the access to work scheme that helps disabled people into work, and excluding under 21’s from claiming housing benefit. This is despite the well documented dearth of well-paid jobs, the rising number of people classified as ‘working poor’, the 55% increase in homelessness under the coalition government, and the fact that for many young people housing benefit is the only thing that stands between them and the streets.

Our government seems blind to the fact that most people in poverty are working families, and that nearly 5 million work for employers who pay below the ‘living wage’. Perhaps it’s wilful ignorance. Perhaps it’s because the utilitarian Conservative ideology justifies the discrimination of minorities for a ‘greater good’. Or perhaps it’s because a life of privilege blinkers reality. After all, unlike the majority of us, those in government probably aren’t overly concerned about mental or physical illness, redundancy, the breakup of a relationship, a sick partner or child, or a multitude of other unforeseen circumstances plunging them into financial destitution. They have the freedom to believe the myth that poverty is a choice born from apathy and that people knowingly avoid a better life. They can choose to ignore the truth; that financial security is a fragile construct underpinned by social privilege.

^^ It Could Be You. A short film by Child Poverty Action Group ^^

When it comes to human rights and equality, it seems the Conservative party harbours a certain nostalgia for the Victorian era. Just consider the following ‘interesting’ selections for the new Conservative party line-up:

Micheal Gove and Dominic Raab have been appointed justice secretaries. They will no doubt play a significant role in scrapping the Human Rights Act to make way for the British Bill of Rights and Responsibilities that is being introduced in a bid to entrench ‘British values’. Michael Gove is better known (to me, anyway) as the man who made teachers lives hell and British education more elitist, outdated and unfair, but he’s also on record as saying he’d like to bring back hanging, he criticised the Stephen Lawrence report for “McCarthyism”, and he helped block a public inquiry into a cover-up of child abuse by politicans in Westminster (after more than 100 Home Office files related to allegations of child abuse went “missing”). Dominic Raab on the other hand, voted against making it illegal to discriminate on grounds of caste, and attacked the ‘obnoxious bigotry’ of feminists.

Justin Tomlinson, our new disabilities minister, voted against protecting the benefits of disabled children and patients undergoing cancer treatment, and in favour of the bedroom tax. It’s worth noting that sick and disabled tenants make up two thirds of those affected by the bedroom tax, and that the costs of disabilities are often so high that they can’t be met by existing disability benefits. Leaked plans suggest an increase in the bedroom tax may be imminent.

The new Tory equality minister, Caroline Dinenage, voted against gay marriage and said the state had ‘no right’ to introduce it.

New junior health minister, Ben Gummer, said he was “personally and principally opposed to abortion” in 2008.

New employment minister, Priti Patel, is another minister who would like to see the return of the death penalty, and rather interestingly considering her new role, she claimed that British workers are the “worst idlers in the world”.

As if these appointments aren’t enough, there are other signs that the Conservatives have little intention to preserve the rights of the common person, or govern in a humane way. Leaked plans indicate that statutory maternity pay may be abolished. There is to be a ban on strikes unless 40 per cent of people vote in favour for industrial action, which seems particularly exploitative at a time when workers are facing the biggest cut in living standards since Victorian times and growing insecurity at work. The snoopers charter will require internet and mobile phone companies to keep records of customers’ browsing activity, social media use, emails, voice calls, online gaming and text messages for a year. This move to massively increase surveillance is “a clear indication of the forthcoming assault on the rights of ordinary British citizens” according to Carly Nyst from human rights watchdog, Privacy International. There are also plans to repeal the ban on fox hunting. David Cameron who has previously ridden with the Heythrop Hunt in Oxfordshire, says he believes in the “freedom to hunt”.

And I have other fears, like the continued privatization of the NHS and education (did you know that BAE systems, Europe’s largest arms firm, is sponsoring a failing British school?). The huge cuts to services and networks protecting women from domestic violence (domestic violence charity Refuge has experienced a reduction in funding across 80% of its service contracts since 2011). Conservative support for fracking across the UK. The deep cuts to legal aid. Plans to privatise child protection. The gentrification, or “social cleaning” as some call it, of urban areas that results in the displacement of low-income families to make way for properties and renovations for the affluent (if you’re interested in this, take a look at Focus E15, an incredible group of young mothers living in a hostel for young homeless people who were served eviction notices and told they’d have to accept being rehoused in private rented accommodation as far away as Manchester, Hastings and Birmingham. They are just one example of a city-wide process of social cleansing, with low income people being forced to the fringes of London and beyond by soaring rents, benefit cuts, and a shortage of social housing). Each of the Conservative measures that I’ve mentioned in this post will do nothing but exacerbate inequality. And it’s not just us ‘lefties’ who are worried. When Tory councillors across the UK warn that the next round of funding cuts will devastate local services, harm the most vulnerable in society, and result in serious consequences for community life, social care, and the NHS, then you know things must be bad.

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All children deserve to grow up in an environment where they can prosper, where their family can afford the essentials, with good housing, work that pays, and an education that provides opportunities to learn and flourish

I could go on, but I have chicken poxy children to care for and work to do, and I’m guessing that if you’re still reading this then you’re probably desperate for me to wrap it up. This blog post wasn’t the easiest to write and it’s left me feeling frazzled, but it’s important to me. Part of my job as a mother is to teach my children to care about those in need, and that role is more pressing now they’re growing up alongside a political and media culture that vilifies the vulnerable. I want to teach my boys that the poor and minorities and those with the least in society should never be held accountable for the greed of a self-entitled few: fraudulent bankers, tax evaders, and a political elite reproducing inequality through wilful ignorance about the power of privilege and the scale and complexity of poverty. I want my children to understand that very few of us are immune to inequality. There but for the luck of the socioeconomic draw go each and everyone of us. I want them to know that poverty should never be explained in simplistic, dismissive, binary terms. I hope I can show them that our political voices can be used to help institute fairness and justice.

If what I’ve written resonates, take heart from the fact that there are many thousands of people resisting, in various ways, the changes that the Conservative party want to ring though. I spent a good few days after the election caught in a fug of creeping depression and I know I wasn’t alone. But now is the time for each of us to act, by making whatever difference we can. The following links are the best calls to action and suggestions for resistance that I’ve seen:

Raising bears

5 ways to deal with a full blown conservative government

ifyoudidntvoteconservative.com

Donate to your local foodbank

Take part in the anti-austerity demonstration

Reasons to march

And if you’d like to march, but can’t, take a look at wecantmarch.com

*Update: Emma’s comment below made me realise I’d missed out a really important way that we can help.  Take a look at 38dgrees and change.org for online petitions against unfair government cuts and legislation. Thank you Emma!*

For those of you who plan to resist and educate, good luck, and for those of you who don’t, here’s a pretty wonderful thought from Laurie Penny:

“This is not a moment for people who happen to have made it through the past five years with moderate financial stability and our consciences intact to accept the narrative that we are assigned politics by class. That the best way to read our ethics, our understanding of the worth and purpose of humanity, is off the back of a bloody bank statement. This is not a moment to throw up our hands, open a packet of biscuits and say – fuck it, I got mine. Because that’s a disgusting thing to do…Right now, the important thing is to take care of ourselves and one another, and to be as kind as possible. Because there’s a big fight ahead, and kindness is more important now than ever. Kindness is mandatory. Anger is necessary. Despair is a terrible idea. Despair is how they win. They won’t win forever.” (Source)

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

In celebration of discovering feminism, Caitlin Moran, and chips with curry sauce

We all have a story that taught us about the disparity of opportunity between men and women, the brilliance of Caitlin Moran, and the joys of rosé straight from the bottle and chips with curry sauce.

*atmospheric music*

This is my story.

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^^ I love them ^^

I was about 17 and in an A level English class when my teacher went off on a tangent about Greek mythology. I listened to her talk excitedly about a sisterhood, and goddesses, and powerful women who led men and commanded insane levels of respect, and I was left speechless. But it wasn’t just her stories that rocked my tiny little world, it was that she didn’t finish with a guffaw, or a dismissive statement, she was full of conviction. She taught me one of my favourite lessons to date: that strong women aren’t a joke. It was the most brilliant revelation to me. I felt as though a door had been flung open in a dark, dank room. The light! The air!

I didn’t realise it then but Mrs Gregory’s tales about female strength came at the perfect time. My parents had converted to a strict form of Islam a few years earlier and by this point every aspect of my life was being controlled – where I went, who I was friends with, what I wore. My gender became a deadweight that dictated my every move. All of sudden I was expected to follow a bewildering array of rules thought up by men terrified of their own sexuality and incapable of seeing women as anything other than walking vaginas. My new life was constructed from an epic list of commands that I had no choice over, so I spent a lot of time perfecting my evil grimmace, silently swearing at and wishing testicular calamities on men, and rolling my eyes at the utter stupidity of each new rule. Rules such as:

1. Jeans are evil: Satan lives in your jeans. Both legs. But mostly the booty area.

2. Your hair must be covered: it’s just too bloody sexual. It’s like your booty, except on your head. How the hell do you expect anyone to take you seriously, or respect you, or not, you know, get rapey with you, if you’ve got Satan’s nest all up in their face? COVERITUP.

3. You were born to reproduce: no one cares if you want to explore the world and learn from your mistakes and kiss boys and feel the wind through your hair and the sun on your skin and discover writing and art and human beings who’ve absolutely nothing in common with you. Your ovaries make that little pipedream impossible, sweetcheeks. Also, COVERITUP.

4. God isn’t meant to make sense: yeah, He’s confusing. Yeah, He’s contradictory. Yeah, His book is insanely terrifying. And YEAH it justifies heinous acts. But it’s all contextual. And relative. And you don’t need to ‘get’ it because He’s God and what We say He says goes. STOP TRYING TO ‘GET’ IT.

There were other ridiculous rules. So. Many. Other. Rules. But as a teenager these seemed particularly frigging awful/nonsensical. My body became a battle ground and my moral compass was reset – chastity, humility, purity and submission (all male-defined, natch), were the only measures of goodness. I was told that women should never be leaders (they’re too emotional), that marital rape and domestic violence are grey areas, that the education system is a dangerous place encouraging destructive freedoms, that women should walk behind their husbands, that unmarried women shouldn’t leave the house unaccompanied, that my body and my sexuality made life dangerous for me, and that gender equality was a fallacy invented by the West. It was, quite frankly, a bonkers time. I spent many an evening hatching my escape route and fantasising that I was in the middle of a Truemanesque practical joke. Cue conversations with God that went like this:

“Dear God, if you exist, I TOTALLY get it; it was all a test. Good one! You had me for a minute/years! But in case you hadn’t noticed, I’ve passed with flying colours! You plopped me into this insanely illogical existence where my vagina dictates my every move but, despite that, I haven’t committed GBH. So, where’s my gold star? Can I start living for real now?”

A few years later, I went to uni, fell in love, was disowned, and began a long process of forging an identity from scratch. There were moments of joy, but mostly it was a relentless slog with some truly hideous forks in the road. God works in mysterious ways and all that jazz *cynical snort* Aaaanyway, I’ve moved on. I no longer apologise for my body, or my thoughts, or my voice, I no longer radiate shame, I know I’m as good and as capable as any man, I don’t stand for misogyny or sexism, and to top it all, I bloody LOVE being a woman. And that’s been made possible for a variety of reasons, not least because I discovered the deep, deep joy that is being a feminist.

My feminism started out as a slow burner. Every so often the universe whispered to me “it doesn’t have to be like this Steph, resist the bollocks” and it gifted me with moments that chipped away at my passivity. Moments like listening to Mrs Gregory’s stories, seeing my mum cry with laughter at gutsy, anti-establishment comediennes on 80s TV, looking at my younger sisters and knowing they deserved more, feeling the disappointment as the men I loved screwed up monumentally, time and time again, and knowing the women I loved would fix it back up as best they could. I was taught painstaking lessons in female fragility and male dominance, and while I sat quietly taking in all the hate, the women in my life danced furiously, silently, painstakingly, across my horizon, carrying the weight of our world, like pissed off ballet dancers. These moments were snapshots of technicolor breaking up the black and white static. Clarity amidst the blur. I took them all in, until something snapped, and a little, shakey voice inside my head said “sod this for a game of badgers”. Because it dawned on me that our expectations (social, cultural and religious) of women are nothing but a construct, and they suck the frigging joy out of life. I wanted out. And so, another feminist killjoy was born.

Until I hit 30 I could only say the word feminism using my inside voice; a teeny-tiny apologetic whisper. Because society is still pretty hideous to women who talk loudly about sexism and inequality. But now, at 34, feminism is one of my favourite words. My understanding, appreciation and involvement in the world is massively enhanced by feminism and I’m so thankful to the people who made it accessible to me, whether that be teachers, writers, family, or friends. Last month I had the most incredible night celebrating one of those people, a feminist I love to bits, Caitlin Moran. The night was made even more fantastic by discovering chips with curry sauce (holy crap they were good), and drinking stupid amounts of rosé (al fresco…straight from the bottle *ahem*) with two strong, empowering women who I’m lucky to call friends (HI Naomi and Gosia!). At 34 I’m over my nights out feeling like a weird anthropological experiment on human mating rituals, so to spend an evening feeling so empowered, safe, and full of joy (and wine) was a revelation. Caitlin read from her newest book, How to Build a Girl, and told stories about her life. There were so many good bits it’d be impossible to tell you about them all, but here are a few things she said that stuck out for me.

1. We have barmy issues with blood. The message is clear: there are two types of blood in the world. The good stuff is manly *grrrrrr* and we’re super happy to watch it spurt out of decapitated characters on Game of Thrones, or any TV character post-watershed. The bad blood is the *whispers* icky woman ‘stuff’ that we’d rather not mention by name. But, small detail: menstrual blood is our lifeblood and the reason each of us exists. So why is it that watching a gore packed action movie with the family is a social norm, whereas an artist showing the teeniest patch of menstrual blood on Instagram is met with the equivalent of a worldwide dry retch? Why are women shamed into self-loathing over their periods? Why are we taught from puberty to see them as a dirty secret? We pretend that they aren’t a massive pain, that they aren’t messy, or debilitating. And don’t even get me started on the truly disgusting price of feminine hygiene products that makes dealing with periods so difficult for the growing number of women living in poverty in this country* If I had the time I’d blog about how the Judeo-Christian and Islamic traditions have a lot to answer for when it comes to menstrual shame. Alas, I’ll have to save that gem for another day.

2. It wasn’t until I hit 30 that I properly found what Caitlin Moran, and many others, refer to as the ‘feminist goggles’. I’m 34 now and I feel like they’re surgically attached to my face. Realising that whole chunks of your life; experiences, opportunities, and relationships, have been destroyed or made shit just because you have a vagina, is like a floodgate, there’s no going back. I don’t process many things without thinking about gender inequality. And, like Moran, my feminist goggles often make me feel like  shrieking “my eyes, MY EYES, they burn!”.

3. Which leads me onto: it’s good to get angry. Unfortunately women are taught not to get angry at every stage of their lives, because its unfeminine and it threatens the patriarchy. I still get anxious about being angry in my blogs, that’s despite the fact that I’m 34 and they’re my spaces. It’s not really the ‘done’ thing to blog with rage, especially as a mumblogger – the saccharine is lauded, while angry truths are sidestepped. I’d like to see more loud, empowered women in the mumblogging community, the kind of women who don’t shy away from getting angry about injustice. In its best form anger is motivational, empowering, and a force for change.

4. Feminism is simple. At it’s most fundamental level feminism is such a no brainer I think it’s a crime not to honour it. It goes like this:

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^^This perfect tea towel is available to buy from here, with all profit going to women’s charity Refuge ^^

5. Standing on a chair and yelling “I AM A FEMINIST” with over a thousand other people (men included) feels incredible. You should try it.

I can’t end without mentioning the feminist smile. I won’t say anything apart from the fact that it’s the most glorious middle finger to fat shaming and the objectification of the female body. It made me laugh and cry. Just watch this.

I LOVE YOU Caitlin!

Apologies for the ‘braindump’ nature of this post. I’m so snowed under with work at the moment that I had to write it in 10 minute slots. It’s taken me a frigging month. There’s a high chance it’s disjointed and nonsensical in parts. I nearly lost the will to live writing it. And, at one point, I looked up, mid-sentence to discover my children running around the garden buck naked. So, yeah, you’re welcome.