‘News’ Category

  1. Russell’s Revolution

    November 8, 2013 by Georgina

    (Image from Huffington Post)

    Russell Brand sitting opposite Jeremy Paxman, talking passionately about egalitarian states and distribution of wealth, was not something I expected to see, much less find myself nodding along to, agreeing firmly with Brand’s claim that his choice not to vote is caused by indifference rather than apathy.

    The political climate has shifted since the last election here in the UK, and we have a generation of young people who feel thoroughly let down by their government. We have a generation, floundering in student debt, who are applying for jobs with a mind-boggling amount of candidates before being rejected due to a ‘lack of experience’ or being ‘over-qualified.’

    For a lot of people, there’s not much to recommend any of the main parties. Before the last election, a group of my friends at university campaigned hard for the Liberal Democrats, posting flyers and leaflets in the weeks running up to the election. The Lib Dems have traditionally had a strong student support base, but now those students feel utterly let down by the Lib Dems’ choice to get into bed with the Conservatives, and the back down on the promise not to hike up tuition fees. I voted Lib Dem in the last election. I won’t be doing so next time.

    Voting Conservative is a non-option for me. As my mum put it last time, “You can vote for who you want, but if you vote Conservative, you can’t live under my roof anymore.” I can’t get behind a party apparently determined to push the poorest in our country further into poverty, with cuts to the benefits and no response to the ever increasing energy prices.

    So what about Labour? For a lot of people, Labour’s legacy of making us America’s sidekick and getting involved with the ‘War on Terror’ is a massive negative. As Brand says, we want none of these people in charge. So what then?

    I think the next General Election is going to be an interesting one. I think with the dissatisfaction with the main parties, we’re going to see an increase in support for smaller parties, and are very likely to have another coalition government, with votes scattered even wider than last time.

    But I do think we’re also going to see a manifestation of Russell’s revolution. Brand has called for people to express their dissatisfaction with the current political system by not voting at all. Will we see a lower turn-out of voters?

    Personally, I think we will, particularly in younger age brackets, who are more likely to be Brand fans. For myself, I am undecided. Undeniably, we need change. But is choosing not to use your voice the way to get it?



    Georgina is a blogger with a passion for polka dots, tea and the Whedonverse. She blogs at www.caramellattekiss.com or can be found at @caramelattekiss

  2. Feminism in London conference

    October 21, 2013 by Ashley

    What: Feminism in London conference 2013
    When: Saturday 26th October, 9am-5:30pm
    Where: Institute of Education, London
    How much: £25 (concessions available)

    Postcard, Sarah Maple, Feminism in London 2010

    Postcard, Sarah Maple, Feminism in London 2010

    Tickets are selling fast for the Feminism in London conference, which is back this year after a hiatus. FIL is the biggest feminism conference in the UK and this year it will play host to some absolutely fantastic speakers. It’s a brilliant opportunity to come along and meet like minded people, get into some meaty debates, and share your thoughts on feminism in 2013.

    FIL started in 2010 as an offshoot of the London Feminist Network. It’s women-run and women-led, but is open to everyone to attend. This year’s conference/convention will focus on activism and inspiration rather than academic discourse, though there will be something for everyone on the day.

    Feminism is enjoying a bit of a resurgence in recent years, with everything from No More Page 3 to the Slutwalk. Progress is being made, but we still do not have equal pay, equal representation, or equal freedom from sexual violence. Many women might be reluctant to describe themselves as ‘feminists’ but it seems almost all women feel strongly that justice and equality are relevant to them today. FIL will approach these topics in a way that is engaging yet accessible. 

    The format of the conference will be an opening panel discussion, followed by panel discussions in the main room with breakaway workshops taking place simultaneously. These will continue throughout the day. There will also be artwork and a film room, as well as a ‘soft space’ for those who are triggered by subject matter, those who are non-neurotypical (e.g. people with Aspergers) and those who simply want a quiet space. There will be a creche, and workshops for children.

    The event will finish with the presentation of the Emma Humphries Memorial Prize, followed by the popular Reclaim the Night march, and finally, for those who are not yet feministed out, a party. It’s set to be a fantastic event!

    To get tickets, head to the Feminism in London website.

  3. In defence of @robinthicke

    October 3, 2013 by JRFBurton

    Image from cultureandlife.co.uk

    Image from cultureandlife.co.uk

    I am pretty unimpressed with the decision by various universities to ‘ban’ the song ‘Blurred Lines’. As well as being utterly toothless either as censorship or serious condemnation, since the ‘bans’ consist of just not playing it in the student bar, it smacks of an ill-thought-out, knee-jerk reaction, and may instead have the effect of ending the possibility of conversations between men and women that desperately need to be had.

    Because of the exhaustive coverage the lyrics of the song (and the video, though I intend to concentrate on the lyrics here) have been given over the summer, it is distressingly clear that a problematic aspect of the song arises from the use of words and phrases that are enormously triggering for both female and male victims of sexual assault and rape.  The way in which sexual offenders distort language to contribute to causing a range of fundamental wounds to their victims’ lives is horrifying.

    I don’t feel it necessary to cover the same ground as so many other opinion pieces, beyond noting that the use of ‘bitch’ in particular grates with me whenever it is used as a descriptor for a woman. I also don’t particularly like the rap in the original and prefer The Roots’ version. However, I am also prepared to accept that, within the context of an adult and consensual encounter, someone who likes their sex rougher than I do may find the original rap very… compelling.

    Because here’s my confession: I find that song really hot. It turns me on.

    Robin Thicke has attempted to respond to the criticism of the song by saying on the Today Show: “When we made the song, we had nothing but the most respect for women …We only had the best intentions…It’s supposed to stir conversation… if you listen to the lyrics it says ‘That man is not your maker’ — it’s actually a feminist movement within itself.” Evidently his response has not convinced. I note the clarity of the anger expressed by, among others, The Kraken below.

    However, I want to try to walk the difficult line of attempting to clarify what I believe Robin Thicke is trying to say, while accepting the validity of the conflicting views and reactions expressed elsewhere.

    I think the song is exploring an experience that is familiar to me, and that is the kind of highly sexually-charged encounter or meeting with someone that I want. I don’t know if this has happened to you, but it has happened to me more than once (and anecdotally it’s also understood by those of my friends that I have discussed this issue with).

    I mean a meeting where your eyes meet and there’s an immediate, urgent chemistry. You want that person, and you both know that, at some point, you are going to have each other.

    Sometimes you don’t even have to have touched each other, not even in the most non-sexual way, to begin to have the conversation that acknowledges there is a powerful heat between the two of you.

    While most of the commentary has focused on an interpretation in which the (undoubtedly very cocky) man is creepily singing to a woman who has shown absolutely no interest in him, an alternative scenario is that he’s absolutely right. The woman does want it, she does want him, and then the lyrics become hot wordy foreplay with nary a touch needed.

    I’ll get on to the actual lyrics later, but want to point out that what Robin Thicke has attempted to express in his defence is an exploration of the continuing situation in which being honest, even blunt, about the strong lustful feelings women also experience is complicated at best. In this case, being a ‘Good Girl’ might mean feeling lust for someone, but not feeling allowed to show it or admit to it, or perhaps feeling frightened by the intensity of the body’s response without input by heart or brain, or even feeling that to allow a sexual encounter to take place will cause, afterwards, an automatic reduction in one’s own self-esteem and the respect in which others hold them, including the respect of the person with whom they’ve just been intimate!

    And I find it frustrating that so many articles discussed only the scenario in which the woman is not interested – since quite clearly that’s not the scenario Robin meant to explore, and he’s probably a bit tired of feeling comprehensively misunderstood, the object of anger from the women he claims to respect, and endlessly lectured on what he did wrong. He is a person after all, and people tend not to respond positively to lots of criticism without also getting some praise and some guidance on where to fix things in future. Broadly, if we women keep telling men ‘Don’t do this’ – which is perfectly reasonable – we need also to say ‘But try this instead’. It’s the only way to have a conversation with (rather than at) someone with whom you disagree, that doesn’t immediately shut down any constructive results. And we need to have constructive conversations: about rape culture, about female sexuality, about equal pay and equal parental responsibility and all manner of things.

    So I’d like to tell Robin what he did right, at least for me.

    Here goes: Robin, I like your song a lot, it gets me hot, and that’s because despite being fatly, happily married and 30-something feminist, I am also a highly, powerfully, sexual person and I recognise what you’re talking about. It’s only slightly because you’re kinda my type, physically (and if I were talking to you on Twitter, there might be a winky face here.)

    I know the kind of encounter you’re describing, and those encounters and the physical encounters that followed have been some of the hottest and most exhilarating moments of my life.

    When you sing ‘I know you want it’ I think of the times when the lust has been unmistakeably written all over my face. When you sing ‘Do it like it hurt’ I think of the times I’ve had when Chandler Bing might have exclaimed “My god, it sounds like someone’s killing her in there”. When you sing ‘What you don’t like work?’ I hear it as a request that a sexual partner is fully engaged in the act with you, so that afterwards her muscles ache pleasurably as after a really good workout.

    Most of all, I hear ‘I hate these Blurred Lines’ as a straightforward expression of frustration with anything other than a similarly straightforward response from a woman. Whether the answer is Yes or No.

    I was a bit confused by ‘Baby can you breathe?’ in the context of ‘Baby can you breathe? I got this from Jamaica’ until I realised that, in context, it’s clear you were talking about a room full of marijuana smoke. This one does seem to have got you into trouble for the wrong reason, doesn’t it? Sorry about that.

    I don’t like women being referred to as ‘bitches’, in whatever context. Sorry, I can’t get past this one Robin, I don’t even like it in dirty talk. But I appreciate that substituting ‘girl’ is also a diminutive from a full-grown man such as you, and ‘woman’ doesn’t actually fit the line. Neither, of course, has the same ‘punch’ as you need at that point in the song to give it a climactic moment. So I’m not sure what to suggest instead, and of course, this whole ‘bitch’ thing isn’t something you in particular made up. But, I really think there ought to be some alternatives – perhaps you can think of some others please Robin? And tell your colleagues too. Cheers.

    Lastly, I would really have liked it if you’d been perhaps a bit clearer in discussions about the meaning of the song, and especially I think it would be great if you confirmed for us that you do mean that when a man talks this bluntly to a woman, he should appreciate and expect honesty from her in return, so that the only sort of response to ‘I know you want it’ that he would even consider moving forward with is something like ‘Yes, I want you too.’


    Janey Burton likes to have constructive conversations with loads of people, so come and chat @JRFBurton. She also enjoys constructively criticising authors, publishers and agents as a Publishing Consultant, offering Editorial, Marketing and Contracts services at www.janeyburton.com.

  4. Give It 2 U – an open letter to Robin Thicke

    October 2, 2013 by Betsy Powell

    Image from gowherehiphop.com

    Image from gowherehiphop.com

    Oh, Robin Thicke, you clever clever man. You’ve done it again. Once again I am bowled over by your lyrical tenderness and perspicacity.

    First off, and I think I speak for everyone when I say, thank you so much for saving us all three extra letters to write when we reference the title of your poetic genius – Give It 2 U. I, for one, find it very tiresome every time some pedantic spelling Nazis insists on using the full words ‘to’ and ‘you’. Geez; what killjoys!

    Next up, you’ve got a gift for me, you say? How delightful. A ‘big kiss’? Riiiight. Thanks. A ‘hit’? Hopefully not a physical one there, Robin. Lols. A ‘big dick’? Now you’re talking. I can’t wait for you to give me that big dick. Oooh, and a whip too? And your balls are hard as well? You charmer.

    And now you want to make everything I fantasise about come true? Do you know how much a lifetime’s supply of chocolate costs? Do you? I’m not sure you’ve thought this one through; run a budget past your accountant and then we’ll talk.

    Now what’s this? You want to put cheese on my face? Hmmmm. Melted? Because that might hurt, Robin. Although I am partial to some squidgy brie.

    It’s great that you hang out with such talented people as well; like that nice Kendrick Lamar, who lends his dulcet tones to your latest ditty, but, here’s the thing, I’m not sure I want to sit on his face as he so kindly requests, nor do I want his dick. And wowsers, I’m not comfortable being his cotton candy if he wants a ‘fistful’, but least his heart is in the right place though as he promises he won’t ejaculate inside me because he’s learned his lesson; bless.

    To be honest, Robin, I think you’re on to a winner here, pet. You’re speaking from the heart and your outpourings of deep emotional love are both riveting and highly erotic. I can’t wait for you to give it to me. No, really. Go on, get that big dick up there… Did I mention I always carry around an abnormal large pair of gardening shears?



    Betsy is a writer, bookworm, and editor of Excelle magazine. Follow her on Twitter.


  5. Team AWOT – help wanted!

    September 10, 2013 by Ashley

    Screen Shot 2013-09-09 at 22.06.50

    Hello AWOT darlings,

    In a bid to make AWOT bigger and better, we’re recruiting a team of people to curate and edit the blog. We’re looking for writers, editors, tweeters, and generally awesome women to be part of a team that will take the site to new heights.

    Each member of Team AWOT will be given a profile on the website (linking to blogs and Twitter accounts etc) and you will have log in details for the Twitter account, as well as management rights on the AWOT blog.

    We need you to bring new blood to the blog and keep it fresh and updated. You will work independently and with the help of @peachesanscream (editor) and me (editor at large) to make AWOT even more amazing. The blog’s been a bit quiet lately so we need all hands on deck to get more people writing. I don’t have the capacity to be on Twitter all day any more, so I’m missing vital things we should be tweeting about – this is where you come in! We need people who are in touch with what’s going on and what people are talking about, and as you will have been given the sacred Twitter log in details, you will become one of the voices of our network of awesome women.

    If you’re interested, please email Ashley on teamawot@gmail.com with a bit of info about yourself and a line on why you want to be part of Team AWOT!



  6. Three’s a crowd

    September 6, 2013 by Betsy Powell

    Image from http://mybreakuptomakeup.com/

    Image from http://mybreakuptomakeup.com/

    I was queuing up at my local shop today, clutching a bumper bag of plain flour, value sultanas and a small bottle of Navy Rum to one breast and the October issue of Elle resting upon the other, torn between baking banana bread when I should be working, or reading about the latest fashions when I should be working. It was a pleasant argument to mull over and I’d yet to come to a decision when I was called up to the counter and plonked my items down. As the cashier scanned away, I glanced at the coverlines on the glossy mag before scooting over the sultanas to get a better look. And there, just to the right of Rosie Huntington-Whiteley’s supremely model elbow in bold white caps, I read, “SHOULD YOU HAVE AN AFFAIR?”

    “Erm, well,” I thought to myself. “I suppose that’s a fair question. Wait. Hang on. What?”

    “Excuse me,” I said to the cashier. “Umm, I’ve actually decided to leave the magazine this time.”


    “Erm, I won’t be buying Elle now.”

    “Fine,” she said, pushing it to one side without a blink. “Would you like a bag?” I walked the five minutes home and popped the sultanas in a medium-sized pan to boil with the rum and ruminated. Why exactly had I reacted so strongly to such a headline? Not doubt it was chosen by the sub-editors as a catchy line to do precisely what it had done. I’m an editor myself; I know the power of good coverline.

    To be fair to the article in question, as I didn’t buy the magazine, I still don’t know how it was going to play out. Perhaps the very well reasoned answer is, “No. No, you should definitely not have an affair. And here’s why…” But I’ve noticed an alarming trend recently that suggests otherwise. Only the other day I was streaming a programme on my laptop for a pop-up window to appear advertising a dating website that dealt exclusively with those looking for an affair, only rather than asking if I should have an affair, its chosen tagline was “Life’s too short; have an affair”. No questions asked here, ladies and gentlemen.

    Now might be a good time to clarify that I don’t see myself as being a prude and I don’t come from a family with divorced parents, however, I have been cheated on, twice, both times leading to a breakdown of my mental health (which, admittedly, says as much about me, the cheatee, as it does the cheater), and am currently watching one very close friend having to deal with the effects of her father having an affair and the resulting messy, blame-riddled divorce.

    Affairs aren’t fun; they aren’t lighthearted, at least, not in the long run. They destroy lives. I imagine for some people my attitude is terribly bourgeois, and naïve, especially in a world in which Fifty Shades of Grey is a bestseller. Surely I should be strapping on a gimp mask, hog-tying myself and awaiting the arrival of my dangerous lover; right? Compared to that, affairs are nothing; small fry; sooooo last year, and yet, here I am, getting my knickers in a twist when I had a lovely wasteful afternoon of baking planned.

    Perhaps it’s the very casual nature of the ‘new breed’ of affairs that disturbs me; you’re not doing this because you’ve fallen in love with someone else, more that an extramarital fling is now the norm, or worse, that it will somehow be healthy for your current relationship. And then there’s the connotation that if you’re not ok with that, if you’re not blasé about affairs in general, then somehow you’re doing something wrong, you’re not down with the kids; you’re *gasp* old-fashioned. Affairs are the new bondage, peeps. Oh yeah. Whatever.

    Let’s stop beating about the bush and say it: affairs aren’t cool. They’re not the new bondage; they’re not the new black; in fact, they’re not the new anything. They’ve been around since the dawn of time. There’s nothing casual about letting someone get happy with your goodies. There’s nothing positive about cheating on your partner.

    Remember getting caught for cheating at school? You’d be punished for that. Now extrapolate. This isn’t about being enlightened. This isn’t about equalising sexuality. This is about popular media and culture trying to create a new buzz topic to sell products. This about condoning morally poor behaviour. “Should you steal from your flatmate?” No. “Should you rape that pretty girl over there with the short dress on?” No. “Should you kill your annoying co-worker?” No. Simple, really.

    So Lorraine Candy (Editor of Elle and married to husband, James, for more than a decade, with several children), “Should you have an affair?” No. Affairs create victims, and let’s face it, three is always a crowd.

    AWOT1.pngBetsy is a writer, bookworm, and editor of Excelle magazine. Follow her on Twitter.


  7. AWOT on Saturday

    July 14, 2013 by Ashley

    Image from www.graylingjellystone.com

    Image from www.graylingjellystone.com

    Hello darlings,

    Ashley here! So there’s been a sliiiight change of plan. Due to insane schedules and whatnot, the bake sale plan for Saturday has fallen through. However we are STILL meeting up for anyone that fancies coming along.

    This AWOT gathering will be a picnic slash tea party in Regents Park, near the peddlo boat thingy whatsits. It’s also going to be boy friendly, so menfolk are more than welcome to come too.

    Bring a blanket, bring a bottle, and bring whatever food you fancy nomming. I will be baking something or other for the event and naturally I encourage all of you to do the same.

    I’m still hoping to do a bake sale but I think it will be later in the year.

    If you fancy coming along, we’ll meet at Regents Park tube and head over to the park at 12:30 on Saturday (20th). It’s very informal so do come a bit later if you like. At soon as we’ve sat down, I will tweet a screen shot of the map so you can find where we are.

    Hope to see some of you there! xx


  8. New editor announcement!

    June 21, 2013 by Ashley

    Dear beloved AWOT ladies,

    I have a very exciting announcement! @peachesanscream will be taking over as your editor here at teamawot.com and she will be running our Twitter feed, @AWOT_UK from now on.

    Yeah yeah, I suck at paint.

    Yeah yeah, I suck at paint.

    When I started AWOT in December 2011, it was just a cool idea where a bunch of cool women who knew each other from Twitter would hang out for an evening with gin and cake. I didn’t know it would become a community blog and I didn’t know we would end up with a readership that reaches into the thousands. I love AWOT so much, and it thrills and inspires me to see what it’s turned into.

    We have an amazing audience of smart, funny, thoughtful women (and men!) and unfortunately I just don’t have the time to do you guys justice. However, I know that @peachesanscream is the perfect lady to make this community even bigger and better. Besides, the woman is a social media wizard, a Twitter legend, and ABSOLUTELY EFFING HILARIOUS. She’s been a huge part of AWOT since the very beginning and I know you’re in very safe hands.

    I’m not going far though – I will stay on as editor at large, arranging the meet ups and tweeting from time to time. Speaking of which, we’ve got a bake sale / tea party on Saturday 20th July, and it would be amazing if you could come.

    With that, I will leave you with @peachesanscream!


    (founder of AWOT and editor at large)



  9. AWOT gathering – 30th May

    May 29, 2013 by Ashley

    AWOT ladies at Liberty Lounge!

    AWOT ladies at Liberty Lounge!

    What: social gathering slash party with (free!) cake and lots o’ gin for ladies of Twitter. It’s totally informal, everyone gets a name label, and it’s loads of fun. I’ve met many of my close female friends through AWOT and I make more of them every time we gather. This one is a women only event – sorry gents.

    When: Thursday 30th May, from 6pm

    Where: Liberty Lounge, 1A Bell Ln  City of London E1 7LA (a gorgeous wee underground bar close to Liverpool St – our usual haunt!)

    Why: AWOT started when I realised I was talking to dozens of awesome women on Twitter that I had never met in real life. So I got them as many of them as possible together in a room, with gin and cake. This is our fifth meet up. We have new people at every single one, so if you’ve never been, don’t be shy. We’re really rather lovely.

    What do I need to bring: if you’re a baker, you’re very very welcome to bring cake. We usually have a nice spread of tasty treats at our events, all provided by chefs from our talented group. No pressure though – you don’t have to bring anything at all if you don’t want to! Just yourself will do.

    Does it cost anything? No it’s freeeeeee! All you need to pay for is what you drink at the bar. And if you like cocktails, you will LOVE Liberty Lounge.

    Can I come? Yes, absolutely! Just sign up below, and see you tomorrow!

  10. AWOT gatherings announced!

    April 15, 2013 by Ashley


    The next AWOT gathering will be on Thursday 30th May from 6pm. I am hoping that we will be able to return to our usual haunt, Liberty Lounge (a 5 min walk from Liverpool St station) but will confirm that ASAP. If you haven’t been to an AWOT gathering before, don’t be shy – there are new people every time. Come along, have a gin, and meet your Twitter lady pals in real life. Easy. As usual, if you’re a baker please do feel free to bring some baked goods! We have had an amazing spread at every AWOT party so far so do please bring along your signature muffins/tarts/cakes/cookies/orgasmic oreo cream cheese truffles.

    I have created an AWOT mailing list so I can keep you guys in the loop for future gatherings and whathaveyou. You can sign up to that here. I promise I won’t send you emails about anything other than AWOT gatherings! If you signed up to an event in the past then I have added you to the list – if you’re not happy with that then email me and I will take you off the list immediately.

    To sign up to come along to our AWOT gathering on 30th May, click here, or register below.

    In addition to our weeknight gin-quoffing party, AWOT will also be hosting a bake sale in aid of Dreams Come True, a charity that grants wishes to terminally or seriously ill children and teenagers. The bake sale will be on Saturday 20th July during the day. The only thing we need (aside from your amazing baking skills) is A VENUE. So if you know somewhere central that would be happy to host a charity bake sale, please email me (Ashley) at teamawot@gmail.com. I’ve already tried Southbank Centre and they can’t host it as they are a charity themselves. We just need somewhere for a couple of hours that will get some decent foot traffic. I will be tweeting about our venue needs a LOT over the next few weeks so please retweet and hopefully we will find a spot.

    To sign up to come along to the bake sale on 20th July, click here or register below.

    Obviously a bake sale will only work if we have a lot of cakes and whatnot, so I am calling on our incredible circle of bakers to please please please take part and bring whatever you can along for us to flog for charity. It’s an incredibly good cause and it would be amazing if we could raise some real moolah.

    So, if anyone can help me find a venue for the bake sale PLEASE GET IN TOUCH! And to everyone coming along to the AWOT at the end of May – really looking forward to seeing you there!

    Ashley x
    (editor of teamawot.com)

  11. A teen’s take on feminism and why we need it RIGHT NOW

    March 8, 2013 by @NotRollergirl

    Sophia Valentine is a talented 17 year old writer. She has recently discovered the power of feminism after realising that female sexuality is often expressed and discussed in a highly sexist way. Here are her views on what it’s like to grow up in an overly sexualised society.

    Image from www.thecollegefix.com

    Image from www.thecollegefix.com

    As a teenage girl growing up in Britain in 2013, it can be nearly impossible to negotiate the issue of sex. Under constant pressure from the media, society and your peers, the mixed messages you receive can seem overwhelming.

    Recently, my mother announced that sexting was “shocking. [It’s] so detrimental, and children are being sexualised so young” And yet, to many teenagers, there is no line between texting and sexting. It’s simply becoming the norm. Most of my friends have experienced sexting in some form or another, and I’ve seen the persistence of teenage boys who want a “photo” – many of them are willing to nag incessantly until they get what they want, or try to guilt trip my friends. They don’t understand the meaning of the word “no.” Our parents are the generation who grew up with Playboy at the extreme end of the scale – now any child with a smartphone can watch pornography with relative ease. And what is the effect of this? Too often, porn is seen as creating over-expectant adolescent boys, who expect all women to be as willing for sex as the porn stars they see.

    John Bishop has joked about using porn to instruct his son, claiming he told him: “Actually son, they’re not usually that up for it.” But what about the effect of porn on women? Teenage girls see porn stars behaving in a certain way and feel they must mimic it. We are not objects, to be used and discarded. For me, the idea that a partner’s expectations of me are determined by pornography is ridiculous – real women have feelings and needs, they are not here simply to satisfy but also expect to BE satisfied. And what about when a woman doesn’t meet a man’s sexual expectations?

    Rape. The idea that someone will not respect my wishes is terrifying. The idea that someone would deliberately ignore my request to stop, especially in a situation as intimate as sex, is frightening. When I say no, I mean no: it is not a request, it is a command. It means stop. Being aware that almost 80 per cent of rape victims knew their attacker makes me fearful about future relationships. And where are these rapists and prospective rapists learning to behave this way? It can only be because they see women as objects, and they have been taught to prioritise their sexual urges over anything else.

    Which situation is “better”, in the eyes of society: sexual assault by an unknown attacker, or by a partner? Is either “better” at all? When I put the question to my friends, they agreed that often, sexual assault by a partner could be perceived as “worse”: each day you must face the person who hurt you, and something previously intimate is now threatening and negative. For me, while I recognise that rape by an unknown attacker may lead to mistrust of strangers, rape by a partner causes something far more severe – mistrust of the ones you love. You cannot recover without the support of those you trust – and yet you cannot trust them either. 85% of rapes go unreported, and often sexual assault by a partner is dismissed by the victim, who may begin to blame themselves. Anyone on the outside of an abusive relationship might wonder why the abused doesn’t leave – but more often than not, the abuse itself has left them without the strength, space and spirit to be able to walk away.

    The term “rape” has become an almost empty threat. Often, it is made to seem like an unavoidable destination: “if you dress like a slut, you’ll get raped.” To me, this use of a serious criminal act with severe repercussions as an inevitable concept is shocking. Whilst teenager drivers are often warned not to drink and drive, they are not told “if you drive under the influence, you WILL die.” With all other crimes, there is a degree of possibility indicated in the warning. You might be attacked. It may have serious consequences. With rape, there is no indication of doubt indicated in the language surrounding it – women are taught it will happen.

    For my generation, what hope is there? Adults condemn our actions, yet they are the result of a society that is constantly finding new ways to exploit young people. Too often, teenagers feel suffocated by societal pressures. For many teenage girls, feminism is an unknown concept, a “dirty word.” As a friend stated, feminism is often drummed out of us by society or overexposure, until it becomes part of the background, hidden at the back of the social consciousness.

    Teenagers, especially young women, need to know that sexism and sexual violence is never OK – and that if they speak out against it, they will be encouraged and supported. We look to so many different sources of information in order to find out how to behave. Will women’s magazines tell us how to get a boyfriend? Will porn tell us how to make him happy? But feminism needs to infiltrate and frame every fact we get given, otherwise it’s irrelevant and dangerous. Finding feminism has filled me with hope for the future. It needs to infiltrate the mainstream so that other teens use it as a source of ideas, answers and comfort.


  12. We’ve Moved Out Already, Church, Let It Go

    March 4, 2013 by J9London

    Image from http://www.atheistmemebase.com/

    Image from http://www.atheistmemebase.com/

    I don’t normally go in for them political fandangos, due to the high rate of people getting shouty, but the equal marriage bill passed through the house of commons and that deserves a pretty big huzzah from ever one. Of course, there are still some people who are dragging their heels about the whole thing, like the good ol’ Archbish of Cant, so as my personal celebration of this excellent news, I’d like to tell him why he just needs to let it go.

    You see, the church* built the society we live in, however irrelevant it may seem to your own personal life. The church is like a parent, and under its sometimes too watchful, often hypocritical eye, we have grown into the strange and varied culture of the west. And just like all parents, it has to let go sometime.

    When you’re a toddler, you trust your parents completely. You have to. They’re the only people you know, and they know the power you have. So when you say “why can’t I chase my ball out into the street and put flaming trombones in my hair and swim in the sea with my pet manatee and no water wings?” they just say “because I said so” and have done with it. Or they go on to say “you are an infant and I am grown and as I have grown I have received wisdom which you have thus far had no access to and besides I have a whole big book on exactly why you shouldn’t do those things, but it’s in Latin and you can’t even read English, can you, tiny child, so you’ll just have to trust me when I say I can sum it all up into a neat bundle of ‘because I said so.’”

    But you don’t stay a toddler forever, and your parents can’t watch you all the time, so you’re probably going off and learning stuff behind their backs. And they know this and, even though they’re divorced now** and sometimes disagree on things, they still love you and want to raise you right. So when you say “but why can’t I go to that party on the other side of town with Tanya who just got her drivers licence and have fun with all the boys she says will be there because there won’t be any parents around and then next week go backpacking through Turkey and Israel and Iran with one of the boys I meet at the party tonight?” they sit down and explain it. And they say “look, there’s a lot of swell advice in this book I was talking about earlier that I’ve now translated into a strange and unlikely form of English and you’ve learned to read, so here, have a copy, although seriously there are a lot of weird analogies and contradictions so I’ll just tell you what it all means anyway.”

    But there comes a time when every child has to leave his or her parents protective bubble. Whether it’s to go to university, to move to a different city, to live with another human so you can get your junk all up in each other’s business without it being creepy because your mum and excessively flatulent stepdad are in the next room, or just because your, like, twenty seven, jeez, eventually it’ll just be time to go. So you’ll say “I’m moving out. I’ll be making my own decisions from now on. It doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the foundation in life you’ve given me. And although I may listen to people who oppose you in various areas, and although I may form opinions you disagree with, I’ll still come round for dinner and talk to you because you have interesting views, some of which are helpful, all of which are fun to debate. When we inevitably do disagree I hope we’re both smart enough to use that as an opportunity for discussion, rather than reasons to fight and ultimately hate each other. Please trust that you’ve instilled in me some generally good values and let me make the calls now, KTHNXBYE.”

    Whatever you believe, wherever you’re from, if you’re living in the west, you’re in a society that was parenting by the church. Or churches, I should say, for there are several. In general, we’ve moved out and on. We’ll visit, some of us every week, but we don’t belong to the church anymore. It’d just be nice if it’d keep the kettle on. For anyone who ever facies a cup of tea.


    *I mean the church as a general, meandering beastie; the corporate church, the global church; not a specific church, and certainly not God
    **And I’m sure that picture of Henry “douchebag” the Eighth with the caption about the Church of England respecting the sanctity of marriage just brings HELLA LOLZ, but there was way more going on with the reformation of the church than him having blue balls for that Anne girl, come on, guys, research, jeez

    Janina is addicted to dark chocolate and peppermint tea. She once made a burger so good she has a picture of the occasion on her bedroom wall. You can find out more about her at myrednotebook.com and follow her on twitter at @J9London.