Posts Tagged ‘advice’

  1. Abortion: Don’t be afraid to say it

    November 22, 2012 by SarahH

    PRO-CHOICE. Potential trigger warning,

    Image credit: BPAS

    For those who do not follow the pro-choice movement, the events of last week proved to be a bit of a shocker. And, rightly so. For those of us who do follow the pro-choice movement, Savita’s story is not such an anomaly. The biggest, most distinguishing factor about this tragedy is that this happened in Ireland, in a ‘developed country’, our neighbours, incredibly close to home. As one of my closest friends (who is Irish) said to me in an email earlier this week ‘I’m in shock and utter rage about what’s happened in Ireland. This is my country, it’s the first world and this happens?’

    Abortion is a subject which warrants a dialogue and engagement not avoidance. Abortion is a social issue and abortion is a feminist issue. Acknowledgment, understanding, and awareness of abortion is vital if we are to break down the negative labeling associated with it. When it comes to personal experiences of abortion, why is it that women only disclose this information to their nearest and dearest and most trusted? Why is it that, in 2012, women do not feel confident enough to stand up and admit to being a woman who has had an abortion? My answer to this would be because of an unwarranted, widespread, and insidious judgment powered by silence, by shaming, by avoidance, and ignorance. Contrary to what the heavy regulations and controversy surrounding abortion suggest, it is a not scarcely performed medical procedure: in 2009, 21% of UK conceptions ended in abortion, yet women still feel the need to be silent about their experiences for fear of being judged or tarnished with a label which is not, and should never be, applicable to them. There are so many myths and negative connotations surrounding abortion that, for many women, speaking out about it is a daunting and frightening prospect.

    So, here’s a bit of myth busting:

    1. Abortion is faced by married women, by single women, by mothers with children, by women in long-term relationships. Statistics show that approximately one in three women in the UK will have an abortion in her lifetime. ONE IN THREE.

    2. Abortions occur at all reproduction life stages: 9% of abortions are for girls under 18; 41% ages 18-24; 36% ages 25-34; and 14% age 35+.

    4. Abortion is very safe in Britain. It is one of the most commonly performed gynaecological procedures.

    4. Internationally, each year, 20 million abortions take place in unsafe, unhygienic, and downright grotty conditions. Because of this an estimated 80,000 women die.

    (stats taken from and

    Why is this still a taboo subject? Why is this still something which society teaches us to be ashamed of or be made guilty for doing? Why is this still an issue which is subject to restrictive, and down right shaming, legislation which makes women jumps through hoops, stand on their heads, and do a tap-dance?

    At present, British abortion legislation is based on the Abortion Act (1967) and the Section 37 of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act (1990). In Britain, abortion is not legally available at the request of the woman. The ultimate decision resides with not one but two GPs. This gets even more scary when you take into account that 10% of British GPs consider themselves to be actively anti- abortion and have or would refuse to grant a woman an abortion because of this. The situation for our sisters in Northern Ireland is positively medieval: British abortion laws are not applicable in Northern Ireland, therefore women do not have access to safe legal abortion.

    So, what are the repercussions of this? What does this really mean? In Britain, it means that women are side-lined and marginalized. It means women have little choice and no voice. It means that women are subjects not citizens. Furthermore, for women in Northern Ireland, it means trauma and emotional distress brought about by having to surreptitiously seek an illegal abortion.  It means serious complications and health repercussions caused by back street abortion methods.  It means death. How can we expect abortion to break free from social stigma if the people who seek it are treated as though they are criminals, offered up to and bound by the decisions of others.

    Where is the autonomy in this? As far as I can see, there is none. It is a humiliating and paternalistic attitude, perpetuated by a government who so cleverly appointed an anti-abortion health minister (a man, no less!) who wants to reduce the upper limit to 12 weeks. A bizarre move given that only 8% of abortions are carried out over the 12 week period anyway. Who exactly is being protected here? Not the women facing abortion, that’s for sure. These attitudes need to stop.

    Abortion is not a dirty word.
    Abortion is not a crime.
    Abortion is not something to be ashamed of.
    Abortion should not be an ‘issue’ which is pushed under the proverbial carpet and only discussed/ acknowledged at time of crisis (i.e. now)
    Abortion is a real and tangible factor of everyday life.

    Abortion. Don’t be afraid to say it.

    One in three women in the UK will have an abortion in her lifetime. One in three. Look around you….
    For honest, reliable, and unbiased information or advice see:

    Education for Choice:
    British Pregnancy advice
    Abortion Rights
    Abortion Help (Marie Stopes)

    (Please Note: “LIFE” and “Crisis” centres are religiously motivated abortion advice centres. Please be aware that the information they offer may not be unbiased.)

    Sarah (@sazbottle) is a grass roots feminist campaigner and is involved with groups including @femactioncam and @armpits4august. Sarah writes for various online magazines/blogs and is partial to a bit of blogging in her own right (obviously all her posts are her own views, and not necessarily the views of organisations she works for, or anything like that, for all you legal eagles out there). By day, Sarah works for an NGO  which targets corporate malpractice and illegal marketing strategies. Sarah likes history, yoga, raspberry leaf tea, and loud music.

  2. Is being single ‘going to waste’?

    May 15, 2012 by Thimbelina

    Image from Pinterest

    There are many reasons why I love Twitter (the Awesome Women count alone is stupendous), but the ability to ‘over-hear’ conversations is right up there.  Every now and again, you gain a glimpse into what folks really feel about themselves; sometimes directly, and sometimes it’s just seeping out, unspoken, from between those scant 140 characters.

    It’s there where I overheard two extremely attractive (and I sensed a fair bit younger) ladies lamenting that their most ‘attractive’ years were drawing to a close; those good looks and damn fine bodies were starting to soften and, without a romantic partner in their lives, those attractions were ‘going to waste’.

    I intervened, of course: these women are, if anything, at their peak of desirability, surely?  The body still toned, the face still firm, but with the gilding of experience and confidence to make them women and not mere little girls.

    And doesn’t a real man want a woman, not a little girl?  They are still gorgeous; desirable.  They and those fabulous bodies have had, are still having, fun.  They could have ‘wasted’ those years in a crap relationship, with someone who didn’t appreciate them for who they really are; that would have been worse, no?

    Still, I understand where they’re coming from.  I read this on the Guardian’s Invisible Woman fashion blog;

    “It’s a bit of a no-brainer really, isn’t it? Look around yourself on the train, in the coffee shop or canteen and count how many “celebrity magazines” you see – all peddling the impossible myth of eternally youthful chemically enhanced “beauty”. Look at almost any red carpet event and the subsequent reporting about who looks “tired”, who’s “struggling to contain her curves” and whose décolletage is not quite as perky as “they” think it should be. You wear gloves (Madonna) – it’s because your hands “give you away”. You wear a scarf (sensible in January) – it’s because your neck is “crepey”. No perma-tan? Then you’re emotionally and physically exhausted and your relationship is probably on the rocks as well.”

    I’m watching the years make their steady progress across my face and my body, like everyone else.  Sometimes I’m not sure if it has an additional level of mental discomfort for me; perhaps I am too vain, too subconsciously accustomed to and dependent upon the generosity of new folks who claim surprise at the advancement of my years.  I am, however, much luckier than many, many others; I have a large LTR behind me, I do not hear a biological ticking clock, I have no-one who enquires with kindly yet perceptible impatience, “so, when are you going to settle down, then?”.

    Despite this good fortune, I am still teetering on the edge of many a grey area; do I dress the age I sort-of look, or the age I genuinely am?  Does my face ‘match’ my body?  Is it a lie?  Should I care?

    I feel I can claim some triumphs with age, though.  For one; with greater confidence, my posture is better.  My body has changed, improved; a regaining of post-break-up weight, a tapering of my ribs, a clearer shoulder-line and waist; basically, more curves.  My face has slimmed a little and, despite the many faults I could list, the wrinkles at least are still pretty fine.  I still smile.  I smile a lot.

    Is this last blooming, this last fragile beauty of my late summer, being wasted through having no one to share it with, no-one to appreciate it, enjoy it, love it?

    I could see it that way.  I know I have spent a lot of time in the not-so distant past doing just such a thing.

    But it ignores one crucial element.  There IS someone here to appreciate it.


    It’s even more important that I appreciate myself as, quite frankly, no-one else is here to do so.

    I have very few folks to bear witness to my (in real) life, stuck here as I am, mostly house-bound through chronic ill health.  Very few visiting friends (perhaps once every 3-6 months), no colleagues, no dates (that’s a long story, next time, my amigo), no family, just the occasional lunch with a female friend.  I talk via Skype to a couple of friends but it tends to be via audio only; and I know for a fact that neither of them are invested in how attractive they find me…

    So.  Here’s the point.

    If I do not think I am beautiful, and funny, and special, then who will?

    If I do not look in the mirror, see beyond the faults, see the good heart shining through despite them all; who will?

    If I do not love myself: who will?

    And this is why I think I am grateful for the toll the years have taken upon me.

    My attitude, my outlook, my attempts to grow and develop any compassion and kindness within me (I say attempts; I’m not so vain as to believe that I succeed!) means my ‘beauty’ (such as it is or was), while still perhaps remaining an acquired taste, is far deeper than it ever was. It grows day by day, as I try to be a better person.

    And this is the gift, the blessing given in exchange for my youth: I am a more ‘beautiful’ person to be around.  A calmer, wiser, more secure soul.

    (Generally: you know, I’m not a freakin’ saint, right??)

    Just because I cannot pass for 20 doesn’t mean I’m no longer ‘beautiful’; it has merely changed, grown, evolved into something more.  Something different.  A different kind of beauty, I hope.

    Of course, I am sitting atop a high-horse on all this; as I say, I’m extremely lucky.  I’ve read the OKCupid statistics on how men my age will still look at and message girls half ‘our’ age more than they will their own contemporaries and, while I can ‘go cougar’ to obtain short-term sexual thrills (and yeah, I’ve had offers), that’s not quite what I’m after.

    (Sidebar: up to 9 years younger than me, then hell yeah.  If an impossibly kind, intelligent and beautiful young man wants to persuade me, hot damn, then go ahead, sport :) )

    But yeah.  Even if no-one can see you nor hear you, nor validate nor endorse you: fuck it.  Appreciate how rocking your body is, how your own eyes glitter in the sun and the snow, how much you love those who do come across your path, and just how bloody hilarious you damn well are.  I do.  I have to.

    It’s not a waste if someone appreciates it.  Why not make that lucky person be you?

    Peace out.

    Thimbelina  blogs  here  (where this post first appeared) – a site which was conceived to house her occasional thoughts about sewing and CFS/ME, but which has subsequently collapsed into the incoherent chaos about life, love and relationships that it is today.  She also hands out hugs and cups of tea to complete strangers via Twitter here, as restraining orders have yet to be invented for the Virtual World she almost entirely inhabits.

  3. Mum’s the word

    March 20, 2012 by Ashley

    Following Mothers Day on Sunday, I asked the mighty women of Twitter for their best mum advice. The results were touching, poignant and surprisingly funny. Enjoy!

    Image from


    “Don’t sit on anything damp.”


    “Never cut your own fringe. No matter how much of a good idea it seems, it’s not. #mumwisdom”


    “What’s for you won’t go by you.” I’ve always lived by this rule and it’s only when you look back on your life that you can join the dots and see that it’s true. Nothing meant for you will pass you by if it’s meant to be.


    “Better alone than badly accompanied” – my friend Fi’s Granny. Said in a dry Scot’s accent.


    “Ooo, my mum always said “Crying gets you nowhere”. It’s taken on an entirely different meaning as I’ve gotten older…”


    “My mum always said to me ‘Make sure you take your make up off everynight/wash your face before bed and moisturise properly’ I have followed this rule for nearly 20 years and only not done it a handful of times (when I was drunk). She also still says, don’t stress about things, because they will always work themselves out.”


    “Sure my mum will be disappointed that this is my favourite but: “Never go food shopping when you’re hungry.”


    “Mrs Rapp is full of gems, including make good choices, if you want something ask for it, and there’s more men in the sea :) The last one is an inside type joke, but I wouldnt be half the person I am today without my mom’s wonderful advice.”


    “Say your prayers and keep yourself regular.”


     ”Everything is good for you in moderation.”


    “Sometimes you need to call someone a wanker.”


    “The secret to doing a roast is timing.”


    “Tea? Or a gin and tonic?”


    “Her cleaning philosophy: “Dust adds character.”
    “Her eating-times philosophy: If the time can feasibly have a ’12′ in it, then it you’re allowed to eat lunch. So “25 to 12″ is a perfectly reasonable time to tuck into a sandwich.

    “Her shopping philosophy: Name three things already in your wardrobe that you will wear it with. If you can’t, you’re not allowed to buy it. If you can but you’re still dithering, you must put it back on the rail, go away for an hour, and if it’s still there in your size when you return, fate wants you to have it.”
    @laurenbravo (mum is @JanieBravo)


    “”Just do your best, that’s all you can do.”
    @alice_emily (mum is @LittleEarn)


    “You can be whoever you want to be.”
    @ashleyfryer (mum is @hilariefryer)


  4. Guest post: What I would teach my daughter

    February 7, 2012 by Ashley

    This post comes from Reposted with permission from the author.

    Photo from

    It’s ok not to be the most popular girl in your teens. Focusing on your studies and your interests may make you Geek of the School for a while. I am not going to lie to you, “a while” can sometimes mean years. Push through it. Focus on your studies. Broaden your horizon. Go as far academically as you can. The world will be your oyster. That über cool girl who gets all the boys and has branded you a massive loser? One day you will be chairing a meeting and find that she is serving you coffee. It’s a triumphant moment – you will have one, too.

    Learn about Photoshop. Realise that all those glossy pictures of flawless women are fake. Embrace your curves. Be the weight and shape you are comfortable with. Celebrities don’t eat what they want and stay skinny. It’s as much a myth as Father Christmas (my apologies if this is news to you). Ignore sizes. Accept that some companies use their clothes as marketing tools and design their cuts so they don’t fit anyone bigger than a broom. Don’t ruin your health and teeth with an eating disorder. Develop a healthy relationship with food because if you don’t, you will miss out on one of the big joys of life.

    There is nothing wrong with being sexual. Explore your body. It’s an enigma but a beautiful one. Learn to love yourself first before you let anybody else influence your journey of discovery. Ask questions. Find your own boundaries and never ever let yourself be pressurised into anything. Never ever fake. There is no right age for the first time but remember this: It will turn out to be an important moment so share it with someone you will remember fondly. And always, always protect yourself.

    Even if you don’t expect or even want him to leave his wife, don’t sleep with a married man. You are worth so much more – a true partner and a friend. He is not your friend. He lies to the woman to who he vowed, in front of witnesses, to cherish, love and respect for the rest of his life. He doesn’t stick to the big promises. The long, heart-felt emails, texts and phone calls will stop once the deed is done. He will then discover that his wife is actually not as bad as he had portrayed her. You can convince yourself, you don’t love him and that what you have is enough. However, there will be a moment you need a strong shoulder and you will see his suddenly oh so busy backside doing a runner faster than Sonic the Hedgehog on acid. Don’t be the other woman. Be the No 1 woman or enjoy being single.

    You will hear that woman have the same rights and privileges as men. Chances are very high though you will encounter or even hit the glass ceiling. You will have to deal with sexism, you will be overlooked. Yes, it’s not fair. It’s ok to cry about it. Then move on and fight for your rights. Be realistic about your abilities and never forget that they don’t depend on gender. Remember what Samuel Johnson said: “Nature has given women so much power that the law has very wisely given them little.”

    To see the original post from Swissminx, click here, or to follow her on Twitter, click here.