Hot Feminist By Polly Vernon – Review

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Available from Amazon £10.49

So I’m back and bronzed from my Summer olibob in Hvar, Croatia, copious amounts of wine, great food and good times. I’d just like to note it is baltic, I am longing to dig out my black tights and jumpers now that Autumn has officially reared its ugly head. During my ten days of bliss I was accompanied by 7 friends and of course one of my Summer reads, this being Hot Feminist by Polly Vernon.

Polly Vernon is a columnist and style writer with a sharp tongue and sharp wit who rose to infamy with a controversial article on being thin….. and yes I am a curvy girl and no I don’t hate her. The book covers serious issues surrounding women’s rights but it’s an easy read in a sense that I felt I was sat in a living room with PV having a conversation about all the topics within the book.

Do I agree with every single thing she believes? No. For example, I don’t really appreciate cat calling or being called a chick, however one brilliant point PV makes is to pick your battles. As a feminist, your opinions and beliefs will always be questioned and argued by both women and men alike, I think the thing to remember is to know your argument and be prepared to debate when necessary and to not get riled up by the unnecessary.

I found myself regularly chuckling to the greatly described anecdotes (personal favourite is a 3 page description of the process of the leg shave), getting very involved in the various debates which take place between PV and her friends and inspired by her attitude. Don’t get me wrong, within the comical stories and remarks, there are also facts which will shock as well as a chapter on PV’s own experience of an attempted sexual assault which is deeply disturbing but empowering at the same time.

It is perfect for anyone who finds themself to be a feminist but doesn’t necessarily want to pick up a Virginia Woolf or Germaine Greer book, it’s well written, accessible and by the end had me feeling pretty good, pretty much like I would be pretty happy to share a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc with Polly Vernon, well worth the read.

 

Career Girl Goals

Do you know just how differently men and women are paid?

When you’re in the office, ask your male counterpart what his salary is, firstly you’ll notice the sheer disdain that you dare break the boundary of work decorum, then if he answers you can do the math. Women have been entitled to equal pay since the Equal Pay Act was introduced in 1970, however there are still major issues 45 years on. The gender pay gap is still at 9.4% (Office for National Statistics, November 2014), which is actually an improvement of 0.6% compared to the previous year. David Cameron’s call this year to put more pressure on large firms to disclose their data is a welcome break as it is completely down to the companies ‘discretion’ as to how much they pay their staff.

Of course as a career girl myself I know I have to work harder and speak louder and be that ever bit more careful than my male colleagues. Is my blouse just slightly see through? Is my skirt too tight? If a woman gets promotion…… ‘Sleeping with boss ay?’ We’ve all heard it, there’s no denying. So reaching breaking those boundaries and reaching that career goal as women is more important than ever, whilst also having the added pressure of the size of your waist, marital status and the ticking clock within your ovaries. However, being the best at multi tasking, boy do women know how to do it.

For any woman you need goals in life, whatever those goals may be and here are some of my top career girls –

Annie MacManus (DJ)

I could start with Beyoncé or Angelina Jolie but I take my female role models a little differently. Born in Dublin and at 37 years old she has an ever growing empire, having started BBC Radio 1 in 2004 she has now recently taken over for Zane Lowe, making it 5 nights a week on (my opinion) the best radio station in the world. As well as this her AMP tour spans from Coachella to Glastonbury to Ibiza. All the while raising her young son with her partner, artist Toddla T. The curly hair, addictive personality and perfectly executed craft make her quite the lady.

Stella McCartney 

Famous surname or not she is one of the best designers, (first making her mark as the Creative Director for Chloé 1997) as well as being British she is a firm animal rights activist and refuses to use any fur or leather in her collections. A lifelong vegetarian and supporter of PETA, married with four children, an all round Wonder Woman.

Carol Jean Pentland (Mother to this lucky kid) 

Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania she left Steeler nation and worked travelling the world eventually meeting her future husband. They had 2 children in a picturesque house in Johannesburg, before settling in England. Even with the odd judgmental look from other mothers when picking up her kids from school, straight from work, in a pencil skirt, heels and blazer with shoulder pads you could only envy, she was successful in work and now academia earning herself a top degree with highly credited work. Not to shabby I’d say.

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Help A Sister Out

The UK top feminist icons were recently announced and Angelina Jolie has been crowned the number one spot. Actress and fellow UN Goodwill Ambassador, Emma Watson, who had recently launched her HeForShe gender equality campaign, ranked 2nd in the poll conducted by Fashion house Rose and Willard.

One positive message this poll shows is that gradually the image of a feminist is changing which can only be a good thing, I am a feminist and not ashamed to say it, I also shave my legs, don’t have a vendetta against the male species or refuse to wear a bra. Stereotypes are what make the term feminist have such negative connotations, why I believe some women are afraid to call themselves one, feminists are no longer bitter women writers but public figures, carrying themselves with grace and strength.

With Hillary Clinton hinting at a second attempt at the Presidency I must say I for one am excited, more so than one usually would be regarding politics. Could this generation see the first black president and the first female president? Madeleine Albright was appointed the first female secretary of state in 1997, paving the way for a string of women reaching one of the highest powers a person can hold. Hillary Clinton’s game changing speech in Bejing September 5th  1995, at the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women was unforgettable wearing nothing other than a pale pink suit and pearls. In my opinion strategically chosen, underneath the pastel exterior was a woman on a mission a tactic to mislead those who felt she shouldn’t have been there especially with the tension with China at the time. However, with the poignant words spoken we have to question what has been achieved since and a full 20 years on the amount of women at heads of state around the world is still just 14 out of 192.

Fashion and feminisim, feminism and fashion, polar opposites, contradicting things? Not in my opinion, like I said a feminist isn’t what some people perceive them to be. I am a wizz with the nail varnish brush and spend my free time reading Vogue, finding new blogs to follow etc….. But can also talk for hours about the state of women in society.

We have work to do in society, but we are getting there. What we need to focus on is the bigger picture, I recently watched a documentary on Hillary Clinton’s speech (BBC iPlayer), which I recommend, no easy watch I assure you but it will make you want to get off the sofa and do something.

“There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.”

Madeleine Albright – First ever female US Secretary of State (Keynote speech at Celebrating Inspiration luncheon with the WNBA’s All-Decade Team, 2006)”

This quote has to be one of my favourite of all time, women who say ‘I’m not a girls girl’, ‘Women don’t tend to like me, I think it’s jealousy’, ‘I get along better with men’, all well and good but I don’t know where I would be without the support of the women in my life, so can’t imagine how these women do without and seem to openly admit that they do without. Help each other don’t hinder, I’ll openly admit you cannot help feeling jealous, especially when on a beach, getting ready for a night out, we all know the feeling of Why isn’t my skin like hers? Why aren’t my legs the same as hers? But for women to succeed to where we want to be whether it be a stay at home Mom that makes the best Sunday roast or the next VP of Google, we have to quite simply help a sister out.

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Choices, Choices

There is one thing in life which is unavoidable, making decisions. You wake up in the morning and it’s what do I wear today, in my case at the moment however this usually involves mastering the layered look (or trying to) as my office has sub zero temperatures; you decide what to have for breakfast and so on. It is these individual choices which are superficial you might say but there are other small choices which can often depict the person you are. You can choose to have an opinion, make your point heard, have an impact or you can keep your thoughts to yourself. Whichever you choose I think it is important for people, especially women to not be afraid of having their opinion heard and if you’re labelled opinionated, so be it. It’s hard to imagine waking up in the morning and having to choose your clothes for the day with strict guidelines in mind. I recently came across a video of an Iranian woman dancing on a train on the Tehran subway without her veil covering her face or head, breaking two laws. The video was posted on the website My Stealthy Freedom, a sharing page for women in protest against the strict regimes. An outlet for those who would like to be able to make a choice in life. I believe that feminism can often be misconstrued and unfortunately the sheer word ‘feminist’ is tainted, however it isn’t about women being better than men it is about gender equality, which works both ways. As a fashion enthusiast and a feminist I’m always thinking of the two things combined, a book next on my reading list does exactly this Fresh Lipstick: Redressing Fashion and Feminism, it covers exactly this explaining how wearing a 5 inch heel and a red lip doesn’t diminish your morals and doesn’t give anyone else a reason not to take you seriously. This post is in no way intended to preach, it’s simply stating that your choices make a difference and when you’re putting on your favourite jeans in the morning remember for a moment, that there were people in the past that fought to allow you to be able to wear trousers, go in to further education, earn your own money, the list goes on and on.

Life is about choices, just make them your own and no one else’s.

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