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.

 

‘No Selfies In the Booth’

Today’s the day, you’ve heard it on the news, seen it on the TV, read it in the papers, or more appropriately on your news app on your phone or tablet, it’s vote day.

I’ll be off on my lunch break and I won’t be disclosing who I will be voting for firstly, because I am torn between two and secondly because it should always be your own decision drawn on by facts, not opinions.

The most important thing to remember today is to make your voice heard, especially if you’re part of the younger generation and/or female. The party chosen will be deciding the course of your future, how easy it is to get on the property ladder, how much tax you pay, how much care you would receive in a national hospital, not to mention the future for your children. These elements impact our lives an incredible amount, just think of what the government did after the Second World War, the establishment of the NHS and Welfare State, which are integral parts of our society today. Of course, if you are a woman your vote is vital and should be treasured, if it was prior to 1928 I would not be able to vote today as I’m not a woman over 30, who I might add were only given the vote in 1918 after the Great War and the work of the Suffragettes and Iron Jawed Angels. These women fought not only for the vote but for freedom, dramatic as it sounds, it’s the truth. The people before us have paved the way for our lifestyles today and you can make the most of this with a simple ‘X’ next to the candidate of your choice.

One thing to sum it all up is an interesting report I heard today, whereby voters must be ‘careful’ of taking a seflie in the booth whilst voting as it could be going against privacy laws, talk about a statement for our generation ‘No selfies in the booth’. Whether your taking a selfie, checking in on Facebook at your local polling station, tweeting ‘I’ve voted!’, just make sure you do.IMG_0080

Looking Back and Looking Forward

Spring is in the air and there is a Spring in my step, cliché or not there is nothing better than waking up in the morning to a tree covered in full bloom flowers and the sky a wonderful shade of blue, but what lies ahead for the year for me. I think the phrase ‘time flies’ is simply all to real, I now go onto my Timehop and see reminders of a bungee jump in New Zealand three years ago or a fancy dress night 6 years ago with numerous photos taken in a less than presentable student flat. Now I like to think of putting some of my time into different things, although the next bungee jump is already planned for the end of this year, in none other than South Africa.

Of course on the cards are the numerous festivals coming up in the Summer, unfortunately no Glastonbury for me however I do think I will be partaking in an old favourite South West Four, just a stones throw from my humble abode, taking place on Clapham Common. The line up is unmistakably good, Faithless headlining Saturday, their first major London performance in four years I believe, not to be missed. Within my girl group of friends we have also been looking into Croatia, a place I’ve never been before but have only ever heard amazing things.

One thing thatapril 24 is special about London is that you’re never short of things to do that extend outward from the classic pub session (not denying however these will still be a common occurance). I remember last year having lunch and a prosecco cocktail, in the height of Summer, with my Mom before visiting the fantastic Glamour of Italian Fashion Exhibition at one of my favourite museums The Victoria and Albert, London. We spent a little too much money in the gift shop stocking up on books and beautiful prints as well as a miniature vintage Fiat 500 for my Dad to match his actual vintage Fiat 500. Previous to this I attended a lecture on Italian Fashion with a special focus on Salvatore Ferragamo, Shoemaker to the stars and if only all lectures in life had been like this one, so informative and fascinating. Next on the list is of course Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, also at the V&A, I’m hoping to fit in time to go to one of the 2 talks accompanying the exhibition too! (Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, 14th March – 2nd August, for tickets click here)

The other event I would love to attend which is slightly out of my reach is the Trust Women conference, a 2 day long event covering topics like Human Trafficking and Slavery as well as Women’s Empowerment and Special Focus talks. In light of some of the recent events including the tragic lost of over 800 lives in the Mediterranean Sea, these topics are more relevant than ever. With an advisory board that includes Cathy Russell (U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues), Cherie Blair (wife to former Prime Minister Tony Blair, lawyer and founder of Cherie Blair Foundation for Women) and Christie Turlington Burns (Founder, Every Mother Counts, filmmaker, author, super model) the event is sure to be a success once again. (Trust Women Conference, 17th – 18th November).

Funny how when you’ve finished education you eventually start to look back fort it, however this time I’m looking for more fashion trends and empowering women seminars rather than geometry and physics calculations.

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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Different

As I spent part of my weekend watching the splendor and genius of the one and only Pharrell Williams killing it at the O2 my love for him and all he stands for only grew. I organically found N*E*R*D at the tender age of about 13 or 14 and by organically I stumbled across them on MTV and from then on I was hooked. For any music lover you can often remember one piece of music, band or artist that turns you from a chart listener to a music enthusiast. From then on their albums were on repeat, their merchandise was on order and I was a complete fan, including being at the front row of one of their concerts in Brixton as a teenager and as you know I am short now, so you can imagine the size of me then and skill it took to be and stay at the front row!

Pharrell has always been in different whether it was through his Neptunes productions with his musical partner Chad or through N*E*R*D (with Chad and final third member Shay), however he now promotes this idea and aims it towards women. His incredible album Girl exudes this and no better than one of the hits from the album Marilyn Monroe in which he quotes ‘Different’ at the start of the track. Whilst at his concert he put so much emphasis on the strong female dancers he calls the Bae’s who are impressive in every way and continually said to the crowd ‘I want all the different girls to put their hands in the air’.

My gushing over Pharrell does have a point I assure you, being a feminist, slight tomboy and a subtle activist for racial equality and women’s and animal rights it’s important to hear such an influential person and not just a person but a man encouraging women to be different. If all your friends are listening to Rihanna and getting excited for the new series of Made In Chelsea (or worse TOWIE) and you would rather be listening to the new Defected Records podcast and watching documentaries about serial killers, well there’s nothing wrong with that.

It’s different people that have made our world what it is today and it is those people who are making the word a better place day after day, take Malala Yousafzai, having been shot in the head by the Taliban in Pakistan for being an activist for female education, she has now won the Nobel Peace Prize and is going on to do simply incredible things. She is an exceptional case but even a simple thing like going out your way to sign a petition against angora fur is making a difference and being different. I only hope there are more albums, books, films and people which help the younger generations see the beauty in being that little bit different.