Tag Archives: student

The ‘F’ Word

Firstly, I would like you all to take a quick test: Are you a feminist? 

Congratulations!  Welcome to the feminist club!

Whilst the quiz is very simplistic, it serves to highlight the main idea: Women are people who are deserving of equality.

A lot of people see feminism as a dirty word, outdated and unnecessary in today’s society. Many regarded the plight of women’s rights over when we won the vote, or again when we saw the first female Prime Minister take charge. Even worse, some still regard women as undeserving of the top jobs or men as responsible for the equal care of children.

Louise_WeissI am a firm believer in promoting women’s rights. This encompasses everything from correct sex education (that discusses more than just using condoms) to educating men on their role in perpetuating the divide and how they can work to improve the situation. Girls out perform boys at every stage of the education system, yet the pay gap widened in 2013 with women earning an average of £5,000 less than men. The number of women in politics is disgustingly low, with the number of female MPs standing at 22%. The overarching patriarchy that prevents women from viewing their opinions as valid or necessary in society is enforced and perpetuated by the lack of female representation in politics and in the most competitive jobs.

I think it is important to realise that equality for women is still a long way off. It is a far away concept in the sense of equal pay and political representation. Inequality is also rife in the everyday lives of women. It is present in the catcalls in the street and in the pop song that blurs the line between consent and sexual assault. You only have to scroll down your facebook news feed to see examples of blatant sexism. Articles such as ‘10 Reasons Not to Give Him a Blow Job’ grace our screens and reinforce the idea that, for women, ‘no’ is simply not a correct response to sexual advances. We must instead weave an intricate web of lies, including our unfortunate ‘mouth fungus’ to get out of giving oral sex. There is a disparity between how men and women view sex. I am constantly shocked by the number of friends who can admit to things like being non-consensually choked during sex, or being asked to perform anal on the first date. Poor sex education and easy access to porn has created this disparity, where young men have unrealistic expectations of what sex is like.

My own experience of sexism shocked me into realising that some people do not regard women as equal, or their issues as important. When I attended a competitive, all-boys Grammar school I was shocked at the misogynistic attitudes of some of the students (and teachers). The ‘lad’ behaviour was sickening, with Year 13 boys placing a wager on who could sleep with one of the new Year 12 girls first, along with delightful recounts of their latest ‘conquests’ in the common room. What  shocked me the most was a hilarious, end-of-year facebook debate discussing whether or not “Most likely to beat their wife/child” should be included in our year book. What probably started off as a distasteful joke became and argument about attitudes to women, and how we couldn’t ‘take a joke‘. These boys attended the ‘best sixth form in the country’ and defended their right to make jokes about domestic violence.

The Everyday Sexism Project aims to highlight the experiences of women on a day to day basis and provides a window into the oppression that women experience every single day. Feminism should not be a ‘dirty word’, it does not mean unshaven armpits or burnt bras (unless, of course, that is your choice). Feminism is about promoting choice and equality for women. It is about educating everyone on rape culture and safe, consensual sex. It is about promoting choice to girls so that they do pursue careers in politics or engineering.  It is about teaching boys that ‘jokes’ about domestic violence are not okay. Feminism should be a subject everyone is familiar with and is discussed everywhere.

Krakow: The unedited travels of a student

So, yesterday I flew to krakow in Poland with some university friends of mine. We were up at 3am to make a 7am flight from Southend Airport. The entire experience has been oddly reminiscent for me. It was the first stop on my interrailing trip last summer and it’s where Abbey had her accident.

This trip has been much more tame than the last, pretty easy going (but everyone has only just caught up on sleep, most of us hadn’t bothered before the flight). Today, the rest are visiting Auschwitz and I’m using this time to do some of the things I didn’t get to do in Krakow before. I think having the day to myself will be really good, I’ve been going crazy at uni and so a day rambling around a city will be a lovely break. Wandering through foreign cities is one of my favourite things to do. Travelling last summer opened my eyes to how endless the world really is.

Krakow is such a small city it’s easy to do in just a few days. The castle is beautiful and the central square has this really peaceful feeling, aimless wandering is definitely on the cards today (and lots of coffee, too).

I hope to see a few museums today and visit the Jewish district. I’d love to buy a journal out here, I’ve been looking for one for ages and it’d be lovely to start writing whilst in Poland.

Being here has only made me want to travel more, see parts of the world I have yet to see: Asia, Africa, America…. At university it is so easy to get absorbed into a bubble of friends, a routine of lectures and drinking that I forget I used to have these great plans and ambitions.

I will update with some pictures later.

Living in London (another ramble)

 Being a student and living in one of the greatest cities in the world  

            I can see The Shard from my kitchen window, a fact I tell everyone back home and one that never fails to surprise me every morning (or afternoon) as I put the kettle on. So, what is it about London that makes living here so great? Because it can’t be the extortionate price of housing, the dreary weather or the bad transport. I think, for me at least, it has a lot to do with the diversity. Growing up in a Conservative strong hold and attending white middle class schools felt stuffy and outdated. I am now studying on a course that is roughly one third UK students, one third EU and one third from outside the EU. Student halls are a mix of languages and cultures, too. It is all a shock to the system, but in a good and exciting way. I have to say that there are far more Conservatives at university than I imagined, so in some ways it is just like being at home!

            London is iconic. The architecture is beautiful and walking over Waterloo Bridge on the way to lectures, even on a wet and windy day, never fails to make me smile. The part of me that is consumed by wanderlust is somewhat tamed by living here. London feels like a city of possibility. Although I recognise that it is definitely a place best experienced when you have money, or time. I don’t have all that much money, but I do seem to have a fair amount of time on my hands. I have already experienced many things in London: I have been to the top of The Shard (which was an incredible experience), I have sheltered from the rain in the National Gallery (and ended up spending hours there) and I have walked along Oxford Street at Christmas time. Every time I go to lectures, I walk through Somerset house and get an incredible view of the South Bank. Yet, there are an infinite number of things I haven’t done yet. I haven’t been to the top of St. Pauls nor have I been to the market at Spitalfields. It is easy to get into a lazy student routine of drinking too much at the pub and spending whole mornings (or days) in bed. I suppose this is something I hope to change this term.

            There is more to being a student in London than just doing all the tourist things. For me, being in London was about making connections and discovering opportunities I might not have elsewhere. I have applied for a job at the Museum of London and I have an interview next week! If I am lucky enough to get the job the experience will be an incredible one. It is only working in the gift shop, but nonetheless it offers a different opportunity and I could be working in the centre of London, which is an exciting thought.

            There is no doubt that being a student in London is expensive, but it is manageable. Learning to cook is key I think, being a cheap drunk helps too! I have found transport and textbooks to be the biggest, unexpected, expenditures, only one of which is particular to London. Managing a budget is part of growing up and moving out of halls next year, where I will have to start managing my bills too, will be another shock I am sure. I am determined to stay within Zone One, being able to walk about the city has been one of my favourite things so far. The tube has its own society and rules and conduct and behaviour. It’s too stuffy. As long as it’s not raining too bad (I really need to invest in an umbrella), London is definitely a city best experienced on foot.