Tag Archives: women

Up-and-coming women’s magazine is turning heads in Liverpool

27 Aug

As a long-established blogger and columnist, I’ve managed to pester enough magazines, websites and PR companies to publish my writing over the years. Many students looking to elbow their way in to the blogging world and boost their CVs often ask me for recommendations for who they could submit their work to. I’d like to endorse an up-and-coming women’s magazine in Liverpool that showcases a whole variety of women’s artistic creations.

Heroine Zine's lovable logo

Heroine Zine’s lovable logo

Heroine Magazine, affectionately known as Heroine Zine, was set up just over a year ago by two creative writing graduates, Abi Inglis and Phoebe Dunnett, both 22,  from Liverpool John Moores University. They publish anything that comments on the female experience and explores the history of women’s culture. The duo don’t just publish work from women, though- as they believe that ingenuity and flair are genderless attributes.

Heroine Zine's Issue 3

Heroine Zine’s Issue 3

What started as a Summer project at university and has grown into a print magazine that highlights women’s creativity, ranging from poetry, prose, photography, art and articles. The duo have enjoyed numerous successes over the past year, from holding open mic nights in the city centre, gaining a loyal band of worldwide subscribers and even hosting their very own festival in Chavasse Park, Liverpool One.

Abi said: “We’re so passionate about Liverpool and all the fantastic creative projects that are happening here. We love to support the women involved in these and help provide a space where they can create and perform.”

The magazine even has ‘manifesta’ of principles that outlines the wholesome ethos of its editors. Phoebe explained: “We feature all types of creativity that celebrates women exactly as they are. We want to be the type of magazine that doesn’t feature airbrushing, body-shaming or product placements. Just creative ingenuity.”

Heroine Fest in Chavasse Park, Liverpool One

HeroineFest in Chavasse Park, Liverpool One

HeroineFest in Chavasse Park was a particular highlight for the pair, who brought workshops, discussion groups, stalls and live music to the top of Liverpool One. Many other creative women’s groups from the North West attended the festival, including the Lady Parts Theatre Company, Queen of the Track Zine and a female Beatles tribute band, The Beatelles.

Abi said: “We wanted to celebrate some of the awesome women we know in Liverpool and the North West. It was a great day and we got some fantastic feedback from the public.”

“Having HeroineFest take place in Chavasse Park, a very public space in the middle of Liverpool One, really showed us how open and welcoming people were about the idea of having a women’s arts and culture magazine in the city.”

The editors are now taking submissions for issue 4, which will be published in October. To get in touch, visit facebook.com/heroinemagazine or email [email protected]

Sexism & gender stereotyping explained by 5 popular Facebook memes

23 Jul

Facebook memes typically feature a witty expression or phrase written in two parts, typed over a photograph or image that supports the impact of the punchline. The first meme I ever saw was this popular spin-off from the Lion King, in which Mufasa explains to Simba what lies beyond the light, at the ‘shadowy place’. 

Memes have become so widespread that you can create your own meme on a number of meme-generator sites. So instead of the above meme reading ‘The South’, you could insert anything you like, from ‘MacDonalds’, to ‘Malia’.

At best, a meme is a witty quip about some aspect of modern life. But most of the time, people use memes as a way to quickly justify and validate bad decisions or cheap shots at other individuals and groups. For example, the ‘People of Wal Mart’ page has over 25,000 likes on Facebook and is full of memes, but when you think about it, the page is a seriously creepy collection of photos taken of people unawares in order to make fun of their appearance.

There’s something about memes that have social media users hypnotised. Whether it’s the typeface or the supporting image or a combination of the two, memes seem to make hurtful statements acceptable and imbue flimsy observations of daily life with substance. In many cases, if you heard a stranger utter the same words out loud in a restaurant, you’d feel inclined to move tables.

When it comes to gender, sexuality, dating and modern relationships, memes tend to promulgate the gender binary, lock women into double standards, portray all men as chauvinists and relationships as some kind of unhealthy fated fairytale.

There are a select number of popular memes that I keep seeing again and again over Facebook, Twitter and Instagram that really grind my gears because they romanticise harmful and polarising messages about gender. Without further ado, here are 5 popular Facebook memes that have crept all over the Internet and done exactly that: 

I also like the idea,

That someone, somewhere, had just broken up with their partner and made this meme to justify their dating status.

I’m sure many people all over the world ‘like’ the idea of soulmates but this meme promulgates the fantasy that modern relationships are like Disney films. In reality, there may well be one person you can spend your life with, but it takes hard work, co-operation, sacrifice, patience, acceptance, humility, negotiation and maturity to make a life-long relationship work with anyone. This meme typifies everything that is wrong with expectations of modern dating, thanks to happy-go-lucky sitcoms and chick-flicks. 

If a guy sleeps with ten women, he’s a stud. If a woman does the same, she’s a slut. This is one of the most tired double standards in the history of sexism that’s yawning so hard its jaw hurts. But this meme expresses the prejudice through a viral image, which re-inflamed the toothache like never before. A woman is not a territorial conquest. She is a human being.

I’d much rather be understood than loved, thanks mate

I’ve seen so many women and girls re-post this meme on social media sites. I’m not sure if it’s suggesting that women are so complex that it’s easier to just love them, or that women are simply not worthy of human understanding, but either way, it traps women in a binary. The fact that the quote originates from Oscar Wilde does nothing for me. Literary prowess aside, Wilde lived in a time when women’s status was entrenched within economic, political and social barriers that do not exist now, so the fact that the quote has been re-generated via memes in a modern context is completely anachronistic.

I like to think of myself as a kind of straightforward, reasonable person who means what I say, but the Internet has other ideas. Apparently, because I am a woman, my vocabulary is imbued with double-meanings that send warning signals to men everywhere. I am so truly complex and manipulative, that men have created memes to help other men figure out what I might mean. Huh, who knew? 

I saw this meme on Instagram and felt how much of the nation felt while watching Nick Griffin on Question Time- there are so many aspects of it that incense me that I don’t know where to begin. The concept of ‘gentleman’ and ‘lady’ teeter upon archaic, chivalric expectations of behaviour based purely upon gender. I would much rather that somebody held the door open for me because it is polite, not because I’m a woman. If society, meme-users or a man believes that it is his entitlement to ‘smack my ass’ when I have walked through that door because I am ‘his’, then they’ll be met swiftly with a door to the face. Some gent.

Reflections on a year abroad

23 Apr

It’s with great sadness that I’m writing my last column for The Daily Gamecock.

Before I departed for South Carolina last August, I was asked to write an article describing my feelings about the year ahead. I called my piece ‘Great Expectations’, and listed all of the weird and wonderful things I wanted to see and do while studying abroad.ImageWhile my year as an honorary Gamecock has fulfilled the aspirations of my bucket list twice over, it’s the lessons I’ve learned within myself that have been truly life-affirming.

There are two things that I’ve discovered in the mighty Palmetto state, for which I’m forever grateful. The first is my vocation as a writer. Writing viewpoints columns throughout the year has not just been life changing because it’s transformed my resume, but it’s been life changing because it’s transformed me as an individual.

Part of the job description as a viewpoints columnist is to stay in the know about local and national news and events. As a small fish in a very big pond, engaging with my host country in this manner has been an essential way to connect with the world outside when everything around me felt unfamiliar.ImageForming my own opinions about my new surroundings has taught me to be my own person, to know myself, and to know where I stand. At many points during the year, writing has been a lifeline- the only thing that felt like concrete under my feet when everything else was like sand running through my fingers. In one year, writing opinion pieces has taught me more about life and about myself than all my years in school and university put together.

The second thing I’m eternally grateful for is a feminist enlightenment. To me, feminism the very simple belief that women and men are equal human beings who deserve equal rights.

Taking women’s self-defense classes has taught me that I don’t have to rely on anyone else to defend myself in the world. I have the right to defend myself, but what’s more is the inner belief that I’m worth defending.

Before I moved to South Carolina, these were beliefs that I held close to my heart. Thanks to my feminist awakening, they’re now part of a living reality than runs through my veins.

But what I’ve come to realise while reflecting on my year, is that these two facets of studying abroad are seamless. The year has not transformed me as a writer or as a feminist, but as both.

Renaissance poet Sir Philip Sidney once ended a sonnet with the words: “Look in thy heart and write.” Writing is not simply about using imitation and sophistry to come up with something entertaining to say. It’s about being in touch with what’s in your heart and sharing that on paper. As a woman and as a writer, never have I felt stronger than when realising that people are listening, and that they value what I have to say. Writing is my empowerment.

Becoming a columnist has allowed me to create my own space in the world and believe in my entitlement to that space. It’s my right as a woman to the freedom of expression, to the freedom of speech and to the rights of the first amendment. It’s my right to write.

In ‘A Room of One’s Own’, Virginia Woolf once said, ““Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.” Thanks to my foremothers who fought tirelessly for women’s rights, I’ve been able to explore the freedom of my mind at the same time as exploring the world.

I’ve always believed in the saying that, “The world is a book, and those who do not travel, read only a page.” My Appalachian adventure in writing has given me ‘A Room Of My Own’, a room in which I’ve started chapter one of that book, and I can’t wait to see where the rest of it takes me. Image

Why 21st century feminism is a worthy fight

2 Dec

On Sunday night I attended a presentation held in South Quad about sexual violence and assault. After a couple of power-point slides about the parameters of sexual violence and rape legislation, the representative from Sexual Assault and Violence Intervention and Prevention, or ‘SAVIP’ opened up the floor for discussion. The speaker read out statements about hypothetical situations to which we had to hold up a red, yellow or green card to signify how appropriate we deemed each incident. I was incensed to hear one response from a guy who had shown a green card to the statement, ‘a woman leads a drunk guy upstairs at a party’. He said,
“This can mean two things. If it’s your girlfriend, then that’s great because it means you’re cashing in. If it’s not, then you should get the hell outta there because she’s probably trying to get a baby outta you.”
I was enraged by the suggestion that all women must be driven by the desire to either please men or use them as baby-making machines. After a heated debate, the discussion turned to the topic of victim blaming. The representative explained how rape is a heinous crime no matter what victims were wearing or their level of intoxication. A green-carder from across the room piped up,
“But come on, you go out to Five Points at Halloween and you see loads of girls dressed as black cats. You can’t say they aren’t asking for it”
Since when did I live in a world that suggests women dress to entice rapists? The women in the room launched into a verbal reproach, spelling out that women should be able to wear what they want without being labeled as a temptress- or as anything, for that matter. If this guy was suggesting that the only reason for provocative dress was to prompt sexual abuse, then what did he have to say for the increasing number of 14-year-olds who wear denim hot-pants because they want to look like Nicki Minaj? Are these young girls ‘asking for it’ too?
The biggest shock of the night came when the representative told us about the egregious Instagram phenomenon known as ‘#rapeface’. There are over 40,000 #rapeface photos on Instagram, in which users take a picture of themselves pulling a face they’d make if they saw someone they’d like to rape. The #rapeface trend is a gross trivialization of traumatizing sexual assault, and it needs to stop.

Feminists of today may not be fighting for the right to vote, but it’s moments like this that remind me that the battle against discrimination is far from over. Twenty-first century sex discrimination is of a completely different nature compared to the institutionalized prejudices of the 1970s. Women’s rights advocates must adapt to the grossly insidious nature of modern-day sexism if we don’t want to go down in history as the generation that well and truly settled for less.
As I swiftly put this guy and his misogynistic comments in in their place, I heard sighs across the room from his friends. There have been few periods in American history when feminism hasn’t been labeled as a horde of menstruating, grumpy man-haters, and at this moment I felt like they were lumping me in to this mistaken stereotype. As a moderate feminist I believe that the primary goal of feminism is to uplift the status of women so that it rests on an equal plane to men- I’m not ‘crazy’, and I don’t hate men. If people are too weary to make mental notes when their speech offends others, I begin to wonder when everyone started getting so tired. We women are pretty damn tired too, but it doesn’t mean we’re giving up the fight.

Pizza, cake and a film…at my professor’s house

10 Oct

One of the things that is particularly different between the British and American university experience is the relationship between students and professors. Back home in Leeds we’re encouraged to call our tutors by their first names, yet our rapport with them remains distant and professional. In South Carolina, students call their professors by their formal titles, yet housesit for them, become friends with them, and go to their houses for pizza, cake and a film.

I opened my syllabus for my History of American Women module at the start of the semester to see an asterisk under the tasks due this week: *‘REQUIRED MOVIE: ‘Iron Jawed Angels’ to be viewed out of class. We will try to arrange a group showing or you can watch it on your own.’ I had assumed that this would be a gathering in the library’s viewing rooms, or a case of renting the DVD for a quiet night in. Little did I anticipate that this meeting would take place in my professor’s sitting room last night at 6.30pm.

In Leeds, it’s novelty enough when students catch tutors located out in the real world, outside of the student bubble. To quote Janis Ian from Mean Girls, seeing professors outside of school is considered unnatural, ‘like seeing a dog walking on its hind legs’. It’s even stranger to stumble across (or search for, admit it) professors’ facebook and twitter profiles, because we just can’t seem to separate their academic roles from their entire identity. What’s more, the professor whose house I visited last night is the most esteemed academic I’ve ever had the privilege of learning from, making the invite seem even more prestigious- and yet, it was so peculiarly natural and unassuming.

We pulled up to a beautiful large house a short drive away from campus, and were welcomed by the professor herself as if we were regular visitors. While we waited for her husband to come back with the pizzas, we stood around her kitchen island discussing all sorts of things as if we were at a dinner party; the NHS, alcohol laws, life in Leeds and the importance of studying abroad. Forty minutes later we’d devoured the delicious pizza and taken our seats in the lounge next door, in front of a mounted wide-screen television. The film, ‘Iron Jawed Angels’ is about the journey of Alice Paul (Hilary Swank) and Carrie Chapman Catt (Angelica Houston) as they led the fight for female enfranchisement in the USA. It was so incredibly captivating and moving that all ten us of sat in complete silence for its entire duration.


As the credits rolled up the screen and I wondered why on Earth I’d never seen this film before, my professor scrutinised the credits with intent:
‘Oh never mind, I can’t find it,’ she said to herself.

My friend turned to me and whispered,

‘I wonder how historically accurate it all is’

‘I think that’s the sort of thing Marjorie will know,’ I suggested.

My friend turned around and asked Marjorie this very question. Then came the jaw-dropping reply,

‘Well I was trying to look for the name of the Historical Consultant for the film in the credits just now, but I couldn’t see it. It’s in there somewhere, it’s my name.’
Marjorie told us the story of being approached by the film producers, and the dazzling treatment she received in the process. HBO flew her to Washington and back in a day, complete with limousine transfers to and from the airports. She was also treated to a spread of whatever food she desired (it was Indian, a fine choice) After Marjorie reviewed the first copy of the script she was invited to a follow-up meeting to view the first production of the film. She exclaimed,

‘…and it was so funny, because after all that celebrity treatment they gave me, they hadn’t changed a darned thing!’

Other fantastic stories we heard included the time she was invited to view a copy of the 19th amendment of the United States, which granted the vote to women in 1920. Only the twist in this tale was that when she got there, she peered over the glass to exclaim, ‘This isn’t it!’ to the bewilderment of all around her, and was whisked down corridors straight to the exhibition’s curator to enlighten the situation with her incredible wealth of knowledge.

We sat in Marjorie’s living room for over an hour, talking, speculating, debating and laughing. One of my favourite things she said was purely a side note:

‘The pizza is fantastic isn’t it? My husband and I always say that no matter how much we travel and see the world, there’s nothing better than ordering a Pizza Man, opening a beer and sitting down to watch the news together.”

As we stood up to make our way out, Marjorie reclaimed our attention as she scrolled through news updates on her phone.

‘Is that what I thought it was?’ She asked urgently.

‘Obama has just made Janet Yellen the first ever woman to be head of the Federal Reserve!’

Not only had I been sitting in my tutor’s house, admiring her endless, powerful wisdom and watching my now favourite film about the progression of women, but I was lucky enough to share the very moment that the history of American women took another step.


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