Blog

Review: Miss Representation

Miss Representation documentary

Our founder, Kara, discusses Miss Representation directed by Jennifer Siebel Newsom. 

Miss Representation was released in 2011 and investigates the role of the media in representing women. Newsom shows how influential and powerful the media is and how the messages shape our worldview and more importantly our worth.

It is disturbing how we are manipulated by the TV we watch, the films we see in cinemas, the magazines we read and the posters we see. We are bombarded by messages that tell us our worth and how we contribute to the world. For women, these messages are predominately related to how we look and our ‘sexiness’ etc.

Miss Representation is a real eye-opener and contributed to a change in how I view myself, women’s bodies and the role of media in society.

Read more about Miss Representation

Four Simple DIY Tasks For Instant Impact

When you feel down, tired or demotivated the last thing you might want to do is to get the toolbox out and do something practical. But learning something new and carrying out practical tasks can help give you a real lift and sense of achievement and lift.

Here are our top five simple DIY tasks for when you need a quick win.

1. Hang a picture

Do you have some picture frames gathering dust in a corner of your house?

Putting up a picture frame is the perfect simple DIY task. It’s straightforward and you’ll get an instant boost by seeing the picture on your wall.

Take this project to the next level by creating a picture gallery on your stairs.

Looking for an even quicker way to brighten up your space? Peg some postcards, photos of your travels or friends and family on some string for an instant pick-me-up.

2. Fix that squeaky door

Kara sprays door hinges with WD-40

Have you got a door in your home that creaks and you haven’t quite got around to fixing it yet?

Fix it today by spraying some WD-40 on the hinges.

3. Make a chalkboard frame

The Practical Woman team loves writing to-do lists. It helps us to organise our days and clear our heads.

Upgrade your list making by spraying an old picture frame with chalkboard paint. You can buy chalkboard paint from Amazon and most home improvement shops.

4. Paint something

A woman painting a wall orange

Do you have a small wall in your house that could do with some colour? Or maybe even just a cupboard or a plant pot?

Buy a tin of paint (or even just a tester pot if it’s something small) and have a go. You can always change the colour again later.

What practical tasks do you like doing to give you a sense of achievement? 

Review: Fat is a Feminist Issue by Susie Orbach

Fat is a Feminist Issue by Susie Orbach
Kara reviews Susie Orbach’s popular book from the 1970s, Fat is a Feminist Issue

I had mixed feelings before I started this book as the idea of ‘fat’ isn’t a big thing to me. Like most women, I have periods where I feel fatter than usual as well as those times when I feel skinny. My weight fluctuates and the last time I was ‘thin’ I was ill. I’m happy that I am no longer ill and whilst I often thought about my weight and diets when I was younger, it doesn’t seem to be something I think about a lot anymore.  

Reading Susie Orbach’s book has made me realise how applicable ‘fat’ is to feminism and female power and that it is incredibly significant and complicated.  

I loved Orbach’s approach in the book. She gained a lot of insight from running support groups and this comes through very clearly in the book. She peppers her thoughts and evidence with relatable case studies.

Orbach discusses the issue of compulsive eating and this really resonated with me. If I eat lots of crisps or biscuits it may be that this behaviour is to fill a space or hole. It can be to give me a treat or to comfort and console if I’ve had a tough day. Reading Orbach’s explanation of binge eating has really helped to raise my awareness.  

The book also talks about using fat as a kind of barrier between us, our feelings and the outside world. This was really illuminating and something I think I do. Orbach sees fat as acting as a kind of protection from sexual attention, being marketed and other external factors. Fat can make us feel bigger, sturdier and this can help with feeling bolder and confident.

There is also something about what fat says about us. So long as we have a little fat we are not ‘perfect’ so don’t suffer from the pressure or responsibility to be ‘perfect.’ I loved this part of the book and it definitely influenced how I think about ‘fat’.

Have you read Fat is a Feminist Issue? What did you think?

 

Opportunity: Marketing and Social Media volunteer

Are you passionate about gender equality? Do you have experience with marketing and social media?

Practical Woman logo

Practical Woman is looking for a Marketing and Social Media volunteer to build awareness of our workshops and brand. The position will be based on remote working and the hours are flexible.

Full details are available in the job description (PDF).

If you’re experienced with social media and would like to get involved with our work, please contact our Emma Halford-Busby (Director of Marketing and Communications) by email on emma@practicalwoman.co.uk

Nine practical gift ideas for all budgets

Christmas Gift Guide

It’s December which means that very soon (if not already) you’ll traipsing the streets or frantically browsing online for that perfect gift for friends and family members. Well, close those open tabs and put your feet up because here are our favourite gift suggestions for the practical person in your life no matter what your budget.

Nine perfect gift ideas for the practical person in your life

Practical Woman logo

1. Practical Woman workshop

We had to start with ourselves, didn’t we? Is there someone you know who wants to do more DIY but doesn’t know where to start? Book them a place on our workshops and we’ll send you a nice gift voucher to pass on.

£40-£60 per day / Buy online

Suck UK Pencil Spirit Level

2. Suck UK spirit level pencil

The perfect stocking filler! A pencil and mini spirit level in one! Ideal for hanging pictures.

£5 / Buy online

FORGE STEEL HAND TOOL KIT 55 PIECE SET from Screwfix3. Beginner’s toolbox

A complete starter toolkit is ideal for those new to DIY or a friend or family member who has moved into their first home. Check out our guide to the essential tools.

£29.99 / Buy online
Collins Complete DIY Manual

4. DIY manual

We have a stack of great DIY guides at Practical Woman but our favourite by far is the Collins Complete DIY Manual.

Sign up for our newsletter by 31 December 2017 for your chance to win a copy.

£11.99 / Buy online now

Fawcett Society Keepcup

5. Reusable coffee cup

The perfect gift for the fabulous, feminist, coffee loving person in your life. These wonderful keep cups from the Fawcett Society are environmentally friendly too.

£9.95 / Buy online

The Makery Make Your Own Lampshade Craft Kit

6. DIY lampshade kit

Learn how to make your own lampshade with this brilliant kit from The Makery.

£19.95 / Buy online

 7. Runnin’ the World pencil case

Store your pens and pencils or whatever you want in this brilliant case.

£5.50 / Buy online

 Melissa & Doug Take-Along Tool Kit8. Melissa & Doug toolkit

It’s never too early to learn to be practical!

£11.99 / Buy online

Teen Breathe - wellbeing for teens magazine9. Teen Breathe magazine

Not sure what to buy for your teenager? Teen Breathe is a brand new magazine focused on wellbeing for teenagers including features on mindfulness, body image, crafting and more.

£23.94 for a year / Subscribe online or pick up a copy from your local newsagents

 

All prices shown were correct at the time this post was published.

Sign up for our newsletter for your chance to win a copy of the Collins Complete DIY Guide (CLOSED)

Collins Complete DIY Manual

At Practical Woman we love our copy of the Collins Complete DIY Manual. We use it all the time for advice on various DIY tasks so we thought we would give you the chance to win your own copy. Simply sign up for our email newsletter by 31 December 2017 and you will be entered in to our prize draw to win a copy of the book.

Our email newsletter will be sent out every six weeks and will contain updates from the team, links to useful tutorials and resources, blog posts and lots more.

Sign up now using the form below. Full terms and conditions are shown below.

The prize draw is now closed.

Prize draw terms and conditions

  1. The prize draw is open to people aged 18 and over who live in the United Kingdom and provide their email address and sign up to the Practical Woman newsletter. Family and friends of Practical Woman may not enter the prize draw.
  2. The prize draw will run from Sunday 3 December 2017 to 23:59 on Sunday 31 December 2017 inclusive. Only newsletter sign ups during this time period will be entered in to the prize draw.
  3. Only one entry per person.
  4. One winner will be chosen from a random draw of entries received in accordance with these terms and conditions.  The draw will be performed by a random computer process.  The draw will take place on 1 January 2018.
  5. The winner will receive one copy of the Collins DIY guide. The prize is non-exchangeable, non-transferable and is not redeemable for cash or other prizes.
  6. The prize will be sent out by second class post to the winner within 30 days of  the closing date (31 December 2017).
  7. By submitting your email address you agree to receive the email newsletter from Practical Woman. You will be given the chance to unsubscribe from the newsletter on every email we send. Our privacy policy is available on our website. We will never share your details with any other organisations.
  8. By entering the Prize Draw, you agree for us to contact you about your prize draw entry, and for the purposes outlined in point 7 above.
  9. The name of the winner can be obtained after 1 January 2018 by sending a stamped addressed envelope to the following address: Practical Woman, Suite 186, 8 Duncan Street, London, N1 8BW
  10. Entrants into the prize draw shall be deemed to have accepted the terms and conditions.
  11. Promoter: Practical Woman, Suite 186, 8 Duncan Street, London, N1 8BW

Our perfect toolbox

Toolbox

At a recent event, we presented our guide to the perfect toolbox. Here’s a list of 24 toolbox essentials every woman should have to be ready to tackle any DIY task.

Anything missing? Let us know in the comments.

Essential tools

Steel tape measure: A must have for measuring. Comes with a metal hook, the tape pulls out and has a lock button to hold the tape in place.

Spirit level: A spirit level helps you work out if a line is straight – either vertically or horizontally. It has a bubble in a little window and when the bubble is in the middle of the two lines it is level. You can then draw a straight and accurate line on the wall or check your shelves are straight.

Universal panel saw: General use hand saw. Long enough for cutting timber and sheet material.

Junior hacksaw: Small hand saw with small blade suited for cutting through metal i.e. screws.

ClawhammerGeneral purpose hammer. Most commonly used for hitting nails and striking other tools such as chisels. The claw end is useful to use as a lever or for hooking under nail heads to remove them. 

Pincers:  A removal tool i.e. for removing nails from walls or wood. 

Flat/crosshead screwdrivers: Used to put in or remove screws. Each type of screwdriver fits an appropriate screw head – either a slotted head or a crosshead shape.

Craft knife: Knife with a thin adjustable blade for cutting paper, card, plastics or scoring lines onto materials like wood or plastic. 

Pliers: General hand tool can be used for electrical work, tightening, untightening and gripping.  

Sandpaper/glasspaper: Comes in various grit sizes coarse to fine. Use to sand surfaces i.e. walls or wood to give a smooth finish or for taking off rough surfaces.  

Filler: Can be bought ready-made or as a powder to mix up with water. Filler is used to repair and fill holes in walls before decorating. Different fillers are available for filling holes in wood. 

Wallpaper scraper: Wide blade with a handle for removing wallpaper.   

Set of flat paint brushes: Useful for painting walls and doors or woodwork. Choose a small to large brush depending on the width of the area you’re painting. We recommend choosing a mid-price set. If the brushes are too cheap then the hairs may fall out into the paint or stick to walls. 

Paint roller and tray: Choose a large roller head for painting walls and ceilings. A smaller head should be used for small areas or behind radiators. Rollers come in different pile thickness to suit different paints and rough or smooth walls. Use the roller with a tray to hold the paint and then roll the roller across it to pick up the paint.

Multi-tool: A compact hand tool with a variety of pull out tools. Can be used for screw driving, cutting, as pliers and a bottle opener etc. A multi-tool is handy for space saving and travelling or camping. 

Sink plunger: For unblocking sinks and basins when the waste isn’t clearing. 

Medium/Large adjustable spanner: Use to tighten or loosen nuts of various sizes. You can move a wheel to change the size of the jaws.

Radiator key: Helpful when bleeding a radiator (letting out air). A radiator key opens the nut on top on radiators. Modern radiators now only need small screwdriver to do this.

Stepladder: A fold out ladder available in various heights. It has several steps with a flat section at the top for standing or resting tools on. 

Advanced tools

Electric drill: A powered tool with a ‘chuck’ to take drill bits. Mostly used for drilling holes into walls, timber and stone with suitable drill bits.  

Drill bits: ‘Bits’ of various types for cutting holes into wood, metal and masonry. Drill bits are available in varying lengths/diameters. 

Wall plugs: These are used to line the holes you’ve made after drilling into a wall. When wall plugs are placed in to the holes, screws then have something to bite into. They vary depending on the type of wall you’re drilling in to – brick, plasterboard etc. 

Power jigsaw: A powered tool with a narrow pendulum blade. Cuts through timber, metal and plastic with the right blade. Can be steered through the material to create curved shapes, rather than a straight line i.e. a cut out in the door for a cat flap. 

Electric sander: A powered tool for sanding. Pads of different grades attach to the underside. Good for sanding wood and walls in preparation for painting. 

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Exciting news! Practical Woman now has an email newsletter. Get all the latest news from the team, details of our upcoming events and links to great tutorials and resources.

Sign up by 31 December 2017 to be entered in to our prize draw to win a copy of the Collins Complete DIY Manual – a favourite of us at Practical Woman. (terms and conditions)

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Our femifesto and more

Whilst Practical Woman have been out on the road this month, we’ve talked a lot about our femifesto. If you haven’t seen it already, here it is…

Our mission

Practical Woman aims to: 

  1. Give every woman the freedom to feel gorgeous and happy being herself.
  2. Equip women to take the practical skills they’ve gained and continue to learn more.
  3. Inspire and support every woman to give every task a go even when they haven’t done it before.
  4. Stimulate women to look at how we are depicted in society (and the media) and how to raise our voice in protest to change it.
  5. Empower women with links to beneficial and useful resources and information.
  6. Give women space to explore consent so we can enjoy good safe sex.
  7. Know what to do if we are harassed or assaulted and who can help us.
  8. Benefit from feeling part of a sisterhood – support and strengthen each other and say no to body shaming and other hurtful and dangerous behaviour.
  9. Convert anger and frustration into optimism and action. Equality is possible and together we can do it.
  10. Enable women to achieve, flourish, dream big and laugh so we can enjoy life on this beautiful planet. 

Please comment below with your thoughts and if you think we’ve missed anything or can express it in better ways. We love feedback.

Whilst we’re talking semantics, have you noticed how words around our identity are controlled by the male version e.g. female, woman, human etc. As a quick game, can you identify how these words and others litter our language? How about we create a new word such as WIM as used in the The Daughters of Egalia, which i’m currently reading (review to follow soon!).

We’ve also been re-watching The White Queen TV series based on the books by Phillipa Gregory. Amazing, please watch it if you haven’t already!

Practical Woman @ FiLia 2017

DSC01561

A few weeks ago the Practical Woman team hit the road and ran a workshop at the brilliant Feminism in London conference.

We had a great time and wanted to say a big thank you to everyone who attended the session and shared their thoughts and especially to the women who volunteered to take part in the DIY activity as part of the workshop.

During the workshop, we shared reasons why women should consider developing their practical skills. A lot of the women already had great skills which was great to hear!  

Here are our ten reasons why learning practical skills can be helpful: 

  1. A strong sense of achievement 
  2. Once you get past the jargon you can see how easy it is to do. Anybody can do it! 
  3. It’s distracting and relaxing 
  4. It can improve your feelings of self-worth to complete jobs around your home 
  5. The buzz when you ‘do it yourself’ 
  6. You can feel more independent and courageous in other aspects of your life 
  7. You save money and avoid the complications of bringing in an expert 
  8. Get together with friends to learn new skills and take on tasks – you feel good supporting other women
  9. You learn new life skills which could lead to a change of career and different hobbies 
  10. Finally, it’s actually really good fun! 

Dates and how to book a place for our upcoming workshops in January 2018 will be soon available on our website.  It might make a good present for a female friend or family member in your life! 

 

Women in Construction

A couple of weeks ago, our founder Kara was lucky enough to able to tag along with Mears to a night of celebration being arranged by Women into Construction.  who are doing great things bringing equality into the construction industry.

It was an evening of celebration marking dozens of successes ranging from gaining the necessary qualifications to entering positions in the workforce.  

Kara at the Women in Construction event
Kara at the Women in Construction event
Before we celebrated, we heard from some stalwarts supporting equality in construction. Of particular note was Tideway CEO Andy Mitchell who aims to have the very ambitious “gender parity on the project by the end of the project”. He said that “you wouldn’t pick a (football) team from half the squad” and he wants the industry to “be representative for the society we are building for”. Mitchell said there were three key reasons why women are not in construction (only making up 10% of all construction, office and planning roles): 

  1. The working hours are not conducive to families and other responsibilities that women often have. 
  2. It is an intimidating environment 
  3. There are mediocre benefits 

Another key player was Sarah Bale, the CEO of CITB (Construction Industry Training Board). Sarah was fabulous and it was great to see a woman in such an important role within construction. She felt that the CITB “was leading from the front but recognised that we have some distance to travel”.   

Tony Hyland then spoke on behalf of the Employment Minister and was “very proud to be involved in the project”. 

It was a very positive and inspiring evening and it was a real privilege to be a fly on the wall seeing the steps being taken to make construction accessible to everyone.

Who is Lottie Dod?

Lottie Dod age20

We first found out about Lottie Dod as an answer in Trivial Pursuit (spoiler alert!). When we looked in to her more, we discovered that Lottie was really rather awesome. Born in 1871, Lottie was Wimbledon Ladies’ Singles Champion five times! She was only 15 years old when she won the first time –  the youngest woman ever.

In her career, Dod tried her hand at many different sports and excelled in all of them. She won the British Ladies Amateur Golf championship, the Silver medal in Archery at the 1908 Olympics and co-founded the England women’s national Field Hockey team. If that’s not enough, Dod is named as the most versatile female athlete of all time in the Guinness Book of Records!

We’re incredibly impressed at how much Dod did for raising people’s awareness of women’s capabilities in the sporting world.  If you are interested in getting more involved in sports, visit UK Sport or Women in Sport.

PS. Did you know our founder Kara is also a Guinness Record holder!?

Guiness Book of World Records certificate

 

Book review: Romantic Outlaws by Charlotte Gordon

Welcome back to the Practical Woman Book Club!

As you might have realised by now, we love to read and share recommendations at Practical Woman. Have you read a book recently that you really enjoyed? Let us know.

Our latest review comes from Kara who has just finished reading Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley by Charlotte Gordon.

I know many people will have already read Romantic Outlaws as it comes highly recommended by many reviewers. But for those who haven’t yet found time to read the hefty 547 pages here are my thoughts…

Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley by Charlotte GordonRomantic Outlaws by Charlotte Gordon

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, it intertwines both women’s lives and cuts across both eras ending one paragraph with Mary Shelley and then continuing with Mary Wollstonecraft. This was a bit discombobulating at the beginning but I soon got used to it! I found both women’s lives fascinating and engrossing.

They both led similar but very different lives and the portrayal is human and real. Showing both their ups and hideous downs. Both women had such tragedy in their lives and the fact that they were also able to give so much to their neighbours and friends but also to the literary world is astounding.  They worked in very different ways to rock the established order of things. Wollstonecraft in a political manner and Shelley subtly and defiantly.  They both loved and lost a lot. They both (Shelley inspired hugely by her mother) wanted the world to reflect on their assumptions and behaviour.   

Whilst writing about the women Gordon provides a lot of background about the era they lived in. Adding such facts that until 1891 a husband had a right to ‘detain his wife’ so could basically keep them trapped in a cupboard under the stairs! She also talks about the books they read writing of Wollstonecraft that ‘in her writing, her voice rings out, unpolished, inelegant, and filled with the force of truth.’ 

Romantic Outlaws is a very enjoyable, interesting and well thought out book. It must have taken years to research it, and you feel that in the text. I can’t recommend it enough. It makes me quite emotional about the impact both women had on the world and their courage to fight for equality against such hatred and condemnation.  

Thank you, Mary’s, we owe you both so much.

Opportunity: Treasurer at Practical Woman

Practical Woman group

Are you passionate about women’s rights and want to get involved in something pioneering and exciting?

We’re in the process of becoming a Community Interest Company (CIC) and we’re looking for someone with financial experience to join our team of directors.

We’re looking for…

  • At least one year’s commitment
  • An ability to attend the quarterly meetings in London
  • Experience of managing a social enterprise’s accounts and ideally a Community Interest Company
  • A passion for supporting and empowering women and achieving gender equality

What’s in it for the volunteer?

  • Your involvement will mean the greater empowerment of women in London and also giving much-needed support to vulnerable women such as care leavers.
  • Join a dynamic and passionate team.
  • Be part of an exciting and new project in the capital.
  • Build on skills and experience for your CV.
  • Make friends and, depending on your wishes, get more involved with our projects and meet the people we’re connecting with and helping.

How to apply

If this sounds like you, read the full details on Reach Volunteering and apply by 31 October 2017.

Book review: Open by Gemma Cairney

Open: A Toolkit for How Magic and Messed Up Life Can Be - Gemma Cairney

Fellow Practical Woman, Morgan-Jade (14) tells us what she thought of Gemma Cairney’s book, Open… 

I think that Open is a really great book. It has amazing advice that a young person would definitely benefit from. It covers so much content and says things that need to be said. It’s great for girls who may be struggling and girls that maybe just need some advice from time to time. This book is very detailed and talks about things there could be a ‘stigma’ about in a very mature way. This book includes so much support and deals with so many real issues. Being a teenager in our society, a society where social media is huge, people can find themselves constantly comparing themselves to other people. Self-esteem and body image is becoming a huge issue amongst young people.   

I have found that people I know are struggling with very real issues, for example, self-harm. This book gives advice and has really helped me give support to other people and would help people get support if they were in that situation. I think this book deals with things such as body image, loss, mental health and our world in a comforting way. This would be a help to most women from teenagers, up.  

Have you read a fantastic book recently that you’d like to tell us about?
Email us or let us know on our Facebook page

Five exciting things happening at Practical Woman right now

Happy Friday everyone! We’re so excited we might actually burst! We’ve had such a good week here at Practical Woman and we just had to share. Now where shall we begin… 

1. Lights, Camera, Action…

Last Sunday, we started and finished filming a video to promote Practical Woman and the quick and easy ways we can get practical right now…

We had some amazing support and it was a really good atmosphere on set, thank you to everyone for collaborating, sharing ideas and supporting Practical Woman.

The video is currently being edited by the wonderful Terry and will be available very soon. Watch this space…

2. Making it official

Tick box

We’re applying to be a Community Interest Company (not for profit/social enterprise) registered with Company House. Once it’s all official we’ll be able to apply for funding and support. This will be a major milestone for Practical Woman and we’ll keep you updated.  

3. FiLiA conference

Feminism in London logo

We will be running a Practical Woman workshop at the fantastic FiLiA Conference on 14- 15 October 2017 (that’s next month!). Whoop!

Our session is an afternoon breakaway session on Sunday 15 October. Come along to learn more about us and some new skills. Let us know if you’re attending on our Facebook event page.

For tickets and more information visit the FiLiA website at filia.org.uk  

4. Celebrate sisterhood

Malala Yousafzai at WOW festival 2014Malala Yousafzai at WOW 2014 by Southbank Centre (CC BY 2.0)

If all this talk of fabulous feminist conferences and last week’s blog has got you thinking, like us, about the brilliance of sisterhood then there are lots of events and organisations our founder Kara would recommend.

Kara is involved in the Women’s Equality party and if you’re similarly minded it might be something you’d like to check out.

We’re also a big fan of the WOW – Women of the World festivals which Kara has been attending for the past five years. WOW caters for everyone and we’ve attended talks ranging from Annie Lennox discussing AIDS and hearing Gillian Anderson and Jennifer Nadel talk about their book, We: A Manifesto for Women Everywhere, to having a laugh with Sandi Toksvig at the cabaret-style Mirth Control. Well worth investigating if you don’t already go!

5. A letter from our MP

A few weeks ago, Kara popped along to her local MP surgery and just last week received a lovely, supportive letter from the RT Hon Emily Thornberry MP.

“Practical Woman sounds like a fantastic idea which will equip women with important practical skills.”

Ending the letter that if I would like any further assistance or support from her to not hesitate to get in touch again. Wonderful encouraging stuff, thank you, Emily. 

 

Sisters before Misters

Kara Bird and Emma Halford-Busby

Our female friends are awesome. I’m sure yours are the same. We support each other, offer sympathy, talk through problems and can always be relied upon to be in each other’s corner. See Galentine’s Day

When I hear about women competing for a man (as if there aren’t enough of them to go around!) or being hyper critical of another woman’s dress sense or shape, I feel so sad. The world can be tough enough without us hurting each other for NO REASON! Whatever the woman looks like is really none of our business. The time spent being critical is taking up time that could be spent being happy or doing kind things for the people you love. Life is too short to spend precious time thinking ultimately negative and worthless thoughts. We are so much better.  

Sisterhood and its magic are going to have pride of place at the upcoming Practical Woman workshops where we will spend some time appreciating each other and thinking of ways we can do more.  

And finally, wouldn’t it be fabulous if one day it could be better and rather than sisters before misters or bros before hoes (ugh!) it could instead be sisters and misters banishing the hateful term ‘hoes’ forever.

“Howard made it very clear that my allegiance should be to male comrades before women who sell their bodies for money.”

The Big Bang Theory

 

Taking a stand against harassment

Taylor Swift May 2015 cropped and retouched

At Practical Woman we want to say hurrah and thank you to the indomitable Taylor Swift. We were astounded by her defiant and brave outing of a pervert in our midst.

Universally acknowledged as the biggest pop star in the world, her bravery in showing us her vulnerable private life is amazing and an inspiration to us all to stand up to sexist behaviour.  

Taking a stand

This is, of course, in relation to the much-publicised harassment case. When Swift was on the stand she testified that “I have experienced every degree of awkward first encounters. This was not jostling. He grabbed my bare ass.”  We recommend you read one of the many accounts of Swift’s defiant responses

What particularly stands out is her refusal to take part in any distracting questions. Referring back each time to her ‘ass’ she kept her cool and made the points clearly and succinctly. AND SHE WON!

So we say, thank you, Taylor, for being brave and showing us that if we are harassed or groped we can fight back.  

Report it. Stop it.

Did you know that TFL and the MET police have joined up to provide a simple way to report harassment?? if you are groped on the tube, text what happened, where and when to 61016 or call 101.

Find out more

Review: Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions

We are huge book lovers here at Practical Woman. We have shelves full of beauties. Matilda is our heroine:

“Never do anything by halves if you want to get away with it. Be outrageous. Go the whole hog. Make sure everything you do is so completely crazy it’s unbelievable…”

Our founder Kara has just finished a fantastic book that she wholeheartedly recommends – Dear Ijeawele or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. We’ll let Kara explain why…

9781524733131

Let me start by saying what an absolutely gorgeous little book it is with a stunning cover. You might recognise the author’s name as she also wrote Americanah and the brilliantly persuasive and eloquent We Should All Be Feminists.

I recommend that you read the whole book, however, I’d like to draw your attention to some key bits I found delicious and wonderfully powerful:

Firstly, a section from the book that relates so closely with the ideas behind Practical Woman: 

“Gender roles are so deeply conditioned in us that we will often follow them even when they chafe against out rue desires, our needs, our happiness…Instead of letting her internalize the idea of gender roles, teach her self-reliance. Tell her that it is important to be able to do for herself and fend for herself. Teach her to try to fix physical things when they break. We are quick to assume girls can’t do many things. Let her try.”

Chimamanda then speaks about beauty and sex so eloquently and passionately:

“I think of how a packet of Smarties was kept in front of me as a reward if I sat through having my hair done. And for what? Imagine if we had not spent so many Saturday’s of our childhood and teenagehood doing our hair. What might we have learned? In what ways might we have grown? What did boys do on Saturday’s?”

“Chizalum will notice very early on – because children are perceptive – what kind of beauty the mainstream world values. She will see it in magazines and films and television. She will see that whiteness is valued. She will notice that the hair texture that is valued is straight or swingy, and hair that is valued falls down rather than stands up. She will encounter these values whether you like it or not. So make sure that you create alternatives for her to see. Let her know that slim white women are beautiful, and non-slim, non-white women are beautiful. Let her know that there are many individiuals and many cultures that do not find the narrow mainstream definition of beauty attractive.”

“Talk to her about sex, and start early. It will probably be a bit awkward but it is necessary. Remember that seminar… we listened to vague semi-threats about how ‘talking to boys’ would end up with us being pregnant and disgraced? I remember that hall and that seminar as a place filled with shame. Ugly shame… don’t pretend that sex is merely a controlled act of reproduction… sex can be a beautiful thing.”

“Tell her that her body belongs to her and her alone, that she should never feel the need to say yes to something she feels pressured to do. Teach her that saying no when no feels right is something to be proud of.”

I strongly recommend you read Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions and buy it for all the mothers you know. It is an essential read. 

Have you read it? Let us know your thoughts.