So today I opened the paper, like I do most days; bracing myself for a brief insight into the real tragedies happening in the world: More deaths in Egypt as the Islamist groups and security forces clash, a typhoon hits eastern China, 194 African migrants die when their ship sinks just off the coast of Italy, Miley Cyrus wears revealing dress… wait, rewind.

Yep, what Miley Cyrus wore out to dinner last night apparently constitutes as actual news now. Not Perez-Hilton-gossip-website-news or Daily-Mail-celeb-story news but actual real newspaper news. Incase you’re wondering…it was a fishnet number and you could nearly see her nipples, stop the press…can you believe that? NIPPLES? What next?

Unless you have been living under some sort of rock recently (it must be nice under there) you will no doubt have been made aware of the recent scandal and complete outrage that is the death of Disney character Hannah Montana and the emergence, butterfly like, of Miley Cyrus, in all of her gyrating, ass shaking glory. Indeed Cyrus herself stated today, rather dramatically, that Hannah Montana had been ‘murdered’ and so it appears her new adult persona is here to stay.

I hesitate in giving this topic much more thinking time; I didn’t watch Mileys full VMA performance and I watched the video for ‘wrecking ball’ just yesterday, but then today I opened a free morning paper which reaches over 1 million daily readers and yet again I was met with a similar news piece. It appears this is a story that has really ignited a particular societal interest and it’s going nowhere.


The public dialogue took an interesting turn when musician Sinead O’Connor penned an open letter to Cyrus after hearing the young pop star had drawn comparisons between O’Connor’s iconic Nothing Compares 2 U video and her video for wrecking ball. The letter reads as a messy, emotional outpouring of anger at the music industry and its exploitation of women. O’Connor begins the letter by assuring Miley her words come from a loving, motherly concern, she then goes on to warn the young star;

“None of the men ogling you give a shit about you either, do not be fooled. Many’s the woman mistook lust for love. If they want you sexually that doesn’t mean they give a fuck about you. All the more true when you unwittingly give the impression you don’t give much of a fuck about yourself. And when you employ people who give the impression they don’t give much of a fuck about you either. No one who cares about you could support your being pimped … and that includes you yourself.”


Prickly words that I suspect come in part from O’Connor’s own harsh dealings at the hands of the media as well as concern for Miley, but that is just my opinion. Miley reacted the way you would expect any petulant, molly coddled 20 year old child star to when being drawn in to an argument where they have essentially been called an idiot. She hit back at O’Connor, mocking her and making low blow references to her recent issues with mental health. And so the cat-fight continues. The last time I checked O’Connor had drafted a third open letter to Miley. In which a few particular sentences stood out for me:

“You can take five minutes today between g- string fuckin’ changes to publicly apologise and remove your abusive tweets. If you do not then you don’t give a shit who you mock and what damage you do by being so ignorant.”

While I refrain from attacking any woman who speaks out in support of other women (however back handed the sentiment is) any important message O’Connor tried to get across has been completely lost in her bitter exchange. I think O’Connor herself may look back and wish she’d chosen a different approach.

Which is a shame as she made a few good points; yes, these young women have a responsibility to review the impact their actions have on their young fans and quite often the source of these ‘shocking’ ideas aren’t the performer but the powers above them . It was Terry Richardson the world famous photographer who shoots for Vogue/Dazed & Confused/ Harpers Bazaar et all who suggested to Miley she should lick the hammer. Personally, I’d have told him where to go, but then I’ve always preferred the sharper taste of an electric drill.

Amanda Palmer, a musician and also a prominent feminist figure then waded into the debate too. In her open letter, penned to O’Connor she congratulated her for her outspoken values, but goes on to suggest that rather than deriding Miley for her choices we should instead celebrate her ability to choose.

“I want to live in a world where Miley (or any female musician) can twerk wildly at 20, wear a full-cover floral hippie mumu at 37, show up at 47 in see-through latex, and pose semi-naked, like Keith & co, on the cover of rolling stone at 57 and be APPLAUDED for being so comfortable with her body.”

Yes, because god forbid a woman should actually embrace her sexuality and not be ashamed of admitting that: Newsflash! Women enjoy sex too. It should no longer be shocking to say that. (apologies to my dad, who’s subscribed to this blog!)

The idea that Miley is ‘slutty’ or a ‘slag’ is a damaging label that the public finds it all too easy to attach to young women.

Look at Taylor Swift who is now probably just as well known for her succession of boyfriends as much as her music. It’s that age-old double standard; someone like Harry Styles is a charming lothario and Taylor Swift is a big old slut bag.


It is an interesting debate which I have no doubt will continue to fill up our news pages as every journalists puts their worth in. And I do believe that worldwide dialogue about women’s issues is never a bad thing.

However, I’m not quite sure how much more of this apparent ‘moral outrage’ and faux concern for the future of young women I can stomach.

Isn’t it terrible? She’s treating that hammer like the last ice lolly on the hottest day of the year!

Well, quite frankly the biggest travesty I see is a multi-million dollar American music industry and the best creative idea they’ve got is someone dry-riding a demolition ball.

I actually don’t find Miley or even Rihanna’s new videos remotely shocking. I like both songs but I find the videos slightly boring. Apart from the fact I think they both look incredible, there are only so many gyrating dance moves I can take in before my attention wanders. Yawn.

If you want to be truly and genuinely shocked on behalf of women, I suggest you open your eyes a little wider.

Do you know what is truly disgusting and despicable? No, I’m not talking about  Brooke Candy’s latest song lyrics but something truly harrowing such as Female Genital Mutilation. It’s a high probability you’ve never heard of such a thing before. It certainly doesn’t get nearly as much air-time as what Kim Kardashian’s baby wore to fashion week.

This is a procedure inflicted on girls as young as 8, using no anaesthetic, where the clitoris is removed typically using a knife, razor or scissors. Over 125 million women and girls in Africa and the Middle East have undergone FGM. The practice is an ethnic marker, rooted in gender inequality, ideas about purity, modesty and aesthetics and an attempt to control women’s sexuality. In 2012 the United Nations Assembly completely outlawed it worldwide but the cultural beliefs still exist and the laws are hard to enforce. The procedure typically removes the complete outer area of the vagina, leaving only a small hole for urination and child-birth. In one fell swoop a girl is stripped of any personal desire and becomes purely a vessel for carrying children.  Over 20,000 girls under the age of 15 in Britain are believed to be at risk of FGM.


But of course no one wants to talk about issues like this.

This is not a particular issue for a select group of women but a universal problem that we should all feel personally outraged about. This act symbolizes not only the barbaric views of certain ethic groups but a wider constraint on women as a whole.

The excuse I so often hear from people is that they have their own problems in life. Whether those are financial worries or health issues that leave them little time to worry about what might be happening to young women with a different social background or outlook to them. But often these are the exact same people who suddenly find the voice to be so outraged when Katy Perry references sex in one of her songs or when Madonna dons yet another PVC cat-suit.

As long as we continue to focus our attention on attaching damaging labels to women we perpetuate the idea that it is ok for them to be controlled, limited and constrained.

So the next time you open your mouth to speak out for the oppression of women I suggest you taste your words first and then point them in the right direction.



When I was nine years old, I used to fall asleep every night with the terrified thought that if I let even one toe out of the cover, something would grab my foot and kidnap me. I would go to bed every night, taking extra care to look inside my wardrobe, under the bed (obvious monster hiding place) and even in my bedside drawers…you never know.

As time passed and I’d managed to sleep soundly without any monster disturbance I began to think that maybe my fears were unfounded. Being only nine after all I quite often look back on those years and think; if my biggest fear was the fake monster hiding under my bed, I probably did ok.

Recently however, I’ve felt those terrified thoughts returning. It appears that nowadays, according to such upstanding sources as the Daily Mail, there is a darker, more sinister lurking evil that we should all be afraid of. It doesn’t come in the form of the Boogeyman, or the Loch Ness Monster or Dracula…it’s …HOMOSEXUALITY!

Yes: lock your doors, check your children are safe in bed, and by all means keep a baseball bat handy. Homosexuality is like a creeping disease; it will infect your life, taking your usually well thought out decisions and make you always choose pink instead.

It’s the Ricky Martin on that compilation cd you got free with the newspaper; it’s the unwanted glitter in your face cream. It’s everywhere, and we must do anything we can to stop it before there is a big, fat, gay pandemic!!…

Oops…I get a bit carried away with myself sometimes, and I should apologise for being so flippant about such a serious topic, but in this instance I find it hard not to resort to mockery. I often find peoples unimaginable ignorance on such topics a source of hilarity.

However, the joke became a lot less funny recently when Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin signed a bill in June this year banning “Homosexual propaganda” – making it illegal to give anyone under the age of 18, information about homosexuality.

This follows a ban on same sex adoption, which his far right government passed through the Duma in April. It also follows an ultra conservative MP in Siberia, Alexander Mikhailov calling for a new law allowing Cossack paratroopers to publicly flog anyone believed to be gay or lesbian. Thankfully this archaic law was never passed.

Welcome to the 21st Century folks.

The repercussions of this move are so damaging for several reasons; firstly, Putin is not a political extremist, but the leader of one of the world’s super powers. He is aware that his words and actions influence his huge electorate, as well as the wider world.  Secondly, what Putin has done is give sanction to the sort of cruel persecution usually dished out by radicals.

Critic’s say the law is intentionally vaguely worded and part of a broader crackdown on gay rights in Russia.


Anyone wearing a rainbow flag (a well recognized symbol for LGBT rights) or writing about gay relationships on Facebook for instance could be accused of propagandizing.

The West has also scrutinized the Russian police as they allow groups such as “Occupy-Pedafilyay” to operate with impunity.

This is one of the Neo-Nazi groups responsible for the recent outbreak of attacks on young vulnerable Russian men. Their method is to approach young boys in online forums only to lure them to a public place to be taunted and tortured.

Videos online show boys as young as 12 being urinated on, humiliated and beaten. These hate crimes have escalated since the new laws were passed as these groups are clearly emboldened by Russia’s move.

Sadly, this is not a problem specific to Russia. In the UK, we were victim to similar draconian laws when Thatcher took government during the 80’s and imposed the section 28 laws, which banned the dissemination of “propaganda of non-traditional sexual orientation” towards under-18s and imposed fines on anyone convicted.

Thankfully the law was over turned when New Labour took office, but recently concerns have been raised that many independent Academies in Britain have returned to a teaching policy similar to that of section 28 as they are left to create their own sex education curriculum.

Stephen Williams, a Liberal Democrat MP said;

We need to get a grip on this to ensure schools aren’t breaking the guidelines that are in place to combat homophobic bullying”

Britain’s PM David Cameron has been asked to respond on both his actions at home and also his responsibility for those abroad.

The debate was further publicized when actor and comedian Stephen Fry shared his open letter to Cameron, asking for a boycott of the 2014 winter Olympics due to take place in Moscow.

In the letter he suggests Cameron make a political stand, withdrawing the British support of the games due to the infringement on human rights.

Fry appropriately quotes Edmund Burke in his letter, pleading that inaction suggests we condone Putin’s actions.

“All that is needed for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing”

Fry draws comparisons between the forthcoming Olympics in Moscow and the 1936 Olympic games held in Adolf Hitler’s anti-Semitic Germany. As Hitler courted the world stage, he had already begun his process of ‘racial cleansing’, which had not yet reached its horrifying peak.

Of course Fry has been supported but also publicly lambasted, and Cameron has all but ignored his plea. I’m sure even Stephen Fry himself is aware of how bold it is to broach such an emotionally charged topic. Very few people are willing to draw modern day comparisons to the holocaust, and quite rightly so. What I think Fry’s biggest critics are failing to grasp however is his emphasis on our social responsibility as a nation. His examples may be extreme and potentially insensitive to some, but his sentiment is exactly right.

I applaud him for his outspoken sense of injustice while others would rather stay silent. There comes a time when silence itself is the ultimate betrayal.

Russian homophobic laws demo

It would be foolish to believe that if Vladimir Putin’s government is allowed to progress without reprisal that this will be the last of such reforms.

So what happens now?

Conservative MP Mike Weatherly spoke out asking for David Cameron to criticize Russia’s anti-homosexuality legislation. He told the PM that Britain “has a duty not to stay silent”.

This duty to speak out applies not only to David Cameron but also any one of us who claims to defend the human rights of every individual, whether LGBT or otherwise. As we struggle to find our voice, members of the LGBT community find themselves a victim of prejudice, discrimination, assault and death.  Researchers have found that suicide among LGBT teens and young adults is comparatively higher than among the general population. This is further compounded by homophobic attitudes both institutionalized and personal.

So what can we do?

I do not consider myself a wise enough source to be dishing out patronising advice, but I will say this: that it needs to begin from the most basic of levels.

Never remain quiet in the company of prejudice, whether that comes in the form of conservative family members or ill informed friends.

The damaging thing about ignorance is, it usually comes dressed up as faux tolerance  as soon as we can recognize this in ourselves and in others we can begin to reform what is socially acceptable.

some people are gay smaller

Write letters, attend protests, sign petitions like this one;

Never stop talking about the subject to anyone who will listen and especially those who won’t. Do not become complacent; do not believe that the world is going to change without you. Educate yourself…

Of course the sad irony about passing laws such as section 28 or the anti- gay law in Russia is that the children who they are supposedly protecting are the most unbiased of all. They view everything with a beautiful simplicity. No child is born homophobic, or racist or bigoted.

We infect them with our small-minded views.

To those who still fail to grasp even the most basic understanding of a persons sexuality;

You cannot ‘make’ someone gay. It is not an illness that can be passed on from one person to another or cured with a dose of anti-biotics. You cannot teach a person to be gay, but you can teach them to be tolerant.

To recall one of my favourite quotes by Martin Luther King Jnr

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

Now is not the time for silence but a time to find our voice.






Margaret Thatcher passed away last week, I’m not sure if you’ve heard the news?

Her passing was marked with both sorrow and celebration in somewhat equal measure. Never before has one person divided opinion so ferociously. When it comes to attitude towards world leaders you can usually gauge the general consensus and they can be easily categorised. Adolf Hitler…bad guy. Winston Churchill…good guy. And then we have the idiot bracket where we can relegate people like George W. Bush.

When it comes to dealing with Thatcher however, having successfully polarised opinion, you have to apply an almost entirely different approach to understanding people’s feelings towards her policies and herself as a human being. She was one, after all. I think in the wake of her passing, many people appear to have forgotten that.

I have always had a natural interest in a woman like Margaret Thatcher. She was never well liked in my household and the political observations you make as a child will always impact on your future beliefs. But as I’ve grown older and began to form my own opinions I am presented with this paradox; Here is a woman who broke through the ‘glass ceiling’ at a time when the ratio of men to women in politics was massively biased. But is simply being the first woman to achieve her position, reason enough to celebrate?

For many women, the subject of Thatcher can be a complex one. Whether she intended to or not, Thatcher represented a huge transitional shift in the gender balance of power internationally. Margaret Thatcher was a woman who maintained a household, looked after a husband, raised two small children and who also managed to achieve great success in her working environment. She was the epitome of the new working woman who was starting to emerge from a typically patriarchal society.


Meryl Streep, who played Thatcher in her recent biopic said.

“To have given women and girls around the world reason to supplant fantasies of being princesses with a different dream: the real-life option of leading their nation; this was ground breaking and admirable,”

But of course, in reality, Thatcher did absolutely nothing to assist in the progression of women in her office. In fact, she went to great lengths to distance herself from any role as leader of women’s liberation.

Indeed, Thatcher was the only post war Prime Minister to employ no other women in her cabinet.

As Polly Toynbee, writer for the Guardian, mentioned on Question Time earlier in the week;

“She did nothing for women, nothing for childcare, equal pay, or promoting woman on boards. She climbed the ladder and then pulled it up behind her”

Thatcher always saw herself as a unique individual who had made it into parliament through her own talent and her own determination, entirely regardless of gender. It is this focus on self importance that was a defining characteristic during her time as Prime Minister.

She also held a rather traditional view of women in society. When asked her opinion on recruiting women for the armed forces, she replied;

“Women have plenty of roles in which they can serve with distinction: some of us even run countries. But generally we are better at wielding the handbag that the bayonet”

In terms of her policies, I will not rant on about the many lives she destroyed when she shut down most of Britain’s manufacturing industry. I will not wax lyrical about the pits or the protests, because I feel that if we saturate peoples minds with these protestations they become de-sensitised to the true scale and horror of her actions and lack of compassion.  But ruthlessly destroy them she did. And we are meant to believe that the economic gain justifies this.

I suggest that instead of looking back, I believe it is much more important that we look forward. My fear is that once the spectacle of protests in city squares and the pomp and splendour of her funeral have taken place, once the confetti has been washed away into the gutter, that we retreat back into everyday life and fail to identify the real tragedy of the situation. Thatcherism, and the ideals that underpinned her policy are more prevalent in Britain than ever.

Her draft of widespread privatisation was the single most massive attack on democracy we have seen. It destroyed the public’s power to determine via parliament the services and prices of gas, electricity, telephone. In Britain today we are held to ransom by a continuing hike in prices which means many of the poorest in our country struggle to pay for adequate heating. A study undertaken by The London School of Economics in 2011,  revealed that there were over 2.700 deaths that winter, resulting from poorly heated housing. More than die on the roads.


We are seeing welfare subsidies such as Income benefits and disability allowance come under fire, while big business owners like billionaire Arcadia owner Philip Green go unchallenged as they blatantly avoid taxation in this country. His personal tax bill being a reported £300m.

In England, in 2010, the basic right for an equal and free education for all was compromised when the coalition government increased University fees’. Education as a life-enhancing, horizon-broadening experience – even if only inadvertently and in passing – is being snatched away, both by the ideology of the system, and now by debt and post-graduation data.

On the surface, course cuts, fees and marketisation, not to mention the abolition of EMA, appear to be the betrayal of a generation; but in truth they stem from a deeper and more typical Tory agenda. The 9% drop in applicants will not be from the sons and daughters of government ministers, whose parents can pay, or whose knowledge of the system and schooling means that they can be assured that university will be a sound investment, not a financial nightmare.

In terms of economic living, in Scotland today, one in four children is officially recognised as living in poverty. Poverty remains one of the most serious problems facing children in this generation. Its’ effects last a lifetime, negatively impacting on health, education, social and physical development and seriously harming future life chances and opportunities. As a  direct result of UK tax and benefit policies, there will be significant increases in child poverty in the coming years. In Scotland alone forecast trends would suggest between 50,000 and 100,000 more children being pushed into poverty by 2020.

Margaret Thatcher may have informed us “There is no such thing as society” but I believe that when we turn our back on those who need it most it becomes less an an issue of society and more an issue of humanity.

Today, as we mark the passing of Britain’s first female Prime Minister I will respect Thatcher as the wife, mother and powerful woman that she was, but that is where it stops. David Cameron recently described those who celebrated her death as ‘distasteful’ and how, Mr Cameron, might you describe spending upwards of £8 million on a single ceremonial burial in our economic climate?

I do suggest though, that instead of dancing on the grave of the deceased, we harness our anger towards improving the current situation of many still suffering at the dilution of the welfare state.

As Franklin Roosevelt said;

“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”


The Blame Game

As young women we are influenced by the world around us. Our perceptions of other people and how we understand ourselves is directly affected by what we see, hear, and experience in our everyday lives. We are bombarded with conflicting messages about what choices we should make and what it means if we follow a particular path. As a child you are taught that you are responsible for your actions and should therefore act accordingly, but what if you are blamed for something that is completely out of your control?

Last week television presenter Anthea Turner spoke out in defence of her husband Grant Bovey when it was uncovered that he had had an affair with another woman. Rather than scorn him for his infidelity, instead Turner chose to implicate herself as the guilty party. She admitted that she had worked abroad for most of the year and that this neglect had left him no other choice but to stray from the marital bed.

“…my decision to pursue my career in Canada doesn’t look so sensible now. Long periods apart are never good for a healthy relationship. But then we’re all fallible. We all make mistakes.”

It appears a six month stretch of fixing his own dinner every night was simply too much for Grant and he had to seek solace in the arms of 25 year old socialite, Zoe de Mallet Morgan. What Turner fails to address is the reason she had to work away for most of the year was due to financial problems caused by the collapse of her husband’s business.

While I know nothing of the dynamics of Anthea Turner and her husband’s marriage and I don’t want to appear to trivialise their relationship, I do have difficulty understanding her need to vocalise her admission so loudly. Is she suggesting that other women may also be to blame for their husband’s betrayal?

The debate was further flared when Daily Mail writer Angela Epstein appeared on ITV’s ‘This Morning’ show to support Turners theory of female liability.

Epstein opened the discussion by stating “I have seen marriages fall apart because the woman has taken a ‘man’s job’ and the man feels emasculated”

She further supports her view by declaring;

“Men are essentially hardwired to cheat because their biology makes them more vulnerable to temptation” and adds “Men are emotionally simple”.

She also warns that men are more likely to stray if they feel abandoned or vulnerable. I can just imagine the RSPCA style adverts for ‘abandoned’ men.

‘Here’s Bob from Norwich, his wife Linda has been on an accounting course for 5 days and Bob has only showered once and survived on ham and cheese sandwiches. He has also started eyeing up Vera next door, obviously.’

I’d imagine the men in Epstein’s world to be like small dogs or even young children. Attracted to bright colours and scared of loud noises. She cites “sex, food, warmth and uncomplicated situations” as men’s top priorities.

As well as being unbelievably patronising towards men, Epstein’s primitive views of the role of a wife reduces a woman down to little more than a submissive carer. One who is at fault of losing her man if she does not conform to these idealisms.

It is one thing poking fun at how seemingly simplistic Angela Epstein’s views are but when you consider the fact she writes for a national newspaper, it is alarming to think how many people she may be influencing.

In an equal partnership surely it is each person’s responsibility to appreciate each other, to remain attractive and interesting to that person, to continue to challenge and enjoy each other each day. I do understand that in certain circumstances a person might cheat because they are craving a love or attention they are not receiving in their relationship, but surely in that situation you both shoulder the responsibility together and work on it. It is something very different altogether to accept the entire blame for your partners damaged ego and subsequent infidelity.

Another high profile example is the David Beckham/Rebecca Loo’s scandal which was re-ignited last week after Loo’s gave an interview to a women’s magazine. For the duration of the scandal, the overwhelming opinion of many commentators was that Beckham had cheated on his wife of 5 years because she had been away touring as a solo artist and had abandoned him. This, along with her noticeable fear of smiling, meant she was given little sympathy. A failed career and a rocky marriage, should have stayed at home eh Vicky?


Without playing to the tabloid inclination to sensationalise a story, Epstein may want to consider the repercussions of her comments.

This apparent blame culture is manifested in other areas of women’s lives too. A study about women who have suffered physical or sexual abuse showed that an overwhelming amount of these women felt they were partly to blame for the abuse they experienced. This is usually due to extremely low levels of self-esteem. An example seen here when Rihanna took to her twitter account to vent her frustration, this is widely thought to be in relation to the incident involving her on/off boyfriend Chris Brown who viciously assaulted her.


I am not suggesting that Anthea Turner’s comments encourages a culture of violence towards women but quite often it is the gentle nuances which are the most destructive. Once you make it socially acceptable to blame women for situations which are out of their control you open the topic up to interpretation. It is actually these slight suggestions that appear unassuming and un-threatening which are the most harmful.

If a woman goes out on a Saturday night dressed in a short skirt and high heels, is she to blame for any unwanted advances? If a stranger puts his hand up her dress is that OK because she is ‘asking for it’ in that outfit?

Likewise, if you scream and shout at your boyfriend and he raises his hand to you, have you brought this upon yourself by acting unreasonably? Is it your own irrational behaviour which might lead to him attacking you?

A third of Britons believe a woman who acts flirtatiously is partially or completely to blame for being raped, according to a new study.

More than a quarter also believe a woman is at least partly responsible for being raped if she wears sexy or revealing clothing, or is drunk, the study found.

What an infuriating and unbelievably sad state of affairs.


The UK has an incredibly low rate of conviction when it comes to rape cases. Ruth Hall, from the support group Women Against Rape, criticised “prejudices” in the court system, saying: “They still put the woman on trial, including her sexual history with other men, which is supposed to be banned and blame the woman for what happened to her and hold her accountable.

What the Anthea Turner story highlighted was the worrying trend for women admitting blame in circumstances which are out of their control. It is one thing having the blame thrust upon you, but it is something else to stand up and bring the entire weight of the situation upon yourself willingly.

So lets stop this cycle of blame. Let me respond on behalf of all women around the world when I say;

If you walk down the street in a short skirt and you are attacked; it is not your fault.

If a boyfriend raises his hand to you during an argument because he is angry; it is not your fault.

If your husband abuses your trust and sleeps with another woman because you chose to further your career; it is not your fault.

Anthea; It is not your fault.

Victoria; It is not your fault.

Ladies; It is not your fault.



First and foremost, Happy International Women’s Day 2013! Since its birth during the Socialist movement, IWD has grown to become a global day of recognition and celebration across developed and developing countries alike.  It has been officially recognised since 1975 when the United Nations gave official sanction to, and started sponsoring it on the 8th March each year.

So…why dedicate a day exclusively to the celebration of the world’s women?

The United Nations states that, “In adopting its resolution on the observance of Women’s day, the General Assembly cited two reasons: to recognise the fact that securing peace and social progress and the full enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms require the active participation, equality and development of women; and to acknowledge the contribution of women to the strengthening of international peace and security.”

I believe that for myself and for the women of the world, the Day’s symbolism has a wider meaning: It is an occasion to review how far they have come in their struggle for equality, peace and development. It is also an opportunity to unite, network and mobilize for future meaningful change. 

Each year carries a specific theme, these have ranged from 2004’s “women and HIV/AIDS” to the 2012 theme of “Empowering rural women, ending poverty and hunger”

2013 sees us confront the issue of hostility and oppression with the theme “A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women”  

On 16th December 2012 Jyoti Singh was abducted by six men on a bus in Delhi, she was beaten and sexually attacked. The rape that she suffered was so brutal she later died in hospital from her injuries. The main cause of her death was internal organ damage, caused by an iron rod which they used to sexually abuse her. It is difficult to even type that sentence, never mind racking your brain to even try to comprehend the unimaginable horror that woman suffered.  The initial worldwide uproar was a reaction to not only the extremely violent nature of the attack but also the government’s weak response in the aftermath of what happened. What the attack did was shine a light on India’s deep rooted and entrenched misogyny.  It further highlighted the social and political hurdles that Indian women face on a daily basis. In India female foetuses are often aborted and baby girls killed after birth, leading to an appallingly skewed gender ratio. Many of those who survive face discrimination, prejudice, violence and neglect all their lives, as single or married women.  If a woman is considered as vain or uncooperative she faces reprisal such as an acid attack or a beating. Jyoti Singh’s ‘crime’ was that she was accompanied to the cinema by a man who was not her husband. 



But this is not a problem which is specific to India and it would disastrous for us to label such atrocities as particular to one country. How easy it would be to neatly box up those issues and consider them as someone else’s problem. 

In the UK, Katie Piper became a high profile figure in the battle against violence when she suffered a vicious acid attack in 2008. The attack destroyed all of the tissue on her face, leaving her permanently disfigured and blind in her left eye. As a result of what happened Katie was transformed from a sociable and confident 25 year old to a withdrawn and depressed recluse, all by an ex-boyfriend who could not control his violent and jealous tendencies towards women. 


 The Katie Piper attack was particularly shocking to people in the UK because the victim was a white middle class British woman. This story seemed to invade people lives in a way that previous attacks hadn’t. The brutality and inhumanity of it occupied your living room as you watched the 6 o’clock news and it made your early morning cup of coffee that wee bit harder to swallow as you read the morning newspaper. This hadn’t happened in an unfamiliar place with a different language and a foreign outlook. It happened on our doorstep in North London, that cosmopolitan hub of opportunity and equality. 

Since the attack and consequent media coverage of the incident Katie Piper has become something of a heroine. After suffering the dark enduring months of reconstructive surgery she has achieved a sort of confidence she never thought she could recapture. She is successfully pursuing a TV career and has established the Katie Piper foundation. 

So maybe that is what I will take away from this year’s International Women’s Day. I will say a silent prayer for those who have and who will continue to fall victim to oppression and violence because of their gender and I will also celebrate those women who successfully cast their victim status. Whether is it women in India rallying against an archaic government, or a British woman refusing to be defined by her attack. 

My very first introduction to IWD was in 2010. I was fortunate enough to be visiting family in New York and was encouraged to go to the United Nations headquarters in East Manhattan to listen to the speeches that day with a family member who worked in the building. The room was filled with a multitude of women from different backgrounds, social experiences, ages and religions. I distinctly remember a speech from a Congolese woman. She was about the same age as my mum and she recounted stories of violence, rape, torture and abuse. These experiences were so foreign and shocking to me that I realised I could never relate to the suffering of these women, and how incredibly lucky that made me. 

That speech will continue to shape my actions and opinions towards women’s issues for the rest of my life. In the years since I first heard that woman speak, the exact stories she told have melted away in my memory (it’s interesting how your brain tries to block those things out) but what has stayed with me is her undeniable bravery. I remember how clearly and powerfully she spoke, she did not bow her head or avoid your gaze, instead she commanded the attention of a filled room and spoke with passion and dignity. 

That was because this woman refused to be a victim, and instead chose to be a survivor. She didn’t travel nearly 10,000 miles for our sympathy but instead for our education. 

So today I challenge all of you to choose one woman who inspires you. It could be your mum who raised a family while working full time because she had to, an aunt who overcame cancer or a friend who battled through a hard time in their life with grace and self respect. Today, of all days, is the time to celebrate these wonderful people who shape and influence our lives. 







I spend an unhealthy amount of time on the internet looking at clothes. Whether that’s a new cowboy fringed jacket someone is punting all the way from Texas via eBay or Tommy Ton’s coverage of Paris Fashion Week, I literally become obsessed with items of clothing. Along with the extreme emotional attachment to garments, my sartorial obsession now reaches further than fur lined bomber jackets and custom made boot chains (seriously) to the discerning individuals wearing them. Here are three of my favourites.



Miroslava Duma or Mira to her friends is one quarter of the glamorous troupe of women affectionately known as the ‘Russian Mafia’. Duma is the daughter of a Russian Senator and as well as a spell as Editor at the Russian Harper’s Bazaar she is also the founder of Buro 24/7, a website dedicated to fashion, art, architecture, cinema, music and style.

Having been photographed at every major fashion week around the world for the past few years I have seen her style evolve from cute fashion follower, to a bold taste maker. As well as being incredibly pretty and photogenic she also represents a cultural and democratic shift for young women in Russia. The Soviet Union was once a fashion-free zone; prior to the 1990s, there were no fashion boutiques and no fashion magazines. The collapse of the USSR in 1991 changed everything, as Duma recalls:

‘It was something in the air that you felt and realised: significant changes are coming. I grew up with the understanding that inexpensive and staid dress was the right choice for me. I didn’t know what it was to be ‘an instrument of propaganda’ but I remember thinking, ‘Why does it have to be like that?’ I was too young to know the political implications but it was something rebellious deep inside of me. The department stores had such limited stocks of clothes – I was a huge fan of the Hollywood golden age, so I got my fashion fix watching movies featuring Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant and Marilyn Monroe.’


Duma publicly supports new Russian designers, many of whom are her friends, while also favouring Marni, Alexander Wang and Prouenza Schouler. Having being labelled as a Russian ‘it girl’ with all its vacuous connotations she manages to maintain a business, look wonderfully chic and claims that the most valuable time is spent with her husband and son, not as vacant as some might think.

It is also easy for people to detract from a person’s utter fabulousness because of how much money they have. Duma is undoubtedly a product of her wealthy background but I think it is far more productive to praise those who make the right choices when there is so much scope for price to overcome taste (see Kanye West’s ladies range). Duma favours style over frivolity and she nails it every time.





Finally, when asked what she does in her spare time she eschewed the usual fashion pack reply of Pilates or yoga and instead says she enjoys eating Tofifee candies. In my book those are the confectionary equivalent of crack and therefore not only is she an intelligent and wonderfully dressed woman but one with impeccable taste.




Candy is a 23 year old rapper and former stripper who also hosts a blog dedicated to photography. The reason I‘ve chosen Candy is because it would be so easy to draw assumptions about her as a person based on how she looks and what she raps about. She takes no prisoners when it comes to lyrics and the delivery of these. I challenge you to think about anything else when someone is swinging their 3 foot braids and telling you they are real…”just like her titties”

While many women and a lot of men feel offended by a 5ft 6 half naked women with a child on a lead and only a few metal plates covering her modesty I find her totally intriguing and quite enjoy the idea of her offending a lot of people.

Nothing she is doing is particularly new; she cites lil Kim as an influence, but she stands out against the backdrop of a music scene where producers and media alike would probably prefer it if you were a little sweeter and swore a bit less.

Candy is among a new wave of strong female artists who aren’t afraid to shock, do you remember the first time you heard Azealia Banks 212? And you’re thinking to yourself did she really just say that?

The reason Candy stands out is her incredibly bold style. Vice have branded it as a warrior- princess- stripper aesthetic. Most of the time she prefers wearing dollar bills to actual garments and she shuns big brand designers in favour of her friend Seth Pratt who custom makes most of her clothing.




As well as promoting herself as a strong woman she manages to embody the idea of female sexual freedom. She has said she wants to break down the barriers of how women are supposed to be sexually. In her lyrics she talks about reclaiming words like ‘slut’ which men and some women use to talk about each other in a derogatory fashion.

“It’s time to take the word back, slut is now a compliment, a sexy-ass female who runnin’ shit and confident”

Whether she will succeed in doing this, I’m not too sure but I applaud her efforts. While many would argue that her overtly sexual approach to music and life in general sets a bad example for younger kids, her songs are so littered with swear words she clearly isn’t aiming them at the younger market. I’m not naïve enough to believe that means younger people won’t still access her music but at least for once they will see a woman shaking her ass in the camera because she wants to, not because a rapper has given her a stack and told her to.

She herself says, “Well being a woman that likes women, I guess you could say I’ve derived inspiration and wanted to promote strong women my whole life. I’m all about women helping women.”

So maybe Candy is part of a new movement of metal clad feminists? Don’t agree? I dare you to tell her otherwise!



Not many 28 year olds own a company with $24 million net revenue and a three year growth rate of 200% but Amoruso isn’t any ordinary woman. As founder and CEO of online retailer ‘Nasty gal’ she currently heads of one Americas fastest growing online businesses which currently employs over 100 people and is getting bigger by the day.

Nasty Gal started out as a vintage shop on eBay, selling clothes and accessories. Amoruso would source clothing from flea markets and Salvation Army stores and then sell these on at a premium. She ran the whole operation herself from listing the items on the website to packing and sending. It was here that she developed her sense of what the young female shoppers desired and she quickly realised that most items rarely had a set value but instead their value depended on the current demand for the item. She called this ‘perceived value’ and this keen understanding of her market was to put her in good stead for future business ventures. She also happens to be a self- confessed clothing fanatic with the humour to match; she is noted as saying “if it looks like a vagina, it’s probably couture.”




Anyone who shops at Nasty Gal (and if you don’t I suggest you check it out) will see just how intelligent an entrepreneur she is. They don’t spend money on big budget advertising campaigns but instead they use social media platforms to directly speak to the customer buying their clothing.  Amoruso defines her target customer as;

“In her late teens or early-mid-twenties and super body-confident. She knows how to dress for her shape and isn’t afraid of wearing makeup and short skirts and being sexy. She’s into fashion but her taste doesn’t just apply to what she wears: It applies to food, interior design, and travel. She wants to have awesome experiences and be the best-dressed girl around — without spending an arm and a leg.”

The brands name was inspired by the eponymous 1975 album of American rock and soul Betty Davis. On its website, the company calls Davis “the patron saint of bad-ass women…complete with lame platform thigh-high boots”.

Amoruso encapsulates everything it means to be a successful business woman in the 21st century. She runs a powerfully feminine organisation, a company run by women, for women, and her influence is ever growing.

2012 saw Nasty Gal release the first issue of what is planned to be a semiannual ‘lifestyle’ magazine titled Super Nasty, which will feature spreads on “fashion, music and culture,” and will be included free in customers’ orders. Amoruso is editor in chief.

Beyond that Amoruso is clear about where Nasty Gal is headed, and it looks like global domination. With a customer base of over 350,000, most of them outside of the U.S. her chances of success look favourable.

Coco Chanel once said, “in order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different.” And so far Amoruso appears to be proving this on both counts.

Obliterating the glass ceiling…Hillary Clinton 2016, is the world ready?


The Background

On Tuesday 6th of November this year it seemed the entire planet watched in anticipation as Barack Obama was re-elected to embark on a second term in the White House. The news reverberated around the world like a firing signal. Again, change was what was promised, the oath that he would fight tirelessly to uphold the fundamental human rights of liberty and dignity. Obama’s promise was that each American citizen, regardless of age, gender, race or sexual orientation, would have equal rights to personal success and progression. Women around the world rejoiced as the Supreme Court ruling of Roe v Wade was upheld, helping to ensure women continued to have complete control of their bodies and decisions about abortion and birth control were not at the mercy of state control. Now as the dust settles from the election day frenzy and America retreats back into everyday life, speculation has begun about the 2016 presidential race. David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker spoke out in November, predicting that Hillary Clinton will run for congress, making him one of the boldest names to do so. In 2008 the United States of America made political history when they appointed the first Black president. In 2016 will they be ready for a woman to take the helm?

Let’s start by examining the current political environment. Obama didn’t quite achieve the same landslide victory as in 2008. The Republican candidate Mitt Romney managed to amount a frighteningly high number of votes considering his extreme right wing politics and he continued the Republican strong hold in central America. However, the stake in the heart of the Republican campaign was Romney’s, at times, stupendous lack of tact and grace when dealing with sensitive issues for women. (not to mention his tax avoidance, contempt for the poor and general un-likeability)

In this election it became abundantly clear that women’s issues are not fringe issues, and women are not a special interest group. It was women who cast the bulk of the votes of this election…53% and women who proved to be the deciding factor, breaking in Obama’s favour by 11 percentage points.

If we look at Forbes list of the top 100 most powerful women, 19 of those are politicians. The only woman currently said to be more powerful than Clinton is the German chancellor Angela Merkel who reigns supreme as the pre-eminent leader of the European Union. If power was measured in breadth however, Clinton would surpass even Merkel’s reach of influence as the most well travelled U.S secretary of state in history. She has visited over 50 countries this year so far, promoting U.S policy and campaigning for peace around the globe.


Her Policy

She has always had a particular affinity with humanitarian issues and in particular the empowerment of women in disadvantaged and war torn countries. She also champions the rights of members of the LGBT community (lesbian, gay, bisexual & transgender) both in and outside of the U.S, which continues to be a controversial subject. Last year Clinton delivered a historic speech at the United Nations where she spoke to leaders from countries such as Sudan where homosexuality is still a crime punishable by the death penalty and Jamaica where you could face 10 years hard labour. In her speech she outlined that LGBT rights are human rights and “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights,… these rights are not conferred by government they are the birth right of all people.” So this is not a woman who shy’s away from tackling an issue head on.

If you look at the political spectrum as a whole, there are currently 17 countries with women as head of government, head of state or both. If the United states of America, arguably the most influential power in world were to appoint a woman as their leader the repercussions of this would be immeasurable in terms of cementing the progress of women worldwide.


The Campaign

Clinton’s chances of successfully becoming president should she run look promising. If she can even get to 45 percent of the white vote, or simply break even among white women while keeping Obama’s numbers among Black, latino, LGBT and Jewish voters, Clinton could potentially not only solidify the Obama base, but remake political coalitions in a way that would reduce the Republicans to being on the periphery of American politics. This is, of course, a best case scenario; and there is a lot that can happen between now and November of 2016.

Recent concerns regarding her health have also arisen which have led many to question whether 20 years in politics has finally taken its toll. She spoke out in response to this recently, stating that “thankfully i am, you know, looking forward to being at full speed”.

So do I think Hillary Clinton is ready for the presidential race come 2016? Well let me reiterate the words of Tony Blair when he was asked about Clinton recently… “ I have an instinct that the best is yet to come” Clinton is the most qualified, experienced and popular candidate in the democratic party. She is, in most respects, significantly better prepared for a successful campaign and presidency, than anybody else in the party. Having been uniquely despised by the far right for years she has sufficient experience of dealing with their intolerant, faux patriotic and politically destructive agendas.

Only time will tell whether Clinton decides to accept the challenge and embark on a presidential campaign. One thing you can be certain is where her interests lie, in a recent interview she produced a rather Terminator-esque quote…

“I believe that the rights of women and girls is the unfinished business of the 21st century.”

One thing I do not doubt is that if there is anyone to finish that business, it is Hillary Clinton.


Welcome to Fashion&Females!

This blog, above all things, is a celebration of women. In a world where at best, women still face a substantial gender pay gap and inequality in the workplace, to the worst, where they are treated as a subservient vessel, denied basic education and deprived of their human rights. Is it clear that regardless of age, race or income, we are all facing our own personal battles, no matter how big or small these are considered to be.

Before you read on I should inform you that this blog won’t contain any photos of Kim Kardashian’s ass I’m afraid, as lovely as it is! (that will be a completely different blog altogether  ) Nor will it mock celebrities’ outfits like a gossip column. Our world media is already obsessed with vilifying women for their choices. Be it for the length of their skirt or what size they wear it in.

Instead this is basically a platform for positive news about women in the world of fashion, film, politics, music and style. Its about celebrating women who are hard working, individual and inspiring, anyway I should probably stop now, before I launch into the lyrics of a Beyonce song…