I Wrote This For Me.
I wrote my first poems with tired eyes and tousled hair, stole away
the words that had remained since before I knew about ‘context’ and ‘literary devices’,
but knew to trust my mum’s knowledge and my sisters’ feelings,
tucked them in my pockets, stained my fingers with the pace that I could follow sentences at and
laughed aloud at adventures which
never concerned me,
or at least,
did so without me realising. I was a
12 year old with serious habits, critiqued advertisements and emailed companies for being too ‘white-
centric’, too ‘uninclusive’, too… ‘fake’, and then dipped straight back into that Harry Potter like
Hermione Granger had never shaped me, or I couldn’t hear The Babysitters Club in my ear, or Maya
Angelou standing firm, delicate, strong and wild and beautiful all at the same time, all to dash my
problematic habits, thinking about Other Girls and Cool Girls and Gamer Girls and dividing the
differences that disappeared as I drew on what I didn’t always know.
What I didn’t always know:
What reading lists don’t tell you, save for the colour of the paper they’re written on, direct reflection of
the content, almost… almost… ALWAYS, I am a
little girl who wondered if the hero could, yes, think like me, and yes, be the blurry imaginary best
friend I took to talking to in corners of the playground in primary school and yet,
did they ever dare to let me wipe back the fog on the window, clear it with my sleeve and see… me?
Within the opacity, see
brown girls who brought books to snack on and then choked on them later, felt the sting of a whiteness
Wounded, I am a
student who wrote in Murakami, Baldwin, Ishiguro on the library bookmark of ‘esteemed’authors they
gave us, bit away the core of the apple
and choked on it, but rose up, not from any kiss anyone could give me but the
kiss I gave to myself, told myself to
In the same vicinity of middleclass institutionalised racism, and ‘oh, are you a foreign student?’ and
stares down the street from those who see too much and not enough and are blinded by a headscarf
and just never know it, I am a
brown girl reading and thinking and wanting to grow,
evolving? evolving, and refusing to back down, this is my
rebellion and I am the one causing
the ripples of water that extend to my own feet and outwards,
brown girl, book child,
Within the silences that rise around me, I am deafening.
The funny thing is, I’m not always trying.
**Trigger Warning for homophobia, outing**
Growing up, my non-heterosexual attractions surfaced gradually and were easily denied. I identified as straight because it was the default and because I definitely fancied at least SOME boys; any other feelings were terrifying and dismissible.
“He didn’t like it when I wore high heels, but I do”: In Defence of Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift gets a lot of shit. The fact that some of it is obviously rubbish – average anti-popstar dismissive indie-male sneering, disdainful raised-eyebrows comments about the number of boys she’s dated – probably doesn’t need explaining here. A lot of it, though, comes from feminists who should know better, women who seem to have read a lot of headlines and dour think-pieces and parody twitter accounts but never actually listened to a single Taylor song: look at this air-headed ultra-feminine girl, wearing white dresses and shaming other women for their sexuality; all she ever talks about is boys; so stupid and silly and so anti-feminist. Ugh.
Nina De Paula Hanika
Them be Fighting Words (June 2013)
So there it is. The weeks of wondering what the Wyverns’ carefully planned response to the petition would be, and it’s a giant bucking bronco penis. The careful reverse psychology of the ‘Please refrain from wrestling in our jelly’ sign was also particularly well thought through.
And here I am again. In a classic Catch-22 that every feminist activist will find themselves in some point or another, where I am given the false choice of having to either respond to some pointless ‘lad’ bullshit that I really don’t give a crap about, or taking the ‘moral high ground’ which effectively allows these immature boys their pathetic joke. Neither option is satisfactory. Continue reading
Harriet Fitch Little
Feminism Lite? The Kids Are Alright
Over the last few years, give or take an unspecified amount of time, feminism has gone ‘mainstream’. Lily Allen’s singing it, Beyoncé’s blogging it, and Lena Dunham’s getting naked. Again. Sheryl Sandberg is teaching young women to ‘lean in’, and Caitlin Moran is (according to her Twitter bio) ‘writing the fuck out of shit’ about it on an almost daily basis.
First read at Cambridge Reclaim the Night, March 2014
I was always a feminist.
The word was always tumbling
out of my mouth
not shrouded in shame or doubt
in my house.
Fresh Faced and Make-Up Free? – Feminism Masked
To be writing a feminist article about the oppression of make-up tugs at my conscience and makes my stomach twist and churn. I am a feminist and I wear make-up. A lot of it. The stereotypical ‘feminist’ look often embraced by the ignorant masses is a braless-washed-out-clean-faced-flower-power-woman-but-wearing-man’s-clothes-with-her-fist-in-the-air – kind of feminist. Yet, I consider myself a feminist and I wear make-up. My friends often tease and cheekily provoke me in arguments suggesting, “Yeah, but you can’t be a real feminist, you wear make-up”. I often feel the two beliefs clash – can I be a ‘proper’ feminist and still wear make-up?
When is it time to stop listening?
I like to think of myself as a good listener. It’s one of those nice, feminine qualities that was tacitly prized in my upbringing: being a good listener, effectively synonymous with knowing when to shut up. The exact opposite of being over-assertive, over-reaching, thinking you know best. Those qualities that no one exactly needs to tell you are extra-inappropriate in a woman. And this summer, I’ve done a lot of listening.