Feminist Reading Journey: Alice Walker ‘The Color Purple’

Image: The Kawaii Kollective

I don’t know what it’s like to be poor (sure, my family were not what I would have called ‘well off’ but we were far from poor); I don’t know what it’s like to be black; whether I’m ugly or not is subjective and my cooking skills can be pretty decent depending on my mood. But basically what I’m trying to say is my situation in life is quite far away from that of the main protagonist of Alice Walker’s infamous novel ‘The Color Purple’; however that is the reason I started this whole journey. To read and learn about experiences other than my own.

One of my favourite traits in a person is when they can be empathic to other people. When they can push past whether something ‘offends’ them and see why it might offend others. Something, which is still lost on a lot of people. As, for example a few weeks ago I saw three men dressed up as the Jamaican bob sled team from the film Cool Runnings complete with black face, pop up on my Facebook feed, and a lot of the comments I saw focused on how it was just a ‘laugh’ and people should get over it. They concentrated on how it didn’t offend them, so people it did offend must just be oversensitive. I think this is a good example of racism in Britain works, and why people do not point to it as much as racism in America. It’s less blatant except when something like this pops up, and people cannot understand why their behaviour would cause offence. See also this brilliant article on how golliwogs are viewed in Britain today for this in action. Now, don’t get me confused, I am FAR very from being qualified to be the voice of racism within Britain. Not least, because I live in a privileged position that means I’ve never been the victim of it.

If you’re wondering what my ‘privilege’ is, basically I’m white, and I’m petite in height (this is not generally viewed as something that connotes ‘privilege’ but I’ll explain my reasoning a bit more below). And yes that means I get asked for directions a lot, as generally, people don’t see me as a threat. I’ve noticed this in airports/ in passport control, as well, where even my significant other has been treated different to me (not horribly I might add though- this experience is nothing compared to what people of colour have to go through), despite being the same level of politeness as me. However, he’s tall and some people can find the intimidating. I know this because when they realised that he was with me their whole body language towards him changed dramatically. I can only imagine what people of Asian, or black, or any other person who doesn’t present as white has had to go through.

However, forgive my rant. On to the book. Though, my rant is important because it shows just how good this book is at making you think about the racism in society that surrounds you, even though this book was set in a different time period and place to me. Also, for those not aware here is the context of the book, which I am unashamedly taking from Wikipedia: “Taking place mostly in rural Georgia, the story focuses on the life of African-American women in the southern United States in the 1930s, addressing numerous issues including their exceedingly low position in American social culture”. The woman the novel specifically focuses on however is Celie, who is poor and uneducated and living in the American South, who begins the novel with a horrible home life, followed by a disastrous marriage.

So before I spoil too much of the plot let’s get onto the main things I love about the themes of this novel:

  • Female empowerment- Celie just doesn’t give up, no matter what life throws at her- she really rises like a phoenix out of the ashes (forgive my overdone metaphor).
  • Female friendships- it’s a little worrying that I still get happy about seeing positive female friendships in books and on the screen (though I’d like to point out this is not me referencing the film because I have yet to see it!).
  • Female sexuality- this book talks about female desire, which is important (obviously), and it has LGBTQ+ representation!!!

The Color Purple

Image: @aprilisthecruellestmonth/ Instagram 

So as you can see there is a heavy focus on the female within this novel, which is not entirely surprising as I’ve dubbed it as part of my feminist reading journey. However, in my research I saw that a lot of members of the black community were upset over the representation of black men as only being barbaric and as sexual predators. Though I believe this was mostly a criticism of the film (but I’m assuming by extension also the novel). However, a lot of people also said that it accurately depicted their experience, and the film was only supposed to tell one woman’s story, and not stand for black men and women everywhere.

Also, before I go on I would also like to take this moment to warn anyone who hasn’t read the book yet that it contains depictions of sexual violence (so if that makes you uncomfortable in any way shape or form I wouldn’t recommend this novel). It’s because of the sexual content of the novel and due to it’s depictions of ‘rough language’, and ‘homosexuality’ to name just a few concerns brought up (not forgetting the novel’s ‘negative image of black men’) that the book has been banned numerous times. I don’t know about you but if a book has been banned, I immediately want to read it more. Mainly, because the very idea of banning reading of any kind disturbs me to my core (knowledge is power after all).

The Color Purple The Kawaii Kollective

Image: The Kawaii Kollective

Overall, this book is about someone who had no voice, and following their journey to them finding their voice. While they were helped to that realisation by the friendships in their life on their way; ultimately Celie finds her voice all on her own. And I challenge you to think of a more empowering message than that.

There are though instances where fighting back also just sees someone constantly beat down (which, I’m sure a lot of people can find symbolic meaning in both now and for some constantly throughout their lives). Sofia, is one such character who experiences this, and she reminds me of a lot of strong people I know. Who would never give up on what they believe in. Unless it’s stamped out of them. Instead, of taking the sorrow from this, I try to see it as an example of if you crush someone so much, even the strongest people will fall. So that is why we need to ensure this unequal system of power that allows people to succeed in this is destroyed in the first place (though I’m sure you’re all thinking, if only it was that simple- and I completely agree).

So there you have it, ‘The Color Purple’ was everything I expected it to be, and delighted me in other ways (I was genuinely shocked to see depictions of homosexuality in the book- as I’d never heard this mentioned about the book or film before- though I’m not sure if the film is as explicit). If you like being sucked into someone’s world and truly feel like you’re feeling a character’s life, this novel is for you.

If you want to know more about what I thought about particular passages, etc. please don’t hesitate to leave a comment, as I fear this blog post is not as extensive as it could be due to that I’m currently fighting back a cold.

🍂April🍂

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I’ve officially finished my Masters degree

Image: Pexels (A representation of a students life if they are way more hip than I was/ somehow have enough time to use a type writer, and like coffee). 

A short(ish) and slightly personal post ahead. This is just a warning so you know for what you’re getting yourself in for, so don’t say I didn’t warn you!!! Anyway, to the point. The other day, I got my dissertation results and I’m proud to say that my calculations come to the conclusion that I got a distinction overall for my Masters (I really hope this doesn’t come to haunt me lol and it turns out I worked it out wrong).

People who know me personally will know how much this meant to me, not least because I’m a perfectionist but also because I didn’t get the grade I wanted in my undergraduate degree. While blame can of course be blamed on me (and the demon that is procrastination- mostly fear of failing procrastination); a lot of the reason for my result was because of events in my third year of university that essentially meant I was feeling the lowest with my mental health I have ever felt in my life. Although, it has been hard; I’ve finally started to feel like there is a way out of that black hole (though I am by no means magically ‘better’) thanks to the support of my friends and Martin. And due to a whole lot of fighting on my own part. However, at that point in my life I’m not surprised now I didn’t get the result I wanted- I can barely even recognised myself in the person I was that year. I basically should have asked for help and said I was not coping. But I was too stubborn/ afraid to. So what I am saying is, if you’re struggling, ask for the help, confide in someone, I know it’s scary and feels more challenging than whatever you are going through, but it will help so much more in the long run. I honestly wish I had and should have done.

And for those like me who didn’t quite get what they wanted the first time round, I just wanted to let you know you can do it. And basically you’re going to go through a lot of things that suck, and make you feel like there is no way out. But there is, you can do it, and if you need someone to talk to message me. Alternatively, please check out the helplines just below.

Mind (mental health charity)

0300 123 3393

info@mind.org.uk
Text: 86463

https://www.mind.org.uk

The Samaritans (free support for anyone who needs it) 

116 123 (UK) (24/7 every day)

jo@samaritans.org

https://www.samaritans.org

I also want to say a big congratulations to Callie and a thank you for all your support. Ciara- you did amazing, I’m so proud even though you’re older than me lol but I’m definitely the middle aged one of the group. Mitchell- I know you’re going to do amazing. Holly, well done on your Masters, and 4 years putting up with me-we did it (again)!!!

There’s so many more people I could mention and want to but it would make this post far longer than it already is. But everyone else on my Masters course (you know who you are if you’re reading this- well done you’re all amazing).

I also want to say a longer big thank you to the long suffering individual that is Martin, thank you for actually attempting to read my dissertation- it was much appreciated. A big thank you to my mum too for always believing in me.

To anyone else reading, it’s never too late to change your path, whether it be job wise, grade wise, mental health wise. And don’t worry I’m going to stop pretending I’m a life coach now (though let’s face it you’d all buy my motivational DVD because it’d be hilarious).

🍂April🍂

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Reviewing Youtuber books: Emma Blackery ‘Feel Good 101’

For those of you who don’t know already, I’m still what I would describe as fairly new to Youtube. I remember my sisters when they were younger (and still today to a certain extent) enthusing over their favourite Youtubers, and they even went to Summer in the City (while my mum and I strolled around London doing touristy things). But, I just never really got into the Youtube phenomenon in the same way they did. I only went to Youtube to listen to music and watch music videos- I also had seen the occasional viral video from there (but still far less than anyone else). A year or so ago however I decided to actually start to check out some more channels, as Youtube was now everywhere. To be honest, I’m not really sure who I first subscribed to but I think one of the first Youtubers I watched was grav3yardgirl through a recommendation from a friend, along with Zoella (if you’re British you just cannot not watch Zoella or escape her- don’t worry Zoella lovers I’m not slating her).

It did not take long before I became completely obsessed. As not only is there some amazing content out there but Youtubers and the way fans interact with them is something I also find fascinating from an academic perspective. We also live in a place now where people’s careers can be Youtube, and consequently recently there has been more and more controversy about sponsorship, affiliate codes and how much Youtubers earn. At the same time revenue from videos has decreased, and videos are becoming monetised less and less (and disturbingly a lot of videos with LGBTQ+ also became restricted). It’s not surprising then that a lot of youtubers have also brought out their own collaborations or products not only as a source of extra revenue, but because it’s something their passionate about and because their supporters want it.

When brands saw these ranges go well, suddenly they were everywhere. But with popularity becomes controversy. Zoella’s debut novel may have been the bestselling debut novel ever, but it has been accused of affecting literacy levels, and more famously there was a massive controversy about the book being ghost written. Emma Blackery then in reaction to the outpour of Youtuber books initially hated the idea. However, with time she changed her mind, and felt that if those books made people happy, how could she get angry about that?

For those of you who don’t know Emma Blackery is a Youtuber and musician, who rose to fame initially for a series on her Youtube channel when she read out pieces from 50 shades of grey and critiqued the novel. Although, those videos eventually got taken down due to copyright claims; Blackery continued to make comedy videos and again went viral with her video ‘My Thoughts on Google +’. Recently, she released this book I’m about to talk about, and the artwork for her EP Magnetised was featured on Apple’s Keynote for the iPhone 8 and X.

However, let’s get onto the book. From the get go it’s obvious this book’s target audience is teenagers, which since that is generally considered to be the largest viewership group for Youtubers that’s hardly a shock. Plus, I picked it up in the teenage fiction section in Waterstones so if that doesn’t clue you in I don’t know what will.

Emma Blackery

Therefore, if you’re in your early twenties some of the advice and stories in this book, although they may help you reflect; are going to come a bit late for you. ‘The Brain Stuff’ section however is relevant whatever your age. We all need reminding sometimes to take better care of ourselves and look after our mental health- this book then is something that can be there when you’re feeling down and need that motivational reminder (without feeling like you’re being lectured to).

Also, for fans of Blackery there is no denying she wrote this book. It sounds and feels like she talks, which you’ll know if you’ve ever seen any of her videos. I can already predict how the audio book will sound in my head just from reading it. Prose wise this is not supposed to be something that is hard to follow, so it isn’t, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

The section ‘Sex Talk’ is another highlight, especially for teenagers considering how sexuality and consent (at least when I had sex education) were not talked about properly in schools. I also like the way in which she talked about being able to categorise her feelings with the label ‘squish’  (a crush but without sexual desire) helped. I know a lot of people argue now that sexuality labels have ‘gone too far’ and are ‘redundant’, but when you live in a society that is so quick to categorise and define you, not having that definition available for you, for many people makes them think there is something wrong with them. Yes, in an ideal world it wouldn’t matter, and it’s nice that you don’t see gender (I’m going to be honest I think there are very few people who think this way just because the effect from society is so strong), but does that mean you should slate on something that helps other people? No, surprisingly, it doesn’t.

I also appreciated how Blackery made sure not to leave anyone out from the sexuality spectrum, including those who are assexual. While there was no talk about questioning your gender (from what I can remember, apologises if there is); Blackery cannot be expected to talk about everything (though I will admit maybe she should have explicitly stated this). She made it clear she was just talking about her experiences, and what she knew (that’s why in the back of the book there is helplines for people more specialised in that subject area).

I have always as well felt like honest experiences help more than well meant, but often misleading advice. Although, in one way I wish I could have read this in my teenage years; there was some chapters such as ‘Sex Talk’ that would not have applied, as Emma’s problems came from problems with crushes, and that would have involved me actually becoming involved in that area of my life.

The ‘Education (and making the most of it)’ section of the book is going to be painful for anyone who has gone to university. I don’t mean this as a disservice to Blackery, I mean it in the sense that the job market nowadays is hard (see my post Post University Panic for more) though I do think some of Emma’s CV tips are well worth taking a look at.

Overall, the book is half memoir, half advice. A quick guide to help you along in your teenage years by someone who can actually remember them. Not to say that’s its not still useful if you’re past twenty. The mental health section is definitely a must read (and as I mentioned there are also helplines at the back of the book to help with a variety of different issues). The book shows that Emma cares about her fans, and wanted to write something they could appreciate but would also hopefully be useful for them. That is something I can definitely respect.

So will I be reading sections of this again? Definitely. Do I regret buying this Youtuber’s book? No. And I think if you take anything from this review those two statements are definitely a good start.

The book is available to purchase from Waterstones, and Amazon (and I’m sure a variety of other places but those two are my favourite book buying sites). You can also get a audiobook of the novel from Audible.

I hope you enjoyed this post, and my future reading plans at the moment include ‘Secrets for the Mad: Obsessions, Confessions and Life Lessons’ by the Youtube sensation Dodie Clark (due out the 2nd November) and ‘The Rosewood Chronicles: Undercover Princess’ by Connie Glynn aka Youtuber, and cosplayer, Noodlerella (also out the 2nd November).

Let me know if there are any other Youtuber books (or products!) that you’d like me to review. I’d love to also do a Youtuber music series to accompany this as well, so drop me a line if that’s something you’d find interesting.

🍂April🍂

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Vintage Spots: Little Viking Vintage (St Albans)

While I used to be an avid vintage collector; I have to admit over the last few years, my passion dwindled a bit. I think this was because despite being close to London where there are loads of amazing vintage clothes shops; I had lost the connection that I had with my favourite vintage shops in Lincoln. On that note if you ever find yourself in Lincoln I recommend visiting Tasty Vintage.

I also did not find a place I enjoyed that was in close proximity (and not as expensive to travel to as London). I did visit The Vintage Emporium in St Albans and found a few bits every so often, but the focus of the store (lots of different vendors make up the store so its quite eclectic) was not quite my aesthetic. I also think being a vegetarian in a vintage shop can be a little odd at times, as generally there will be real fur coats, as well as leather (I’ve discussed my stance on this a bit more in this post but generally I have no personal problem if you’re a vegetarian/ vegan and want to wear vintage items with animal products, but personally for me I just don’t feel comfortable doing so).

I however recently found myself visiting Little Viking Vintage, which is hidden away in the town centre of St Albans. And ever since going there I have found myself falling back in love with vintage again. The place may be small, but its a little treasure trove and because of the location I’ve never been in there with more than another person looking at the same time. You can tell that its more like someone selling curated pieces of a collection rather than all the stock they could possibly get their hands on (which some vintage shops I have visited have given me the impression of) by the specialness of the stock. There’s so many beautiful and unique pieces that I could spend hours there- and I’ve never once felt by any staff member that I couldn’t, as they just let you look as you please. Though on that note the owner of the shop is genuinely lovely, and a pleasure to talk with. She very kindly reserved a gorgeous top for me, as well as bought from me a faux fur leopard vintage coat I owned and loved (but sadly was just never going to wear).

Mustard 70s top(I hope to do a proper Autumn fashion lookbook soon, which will hopefully feature this top.)

Butterfly Bag

Vintage Straw Bag

Vintage(I ;ove these but they’re not my size and I feel like they are most likely leather.) 

Printed shirt

Apologises for the lack of photographs, there was someone else in the shop when I took these and although they were lovely (and I asked the owner if i could take photographs and she very graciously said I could); I still felt too nervous to do a proper job.

Let me know if you’re interested in vintage fashion and would like to see more of these kinds of posts. I also would love to do an interview with the owner of the shop so if you have any questions you’d like answering, comment below! As it will also give me an opportunity to revisit the shop and take some proper photographs of some of the gorgeous treasures they have.

🍂April🍂

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Update: What’s happening with my Feminist Reading Journey

Image: Pexels 

It’s been a lot more than a hot minute since I’ve written a post for my feminist reading journey series so I thought now would be a good time to have a bit of a catch up and discuss what’s happening with the series. So sit down, have a cup of tea (or if you are like me and hate tea, another beverage) and settle into this short and sweet post. To put it simply, I’m bringing the feminist reading journey posts back. Although, I’ve said in the past that they will be every two weeks; I think for everyone’s sanity including my own- more sporadic than that might be better but I will see how it goes.

I will be relaunching the series next week with a post about The Color Purple. I’m not sure what day the post will be out yet, but it will be an additional post to my normal Monday and Friday posts. Posts in this series I’ve decided will always be like that (apart from this one now), as I feel like putting the series in my regular content will limit my content a bit.

After that I’ve devised a line up (in no particular order) of books I’m hoping to complete by the end of the year. I’ve tried to pick up a line up from authors with a variety of different backgrounds and from different positions- as I always want the books I’m reading to not necessarily be books I know I’m going to agree with. I also think there is something interesting seeing how feminism has changed throughout the generations. The books I picked also discuss a variety of issues that I’ve not explored as of yet, including where body image stands in feminism, and I will also be looking in more detail about gender’s place within feminism- specifically looking at a novel by Kate Bornstein (a transgender author- I mention this only because it is important that transgender individuals are able to tell their own narrative), which ‘offers alternatives to suicide for queer youth struggling to be themselves’.

So without any more of my ramblings here is what is coming up. Next week when I post my The Color Purple post I will announce, which novel is coming next, and so on and so forth. So if you want to read along with me please ensure you check where I am at the end of each post. I’m also going to try to post my reading updates on my Twitter so make sure to follow me there: @aprilcruelmonth.

  • Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay
  • Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit
  • My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem
  • Dragon Ladies: Asian American Feminists Breathe Fire by Sonia Shah
  • Fat is a Feminist Issue by Susie Orbach
  • Women, Race and Class by Angela Davis
  • Sex Object: A Memoir by Jessica Valenti
  • Hello Cruel World by Kate Bornstein
  • The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur (to check out my post on Milk and Honey click here.)

So there we have it. Who know if I will be able to get all of these completed by the end of the year, but here’s hoping. If you have any more suggestions, please let me know.

🍂April🍂

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My Cruelty Free Journey

Image: Pexels (so is free from attribution, but I’m putting the attribution here in case anyone wants to use the image!)

So I think it’s appropriate to start this post by saying that I’ve been a vegetarian for quite a long time now. Although, I can’t exactly remember the year I fully committed (there were a few failed attempts before then); I think it was about aged 16. So about 5-6 years of vegetarianism is probably a good estimate.

For a while I was afraid to admit this, but at the start of being a vegetarian I didn’t really at first catch on to the other animal products that surrounded me like leather, etc. I finally did however realise and started to genuinely phase leather items out, though I will admit this was not without me failing a few times because I put fashion above my beliefs. I do now though only own leather items that I bought quite a long time ago now (and are up for sale on Depop, unfortunately no one wants them). Although, I have put my items up for sale; I personally can’t just throw those items away, as that to me personally feels more like a waste; but at the same time I feel uncomfortable wearing the items.

So basically what I am trying to say is I understand the struggle, and would never call you out for what you wanted to wear. I also love vintage clothing, and can understand why people might be alright with wearing vintage leather (or even fur, though personally, although I know it is skin like leather, real fur has always felt more ‘icky’ to me). I however do not feel comfortable personally with that either, though if you’re vegetarian (or even vegan) and want to buy vintage leather items- go ahead- like I’ve mentioned I think it’s worse to just waste the suffering of the animal and throw the item away. I also think it’s ok if you like a vintage bag for example but the strap is leather (but not the main part of the bag) and tell the store to keep the leather strap to use on another bag, and then replace the strap with a faux leather one (you can find them quite cheap online). There is then always ways to make a item work. I also mentioned the bag idea, as this is something I am considering doing- if you have any thoughts on this ethically let me know, as I’d like to hear opinions.

This dilemma is also part of the reason I decided to make this post, as I am still not fully through my transition and fully cruelty free in my life. I think part of the reason is because when I started this journey I didn’t realise how many things are not cruelty free, which I will talk more about later within this post.

Clothing 

So there are a number of different materials to consider with clothing, and those are leather (and suede), silk (there is however a cruelty free silk option so make sure to always do your research), fur, and for some people wool.

The most prolific of these items that you are most likely going to encounter however is leather, which nowadays is not that hard to avoid with high street clothing retailers often opting for cheaper faux-leather alternatives for their items. Higher end items however are mostly leather and a lot harder to avoid though Stella McCartney and Moschino (I don’t think this is true for all their range however but I know that some of their range is- so make sure to check!) are known for their leather free ranges. As for the high street just make sure to look up the product online before you buy it, as it will say if the product is made out of leather in the product description. Topshop, for example, are about 50/50 with their shoes though I’ve noticed unfortunately that more and more are starting to be leather- you can usually tell however by the higher price bracket before you even look at the item. Leather gloves whatever the shop always seem to be real leather so to be honest I would just avoid them.

If you’re looking for a little stress in your shopping routine Iron Fist shoes are vegan and free from leather, and they are known for their alternative designs. For vegan bags (and shoes I just recently realised) check out Matt and Nat ,who are on the pricey side but are effortlessly stylish and chic (definitely one for those times when you are trying to be all chic and Parisian). I’ve also noticed that Unif stock loads of vegan leather products (I’m not sure if they stock anything leather, though if I was going out a limb I don’t think they do- definitely check though), and are a great alternative brand- they’re a little like Lazy Oaf in execution but much more about the cleaner lines and tighter fit (they also have a bit more of a straight up 90s vibe going on). A lot of the amazing shoes stocked on DollsKill (like all the amazing Current Mood ones) are usually vegan/ not leather (but make sure to check, as I know they have a few styles that are leather). Also, if you’re like me and obsessed with Dr Martens (I do still have a pair that I saved, and saved for but that I feel weird wearing now that are on my Depop) then they do a vegan range. However,  unfortunately their collaborations are usually not vegan so no, Adventure Time (please, please, Dr Martens on the very unlikely chance you are reading this bring out vegan versions of these designs) or Lazy Oaf collaboration for me!

I’ve also noticed that in regards to brands like Vans, Converse and Adidas, and all the similar brands that are popular right now (due to sporty casual making a comeback) that some of their shoes are vegan, but some are not- so be sure to look out for that!

Makeup 

So makeup and whether or not certain brands are cruelty free is being talked about a lot recently, which is amazing. It also gets a bit confusing, as often I see one source telling me a brand is cruelty free and another telling me it is not. Therefore, I thought I’d sum up all the information I’ve gathered about what someone means when they say a product is not entirely cruelty free. Also, I’ve put skincare on a separate post, as I personally don’t tend to buy my skin care stuff from the same brand that I get my makeup from.

Ok, so first of all a brand may be cruelty free but that doesn’t necessarily mean their products are entirely vegan- so they may for example still have dyes in their eyeshadows like carmine (or cochineal), which is essentially made from crunched up insects. At the moment, my makeup bag is cruelty free (minus a few old products that I don’t use but just have not got round to throwing out/ seeing if a family member/ friends wants it) but not vegan, however I am striving to have it both cruelty free and vegan in the near future.

The other confusing bit in regards to makeup being cruelty free involves China. Essentially to sell a product in China, the makeup then has to be tested on animals (though makeup produced in China does not have to go through this testing so theoretically companies could sell in China and be cruelty free by having a factory in China to distribute products there- as far as I’m aware) so therefore retailers who sell in China are not classified as cruelty free, though they themselves do not necessarily test on animals.

To make it a bit simpler here is a list of all the companies that test on animals. However, there is then another issue that arises in regards to cruelty free. This is when a parent company, basically the big organisation that owns lots of smaller makeup brands (L’Oreal is a good example, as they basically own everything) is not cruelty free but the company itself is. An example of this is the brand Too Faced who are generally considered a brand in their own right and describe themselves as cruelty free with a lot of their products being vegan. However, in 2016 they were acquired by Estee Lauder who are not cruelty free. There is also a lot of other controversy surrounding the brand regarding the Youtuber Nikkie Tutorials, which I won’t get into but if you’re interested you can read about. Especially, as a lot of this as far as I’m aware is speculation. So brands with a parent company that are not cruelty free obviously are a bit of a grey area, as it means that your money still ends up going to a place that condones testing on animals. I think parent companies are basically up to each individual to decide on, but if you want to buy products from them still I don’t think it’s something to destroy an individual over (though just to note I don’t think you should ever aim to destroy an individual) if they are someone who says they are cruelty free.

Also, if you’re like me and a fan of some of the Japanese/ Korean makeup trends (mostly because they often do cute collaborations with Disney or Pokémon) I’m afraid these brands tend not to be cruelty free. For some interesting information regarding this see this post on Soko Glam, which also discusses how it is possible to sell some makeup products in China, without having to have the ingredients tested on animals.

If you’re looking for a list of cruelty free brands check out this list by Cruelty-Free Kitty, as it is by far one of the most definitive and informative lists out there. Basically, check out their site if you want to know more about going cruelty free and what brands are and aren’t. Personally, if you want great brands that are cruelty free I’d recommend Kat Von D and Urban Decay.

Perfume 

One thing I never thought about being cruelty free is perfume. Something, which was particularly sad for me to realise, as my favourite perfume of all time is Coco Mademoiselle by Chanel, and is actually very comforting to me. However, a while ago I finished the bottle Martin bought me (he bought it ages ago), and have decided from now on to only use cruelty free scents, which trust me is easier said than done (as unlike makeup the options are a lot fewer).

There are though options out there. Honey Pop Kisses in fact did an amazing post on this, which I suggest you look at for suggestions or again turn to the always great Cruelty-Free Kitty. Also, Kat Von D Beauty recently came out with two perfumes Saint and Sinner that I’m going to assume are cruelty free, since Kat Von D has took a very public stance on this, but I have emailed them to check and will update this post once I’ve received a response.

Nail Varnish

I don’t often paint my nails but I really want to more, and when I looked at my cupboard of ancient nail varnishes I came to the conclusion that pretty much all of them are not likely to be cruelty free. However, after a quick search I was happy to see, that a few brands like ORLY that I expected not to be cruelty free, are.

If you want to see a list of cruelty free and vegan nail polishes click here, or if you want to see 5 vegan nail polish brands (that are more UK based, and include brands like Barry M, who are cruelty free, with some of their products being vegan) click here. Both lists are definitely something which I think are useful to have with you when visiting the nail salon so you can quickly and easily make sure your selection is cruelty free!

Other beauty essentials 

Other beauty things you have to look out for are bath bombs/ general bath stuff. I’ve mentioned Lush’s policy in my latest Lush post for all those interested but there are some great companies out there (usually independents are a great place to look) like Geeky Clean that are cruelty free and vegan. The Body Shop, a old school cruelty free brand and fighter against animal testing has come under fire as they were recently acquired by L’Oréal (who are not cruelty free). However, L’Oréal recently sold the brand to Natura Cosmetics who are reportedly cruelty free (they have not been certified by a board like Cruelty Free International but as a company they have stated they are cruelty free).

In regards, to shower gel I know that Original Source products are generally vegan  and they do smell great. However, I have not found anything definitive to say they are cruelty free so I’m probably going to stop using them, but will email them if anyone would like me to!

Skincare is also something to pay attention to, particularly sunscreen (click the link for some cruelty free brands) but also look up whether your moisturiser, spot cream etc. contains animal products/ is cruelty free. I’d recommend trying to avoid supermarkets and bigger chains and trying to do your skin care routine from somewhere you know to be cruelty free and clearly labels their products, as being either vegetarian or vegan, like Lush (though whether you consider Lush to be cruelty free is up to you- see this post mentioned earlier). Or of course just look up your products before you buy them, though this could end up with you having to do a bit of the emailing and probably a lot of frustration.

Deodorant is something else to look out for and one of those products that I did not even think about. I have a can that I need to finish but soon as that is gone I will be trying out some new products (let me know if a cruelty free deodorant review series is actually something you’d all want!). However, I haven’t found a definitive list of which brands are not cruelty free, so I recommend just looking up your deodorant bottle (if you want me to compile a list let me know). For now here’s a list of 5 cruelty free deodorants that reportedly work and a list helpful for those of us in the UK (since I have a Holland and Barret’s really close to where I live I definitely will be trying out Dr. Organic soon).

So there we have it! My complete list of all the things I’ve started to consider on my cruelty free journey. This post is not designed to lecture you, but as a helpful guide for those looking into being cruelty free in their ‘beauty’ routine or for those who are cruelty free. Also, if I have made any mistakes in this post please let me know, as obviously I don’t want to tell people whether things are cruelty free or not, and then that information be incorrect. If I’ve missed something important out please also let me know, as a lot of this is still very new to me!

If you’ve enjoyed this post let me know, as I’d love to do a ‘Home’ (so cleaning products, etc.) version of this post, as that for me is the next planned stage of my cruelty free journey once I’ve fully completed this stage.

🍂April🍂

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Post University Panic: A Hopefully Helpful Post

(I chose the above image, as it is kind of a good image to define what I looked like for most of university-I miss my long hair so much! I would have posted a picture of my Masters graduation ceremony, but it hasn’t happened yet! Image credit: Holly Campbell.)

I almost didn’t post anything today but I’m really trying to be consistent with posting so thought I’d post instead how I’ve been feeling recently. Plus, I just did some exercise and it helped clear my head a little bit so think I might be able to actually get something out that is not a rambling mess. So for those of you who do not know I’ve finished university for the second time, as I’ve just completed my Masters course (though I’m still waiting for my final grade). Alongside that my significant other has also finished their course, and my friends who were on the course I did.

Although, I can pretty much just about cope with the fact that we are all not students anymore; I have to admit that the thought still kind of scares me. The last four years of my life have been defined by me being a student. A lot of my most memorable moments in my life like taking up running, going travelling alone, and meeting a lot of my friends and significant other all happened at university. I’ve changed so much that to be honest it is hard to connect to the timid, shy person that I was in some ways before university (though she’s still there and definitely comes out when I’m anxious or stressed). And while parts of me have come bubbling back recently- I’ve started to revert a lot more back to the middle aged, no drinking, serious April and away from the fun loving, carefree persona I tried very hard to adopt- I think now I land somewhere in-between.

However, changing or not, the time after university is hard. Everyone wants to know what you are going to do now. What you want to do. Basically, they want to know if university was worth it career wise. I’m lucky that I actually have found a job after university that I will start at soon (but I’m not going to post what it is or anything like that just out of privacy), but it is within the industry that I went to university to study for. I did though on my way get an endless stream of rejections. I also still see my friends being rejected. Bright, qualified, friendly, amazing people that should be fighting down job interviews. Yet, we can all barely make ends meet. Seriously, don’t look at my bank account right now it will make you weep. And no it’s not fair. But that’s not what this post is about. This post is for anyone who is in that position right now. I just want you to know I get you. I know what’s it like to have no money, and to be scared that you will never find a job. I know this may not be what you want to hear from someone who is lucky enough to have found a job, but I am still going to have a good few months of struggling to make ends meet left. Also, I just want to point out here that I know that there there are always people who have it worse, and I am incredibly privileged to have it as good as I do but comparing people’s issues (unless in an appropriate scenario) never helps. We all have pain, and I would never dismiss someone’s experience because it is not as “bad” as my own.

So for those of you finishing university who do not know what to do take a breath.

Write down a ten year plan of where you went to be. Brainstorm things you like if you don’t know what industry you want to be in. Then, write down your skill set (not focusing on experience), writing down what you enjoy, and also what you want to know/ be able to do.  Set plans on how you will get there. I’ve done my fair share of unpaid voluntary work (for charity’s I have to mention I have no issue with this) and internships that yes, should have been paid. But those positions gave me experience and got me noticed. I know the struggle of trying to fit unpaid work around your paid work. No, I cannot afford to just be paid expenses and come in 5 days a week (I have bills to pay!). There are though lots of places that take submissions (this is for writers)- it sucks but write for free, and get that portfolio out there. Then, when you get to that position of power, help me tear the whole system down.

Also, just so you know tonight I’m genuinely going to sit and take my own advice, and force my significant other to as well. As yes I have a position I’m very excited about starting, but I’m not going to give them my best self unless I know what direction I want to go in. So that involves making sure I tie up my loose ends and projects I’ve been neglecting. As I’m determined to go in with the best positive mindset.

I understand wanting to wallow, and trust me my friends can tell you that I have done more than my fair share. But, I’m so happy that they actually know that for once (minus an incident in my second year of university where I sat on the floor in a teddy bear onesie eating Nutella). Wallowing though surprisingly enough has never made me feel better. Neither does pretending everything is ok. Faking it till you make it is not necessarily something I recommend either. Asking for help, and trying your best is what I do recommend.

Trust me, this is not where I thought I’d be after university but although it’s not perfect; I know I’m going to be happy. I have so many things in my life to be lucky for, and there is so much promise in my future. And I know that you have promise too. So I’m going to keep writing, and keep posting here even though I stress out over every post and think it’s imperfect, uncool and not polished because I’m boring, not attractive enough to be interesting, and just plain not interesting. I’m going to keep going because I enjoy writing for this blog. It’s the only diary I’ve ever consistently wrote in at my life. It stops me repeating myself. It gives me an outlet (I really don’t like not being busy). So to anyone who actually consistently reads my posts, thank you for reading, and if you’re a fellow creator message me and let’s create something together (especially if it’s autumn themed-I’m one of the people who is definitely autumn obsessed). On that note, my goal by the end of this year is to FINALLY start my own YouTube channel (something I’ve wanted to do for years); I just have to wait till I can afford a camera and pluck up the courage. However, it’s now on the internet so please call me out if I don’t do it. I’m also going to hopefully post a blog post with a list of all my goals for the end of this year and next year so I can kind of categorise how I do.

So this post may have got onto a bit of a tangent but what I wanted to say was life is going to feel like it sucks for a while, and I hate that but don’t give up because trust me if you can get through university you can get through this. Yes, “adulting” sucks and your life may feel like an unfunny version of Friends; but just take a step back, breathe, and keep pushing on. After all, think of the relief when you finish this part of the run (sorry a running analogy is the best I can come up with)- and hopefully the promise of the “runners high” will get you through it. I know this may seem like generic, unhelpful advice, but it’s just how I’ve been soldiering on, and I think more than anything it helps to talk about this issue and know that everyone else’s lives aren’t perfect and that they are struggling too.

I know it at least helps me!

🍂April 🍂

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Mini Lush Haul/Review: August 2017

(For some reason it looks like the bath bomb has a hair embedded in it- it didn’t- it must of been part of one of the flowers!)

I have watched (though ironically not read) a lot of Lush hauls in my time so I know the market is a little bit oversaturated but I still thought why not add my own Lush haul to the mix? Plus, you know then my content for two posts straight will be exclusively about bath stuff.

Right, so first let’s start with a bit about Lush as a company, since you know in regards to both clothing and cosmetics (etc.) I like to give any information about the company that I have found. In regards to being cruelty free Lush do not buy any raw materials that have been tested on animals. However, due to the new REACH chemical legislation Lush are not completely cruelty free because: ‘If a supplier gets involved in animal testing due to the unavoidable requirements of meeting the requirements of REACH legislation, we have to ‘accept’ this’. Their products however are all vegetarian, with a lot being vegan, and a lot of people still include them on cruelty free lists because of the dedication they have put towards being cruelty free over the years, and the strength of their other policies. Therefore, Lush is one of those I’m going to call “middle ground” companies  (like makeup brands where the ‘parent’ company is not cruelty free but the brand you are buying for is), where it’s up to you if you want to buy from them or not. Personally, I am trying to make my beauty routine completely cruelty free at the moment (which, I’m going to write a post about soon) and am not sure where I lie on this debate. I have seen Lush’s history of fighting against animal testing and how they continuously protest against what is happening, and the fact that their ingredients are vegetarian (and vegan at times) does appeal to me. I’d love however to hear everyone’s thoughts- in my mind though I don’t have an issue with anyone who uses Lush, and considers themselves cruelty free. If anyone’s interested I’ve also labelled whether the ingredients for each product are vegetarian or vegan.

Now on the haul. First of all if I’m being honest, I got this haul in July (not August- I thought the title would be confusing otherwise) because I was really stressed, and just needed a little treat. I thought some Lush stuff, and a nice bath would help. Which it did, but I was still stressed (dissertation pressure), though it definitely took the edge off.

“DON’T LOOK AT ME” Face Mask 

Don't Look at Me Fresh Face Mask(Apologises for my awful nails.) 

Don't Look At Me Mask

So I bought this because I wanted a face mask that wasn’t so “heavy duty”. I try to drink a lot of the old H20, and at the point I was being really consistent so spot wise I was doing ok. I was looking then for something to just brighten my skin and give it a good glow. So I had a little chat with one of the lovely customer assistants, and she recommended I try the “DON’T LOOK AT ME” face mask. This face mask then is one of their ‘fresh’ ones so you have to keep it in the fridge, and it doesn’t last as long as their other ones (like Mask of Magnaminty for example). I have to say I’m not sure if brightening is the mask’s primary effect but it definitely cleans a lot of the gunk out of your face. I used it recently, as my skin was feeling a bit oily (a product of not eating right and my face getting angry at me), and it did a great job at clearing out my t-zone.

The Mask(With the mask on.) 

Martin Mask(Martin also tried the mask. He was not happy about picture time. Or probably how unevenly I spread it on his face.) 

Face After(After the mask. Sorry there’s no before, I did take one but I was a bit vain and didn’t include it because it was really unflattering! I will make to take ones in future try on’s though.)

The one downside of this mask though is that is smells so overwhelmingly of lemon (and something else I can’t quite put my finger on) and I have to admit it puts me off buying it again. I’d rather buy a different “heavy duty” mask (as I do think this is not so much a “light duty” mask) that doesn’t overwhelm my nostrils as much (ironic I know when talking about Lush products).

Price: £7.25/75g 

Rating: 3/5 

This product is VEGAN. 

“Bunny Moon” Jelly Face Mask 

Bunny Moon

So I’m going to be honest I bought this because when I prodded the sample it wiggled. Also, honey is one of my favourite smells so I had to pick the one that smelled like honey up. Basically, how it works is you grab some of the jelly, work it into a paste with your hands and then apply the paste onto your face. I found it a little annoying to work with at times, but once you get used to it’s mostly fine. Plus, your skin will feels so soft afterwards (I put this on generally after the “DON’T LOOK AT ME” mask to get a bit of hydration back into my skin). The only other downside of this mask is that because of the paste texture I find it a bit hard to wash off, as it seems to want to combine with water more than anything. I’d definitely be interested in trying some more of these out, especially as they all appear to have different effects.

Price: £6.95 each.

Rating: 3/5

For more about the other jelly face masks in the range click here

This product is NOT VEGAN. It is however VEGETARIAN. 

Now on to the bath bombs…

“Titsy Tosty” Bath Bomb 

Titsy Tosty

Ok, so this bath bomb is just so pretty. It’d make such a great themed Valentine’s day present. However, the lovely shop assistant who served me at the till at Lush told me that these are going to be out of circulation soon. Something, which I found confirmed on the Lush website. You may still be able to find these in some stores however I’m assuming. I can’t remember the price of the bath bomb, however, and since it’s no longer online I can’t check. I do think though that it’s just about their average price so somewhere in the four pounds range. I also got some awesome video footage (check me out) of this as it dissolved in my bath, which will be on my Instagram: @aprilisthecruellestmonthblog and on my Instagram story on my main account @aprilisthecruellestmonth. I would put it on here but I need to upgrade my plan in order to include video footage, and unfortunately I’m not financially able to at the moment. Overall, this bath bomb is for you if you don’t mind having a bath full of dead flowers in order to get that vintage, Tumblr-esque vibe going on (they also get stuck in the drain afterwards which means you have to fish them out). I did though feel quite soft afterwards, which is always a bonus.

Titsy Tosty 2

Rating: 3/5 

This product is VEGAN. (Update: Found it for $6.95 on the American website so my according to Google this made it £5.39, but I genuinely don’t remember it being that pricey). 

“Dragon’s Egg” Bath Bomb

Dragon's Egg 1

Ok, so it said in the description that there was popping candy in this bath bomb so it makes popping noises as it settles into your bath. I don’t know if it was just that my extractor fan in my bathroom was loud, but no noise did I hear my bath bomb make. It did make the bath water go orange though, and a lot more ORANGE than the photograph is making it seem- the lighting in the bathroom was just terrible. Overall, it was a nice bath bomb I was just hoping for more colours and magic based on the description, and it fell a little flat for me.

Dragon's Egg 2

Orange Water(My bath water with the bomb in there.) 

Price: £3.95 each

Rating: 2/5 (see it’s finally not 3/5!)  

This product is VEGAN. 

“Metamorphosis” Bath Bomb

So this was a purchase for the Martin in my life, as I know he would not be happy if he didn’t get a present in my little splurge. I thought it looked a bit like a dragon’s egg so thought he’d appreciate it because he is obsessed with Game of Thrones. Plus, he’s definitely more into the darker, and cool tone palette than bright tones. However, there is no rating for this product because he is yet to try it out, and I have no pictures because I’ve just moved and have not unpacked enough yet (still!) to be able to attempt to find it!

Price: £4.25 each. 

Rating: Unclassified (because Martin is yet to try it out, so here is yet another incomplete review!) 

This product is VEGAN. 

So that’s the end of my little Lush haul. Let me know if you’ve been enjoying these little review/ haul type posts about bath products, or if there any posts you’d like to see more of. For anyone who enjoys my feminist reading journey series news of that will be coming very soon so until next time!

Game of Thrones (Foams) Geeky Clean Bath Haul

So I’m finally back to blogging! My dissertation is done, so I provisionally have a Masters degree, and I’ve just moved into a new flat. Everything then is still definitely all systems go at the moment but I’ve missed blogging and getting regular content out so much, and I’m hoping that I can manage to start to maintain posting twice a week! I’m thinking Mondays and Fridays so there’s one post to start the week and one to finish the week off. Also, since I want to keep my main Instagram a bit more aesthetic (blame the amazing Youtuber PixieLocks who I got the idea from) I’ve got a new Instagram just for blog content : @aprilisthecruellestmonthblog so if you’re interested check me out there. I’ll still post stuff about my every day life in my main account: @aprilisthecruellestmonth but a lot of it will mostly be in my story, and my feed content will be a lot more fashion based.

However, enough of that let’s get on with this haul/ review of Geeky Clean’s June (yes, I’m behind, I know, I’ll explain in a bit) Game of Thrones themed, ‘Game of Foams’ (I appreciate the strong pun game) crate. So first of all the reason its took me so long to get to this is because in June I thought I might be moving back home, so thought I better send the crate to my mum, and basically I wasn’t able to see her to pick it up, till like a week or two ago. I’d like to note though that I actually stupidly emailed them and asked them to change it to my mum’s address in a panic, and, they were super accommodating and replied super fast! However, since Game of Thrones is currently on air, it actually has turned out to apt time to do this review.

First of all, let’s start with a little background on the company I ordered from. So Geeky Clean is an independent bath, beauty, candles (you name it) company who specialise in products based on fandoms. All their products are cruelty free, and vegan so that gets a big tick from me. I actually first saw them at MCM London Comic Con in May, and after smelling their Harry Potter ‘Butterbeer’ candle I was obsessed so grabbed a business card, and checked out their website. It was there that I saw that they do a monthly themed crate. Each crate is £15 (shipping is then £4.50 in the UK on top of that- not saying that to bash them or anything, as I have no issue with charging shipping, I’m just making everyone aware). Each crate contains a soap, bath bomb, candle and 2 mystery items!

The crate I received contained, ‘Mother of Dragons’ body lotion (scented with dragonsblood), ‘Wild Fire’ soy wax candle (scented with smoke, wood and mist), ‘Great Grass Sea’ bath sherbet’ (scented with herbs, patchouli and sea breeze), ‘Dracarys Dragon Soap’ (scented with cedar, patchouli, vetiver and fresh pine) and ‘Stallion Heart Soap’ (scented with lily, herbs and greenery).

Game of Foams

Let me tell you first of all, that it all smells amazing. The body lotion is a particular favourite of mine, because it soaks in so fast, and doesn’t leave you with that horrible greasy lotion feeling afterwards. If they stocked it on the website I would definitely buy it again, and again. I’m not sure what dragonblood is supposed to smell like but to me it smells like a fresh, smoky scent if that makes sense (and by smoky I don’t mean like you burnt your pizza smell). In fact, all of the crate smells very ‘fresh’ and like you was just in the middle of a field after hanging out with dragons, which you know is all you would want from a Game of Thrones themed product.

I have only managed to use the lotion and the heart soap so far so I can only talk about them, but they were so good that I couldn’t wait to review the rest of the products before posting this. The heart soap first of all gets a 10/10 for being so incredibly detailed and flawless. Although, it does take a bit to later up, which is probably due to the shape, once you get it going you can get a really good lather going. It’s also perfect if you’re like me and want to just use it to recreate Game of Thrones scenes.

I’ve already discussed a bit about the order process, but I’ll just go into a bit more detail for those interested. So I ordered my crate on the 1st June, and the way Geeky Clean do their monthly subscription box is that you have a few days at the start of each month (can’t remember exactly how many sorry) where you can order the crate, and they are then delivered to you at the end of the month. So my box was dispatched on the 29th, and I think as far as I remember it arrived a few days after that.

The reason they don’t just have a ongoing subscription service is because each month as a different theme, and you just really might not be interested in a theme for one of the months. Their last theme for example was ‘Magical Girls’ (which, I am so gutted that I missed).

Overall, I definitely recommend their products for someone who likes bath stuff that is a bit different and like to support smaller, independent businesses that really put their heart and soul into what they do. Also, leave me a comment if you’d like me to do a post reviewing the rest of the crate once I’ve used it. I really want to try the sherbet especially, but I mostly take showers for speed, but  I will make the effort to have a bath soon if people are interested! I also haven’t used the dragon soap because it’s so pretty and I don’t want to ruin the pattern. If you want to see more hauls from this company let me know, as to be honest it just gives me an excuse to buy loads of their products.

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Feminist Reading Journey: Margaret Atwood ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’

Image: The Kawaii Kollective

Let me start this by saying no I haven’t seen the Hulu TV series yet but I fully intend to! This post however isn’t about the tv series, or the film adaptation, it’s about the novel. I actually read ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ as part of my undergraduate university degree, but I had read the novel before then because, well, because I like reading!

I also want to quickly address for anyone following this series that I will be reading some new books soon, and the series will be continuing. It’s just on a little bit of a hiatus while I try to finish my dissertation and sort my life out. When it properly comes back I’ll make a blog post letting everyone know, and hopefully have my reading list on there in advance so people can read along with me if they want to. I also want to take more care with the authors I select so that I can actually start to read a variety of different experiences. I try and make my feminism intersectional, and I know at the moment I’m not doing my best to represent that in these blog posts. In terms of a time scale, posts will also be every 2 weeks so that they are not rushed. However, for everyone who hasn’t been reading the rest of my blog posts, sorry about that ramble, and don’t worry I’m going to get on to this blog post now.

First of all, there is a reason that ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ is a classic, and for those of you who have burned before (like me) by the term ‘classic’ being bestowed upon a book because it is incredibly long and difficult to follow; don’t worry this isn’t the case here. The story (for those who don’t know) follows a woman called Offred (though this isn’t her ‘real’ name) and her life as a handmaid in the fictional dystopian future of Gilead (a military dictatorship). Her position as a handmaid in this dictatorship means that she is kept for reproductive purposes and her ‘job’ is to reproduce in an elaborate ceremony with The Commander (the male head of the household she lives at) with his wife attending (it’s as bad as it sounds).

Image: @aprilisthecruellestmonth/ Instagram 

I’m not going to say anything more about the plot than that as I don’t want to ruin anything, but think about the way reproductive rights are in the US (and continue to be in Northern Ireland, and other countries in which there are restrictions on abortion laws or abortion is illegal) and you get a sense of what is going on. Although, there was some positive news recently that women from Northern Ireland will be able to get an abortion in Britain for free. However, this verdict also came on the same day that: “Belfast’s Court of Appeal ruled abortion law in Northern Ireland should be left to the Stormont Assembly, not judges – effectively overturning an earlier ruling that the current abortion laws were incompatible with human rights laws” (Source: BBC News).

While a lot of people might argue that ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ is not necessarily about abortion (which, I agree with to a certain extent); because in the tale the women desire to have a baby. However, they are still being controlled and forced into that one position- their reproductive rights are being taken away from them. I’m also not the only one to have made this link as women have been seen sporting robes similar to the ones depicted in the Hulu TV series in a number of protests related to reproductive rights and the fight against misogyny.

It for this reason that the quotation I ended up choosing is: “Nolite te bastardes carborundorum. Don’t let the bastards grind you down”. And this week the quotation is very apt not only in terms of equality, but in my own life. I’m coming up to the period where I’m at a bit of a transitional period in my life where I’m not quite sure where I will end up or where I will be. There is something also truly horrible in not knowing, which I hate more than just generally being in a horrible situation. However, I know I’ve just got to get on with it and things will turn around. And at a much faster rate than if I just let life take me where it may. But it’s hard, and I know my friends are finding hard, so basically in a round about way I just want to say if you’re finding everything hard that’s ok. Just try your best to let someone know that you’re finding it hard.

As always the quotation for ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ has been beautifully illustrated by  Caroline from The Kawaii Kollective:

The Handmaid's Tale Image

Image: The Kawaii Kollective

In regards, to the quotation it is also incredibly relevant recently, as the fight for equality has felt difficult, especially with the series of headlines hitting the media regarding gender parity. Perhaps, the most famous of which is the news of the gender wage gap within the BBC, as well as the controversy surrounding the price of the morning after pill in Boots. Especially, considering Boots’ response that if the pill was priced cheaper it might mean that Boots is “incentivising inappropriate use”. Now then more than ever we need to be banding together to fight for change, while not letting these hits grind us down. And there has already been action with a number of female stars from the BBC acting together to write a letter urging the director general to fix the pay gap.

And this links to the main thing I have seen written about ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ and that is that the story is not just a tale: but a warning or a sign of what is happening in our world (particularly, in the Global North, and specifically in America right now). I’ve touched on this already by discussing some of the restrictions placed on women having an abortion, but there is much more that is happening against gender equality and equal rights for everyone whatever gender they identify as (I don’t mean this remark as a flippant ‘whatever’ but as a way to include the variety of different genders people identify as) in Trump’s America.

The author of the article I just linked under ‘gender equality’ also mentions how President Trump doesn’t believe in climate change. In fact he actually pulled the US out of the Paris climate accord, which is horribly ironic considering that the reason why the majority of people in Gilead are infertile is due to radioactive pollution.

Many of the practices within the novel are also present within other countries in the world not just America, particularly regarding same sex love  (in the novel women are circumcised as a punishment for this, and this is something that is still carried out today though not necessarily as a punishment for homosexuality). This practice may be more familiar to you under the name FGM or Female Genital Mutilation, which can “lead to severe bleeding, pain, complete loss of sensitivity, complications during childbirth, infertility, severe pain during sex, recurring infections and urine retention. And in some cases it is lethal. Unlike male circumcision, female genital mutilation also inhibits sexual pleasure”.

I think then now is a good a time as ever to read ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ (perhaps the best time) and think about how the practices described are similar or the same to practices inflicted against either gender (as there is not a lot of mention in the novel of how these practices would affect people who exist outside the gender identities of male or female) within the world. Think about then how the world Atwood describes would be like for those who exist out of the 2 gender binaries just mentioned. Most of all, write, talk and protest about the injustices that too closely mirror our own.

After all, Margaret Atwood is being heralded as the ‘voice of 2017‘ so you might as well see for yourself what she has to say. As for me I’m finally going to watch the TV show, and not let anyone grind me down any longer.

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