Tuesday, 30 December 2014

2014 - A Self Portrait

I started this year a very different girl. I looked the same, blonde hair that probably needs a good brush, long eyelashes, baby blues that fool you into thinking I'm a hell of a lot younger than I actually am (seriously, I still get a half on the bus - I'm 21). Don't be fooled, though, that isn't the case. I would love to sit here and tell you what an amazing year this has been for me and, don't get me wrong it's had it's moments, but it's been a hell of a lot harder than I've liked to admit. Having said that, it's changed me in a way I hope will serve me far into the future.

I could sit here and tell you how unhappy I've been with myself, and I could tell you how things have panned out for me in the last few weeks and how that's lead to me being away - but I honestly just don't see the point. Maybe in the future I'll delve into that and I'll feel a bit more ready to talk about it - but for now it's just negativity that I could be doing without. This year hasn't been perfect, but it's had more benefits than I ever could have imagined. I have gained so much confidence in myself, maybe not my physical self, but I am so proud of the voice that I have developed. I have come to put so much self assurance into everything that I write, an attribute I put down entirely to Little Fickle.

Photo mash up 2014

If you had told me at the beginning of the year that I would have started a blog and found a voice that slowly developed into a roar about equality, discrimination and current issues - I would have laughed in your face (or probably not, I would have been too much of a church mouse to speak to you at all) but here I am, a living breathing woman, with a voice of passion and a belly full of fire. I'm not sure how Little Fickle changed me so much, but I'm willing to contribute at least some of it to the people I've met along the way who continuously inspire me and help me develop as a person - most notably Summer and Lauren who have been rocks, comedians and therapists amongst a million other things in the last few months.

2014 has been hard, it's rounded me out as a person. It's so unbelievably overwhelming that I stand here, on the cusp of 2015, with no job, no plan and next to no money (I do have a ton of eyeshadow palettes though, so swings and roundabouts) but more than anything, it's a fresh start. It's a clean slate with absolutely no ties to hold me back. 2015 is a brand new year, I hope to see you all in it,

How was 2014 for you?

Sammy xo.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Friendly Reminders - Christmas

I don't want to be a dick, or get all unfestive on you; but just for this morning I want to give you three quick, honestly, genuinely friendly reminders about Christmas. All are things I am probably prone to forgetting at one point or another, and so I do hope they might help a few people along the way.

1: Not everybody celebrates Christmas/enjoys doing so. I do celebrate, even though I don't consider myself Christian. Some people don't, some people may choose not to, some people may celebrate other religious holidays; all are totally cool. Furthermore, Christmas can be really stressful for some people, some people have money troubles, Christmas and the holiday season have been known to intensify mental illness and associated symptoms in some people. All in all, you do you - but remember to be considerate towards others who may find this a hard or frustrating time, or may not take part in the traditions at all.

2: Which leads on to point two: be as tolerant as possible to people's seasonal greetings. I'm entirely sure that if you don't celebrate Christmas then "Merry Christmas" must be really, really frustrating to hear, and may even sound offensive. I obviously can't speak for everyone, but I just want to say that definitely in my case and I'm sure in most others - if I say it out of turn, it isn't to be offensive or intolerant to your religious beliefs, it was just a genuine mistake. Use this as a learning point - kindly explain that you don't celebrate Christmas, but maybe take the time out to speak about other religious holidays or any traditions that you do celebrate. If at all suitable, the phrase "Happy Holidays" is a good all rounder.

3: Finally, don't expect constant cheer and cooperation all of the time. Even the most tolerant of people can find being around people every waking hour for an extended holiday period overwhelming. People need time out, people will have been up long hours, eaten and drank too much and may be grouchy. Allow people to do their own thing for a bit - even when you really, really want them to watch Doctor Who with you. I say this as an introvert; sometimes I just really need you to let me lie in my room for twenty minutes and watch an episode of Two Broke Girls. Thanks for the cooperation.

As I said, this isn't the Grinch in me coming out to play - it's just a genuine quick few reminders as we enter Christmas week. Have a happy holidays everybody... I'll see you on the other side.

What friendly reminders would you give to people?

Sammy xo.

Sex Clubs and The (Not So) Forward Thinking Woman

Let's talk about sex clubs. It's not like I've ever been shy with regards to sex, and you'd think with the one year anniversary of Britain's first female-only sex club recently flying by, I'd be rejoicing about the amount of women willing to experiment with the sexuality in such an open way - but I'm sad to say that isn't the case. The more I read about Skirt Club, the more angry I am with the woman who founded it. For too long bisexuality has become a neat little party trick, and this feels like that embodied.

I need to get this off my chest, the name of the club is Skirt. Really? As in "chasing skirt"? As in, how stereotypical and borderline offensive can we be without it causing controversy? Maybe it wasn't intended in that way, but if I was creating a club for women that was the first of it's kind I think I'd be pretty careful not to call it anything that could be translated in a derogative manner. Good, I'm glad that's out of the way - now onto the real important stuff. Founder Geneviève LeJeune (that isn't, you'll of course be surprised to know, her real name) is being hailed as a "forward thinking woman". That's interesting. Interesting as in completely bizarre and , in my humble opinion, wrong. A forward thinking woman would be one, I would say, that didn't base her exclusivity clause on a woman's face. That's right, to get into the forward thinking, progressive club you have to be - and I quote - "hot, very hot." She is quick to add that there are extensive questions and a personal meeting, ensuring their women have both brains and beauty - but it seems like if you need to pick, it's the beauty you need. Oh, and the body, of course, and watch out for the dreaded Primark pants Genevieve seems so horrified by, expensive lingerie only.

As baffling it is to me that women, undoubtedly judged at one point in their lives or another based on looks alone, would openly judge others in the same way - that's not the thing that really, really riles me about Skirt. The main thing is it's been advertised as a club in which straight and bi-curious women can come to experiment and then go home to their husbands. As a bisexual woman, that seems more than a little offensive to me. Bring your bisexuality to play, it says, then shove it back in the cupboard when you're done with it and settle back into your bed with your loving husband (who has, after all, let you out to play with other women. Out of the kindness of his heart, nothing sexual about it. If it was a man you wanted to experiment with, I'm sure he'd have let you go just the same.) Bisexuality isn't a new dress or an expensive piece of jewellery, it isn't - as The Daily Mail has called it - "cool to be a 'lipstick lesbian' right now". Sexuality isn't a thing that you put on and take off, it's a living, breathing extension of yourself and exploiting it as a status symbol? That just sits wrong with me.

Skirt isn't a forward thinking sex club, I'm sorry (although they do have some interesting talks on women's sexuality, sexual pleasure and sex in general). It's a sex club allowing upper class women to flaunt their exciting, interesting exploration of sexuality and invite their friends along (members do, after all, have to be invited by an existing member). It's borderline offensive, it's a step backwards and if it had been set up by a man? Women everywhere would be boycotting it, not begging the club to open more branches. Explore your sexuality, by all means, but don't do it because it's cool, or hip, or because all of your friends are doing it. Skirt is not a place for homosexual women to fall in love, Genevieve says - clearly bisexual women don't pose the same risk of falling for a woman. The claim seems to be, by Skirt, that bisexual women are really straight women who like to play with women once a month and then settle back in with their nice "adult lives" (another direct quote). You know what, Genevieve, if I'd come up with this idea - I'd be using a fake name too, I'm afraid. 

What do you think of Skirt?

Sammy xo.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Hot Drinks For Cold Days

I love a good hot drink. I mean, I say I love a hot drink - but, realistically? I absolutely despise milk. I'm a black coffee/black tea sort of girl, but it gets sort of, well... Boring. So, I've been on the quest for new hot drinks for the new influx of cold days, and I've come up with a corker of a top five. You're welcome.

Coffee and Tea Flatlay

This is a love/hate sort of thing for me. It mostly smells like peppermint, which seems to throw me off every single time. I really like this, the sweetness of the liquorice rounds off what can be quite overwhelming in a straight up peppermint tea - but I also dislike it because it sort of reminds me of brushing your teeth and then eating something sweet, it almost lingers in your back teeth. It's really similar to the Teapigs option, but a lot cheaper - so if you aren't sure if it's for you, this one's worth a shot first.

Peppermint Tea/Almond Coffee

I want to put this stuff in chiffon bags and use it as an air freshener, I'm not even joking. Anyone who knows me in real life knows my love of marzipan, and this smells like the stuff before you even get the lid fully open. It doesn't smell quite as nice when you mix it down, and it doesn't exactly taste like it smells but it is sweet and nutty - not an everyday coffee, but a nice change when you want something a little different.

This is my absolute favourite go-to coffee, or hot drink in general. The grain is stupidly fine - I'm not sure if that makes a difference but it doesn't make it a complete pain to clean up if you spill it (imagine coffee coloured talc...). Having said that, this is incredibly strong, has a lovely rich taste to it and is every bit as good as an Americano at Starbucks (not that I ever go to Starbucks, working in a small independent coffee shop...)

Instant Coffee/Lemon Tea

4: Twining's Lemon And Ginger Tea (£3.99/80 teabags)
I am a chronic bad sleeper and my mum is convinced this will help me. I can confirm that it doesn't in the slightest, not even when combined with nytol - but it tastes nice nevertheless. It's sweet without being overwhelming and, to give my mum her fair dues, it is weirdly relaxing. It has a stronger flavour than most of the berry teas that I've tried, which can sometimes taste a little nothing-y, and I'm a big fan.

This stuff is very much the one, in my opinion. It's not going to replace my all day every day Azera with this, but I like one of these every couple of nights. Much to my disappointment, this doesn't smell lush like the Beanies offering, but it has a smooth underlying taste of caramel which is really pleasant, and just makes for something a little different.

What tea/coffee would you recommend?

Sammy xo.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

The Untouchables

At the beginning of the month, I read an astoundingly thoughtful article on The Independent, appropriately named "The length of my skirt is none of your business". More than anything, I wanted to share it on Twitter, but I'm ashamed to say I didn't for fear of backlash. What backlash, you may ask? The answer is simple. It was written by Chloe Hamilton. If you don't remember Chloe Hamilton, you might remember that Zoella article that was spun from her fingertips, that I spoke about in Feminism vs. Human Decency. Now, I didn't necessarily disagree with her original article, if we take away the harshness of the tone, but the fact is - Chloe Hamilton dared comment on an Untouchable and, as such, I feared that the sharing of her article would be erring on the side of career suicide - even though it was a completely different article I had wanted to promote. Writing that down seems ridiculous, she shared her opinions in an opinion piece; and yet the onslaught that happened afterwards attacked her as a person, made her name known worldwide in the blog world and, as part of this all? Cast her out as any kind of reliable source in the future. Based on one, single, piece of writing.

How did the idea of The Untouchables come about? Celebrities with fans so loyal, death threats and vile onslaughts are part of their every day lives to protect their hero's integrity. It's not just Zoella fans we've seen this from, but Directioners (One Direction fans), Swifties (Taylor Swift fans) and even the good old Beliebers (come on, you all know this is Justin Bieber who is, I am informed, still relevant) - plus countless others. In a blog chat a few weeks back, all too many bloggers complained about how scared they would be to write opinions about certain topics - for fear of how it might come back around to bite them. That's right - there are people out there too scared to share their opinions - not on people themselves, but just on topics that might include a negative opinion with regards to a (potentially) crappy thing that person might have done, endorsed or presented.

The fact is this - those celebrities with millions of fans? They're in the public eye. As much as it would be nice to think that we live in a world where the only things said about them, and the things they do, wear and promote would be positive - that isn't the case, as we all know. Bad things will be said about good people, and sometimes - those people with opinions that you don't like? They might actually be right, no matter what vile insults you throw their way out of principle. People make mistakes, and if the person you're obsessed with is in the human eye? People are going to take those mistakes and run with them - and I'm sorry to say that's all part of the media circus when you live your life in front of millions. People have opinions, and you can't shut every single one down via the use of appalling names and death threats, no matter how hard you try.

So here's me saying - speak out your opinions, no matter what. I got your back. Here's me also saying, you can't protect celebrities from every single negative thing, nobody is truly untouchable - and in doing so, some people are giving the whole fan base a bad name. Here's me saying, people are entitled to opinions, irregardless of whether you agree. Finally? Here's me saying, go and read Chloe Hamilton's posts, she has a whole lot more to offer the world than an article about a blogger.

What do you think about the idea of untouchable celebs?

Sammy xo.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Bakerdays Letterbox Cake*

Okay, we all know I have a soft spot for sweets and, although sour sweets rank my ultimate highest, if it can rot your teeth, make you put weight on or wouldn't be out of place in Willy Wonka's factory? I'm all over that. So, when Bakerdays (maker of the intriguing little letterbox cake) got in touch and asked if I would like to try one of their Christmas cakes* I, of course said yes. I played it cool, but inside my heart was beating for it's one true love - cake. I have to admit that this isn't the first time I've seen their company, and I loved the idea for my brother who lives a good four hours away in Newcastle, but I honestly couldn't get my head around how a letterbox cake would work so I never tried - this seemed like my perfect opportunity for a test run.

Cake Tin and Cracker

It came in a cute but sturdy little box, about the same size as a subscription box tends to be, but not as high; and inside was a cracker and a little tin (which, interestingly, has air holes in - something I'm a huge fan of.) When I opened the tin, inside was my cake nestled, perfectly safe and sound. I have to admit, as we have a lot of packages arriving lately this didn't get the chance to actually make a swan dive through my letterbox, but taking in the packaging and the perfect state of the cake when it finally reached my greedy little hands, I would be willing to put myself on the line and suggest it would be more than fine. I, of course, being the princess that I am, picked their Christmas Ice Princesses cake* and was pleased to find the colours strong and bright, and the wording clear and easy to read (I also love the personalising option, a cake with my blog name on it! Almost too pretty to eat. Almost.) 

Frozen Iced Cake

The sponge itself has a lovely crumb (oh, hark at me - Paul Hollywood) and is soft and moist, the icing is good old school birthday cake icing which I'm a sucker for, so I really enjoyed that bit! If I had a little niggle with this cake, it's definitely it being iced to the board. I get why they've done it - to keep the cake in place during transit, presumably - but it is a little bit of a pain and can create a bit of a mess to get out particularly the first slice, it's nothing that can't be worked with though.. My mum, I need to say at this point, finds this cake astounding - I'm pretty sure she's going to order one for every single person she has ever known.

All in all, now I'm more aware of how the idea of a letterbox cake would work, I'd definitely consider sending one to my brother - safe in the knowledge it would reach him in almost pristine condition. Bakerdays do everything from personalised Birthday cakes, to cupcakes, to (my particular favourite, and something I could have used a lot of back in my school days) sorry cakes. There really is something for everyone, and at a fairly affordable price (my 5" cake, with 3-4 portions is priced at £14.99), it's worth considering - especially for those who don't live close enough that you can just nip round with a cake!

What do you think of letterbox cakes?

Sammy xo.

*Cake was sent by bakerdays in consideration for a review, however this has not swayed my opinion and all views expressed are completely my own. Please read my disclaimer for more information.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Looks Vs. Worth

I don't normally talk much about problems I still struggle with, I tend to focus on ones that I've overcome, but this week it seems important I share this with you. I've been on a small hiatus this week, as I've been in a little bit of inner turmoil. Lately, I've been struggling with my attitude towards things - and although this stems from my looks, and most predominantly my weight (I talked a little about this in my insecurities post), it inevitably impacts on other aspects of my life - this had this week included blogging. As children and teens - in fact, really even as adults - we are now taught to distinguish looks from worth, that one doesn't impact on the other. This is something I struggle to do for myself and, the more I think about it, the more it angers me that my looks have impacted upon my life and determined my worth for so long.

Let me tell you a little about growing up for me. I went to a less than average Primary School, where I thrived. I loved school, I thought reading was cool, I played hopscotch in the playground and I had a ton of cool friends that I'd known for as long as I can remember. When it came to High School, I knew that I wanted to go to my local Grammar School - my brother went to their brother school and at the time I thought he was the coolest thing in the world, so I applied. I passed with flying colours, although it meant waving my best friend off to another school (but she's still my best friend 10 years later, so it's all good), and I started the all girl's grammar school. Shortly after, I was placed into the Gifted and Talented programme, meaning that in my age group I averaged in the top 5% academically nationwide for the core three subjects - English, Maths and Science.

I quickly went from being the top of a lower level school, to the middle (at best) of a school full of confident, intelligent girls - but what rattled me most was how insecure I became. Unsure of my looks, surrounded by girls I couldn't see as anything but better and prettier than me day in day out, I started to lose focus and struggle in school. I didn't really notice this as much with my GCSE's, and with the bare amount of effort, I managed to scrape through with good enough grades to stay at my school for Sixth Form. This, for me, was when things really hit. I became obsessed with the way I looked - and so insecure that I couldn't even use a certain door to the Common Room as it meant passing the elite girls in my year, and I feared their judgement. I started to hate school, and all it encompassed, so I stopped going in. I would stay in a few hours then skip out, or I would be there playing bad games in the Maths Computer Room or reading magazines in the Common Room instead of being in the lessons that I should have been. Although I'd barely put any effort in - my less than great grades came as a real shock. Whilst all my friends went off to University, I started working at the Bistro and reveled in my new leaner body - all that seemed important to me for a really long time.

Now, the one thing that frustrates me the most in life is the fact that my baby face and blonde hair mean people talk down to me as though I'm stupid, I hate that my looks impact my worth - and yet I've come to realise that this is exactly what I let myself do to me, I have let my looks be more important than my worth - my intelligence, integrity and values - in my own eyes for so long that it's beyond a joke. I have reached the point in my life where I need to move forward, and I know that I need to start regarding my values and worth as so much more than the number on a scale, or the way my hair looks today, or I will let it overshadow my future opportunities like it has my past ones.

This isn't a post for sympathy - it's an explanation of my short absence, it's a promise for the future and, all in all, it's something I hope will make you think more positively about yourself, if you're anything like me. I am a girl made of thunder, I am all mouth (and too often no brain), I am fury and honesty and integrity - and I hope a hundred more things - and you know what, you all are too. The sooner we see the worth in ourselves, the sooner more others might start to regard it higher than our looks, too.

Do you sometimes let your looks impact your worth?

Sammy xo.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Working With The Public - Christmas Edition

Working with the public is honestly amazing. No, I'm not being sarcastic - for the most part it's really cool. You get to talk to people you wouldn't normally speak to, there's always someone willing to stop for a chat, you spend a huge majority of your day laughing and joking with people from all different walks of life. Having said that, when Christmas comes around, working with the public can turn a little, well, sour. Here's some of the reasons working with the public at Christmas can really take it's toll.

1) You've been Celebrating Christmas Since October
Even if you haven't knowingly done it; you've been celebrating two months earlier than you had planned. By November you've already sold a fair quota of Christmas gifts, people are already asking when Christmas menus are coming around and you're so sick of the sight of glitter and baubles you could scream. By the time Christmas actually rolls around, all you want is a good lie in and the first opportunity to take that bloody tree down.

2) New Workers
'tis the season to be broke. People are either looking for a job where you work, starting a job where you working or half assing a job where you work because they're all pretty much 99% sure they won't still be around when January hits.

3) Impatience
Christmas shoppers, it seems, are on a tight schedule. Normal days in retail can be hectic anyway but with people checking their watches in queues because they have four more shops to get to before they close, or constantly checking the status of their meals because they have places to be? It's about twenty times worse.

4) Christmas Songs
On December 1st Christmas songs are awesome. I love The Pogues! Why didn't Wizard release MORE Christmas songs?! By December the 2nd? I want to personally smash every single copy of every Christmas song ever made and hole up in  dark room with some ear plugs. Christmas songs aren't as lovely when they're on repeat all shift, every shift. What sadistic bastard invented Smooth Radio Christmas, anyway?

5) "Finished All Your Christmas Shopping?"
You can have this conversation with every. single. customer that you serve some days. It's time for us all to accept that nobody has finished all their Christmas shopping; stop panicking friends, neighbors and shop workers by reminding them. Those who have actually finished will undoubtedly be bragging about it for all the world to hear, anyway.

6) Glitter
No but seriously, have you ever tried to brush glitter up? It's like a necessity to make a grotto out of it in public spaces, but when every single Christmas decoration around you contains some aspect of the sparkly stuff even breathing can cause flurries to settle onto your just brushed floors, you go home covered in it - Great, red and sparkly was exactly the highlighter I was going for, this season.

7) "When's The Last Date That I Can Get..."
Last, but by no means least, the one that confuses me most; Why do people always want to know the very last date for things around Christmas? You would never shop for a birthday present and think "actually, I think I'll leave this until the last possible moment instead of buying it whilst it's right here in front of me, now" and yet, we all seem to pick up things for Christmas at the very last second, to the point that we even ask how late we can leave it. This honestly baffles me every time.

Contrary to this post, I'm actually not a grinch but, just have a little patience with us poor souls working with you - the public - at this time of the year. We want to be at home, too!

Sammy xo.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Censorship - 10 Steps Backwards (NSFW, probably)

Although I've never been shy to divulge all the sordid details of my life, in the last few weeks you might have noticed my blog getting a little more sex positive. After chatting to bloggers through chats and on twitter, it's become clear that people out there are much more willing to talk about sex, much more willing to learn about sex; we are a generation that are pushing the boundaries, moving forward, we are more liberated than ever before - or so it seemed.until yesterday, when UK produced porn was seemingly silently censored. The new rules (which you can read a little more in detail on The Independent's website here) means that pornography produced in the UK will no longer be able to contain a whole number of acts that seem, well, par for the course in a lot of porn.

The feminist in me is angry, first and foremost, that some of this list seem to suggest there is something dirty, unpleasant or seemingly now borderline illegal in some acts primarily associated with pleasure for women. Facesitting and female ejaculation are both to be banned under the order, and yet the male equivalents are prominent in a huge majority of porn, I would venture to say. We already live in a society wherein women are too often made to feel ashamed of their sexuality and, just as we're gaining the tiniest bit of freedom? The idea sex isn't for female pleasure is reiterated UK wide. The idea behind the facesitting ban is supposedly safety, although many contest this, but if so surely the male equivalent poses exactly the same asphyxiation risk? Female Ejaculation has been banned because it is yet to be proved definitively that it exists - much like aliens which, quite rightly, are never allowed to be broadcast on any TV programme or film produced in the UK.

Some, of course, undoubtedly do pose some sort of risk if done incorrectly or unsafely - namely strangulation and penetration by an object associated with violence - but I struggle to see how banning these in pornography is going to make any sort of difference at all. Porn produced in other countries is readily available for the UK, these are acts that will still be readily available to view on a porn platform of your choice, only now they'll be lacking English participants. More importantly, the banning of these acts in pornography isn't going to stop people practicing them at home - so why are we banning them instead of using porn as a valuable tool in which we can teach people interested in them to go about it properly and safely to the best of our advantage.

The rest of the list of bans consist of; spanking, caning, excessive whipping, physical or verbal abuse (including consensual), Urolagnia (commonly known as water sports) and fisting. What confuses me most about this ban is that none of the acts themselves are illegal, surely this is just a matter of taste. The ban supposedly rests on moral judgement - but of whom is the question that rests on everybody's lips, I'm sure. This isn't a matter of moral  judgement, but one of whatever floats your boats - and surely this goes back to the old saying of "if you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all" or in this case, "if you don't like the porn, don't watch it." Instead of chastising people for the types of porn they enjoy, let's tighten up on the important things; making sure those in the industry aren't being exploited, making sure they are all regularly aware of their sexual health status and - where possible - educating people in the aspects of sex that could prove dangerous if not done correctly. Shaming people by suggesting that the fetishes they share aren't "normal" is doing little else except breeding prudish behavior, and the idea that vanilla sex is the only acceptable way. If that works for you, great, but if not? There's a thousand other ways to have sex than missionary and, as long as it isn't illegal, you go ahead and try whatever it is that you want to - irregardless of whether the UK officials have decided that it's "unpleasant" or not.

What do you think about the censorship on porn?

Sammy xo

As always be sure to be careful when participating in any sexual activity that brings forth prominent risks to any party involved, safe sex is fun sex y'all.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Fem-tellectual Launch!

Some of you may have noticed on twitter that I apologised yesterday for the lack of a post due to the simple fact I've been burning the candle at both ends and in the middle. This has come about mainly due to working extra hours and being ill this week, but also because I have some exciting news! Today is the launch of Fem-tellectual, a magazine blog set up by the lovely Rachel from over at Happy Little Syllables, of which she amazingly (and very nerve-wrackingly) made me Deputy Editor. What started as a tiny spark of an idea on a chat a few weeks back has rapidly escalated into a full scale operation with a team of over 20 amazing bloggers, writers and women from all walks of life - and a whole array of topics that interest us, from Business, to Technology, to LGBT.

Femtellectual Logo

I honestly feel so blessed to be part of a team celebrating women for being the women we are in real life; women that wear make up and dress up prettily, yes - but also women that can argue politics until they're blue in the face, women who can blast out HTML, who know they offer just ask much to the world in intelligence as in looks. I have had the honour to read through some of the posts and I am honestly overwhelmed by the sheer enthusiasm, intelligence and passion behind these women - I can't stress enough how much of a treat you're in for.

I hope you'll cross over and join us, join in if you can, I hope you are inspired by some of the women that we have on board, I hope to see you over on our twitter. Today is the start of Fem-tellectual, but the future is bright. See you over there.

Sammy xo.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Signature Fragrances London*

Clothes and American TV are my one true love however, all things make-up and perfume come a close second. I'm a bit of a flirt when it comes to perfume, I'll admit it; I'm a sucker for a pretty bottle and so I flick from one to another regularly in order to add new additions to my collection. I love trying something new and so, when Signature Fragrances asked if I would be interested in testing some of their new fragrance oils* I absolutely jumped at the chance.

Name Tags

First up, Lurre*(£46). Oh Lurre, I wish you had fallen into my hands sooner. Signature Fragrances describe this as a "sweet yet sophisticated scent" and I'd say I agree with that. This is the sort of sweet you find in a body butter that you want to linger, it's not overpowering like some perfumes and it's not sickly in it's sweetness, it's weirdly soothing and definitely a scent I'd give another fair go to. This has Rose and Strawberry top notes, Vanilla, Honeysuckle and Musk middles notes and Amber and Golden Musk base notes; but I have to say you can't really detect the musk in there so I think maybe it just rounds off the edges of the sweetness.

signature fragrances lurre and lola

Now, Lola*(£47), I'm sorry, I'm just not feeling this one, although I'm aware it's really popular amongst other people who have tried it. Signature describe it as a "calming and feminine fragrance" but to me it just seems old fashioned, it's quite strong and - it was unanimously agreed - just really, really not me. This has top notes of African Orange Flower, middle notes of Jasmine and Patchouli and base notes of Cedar, Rose and White Honey. I can get why some people might like this, but personally I find it floral, a bit fussy and me and Lola just don't get on, I'm afraid.

Diamond Bottles
(pictures taken from the Signature Fragrances website)

Now, I didn't get to see the bottles when I received my fragrances, but oh my days look at those; worth buying for the glassware alone. The fragrances don't tend to last that long on the skin but I tend to top my perfume up every few hours anyway and so I'm not too concerned about that. I definitely will be buying myself a bottle of Lurre as a little treat for myself. A little bit on the expensive side, but it's a scent I've fallen in love with and you can't deny the luxury of those bottles.

What's your favourite perfume, will you be trying Signature Fragrances?

Sammy xo. 

*Samples were sent to me from Signature Fragrances in consideration for writing a blog post, however all views expressed are completely my own

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Non-Traditional Christmas Songs

I love a good Christmas song. Scratch that, I love a good Christmas anything - but people can't judge me in the same way when I have headphones in as opposed to when I insist on wearing Christmas Jumpers in public (on that note, though, Primark have some cracking light up ones at the minute). It's not that I don't love Wizard or Michael Buble - there is not a human alive, in fact, that doesn't love Michael Buble - but the fact is when I get home from a whole day of listening to Smooth Radio's Christmas station? The last thing I want is to hear The Fairytale of New York or Stop The Cavalry ever again in my entire existence (or at least until next year). So, I thought I'd share with you my top four Christmas songs that are a little less traditional than the usual suspects, but also are yet to be ruined by Smooth Radio Christmas.

Fall Out Boy/The Wombats

Yule Shoot Your Eye Out - Fall Out Boy
"The gifts you'll be receiving from me will be; One awkward silence."
Actually pretty grim as the lyrics to Christmas songs go, but definitely one of Fall Out Boy's more impressive songs in my humble opinion. It's very christmassey to listen to, very true to Fall Out Boy's style and very high on my Christmas playlist. Think old school pop punk with a little bit of Christmas Spirit to soften the edges.

Is This Christmas? - The Wombats
"Turn 'Back To The Future' off, I've seen it before, maybe every year and more."
This is in my top picks for two reasons. 1: It starts with Les Dennis. See, awesome already isn't it? and 2: The lyrics to this are as if somebody has actually written about a real family Christmas. Forget falling in love and what happened last Christmas, this is about how crap snow is in reality and what Christmas day is really like for most of us. Plus, it's by The Wombats and they're pretty cool so - enough said.

The Wonder Years/TNBC

Christmas at 22 - The Wonder Years
"Let's turn on the TV and wait for Christmas specials, we'll make some frozen pizza."
Okay, so I've probably mentioned before that I have a weird amount of love for sad twenty somethings singing lyrics over music that doesn't really seem to fit and sort of really does at the same time? That's The Wonder Years in a nutshell. I love all of their music but this is a really sweet, nostalgic Christmas song about coming back from University at Christmas to all of the friends you had in high school. This is actually probably top of my list if we're being honest.

What's This - Danny Elfman
"What's this? They're hanging mistletoe. A kiss? Why, that looks so unique!"
Before anyone gets up in my grill about this, Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas is a Christmas Film not a Halloween one, it starts and ends with Halloween but they actually celebrate Christmas. Now that's off my chest, this is one of my favourite non-Christmas Christmas songs. For those of you who've never seen the film this is the song from the scene in which the king of Halloweentown sees Christmastown preparing for Christmas for the very first time. It's sweet, funny and reminds me of my childhood - who needs any more excuses.

I love a non-traditional Christmas song so be sure to leave your favourites in my comments, I'm off to go and watch The Nightmare Before Christmas, now I've reminded myself about it.

Sammy xo.

If you liked this you might like: My Top 3 Songs

Monday, 24 November 2014

National HIV Testing Week 2014

When it comes to my health, I am very much in the camp of "I'll probably be fine." I think this stems from growing up with a nurse for a mother, but I could literally be choking and in between gasping for air I would reassure you about how fine I was. This, it turns out, is not the best attitude to have about your health - and seeing as I took to twitter this week to advocate that more people should be talking about sex and sexual health, when I saw it was National HIV Testing Week, I thought this was the perfect time to make sure that me, and those around me, were taking their sexual health more seriously. HIV, or Human Immunodeficiency Virus,is a virus transmitted through the transferal of bodily fluids that targets and weakens the immune system.

National HIV Testing Banner

Although, as I'm sure many of us aware, some UK groups have a higher proportion of people living with HIV (for instance the groups most affected at the moment include prisoners, gay or bisexual men, Black African or Black Caribbean men and women and injecting drug users) absolutely anyone can become infected by HIV. As a bisexual woman, my chances of contracting the disease are fairly low, however - it's not impossible, especially if I am or have been practicing unsafe sex. According to Public Health Statistics significantly fewer people were able to correctly identify the ways in which HIV could be transmitted in 2007 than were able to seven years earlier - and I personally find that pretty alarming (for the record it is passed through bodily fluids, but not usually saliva as the concentration isn't high enough, through sharing needles or sometimes through needle stick injuries and it can be passed from parent to child). Especially as, according to the very same set of statistics around 26,000 people are thought to be living in the UK with HIV which has yet to be diagnosed, combine this with the fact that (according to various sources, although it seems to be impossible to track down actual statistics) young people seem to be having more unprotected sex, and contraceptive methods other than condoms are ever on the rise, the fact is that all of us should be more aware of sexual health, HIV or otherwise.

It is suggested that you should be tested for STIs around once every year, or whenever you start a relationship with a new partner - but amongst my own friends I can confirm that the amount of times we've been tested between us we can probably count on one pair of hands, so not even nearly enough, and I'd be willing to bet a large proportion of my life savings on the fact that we're not the only ones. HIV is no longer a death sentence, people live a lot longer with HIV than ever before (only 1% of those with HIV died from the disease in 2013, according to - once again - Public Health Statistics) but the prognosis can often be better if a person is diagnosed during early diagnosis whilst they remain well overall. Over half of adults diagnosed in 2009 were diagnosed late and although treatment will still work, this means the immune system is able to be weakened further before treatment begins. Thanks to advances in medicine, women with HIV can now also undergo treatment during pregnancy to dramatically lower the risk of her unborn child developing HIV, and it is also possible for men living with HIV to undergo sperm washing to enable a healthy foetus.

You can be tested at your GP, through a Gum clinic or through some other services which are listed on the NHS website.  If you are African and/or a gay or bisexual man you can actually use fastest direct, a test that comes through the post and is done at home which can then be sent back and the results received by phone - it is also completely free of charge and comes in an unmarked envelope. Although HIV shows symptoms 2-6 weeks after it is contracted in around 80% of people (often flu-like including a sore throat, fever and rash) these often go away and no further symptoms are present until much further down the line, so it's important to be tested even if you feel fine. If you are at all worried about having been in a position where you may be at risk of HIV or any other sexually transmitted disease, or you've had unprotected sex with a partner that you haven't been tested with; please, please go and get tested - I know that I will be. Also, as ever, the only way of protecting yourself from STIs is to always use a condom - widely available for free from sexual health clinics, GP's and brook clinics - and worth their weight in gold.

National HIV Testing Week 2014 - It Starts With Us. Will you be getting tested?

Sammy xo.

All statistics and facts on this page came from the NHS website, the THT website or the NAT website, but please do correct me if you find them to be wrong.


If you liked this you might like: Censorship - 10 steps backwards

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Things I Love #3 - Saying No

Saying no is something I've struggled my whole life to do and only now as an adult am I starting to feel more able to say no when that's what I really mean.

 I'm always, always worried that when I say no to people I come across as rude and so, as you may have seen on my twitter yesterday, this post from tumblr, hit me pretty hard;

"Imagine you're at a party. A guy offers you a drink. You say no. He says "Come on, one drink!" You say "no thanks." Later, he brings you a soda. "I know you said you didn't want a drink, but I was getting one for myself and you looked thirsty." For you to refuse at this point makes you the asshole. He's just being nice, right? Predators use the social contract and our own good hearts and fear of being rude against us. If you drink the drink, you're teaching him that it just takes a little persistence on his part to overcome your "no". If you say "Really, I appreciate it, but no thanks." and put the drink down and walk away from it, you're the one who looks rude in that moment. But the fact is, you didn't ask for the drink and you don't want the drink and you don't have to drink it just to make some guy feel validated."

This grates upon me that it's talking about men only, but the principle behind it is pretty solid. You should feel free to be rude and say no to things that don't interest you - especially when people try to push you into it. Your rudeness is something they've brought upon themselves, and the fact is there is nothing rude about the refusal to validate someone and their feelings towards you if it involves doing something that you have no interest in doing, will make you uncomfortable or that you didn't agree to in the first place. This isn't just a trick used by predators, personally my friends and family all pray on the idea that it is difficult to simply say no without coming across as ungrateful, rude or someone who just needs a little convincing. I'm working on it, but I just know that my ability to finally say no is going to be one of my best traits, in my humble opinion.

What do you think about saying no, is it rude?

Sammy xo.

If you liked this you might like: The Faked Sexual Assault Video

Friday, 21 November 2014

That's So Gay (Sort Of, Maybe)

If you missed the very first #crazybloggers chat last night, we had a big sex and swearing filled conversation about adult content on blogs. During it, I got talking about how helpful it would have been to have someone blogging about sexuality whilst I was trying to come to terms with my own, and I was honestly surprised by the amount of people that agreed. So, here it is, a little bit about my own experience with my sexuality, how I came to terms with it and a couple of things that I wish that I'd known. 

Girlfriends

I was probably sixteen when I fell in love with my best friend, who just so happened to be a girl. That genuinely wasn't a big deal for me at all, but mostly because it seemed like an untouchable, unrequited love; sort of like the one that I'd had for Ellen Page since the first time that I saw Juno, or Megan Fox in Transformers. The issues came with the fact that it turned out that she liked me back. This was foreign territory, I'd only had one serious relationship before this; I didn't get relationships at all, never mind one that was throwing me a bit for six. It's not that I struggled with the mentality of being gay, or pansexual, or bisexual or whatever it would turn out that I would be; but I had a hundred million questions, things I didn't understand and practical issues that I had no clue how to resolve. All I knew about lesbians came from some dubious - let's call them erotic videos - and what I'd seen on TV and in films. So, I did what I do best; took to the internet to see what I could find. It turns out, online researching what you're "supposed to do" when you get into a gay relationship is literally the single worst thing that you can do, because on top of worrying that I would be bad at it, I now had a million things to consider that I hadn't even really had on my radar before, like; Do people really scissor (and wouldn't one of us hit our head on the wall of my very small bedroom if we did)? Did we need... aids (and is glass really the safest thing to make them out of)? Do I have to come out as gay to my friends and family now (and would people just assume it was a joke if we announced our new relationship on Facebook if I didn't)? For some reason, instead of the very first time that I fell in love with a boy, I approached the first time that I fell in love with a girl very scientifically; and psyched myself out. It wasn't until I told her how scared I was that I realised we were both in the same boat and actually, we loved each other, and that was more important than the logistics (which, actually, it turned out were pretty easy to resolve and we managed to muddle through them together).

Now that I've grown a little older and explored a little more, I've found a lot of things - and one of the most important things I know now that I wish I'd known then was that most people do not care what the hell you're doing and with whom, at least not nearly as much as you think they do. I also learned that who I love doesn't define me, be they men or women or both at different times. I learned that searching for a label is time consuming, and mostly pointless because overall you will not be shouting about how pansexual you are to other people and people who fall in love with you won't be asking you for your label to check that you're compatible with theirs. It turns out, and who would have ever guessed, that falling in love when you're gay, pansexual, bisexual, asexual or otherwise is pretty much the same as falling in love when you're heterosexual, only with a different gender - and that's honestly something I wish someone would have told me when I was struggling with my own sexuality. Your sexuality doesn't define you, you don't need to hide it but you should feel free to if that's what you feel you'd like to do, you will come to terms with it in time even if it seems like the scariest thing in the world right now and overall? Don't f*cking google it, just go with your gut. Sexuality is natural, it's all natural, you are perfect the way that you are, don't overthink it.

What tips would you give to coming to terms with your sexuality?

Sammy xo.

If you liked this you might like: Is There Still A Sexuality Stigma?

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Homes Are Where The Heart Is

I come from a mostly sleepy, slightly rough town on the opposite side of the Mersey River to Liverpool (aka. If you were getting a ferry across the Mersey you'd either start or finish on my side of the water) and our little peninsula is known for having a society in which everybody knows everybody. Growing up, this is actually pretty cool; you meet a lot of people through the friends that you already have, you probably already have a few mates in common with literally everybody your age, and in fact you likely know what kind of clubs they frequent and at least one of their ex's. As a teenager, this is amazing. As an adult? Not so much. Since I left school, my most repeated quote was by far; "I don't know what scares me more, moving away from here or the idea that I never will", but the older I get the clearer it becomes; the idea of not ever leaving here leaves me cold.

Signs and Burgers
(Top-Bottom, L-R: Home Liverpool One, Fat Hippo Jesmond, Almost Famous Liverpool, The Stand Comedy Club Newcastle)

Don't get me wrong, there's nothing notoriously wrong with the Wirral but it just seems too small to contain me, I need something more; for many people this would be London, or New York, but to me they don't seem places to settle down forever - they are playgrounds of excitement for those under thirty. This weekend, most of you will probably know I headed up to Newcastle where my older brother goes to university. He's in his fifth year and so this is a city that I know pretty well, and as cool as Liverpool is, Newcastle is the coolest city I've ever been to. Whilst I was up there, I managed to catch a quick coffee with Rachel from Happy Little Syllables, after a little bit of a chat about the new project we are launching in December, Femtellectual, we got to chatting about our general lives. Whilst chatting about our home lives Rachel said,
"I don't really class Sunderland as my home, Newcastle is." and I didn't even pause in agreeing,
"Yeah, I see myself up here in the future, hopefully. It's the dream."
The weird thing is, until it came out of my mouth, I don't think I realised how true it is. A piece of my heart was left in Newcastle the first time I ever crossed the Tyne Bridge, the first time I ever set foot in the Baltic art gallery, the first time that I ever chowed down food in The Stand Comedy club surrounded by excited customers throwing off excitement ready for the show of the night.

A lot of you will know that I've been looking at going to University (although I remain on the fence about this as gobby equal rights promotor isn't actually an academic course, it turns out.) and it can't be coincidence that Northumbria - with a campus set firmly in the heart of Newcastle - keeps finding it's way back to the forefront of my internet browser. Yet, I felt disloyal admitting this out loud. My heart might have jumped ship at Fenwick's Christmas Window and refused to come home with me, but a part of it will always be here - lodged in freezing January Saturday afternoons sitting in St John's Gardens, in the Blue Planet Aquarium underwater shark tunnel, in the lounge at Panoramic 34 where the view of Liverpool could steal the air from your lungs no matter how many times that you saw it. 

Then it occurred to me; home will never be one singular place. I want to travel too far, and too wide for my roots to be lodged anywhere; whether it be Wirral or Newcastle. Home will be wherever I am, and I hope in the future that involves mountains, beaches, canals, tiny windy streets and big wide open spaces, it will be in Liverpool, Newcastle and my parents house in Spain. Home is where you settle down and make it, and it's all the other places you might have wrongly thought it was in the past, too. Home isn't where the heart is; homes are truly where the heart is.

Have you move away from home? Where do you consider your home to be now?

Sammy xo.

If you liked this you might like: Getting Through Bad Days

Monday, 17 November 2014

OOTD: But You Kept My Old Scarf

As it's getting colder I've finally had to give in and buy a coat and a scarf (although I'm yet to be convinced to do my scarf up properly yet, it messes my hair up!) which is lucky as we're all headed up to Newcastle today and I may have frozen to death, otherwise. I also managed to pick up this new bag which you may have caught me talking about in my Handbag post - and people haven't stopped complimenting me on it.

Blue Coat
Coat - TU at Sainsburys // Reversable Scarf - Dorothy Perkins // Bag - Fawn 

Flowery Skirt
T-Shirt - New Look // Skirt [old] - (Similar Here) // Boots [old] - (Similar Here) // Bracelet - Pandora // Necklace [old] - (Similar Ish Style Here)

I'm still a bit wary about this look as the coat is longer than the back of my skirt and it often looks like I may as well be wearing a flasher trench (or I'm the tiniest bit paranoid, maybe.)

Sammy xo.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Sainsburys Christmas Advert 2014

Last night during the X-Factor my twitter feed blew up with opinions on the new Sainsbury's Christmas advert for this year. For those of you who haven't seen it, it's in association with the Royal British Legion and focuses on the 1914 football game played between German and British Troops; otherwise known as The Christmas Truce. Opinions about the advert seem to widely vary - whilst some found it emotional, touching and beautiful - some condemned it for just that; supposedly beautifying war.

Now, don't get me wrong; the war was (it goes without saying) in no way beautiful. The First World War was trench warfare, many soldiers died, not only from enemy gunfire or attacks but from infections that spread quickly through such close quarters, cholera and complications stemming from trench foot. Some argued that if Sainsbury's were showing war as it really was, rats would be eating the flesh of dead soldiers left to rot on the sidelines, that soldiers would be bloody, tired and dazed. They're not wrong, the war depicted was like every other war ever fought - horrifying and destructive, brutal and gory - but, and maybe I'm the only one thinking it, that's simply not the point of the advert. We see two young boys, scared and probably far from home fighting for a cause it's likely that neither of them understood. It was widely believed the war would be over and troops would be home by Christmas and these boys and men never thought that they would be there, on the front line, instead of at home opening presents with their families.

The men depicted might not be real, but thousands of Soldiers on December 25th 1914 were just like them; scared, young (some even too young to have signed up to the army in the first place) and a long, long way from their family homes on such an important day. The advert isn't meant to show how horrendous the war was, it is meant to recreate just the tiniest fraction of how that Christmas Truce must have felt to the men on the front line - in my eyes, it's meant to replicate on some tiny scale how Christmas must have felt to those boys; how getting the present of human decency, of a chance to forget the horror that they had seen for just a few minutes and to replicate some part of the life waiting for them back at home was more than they ever could have hoped for. It is watching the war how it must have seemed for soldiers on that day - not as two separate enemy sides but as boys that could have grown up side by side with one another had things been slightly different. The war was definitely not beautiful - but the Truce that happened that day and allowed a game of football to occur in the very piece of land both sides feared so greatly? I think it's hard to deny that that in itself definitely was. Some have argued that using the war as a supposed marketing ploy is tacky and inappropriate, but that's not how I see this. Sainsbury's have taken an important event, on an important year marker and made it relevant and a way to help such an important cause, and perhaps even a reminder of those still serving for us this holiday season. Sainsbury's have caught the moment in a tasteful and hearbreaking way, and if I can buy a chocolate bar like that in the advert and know that 50p from every sale goes to a member of our armed forces, perhaps on a front line himself or herself on Christmas Day this year? I'll be adding one to my basket.

Was did you think of the Sainsbury's Christmas Advert?

Sammy xo.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Oyatsu Box November 2014 Quick Review

I am a sucker for both food and a good subscription box and so when I asked about it on Twitter and got some good feedback about it from Danniella over at Famous In Japan, I decided to make the jump and order myself an Oyatsu Box. For those of you who don't know this is basically a box full to the brim of Japanese snacks and candy, and so when it arrived I immediately called upon my partner in crime, Craig from Notes and Negatives, and invited him over to give everything a go and try a little Japanese candy roulette. I paid $25 for this box - which is just shy of £16 - and I was really impressed!
(You can buy some of the items from the Oyatsu Cafe website so I will link if you can get your hands on it there with a price that was the correct conversion at the time of posting.)

Tetris Gummies
(L-R: Masuya Rice Cracker // PuyoPuyo Tetris Gummies // Chicken And Egg Lunch Soup)

Masuya Rice Cracker  - Out of all the box this seemed like the worst offender so we hit it up first. It seemed too hard and almost brittle to be a rice cracker but we were pleasantly surprised, very much like an English rice cracker but sort of more densely packed with a flavouring that reminded me of BBQ sauce, I was weirdly a fan!

PuyoPuyo Tetris Gummies ($1.99/£1.29) - We really wanted to play with these but resisted the urge! The flavours alone are much like typical gummies in England (they come in Lemon, Grape, Strawberry, Orange, Melon and Ramune flavours) but we had so much fun mixing them together to create the recipes on the back - which are pretty true to the flavours that they produce.

Chicken and Egg Lunch Soup - I'm sorry, I didn't try this (I have given it to my Dad if you're desperate for a review) chicken flavoured anything makes me gag and I cannot stand soup; this was a nightmare for me.

Green Tea KitKats
(L-R: Kuchidoke Pocky // Green Tea Matcha Japanese KitKat // Doreamon Ramune Gum)

Kuchidoke Pocky ($2.49/£1.59) - One of our favourite things in the box, but we both love Pocky anyway. This tastes like dark chocolate pocky but has a chocolate dusting covering it; it's a nice change to the milk chocolate/strawberry pocky which can be a little sweet, without being bitter.

Green Tea Matcha Japanese KitKat ($6.99/£4.45) - We expected to really love these, and Craig did, but I was a little underwhelmed. I like that they're mini KitKats and they're sweetly individually wrapped but they just mostly taste like the Cookies and Cream KitKat we already have here. Not horrible, just not stand out.

Doreamon Ramune Gum - This stuff is awesome. It tastes like a Japanese fizzy drink from what I can tell, I'm not sure if that's true but it's sort of berry like/fruity without being overwhelming. I love a good chewing gum anyway and this is old school in sticks wrapped in puzzle paper, I'm keeping these in my bag for work, maybe I'll do the puzzles if the bus journey to or from gets too boring!

Soda Marshmallows
(L-R: DIY Candy Neru Neru Nerune Otanoshimi // Calpis Soda Marshmallows)

Neru Neru Nerune Otanoshimi ($2.99/£1.90) - We didn't actually get round to doing this as it was the last thing we pulled out of the box and I wanted to do it properly and take photographs so we left it for another day this week. I am so excited to finally try and do my own DIY candy after I spend so many hours watching YouTube videos about it when I was younger. I'll probably tweet or blog it so keep an eye out!

Calpis Soda Marshmallows - Literally my favourite thing in the whole box. Japanese marshmallow seems to have a slightly different texture to English marshmallow, a lot springier but less sticky, this is filled with a gel core that tastes like Calpis soda (it sort of reminds me of Lilt? Like almost tropical.) I could have devoured all of these in one sitting but it's worth noting Craig hated them!

So that's my Oyatsu Box quick review, I'd really appreciate it if anyone let me know what Japanese food boxes they've tried and liked in the past, or let me know what you think of Oyatsu Box!

Sammy xo.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

The Slut Thing

Come in closer and let me tell you a little bit of a secret; I'm not in a relationship. I know, crazy right? That in the 21st century I'm a twenty year old woman with no partner to speak of; what a fresh, new world (I'm even allowed to show my ankles in public these days, society has made some fabulous strides forward). Yet I still kiss people, I still talk to multiple people of my own sex and of different sexes, sometimes I even talk to more than one person at the same time.

Woah, woah, woah, I know it's shocking, I'll understand if you need to sit down.

So, here's the thing. I want somebody out there in this great wide universe to answer me the age old question: why does that qualify me to fall in the realms of being called a slut? Now, I'm not going to get all up on my feminist soap box about the double standards of this being acceptable for males, but speaking to a friend of mine (and I know I said I wouldn't blog about it but, really, you should have known it would end up on here some time) he imparted this bit of wisdom on me - I assume just to wind me up, as he's actually one of the most open-minded people I've ever met;

"If a key opens many locks, it's a master key. If a lock is opened by many keys? It's a sh*tty lock."

But here's the million dollar answer. I'm not a lock, I'm not waiting for someone with a key to come and unburden me, I'm unlocking some doors of my own to see what's behind them. I am a twenty year old girl, and just like a many men are exploring their options for the future, women are - and have actually for a number of years been - doing the same. This isn't some weird, new age thing; it's a natural, human thing. I've dated girls and I've dated guys, and now is one of the only times I'm going to get to explore which side of the fence my future is destined to lie with. I'm not a slut for keeping my mind open (notice I said mind here, and not legs. My communication with people of the opposite sex doesn't necessarily have to occur post-coital and blissed out, it can happen through text or Facebook messenger.) I'm not a slut for talking to more than one person at a time - god forbid I might get along royally with more than one human in the same sitting - I'm not a slut; full stop.

It is, in fact, a term I find bizarre and when I googled it's origin it doesn't surprise me at all to find that it doesn't have a known one- it is quite literally a made up word to degrade the sexual actions of women. I may not be able to tell you the origin of the word but I can tell you the use of it in this sense dates back to 1450; exactly where it should be left. Since 1450 women have been allowed to vote, they have been allowed to work, wear shorts, drink and gamble, we've even started to smash away at that pesky glass ceiling - slowly, but we're making progress nonetheless - So, why is there still a word to chastise me for what I choose to do with my own body, a word recognized by all and used frequently in every day life. I still get insulted using a word that implies that I like to have sex frequently - does nobody else find that weird? Sex is fantastic, and if I have it frequently then you should be high-fiving me if anything. The fact that I've just let slip that I'm not a virgin on such a public forum no doubt just adds further ammunition, but here's the final nail in the coffin - I can't win. If I sleep with the statistical average of 4.7 partners for UK women (Interestingly, this is lower than the world average for women which is 6.8) I would suggest that's high enough to label me a slut already, and yet if I don't sleep with any? I'm frigid. As Fiona said on twitter yesterday when I asked for opinions; "Be sexy, but don't have too much sex."

Come in closer and let me tell you a little bit of a secret; I have slept with less than half of the statistical average of partners for women in the UK, and yet I am considered a slut because my loyalty whilst not in a relationship doesn't lie with one singular person. If non-monogamous girls are to be called sluts; so be it, I will be a slut. I will not let a word rooted in the middle ages dictate the life that I lead, I will not let a single word degrade a healthy and full sex life in my future, I will not cringe away from introducing new people into my life for fear of how it looks. The man or woman that I choose to marry will understand why I am not a slut and, if you don't want me to marry you? Why are you so worried about who I'm sleeping with, talking to or dating enough to call me a slut anyway?

Slut is just a word, a single word. Similarly, so are "ignorant", "uneducated" and "jumped-up" (okay, so that's hyphenated, but I'm going to allow it.)

What's your opinion on the word slut?

Sammy xo.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)

Before I even start on the book I feel like I should share two important points;

1: I am addicted to books, I have been able to read basically since I was born and therefore I live a life of "READ THE BOOK, THE BOOK WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE, LET'S TALK ABOUT THE BOOK." This occurs every time I read a new book, pretty much. (This one does really stand out though, seriously.)
2: I am so uncool it's unreal, and I like to think that I rock it (realistically, I probably don't. I just used the words "rock it" non-ironically, for god's sake.)

Mindy Kaling Book Cover

I finally managed to get around to buying and reading "Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)" By Mindy Kaling! I read such good reviews on this book and I searched for it everywhere before finally managing to get my hands on it in the tiniest, crappiest Waterstones known to man (just trust me on this one, it's not in a great area.) I have to admit, I was doubtful about how good this was going to be, judging that I'd previously considered Lena Dunham's book before that scandal reached a head, but nonetheless I settled down with it yesterday to give it a fair go. Fast forward three hours, two Frozen Fancies and a Christmas Bakewell and I'd finished the book in one solid sitting and passed it straight on to a friend. Seriously, I don't even know where to start.

There's something sweet and sisterly about Mindy, and it's reassuring that I'm all too aware that the advice she has to impart could only have come from somebody who had been there and done that and was now willing to tell the tale. There's something comforting about reading struggles from somebody that you know comes out okay and hell, even pretty successful, on the other side. Here's the thing; I love a happy ending, and if you say that you don't? You're lying. This is one. It's partial autobiography where, yes she breaks a best friends nose, nearly tears her ligaments diving into a pool and learns to love watching sports nearly as much as she hates playing them, but we all know she comes out Mindy Kaling; co-writer of "The Office" and creator of "The Mindy Project". There's just something refreshing about Mindy, something so unpretentiously funny and awkward, that is relateable to the point it makes you want to devour the book in one sitting and pass it on, just like I did.

The book is funny, no doubt, it's full of realistic advice from a girl who is just like the rest of us; stumbling through adulthood wishing we were in a Romantic Comedy, just as much as we're pulling apart the women that it's genre offers up to us. It's also charming, heartwarming and more than a little helpful. It's a growing up guide for when you feel too old to have a guide, but too young to figure it out for yourself. It's a cautionary tale, it's a reassuring pat on the back. Overall? It's a memoir, and it's done perfectly. Forget Lena Dunham and not being That Kind Of Girl (and just for a minute, let's pretend that's the biggest issue most of us have with Lena Dunham right now, as that's for another post) Be that kind of girl and embrace that we all are, embrace the woman that Mindy showcases and celebrates with such contagious hilarity that it makes you proud to be exactly the girl that you are.

Have you read Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? What did you think of it?

Sammy xo.
 
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