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Book Review: Growing Up with Girl Power

another book review from years back that sadly never got published, and this was such a good book I still thought it worthy to post the review!

Growing Up With Girl Power by Rebecca Haines, Peter Lang Publishing

Growing Up With Girl Power is the first book written by Massachusetts based media studies and advertising teacher Rebecca Haines

. Also a graduate of Women’s Studies, this three hundred and fifteen page book is a very interesting and insightful look into the impact of the phrase ‘Girl Power‘ and it’s implications on our lives from an early age.

Most girls of any age will identify with something in this book, Growing Up With Girl Power explores the riot grrrl movement, the impact of all girl pop phenomenon Spice Girls, girl hero cartoons such as The Powerpuff Girls and even explores the complex issue of racism.

You don’t need to be a graduate or studying gender theory to enjoy this book. Growing Up With Girl Power is written in an understandable way making it easy for anyone to read- and the chapters are set in an excellent chronological and categorical manner, so if you wanted to, you could just pick up the book and read about a particular subject if you wanted to. At the end of each chapter there is a paragraph or two on the kinds of discussion the chapter’s subject has brought up, so the book would also be an excellent teaching resource.

As far as I’m aware, there is no other book out there in the publishing world like this one which explore this particular side of feminism. I felt like this was the book I’d been searching for, various chapters in the book summed up what I had always suspected had been my own personal route to identifying as a feminist.

In particular, what stood out for me were the chapters titled ‘Girl Power Goes Pop’ and ‘Did the Spice Girls Kill Feminism?’ which are early on in the book, citing this kind of music as the progression of the ‘girl power‘ ethos of the Riot Grrrls in the nineties (interestingly, the phrase Girl Power was first used by Bikini Kill in their zines and flyers- NOT by the Spice Girls). Rebecca Haines discusses the article written a few years ago in 2007 by Fay Weldon of the Daily Mail titled ‘How the Spice Girls Killed Feminism, Subverted Morality and Embarrassed Us All.

‘ which made the assumption that almost all girls that listened to the Spice Girls now have eating disorders and body image issues. The writer decides to find out if this is really true by interviewing some girls who had experienced The Spice Girls music whilst growing up and identified as feminists.

Not all the girls that were interviewed were fans of The Spice Girls, but all had interesting opinions and memories of the impact The Spice Girls had on their childhood, it seems whether we liked them or not, the all girl pop act made an impact in some way. What resonated for me, was that one of the girls interviewed said that they had eventually led her into exploring the riot grrrl movement and many of the girls (even if not a fan at any point) felt The Spice Girls were like a ‘beginners feminism’. I too had been a fan of The Spice Girls and now I listen to many all female fronted and all female bands (including riot grrrl) and even do a radio show focused on that kind of music, and I feel like The Spice Girls may have led me in that direction, and in some way eventually led me onto identifying myself as a feminist. It felt good to read, at long last, that there were other girls like me that felt the same way as me about them, and didn’t just trash them. Growing Up With Girl Power writer Rebecca Haines recognises the negative points that the band had, but finally someone sees how they could also have had a positive influence.

Another aspect that makes Growing Up With Girl Power such a good book, is that Rebecca Haines doesn’t just rely on statistics for her subjects, as well as interviewing girls about The Spice Girls influence on their lives, she also interviews some much younger girls for her sections about Girl Hero cartoons and racism. She even goes back to see some of the girls five years later to find out how they now felt about the catchphrase ‘Girl Power‘. In the chapter about cartoons, Rebecca Haines spends time with various groups of young girls including a group at an elementary school and a non profit after care organisation. These chapters provide a real insight into the mind sets of young girls as they tell Rebecca their feelings about various cartoons they watch together and discuss such things as Bratz

dolls. There are also pictures included that the girls draw to illustrate certain things like the differences between a ‘girly girl‘, a ‘tomboy’ and a ‘diva’.

Whilst the book certainly has many positive outlooks, there are some things that Rebecca discovers through her time with the young girls that are frightening, if not surprising. Such as the girls hating everything about the way they look or judging female pop stars for their appearance not their music.

Overall, Growing Up With Girl Power is a fascinating and insightful read, which I highly recommend to all people, whether you identify as a feminist or not.

Review written in 2013, I’m no longer doing the radio show!

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Feb 2018

how I got on with my focus and intentions

Love/Energy/Prosperity- energy was probably the main focus of those in February, I made sure to take vitamins everyday, started cutting down on snacks, and slowly started to increase my water intake. There was some aspects of the month that related to the other words but not much.

healing work to the next level- I started a crowdfunding page to help me raise enough funds to do the Advanced Moon Mother training this year, so far I’ve had £40 in donations which is more than I expected and I’ve managed to save £30, so that’s £70 towards the £400 in total so far.

to be more empowered in more areas of my life- not sure if anything specific

to be more visible- did do some social things

to create new beginnings- nothing yet

to let go and allow flow more- yep still gradually allowing more flow…

what I actually got up to-

I had a week off, during that week I did a healing swap with my friend Roberta, and just did a few bits at home.

I met up with my friend Fiona who I hadn’t seen for ages and we had coffee and cake at a local cafe.

I went to red tent rayleigh and it was movement meditation, which was more energetic than I was expecting…

I suffered with toothache unfortunately quite a bit so had to make an appointment with the dentist and it turns out I need a wisdom tooth taken out but I’m being refered to the hospital so I can be sedated.

Now we’re in March and currently snowed in and I have another week off, I hope this snow stops soon, I’m not a fan!

 

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Book Review: The Suffragette who died for Women’s Rights

I wrote a book review back in 2013 about this book and my review never got published by the site I wrote it for sadly so thought all these years later I’d share it now with you, since it’s the centenary year and all that!

The Suffragette Who Died for Women’s Rights by Lucy Fisher

I have to admit despite identifying as a feminist for quite some time now, my knowledge of the history of the suffragette movement has been somewhat limited. I can’t recall learning anything about them in my history lessons at school and I think my first real glimpse into what these women went through to win us the right to vote was the powerful film ‘Iron Jawed Angels.’ Then, recently there was a documentary on Channel 4 presented by Clare Balding called ‘Secrets of a Suffragette’ in which she looked into the history of a woman called Emily Wilding Davison who just over one hundred years ago walked into the midst of a horse race and died, sparking debate over many years as to whether it was a suicide attempt or was a political protest gone wrong. I had never even heard of Emily until this program, so when the opportunity came to read a biography of her life, it was an offer I found hard to refuse.

I was rather impressed to read that the author of the book is quite young, in her early twenties and is already a news journalist for the Sunday Times. There is a clear reason for her decision to write this particular biography, she discovered she was in fact related to Emily Wilding Davison leading to long term fascination and this book is the result.

To begin with, I found this book a fairly difficult read and found the starting chapters a little dull as it discussed Emily‘s early beginnings as a child. As I suspected, I really started to find the book fascinating in the following chapters which start with her discovering suffrage, to her dramatic death.

Emily Wilding Davison was probably what would be considered an extremist today, she wasn’t afraid of being arrested, often causing criminal damage to properties. When we consider that a lot of us take the right of being able to vote for granted, how would we be now if this wasn’t the case? Would we really be walking the streets peacefully or would we be angry at the injustice? When you put things into perspective, it’s understandable that these women would feel driven to do these crimes.

Although I enjoyed the book overall, I felt very angry and sad at the injustice that the suffragettes had to suffer for what we now consider a very basic right. It seems wrong that I never learned about these women at school, when these women were put into prison, and when they went on political hunger strikes they would be forcibly fed. The description of this activity is harrowing, and really turned my stomach. But this is not a fiction novel, this really happened and we should all really be aware of it. There may have been no deaths caused by the force feeding but there were many mishaps caused by it, and in years to come this practice was banned.

The book also demonstrated clearly the passion and belief Emily Wilding Davison had in her cause, the horse racing incident was not the only time she had shown she was willing to die for the cause. When she had barricaded the door to her cell after being force fed, there was no choice for the prison authorities to break down the heavy door- which barely missed her. But Emily had known if it had fell on her, she would die, yet she had remained in the same spot, willing to sacrifice herself.

The following chapters delve deep into Emily Wilding Davison’s passionate, exhaustive activism and her experiences with prison and also with the opposing sides. Of course, her death is also discussed in great detail.

I found this biography very thought provoking and inspiring, after I read it, I immediately felt like I should get all my female friends and family to read it, especially those who have no knowledge of this very important part of history. It made me feel angry and passionate. This explores the life of one very brave woman who was part of making one of the most important changes of women’s history and we should never take this for granted.

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The Circle

Once upon a time there was a girl called Rosa. Rosa was very sad. Rosa was sad because she felt lonely. She felt like no one loved her because although she did have some friends she hardly saw them and this made her feel like she wasn’t very important to them or to anyone really.

Rosa knew a very wise man who lived in the jungle. She decided she would go visit him for help because she didn’t want to feel sad anymore. To get to the jungle, she needed to go further down the river, so she left her village and went to the river where she found her trusty canoe. She rode as fast as she could, because she couldn’t bear these feelings anymore.

Because the wise man was wise, he always knew exactly when Rosa would visit him, so when she arrived in the jungle, he was there waiting for her. “Hello Rosa” he said and offered his hands to help her out of the canoe.

“There is pain in your heart, what caused this?” he asked, looking concerned. Rosa began to cry. The wise man let her finish crying, because he knew crying was very important as it helped the emotion to be released. After a few minutes Rosa spoke of her pain of feeling alone and not important. The wise man put a blanket around her and led her into the jungle where he walked her to a clearing, where there was a big fire burning bright.

The wise man sat Rosa next to the fire. Pointing at the fire he said, ” This is Taita Wari, the Great Transformer, he will help you.” then he walked away leaving Rosa on her own in front of the fire. Rosa didn’t know what she was supposed to do but she trusted the wise man so she sat and just stared into the flames of the fire.

The longer she stared, the more hypnotised she felt. From out of nowhere, she found herself getting up and dancing around the fire. She kept dancing, and colours exploded around her, so she could no longer see the fire or even herself, just the bright colours of orange, red and yellow.

Then the colours changed and she was no longer dancing around a fire, but she was now dancing around a huge ancient oak tree, with dewy grass under her feet and she was no longer alone. Dancing with her, were animals of all shapes and sizes, dancing in a circle around the tree. Even though some of the animals were predators and some were prey, they were still dancing around the tree happily with no fear or threat of violence.

Soon the tree faded away again and Rosa was dancing around the fire once again, but now she was dancing around the fire with people from her life- some friends, some family members, some work colleagues, and some acquaintances.  She felt really happy as she continued to dance.

The dance began to slow and the people began to fade away, and in their place were large rocks. The dance stopped and Rosa felt a sense of peace, as she stood in this circle of stones.

The wise man came back smiling.  “Now you understand Rosa, everything and everyone is connected. Every person, every plant, every animal, every stone, and not one is more important than the other. We are all part of the web of life and everyone is equal. Even if we sometimes feel alone, we are never truly alone. All you need to do is be yourself and remember you are part of everything. Nothing else matters.”

 

For All My Relations ❤

 

 

 

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How 2018 started

One month has already passed!

So how did I get on so far with my focus and intentions?

I felt ill/run down for a lot of January so I wasn’t very focused really until towards the end of the month and I am only just now really thinking of how to apply them and steps to making them happen. But here’s how it was:

Love/Energy/Prosperity- my 3 words for the year, well other than going out for lunch for Miguel’s birthday, that’s the only thing I can relate to any of those words to be honest that happened in January.

healing work to next level- well no further training at this stage but I did have 3 womb healing clients.

to be more empowered in all areas of my life- the womb healing work and I helped to teach at one of the Introduction to Shamanism classes

to be more visible- went to a few events

to create new beginnings- nothing yet

to let go and allow flow more- letting go one thing at a time..

what I actually got up to:

For Miguel’s birthday we had lunch at Molo Lounge in Southend high street followed by going to the shamanic group that evening.

I went to Red Tent Rayleigh which had a focus on Womb healing, so we did some womb yoga, massaged our bellies with specially blended oils and then had a sound journey.

Unfortunately had to cancel my Red Tent as no one had paid so couldn’t take the risk of going all the way to London for no reason. I’m taking a break from it for a while so that I can focus on my self.

I went to the Goddess circle, we had an Imbolc ritual, did a Journey to the Goddess Brigid and then made Brigid’s Crosses.

The month ended with me hosting a small womb blessing circle for the Worldwide Womb Blessing day that took place on the same day as the super blue blood moon (powerful)!

I’m hoping this month will be better!!!

 

 

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New year 🎆

A bit late in posting, thanks to being ill during the first week of the year but happy new year!

I always add more intentions for the year ahead in January (I start setting them in October, at the witches New year)

I always pick three words, for 2018 I have chosen: love, energy and prosperity.

I would like to have more energy/vitality- my health has been slacking, I’ve been eating too many vegan treats, not getting enough exercise, not taking my vitamins and my energy has not been great. I plan to work on my health to keep me feeling more alive again!

I intend to be more abundant. I struggled a lot last year with this, in 2018 I need to get things back on track and be able to do things when I want to do them and treat myself now and again!

I intend to rediscover romance in my relationship. We had a hard 2017 and haven’t been having a lot of fun/happy times. We need this back!

I intend to take my healing work to the next level. I hope to do level 2 moon mother training this year (just need to raise the money and be able to get to Glastonbury) and also do an animal healing course. And continue to develop my skills in Shamanism. And help more people!

 

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How December 2017 was

Slight delay in posting as first week of this year I have not been feeling well! I’m starting to recover now though and start getting ready for a much better year!

But first here is a look back on how the last month of the year went.

focus for 2017 words were: Divine Feminine, Balance and Happiness:

I did a lot of womb healing work for others during December so was a very Divine Feminine month, which also made me feel happy and generally I think I was more balanced. (I started trying to manage my time better without disrupting flow too much)

Overall for the year I think Divine Feminine and finding balance were big the big themes of the year but happiness not so much unfortunately.

Intentions

Cook more- did cook a few times in December. Overall I only did a little more cooking in 2017 and that was towards the end of the year really.

make more time for creativity- nothing specific in December. Overall for the year I didn’t do that well with this either, although I did start going to a witchy circle where we do a lot of crafting activities that have been quite challenging for me.

Be better at birthdays- still not great and another intention I didn’t do great on overall but mainly because of money reasons..

finish the lists- a few odd bits- I learnt that I would never finish the lists as I was always adding more on!!!

live to my cycle and educate others- yes! healings and Red Tent. Overall I was really good at that in 2017.

The intentions I added for the “new year” which I added in October on the witches new years. I have added more on official New Year but I will write a separate post for those as they were not yet active in December 🙂

to be empowered more in all areas of my life- yes more so, a lot more empowered in my healing work especially during December.

to be more visible- yes, because of healing work but also attended a few events and hosted the Red Tent

to create new beginnings- slowly slowly

to let go and allow FLOW more- still slowly letting things go…and finding sometimes life is forcing me to flow sometimes not in a way that’s nice!

What I got up to in the final calender month of 2017!

I had 4 clients!

I hosted the Red Tent and this time did it as part of the Worldwide Womb Blessing as the December one fell on a Sunday so perfect timing! This time Daren had made the event and out it on his Meet Up page so a much better turn out, with about 5 women showing up 🙂

I went along to Migs new shamanic group for one of the sessions and ending up teaching about pendulums! (the session was about shamanic tools)

We had our work xmas meal at ASK who now have a vegan menu and it was delish!

I had a healing session for myself with Gareth which was a general clearing and a soul retrieval. I really needed it!

I went for a lunch out with Vicky, Carina and Lauren at a cafe in Rayleigh, another place with a vegan menu and finally tried Pulled Jackfruit- I loved it!

I went to Red Tent Rayleigh and this time we tried tribal bellydance. I didn’t enjoy it as much as the chakra dance.

We celebrated Winter Solstice with our yearly roast

Went to my grandad’s for Boxing Day

January so far I have a few clients booked in and another Red Tent session booked in for the end of the month.

 

 

 

 

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Look Back on 2017

Music of 2017

Music wasn’t very important to me again this year, I didn’t go to any gigs and I only really listened to Spotify. I did sometimes listen to new albums this way but I guess the only one that was of note for me was Kasabian’s new album “For Crying Out Loud”, the first single is rather catchy:

Books

I’ve hardly read anything this year 😦 I set myself the challenge of reading 47 books this year and I’ve only managed 16…I’ve not been given many books or bought many..and I’m starting to run the library dry now…

The best ones I read were Love Your Lady Landscape by Lisa Lister, Goddess Wisdom (which I won my copy of) by Taniska, and very weird but intriguing fiction The Vegetarian by Han Kang. I got Witch by Lisa Lister for Winter Solstice which I have just started but I’m very excited to read it and hopefully it’s as good as everyone says.

Films and TV

I saw one film at the cinema as I took my mum to see the new live version of Beauty and the Beast for Mother’s Day and it was very good.

Other things I enjoyed were the new Russell Howard series, and the series based on Phillip K Dick Stories “Electric Dreams”

Moments/Things I did in 2017

Did a lot more Moon Mother work, I actually had a few paying clients this year for both healings and blessings!

I ended my Southend based women’s circle and started a Red Tent in Hackney Wick. It’s been a bit slow to start but had a better turn out in December so hoping it will grow properly in 2018!

I took part as a student in Miguel and Gareth’s Shamanic Foundation Course, which took quite a large part of the year (lessons every 2 weeks), it was challenging and empowering. In September I started on the Shamanic medicine wheel proper, so I am now a mesa carrier and am currently on the South.

arranged a surprise fire ceremony for Miguel’s birthday

I started giving Munay Ki and I have taken 3 people so far all the way through the rites. Hopefully I will train them to give it early next year

I went to a women’s retreat weekend in London which was very powerful.

We lost our other cat Mitzi in the summer 😦

For my birthday I went to Belfairs woods for a butterfly walk which was really lovely

I worked at two retreat weekends which were also very powerful healing experiences for myself

I started going to a few other circles, I went to a Goddess circle and started going to Red Tent Rayleigh towards the end of the year.

For our anniversary we went to see the Pink Floyd exhibition at the VMA.

Went to a MBS and a Yoga/Vegan fair in Southend

won lots of competitions- I won the Goddess Wisdom book, a Womb Skype Ceremony, popcorn and a Moon Mama t shirt!

it was in lots of ways, a difficult year, there were a lot of struggles but also a lot of empowerment. Hopefully next year the changes that need to happen will manifest and it will be a happier year! My Plans and other resolutions of the year to come soon!

 

 

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How November 2017 was…

focus for the year: Divine Feminine, Balance and Happiness

Divine Feminine- as usual I did a lot towards this, as well as all my daily work, I went to quite a few women’s groups, I won a Skype Womb Ceremony (well basically we talked about red tents, periods and yonis for an hour lol) and did one womb healing.

Felt I was a bit more balanced as I started to go out a bit more than I have been for most of the year! and because of this I was also doing more things that made me happy 🙂

Intentions

Cook more- did cook a few times

Make more time for creativity- did write a blog, and attempted crafting at one of the circles I went to…

Be better at birthdays- no

Finish the lists- no not really

Live to my cycle and educate others- yep

and my new intentions that I created on Witches New Year..

to be empowered in all areas of my life- in a way yes as I made myself go out more even when I thought we couldn’t really afford it..but also I started to get the influx of bookings for healings! I’ve already had two clients in December and I’ve still got another 3 booked in!

to be more visible- Yep! I went to three events.

to create new beginnings- well I’m slowly tying loose ends to make it easier when the time is right to be able to move…

to learn to let go more and allow FLOW into my life- it’s a slow process as I do love my lists and being organised, but I have been slowly letting go week by week of different lists and different things that stop me from being in the moment. It’s just finding the balance of being in the moment but also making sure things do get done!!

What I got up to during November- I went to the Rayleigh Red Tent, I went a few years ago but hadn’t taken the time for myself to go again even though the venue is literally across the road from where I work! It was quite good, we had a share and then got to try Chakra Dance, which I never done before but it was really good, and we had blindfolds on so it was even more liberating!

I went to the Sisters of the earth Goddess circle I’ve been attending the last few months. We did a guided meditation to the Goddess Freya and made crone dolls. I wasn’t very good so mine is still sitting here unmade 😦

It was transgender day of remembrance on the 20th so I called on others to join and light a candle and send a wave of love at 8pm on that day.

I met up with my friend Lauren and we went to leigh, where I got some crystals and we went had vegan cake at a bookshop that has a coffee shop inside with a vegan menu!

I had a womb healing client and I finished someone else on their Munay Ki Path.

I went to an anti fur protest in Leigh

I went to an evening event which was an hour of gentle yoga and a sound bath, very relaxing!

December so far seems to be all about the healings! (and I did actually pick the card ‘The singer of healing’ as my card for this month on my year reading) I don’t do Xmas but will be going to the work xmas meal which is at ASK this year (I’m looking forward to it as another venue that has a vegan menu now) and we will be celebrating the Winter Solstice. I’m also hoping to go to Red tent Rayleigh again and go out for new year.

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The Importance of Ceremony for Transitions

The other day, shortly after completing giving someone the final Munay Ki rites, I was browsing on the internet and I came across a page about Red Tent End of Life Doulas. I’d never heard of this, so with intrigue I watched a few of their videos. They are people that help people to deal with their end of life upcoming transition of death. In the videos, they speak a lot about how people are scared of death and we tend to avoid it as much as possible and we don’t really honour it.

This got me thinking about the transitions we have in life and how we mark them. When you think about it, there’s not that many that most people will honour with a ceremony or celebration. The ones we have are: marriage, births, birthdays, christenings, graduation….death is not generally honoured until it’s gone, with a funeral, which usually will be quite sad, and a time of grief not celebration….We don’t honour when a girl has her first period, when a woman reaches menopause, when a boy comes of age (in most belief systems), the spiritual side of death…some very important life rites that every single person has. Of course there are some exceptions to the rule but they are not in the mainstream or only in certain religions. We spend so much time when we know someone is going to die, to prepare ourselves to lose this person in our lives but not always so much to help prepare them for this final transition in their lives.

I really feel that we should honour these life transitions more. We might all have different ways of honouring, some more complex than others, but why are natural things that happen to everyone made taboo? The conversation is opening up more about menstruation, but has a long way to go, as does menopause. We spend so much time trying to push it all away, not saying no one should use methods of relief for painful symptoms, but we also need to see the amazing side of what our bodies can do. Maybe if we honour our bodies more, our bodies will be kinder to us? If we had a special celebration say when you got your first period, don’t you think you would have a bit of a different view than what you do now?

I hope this ramble of the thoughts in my head make some sort of sense! It’s something I definitely would like to help people with, I’d love to do menarche ceremonies and more, what an honour that would be to create something so special for someone 🙂

Let’s honour the life cycles more and celebrate them, not just focus on the shadow side of them….

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