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Monday, 16 February 2015

The Truth about Feminism

A teacher asks their class who would define themselves as a feminists. No hands went up. The teacher then asked who believed in equality, and every single student put their hand up. She then asked them what the difference was between the two questions. No response was given.

When speaking to friends, their general impression of a feminist is a girl who fights for women by not shaving their body hair and shoving their opinions down people's throats to get their points across. They feel that women have equality already, so they do not have any understanding as to why they are shouting about nothing.

They are wrong.
 A feminist is a person (yes, a person - male or female) who believes in gender equality.

There are many different types of feminists in the world, four of which are learned about in Sociology A-Level.

Radical feminist: This is the one that many people associate with feminism in general. They feel that we are living in a patriarchal society; men are oppressing, subordinating and exploiting women in order to assert their power. They see men as the enemy and believe in 'political lesbianism'.

Marxist feminist: Fewer people are aware of this one. They feel that men are not the ones oppressing women, but it is the Capitalist society of today. They wish that one day, there will be a classless society, which will achieve their goal of equality among everyone.

Liberal feminist: These feminists merely want equality. They can see that both men and women suffer from inequalities and want to fight for what is right, for example narrowing the pay gap.

Difference feminist: They see every single woman as unique and important, and that we cannot generalise anything because women everywhere have different experiences with men.

Now we can see that feminism isn't all constant debates and longer armpit hair.

As mentioned before, there is a significant pay gap between genders. The difference between the amount of money that men earn at work and the amount that women earn was at its lowest in 2010 compared to any other year at 34.5%.

Also, topically, there is a petition on '' with over 217,000 signatures in order to try and abolish The Sun's page three (which, if you didn't know, is pretty much a page of women with their breasts on show). This is a very split argument: some feminists see this petition as 'slut shaming' and believe that there is no shame with people choosing to present themselves in the media this way. However, others see it as exploitation and conveying a message of how women are defined by their bodies.

From my point of view, whilst feminism is a rising movement, people are rebelling and become 'anti-feminists' because they do not truly understand the meaning of the word. There needs to be some way of spreading the truth of what it means to be a feminist, sharing facts about why feminism is becoming bigger and why equality has not been obtained yet.

The way to do this is by speaking out, and speaking now. If one person expresses this to three people, then these three people do the exact same, the message will be far more known. Words spread faster than anything. Go and stand up for what you believe in.

-LF, LR and MG

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Understanding PTSD

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a mental health condition that's triggered by a terrifying event - either experiencing it, or witnessing it. It can be characterised by symptoms such as flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.

Although at the start of research into PTSD, it was found only in soldiers returning from war, there is a common misconception that this illness only effects soldiers, and this is not true.

Many people living with PTSD, often don't realise it for many months and sometimes years. It is a mentally debilitating illness, that often results in a deterioration of other aspects of your health, such as insomnia, crippling anxiety and strain on your internal organs.

Often, one develops PTSD after a traumatic experience, this can be anything from returning from war, witnessing or being in an accident, experiencing abuse (physical, verbal, sexual, domestic or emotional), witnessing continual abuse, rape, illness, being physically hurt. These events can occur in childhood anywhere up until and during the age you are now.

A lot of people chose to ignore initial PTSD symptoms, by putting them down to nightmares or a bit of anxiety about things that they do not believe to be connected.

1 in 10 women and 1 in 20 men develop PTSD at some point in their life.
This is a huge number and as is the case with a lot of mental illnesses, the less we talk about them, the less we know and then the less we can help.

If you yourself has dealt with something particularly traumatic, or have a family member or close friend who has, please pay extra attention to how they are coping with their situation. It is very easy to pass of someones 'jumpiness' or 'shakiness' with just being a jumpy person. But this is a symptom for PTSD. Someone who is particularly paranoid about something, or appears to be fixated and unable to move past a certain event, needs help. Whether they realise it or not, they are suffering with something that can be helped.

PTSD can be treated, without medication, through various forms of therapy including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, which will give the sufferer techniques to help them through this difficult time.

Reliving a traumatic event is emotionally and physically exhausting for the person, and can leave them on edge, tearful and what appears to be extremely distressed by an event. It is important to note that these episodes can be brought on by something that reminds the person of a behaviour that have experienced in the past.

If you are suffering from this illness, please speak now and speak out. It is hard, it is terrifying, but the first step to recovery, is speaking about it. You never know how much you could be helping yourself until you do. You are probably scared, frightened and confused. But please know, that we are here for you.

We are here for you every step of the way, so feel free to share your journey and get on that path to recovery!

-LF, LR and MG

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Depression: From the External Perspective

Depression is defined as a mental illness which is characterized by sadness, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, feelings of tiredness and poor concentration. On average, 1 in 6 people – 1 in 5 women and 1 in 8 men – will experience depression at some stage of their lives. 

There are so many blog posts and articles regarding life as a sufferer of depression and what that entails, however there are less on how observers of sufferers can help as much as they can with this mental illness.

There is a list of myths regarding depression that 100% need clearing up.

1) Depression can be used as a synonym for 'sadness'

This is entirely false. Yes, people with depression can suffer from sadness, but this is not the main symptom of the disorder. Depression is mostly linked with the feeling of apathy and emptiness, with an accompanying feeling of tension if coupled with anxiety. 

2) Depression is always situational

Depression can definitely have situational triggers, though the mental illness is generally diagnosed when an individual suffers from prolonged episodes of emptiness, no motivation and hopelessness for no apparent reason or cause.  A person with depression can appear happy to the naked eye, which extends the reason that depression can never be used as a synonym for sadness.

3) Depression symptoms are all in your head

Just because it is a mental illness, does not mean everything is kept internally. Common depression symptoms include indigestion, difficulty breathing, tightness in the chest, and general fatigue. 

4) Once you are diagnosed with depression, you are stuck with antidepressants for the rest of your life

Whilst antidepressants such as SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) are proven to have high success rates, this does not mean you cannot be weaned off them. It also does not mean that this is the only method of suppressing symptoms - there are other ways, such as CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) or Psychoanalysis. Both of these techniques also have high success rates. A sufferer of depression can also be weaned off these.

Now that these myths have been cleared up, there are a few small steps that you can follow if you want to help a friend or family member with depression. This will not by any means help to cure it, but it could make the sufferer feel more comfortable in your company.

Be there for them. Acknowledge when they are feeling down and ensure that they can feel comfortable opening up and expressing their feelings. Keep positive and comforting, and ask what you can do in order to help them. Often a close friend or relative recognises the symptoms before the sufferer themselves. The sufferer sometimes isn't able to see what they should be seeing. In this case, please bare with the sufferer and never lose patience with them. What people don't realise is that the sufferer will not feel that there is anything wrong until it is too late.

Be aware of timings. Choose a decent time to talk, for example when both of you are relaxed. If they are feeling upset, they may feel uncomfortable talking about sensitive issues and may not want to speak to you about them another time.

Be accepting. Make it clear that you are there and love them unconditionally.

Be informed. It will do you no good if your friend opens up to you and you have not got the faintest idea of what they are talking about. The NHS website and depressionuk both contain a generous amount of information, which is so useful and there for this purpose.

Be encouraging. It is crucial that the sufferer opens up to a knowing adult, such as a parent, teacher or even a doctor, though this is an extremely tough step. If they are not ready, that is okay. Use the dripping tap effect, whereby you gradually assist them in gaining the courage to speak to somebody. Never make them feel pressured into doing anything that they do not want to do.

I hope this advice is helpful, remember to speak up and speak now!

Thank you so much for reading,

-LF, LR and MG

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

50 Shades of NO

You see, whilst millions of people trivialise the book '50 Shades of Grey' it has come to our attention a couple of days away from the premiere of the movie, that actually, this disgrace of a book and concept, needs to be taken down a peg or two.

What's wrong with 50 Shades of Grey, you ask?

Well here, we will tell you. 50 Shades of Grey, advocates the objectification of women as well as the notion that it is acceptable to coerce a women into what is effectively an abusive relationship, so long as it is written in a way that hides the pain. It is a glorification of the porn industry, but also a multimillion corporation that supports the exploitation of women. 

Not only does 50 Shades of Grey perpetuate the rape culture stereotypes, but it also does not specify under what conditions is it okay to have this kind of relationship with another human being. Of course the answer is never, but by not explicitly stating what they do and do not support, it potentially opens the flood gates for millions of people to support rape culture. Millions of people could be getting hurt here, and for what? For the perverse enjoyment of others who don't understand how harmful this is to both men and women.
"No," I protest, trying to kick him off. 
This is an actual line in the book, right before he rapes her. There is nothing consensual about this relationship, and the more people skate over what is really happening, the more powerful this concept is allowed to become.

And that is why we say 50 Shades of NO

Not because we are kill joys. Not because we can't see the trivial aspects of the story. But because we can see the extremely harmful effects that this already has, and is going to have on millions of people. 

Rape in any situation is unacceptable. Promoting and accepting an abusive relationship is unacceptable. It is time we wake up and understand the damaging effects that this story has on so many. It is not okay that we allow the media to breeze over the damaging effects of this and focus on the insignificant details such as the 'romance' or 'excitement'. It is not ok that we ourselves allow ourselves to breeze over these facts either. 

These types of degrading, dehumanising and horrific portrayal of 'desirable' features in a relationship are wrong. 50 Shades of Grey goes beyond the concept in society that is 'sexualisation' by taking it to a new level of sheer abuse.

So, to sum up. What we would like you to take away from this blog, is to speak now and speak out for 50 Shades of NO. 

-LF, LR and MG

Sunday, 1 February 2015


One word, 5 letters, such a strong impact.

Change can be seen in minor cases, such as an alteration in your morning routine or a new hairstyle. This form is mild, in general has a very small effect on a person and can easily be forgotten about.

However, this is not always the case. Some changes, for example moving schools, houses or even countries, can throw the balance of normality and usually does not feel right. It plays on your mind that something is not normal or even safe, and it can truly throw your emotions all over the place. You almost begin to doubt the people who are closest to you, nearly losing trust in the ones you love. You find that you feel alone, as if there is nobody that you could speak to because they could not possibly have experienced what you feel and anything that anyone says will throw you and make you feel worse.

Of course this does not happen in every situation; most large changes can be extremely beneficial and genuinely will help you in the long run. But the patience and time required for this effect to happen require so much energy, and it is tricky to handle at points.

I would like to give a few small pieces of advice, which I have followed recently and have got me through this tough period on uncountable occasions.

1) Give it time

Time is one of the greatest healers. Though it seems long, as if you are travelling down a long road of unsettlement, there will come a turn at the end which clearly shows positive effects. This turn-around will not happen overnight, it will take time. Once that time is up, there will be no looking back.

2) Patience is key

Do not, under any circumstances, give up. Coupling with point number 1, settling does not come instantly. If you feel a loss of motivation or like it is the end of the world, this feeling will certainly not last forever and if you bare with the situation for a few weeks, it will improve.

3) Acceptance

It is more than okay to feel upset. Joint with discomfort will generally come a feeling of being pathetic or guilt for your negative emotions. Ignore them. Being sad is normal, as long as you acknowledge the fact that this will not last forever.

4) Change your thoughts

It is no use trying to apply yourself to a situation if all of your thoughts are clouded by negativity and you are not willing to make an effort. Force yourself to step out of your comfort zone a small amount each day, whether it be talking to somebody or holding a smile for five minutes. This alteration in attitudes will cause steps 1 and 2 to come along much easier and there will be a noticeable difference in yourself.

So to summarise, whilst change is inevitable, there are ways of avoiding making it more difficult than it should be. Whilst I have only named 4 steps, there are many more: why not try to come up with some yourselves?

Best of luck.

-LF, LR and MG