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I prefer my International Women's Day served radical, but cutesy Instagrams are nice

I prefer my International Women's Day served radical, but cutesy Instagrams are nice

Illustration by Camila Rosa

Today is International Women's Day. Which you would think would be my favourite day of the year. But, meh. Can take or leave it.

I'm going to sound like an anti-capitalist hag (which I am) but it's commercialised and lost a lot of its original feminist meaning.

According to Wikipedia:

"After women gained suffrage in Soviet Russia in 1917, March 8 became a national holiday there. The day was then predominantly celebrated by the socialist movement and communist countries until it was adopted in 1975 by the United Nations."

Today I've seen a lot of memes, inspirational quotes, and people laughing at Richard Herring. A lot of it is fluffy. A lot of it is posted by brands looking for more engagement on social media. A lot of it is not really inciting any actual change or recognising the big fight we still have on our hands.

I am 100% a believer that fluffy pop-culture feminism has its place. It's great at catching people's attention and creates a non-threatening introduction to social justice. Just as much as you shouldn't teach someone to read with a copy of Wuthering Heights, when you're introducing someone to left-wing politics you start with something like fairer taxes, or free higher education. You probably shouldn't storm in there with "most crime is created by inequality and prison is shit, sex work is real work, meat is murder, white people shouldn't wear dreads, and if you're a white, straight, male you probably have done some oppressive shit in your time. Oh, and I'm going to spit on you because you don't know what demisexual or polyamorous means".

That would scare people, and you don't change people's mind by making them feel stupid or defensive.

I might be a pure radical lefty now, but I started out a centrist. I even voted Liberal Democrats once upon a time ahahahahahahahah. Oh, my.

But I grew and learned and I'm here. Heck, I accept that I probably still have blind spots. And that's why I read about 5 non-fiction books a month trying to unlearn oppressive shit.

While fluffy feminism is a great introduction, that's where its usefulness ends. If we want to really pull down the shackles and dismantle patriarchy, we have to get radical. That means education, organisation, and tackling all kinds of oppression (because they interlinked).

One of my favourite internet people Sophie worded it perfectly:

Fluffy pop-culture feminism rarely covers any issue that doesn't relate to white, middle-class, heterosexual, thin, monogamous, cis-gendered women. Not saying that issues such as childcare, short skirts, women in sport, or leadership opportunities for university educated women aren't important - but they only scratch the surface and already receive a lot of airtime.

I've said this before, and I'll say it again: if your social justice activism only focuses on issues that affect you, then you're doing it wrong (read my review of Hot Feminist, where I originally touched upon this).

That means giving a shit about issues that might affect lots of other women but not yourself. If we want the men to take our issues seriously (because every social justice movement needs allies with privilege) then we need to take the issues that affect under-represented groups of women seriously. Read a memoir by a woman of colour. Ask people their pronouns instead of assuming. Remember that bisexuals exist. Respect someone's right to be fat. Donate money to a charity that supports sex work. Stop judging young mums. Share an article by a disabled woman. Say fuck you to capitalism.

Sharing a cutesy quote on Instagram about girls supporting girls isn't really doing anything.

I'm a big fan of the saying "the personal is political" and this is my favourite analysis of its meaning is (also from Wikipedia):

"The personal reflects the political status quo (with the implication that the personal should be examined to provide insight into the political); the personal serves the political status quo; one can make personal choices in response to or protest against the political status quo; ... one's personal choices reveal or reflect one's personal politics; one should make personal choices that are consistent with one's personal politics; personal life and personal politics are indistinguishable."

To me, social justice slips into every area of my life. From always voting for a left-wing party. To only being friends with people who share my political values. To boycotting beauty brands that test on animals. To my commitment to using non-violent communication in my personal relationships. Even just being nice to waiting staff. And definitely my decision to be vulnerable on the internet and share my stories.

All while also recognising that some of these decisions can only be made thanks to my privilege as a middle-class, white, university-educated, cis-gendered woman.

A big part of finding your own place in the social justice movement is recognising your own privilege and knowing when to sit the fuck down. Supporting trans women does not means speaking over the top of trans women. It means listening to their stories, amplifying their voices, and not using slurs (and probably other stuff too, I'm not an expert). You'll never see me write a blog on trans issues (or any issue that doesn't affect me) because what the fuck do I know about trans issues? I'd just be another cis-gendered woman clogging up the conversation.

And it means challenging yourself. This is the part where a lot of people get defensive. Changing the world does not mean shouting about how shit everyone else is and acting like your shit don't stink. We've all been subjected to the same social conditioning, albeit some more than others, so we hold oppressive views and have done oppressive stuff. I've dressed up as a Native American for Halloween, I used to judge fat people, and I got weirdly angry about teen mums. I have zero time for social justice warriors who can't admit their own problematic bullshit. It's political Nice Guy Syndrome.

I became the woke bitch I am through years of active unlearning, reading a fuck ton of feminist non-fiction, and calling out my own bullshit.

In other words: I wasn't born this way, baby.

I know this blog won't win me many party invites. But I'm not here for those anyway. It's the revolution I want an invitation to. Or I'll just turn up. But, what I know is that the path to the revolution isn't lined by pink glitter and corporate slogans of female empowerment. It's dirty, and it's uncomfortable. It might make you cry and shake with anger. But I think there's an Instagram quote somewhere that a rainbow only shines after rain?! Something like that.

Today, on International Women's Day do one thing to initiate radical change - whether it's within yourself or for the wider world. The patriarchy won't dismantle itself, no matter how many cutesy Instagram quotes you share.

Peace x
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morag | mo adore
I visited the new Glee Comedy Club in Glasgow and had a really grand time

I visited the new Glee Comedy Club in Glasgow and had a really grand time

If you're ever looking to bump into me on purpose (which I'm sure you all are), attend some comedy shows in Glasgow and I'm guaranteed to show up at some point. For the purpose of this blog, I've even worked out that I've attended an average of four comedy shows a month since September (this is when I fell into the rabbit hole that is Glasgow comedy scene). 

And because I can't quite get enough laughs in my life and four times a month isn't enough, I just had to check out the new Glee Comedy Club in Glasgow within weeks of its grand opening.  (I wasn't previously familiar with Glee Clubs, but they are a chain of comedy clubs with venues already in Birmingham, Cardiff, Nottingham and Oxford, so they're a big deal) 

Now, don't get me wrong I love the indie comedy nights I regularly attend in Glasgow (there is a blog on that half-finished in my drafts, but this blog is nipping ahead because Glee is topical and stuff). But almost all of these shows take place in a pub basement and sometimes you have to sit on those uncomfortable folding chairs with no padding. Look, I love a pub (there's booze) and I love a comedy show (there are giggles) but sometimes a girl wants a bit of glamour with her laughs. 

And that's the gap in the market that Glee fills. Not only does it put on weekly comedy shows, but it also boasts a generous food and drinks menu, and - as I would find out when I attended last night - it's also stylish and well-decorated. 

It's not bad value either. I won myself a discount code on Facebook for 50% off so me and my friend Emma (of Eat with Emma) managed to book ourselves a Show & Dinner Deal for £10 each. Normally it's £20 (which is still not bad!) and you can order your food in advance. You can choose from three pre-packaged meal choices (which is what we chose), or you can order a show ticket and add on some food from the wider menu. You can also pre-order your drinks, which includes cocktail pitchers, beer pitches (they looked a bit scary), and a bottle of wine. 

And since most people who read my blog are looking for vegan content and I need to stay on-brand: there's vegan food. Quite a bit actually. I pre-ordered the Penang Curry as part of a pre-packaged deal, but the wider menu includes a vegan Margherita pizza (which I also ordered, because food) and a superfood salad. Plus there is fish finger sandwich, and a Portobello Mushroom burger that can be veganised! They even mark out which of their alcoholic drinks are vegan (if you're new here, drinks companies use fish bladders to give drinks that clear look...eurgh). And my pizza came with a lemon-scented hand wipe! 

I know the next part of this review/rave is going to sound boring and like I'm turning into my mother, but bear with me. I'm a nervous person and a massive planner who hates leaving things to chance so I really appreciated the detailed confirmation e-mail (maybe it's the marketer in me who loves an informative e-mail). It had the normal things like confirming what show I had reserved, and for how many people. But it also confirmed that I didn't need to bring my email and instead just say my name at the desk, that we have been allocated a seat already, the rules of the club, and how I can add extra food and drink to my order. When we arrived a note was automatically sent to the kitchen to prepare our food. 

(Note: the only thing I didn't like was that you couldn't choose your seats. Thankfully, Emma and I ended up three rows back, but you could see the terror on a group's face when they realised they had the front

So there's vegan food, and a snazzy confirmation e-mail, but what about the actual comedy?

Aye, that was good too. Glee Club stages have been graced by some of the UK's most famous comedians and to get on the stage, you have to be experienced. So while I do love an indie comedy show where I discover new and local's nice to go in and know that you'll be watching comedians who have perfected their craft. 

The comedians on last night were Rosco Mcclelland, Scott Gibson, Eleanor Tiernan & Ben Norris - and every single one of them made me clench my sides with laughter. Especially Eleanor when she talked openly about what it's like to be a vagina owner and how you never know "what will seep out of it next". I was remarking to Emma that it's refreshing to hear someone talk about a vagina on stage because (while I can appreciate dick humour) I can't relate (or always understand) when someone talks about having a penis, and a man turned around in front of us and said he agreed! 

And just one final thing: the decor. It was still in a basement because apparently comedians really like a basement. But it was a trendy basement, with portraits of famous Scottish comedians on the wall, wooden panels on the floor, hipster lighting, and flowers in the toilets. I'm not complaining. 

Seriously though, the staff at Glee Club offered some of the best customer service I've ever received anywhere, the comedians made me choke with laughter, and there was vegan food. Hands down, one of the best places in Glasgow for a low-key night out. It's a new favourite, and I might find my average number of comedy nights per month rise. 

Glee is open Friday and Saturday, and you can book your tickets in advance on their website. The venue is on Renfrew Street, beside the giant Cineworld and opposute The Flying Duck. 
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morag | mo adore

February Linkables

Babes, it's the end of winter. Okay, it might not feel like the end of winter temperature wise but the sun is beginning to shine through, and it's now sort of light when I leave work. We're getting there.

I hope you've had an incredible start to the year and everything is shaping up well. Goal-wise, I'm keeping on top on my housework, I'm swimming once (sometimes twice) a week, I've attempted a few trickier recipes (with varying results), and empowering some great books on social justice!

Ready for the first Linkables of the year? Let's go!

You might roll your eyes at the idea of a long-term singleton dishing out relationship advice. But I've witnessed multiple couples fuck up over the same things - so I am fully behind 8 relationship habits that will make everything easier, smoother, and more fun.

Related: 14 questions to ask your partner to make sure you're on the same page.

And, of course, I have a link associated with Valentine's Day: what is it like for asexuals and aromantics? 

I love self-improvement, but I don't love that it has become an industry that feeds off of people's insecurities and sells us products that do fuck all (juice cleanses, anyone?). Are We Improving Yourselves to Death? is an important article.

Related: Don't fall prey to the cult of wellness.

What everyone needs: Classic Album Covers with Cats.

The women killed by Jack the Ripper are finally having their stories told.

Hopefully, you'll never need this but if you do: How to survive gaslighting.

How to work with micro-influencers.

Yes! Can we stop recording ourselves doing good deeds, please?

A vegan's guide to reading food labels.

If you only read one thing, make it this: Why she doesn't just leave

Something local: a history of Glasgow's LGBT+ nightclubs and bars.

An analysis on British racism with a side slice of self-deprecating humour from Romesh Ranganathan.

What have you been reading this month? Send me your links! 
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morag | mo adore
I went to another clothes swap and now I need a mind dump on clothes waste, Marie Kondo, and providing women in crisis with free clothes

I went to another clothes swap and now I need a mind dump on clothes waste, Marie Kondo, and providing women in crisis with free clothes

The dilemma goes something along the lines of:

"I have a wardrobe full of clothes but nothing to wear"

I'm not sure who said this or where I originally read it, but I know the feeling well. If you know me in real life you wouldn't consider me to be a clothes horse. But if you had a look through my wardrobe and chest of drawers you would probably think I was.

Until last August my bedroom was bursting at the seams. I still owned activewear from when I was a dancer during my time at university. Or from when I still tried to convince myself I was into running, which was a dark time. I still owned dresses that I haven't been able to fit into since I started a desk job. I owned shirts that I know longer like, or maybe never really did. I owned waist length t-shirts, even though I don't suit high necks or anything that draws attention to my mid-section. All the money I spent buying a new dress every time I went on a night out (yes, I was once one of those girls) was still hanging in my closet. Heels I was never able to walk in. Clothes I hadn't worn in years.

I owned more clothes than I owned coathangers, and I own plenty of coathangers (I bought beige for my work clothes and purple for everything else so I could easily separate my looks). I have a massive chest with four big drawers, and four small ones, brimming with underwear, accessories, sportswear, more general clothing, and my weirdly large pyjama collection. Even better, I never put my laundry away because I needed my drying rack as extra storage space.

This, my friends, is when you know you need to have a clear out.

Last August I was approaching the year mark of an anniversary where I ruffled some feathers and decided to stop caring what people thought of me (also known as ridding my life of toxic people and coming out of the closet). With this anniversary looming, I had the sudden urge to rid myself of physical belongings that represented the version of myself that I thought I was supposed to be, or the person other people wanted me to be.

I started by admitting that a few things needed to go to landfill. Which always sucks. But there's not exactly a second-hand market for broken GHDs, shoes with holes in them, and water bottles with corporate logos. Then I packed up the athletic and outdoorsy stuff that was mostly on lend from my genuinely outdoorsy parents and gave it back to my mum the next time she visited. The only sport I enjoy is swimming and it was time to own that.

Then in November I attended my first ever clothes swap, hosted by ethical fashion blogger Ruth Macgilp. I blogged about the day here, so there's no need to go into detail. I only took one small suitcase full of clothes that I really wanted rid of. But when I returned home with new clothes that I was genuinely excited to start wearing, I could now see even more clutter in my bedroom (and I still had more clothes than I did coathangers).

So last week when I attended Ruth's second clothes swap, I was ruthless. I was attending the International Improv Festival later that day and didn't want to lug a suitcase around so I filled my rucksack and two large shopping bags with clothes that served no purpose in my life. And it felt cathartic, especially since I was finally accepting my body would never be slim enough for some of those clothes again.

This time the clothes swap was taking place at the ALICAS offices. ALICAS is a charity that builds capsule wardrobes for women in need, whether that is due to homelessness or fleeing domestic abuse. They work on a referral system from charities who agree that these women would benefit from a new wardrobe. They only collect clothes that still have the label on them so the women in need don't feel as though they are receiving hand me downs. Luckily I had a dress in my wardrobe that still had tags on it and it's a great way to get rid of clothes you were meant to return, but never got round to.

The work ALICAS do might seem frivolous at first glance, but many victims of homelessness and domestic abuse (especially emotional abuse) lose their sense of self, and clothes play a large part in shaping someone's self-identity. On the day of the clothes swap, we filled boxes for two of the charity's current referrals - which included information on the women's age, clothing sizes, and style preferences. These women were going to receive clothing that would fit their personalities and lifestyles, and that's fantastic.

On the day of the clothes swap, the conversation naturally gravitated towards Marie Kondo and how much she has inspired people to clean out their lives. I've not read her book or watched her Netflix documentary, but from what I've heard second-hand I agree with the principles. I have been in the mindset for years that the organisation or cleanliness of someone's house reflects their mental health and emotional wellbeing. I used to be terrible at not keeping on top of my housework, but that was because I was busy with too many random things that I couldn't make time for basic self-care. My room reflected how disorganised my life was.

And my hoarding tendencies (in case you missed it: I mentioned that I held on to a pair of broken GHDs) were reflective of my general attitude to filling my life with things that didn't bring happiness or had long outgrown. Whether it was having frenemies, people I liked but didn't get the !!!! feeling for, staying in romantic/sexual relationships for longer than I should, having hobbies that I wasn't super-passionate about, or even staying in the closet until my mid-twenties - I was never able to throw away even non-physical things.

But there has been understandable criticism that Marie Kondo is encouraging people to send half their belongings to landfill. Which is true. But the real problem is consumerism and people buying things they don't need. This also includes gifts you feel you need to buy someone, and they end up at the back of the closet for ten years. Until people learn to live with less in the beginning, we're going to have people throwing away stuff. The trick isn't to hoard (like I did) it's to think more sensibly about your purchases in the first place.

When I got home that evening, it was without my two large shopping bags and my rucksack was now full of new clothes that reflect my current outwards appearance:
  • A polka dot blazer from M&S
  • A tartan hooded dress from Collection Vintage London
  • A stripy long-sleeved jumper from Oasis 
  • A long t-shirt with eyes on it from Neon Ninja®
  • Burgandy and white skater dress from People Tree
And the best part of my second clothes swap?

I can now fit all my clothes in my wardrobe.

Move over Marie Kondo.
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morag | mo adore

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