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October Linkables

Happy Halloween! I hope you're having a great day whether you are out trick or treating like a big child, or partying with your friends in fancy dress. I had my Halloween celebrations on Friday in Manchester and paid homage to my favourite horror franchise with my Casey Becker costume. This post is actually being scheduled in advance so I'll just assume I had a good time on my weekend trip to Manchester. I'll let you know about everything soon enough though.

This month has been otherwise quiet, aside from the Scottish Greens conference (which I blogged about). The winter is setting in and I'm using that as a massive excuse to be a homebody, especially since I'm on annual leave this week. Not that I've ever needed an excuse, but the summer sun does make me wish I wasn't so introverted.

But enough about Halloween and the chilly weather - on with links!

Marketing, Blogging & Career

I regularly create Facebook Ads and Instagram Ads for the same campaign in my professional life, and I always tailor them to the platform. This article from Zeal Marketing perfectly explains why you should too.

58 Tools To Become a Social Media Marketing Hero. There were a few on here I hadn't heard of.

If you're a freelancer, have you ever tried working from the gym?

I have some experience on the interviewer side of the table, and I totally agree with these interview tips from a HR Specialist.

The evolution of women in stock photos. Ha!

I need to tape this to my eyelids: you'd be a better communicator if you weren't so afraid of embarrassing yourself.

Geek & Pop Culture

It might be a little late to read these before Halloween, but psychological horrors are for anytime of year.

You should read these books too

Veganism & Food

Again, a little late for Halloween but these rainbow candy apples are so cute

Social Justice & Politics

This is an American example but as a Scottish person who lives in SNP/Labour Glasgow but grew up in Conservative/SNP Aberdeenshire, I totally get the concept of voting or moving.  


I'm one of those weirdos who loves surgery videos, and "How to fix a curved spine" is no exception.

When friends fade away because you've changed or family members question your life choices, think of it as an authenticity tax

If someone you know if going through a rough time - remember to reach out them because you might be the only one who does

Have a lovely November babes! 
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I'd rather have no Batgirl film that one directed by Joss Whedon

There, I said it.

It's not like I haven't hinted at my feelings already. But I'm saying it officially: I'm no longer excited about the upcoming Batgirl film. Even back when it was first announced I didn't hide my confusion over the choice of director and an uneasiness on whether Batgirl was mainstream enough for the film to be a success. But as time has went on I've become less and less ecstatic about it.

A lot of this is to do with Joss Whedon. Those of us who like to geek out to film analysis, and have followed his work for a long time, already knew he was problematic. While the general public considered him feminist because he creates female characters who were powerful in a physical fight, those with a critical eye weren't blind to the lack of racial diversity in his work, the bi-erasure of Willow Rosenberg, creepy comments regarding Amber Benson's body, and spitting out the dummy over Charisma Carpenter's pregnancy.

But in August his cover was blown. His ex-wife spoke out about their marriage and how he wasn't quite the perfect little nice guy he had made himself out to be. I wasn't exactly surprised, but to have the confirmation from Kai Cole did make me even more disappointed that he was given the top job behind a female-lead superhero film.

Not just any female-lead superhero film, but Batgirl. She's my personal favourite and she's widely hailed as one of the most feminist characters in the DC Universe. Not only is she full of girl power, but she also has LGBTQ+ acquaintances and physical disability is part of her backstory. This is a film that requires the direction of someone who is sensitive to social justice issues. So, eh, not Joss Whedon then.

While Joss Whedon has incorporated social justice issues into his work, he has missed the mark on many occasions. This is what happens when someone (even the most well-intentioned ally) tries to speak on behalf of disadvantaged groups that they don't belong to.

One of the most obvious examples - to me anyway, my polysexual brain was startled straight (lol) away - is Willow Rosenberg's sexuality. Joss admitted that he had toyed with the idea of a Scooby coming out long before this storyline manifested. In fact, it wasn't until this scene that it was decided that it would be Willow and Tara.

They went on to become one of mainstream television's earliest same-sex couples, and I have no doubt Joss meant well by this. But those of us who fall under the polysexual umbrella didn't turn a blind eye to Willow identifying as gay. Did we imagine her infatuation with Xander? Or her healthy and loving relationship with Oz? Joss, this character has already had established romances with male characters - I think you need to do a bit more research on human sexuality, especially the bit about bisexuality being very real and valid.

Oh and then he killed Tara, aka the Bury Your Gays television trope.

Even when they break-up Willow speaks as though her love for Oz was real. 

If Joss had carried out a focus group with LGBTQ+ fans of the show or hired an LGBT+ writer, these two things could have been avoided. This is why it's important to have diversity amongst directors and producers, not just cast members. And why allies should never think of themselves as saviours or possessing the same level of understanding as someone who lives the reality of that disadvantaged group. 

This is why I want a woman at the helm of Batgirl. Even better, one with personal experience of LGBTQ+ issues and physical disability. Failing that, a female director who will do her research and seek opinions of these groups who do fit into these disadvantaged groups.

And, yes, I know it was Joss Whedon's idea to make a Batgirl film

In late August - in what looked like a PR stunt from the Whedon camp - it was reported that a standalone Batgirl film was not on Warner Bros radar until Joss pitched it. This does make sense given Batgirl's lack of mainstream clout. Why would Warner Bros consider a Batgirl film when they're already busy producing and promoting films involving Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Harley Quinn, Joker, Gothan City Sirens and Batman himself? Even though I love her, I can see why it wasn't on their radar (though I was hoping she would pop up within these films to help build her profile). 

If this news was meant to make me glad Joss Whedon pitched the idea, you can wipe that smile off your face. It doesn't mean I should roll over and not complain about him getting the job, even if he was literally the only option. I wasn't even getting my hopes up for a Batgirl film, and I'm sure as hell could have waited longer.

There's also been a lot of talk that he won't use a famous actress, which further ignites my worry that this might be a financial flop. You could definitely argue that Aquaman isn't big guns enough to have his own film. But Jason Mamoa has star power and he'll have the Justice League films to help build up the character's fan base.

It problematic as fuck that we have to even think strategically about female-fronted superhero films. Superman vs Batman might have been a pile of balls and Jared Leto's Joker might have been cringeworthy - but these characters aren't going to be pulled. Even that George Cloony Batman film didn't kill the franchise. There will always be room for male superheroes, even when they produce flops.

But female superhero films? Wonder Woman was successful. Largely thanks to known actors, loyalty to the source material and great behind-the-scenes work. But the creative industries work in a capitalist system, and ultimately film execs decide what to produce based on balance sheets. And that is why it's important that every single female fronted superhero movie does well financially, because the studios will only produce more if they make them money.

I mean, you remember Catwoman in the mid-00s? What on earth was that movie? It's no wonder the industry waited a decade to produce another female-fronted superhero film.

Oh, and then there's that leaked Wonder Woman script

Joss Whedon really wants to produce a female-led superhero movie, because Batgirl isn't the first film he has pitched. Several years ago Joss wrote a Wonder script that never got made. And thank heavens it didn't. The script opens with the focus on Steve Trevor landing on Themyscira, and stumbling upon the beautiful Diana. From the outset Wonder Woman is taking a backseat in her own goddam movie as it we see her through the eyes of Steve Trevor. In the version that did get made (spoilers if you haven't seen it) the film starts with Wonder Women's backstory and then we're later introduced to Steve Trevor. 

And the way he talks about other women in the cast isn't great either: 

Thank you for reminding us that middle-aged women can still be beautiful and "in their prime". I thought they were all ugly. 

And he decided to write the script while masturbating, evidently: 

If Joss Whedon had been given the go-ahead, the film would have likely ended up being wanking material for 14-year-old boys. Rather than the strong and inspirational story for girls we ended up getting. No prizes for guessing which version I prefer. 

Throughout the script Joss focused a lot on her love interest, Steve Trevor, more so than was probably necessary. The eventual 2017 film did feature him and they did kiss (because even Wonder Woman can't resist the puppy eyes of Chris Pine) - but their love story was not the focus of the film. The producers struck a nice balance between Steve being part of her life, but building her character to be more than just her romantic interests. Buffy might have been physically strong as hell, but a lot of her storylines still focused around her romantic life. 

Will I go see the film? Probably. Batgirl is still the leader of my superhero Dream Team and I'm not going to pretend I'm not curious. But there's a large part of me hoping that Warner Brothers decide it's better off in the hands of someone other than Joss Whedon, or work the character up a bit more in another superhero film. 

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Is Tracy Flick a feminist?

If you've spoken to me in the last two months about films, you'll know I'm going through a 90s phase. Specifically, films aimed at 90s teenagers who I was born a decade later than.

One of those films was Election. A 1999 dark comedy starring Matthew Broderick and a young Reese Witherperson as they fight their way through a high school election. Tracy Flick, Witherspoon's character and main antagonist, is that high school brown-noser we have all known. She is top of her class, always shoves her hand up first, is involved in multiple extra-curricular activities and feels entitled to success. She also struggles to make friends because no one can stand her.

We have all known a Tracy Flick

She's a character that is definitely interesting from a feminist angle, and I could feel my brain performing some critical analysis while I was listening. Turns out I'm not the only one. Even though the film was released before the internet was mainstream, many articles have been written on her character, posing the same question I'm asking with this blog. Journalists even compared her to Hillary Clinton (and Chris Klein's character, Paul, to Barrack Obama - more on that later). This is even despite the film being a box office bomb (but acclaimed by critics).

Tracy definitely wasn't scared of any glass ceiling. Which sadly, even in 2017, is still something to applaud and admire. She worked out the value of hard work very young, thanks to an encouraging (even slightly zealous) mother. I didn't do badly in school, but I definitely could have applied myself more than I did and taken a leaf out of Tracy's book. She was willing to go above and beyond to get good grades and plump out her college application - embarrassingly I didn't realise that a willingness to go the extra mile was one of the secrets to success until I started full-time work. We can learn a lot from the ambitious Tracy's of the world.

But reading all the required texts and putting 120% in every essay she wrote wasn't the only tactic Tracy was using. Tracy was also felt entitled to success and was willing to stick her elbows out to get it (sh'd be a textbook Capitalist Feminist). When she first finds out that Paul Metzler is running against her (she was previously running unopposed) she storms over to his election table and demands to know why. We see clips of her in the classroom where she isn't allowing other students the chance to speak. If you've seen the film, you'll know the scene where she rips down her opponents posters in the school halls in a fit of rage. All because two people chose to run against her.

I want to live in a world where women get ahead as equally and easily as men. I'm under no illusion that this is not yet the case. But I also want to live in world where people get ahead and promoted based on talent and hard work - and not because they ripped down someone else's campaign posters or stuck a straw up the manager's ass.

Tracy is also a job snob 

This quote probably sums up her attitude perfectly:

Now that I have more life experience, I feel sorry for Mr. McAllister. I mean, anyone who's stuck in the same little room, wearing the same stupid clothes, saying the exact same things year after year for his whole life, while his students go on to good colleges, move to big cities and do great things and make loads of money... He's got to be at least a little jealous. 

Since when is teaching seen as a low-level job? It requires a lot of training and is an important role that society requires. Ambitious Tracy types require good educators to get the ball rolling. As I get older and have more life experience, I've become even more disconnected with the idea that there are "real job" and "jobs". Or that being an underachiever or non-ambitious is a bad character trait.

We also see her at the end of the film working with a politician: a Republican no less. Ahem.

But let's take a step back from looking at Tracy as an individual and look at her place in wider society - and how that society influences her behaviour. Sexism still exists in schools and workplaces, and women do need to fight harder to be heard and get ahead. Tracy perhaps knew this and adjusted her behaviour to suit. Here is another quote from the film:

You might think it upset me that Paul Metzler had decided to run against me, but nothing could be further from the truth. He was no competition for me, it was like apples and oranges. I had to work a little harder, that's all. You see, I believe in the voters. They understand that elections aren't just popularity contests. They know this country was built by people just like me who work very hard and don't have everything handed to them on a silver spoon. Not like some rich kids who everybody likes because their fathers own Metzler Cement and give them trucks on their 16th birthday and throw them big parties all the time. No, they don't ever have to work for anything. They think they can just, all of a sudden, one day out of the blue, waltz right in with no qualifications whatsoever and try to take away what other people have worked for VERY, VERY hard for their entire lives! No, didn't bother me at all!

While this quote also demonstrates how self-entitled Tracy is, it shows how socially aware she is. She recognises that not everyone is born equal and how successful someone becomes is largely down to accident of birth. I'll speak more on Paul Metzler later, but he wasn't very ambitious but was a likeable good-looking white guy from a rich family - the demographic that gets a head start as soon as they're born.

Then there is the capitalism system that we work within. It encourages a survival of the fittest mentality, so it's no surprise people sharpen their elbows for success. Especially if they belong to a disenfranchised group.

Remember, this film was made in 1997 long before feminism and social justice were mainstream topics. Tracy was already recognising inequality that wouldn't get widely spoken about until two decades later. Girl was ahead of her time - and a little feminist shall I say.

But she isn't the only character worth speaking about from a feminist angle 

Throughout the film Broderick's character, Jim, tries to sabotage her election (and future career) success. He's otherwise popular with the students, but he has a long term grudge against Tracy. Part of this is because she's annoying. But the other part is her student-teacher affair with Jim's best friend, Dave. Dave lost his job and wife because of the affair but Tracy got off unharmed and her involvement in the scandal remained a secret.

Statutory rape is statutory rape. Tracy may have been a willing participant (as it was depicted in the film) but teachers shouldn't be finding students who haven't finished puberty attractive. It's not said on camera, but Dave looked like he was in the late 30s or early 40s - what on earth someone in that age bracket would find attractive in a teenager I do not know.

Jim then goes on a mission to ruin Tracy's future. He is the one who talks popular Paul into running in the first place. He even throws away pro-Tracy ballot papers so that Paul can win the election. I don't like Tracy Flicks as much as the next Jim, but I've never tried to stop one from getting ahead. By trying to sabotage her election chances he was proving himself to not be any better than her.

And then there's Paul Metzler (said I'd eventually get to him) 

He is a popular jock guy. Genuinely lovely student. He would make a great boyfriend. But class president? Not so sure. He's that male who gets ahead and is well liked just by being present. Though, despite not being as ambitious or hard-working as Tracy, he certainly has much better people skills. Anyone who was ever went outside their house to navigate high school and adult offices knows that good interpersonal skills are also a major factor in how well you'll do in life (both professionally and socially).

The media compared Barrack Obama to Paul Metzeler in 2008. Obama is definitely likeable and probably does have a better moral compass than most other politicians, but he wasn't exactly experienced when he first ran for President. Hilary Clinton (and even Sarah Palin) was definitely more qualified.

But my favourite character in the whole thing? Paul's sister, Tammy. She also runs for Class President to spite her secret ex-lover, Lisa, who starts dating Paul and becomes his campaign manager (that's one awkward love triangle, though Paul isn't aware).

Because she's right. My experience of pupil councils at school (I was even on it during my fourth year) is that they don't really change anything and people only run to impress universities. I wasn't that heavily involved in school extra-curricular activities but I was heavily involved in societies at university - and I'm not even going to deny that I was looking for CV boosters (and a way to avoid coursework).

Honestly, Tammy Metzler is probably the only feminist role model in the entire film (in a weird way).

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Tips for an ethical Halloween

Halloween is undoubtedly my favourite night of the year. It's no secret that I love fancy dress and everything macabre. It's also the only night of the year I don't pretend I'm too old for nightclubs (no joke, I've not set foot in a nightclub so far this year). Sometimes I wish one of my friends or family members would have a child so I offer to take them trick or treating. But alas, I'm still clubbing it up.

As I get older though, my ethics have collided with my love of Halloween. Whether it's causing waste by buying something for a one-off costume or a culturally appropriated costume - there's a lot to say about Halloween from a social justice angle. Every year I see vegans talking about how they can celebrate Halloween without the use of animals - whether it is cruelty-free make-up, home-made fake blood or vegan candy. I'm not perfect, but every year I try my hardest to make conscious but scary choices. Here's some things I keep in mind.

Colourful but cruelty-free make-up

Illamasqua is by far my favourite make-up brand for off-beat shades. If you don't mind testing parent companies you also have the choice of Urban Decay. I've not personally tried Manic Panic or Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics, but they also have a great colour selection if your look requires loud make-up.

Homemade fake blood

As Billy Loomis once said "mmmm corn syrup" (if you don't get that reference we can't be friends). Instead of shop-bought fake blood,  mix together some corn syrup, chocolate sauce and red food colouring.

Vegan Candy

If you're opening up your doors to Trick or Treaters, you'll want a selection of candy that keeps your conscious clear but won't disappoint the local kids. Skittles, Oreos, Starburst, Love Hearts, Sherbert Fountain, and Flying Saucers are all accidentally vegan. If you want to avoid the big brands, pick up some Holland and Barratt knock-offs and make little pre-packed goody bags. The neighbourhood kids never have to know.

Halloween Party Treats

If you're having people round for a bit of a bash and are looking to impress, a quick search on Pinterest should find you something. I'm not a fan of hosting my own parties, but if that wasn't the case I'd opt for these Mummy Cupcakes, Monster Donuts, Chocolate Mouse Graveyards, mummy pizzas, and this Spooky Popcorn Mix. These scary film cookies are also brilliant!

Left-over pumpkin

Ever carved a pumpkin then thrown it out? I see you looking sheepish in the back. 

The BBC Good Food guide has a section dedicated to this autumnal vegetable. Even though some recipes will need to be adapted, there's plenty of options. I also really like the look of this pumpkin spice latte vegan cheesecake. 

Phobia checks

Halloween can be difficult to navigate for phobia sufferers. Even the most socially conscious of us can't avoid triggering every phobia ever, but stay conscious when choosing party decor. If your friend has a phobia that could be more commonplace during Halloween, take steps to support them and don't put them in a difficult situation (such as not using it in your costume or party decor).

Store-bought costumes

I've always stayed away from store-bought costumes because I'm a hipster who can't possible turn up in the same outfit as 20 other people. As I get older though, I stay away from them for ethical reasons. There's plenty of costume ideas out there that you can fashion together yourself, or make if you've got sewing abilities. Past outfits of mine (three of which were easy to put together) have included Samara Morgan, Medusa, Pokestop, and Curiosity Killed the Cat pun costume.

Or shop etsy

Check out my Halloween wishlist here.

Don't slut-shame

Don't shame any women who dress sexily on Halloween. Stop being a prude, and enter 2017.

How do you make your Halloween more ethical? Any tips I've missed?
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New to My Beauty Stash #2

If you read my previous New to My Beauty stash, you'll have probably spotted (between this one and that one) that I'm going through a Barry M phase. It's easily accessible, cheap and (for the most part) works. Plus, they have some new products that I just had to try out. 

The first I wanted to try was the Matte Me Up Lit Kit. The shades are loud and are more appropriate for going out. Since I'm living a much quieter life these days, I decided to only purchase one, which was the shade Go To - a brown shade that I can still pull off during the day (especially in autumn). I've already given it a little whirl. I love how opaque it is but it definitely doesn't last as long as the adverts insist it does (I'd say two hours max). 

That wasn't the only new-ish Barry M product that made its way into my shopping cart. I also picked up the Lash Saver lash primer. I know, I know. This product is a total gimmick. But Barry M are one of my favourite brands and I had to give it a try. It does actually help my mascara stay on a bit longer, but not enough longer that I'd recommend we all go out and purchase it (just get yourself a really good mascara that doesn't need a primer!). 

Finally from Barry M, I purchased their Cosmic Lights Highlighting Palette. The shades in here are absolutely gorgeous and a quick swatch on my pale skin showed that they matched my tone perfectly. I've not had a chance to try them out properly as I haven't been anywhere where I'd make lots of effort with my make-up, but I can definitely see this becoming an evening make-up staple. 

Moving away from Barry M, and I finally added a Blending Sponge to my collection (late to the party, I know). I opted for the B. Precision Blending Sponge and I have to confess it's still in the packet. Some people might shriek but I'm very much a fingers girl when it comes to my foundation, and only opt for brushes when I'm using powdered make-up. The single reason I purchased this is so I can up my under-eye concealer game (I have prominent dark circles that I can never seem to fully cover) and improve my contouring skills. 

On to hair care now, and I decided to give the Noughty range a try. I first spotted it ages ago but me and natural hair care have never gotten along. I've actually been using this for a solid fortnight now, and have to say I am impressed. I use it for my second wash, and it foams up nicely and my hair feels perfectly clean but not stripped of all oils (I have oily hair, and wash my hair either daily or every second day. I can't do third day hair). 

Finally, I thought I would throw in my routine antiperspirant purchase. I've been using the Superdrug roll-on for a few years now and I don't think I'd ever use anything else. If you still need a vegan deodorant, I'd completely recommend it. 

What have you been purchasing this month? 

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