GIRLS JUST WANNA maybe not have to wear their bra all the time…

Sure, sex is great, but have you ever taken your bra off after a really long day?

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Who run the world? Girls do, silly! How many times does Beyonce have to say it?? But, if we run the world, then why does it still feel like we’re still doing things to appease other people?

So I just popped out (ooh er!) the other day for a walk and five minutes down the road, I realised something was wrong. VERY WRONG. I had left the house without my bra! Any other day, I would have crossed my arms over my chest and scuttled back home, but for some reason I just decided, fuck it! Who am I offending? And I carried on with my walk (albeit without the usual bounce in my step) wondering why not wearing a bra is such a big deal.

For a young girl, picking out your first bra is something of a rite of passage. We long to be just like our older sisters and mothers, so getting a bra is a giant leap towards womanhood. But like so many rituals that women undertake, the fairytale ends pretty quickly. Next thing you know, you’re into underwire bras and what can only be described as torture devices if you decide to go strapless or backless. Bras are like painful harnesses that actually inhibit blood flow, but we have to wear them, right? Conventional wisdom states that wearing a bra prevents your breasts from sagging, but what if that’s not the case?

Well, health professionals have been questioning the benefits of wearing bras and a recent study by Professor Jean-Denis Rouillan, of the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Besancon in France, revealed that¬†bras are not necessary¬†for women‚Äôs breast health –¬† anatomically, medically, or physiologically. ¬†According to the study, not wearing a bra actually protects your breasts from gravity. This is because it forces women to have better posture. It also forces the body to develop the muscles that lie underneath the breasts, which aid breast support and lift. But it’s probably too late for most of us who have worn bras since puberty. But that’s okay, we’ll just chalk it up to experience, like that time they gave us the wrong medical advice about how to take oral contraceptives, basing it not on science, but on a misguided attempt to appease the Pope. Yep, us ladies love a bit of religion mixed with our reproductive healthcare.

Anyhoo, maybe it’s just our attitudes that need tweaking (sorry!). I mean, the uproar it causes even if a woman’s nipple is visible. I’m still not sure the world has recovered from ‘nipplegate’, i.e. Rachel Green’s out and proud moments on Friends.

21 home truths only girls with small boobs will understand

Viewers were obsessed by this ‘wardrobe malfunction’ because I¬†mean, why else would she FLAUNT her nipples?! Like, cool the jets lads, we all have ’em. THIS IS WHAT BREASTS LOOK LIKE AND ITS NOT SEXUAL OR ATTENTION SEEKING,¬† THEY’RE JUST THERE. BEING BREASTS.¬†

But has this sensitivity to breasts always been a thing? A quick glance a Wikipedia shows that, historically, women have tended to bind their breasts one way or another through the ages, but binding them and trussing them up like turkeys at Christmas (I’m looking at you, Wonder Bra!) are two very different things.

 

In Ancient Rome, women playing sport basically wore boob tubes. But my favourites are the Greeks…

 

 

¬†They wore what was known as a breast band over beautifully draped dresses and the best part is, it doubled as an archery harness, so they could attach a quiver of arrows to the back! Now that’s the kind of bra I want. Weaponised!

Anyway, back to the point. I guess if you’re playing sports, you might want to keep yourself strapped in, or if you have quite large breasts and need the extra support, or you just like bras, but otherwise, is it really necessary? And if not, why are we still wearing these fecking contraptions?? Bras can be pretty expensive and if they only serve aesthetic purposes and adhere to cultural norms, then maybe we need to question their relevance.

Interestingly, when my initial embarrassment wore off, my next immediate thought was FUCK THE PATRIARCHY!! I don’t think it’s any coincidence that that phrase popped into my head, because dress codes are extremely sexist. A lot of the time, it feels like we’re doing these things to avoid making other people uncomfortable. It might not be illegal to go out sans bra, but it is deemed highly inappropriate. By whom?? Well, one can only assume the cohort of people who seem to be offended by bouncing breasts walking down the street. Then there is the even darker side – the cohort of men who like to blame their behaviour on women – accusing them of looking for attention; sexual attention. As though our clothing choices are somehow sending out messages to men about our willingness to have sex with them. When in actual fact, we are simply dressing for ourselves and our own comfort. I mean, if we can manage to keep our eyes and more importantly, our hands, off topless men in the summer or in the gym, then surely they can be expected to do the same?

But society has always placed a more onerous dress requirement on women and things are very slow to change. It was only in 2016 that a woman in the UK was sent home from her job in Pricewaterhouse Coopers for not wearing heels!! Imagine if she showed up without a bra? Would she be fired outright? Even as we speak, women in Japan are campaigning to change the dress code that requires them to wear high heels at work (#KuToo). Japan’s labour minister has (incredulously) defended the practice, saying: “It is socially accepted as something that falls within the realm of being occupationally necessary and appropriate”. Imagine being told you couldn’t do your job unless you wear heels? I mean, who needs dystopian novels! Women are often accused of being hysterical when it comes to seeking equal rights, but you would be too if you were consistently¬† discriminated against. We’ve only just celebrated having the vote for 100 years and it’s not very long ago that we were not permitted to study at university or even keep our jobs after marriage. This is about more than just a bra, it’s about exercising our personal freedoms.

So, will I be freeing the nipple (#FreeTheNipple is totally a thing with the influencers on Insta by the way!) from here on in? I’m not sure, but I’d like to give it a go. After years of being made to feel weirdly ashamed and wrong to be seen in public without a bra, it will probably take a bit of rewiring (haha!). Maybe I’ll start by ditching the t-shirt bra and trying something less structured.¬†Sometimes, clothes just look better with a bra and you’re willing to put up with the discomfort for a while, but I still can’t for the life of me figure out how they haven’t yet been able to invent a comfortable bra that fits properly. And gives you compliments a la Gemma Correll…

Image result for gemma correll support bra

Apparently the first bra (invented by a woman) was made up of two hankies and a piece of ribbon, which actually sounds quite pleasant, until Howard Hughes got involved and tried to make them look like the fuselage of a plane! So what do we think, is the world ready for boobs sans bras? Remarkably, it was only this year that most of us discovered what the anatomy of a woman’s breast looks like!

Illustration of human milk ducts

It definitely feels much more natural and a welcome relief not to have to wear a bra all the time. Let’s be honest, it’s the first thing most women do when they get home – take their bra off. Just as the #GreyHairDontCare movement (which I wrote about here) is liberating women from conventional standards of beauty and worse, propriety, #FreeTheNipple is telling women that they do have a choice and this collective shame we feel about our naturalness is not ours, but something that is projected on us. So what about you readers? Are you already way ahead of me and letting the girls loose?

 

 

 

Why Can’t We Leave Women Alone?

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Morning telly; the land that time forgot.¬† I won’t go into the whys and wherefores of how I ended up watching it the other day, but let’s just say I was feeling a bit ‘delicate’.¬† ¬† Anyway, there I am, second bowl of cheerios in hand when a¬†victim woman is herded out, wearing a brown towel on her head and something resembling a monk’s robe to save her modesty.¬† Stood between two well-dressed (and probably well-meaning) women – one, the presenter and the other a stylist, the grilling begins.¬† It turns out they are all discussing the state of her wardrobe since having kids.¬† They ask her when was the last time she ‘spoiled’ herself with a shopping trip?¬† How often she changes her hairstyle and if she’d like to wear more make up.¬† They show a still of her in her ‘normal gear’, which, to the woman’s shame, is a t-shirt, jeans and sneakers.¬† (No makeup – for shame!).

As I’m sitting there, wondering if my cheerios have been laced with some sort of time-travel agent and I’m now in the 50’s, they go on to chat about the woman’s job as a paramedic – which is good because she can wear a uniform to work.¬† I’m not sure they’d trust her to pick out her own work clothes.¬† The stylist kindly fibs that the woman’s wardrobe isn’t THAT bad, it’s just lacking in colour.¬† Why so many darks?¬† We can only wonder – but it’s clearly not a good thing.¬† The stylist goes on to tell the frumpy saddo¬† woman that she would ‘feel better in herself’ if she wore more yellows and reds.¬† ‘More people will gravitate towards you,’ she promised.¬† *Note to self: never wear red or yellow.

As the piece wore on, I found myself asking my empty living room, ‘Is everyone else seeing what I’m seeing?’¬† The silence was deafening, but my inner thoughts were loud – IMAGINE IF THIS WAS A MAN.¬† Imagine a man standing there, apologetic for his lack of sartorial genius and handing himself over to these ‘experts’ to make him beautiful again and more acceptable to the world at large.¬† Because, you know, Dads can really let themselves go when all their focus is on their kids and their busy lives.¬† Do men even have time to try out the latest make-up styles?¬† Although by now they should have mastered the feline flick, because that never goes out of fashion and always looks sexy.

Obviously, I’m poking a bit of fun.¬† There are men and women out there who do feel good in new clothes or getting a different hairdo – makeovers are harmless fun.¬† But why is it overwhelmingly women who are the¬†targets¬†¬†candidates?¬† It’s only when you imagine a man in her place that the whole thing becomes preposterous – so why are we still putting the focus on how a woman looks?¬† To be honest, when the segment started, my cheerio-addled mind didn’t bat an eyelid.¬† It’s normal for me to see a woman being talked through her shortcomings in the beauty stakes.¬† And that’s worrying.

For centuries, women have been the object of the ‘male gaze’.¬† This term, first coined by Laura Mulvey (feminist film theorist), encompasses the idea that, in art and the media, women are constantly being viewed and represented through a masculine, heterosexual lens, as sexual objects for the pleasure of the male viewer.¬† And considering the fact that a lot of our learned behaviour and beliefs come from what we read and see on our screens, it follows that women have been taught to identify their worth with their physical appearance.¬† Women are consistently scrutinised and shamed for their body shape, size and age.¬† And what this segment showed is that even the idea of self-care is being sabotaged by companies who want to sell you something and are using it as another stick to beat you with.¬† Have a spa day, a massage or a facial, you’ll feel better.¬† More pressure to be happy, compliant and pretty.

Why can’t we be treated the same as men?¬† Just allowed to exist without this constant pressure to be pleasing on the eye?¬† I saw a tweet recently about a daughter asking her mother why her pants didn’t have pockets like daddy’s and her mother replied, ‘Welcome to the patriarchy!’¬† It’s funny but it’s also true.¬† Why do men get to have comfortable, functional clothes and yet, as a woman, if you’re not suffering for your beauty, are you even a woman?¬† Who sets these standards and will we ever stop perpetuating the myth that an attractive woman is happier, more successful and just better.

Our idea of female beauty has been so restricted by the male gaze and the patriarchal constructs which have, down through the centuries, prevented women from being celebrated as anything other than purely ornamental.¬† Did you know that the great composer Felix Mendelssohn had a sister who also composed?¬† Nope, probably not, because Fanny Mendelssohn was not allowed to pursue her talent (a letter from her father warned her that music could merely be an ‘ornament’ for a woman).¬† There is an entire army of women – artists, scientists, politicians, who have been erased from the history books (check out author Joanne Harris’ #CelebratingWomen for starters), because the writers of history (men) made sure they were kept out of them.¬† So even as women ourselves, we have limited examples to gauge what being a woman is from a feminine perspective, because historically, our opinion of ourselves just wasn’t as important.¬† I really wished the TV show could have celebrated that woman’s intelligence – the training she must have undertaken to become a paramedic.¬† Her dedication, to her job and her family.¬† The beauty in her confidence, her playfulness when answering dumb-ass questions and frankly her bravery to go on a TV show and have people call out her dark clothes fetish, just so she could get a free makeover!

I hope that men and women can start seeing this for what it is and demanding better from the media.¬† There was an article recently in a woman’s magazine, written by women, asking if Meghan’s style was making Kate look like a frump and thankfully people were quick to call the publication out on pitching women against each other like that.¬† One wore a shirt and trousers, the other wore a dress.¬† END OF DISCUSSION!¬† Again, imagine an article questioning if Harry’s facial hair was making William feel inadequate?¬† It just wouldn’t happen, but we’ve become so used to seeing this kind of crap about women that sometimes we don’t even notice.

I read a great quote from Caitlin Moran that puts this whole thing into context.

‚ÄúI have a rule of thumb that allows me to judge,¬† whether or not some sexist bullshit is afoot. Obviously, it‚Äôs not 100% infallible but by and large it definitely points you in the right direction and it’s asking this question; are the men doing it? Are the men worrying about this as well? Is this taking up the men‚Äôs time? Are the men told not to do this, as it’s letting the side down?

Almost always the answer is no. The boys are not being told they have to be a certain way, they are just getting on with stuff.‚ÄĚ

‚Äē¬†Caitlin Moran,¬†How to Be a Woman

We have the opportunity now to write a new story with a new narrative.¬† Let’s use it!¬† Let’s celebrate women for their passion, their talent, their creativity.¬† Women who, despite pressure from society, don’t look for approval; clever women, funny women, women who stand up for injustice, like the woman who stood up on a plane recently in order to save a man’s life.¬† Women who campaigned for reproductive rights in Ireland, who fight climate change, women who challenge the status quo, women who (as our former president Mary Robinson once remarked) instead of rocking the cradle, rocked the system.¬† Even women who stay at home and eat cheerios and write blogs.¬† We are all worth celebrating, regardless of how we look.

The Wacky World Of Genres

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Following on from my piece about Book Snobs, I’ve decided to wade into the murky pool that is ‘Genre’. ¬†Genre is what keeps us innocent readers from picking up the wrong kind of book by accident (God forbid), but do we really trust the ‘genre police’ to get it right?

 

Some genres are easily determined, like taking a novel’s length for example or if the content is fiction or non-fiction. ¬†However, some categories and sub-categories are more loosely defined and end up creating a very vague grouping of books with tenuous links. ¬†If you are a female author writing about a contemporary female character, chances are you will be shoved into the ‘Women’s Fiction’ genre. ¬†It has¬†taken quite a few years to appreciate how the term Chick Lit really devalues what is a popular and entertaining genre. ¬†These books are contemporary fiction and should have been labelled as such. ¬†Why was there a need to create a separate category for ‘Chicks’? ¬†Ah, well that’s all down to the marketing department. ¬†It’s a label that says ‘don’t take this author too seriously’, which trivialises the authors and the subject matter, giving the entire genre a bad reputation. ¬†Nowadays, calling a book ‘Chick Lit’ is like the ultimate put-down, which is such a pity because so many talented female authors have found themselves quarantined in that sub-category, never to escape. ¬†I can see the same thing happening now with Grip Lit – it seems to be losing its originality as the publishing houses churn out more and more imitations. ¬†The marketing is simple: they want the same thing, but different.

So Women’s Fiction is the new pigeon hole for female authors. ¬†But did you ever stop to wonder why we have Women’s Fiction but not Men’s Fiction? ¬†Booksellers might say it’s simply a marketing tool, a way to help readers find what they want, but why make women a sub-category? ¬†Women’s fiction includes books that have absolutely no relation to each other and span a dizzying array of styles and subject matter. ¬†The only common denominator is that they are written by women. ¬†In an article by Alison Flood in The Guardian, she questions the relevance of the genre:

I’m bewildered by how titles make it into these categories. The mix of books is so broad as to be meaningless, united only by the authors’ gender. But the fact remains the categories are there, and there are no equivalent “Men’s writers and fiction”, “Men’s literary fiction”, and “Men’s popular fiction” sections. They are just “fiction”, I guess.

Regular readers will know that I love a good scientific study to back up my claims, and this week is no different. ¬†So I went to the great trouble of looking up some of my favourite contemporary reads on Amazon to see what genre ‘the genre police’ have put them in.

David Nicholls – One Day ¬†‘Twenty years, two people, ONE DAY.’

Genre – Fiction

(A contemporary romance, by any other name…)


Graeme Simsion – The Rosie Effect ¬†‘Love isn’t an exact science – but no one told Don Tillman’

Genre – Fiction > Humour

(eh… a contemporary romance?!)


Jojo Moyes – Me Before You ¬†‘Neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time’¬†

Genre – Women’s Fiction > Romance

(Contemporary romance. ¬†Hang on, why’s this listed under a different genre?)


Marian Keyes – Rachel’s Holiday¬†‘They said I was a drug addict.¬†But my occasional drug use was strictly recreational.¬†And, hey, surely drug addicts are skinny?’

Genre – Women’s Fiction > Humour

(So here’s a darkly funny look at addiction. ¬†What genre should that be in? ¬†Is it written by a woman? ¬†Just stick it in women’s fiction)


Wikipedia describes Women’s Fiction¬†as:

an umbrella term for women centered books that focus on women’s life experience that are marketed to female readers

Which begs the question: Why don’t we have an umbrella term for men-centered books that focus on men’s life experience that are marketed to men? ¬†Oh no, hang on. ¬†We do. ¬†It’s called fiction. ¬†Shouldn’t we be moving beyond this? ¬†An author is an author, regardless of their gender, and a book is a book. ¬†Why do readers need warning signs that the book might be about women’s issues or written by a woman? ¬†Is all this marketing and categorising just limiting people in their reading lists? ¬†Understandably, some readers might prefer a book with a male or a female protagonist, but is that not what a blurb is for? ¬†To inform the reader of what lies between the pages?

So who created the category of women’s fiction anyway and how did that conversation go?

*A boardroom clad in mahogany, somewhere posh*

Head of marketing: “Hate to be the bearer of bad news old chaps, but it would appear that the women are trying their hand at writing books.”

*One board member faints.  Another hurls himself out of a window.*

Second¬†in command: “Say it isn’t so!”

Head: “I’m afraid it is so. ¬†Now brace yourselves; it looks like we might have to publish them.”

*Two more exit via the window.*

Head: “Pull yourselves together men!”

Second: “But how will we know which books to read? ¬†I mean, isn’t there a danger that we might mistakenly buy a book written by a woman?”

Head: “Ah, yes, now I’ve considered this frightening consequence and come up with an idea. ¬†We will label their books ‘Women’s Fiction’, so there will be absolutely no confusion.”

Second: “Splendid idea! ¬†Proper fiction will still be written by men and we can funnel the ‘ladies’ into their specialised sub-category. ¬†For women. ¬†Who read about other women. ¬†Who write about women’s things. ¬†Which have no bearing on our world. ¬†The end.”

*All characters are fictional, any resemblance to the real people behind the women’s fiction label is purely coincidental *

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Women’s Fiction: The Big Cover Up

custom-wrapped-rose-and-pinks-31Following a recent discussion with an online book-club (which I am now ripping off for this blog!) the subject of covers reared its’ pretty head. ¬†Pretty being the operative word, and a pejorative one in this case. ¬†A male reader asked the question, why do publishers insist of giving female authors the kind of covers that men wouldn’t be caught dead with? ¬†Of course, there was also the argument that some men wouldn’t be caught dead reading a female author, period; regardless of the cover. ¬†In this day and age, I find that a bit sad to be honest. ¬†It just perpetuates this idea that women can only write about things that concern women – as if men wouldn’t find anything of interest in ‘women’s things’. ¬†¬† Furthermore, what does it say about a man’s sense of identity, that he can’t ‘be seen’ in public with a woman’s book? ¬†All big questions, which I will now neatly side-step in order to get to the side of the argument that best serves my agenda. ¬†Girlie covers – what’s it all about?

Just to be sure I wasn’t being a complete hypocrite, I made a quick scan of the books I’ve read over the past few years and there is an approximate 60/40 split in female to male authors on my list. ¬†I think it’s only natural that we will veer towards our own gender, but I was quite pleased to see that my reading has been fairly balanced. ¬†I never really think about the author’s gender when choosing a book. ¬†My decision is based solely on whether or not the story piques my interest. ¬†That… and the cover. ¬†It was at this point I realised that the guy in the book club had a point.

One of the most important jobs of a book cover is to let the reader know, as clearly and succinctly as possible, what they are getting with this book. ¬†If I see a dark and moody cover with blood stains, I’ll probably keep moving. ¬†Crime fiction isn’t really my thing, but how many good books have I missed because of these preconceptions? ¬†Readers make their minds up in a matter of seconds, based on the cover of a book. ¬†So it follows that the publishing industry, rightly or wrongly, create covers that they believe will sell; even if this is at odds with what lies between the covers. ¬†However, there is an even greater divide when it comes to books by female authors. ¬†Regardless of their literary merit, many publishers seemed determined to shoe-horn women’s books into the kind of covers that female readers themselves feel may be undervaluing the author’s work. ¬†It has long been argued that the Chick Lit genre has become something of a double-edged sword; on the one hand, it has introduced readers to a lot of very talented female authors, but it has been marketed in so much pink fluffiness, that many of these writers are doomed to spend eternity on a dusty shelf, trapped in pastel coloured covers and not taken seriously.

A recent article by Emily Harnett in The Atlantic reveals the thinking behind these covers:

Like any form of advertising, book covers tell women what they want by surmising who they want to be.

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I’m guessing the assumption is that we all want to be white, thin goofballs with a hidden intelligence, all wrapped up in designer clothes! ¬†Please don’t get me wrong – I am not criticizing this book or its readers, but I am questioning how the author’s work is marketed and whether or not this is a hindrance to women’s writing as a whole. ¬†If you are a woman and you happen to write about anything involving relationships or family life, chances are that this will be your marketing strategy.

The following graphics from an article on Flavorwire¬†show some examples of how male authored books are marketed completely differently. ¬†The jumbo writing is a classic of the genre, which almost screams ‘This is important!’ ¬†It demands to be taken seriously, and as such, lends an air of gravitas to its reader.

The female authors have markedly different covers. ¬†They are warm, decorative and while they’re not as garish as the Chick Lit cover, we immediately assume that what lies inside is somehow more feminine in nature. ¬†Would a man pick up any of these books? ¬†I would like to think that in this day and age, yes, he would. ¬†But why are the publishers trying to divide us at all? ¬†As an author, I would hope that both male and female readers can enjoy my stories, but have I subconsciously placed a barely perceptible ‘Men Keep Out’ sticker on my book just by the covers I’ve chosen?

And it’s not just a male/female divide. ¬†There is also the question of what makes a book commercial fiction as opposed to the more highbrow literary fiction? ¬†Who decides this and what are the criteria? ¬†If you’re confused, take a look at these covers for the same book and tell me the publishers aren’t playing some sort of minds games!

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The first has a quote from literary heavyweight John Banville (a man!) comparing the author to Edna O’Brien, another literary biggie, and features a monochrome image of a child and an old man. ¬†The second, features a young woman with a tagline from one of Ireland’s most successful commercial fiction authors, Cecelia Ahern of PS I Love You fame. ¬†This is the same book, people!! ¬†How could a single story be marketed so differently? ¬†Well, on closer inspection, it turns out that the black and white cover is the hardback and the carefree young woman is the paperback version. ¬†According to author Jennifer Weiner, who treads the fine line between commercial and literary fiction,¬†‚ÄúHardcover is when you get the reviews and the profiles, paperback is when you get the readers.‚ÄĚ

So what they’re saying is, they don’t want to challenge us too much, but give us something wrapped in a package we are already familiar with. ¬†Are we such predictable repeat shoppers? ¬†I’m not so sure. ¬†One of my favourite novels this year was The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild. ¬†It’s a mystery art caper, that takes us from the auction houses of London to Nazi Germany, and questions the true value of art and man’s desire to acquire beautiful things in search of salvation. ¬†AND YET. ¬†One of the male readers in the book club said he would never have picked it up, but his girlfriend had it and so he started reading it (and loved it). ¬†A woman in the group said she wouldn’t touch a book with such a cover with a barge-pole (the cover in question was the red paperback). ¬†The hardback features original artworks, while the Kindle version on the end features a palette and dispenses with the swirly writing altogether. ¬†In this case, I imagine that the publishers are trying to cast their net wide and get as many potential readers as possible, so why not do that in the first place? ¬†I really feel for the authors who have absolutely no say in how their work is packaged or marketed. ¬†Perhaps self-publishing will change the face of cover discrimination, or will we, for lack of any better ideas, just perpetuate it? ¬†The question we are all trying to answer is, what do readers want? ¬†Perhaps a little less clich√© and a little more originality.

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Sometimes I think we should just go back to the days when book covers were cloth bound and the title embossed in gold leaf. ¬†These days, we have grown accustomed to the kind of aspirational lifestyle marketing that bombards us for clothing, make-up, interiors and cars, but isn’t there something about books that should be held sacred? ¬†In reading, do we not seek to move beyond the shallow and superficial? ¬†I love book covers, just as I love design and art, but matching an image with a story is a tricky business and can often be misleading. ¬†I suppose the same can be said for blurbs, which are more often than not a bunch of sound-bytes to reel you in. ¬†The Blind Date Book Company¬†is a fantastic response to the publishing world’s attempts to manipulate our reading habits. ¬†Their tagline, rather predictably asks us to ‘Never Judge A Book By It’s Cover’, but rather choose ‘blindly’, based only on a four word description. ¬†I think it’s a really lovely idea and an innovative way to broaden your bookshelf and find some new books to love. ¬†It is, after all, blind ūüėČ

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Whether you like my covers or not, you can get my books here:

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The Cinderella Complex

 

The Cinderella Complex is defined as an unconscious desire to be taken care of by others. ¬†And let’s face it, we all have times in our lives when we feel like that, which is perfectly okay. ¬†But pinning all of your hopes on being rescued by someone or something outside of yourself won’t really get you very far in life (unless you are in fact Cinderella). ¬†For the rest of us though, we have to become our own champion and make our own dreams come true. ¬†The following article, in which I compare waiting for Mr. Right in our personal lives to waiting for Mr. Write in our professional writing career, features on Books By Women.

 

The Cinderella Complex ‚Äď Waiting For Mr. Write

March 6, 2016 | By | Reply

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Go on, admit it. We’ve all day-dreamed about being the writing world’s equivalent to Kate Moss and being spotted in an airport (although, I’m not sure how likely it is that an author would be spotted in an airport).  But let’s face it, unlike Kate Moss, most of us have to work at being discovered and believing anything else is, well, a fairy tale.

The Cinderella Complex, a term first coined by Colette Dowling in her ground-breaking book of the same name, describes women‚Äôs hidden fear of independence. However, I don‚Äôt agree that this is purely a ‚Äėwoman‚Äôs issue‚Äô. Men are equally guilty of hoping someone else will swoop in and give them their happy ending. ¬†(Ahem.) For years however, it was women who were encouraged to place all of their hopes and dreams on the arrival of Mr. Right, who would magically make all said dreams come true.

Read the full article on Books By Women here.

 

 

 

 

Pink For Girls And Blue For Boys

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Don’t get me wrong, I like pink. ¬†And I’m sure there are many men out there who like the colour blue. ¬†The problem is what these two colours have come to represent in terms of gender specific marketing, both for adults and more worryingly, children.

 

 

Buster Books, publisher of colouring books for ‚ÄėBrilliant Boys‚Äô and ‚ÄėGorgeous Girls‚Äô are the latest publishing house to succumb to pressure from the Let Books Be Books¬†campaign to switch to ‚Äėgender neutral‚Äô titles in future. ¬†As a follow on from Let Toys Be Toys, this campaign asks ‘Why can’t a story just be a story?’ ¬†Why do stories have to be aimed at a certain market, when they can just be enjoyed for what they are?

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It’s clear from these covers that boys and girls are being very limited in what they are supposed to find interesting and enjoyable.¬† Boys are brilliant, and get to colour spaceships and dinosaurs, while girls are beautiful and get to colour hearts and cupcakes. ¬†With backing from such prominent authors as Neil Gaiman, Philip Pullman and Joanne Harris, the campaign has already persuaded nine other publishers (including Ladybird) not to release any new boy/girl labelled titles.

Speaking about the campaign, author Joanne Harris commented that¬†gendered packaging of books gives ‚Äúthe false message to a new generation that boys must be clever, brave and strong, while girls should aspire to be decorative‚ÄĚ.

And the funny thing is, this gender packaging is still a relatively recent phenomenon. ¬†I remember my first bike was yellow and blue, as was my brother’s. ¬†Primary colours were more popular in the 80’s, but somewhere along the way, pink became associated with femininity and blue with masculinity. ¬†Which wouldn’t be such an issue if the colour pink wasn’t used to reinforce the negative stereotype¬†of what a girl should be. ¬†Another organisation working to change this is¬†Pinkstinks, whose tagline reads¬†‘There’s more than one way to be a girl.’

Pinkstinks confronts the damaging messages that bombard girls though toys, clothes and media. Girls’ products overwhelmingly focus on being pretty, passive and obsessed with shopping, fashion and make up Рthis promotes a dangerously narrow definition of what it means to be a girl.

It concerns me that, in this day and age, girls are still being told that their appearance matters most, while boys are still being told that they are somehow cleverer than girls. ¬†Not only that, boys face ‘gender shaming’ if they do somehow drift into the girl’s section at the toy store and vice versa. ¬†Why can’t we just let our kids be kids?

In one of the most provocative ad campaigns of 2016, Lidl addressed the whole ‘pink is for girls’ issue to launch the ‘Ladyball’. ¬†Twitter went into a frenzy over the pink #Ladyball campaign that encouraged women to ‘Play like the lady you are’.


The real motive behind the campaign was to start a debate on women in sport, cleverly using all of the typical stereotypes we hear like ‘women may find contact sports intimidating’, to really drive the point home. ¬† Highlighting the challenges that women experience in getting the same recognition as men in sport, this campaign also proves how truly limiting and derogatory these kinds of gender specific messages can be.

As a writer, I would like to think that my books will be enjoyed by both male and female readers. ¬†I think it’s important to teach our younger readers to see beyond these gender boundaries and encourage them to find out what they like for themselves, rather than being told that in order to fit in, you have to like puppies or football. ¬†However, we can see the same thing with adult books, where ‘Chick Lit’ books are packaged in sickly pink covers, essentially devaluing the content and the readers who enjoy the genre. ¬†Would a man feel comfortable reading a book with a pink cover? ¬†Or reading a female author for that matter? ¬†I would certainly hope so, but if we insist on dividing the genders at such a young age, I fear that this might not be the case.

Boys AND girls are welcome to buy my novels on Amazon – just click on the cover!