Not All Men

Why did the chicken cross the road?

Because it was dark and there was a man walking too close behind her.


Yeah, yeah I know: not all men, right? But tell me something. It’s dark, you’re nine stone wet through, couldn’t crush a grape and a 6 foot guy you’ve never met before starts walking too close behind you. What you gonna do? In fact scrap that; it doesn’t matter how big you are, or how small he is, it’s always going to be intimidating. Statistically speaking, scientifically speaking, men are almost always stronger than women. It’s not sexist to say it, it’s just the way we’re built.


Put yourself in my shoes. It was early evening on a Friday night. I was alone, on my way to meet some friends in a bar. My skirt short, makeup plentiful. I’d already had a drink, and I won’t deny it, I enjoyed the double glances I got from guys as I strode through the streets. Confidence tapping out a rhythm as my heels hit the pavement.


There’s one particularly dark corner I don’t like going past; a rougher part of the city centre, unlit. As I walked past it to the main road I pulled my bag round closer, hand on the clasp. I look around more frequently and that’s when I noticed him. He’d come up close from nowhere like a shadow. So close behind me I could sort of sense him before I even turned around to check. There was nothing other than his proximity to make him seem suspicious. He was just a guy. Probably on his way to friends in bars just like me. All the same my stomach clenched tighter, and my heart skipped a couple of beats.


So back to that question – what you gonna do? Personally, I picked up my pace, trying to make it to the main road where it’s busier and better lit. Got my phone out and texted a friend.


Does that make me a chicken? A misandrist? A man-hating feminist. Or just somewhere all too aware of the facts. I know full well that ‘not all men’ are rapists and miscreants. I know full well that it’s not fair to make assumptions and label someone before you know who they are. But when you’re in that situation, and you’ve heard the statistics, heard the first person accounts from women who’ve not been so lucky, fear does not seem so irrational. It certainly doesn’t seem prejudiced.


We’ve all been there. Walking alone at night, wishing that we weren’t. Keys between our knuckles, hands at the ready on a mini can of hairspray. My mum bought me a rape whistle for Christmas. She just wanted me to be safe. But how horrific is it, that we, as women, have to prevent ourselves from being victims. That we have to arm ourselves with rape whistles and designers are creating anti-rape pants for women to wear on nights out. Where are the whistles that a man blows if he fears he’s going to become a sexual predator? Where are the anti-rape boxer shorts?


Rather than women having to cross the other side of the road because their stomach is churning with the thought of what the men behind them might do, shouldn’t a decent guy just think what it might feel like and slow down, or cross the road themselves? And before you shout but that’s unfair! We’re not the rapists! Think about it – neither are we.

In this situation, it isn’t women you should be angry at, rather the small minority of men that give you the bad name. Rage at them. Rage about the fact that by the time a woman turns twenty she’ll have been felt up by enough guys without consent, been wolf-whistled on her way to school more times than she can count and on average 1 in 5 of the women in her life will have been victims of sexual assault. You don’t get to say ‘not all men’. You don’t get to be pissed at us. If you do then you’re part of the problem.


I can’t even begin to imagine what it must feel like for someone to look at you and only see a threat. For someone to fear you, and wonder what if…? I know it must be horrific, I know you are most likely innocent and haven’t ever hurt a fly. I know you probably feel awful when a woman crosses the street just to avoid you. But put yourself in her shoes. Stop saying ‘not all men’ because right now it doesn’t matter. Not all men are rapists but alone in the dead of night, all women are scared and that is not okay.


Young + Beautiful

Rosie. Fierce Feminist and Business Owner. 20.

How confident would you say you were?   

My self-confidence changes minute-by-minute depending on a multitude of factors. When I’m alone in my room, fresh face of perfectly applied make-up, pouting at my mirror, perfect lighting illuminating all the right points of my face, I feel fucking hot. Standing in front of a full length mirror wearing nothing but a matching set of undies, I’m a literal supermodel. Out shopping, catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror, oh my God – what’s wrong with my face? Fresh out of a bath hot enough to boil lobster, my stretch mark glowing from the heat, are they always this bright and ugly? I can’t complain though really. On the whole, my body confidence is pretty good and I’m aware of how lucky I am to own a body which doesn’t stray too far from conventional beauty standards, and to never have experienced fat-shaming. My social confidence however, is permanently rock-bottom thanks to anxiety. I can go out thinking I look smokin’, but be too scared to enter a party by myself because my social confidence won’t match my body confidence.


What is your favourite part of your body and why?

My mouth. Can’t eat without a mouth! And my favourite thing to do is eat. My lips are quite a decent thickness and they look pretty good slathered in my favourite liquid lipsticks too.

What is your least favourite part of your body? Can you say anything nice about it?

It’s a tie between my right eyebrow and my thighs, I think. Both are hang-ups probably made worse by comments I received when I was younger. I have a scar across my right eyebrow, I got it in an accident I had when I was a little girl and my eyebrow never grows right over it. My eyebrow idol is Cara Delevingne and it’s hard to achieve natural eyebrows like hers when you have a huge gap through one. When I fill them in I can achieve a pretty fleeky look though, so sometimes I’m quite proud of them, I guess. My thighs are quite jiggly and strangely out of proportion with the rest of my body, but they do work in harmony with my waist and boobs to give me that hourglass shape, so that’s kinda cool.

How has your body changed as you’ve entered your twenties?

I grew up being able to eat an entire buffet and never gain a pound. I made the mistake of not paying much attention to my comprehensive school PE teacher when she said our metabolisms will slow down and that old trick won’t work forever. My thighs are a bit bigger and my stomach sort of comes out a bit more than it used to but I can’t complain. It’s all fine really. I have an unnatural amount of stretch marks too.

When you’re getting ready to go out, what is your goal?

To be able to look in the mirror before I leave the house and know that I would defo fancy myself if I caught my own eye across the club. That doesn’t sound weird at all. Honestly, to feel confident, to look good, maybe turn the heads of a few guys and gals and to have fun! Dressing up and doing my make-up is so fun to me, I might actually prefer the preparation for going out more than the going out itself.

Would you change anything about yourself?

I feel like I’m supposed to be a good body confidence feminist and say no, I’m beautiful how I am. But that would be dishonest. Perhaps I’d leave my body how it is and change the desire to change something about myself? Silly answers aside: physically, I’d probably just want to make my body fitter and more toned, get myself one of those taut tummies and less jiggly thighs and get rid of that damn eyebrow scar. There’s more aspects of my personality I’d rather change but that’s off-topic.

Do you think how we look is important?

I think it is, but I don’t think it should be. It’s clearly important to society, or else people wouldn’t be rewarded for being beautiful and others wouldn’t suffer such horrific body shaming. It’s important to ourselves because of how important it is to society. But for the meantime, before all that changes (if it does), I think it’s important to just do whatever we can to be happy with ourselves so that we are mentally healthy as well as physically.

What is it like being a twenty something woman in 2017? 

Better than it was in the past but not great. I’m sure they’ll say the same things we say about the past in a hundred years or less after much more progress has been made. “Gosh, I can’t believe in 2017 America had a president who openly bragged about sexual assault! I can’t believe 1 in 4 women were likely to be sexually assaulted in their lifetime either, and that FGM was still a thing and trans folks were stigmatised so badly that 4 in 10 would attempt suicide!”


But looking more specifically at being a twenty-something, the good: young people are at the forefronts of progressive political movements like that which brought Jeremy Corbyn to become leader of the opposition and Bernie Sanders to almost become a presidential candidate, so we have hope and the drive to create change. We’re becoming quite aware of the sexism in our society and we’re making moves to eradicate it once and for all. The bad? That we still have to fucking do this anyway.


How do you think young people feel about their bodies? Do you believe that the media has fucked us up and distorted our vision?

I think the vast majority have some kind of body issue. Children are growing up hating their bodies and that hatred just keeps growing as their body changes and strays further from the Photoshopped images that are marketed to us as an impossible ideal. They are looking at models, actresses, musicians, whose magazine cover shoots are picked apart and put back together as the editor sees fit. When I was probably about 12, I developed a bit of an unusual obsession with the freckles in my face and dark circles under my eyes, after flicking through the pages of magazines and seeing perfectly airbrushed faces. Young, naïve me actually thought that it was actually possible to have no freckles, no dark circles, completely flawless and perfect skin, because the women in the photos did. I don’t know why it took me so long to realise those photos had been airbrushed, but I finally did after years of desperately coating my face in foundation to even out the tone. Trying homemade remedies to lighten my under eyes. Even now I apply copious amounts of light concealer to brighten that area, old habits die hard. So yes, the media has fucked up our vision so badly I didn’t even realise that I was aspiring to be a computer-generated image.

What is your dream for the future of yourself or the world in general?

For me to love myself 100%, all the time. For beauty ideals to cease existence and for the media to stop force-feeding us with fake interpretations of those ideals. This will only end when we are presented with media featuring authentic images. Images of plus-size women, women of colour, masculine women, trans women, disabled women, women with eyebrow scars and lots and lots of freckles!



Young + Beautiful

Kiran. Cake-Maker and Brainy Lady. 24.


Describe your relationship with your body.

I have a very difficult and often confusing relationship with my body. There are days when I love the figure I see in the mirror and then there are times when I avoid looking in the mirror altogether. There are days when I feel beautiful in everything I wear and days where I feel like nothing in this world fits me right. There are days when I feel confident and comfortable in my own skin and days where I want to bury myself in the ground because of how I look. There are days when I wouldn’t change a thing about myself and times when I wish I could chop and change bits of my body until I was someone else. Like I said, it is confusing. However I am wholly aware that learning to love oneself is one of the world’s hardest tasks, especially when you are living in a world which makes money from individual’s insecurities and often works hard to make sure that people do not love themselves. I am slowly and painfully learning to love myself, every curve, spot and stretch mark and also working hard to remind myself that it is okay to look as I do.

How is your body different to what conventional beauty standards expect from you?

I feel as though my body is the complete opposite of conventional beauty standards. For one I am neither tall nor slim. Nor do I have long silky blonde hair and big blue eyes. I am average-short in height, on the overweight side and have medium length frizzy dark brown hair. My eyes are brown and of different shapes and sizes (making it even harder to get even winged eyeliner). I have scars on my face where I used to pop whatever pimples I used to get, I also have an uneven skin tone. All of this is far from the flawless complexion the world expects of me. I don’t have long skinny legs and neither are they perfectly shaved at all times, in fact they are stumpy, hardly ever shaved and also have ingrown hair. I don’t have a flat tummy (I have three rolls of fat actually) or perfectly long manicured nails (the last time I got a manicure was for my wedding over a year ago).

How do you feel about these differences?

I get frustrated and angry at these differences at times, especially if I am having one of those days where I hate myself. Having said that I also have the clarity to realise that I will never be able to fit into the conventional beauty standards because it is physically impossible for me and that is okay. I am a real working woman. My height is dependent on my genes along with the rest of my physique, therefore my hair, my length, the colour of my eyes even my weight to some degree is dependent on something which cannot be altered. I used to work in a locked rehabilitation centre which required that I had short nails and no polish. I am now a mother, therefore I do not have the time or the luxury to do my nails as I am constantly having to wash bottles and change nappies. My lifestyle along with my genes makes it virtually impossible to rise to the conventional beauty standards. I feel this is true for most, if not all, women, therefore it seems ridiculous to me that we even have a standard of beauty let alone one which seems so impossible to attain to most.

Do you feel the media has distorted our vision?

I feel the media has definitely distorted our vision. It has screwed up the way we view ourselves and others as well as distorting what our goals and priorities in life should be. I have seen young impressionable teenage girls more concerned about their looks and how many likes their selfies get on Facebook and Instagram instead of having goals and ambitions of what they want to achieve with their lives. This is such a tragedy to me.

Even for myself, while pregnant and even after I gave birth I have been concerned about my weight gain and how I will lose the baby weight, now three months postpartum it is still a concern to me. I often have to be reminded by those close to me that I should not worry about my weight as I am a nursing mother and to focus on my baby and that there is no rush to try to be slim. That I need to focus on being healthy. I feel as though the media has put so much pressure on us women that even after having given birth we cannot relax and give ourselves time to heal, we have to get back to trying to look good for the approval of others. This is especially true for women in the spotlight where every single thing they do, every single thing they wear and the way they look is scrutinised by the world. Such a shame.


What is your dream for the future

My dream for the future is that people will stop being judgemental of others, especially on the basis of their appearance. I want people to be able to live their lives loving themselves and not comparing themselves to others and other people’s opinions on what beauty should look like. I want the world to embrace everyone’s individuality and to focus on being healthy and kind and loving each other. God knows that is what the world needs the most right now. Frankly it shocks me that it is 2017 and that this is still considered a dream and is not already the way the world is.

Shrinking Violets


‘The idea of shrinking is hereditary’ – Rupi Kaur.

For me it’s exactly that. Shrinking myself is a behaviour I learned from my mother. From growing up watching her front room workouts, and I’ll-start-on-Monday diets. It’s a behaviour I learned from the magazines left lying around the house, that I’d cut up to collage and instead admire the stick thin limbs of catwalk models. It’s a language I learned from the soaps I was brought up on. The adults I was brought up by. The books I read too young. Somehow, calorie counting was a rite of passage. It meant I was a grown up.

So Kaur’s poem hit me hard. Hit me because I, like countless other young women, wasted so many of my teenage years trying to shrink myself. Trying to avoid taking up space because I didn’t think I had a right to it. Trying to, ultimately, disappear. I tried to become invisible by starving myself, by standing up on a bus even when there were seats left to take. By staying silent in lessons, and truanting from school.

Asking whether the patriarchy was at the root of my teenage anxieties, or whether my anxiety simply manifested itself in a gendered way is like asking what came first, the chicken or the egg. It was an ecosystem of self-hatred and I was the feast; utterly consumed.


There are a thousand articles that start with the same story. It’s curious that even now we know just how damaging the desire to be thinner is, the message still pervades. We are still told day after day, advert after advert that we need to shrink ourselves. That we need to be less.

To keep all the money and all the power in one male-dominated place, the patriarchy needs us small and silent. So it sells us images of bone thin girls and it sells us the idea that if we try this one thing, buy this one product, we’ll be that much closer to good enough. And we fall for it. Of course we do. They throw millions at this shit. It’s even leaked into the medical profession. Not-thin has become tantamount to being sick. Doctors tell us we’re overweight, even though we exercise our arses off and are toned to high heaven. A nurse sneers at my size 8 sister and tells her to cut back. How can we argue with this? How many women would have gone home from either of these appointments and cried? I know I would have. My confidence knocked with one fell swoop.

Let’s face it, it’s genius. What a way to keep the status quo. What a way to weaken the opposition. Because, how can we fight back if we’re running on empty? How can we function in the workplace if we’re seeing stars from lack of food. How can we speak out about what’s right and wrong, if secretly we hate every last ounce of flesh we’re standing in? How can we unite and fight if we’re racked with jealousy and secretly we’re tearing ourselves apart?

My weakness lately is when I hear other people talking about their diets. It’s all very well throwing out the scales, and ordering in the pizza but when I hear other people saying how much they’ve lost this week, I miss that thrill. I feel guilty for being bone idle and even more, I feel out of the loop. That world used to be mine. But of course, I’m mentally healthier on the outside looking in.

It’s a hard one, and I’m no more enlightened than the rest of us. I’ve relearned a language. Forged a new lens to look at my body through. I don’t weigh myself anymore because it becomes an obsession. I don’t diet any more because it becomes a competition. But I still look at my body from time to time and wish it was better. It’s hard to break the habit of a lifetime. One thing is different though, even if I do slip, I know now I have a right to unapologetically take up space. I know I have a right to put my opinions out in the world, and not feel guilty about it. And I know I need to do more of it; we all do.

We need to stop shrinking, unfurl our wings and broaden our horizons. Outspread the manspreaders. Get on your soap box. Be like my sister who only calorie counts to see what new levels of greed she can achieve in one day. Be loud, be big, be bold, and don’t be afraid to inhabit your space. It belongs to you. Your presence isn’t an inconvenience, it’s a blessing. Own it.

The poem in the photograph is from Rupi Kaur’s Milk and Honey. 

Young + Beautiful


Gold teeth, grey goose, trippin’ in the bathroom? Bloodstains, ballgowns, trashin’ the hotel room? It’s the life Skins sold to us as teens and the life Lorde shot down. What’s it really like being fresh-faced and fancy free? Here’s another look at the life of a 21st Century 20-something navigating all the obstacles that come with having a female body.

Becca. Peace Policer and Student. 21.

How confident would you say you were?

I suppose it depends in what way, I don’t have body confidence in the sense that I’m happy with how my body looks or comfortable with it. However, I am proud of my body for what it has been through and how it’s coped with it and I’m confident it’ll carry on coping and handling whatever is thrown its way.

When you look in the mirror what do you see?

An awful lot of fat and wobbly bits that I wish weren’t there, along with some not so nice stretch marks. Although I also see a rather nice pair of boobs too.

What do you say to yourself?

If I’m feeling pretty for some reason (sometimes I’m wearing makeup, sometimes my skin’s just having a great day) I think damn why can’t I look like this more often and then will be vain and admire myself and probably take some selfies. If I don’t feel pretty, I usually just pull at all the awful bits that I don’t like and feel sorry for myself.

What is your favourite part of your body and why?

Probably my boobs. I think they’re a good size and just look pretty nice for a pair of boobs.

What is your least favourite part of your body? Can you say anything nice about it?

Probably my belly. This is the hardest question so far, the only thing I can think of that’s good about it is the fact the fat keeps me warm and protects what’s inside my body.

How is your body different to what conventional beauty standards expect from you?
Well I’m not tall or slim, I’m the opposite. I am short and fat. My skin is textured, red and spotty.

How do you feel about these differences? Is there a story behind them?
In terms of my height I really don’t mind, I couldn’t care how tall or small I am compared to others. Sometimes it’s a good excuse to not help get things down from high spaces or clean somewhere up high. My weight I’m not so happy about but I suppose it tells a story about how I’ve felt over the years. If you look back on pictures usually when I am a bigger weight I’m not happy with my life and so I comfort eat.

How has your body changed as you’ve entered your twenties?
Dark circles under my eyes! Which makes no sense since I sleep faaaar too much and I thought you got them from not sleeping enough. However, that might be complete bullshit and I just didn’t know.

When you’re getting ready to go out, what is your goal?

To feel comfortable and happy with how I look. It depends on my mood, sometimes I love getting dressed up and playing around with makeup and other times I’m not in the mood for all that and will throw on a pair of jeans and a comfy top and I’m ready to go.

When do you feel good about yourself?

If I eat something healthy! It makes me feel so much better, so I don’t know why I don’t do it more. Also if I accomplish something, so when I got a first in an assessment that made me feel pretty darn good

Would you change anything about yourself?

The way I treat my body. I might indulge my skin in pamper sessions but I really need to learn to look after and love my body better.

Do you feel happy with yourself?
In some ways, I’m happy with how hard I’ve worked and where it’s hopefully going to lead me in life. But I’m not happy with my body, some aspects of my personality and my fight with mental illness.

Do you think how we look is important?

Unfortunately, it impacts someone’s first opinion of you and can decide whether someone wants to talk to you or not. It’s absolutely ridiculous but our society is bloody ridiculous at times.

What is it like being a twenty something woman in 2017? 

Stressful. So much about our society is still stuck in the old ways, the pay gap for example which I still can’t believe is a thing! Being judged on what you wear and other people thinking it’s okay to stare or even try to touch you. Although I am fully aware that I am also very privileged and lucky. I am able to access an education, work, vote, wear what I want and choose not to have children or get married without people looking down on me. Even though we’ve still got a long way to go as a society, we have also come a long way too.

How do you think young people feel about their bodies? Do you believe that the media has fucked us up and distorted our vision?

I think the majority probably don’t like their bodies. The era of photoshop and technology has royally fucked up young people. It’s all about thigh gaps and big pouty lips. When you see all the touched up photo’s of celebrities and models it makes you feel like crap and you start to wonder why your body doesn’t look like that. This is causing so many young people to have eating disorders, body dysmorphia and other mental illnesses, yet the majority of the media couldn’t care less along as they’re making money and headlines.

What is your dream for the future of yourself or the world in general?

I hope I’m better in terms of mental health. I’d rather be healthy mentally than be slim. I do also hope that I can look after my body better and become healthier and not for appearance reasons but for my own physical and mental health.

I hope the world learns to be equal and that we’re all just human beings no matter where we were born, our skin colour, or religion, our gender and our sexual preferences. We’re all just people.


Photo credit – Sophie Turner


Do We Not Bleed?



Do we not bleed? Shylock asked. Of course Shylock was talking about the fact that, if pricked with a needle or a sword, Jews bleed just as Christians do. I, on the other hand, am talking about women.


Do we not bleed? Anyone would think not, considering the lengths we go to to hide our flows. Women take their whole bags to the bathroom just so we don’t have to suffer the shame of carrying a sole tampon. We wait until someone flushes the chain before we remove a sanitary towel, wincing at the ‘rip of shame’. We wear clothes with a different cut and check our VPLs in the mirror. Young girls whisper they’ve started to their mothers with blushes. They’re consequently filled with embarrassment when said mothers see fit to announce their daughter’s coming-of-age to female friends and family. And to top it off as a gender we’ve come up with an absolute smorgasbord of glorious euphemisms for being, to put it bluntly, on the rag.


As an over-sharer, and someone with a very poor excuse of a pain threshold, I’ll gladly complain to passing strangers about my cramps. Any such public announcement would also go towards explaining why I might have tripped over five times, knocked over anything and everything that wasn’t screwed down, then walked into a door. Yep, the curse, as it was once so aptly dubbed, not only sets of my pain receptors but also messes with my balance (and I’m clumsy at the best of times).  But blurting out you’re on the blob just isn’t the done thing. Aside from the fact that that particular expression we all used at school is just a little bit gross, I can’t understand why.

Around about 50% of our population menstruates, has menstruated in the past, or will at some point menstruate. According to one article women will probably bleed around  2,250 to 3,000-plus days in their lifetimes. So why the cloak and dagger? There are still so many issues surrounding menstruation and this Victorian-esque prudishness prevents us from speaking out about them.  Leviticus actually says if you touch a woman on her period you are unclean and then lists a whole load of reasons why women and their menses are dirty af. In Western Nepal, menstruating women are still ‘banished to sheds’ and deemed ‘highly infections’ and ‘cursed’. Not that long ago, it was reported that almost 25% of girls in India leave school when they reach puberty as they have no toilet in school. Homeless women don’t have access to proper sanitary care; these items are rarely donated to food banks and because of the so-called tampon tax they are highly expensive. These issues affect women’s lives massively, but they’re rarely ever spoken about.


Recently, women have been attempting to break these taboos and speak out about the problems surrounding menstruation. Laura Coryton has protested the tampon tax. Rightly so. The fact that some people think the choice to not bleed all over your clothes is a luxury (one guy even said women on their periods should ‘just hold their bladders’) is  beyond me. Kiran Ghandi highlighted just how uncomfortable we are when it comes to code red when she ran the London Marathon whilst freebleeding in 2015. People were outraged, but her act still went a long way to getting people talking about their periods. Rupi Kaur attempted to remove taboos with her menstruation-inspired instagram photograph, which was removed twice because it was apparently too ‘provocative’.  And last year Chinese Olympic Swimmer Fu Yuanhui made waves when she explained she hadn’t done as well as she’d liked because she’d started her period the day before. We all subsequently fell in love with her.

These women have all gone some way towards breaking the silence but, at the end of the day, it’s 2017. Why should it be shocking or brave for a woman to talk about her period? Why should we be ashamed of what it is that makes us women? Something that ties us to the earth and the moon and the tides in a way that men never will be. I’m proud of how much we put up with. The stomach cramps, the backaches, the shaking legs, the heart palpitations, hot flushes, nausea, mood swings, spontaneous crying, sheer exhaustion and every other ridiculous symptom that comes part and parcel with being on the proverbial rag. Women are bloody tough and on the whole we suffer in silence.


We should embrace our periods in all their horror. We should throw parties for the next generation to celebrate their first flows. We should write songs about surfing the crimson tide.  Above all, we should make like these wonderful women, and start complaining about how bloody annoying our periods are – not just for us, but for women all across the world whose periods leave them at risk, shunned, and lacking the opportunities their male peers have. Until periods stop being taboo, women will still have to face these issues that could so easily be avoided.



Chick Lit #2


Following on from last week, here are a few more of my favourite brain-friendly wonderful-women laden books. Add them to your reading lists or gift them to the feminists in your lives and above all enjoy them!  

  1. Wild Nights – Kim Addonizio

Kim just knows what it is to be a woman. She’s living it and her poetry is full of that rawness. It’s gritty, it’s clever, thought-provoking and more importantly, it’s incredibly beautiful, linguistically. Her words make me burst at the seams with their stunningness, their rebelliousness and how much of my own female experience I recognise in them. I’m so in love with the line, ‘‘watching this slut of a river smear kisses all over/ east Manhattan, letting ferries slide under her dress’ from ‘Invisible Signals’. Addonizio is an absolute winner. Some of my other personal favourites from this collection are ‘Scrapbook’, ‘Muse’ and the overwhelmingly wonderful ‘What do women want?’.

  1. The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins

Everyone knows the toughest women wield crossbows, Merida, Hanna, Susan Pevensie and, above all, Katniss Everdeen. Katniss spends her time in both the YA books and films kicking ass. In a complete turnaround, it is her who is the resilient, skilled hunter and fighter, whereas Peeta, her romantic interest, is the more emotional, artistic peace-oriented character. But it’s not just her skills with a bow and arrow that make Katniss strong, but also certain elements of her femininity; first and foremost the sisterhood and maternal protection she provides for both Prim and Rue. The Hunger Games is also great in that it doesn’t fall into the trap of creating just one perfect female character. Instead it boasts a whole array of women, whose power and strength manifest in different ways.

  1. The Roaring Girl – Thomas Dekker and Thomas Middleton

I wouldn’t normally recommend Jacobean plays plucked off reading lists from my university days, but this one is an absolute hidden gem. The main character, Moll Cutpurse is a cross dressing, sword-wielding, canting, pickpocket who refuses to fit inside the box Jacobean England has carved out from her. Moll is apparently based on real life roaring girl Mary Frith who would definitely be on my dream dinner guest list. In one of my favourite lines Moll admits that she likes to lie ‘o’both sides o’th’bed myself’ and then fabulously adds ‘a wife you know ought to be obedient, but I fear me I am too headstrong to obey.’.

  1. Girl Meets Boy – Ali Smith

Oh, Ali Smith. She is one of those rare gems whose writing is clever, acclaimed and at the same time an absolute page-turner. I drink Smith’s books like they’re a large glass of red. All at once, with pure pleasure. Smith’s take on the traditional ‘girl meets boy’ narrative is thoroughly modern with mass corporations, lesbian love and a spate of important feminist messages that get spray painted around town.

  1.  I am Malala – Malala Yousafzai

This weeks list has been full of a lot of strong, fictional ladies, but Malala is important in the fact that she a real life superwoman. Aged just fifteen years old Malala was shot at point blank range by the Taliban, simply because she was an advocate for women’s education in her . Despite almost dying, to this date Malala still fights for women’s education, she made a speech at the UN aged just 16 and remains the youngest winner of a Nobel Peace Prize. I Am Malala details her history, her fight for women and girls to be educated in her home country, Pakistan, and her almost miraculous recovery. Malala is still only nineteen years old, yet she has achieved more than most, and never given up. Her words should inspire us all.