Notes on female body hair

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Women have body hair. We all know this. Yet we live in a world that pretends it’s not a thing, while simultaneously aggressively marketing hair removal products to women. Products which more often than not come in pink packaging and cost more than the equivalent product aimed at men. You know that patriarchy thing I keep going on about? Well, this is another manifestation of it.

There are women who enjoy the process of body hair removal, which is great. There are women who enjoy letting their body hair do its own thing, which is great. A lot of women like having hair free armpits, legs and bikini line, but aren’t massive fans of the accumulative time they spend in a lifetime on waxing, shaving, threading etc. Many women shave their legs only when they know they’ll be on show and relish winter because it means opaque tights. Many women don’t have a problem with their own body hair, but do have an issue with how society views them whatever they choose to do.

What a woman does with her body hair is her decision. No one else’s. And if the sight of a woman with unshaven arms or legs offends you, the problem is most definitely with you and not the other person.

Notes on walking home alone

Notes on walking home alone
Designed by Roseanne Hansen

My most recent trip to Dublin reminded me how much I dislike walking alone when it’s dark. A friend walked me to the bus stop and went on her way. I missed the bus and there was a 25 minute wait for the next one. There were a few people so I felt OK waiting. After a few minutes I realised I was on edge. Every noise made me jumpy, especially when those noises came from groups of men who were passing by.

I was texting Paul and thought about phoning him, but didn’t want to take my phone fully out of my pocket. I was too on edge to feel comfortable standing around much longer, so I got a taxi. Of course I had to phone my friend and let her know my way of getting home had changed. We chatted until I was home safely.

Was I more aware of it because I’ve been away from Dublin so long? Was my discomfort stronger because I no longer drink alcohol and as a result pay more attention when the people around me are drunk? That’s not to say I feel inherently safer living in the country, because I don’t, but the geography of the place means I always have a lift waiting for me.

I think most women know the feeling I’m talking about. We slow down or speed up depending on who is walking behind us. We spend our time crossing and re-crossing the road to avoid men or stay in places lit by street lights. We change our routes. We have something on hand that can be used a weapon if we need it. We take note of which taxi our friends get into. We arrange to let each other know that we got home safely. Waiting for that text from someone can feel like an eternity.

These things are so ingrained in us that sometimes we don’t even think about them, we just do them. They are second nature to us. This. This, right here, is what I mean when I talk about rape culture. It’s exhausting to feel like this. Yet we do what we have to.

The most depressing thing is that so many women feel like this and I don’t see that changing any time soon.

Notes on smashing the patriarchy

Notes on smashing the patriarchy

Here’s the thing about the patriarchy, it’s insidious and it’s everywhere. What starts small becomes a big deal; take Trump being elected as an example.

No one is immune from it. We all have the ability to be sexist, misogynistic and perpetuate rape culture. Most of us choose not to be because we know nothing good comes from it. A lot of us are working to ensure others fully understand the dangers inherent in the patriarchy. Some of us are also dealing with our own internalised misogyny, something that takes time and work to fully unpack, learn from and let go. It’s not always easy, but we do it because to do nothing is to allow the status quo to continue unchecked. And that is not an option.

Notes on comfort food

Notes on comfort food

If there is pasta in house I’ll never go hungry. Carbonara is a particular favourite. It’s not a particularly authentic version, so I’m sure Italian people would roll their eyes if you put it in front of them, but I love it. When I was diagnosed with coeliac disease, the thought of not being able to eat pasta freaked me out more than the lack of bread. So began my search for good gluten-free pasta. Of course good in gluten-free terms is always second best to the gluten filled version of anything, but there had to be an edible alternative out there somewhere. Trial and error ensued. Pasta made with rice is OK. Pasta made with corn is better. Pasta made with a mix of rice and corn is only so so. Pasta made with corn, potato and lupin is the best. And so my love affair with pasta continues.

Notes on coffee

Notes on coffee

Here’s the thing about coffee, l love it but my body doesn’t. A few years ago coffee was the only thing that kept me going during a particularly long bout of insomnia. Eventually my body screamed STOP. Vicious migraine after vicious migraine resulted in me giving it up all together. I dabbled with decaf, but for obvious reasons it wasn’t the same. Yet we live in a world of “but first, coffee” and I never really stopped craving the stuff. I’ll never be a daily caffeine drinker again. But nothing beats people watching, over a cup of coffee, a couple of times a week.

Notes on writing

Notes on writing

TIPS FOR WRITING

Have an idea. Compose paragraphs in your head. Jot down some notes. Come up with a title. Scribble some more notes. Sit down at laptop. Open Word document. Stare at the blank page. Consult notes. Struggle to read your handwriting. Vow to makes notes on your phone in future. Stare at the blank page. Check emails. Re-read notes. Figure out what the title is. Jackpot. Type the title onto blank page. Save document, just in case. Stare at the page. Design a really basic title graphic. Check Facebook. Stare at the page. Check Instagram. Stare at the page. Decide music is needed. Open Spotify; decide which playlist to listen to. Stare at the page. Open new document. Write a book review. Check Instagram. Decide silence is needed. Turn off playlist. Stare at the page. Admit defeat. Stand up. Grab the lead and take the dog for a walk. Breathe in the spring air. Breathe. Just breathe. Know that you can try again tomorrow. The words will eventually come. They have to.

Notes on rape culture

Notes on rape culture
Created by Ranger Cervix & Kate Seewald of ActionAid / Safe Cities for Women

Recently an Irish politician said he had never heard a rape joke. The premise of his tweet was that rape culture doesn’t exist; the only evidence he produced was that he made it to his 50s without ever experiencing it.

Many questioned whether he had, in fact, never heard a rape joke. Some pointed out that he probably had, in the form of “backs against the wall” or “dropping the soap in prison” jokes, but he didn’t see them as rape jokes. Guess what? They are.

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5 questions with Lisa Gardner

Right Behind You by Lisa Gardner. No affiliate links included. You can read my full disclosure policy here.

I love discovering new authors. I especially love when those authors have large back catalogues. Lisa Gardner is one of those authors. When I read and enjoyed Find Her early last year, I knew I’d search out the other books.

To mark the publication of her latest novel, Right Behind YouLisa Gardner took some time to answer my questions.

Right Behind You by Lisa Gardner

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Burned and Broken by Mark Hardie | Book Review

Burned and Broken by Mark Hardie. Advance Reader Copy (ARC) from the publisher, Sphere, included. No affiliate links used. You can read my full disclosure policy here.

Burned and Broken by Mark Hardie

When the remains of a policeman are found in a burnt out car DS Pearson and DC Russell know they will be under extra scrutiny as they try to solve the case. The powers that be will want answers that don’t damage the reputation of the police force.

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Notes on being pro-choice

Notes on being pro-choice

I haven’t always been pro-choice. For years I didn’t really consider the issue of abortion at all, but if asked I would say I was more pro-life than pro-choice. Yet, I struggled to explain what I meant when pressed further. I could understand where both sides were coming from, which in many ways can be a good thing. When it comes to the issue of abortion though, it can leave you feeling adrift.

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