Notes on make-up

Notes on make-up

Is make-up feminist? No. Is make-up anti-feminist? No. Can you be a feminist if you wear make-up? Yes. Can you be a feminist if you don’t wear make-up? Yes. One thing does not negate the other. There are plenty of make-up loving feminists, myself included.

This blog started out as a beauty blog and evolved as my relationship with make-up changed because, well, it’s complicated. For me, the act of applying make-up is as much fun as going out in said make-up. It’s an enjoyable process, despite my inability to blend a decent smoky eye. It was never something I wanted to become a chore. Yet, for a while, it did. I went from wearing it when I wanted, to feeling like I couldn’t leave the house bare-faced. Why? Because that’s what women do, we put on our faces in order to face the world.

Sometimes this is an act of self-care, sometimes it’s what helps you through caring for a loved one with an illness, but sometimes it feeds into a pressure to conform. It was the latter for me, which annoyed me no end because I couldn’t work out when the shift happened. When did it become another stick to hold over women’s heads in an effort to control what’s seen as “acceptable beauty”?

Eh, it was always this way. Of course it was and I knew that. Would not wearing make-up make that any less true? No. But the world wasn’t going to end if I was wearing it, was it? Nope. Overthinking, on my part, much? Probably, but here we are. I told you my relationship with make-up was complicated.

So, yes, I am a feminist with a weakness for red lipstick. Has living in a society that is centred on patriarchal beauty standards played a part in that? Of course it has and owning that is important. But sometimes red lipstick is just red lipstick.

Notes on female body hair

A post shared by Priyanka Paul (@artwhoring) on

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 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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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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#RepealThe8th – what you can do to help

I’ve written about abortion before, some of those blog posts were me trying to work out where I stood on the issue. To an extent I could understand where both sides were coming from, but the more I learned about the consequences of the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution the more actively pro-choice I became. I’m a card carrying member of the Abortion Rights Campaign and founding member and chair of Kerry for Choice.

If you care about repealing the Eighth Amendment here are some ways you can get more involved with the campaign. There is still work to do before we see a referendum, but that work has already started. Be part of it.

#RepealThe8th - what you can do to help
Mural by Maser on the Project Arts Centre in Temple Bar, Dublin

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Denied an abortion: The questions that need answering

On Friday news broke that a suicidal woman delivered a baby by Caesarean section in her second trimester. She had been refused an abortion. It was reported that the panel of experts “determined the life of the mother and the child was not at risk from suicide”, but given the advanced nature of the pregnancy a decision was made to deliver the baby.

This case, which is believed to be one of the first under the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act, 2013, immediately led to questions being asked. If the panel had deemed the woman’s life to be at risk from suicide and given the advanced stage of the pregnancy it is likely a Caesarean section would have been the only possible outcome given the Eighth Amendment to the Irish Constitution. But if the panel decided there was no risk from suicide why was the Caesarean section carried out?

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Savita Halappanavar: Miscarriage, abortion and the questions that still remain

When the news of Savita Halappanavar’s death broke on 14th November 2012, I immediately had questions. I wanted to know how and why this young woman died. We all did.

The answers, according to the findings from the on-going inquest, paint a picture of failure after failure. Letting the Halappanavar’s down and Savita ultimately paying for it with her life. These failures were both human and systemic. There was an unnecessary delay in reviewing all the information and test results, which meant they couldn’t possibly treat Savita correctly. Unfortunately, she never stood a chance.

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Savita Halappanavar – sadness, anger, fear and confusion

Needing to attend a hospital because you are in pain is a worrying time. Being pregnant, no doubt, makes it all the scarier as it’s not just your own life you are concerned for.

Being told that you are having a miscarriage is heart breaking beyond belief. Being left, for three days, in pain with a fully dilated cervix and leaking amniotic fluid is nothing short of barbaric.

That this happened to Savita Halappanavar and she died of septicaemia makes my blood run cold.

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