Tag: feminism

#100DaysofNormal YA Blogger series with The Mile Long Bookshelf

Today sees the start of our #100DaysofNormal YA Blogger series and we are SUPER excited about it. We’ve talked to some brilliant YA book bloggers and asked them 5 BIG questions inspired by some of the themes in Am I Normal Yet?

Today we hear from the very lovely Amber who runs the Mile Long Bookshelf blog and vlog:

What is ‘normal’?
I’ve always thought ‘normal’ to be a lie. Everyone is different, and it’s not like we’re given a manual at birth on how to be normal. No, we’re left to be our own person and to develop our own tastes. Everyone is so different that I don’t think ‘normal’ can even exist.

What message did you take away from Am I Normal Yet?
So many! This book really is a goldmine. I think the main message I took away from the book is that the more open we are about things seen as ‘taboo’, the better. It’s okay to talk about your problems, whether the problem is that you’re seriously falling behind at school or you’re struggling with your mental health. Anyone who mocks you for it isn’t really your friend. And it’s okay to be open about feminism. If you’re given the opportunity to dent a stigma, throw massive rocks at it until the stigma has become a heap of junk on the floor.

What does feminism mean to you?
Equality for all genders, always.

What other YA novels about mental health would you recommend?
Am I Normal Yet? is the best book I’ve read about mental health. The next one on my list is Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella. It’s about a fourteen-year-old girl who has social anxiety, like me, and whilst it gives a really good glimpse into that life and how it’s dealt with, it’s also really funny – much like this book!

And finally, what’s your go-to cheesy snack?
Pizza dotted with juicy tomatoes and dripping with cheese. Is that a snack or a meal? Pizza is life, that’s what it is. (I also like cheesy Doritos.)

Thanks SO much for taking part in our #100DayofNormal blogger series, Amber!

Make sure you head over to Amber’s blog, The Mile Long Bookshelf for fantastic features and reviews. We especially love her ‘How I Deal with Anxiety and Panic Attacks’ post (which we featured for #100DaysofNormal earlier this week!).

The #100DaysofNormal Blogger series will be back on Saturday 15th August when we’ll hear from the brilliant Jo at Once Upon a Bookcase. Don’t miss it!

My top 5 Feminist Non-Fiction books

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One of my favourite things about writing the Normal trilogy is that I’ve been on my own feminist learning journey through writing the books. Here are my favourite books I’ve come across while doing my research.

1) How To Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran

This half autobiography, half feminist manifesto literally changed my life. It was like my gateway drug into feminism.

What’s good about it?
It’s. Just. So. FUNNY. And yet inspiring! Caitlin just perfectly captures all the hang-on-this-is-wiggy moments you experience as a woman and makes you laugh at them…and then makes you want to get involved with some serious activism to change them.

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What’s not so great?
If you aren’t a fan of caps lock, this book ain’t for you. AND WHY AREN’T YOU A FAN OF CAPS LOCK?

My favourite quote?
“Without feminism, you wouldn’t be allowed to have a debate on women’s place in society. You’d be too busy giving birth on the kitchen floor – biting down on a wooden spoon, so as not to disturb the men’s card game – before going back to quick-liming the dunny.”

2) Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit

This collection of feminist essays will make you angry, very angry. But in a good way. A way that makes you want to turn all this new-found anger into ACTION.

What’s good about it?
Rebecca invented the genius term – “mansplaining”* and this is the focal point of this collection of essays. I know, for me, mansplaining happens ALL THE TIME (yes, you, Mr Osteopath, who said you’ve “never read Harper Lee” but then proceeded to explain her legal issues to me, even though I’M AN AUTHOR AND I COLLECT HER BOOKS AND YOU KNOW THIS). It’s also beautifully written.

What’s not so good?
With any collection of essays, some are stronger than others. But this book is worth its price for the essay The Longest War alone – a staggeringly scary look at violence against women.

My favourite quote?
“To spin the web and not be caught in it, to create the world, to create your own life, to rule your fate, to name the grandmothers as well as the fathers, to draw nets and not straight lines, to be a maker as well as a cleaner, to be able to sing and not be silenced, to take down the veil and appear: all these are the banners on the laundry line I hang out.

3) Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates

This book, based on the game-changing blog of the same name, shoots dead any argument that feminism is no longer needed. A collection of the ridiculous/heart-breaking/head-bashing NONSENSE of the everyday sexism girls and women face, every day.

What’s good about it?
Laura’s writing style is so very readable, and she weaves together all the Everyday Sexism stories beautifully. She also takes time to address intersectional feminism and double-discrimination (though some may argue shoving these into their own chapter isn’t ideal).

What’s wrong with it?
Though it does a stellar job highlighting sexism, there isn’t a huge amount of practical advice in there on how to KILL IT DEAD FOR EVER.

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My favourite quote?
“Women everywhere have had enough. We’ve reached our tipping point and we’re not afraid to say it. We’re not afraid to be dismissed or belittled, or laughed at any more, because there are too many of us…We can’t be silenced when we’re all saying the same thing.”

4) The Female Eunuch by Germaine Greer

An oldie but a goodie. When this book came out in 1970, it was HUGE and ignited many a feminist flame in women across the globe. Fifty years later, a lot of it still stands up. It totally dismantles ideas of marriage, relationships, and how a woman “should” lead her life.

What’s good about it?
This is another book that changed my life. I have never felt more empowered than I did reading this – especially as I’m at the age where everyone around me is getting married. Germaine’s writing is so cutting and yet so funny.

What’s not so good?
It’s very academic, and I had to read it in lots of little bursts with breaks. Some of the language used in it was okay in the 70s, but certainly isn’t okay now. And Greer’s understanding of queer and trans issues is totally, totally wrong.

My favourite quote?
“Loneliness is never more cruel than when it is felt in close propinquity with someone who has ceased to communicate. Many a housewife staring at the back of her husband’s newspaper, or listening to his breathing in bed is lonelier than any spinster in a rented room.”

5) We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Based on her incredible TEDx talk, this manifesto is incredibly short and yet incredibly powerful. It’s a bit like doing a shot of hardcore feminism…in a good way.

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What’s good about it?
Chimamanda manages to shout down every stupid argument against feminism with wit and warmth, in less than 80 pages.

What’s not so good?
I could have happily read something three times as long.

My favourite quote?
“Culture does not make people. People make culture. If it is true that the full humanity of women is not our culture, then we can and must make it our culture.”

* “Mansplaining” is when someone (usually a man to a woman) explains something to someone else in a patronizing or condescending way. (Often when the person listening knows more than the person explaining…)

Hooray for The Observer!

We were chuffed to see a review of Am I Normal Yet? in this Sunday’s The Observer! Here’s Holly in all her Observer glory:

“This is not a novel about a condition: Evie’s condition is that of being a contemporary young woman, and through her guerrilla feminist group with new soulmates Lottie and Amber (who will each get a novel to themselves shortly) she learns new pathways through life that all her peers can follow.”
– Geraldine Brennan for The Observer on Am I Normal Yet?

Read the review in full on The Guardian website.

Early reader reviews!

As publication draws ever closer, we’re so excited to share the latest reviews of Am I Normal Yet?.

Our friends at LoveReading4Kids have a panel of amazing YA reviewers who read and review the latest and best books out there. We sent them early copies of Am I Normal Yet? and here’s what they thought:

‘I really enjoy the tone
and voice of the book. It is able to talk about the serious topic of OCD
while still being humorous. It is a perfect mix of informative and
amusing.’
– Charlotte, age 14

‘Teens are extremely lucky to have
this book available to them and I hope it reaches the widest possible
audience. An essential and vital book for teens today.
’ – Jade

‘This was a great book
which had a gripping storyline as well as featuring important themes
such as feminism. It was very interesting and included relatable
characters.’
– Chloe, age 15

‘It was a real heart
wrenching book and I recommend every single teenage girl and boy read
it. I couldn’t put it down, a truly  inspiring book. A massive 5
stars.’
– Rose, age 16  

‘One of the most real and
honest accounts of teenage life in a fiction book I have ever read. It
was interesting, exciting, sad, and to top it all off it really made me
think.’
– Lauren, age 15  

‘It was a real eye opener,
especially when paired with the issues of feminism and how it is
perceived. A definite recommendation for all of those wishing to read
between the lines.’
– Delilah 

Thank you to all of you!

My Top 5 Feminism Websites

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You’d be forgiven for thinking the internet is just a massive steaming turd of patriarchy, where any girl on it with an opinion is told she’s ugly and deserves to get sexually assaulted …
… While that is true to some degree – the interweb is also hosting all sorts of incredible grassroots feminism movements. From the campaign to get women on our banknotes, to the EveryDay Sexism project, there’s a whole lot of very good feminism happening online. Here are my favourite websites to surf when The Man (literally) is getting me down.

1) The Vagenda

The two girls who started this blog – Holly Baxter and Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett – literally have no fear. And they’re so much the more hysterically funny for it. The Vagenda started out by taking the piss out of the ridiculous expectations shoved upon us from women’s mags, and has grown from there. They are not afraid to call SEXIST BULLSH*T the moment something…umm…sexist and bullsh*tty…crops up. Their most recent wins were encouraging girls to deface those gruesome Are You Beach Body Ready? adverts, and making the #DistractinglySexy hashtag trend in response to a sexist comment about women in Science.
The fact that I ever-so-occasionally write for them is, does, of course, have nothing to do with why I love it so.  

Best article: Why being a Cosmo-girl seems just really bloody knackering

2) Hollaback

Ever been cat-called or sexually-harassed while out walking and come away from it feeling:
A) Angry?
b) scared?
c) Confused?
d) Ashamed of what you were wearing?
e) Angry at yourself for not saying anything?
f) Alone…?
g) All of the above?

Then Hollaback is the online hug you’ve been looking for!
Women can mark where they were harassed on a map and then share their story of what happened to them. Other women can then click a button to let you know they ‘have your back’. You instantly feel less isolated, and the website is also an incredible piece of ongoing research into how out-of-control street harassment is.  

3) Reductress

Literally the best piece of women’s mag satire I’ve ever come across. And the most detailed. And the most hilarious. At first glance you think it’s just another girly lifestyle website…then you realise they’re completely playing you in the darkest, most brilliant way possible. I have to regularly sit on my hands to stop myself re-tweeting every single article they publish. 

Best article: I am not a feminist but I do think all men should die  

4) YouTube

WHAT?! I hear you warble. Have you not SEEN the comments section of every single YouTube video ever? It’s like rape comments BRED with death-threats to make SUPER-TERRIFYING-WE-ALL-HATE-WOMEN threats – a bit like that scene in Lord of The Rings when Saruman breeds super-orcs.

But, among the terrifying misogyny, there are some totally kick-ass vloggers, using their channels and reach to make some totally kick-ass points about feminism. And totally owning it.

Best vids: Do I Look Like A Slut? by Hannah Witton
If Tampon Adverts Were Honest by Emma Blackery  
CONSENT by Jack and Dean  

5) For Book’s Sake

Unfortunately, my beloved book industry, is just as sexist as all the other places out there. Books written by women are still seen as ‘fluffy’ or ‘frivolous’ compared to male-authored works. Most texts in the English Literature curriculum are written by men. And, even books ABOUT women don’t’ fare much better. The Pulitzer Prize, the top literature award ever, hasn’t had a winning book that’s about a woman since 2000. For Book’s Sake exists to counter-balance this – to help get women’s book taken more seriously. I’m so grateful it exists!

Best article: Race In The Hunger Games – why Katniss was a Woman of Colour 

Top 5 Feminist YA Books

Ahead of tonight’s #UKYAchat about feminism and gender
equality in YA, Holly has written about her top 5 feminist YA Books for Queen of Contemporary blog. Here’s a juicy taster of what to expect:

‘Am I Normal Yet? is the first book in a
trilogy about a group of girls who set up their own feminist campaign
group called ‘The Spinster Club’. I think YA gets a bad rep when it
comes to feminism. So many people keep bleating out the dreaded words
‘Bella’ and ‘Swan’ – like Twilight isn’t a) TEN years old, and b) Not
the only YA book out there. In fact, YA have LOADS of incredibly
feminist books…

Head over to Queen of Contemporary to see the books Holly has included in her top 5!

And don’t forget to log into Twitter at 8pm, search for #UKYAchat and join in the conversation with authors, bloggers, librarians and readers about feminism and gender roles in YA.

#FeminismFriday

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If you follow Holly on Twitter, or read any of her books, you’ll know that feminism is a topic she is PASSIONATE about. So every Friday Holly, myself and Hannah will be posting something to do with feminism – whether that’s Holly’s thoughts on a particular topic, her top 5 feminist websites or just some fun articles and features we’ve come across on the web and want to share with you. To kick off, we had a few questions we wanted to ask Holly:

What does feminism mean to you?
Equality for everyone, regardless of their gender. IT REALLY IS THAT SIMPLE. I know some people (wrongly) think feminists want to win power from the guys, lock them in cages, and then walk them around on leashes made from our plaited grown-out armpit hair. But that’s not it. Feminism is for all genders. Feminism benefits all genders.

What first got you interested in feminism?
I’ve always had this feeling growing up that something was…wrong… but couldn’t quite work out why I was feeling so icky. I had this constant conflict inside of me, between feeling something was wasn’t right, but then also wanting to partake in the wrongness. I remember, one rainy day at school, the boys decided to spend their lunch-hour lining all us girls up in order of who had the nicest arse. Half of me thought, “this is disgusting” and the other half thought, “I hope I win”.

It was only in my twenties, when the fourth wave of feminism hit, that I was like – hang on – I LIKE THIS. I LIKE WHAT YOU’RE SAYING VERY MUCH. And, How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran really did change my life. It made feminism FUNNY, and approachable, and it was like a big fat fire was lit inside of me. I really think humour is the best gateway drug into feminism. Start with the ridiculous, like, “I know, I’ll spend forty quid painfully waxing off all my pubes, even though no-one ever sees them”…then build-up to the big stuff – rape culture, abuse, female genital mutilation, rights to education…

Thanks Holly!

What first got you interested in feminism and what does it mean to you? Let us know by posting your thoughts using the hashtag #100DaysofNormal. We can’t wait to hear from you!

Only 100 in the ENTIRE universe

Guys – I have the BEST news. My supersonic publisher Usborne have printed 100 LIMITED EDITION copies of Am I Normal Yet?. And THEY’RE THE MOST YELLOW THINGS YOUR EYEBALLS WILL EVER HAVE SEEN. There are just 100 in the entire universe. They’re so exclusive even *I’ve* only been given ONE – and it was my brain what wrote the book!

The best part? We’re going to be giving them away to YOU as part of #100DaysofNormal

Here I am at Usborne Towers signing ALL of the limited edition copies in all their neon glory! 

Each limited edition copy is numbered and signed by ME! (Obvs) I’ve even spelled my own name right in each one (which has been an issue in the past)!

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Don’t they look A-MAZ-ING? You need an eye-shield to protect you from it’s neon powers.

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“HOW DO I GET MY GRUBBY HANDS ON ONE?” I hear (hope) you ask. Just stay tuned to the #100DaysOfNormal hashtag for giveaways and exciting challenges. 

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Am I Normal Yet? is out on 1st August 2015.

Normality is overrated

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Amy and Hannah here from Usborne – hello! We’ve hijacked Holly’s Tumblr for Day 2 of #100DaysofNormal because we want to tell you a little bit more about her amazing new novel Am I Normal Yet?, which is out on 1st August. 

We asked the very lovely Holly to sum up the book for us in just 3 words:

                                 ‘NORMALITY. IS. OVERRATED

We completely agree! Holly’s main character, Evie, has OCD – she feels as if she is failing at being a teenager, let alone being ‘normal’.

Evie’s just come off her meds and is dipping her toe into the pool of man folk at college. But relationships can mess with anyone’s head – something Evie’s new friends Amber and Lottie know only too well (don’t we all!). The trouble is, if Evie won’t tell them her secrets, how can they stop her making a huge mistake?

OCD, feminism, bad boyfriends, and the importance of cheesy snacks – it’s all there in this wise, heartbreaking and funny novel.

And there’s more! If you didn’t already know, Am I Normal Yet? is the first in a trilogy – hooray! Yes – 3 books from Holly, so we asked her to give us a sneak peek at what to expect:

The trilogy centres around the friendship of three girls – Evie, Amber, and Lottie – and their grassroots feminism group. In book two, Amber spends the summer in an American summer camp to try and rebuild her estranged relationship with her mother. Expect road trips, prom kings with hidden depth, female chauvinist pigs (evil cheerleaders) and lots of tears. And, in the final book, Lottie takes on the ENTIRE PATRIARCHY in a one-girl campaign, calling out every instance of sexism she sees for an entire month. Imagine “Yes Man” for feminism, then add cheesy snacks and a totally inappropriate crush.  I cannot WAIT for you to fall in love with these girls as hard as I have.

We’re off to meet Holly now to do some top-secret #100DaysofNormal stuff. It’s VERY EXCITING but we couldn’t possibly tell you what it is until tomorrow!

Be sure to follow Holly on Twitter and be the first to hear the news.