In 5 Fridays feminism

5 Forgotten Women of History

We all know that history is told through the eyes of men (and whitewashed to within an inch of its metaphorical life), and I love discovering about women who were pretty badass and shouting their praises from the rooftops. Here are some of the women whose stories I think need to be told.

1. Mary McLeod Bethune


Mary McLeod Bethune was an extraordinary woman. She was born in 1875 in America, the 15th child of 2 freed slaves. Her education started at the age of 10 in a mission school. She was later denied work as a missionary in Africa due to her race, so then became a teacher in the USA, eventually setting up her own school for young black girls in 1922. Her school went on to have about 300 students.

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Bethune was a constant and never relenting campaigner, who always turned out to vote despite the threats she received from the KKK. Her work was recognized by Franklin D. Roosevelt when she became the highest ranking black member of his administration in 1936. Her campaigns didn’t stop and she became the Vice-President of the NAACP in 1940.

2. Nancy Wake


Nancy Wake was the most decorated British woman of World War 2. She was born in New Zealand but moved to France in the 1930s to work in as a European correspondent for some newspapers after training as a journalist in New York and London. After the German invasion, she became a key member of the French Resistance, so much so that they became the most wanted person by the Gestapo by 1943 with a 5 million Franc reward or her capture! She later moved to London, where she joined the SOE. In 1944 she was flown back out to France by the SOE, where she acted as a link between the marquis in France and the British Intelligence then led a 7,000 strong (previously unskilled) army against a German army of 22,000 and won with only 100 casualties.

3. Claudette Colvin


We’ve all heard of Rosa Parks. The subtle heroine of the Civil Rights Movement who sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott by refusing to give up her seat to a white man. The stories we don’t hear are those of the other women who did the same thing, but get much less credit than Parks does, who had the advantage of an already respectable local reputation. One woman who did not have such a luxury was Claudette Colvin. She was a single (emphasis on the unmarried part here) mother who was much poorer than Parks was and had little real influence or position in the Montgomery community. As a consequence of this, when Colvin refused to give up her seat for a white person, nothing happened except from her arrest.

4. Noor Inayat Khan


Khan was born in Moscow in 1914 to an Indian father (a direct descendant of Tipu Sultan, who was the 18th century Muslim ruler of Mysore) and an American mother. Her family moved to London then to France, where she was educated and first started writing children’s stories. Once the Nazis had invaded France 1940, Khan escaped to the UK, where she joined the WAAF. In 1942 she joined the SOE and worked as a radio operator. After being trained at Beaulieu Abbey, she was flown to work as a secret agent in France in 1943 under the code name ‘Madeleine’ – the first woman to do so. She was eventually arrested by the Gestapo after being betrayed by a local French woman, and taken to Dachau concentration camp in Southern Germany where she was executed. She was awarded the George Cross posthumously.

5. Frida Kahlo


Okay, okay, you’re probably thinking what the hell? Frida Kahlo is pretty well known figure, and rightly so. She was a prominent communist artist in Mexico, although her artwork was only really appreciated after her death. One thing that most people don’t know about her (I certainly didn’t until Shona told me) is that she was disabled. Kahlo was born with spina bifida, a spinal condition which can cause mobility problems as well as problems with the bladder and bowels. When she was 6 years old she contracted polio, an illness which left her right leg thinner than her left, and at aged 18 she was part of a bus accident which left her with serious injuries. During her recovery time, Kahlo took up painting, many of which reflected on her disability.

Thank you to Shona, who helped me find some information for this post which I’ve already mentioned. Shona is currently in desperate need of a new powerchair and has started a GoFundMe to help her get it. If you can, please give anything you can or share it.


Jemima.

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In 5 Fridays study

5 Ways of Dealing With Exam Stress

The past 2 years in my life have been plagued by stress from exams. While still being stressed, I’ve done a few things to help minimise that stress and keep going and I thought I’d share them here. I want to say out right that there’s no way to avoid stress completely if you care about your exams. If someone out there has found a way to being completely stress-free but still caring and doing well then please tell me as that would be the end to all my sorrows! (Slight exaggeration but you get the picture.) I warn you that you will be stressed no matter what and will probably have a few (if not many) breakdowns and moments when you think you can’t do it. But I want to let you know that you can. Those are words I need to hear quite a lot to keep going with my A Levels so I’m putting them here for anyone else in need of encouragement. These tips wouldn’t eradicate your stress, but I hope they are ways that will help reduce it.

1. Do revision in advance


Like way in advance. Get your shit together early, do little bits here and there to help build up your knowledge. Find out when/if your teachers run revision sessions and start attending them regularly and from the get go. For this, revising properly for your mocks definitely, helps. I had mocks at the end of Year 10 and half way through Year 11, revised properly for both sets and came out with a good set of GCSEs. I’m sure I wasn’t panicking so much by the time I took my GCSEs because the knowledge I needed was already stuck in my head from revising for mocks previously – and the same goes for my AS exams, although it does become more difficult as there is more information and less time (not with linear A Levels, but the sheer scale of learning you have to do becomes the difficult part). Spread out revision works better than crammed in general and is definitely less stressful.

2. Have a regular (as possible) sleeping pattern


My ideal sleeping pattern would be 11-12ish to 8/8:30 and I do tend to stick to that to varying degrees during the holidays. However, it’s not so convenient when I have to go to college/work. So, when it’s college time I have to go to bed earlier in order to get enough sleep. Sleep is vital to the effectiveness of your learning. It’s so noticeable when you haven’t had the sleep you need. Your brain can’t process the information it’s trying to take in so well, and how are you meant to revise something you couldn’t learn in the first place?

3. Try and be as healthy as possible


Eat your fruit and veg and have a balanced diet. I know people bang on about this all the time and ends up just being a bit of a jumble in your head, but it really does help. I’m not one to be all high and mighty about this. I often buy cakes at college, particularly if I’m craving some when pre-menstrual or actually on my period. At those times, they’re the only thing that will make me happier. But in the long run, a healthy diet will do you a lot of good in loads of different areas. You’ll feel better within your body and therefore be able to be more productive and ready to learn.

4. Organise your time


Once you learn to manage your time well, you will be able to get everything you need done, and once you’ve got those done then you will worry less. My advice is always to get a planner and to use it for everything. It works well for me. Make to-do lists and stick to them. Believe me, organising your tasks makes them seem less daunting. Get yourself organised to get your work done, but make sure you don’t sacrifice the things you love – they’ll keep your identity afloat separately from your studies.

5. Take breaks and relax in ways that suit you


We all need time to breathe and to think about something other than exams. You probably know best how you rewind, so do what works best for you. You could read, watch films, a TV series or YouTube videos, the list goes on. Do something that will distract you for a while and lift your spirits. Then, you can go back to revision with a clearer head.

Good luck.


Jemima.

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In books review Summer

Books I've Read This Summer (2017)

I wrote a post last year on what books I had read during the summer and I thought it would be good to do something similar this year as I loved reflecting on my time off studying. I hope you find these interesting.

1. Everywoman by Jess Phillips


I don’t know whether this really counts as a ‘summer read’ as I read it in the last few days of college, but I want to include it anyway. This book is a must read. Especially if you love politics, especially if you are a woman, but also if you are not a woman as it may make you think about the different experiences that come along with a sexist society and for women looking to make a difference within it. Phillips’ writing is so easy to read and this book really helped me get my head a bit more focused after feeling somewhat lost during the last week or so of college. Definitely, one to pick up if you want an easy yet impactful read.

2. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald


This is a book I had to read for my English course, although I had read it before about 4 years ago. When I read it first, I have to admit that I didn’t really get the hype that surrounds this book, but the second time around it I liked it a lot more. But hey, that doesn’t mean much as we all know that after a year of studying it I’ll probably hate it.

3. A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams


Again, I read this play for my English course. I will need to read it again soon because I didn’t quite get all the scenes – or, at least, I don’t think they sunk in properly. It was interesting but I can’t say I loved it.

4. The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher


This also was an easy read and I would recommend it to anyone who loved Carrie – as Leia or not. I have to admit that I did cry a few times. I loved the section of her diaries that was in the middle. It felt so personal, particularly as she included some of the poetry she wrote then. Throughout the book, I couldn’t help but get an eerie sense that Carrie knew something was going to happen to her as she referenced her death quite a lot.

5. The Metropolis of Glass by Chloe Lee


I was sent this poetry book by the lovely people at Troubadour Publishing a while ago and wrote a full in a post which you can read here. Overall, I wasn’t that impressed. It felt average, but a good place to start for someone just getting into poetry.

6. A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin


And now onto the holiday books. I read half of this before I went away and finished it whilst on holiday in Cornwall with my family. I love Game of Thrones (the TV series), so knew what would happen in the book, but that didn’t stop me loving it! I’m going to steadily read the rest of the Song and Ice and Fire series alongside my A levels, so it’s going to a slow process but something that I can distract myself with.

7. Five on Brexit Island by Enid Blyton (Bruno Vincent)


I read this book in about 45 minutes whilst on the beach. It was very funny and got quite ridiculous. A lighthearted read good for anyone in Britain at the moment and read Enid Blyton’s Famous Five series as a child.

8. The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood


After studying The Odyssey as part of my Classical Civilization AS level (and also studying Margaret Atwood’ The Handmaid’s Tale as part of my English course), I thought it would be fun to see what Margaret Atwood would make of Penelope’s side of the story. I did love it. I read it almost immediately after finishing Five on Brexit Island and found it just as easy to read. It’s laid out like a Greek play, with the Chorus and Penelope taking turns in telling the story. I did like the fact that it drew attention to the maids and how Odysseus was a big of a dick and probably a liar. I would recommend this to anyone studying Classics but also anyone who wants a fresh feminist perspective on a well-known story.

9. Doing It! by Hannah Witton


If you’ve read some of my monthly wrap ups, then you’ll probably know that Hannah is one of my favourite YouTubers. I love how candidly and open she talks about all sorts of topics, including sex and periods, which this book is based around. I think this book should be in every school as it’s so informative and easy to read – ideal for someone who’s just about to start puberty, or anyone who just wants to clarify any information (there’s a great table about all the different methods contraception which I know will be very useful to anyone who reads this).

10. There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé by Morgan Parker


I picked this book up a while ago as the title really intrigued me. It’s a poetry collection based around the themes of feminism and racism, subjects I always want to expand my understanding of. I loved the rhythm that many of Parker’s poems had as they really helped portray the messages she was trying to get across.

11. GB84 by David Peace



Okay, so I’ve not read much of this one. I need to read it for my EPQ so I better get on with it. It surrounds the 1984 Miners’ Strike in the UK but I can’t really tell you more as I’ve really red very little. I need to get my butt into gear and read it.

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In goals Life vegan

The Road to Veganism

Recently, I made the decision to go vegan. Having been raised in an environment where eating meat at least once a day was the norm, this decision was something very different from the lifestyle I had before, but I’m now very much aware that it’s possible.

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I am not vegan yet. And I know that’s contradicting what I just said about making the decision blah blah blah, but I said I’d made the decision, not that I was perfectly plant-based yet. As I’ve been used to such a non-vegan lifestyle, part of which I must still hold onto while I live at home, I’m taking it slow. Currently, I’m going veggie – apart from the rare occasion (perhaps once a week, if that) where my family have a meal that can’t be made veggie – and being as vegan as possible when I’m eating separately from my family, although again, this isn’t very strict at the moment. Once I move out and am living a much more independent lifestyle, I plan on making my diet (and other products I use) as vegan as possible (although still within reason depending on what my budget can afford). In certain areas, such as my makeup, I am cruelty-free and am proud of that. I will always recommend the good cruelty-free brands that I use and actually might do a post on my tips for cruelty-free makeup in the future now that I think about it...

So, what are my reasons for going vegan? Well, since starting college I have had the great pleasure of meeting some wonderful people who have showed me how vegan living is both extremely beneficial for a number of ways and that it is most definitely doable (shout out to Charlotte and Lizzi for being so supportive and great at giving advice and showing me the ways, ily). Here is my reasoning for veganism:

1. The environment


51% of climate change is due to animal agriculture (source: The Guardian). This occurs through fuel used to feed, transport, house and harvest the animals and to grow the plants they are fed as well as the natural gases the animals themselves will produce. I am a Green supporter (as you can probably tell if you’ve read some of my previous blog posts or follow my Twitter) so the environment is one of my priorities. It is vital for everyone that we do our best to save it and veganism is one way of reducing our individual contributions to global warming.

2. Animal cruelty


This is a biggy, and the main reason that most people go vegan, although not really for me. Whilst I am against animal cruelty and think that it should be stopped in all forms, the threat of climate change and preserving our environment would mean that there will be no animals to even be cruel to if we keep going as we are. So to me, save the environment and we save the animals. Hit two birds with one stone (is there a vegan equivalent of that saying?).

3. Money


Obviously, there are lots of vegan options, mostly alternatives such as vegan cheese, which are quite pricey, though plain vegetables and veggie options are generally much cheaper than meat unless you go buying something exotic or rare. As I’m about to move out and start uni in the next year, I’m going to need to live as cheaply as possible and while it’s not my main reason for going plant-based, it’s definitely something that will be a massive benefit if I manage my food and finances well.

4. Health


There’s no doubt that vegetables are good for you. Since cutting out meat almost entirely from my diet, I have been feeling better within myself and I hope this continues. I am aware of potential risks if I don’t take care that I’m getting the right nutrients, so vitamins may be needed in the future (in fact I know my vegan friends take some daily) to ensure that I get everything my body needs, but I need to make sure that I don’t just eat loads of vegan junk food and all will be well. Also, I have just been informed (thanks, Charlotte) that diet apps such as My Fitness Pal are a good way of ensuring that you’re eating enough of the good stuff, so that will be something I do in the future.

So, for now, I’m doing my best to cut out meat and other animal products from my consumption as much as possible, although I’ not strictly vegan yet. I’m taking it slow and just doing my best so that I can figure out veganism my own way so that it suits me and my way of living. Will I ever be a completely strict vegan? I don’t know, but everything I cut out matters and makes a difference, so, for now, I’m taking the slow route.


If you want to hear pre-veggie me, my veggie friend Maisie and my vegan friend Charlotte chat about veganism on mine and Maisie’s podcast, The Actor and the Writer, then please go and have a listen!


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In travel

What to Do in Bodmin, Cornwall

Last week, I went to Cornwall with my family. There, we stayed in a lovely cottage on the Camel Valley Vineyard, not far from the historic town of Bodmin.

1. Have lunch on the Bodmin Steam Railway


Having seen the Steam Railway at Boscarne Junction the day before, we bought a large picnic in the morning, along with a bottle of wine, and headed off to the station.


There were tables going up and down the carriage on either side, with windows looking out (though do close the one in the middle as the gubbins from the engine can get it). We spread out the food and ate and played cards whilst watching the world go by. The train doesn’t go far, only a few miles each way, but it was ample time for a hearty lunch.

2. Have a drink at Camel Valley Vineyard


Camel Valley is an award winning vineyard, being served at the Ritz and by the Queen. My family has been fans of this vineyard for about 15 years and for a good reason. It’s an easy distance off the Camel Trail, so is easy to pop in to for a drink. They run tours of the grounds, more so in the summer. The Grand Tour (which includes wine tasting and runs on one evening a week – 2 in the summer) costs 15, whilst the normal Guided Tour costs 8.50. We got our tour free as we stayed there, although I’m not sure I’d want to pay that much for it, although it was definitely very interesting.


3. Bodmin Prison


When we looked through some of the potential places to visit, Bodmin Jail was one of the only ones that really caught my attention. I’m one of those sick History nerds, who loves finding out about historic crime and looking around old prisons. We went along after our lunch on the train and it was quite interesting. The Jail was the site of one of the last executions in Britain and many more before that. The stories of many of these executions are told in the museum, along with a video describing the sentencing of William Hampton (the last person to be executed here) which has some hilarious acting and interviews, despite their original intention.


4. Cycle the Camel Trail


With our accommodation right on the Camel Trail, it would be difficult not to have gone on it at some point. The Trail is an old railway line, so is very flat and easy to cycle along, and it goes around the towns of Bodmin, Wadebridge, and Padstow so can be used as a means of getting to each town without driving (admittedly, it will take a while longer so it depends on how much exercise you’re planning on doing).


What’s your favourite thing to do in Cornwall?


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