Sunday, 19 March 2017

Men in Clubs

I hate being grabbed in a club. I think I can say this is true for all girls. The last thing we want when we are dancing to a cheesy song with our friends is to be grabbed in a club.

My sister recently went clubbing with her male friends. It's funny isn't it, that men respect other men more than they do other women. Whilst she was clubbing, she wasn't grabbed once. Perhaps this was because the men in the club respected the fact that one of the men she was with could have been her boyfriend or perhaps she was just lucky where she was standing in the club. However, this did not mean that she survived the night without any unwanted attention from men. 

At the end of the evening, my sister decided to wait for her male friends by the exit whilst they went to the toilet and collected their bags from the cloakroom. She was immediately cornered by a white twenty-year-old male. He asked her if she wanted to 'play a game?', when she said 'no' he aggressively asked her 'Why?'. He told her it would be fun. Luckily for my sister, her friends reappeared and managed to rescue her from the situation. I dread to think what could have happened if they hadn't turned up, or what would have happened if she had not had male friends with her. 

I have run into toilets out of fear from unwanted male hands across my body whilst trying to enjoy my night. I have watched my friends eyes swell with panic as a man pulls their body towards them. I have saved random girls who I have never spoken to before from the clasp of a sweaty eighteen year old boy. I have watched men forcibly kiss my friends, grind upon them and treat them as if they were dolls to be played with. I don't know why this treatment is allowed. I am confused as to why blind eyes are turned by bodyguards and bar staff when they witness these assaults. The only thing I can think of is that this treatment and blind eyes being turned begins when we are young; when we are too young to even understand the words 'feminism' and 'equality'. 

This treatment begins in school, the space that we are told is safe from bullies and discriminatory acts. It begins when we are five years old when teachers turn a blind eye to 'boys being boys' as they chase girls around the playground, begging for  a kiss. It begins when we are eleven years old and we are told by our elders that the boys are mean to us because they 'fancy us'.  It begins when we are thirteen, when girls are afraid to utter the word 'feminism' without being laughed at and labelled as a 'lesbian'. It begins when we are fifteen, and teachers turn further blind eyes to boys lifting girls skirts and 'skooping' their breasts. It continues when we are in Sixth Form, and the girls have to follow a strict dress code so that they cannot be accused of  'distracting the boys'. 

So when boys reach eighteen, under the influence of alcohol, the club floor becomes a playground for them to simply get away with the things they have been getting away with for their entire lives. Because from day one, blind eyes are turned and excuses are made. I'm sick of it. We need to start teaching both boys and girls that this behavior is not okay. We need to start teaching girls that boys being mean to us cannot be excused by them 'fancying us'. We need to stop using the phrase 'boys will be boys'. I'm sorry but that just won't cut it anymore. Boys must be held responsible for their actions, just as girls are. We need to start educating both girls and boys that feminism is not a dirty word, does not equate to you being a lesbian and does not mean that women want to be better than men. We need to stop turning blind eyes to sexual harassment in school, no matter how big or small it may be. We certainly need to stop teaching young girls what to wear in order to avoid getting unwanted attention but instead teach boys how to respect women. 

Of course, I am not saying that all men grab women in clubs and I'm not saying that all women don't enjoy attention from men in clubs. What I am trying to say, is that when a woman polity asks a man to leave her alone whilst she is trying to enjoy her evening in a club, don't question her motives but instead quietly leave and let her carry on dancing to cheese tunes with her friends because more often than not: that is exactly what she is here for. 

Monday, 13 March 2017

Dissertation Diary: Part Three

This month has been pretty tough in terms of my dissertation progress. I've had other deadlines and commitments which seem to have taken over far too much time, leaving my dissertation slightly neglected. Admittedly, I've also binge-watched several TV shows (everyone reading this needs to go and watch 11.22.63) and I've also had a few nights out. I also feel like I've hit a brick wall since I last blogged about this. My methodology has been written and re-written about five times, my final chapter is currently just a mess of bullet points and scribbled out notes and quite often I will sit in front of my laptop for hours just writing and re-writing the same sentence.

Procrastination at its finest. 
Still, I think that is quite normal to struggle through the last few chapters so fear not if you are in a similar position. I personally think it is the concept of being so close to the word limit, but somehow not close enough. Some days I will read through my work and feel a large sense of pride while other days I'll just want to start crying by the time I've finished proofreading chapter one. I don't think anyone could have prepared me for this kind of emotional roller-coaster.

Sure, people warned me that third year was going to be tough but I didn't quite consider just how hard it would be. The constant struggle to find a balance between achieving a social life, writing essays, thinking about your dissertation constantly, actually writing your dissertation, exercising, eating, thinking about money, applying for jobs, thinking about life after university and paying bills. It is a constant stream of thoughts that never seems to end from the moment I wake up to the moment I fall asleep.

Spending my life at this desk. 
The thing with a dissertation is that you feel guilty when you aren't working on it. I wish I had been warned about this. The never-ending sense of guilt. Which is ridiculous when you think about it, because it would be impossible and impractical to be working on my dissertation 24/7. Admittedly, going to the gym helps with this constant feeling of guilt. I'm not sure what it is about getting out of bed and working out but it certainly makes you feel as if you are being productive. The gym also helps to clear my mind and both mentally and physically manages to make me feel 10x better.

Going out for runs/walks in the evening have also proven to be quite productive. The evenings are often the time that my mind is in full panic, especially if I have spent the day procrastinating and haven't really achieved that much. Staying cooped up in my room doesn't make these feelings go away, but somehow listening to 80's music on a quiet evening run can. I've discovered that if you can motivate yourself out of the house for a run, you can pretty much motivate yourself to do anything you set your mind to.

Soothing my soul with an evening run. 

So, perhaps it is okay to feel as if I have hit a brick wall. It's part of this process that I can't help but (sometimes) secretly enjoy because underneath all the procrastination and guilt; this is a project that I have achieved completely on my own. Everything from the initial question to the scribbled notes in my notebook are completely and utterly mine. Soon, I will have 10,000 words that were written and created completely by me. And that's something I can't stop thinking about.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Dissertation Diary: Part Two

I have a shocking confession to make.

My name is Harriet Farley, I am 20 years old and my dissertation has become my baby.

I'm not even exaggerating when I say it is all I think about.

I'm not even entirely sure when this happened. A few months ago, it was the monster under the bed (quite literally). I was determined to believe in its non-existence and hated talking about it to anyone other than people who had already written and submitted a dissertation and therefore could relate to my crippling fear. Now, you can't get me away from my laptop. Yesterday I was cleaning out my rabbits and suddenly had a wave of inspiration. I ended up sprinting back into the house screaming 'SOMEONE GET ME A PEN!'. The thing with dissertations is that they tend to be about a subject you genuinely enjoy. Once I had got over my initial fears, I remembered how much I actually enjoy this topic. To anyone reading this who is considering writing a dissertation in their third year just make sure you find something that you feel strongly about. Can you imagine writing a 10,000 word dissertation on something you couldn't stand by the first 100 words?!

I've also ended up inspiring myself by thinking about the finished result. I spent a good hour the other day looking at how much it would cost to get my dissertation leather-bound after completion. I'm sorry but there is no way I am writing 10,000 words and then not splashing the cash in order to have it beautifully displayed on my book shelf.

Of course, it's not all puppies and rainbows. Sometimes I'll sit in front of my laptop for hours; writing and re-writing sentences. I've found that printing out sections and going over them with a pen tends to be a pretty motivational strategy. Somehow, reading something in hard-copy rather than on a computer screen enables you to see mistakes that you hadn't noticed before. It's also pretty exciting seeing your work laid out in front of you, something that you created from scratch. I've also started passing on these notes to various family members to proof read. They tend to notice mistakes that you might not have picked up on before. I set myself a checklist at the end of last week, and this also seems to be aiding my motivation. There is something mundanely exciting about ticking jobs you have achieved off a list. Although the list did look pretty daunting at first, I'm slowly working my way through it.

So, three months to go until the deadline, and I'm slowly starting to think that this process isn't as bad as I first assumed it would be. Maybe I've reached the calm before the storm. I guess you'll have to wait until my next post to find that one out.

Monday, 13 February 2017

2017 Is The Year of Books

I don't read as much as I used to.

I know why and the truth is tragic but I'm going to admit it to you because I know for a fact I'm not the only one. Social media quite often takes over from my reading time.

At the end of 2016, I decided enough was enough. I was taking back control of my reading time! No more scrolling endlessly through Twitter and Instagram. I wanted to lose myself in a book again. The kind of lost where you forget for a moment that you're curled up in your bed in rainy old Kent and not trekking the Cornish cliffs in the 1700s with Ross Poldark or drinking pumpkin juice with Harry Potter. So, I decided to set myself a New Year's Resolution that I promised myself I would stick to.

Read 52 books in 52 weeks. 

But, to make this even more interesting I decided to avoid the books that I would normally pick up. There is (of course) nothing wrong with a good old chick-lit. They are feel-good, wonderful books that I grew up reading and adoring. Yet, my fascination with this genre I'm afraid to say has allowed me to turn my back to the thousands of other genres that are out there. I used to walk into a book shop and head straight for the brightly coloured books. I'm forcing myself to stop that now. 2017 is the year of stone-cold Hattie who only reads dark, twisted thrillers while sipping on a glass of whiskey and puffing on a pipe.

Just kidding.

Well, I am about the pipe and whiskey. The rest is true. I am trying to avoid light and fluffy books this year. So far (I know it is only February) my mission is pretty successful. Obviously I'm not restricting myself entirely, that would be like trying to avoid watching romantic comedies for a year or not listening to any love songs. I'm not sure I could survive an entire year without Sophie Kinsella and Jojo Moyes to help make me feel that life isn't all doom and gloom.

I have completed four books this year and I am already sensing a difference both academically and mentally. I'm currently taking two modules in creative writing where I am tested on my ability to write creatively. We were told in this the first seminar that 'television is poison' to writers, and reading for at least one hour a day is the only way forward in regards to successfully writing creatively. I have begun to look forward to that one hour per day, where instead of curling up in a ball in front of Netflix - I lose myself in a book. My general mentality and also my sleeping pattern have improved greatly since the beginning of this resolution and I finally feel that I am beginning to fall back in love with the world of words. As Ernest Hemingway once said: "There is no friend as loyal as a book". 

I plan to start reviewing my monthly reads. You can read about this here!!

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Dissertation Diary: Part One

I had three main reactions once I had finally settled on a title for my dissertation:

1) Panic.
2) Panic some more.
3) Shove dissertation notes and plans under your bed and pretend they don't exist.

The first two steps are completely normal. The third step is perhaps common yet I certainly wouldn't recommend it unless you want the spend the next few months in a constant state of panic. The kind of panic that you get when you're lost in one of those huge mazes. You can see the middle of you stand on your tiptoes or peer through the hedge yet you can't quite find a way to get there yet.

I'm in my third year of university and I still haven't quite figured out how to navigate my way around this maze (I mean this both literally and figuratively. I haven't got a chance in some of those buildings on campus). Hopefully this is also completely normal. I get the feeling that it is, when I'm sitting on the back row of my dissertation lecture looking at everyone's faces. They are mostly blank with the occasional panicked glance towards the door as if ready to make a swift exit and a few (just a few) genuinely look keen and excited. I suspect these are the people who didn't shove their dissertation folder under their beds and pretend that it wasn't happening.

Still, I think procrastinating is part of this wonderful process. Although my waves of procrastination often cause a load of anxiety and stress it is also where I am struck with moments of inspiration. It is in those moments that I slowly close down Netflix and reach under the bed to pull out that heavy dissertation folder. It is in those moments that I reach for a pen and paper to jot down a sudden thought or opening sentence. Obviously I then cling onto these waves of inspiration, because I'm never quite sure when the next one will arise.

Thanks to a lot of support from my friends, family and dissertation adviser I have finally found a wave of inspiration that I'm pretty sure will be strong enough to see me through to the end (or at least until my first draft is complete). I'm currently sitting on my bed, looking down at the 5,000 words that I have already written and I can't help but feel an overwhelming sense of pride. If someone had told me in first year that I would be writing a 10,000 word semiotic analysis on media manipulation in my third year I would have laughed in their face and I'm pretty sure they would have laughed along with me. University often has the ability to make you feel as though you aren't quite as brilliant as you once thought you were. I suppose I have learnt that perhaps I'm not one of life's exceptionally clever people, but I am one of life's fighters instead. When I stick to something, it's hard to get me to give it up. What better way to prove it than to write a 10,000 word dissertation on a subject that I'm still trying to understand myself?

Therefore, I now have three new reactions in regards to my dissertation that I am determined to stick to until May:

1) Write for at least one hour every day.
2) Remember that no first draft is perfect.
3) Don't panic. The end of the maze is around the corner.

(Just about!)

Friday, 27 May 2016

Outfit of the Day: Boutique of Molly

I was delighted when Boutique of Molly contacted me on Twitter a few weeks ago to offer me a chance to review items of their stock. I immediately headed to their website and fell in love with what I found. I desperately wanted to purchase everything (from crop tops to their high end luxury collection) but being a poor university student, I had to restrict myself.

However, I soon came across the 'Lilia Dress' and quickly got round to purchasing it. The next day delivery really was the next day, and the dress arrived nicely packaged. I'm a sucker for skater dresses, but this was one that I felt was really unique and definitely contained elements of  'celebrity style.' That's the best thing about this website, the prices are affordable yet the quality is amazing. Of course, you can find a nice skater dress in any high street store, but Boutique of Molly can offer you something unique and special (and the quality is much better than anything you will find in Primark).

The simple yet beautiful detailing on this outfit is stunning and I adore the bright colours against the white material, which really help to make this dress the ultimate summer outfit. I was slightly worried about purchasing a dress online as I usually have trouble predicting my size (especially because quite often dresses are too tight across my chest) yet this dress managed to prove me wrong and is the perfect fit, with the double spaghetti straps that help to add extra support as well as adding that extra special something to the dress.


This dress is ideal for the summer and especially special events. I shall be attending my cousin's wedding in the summer and I am sure that this dress will be excellent for the event. I am also going to Greece in August, and this dress will be perfect for evenings out at tavernas. Even in hot temperatures, this dress will still be the ultimate evening outfit, as it is a comfortable and airy fit. This dress will go perfectly with a nice pair of black or white heels and a cute pair of black sunglasses just to polish off that celebrity style! 

Boutique of Molly ships worldwide, offers next day delivery and has an easy-to-use website which allows you to view the what's 'hot right now' section and even SALE items! So what are you waiting for? Head over to Boutique of Molly right now and get your summer collection!

Don't forget you can also follow Boutique of Molly on Twitter to keep up to date with the latest collections and reviews. @boutiqueofmolly

Monday, 23 May 2016

Managing My Weight At University

I wrote briefly in a previous blog post about how I put on weight in my first year, so I decided to dedicate a whole blog post on how I learnt how to maintain a healthy weight while at university. 
As mentioned in previous blogs, I started university in September 2014 weighing just over 9 stone. By June 2015 I was 11 stone, and was not feeling good about myself at all. My body had gone from living a healthy active lifestyle, to suddenly dealing with excessive drinking, unhealthy eating and lazing around in bed all day. To be honest, I hadn't even noticed how much weight I had been putting on until I weighed myself on my return home at Christmas and was shocked to find out how much weight I had put on in just three months of being away from home. 

January 2015, I decided it was time to try and lose weight. But I struggled massively with finding the right diet plan. I tried all sorts, from using health tips from Pinterest and googling recipes but still I couldn't stick to a diet plan and found myself giving up after only a few days. I felt that I didn't know enough at all about food and what was healthy and what wasn't. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I had no idea how to plan out a healthy balanced diet to fit in with my lifestyle at university. Everyone else around me was eating and drinking just as excessively and yet I seemed to be the only one putting on the pounds. I applied to do the London Marathon in April 2015, which definitely encouraged me to start exercising more. I started doing mile long runs in the mornings before university lectures, but I started to struggle with terrible shin splints (acute pain in the shin and lower leg) which literally reduced me to tears from the pain. 

It wasn't until August, that my Mum suggested I try the Slimming World diet. I didn't really know much about it, apart from the fact that my Mum used to attend regularly when I was younger. She lent me her old 'Food Optimising' book, which safe to say has been a lifesaver ever since. The diet plan is split into two different options: the Original choice (meat days) and the Green choice (non-meat days). The concept is simple, on green days you are allowed unlimited pasta, rice, baked beans and potatoes but limited meat (for example you are allowed up to 85g of ham on a green day). And on Meat days you are allowed unlimited bacon, chicken, turkey and beef but you are limited on pasta, potatoes, rice and baked beans etc. I tend to spread out my red and green days over the week, so that I can benefit from both sides of the diet but you are welcome to chose whatever pattern works best for you. 

The best thing about Slimming World is that there are hundreds of FREE FOODS. These are the ones that you can eat all day if you wished and include items such as very low fat yogurt, eggs, fresh fruit and vegetables. The 'Food Optimising' book is carefully laid out so that you can easily find out the amounts of exactly what you are allowed to eat on certain days and what foods count as 'super slimming' or high in fiber. 

Another good thing about the Slimming World diet, is that its not an expensive one. Your options when it comes to food are limitless so no more following those crazy expensive diets that no student can even think about being able to afford! I have never attended a Slimming World class, as I found that the Food Optimising book gave me enough encouragement to get going, but if that's what you feel you need to get going then you can find out where your closest class can be done easily on the Slimming World website. 

Slimming World has helped me to develop a diet plan where I am never hungry, yet the weight has fallen off me quicker than any other plan. I now weigh less than I did when I started university and finally feel confident within my own skin. 

You can find out where your nearest Slimming World class is HERE or alternatively you can purchase the Food Optimising book from Amazon for £12.59 HERE

Slimming World also has many recipe books to offer which can help you further stick to your diet plan including a 30 minute meal recipe book, a Free Foods recipe book or even an Extra Easy Entertaining recipe book which covers light lunches to cocktail parties. So get started today! 

You can find out even more about Slimming World HERE and find even more of my university advice HERE