Tag Archives: humanrights


In this two-part guest blog series from probably Bristol Woman’s youngest guest blogger so far, we are delighted to welcome 17-year old young feminist and avid blogger, Mollie Semple. In this first post, Mollie discusses her own experience of what it feels like to be a young feminist.


I am, and have always been, an impassioned, opinionated, young feminist. I have no qualms with this, this is very much an integral part of who I am, and yet, for a while, it used to be a very alienating experience. It used to feel as if every one of your peers just wouldn’t open their ears and listen to what you had to say, to what the world was saying, and to what women were saying at the time.

Instead, they’d laugh at you. If you were opinionated enough you’d get a reputation, for which I certainly did. Boys would deliberately rile you up because for them it was amusing, but all you wanted to do was to help them to understand what made you so upset. New terminology was making its rounds as the boys and girls discovered a sexuality they were unable to explore yet. “Gash” was a favourite amongst the lads to refer to their female counterparts as a putrid description of an area they were still to be lucky enough to come close to.

My female peers and I had suddenly become pockets of sexual favours to most of the boys, but we were yet to feel the need to speak so cruelly of them. And to a lot of us, the words started to slide over our heads as we’d numb ourselves to the terms that damaged our worth as human beings just because it was said so frequently. I tried to tell everyone this, but they just said I was silly. I couldn’t understand why even the girls didn’t feel the need to protect themselves as females from a society which sought to undermine them. Why didn’t this make them angry? Why would they not fight back with me? For a while it felt like I would have to do this alone.

And then, as if all of a sudden, I wasn’t the only one who felt so intrinsically linked to this word ‘feminism’. It started to make others feel passionately too. Now I could have heated, one-sided discussions about how desperately the world needed feminism and how great it was to be a young feminist. Now, instead of feeling as if I was shouting at an empty room, others were beginning to shout with me and we were going to teach the world about our newfound club. We were feminists, and we were going to let everybody know about it.

Today, in my first year of 6th form, as a feminist I feel pretty empowered. I have both boys and girls who will defend my arguments vehemently because they understand how important a need there is to educate and to fight for this cause of equality. There is certainly a more positive connotation to the word ‘feminism’ and I think that a part of this is because as we grow older we sadly become more and more aware of the inequalities within our very own society. I think that now a lot of us are looking back on the language we used to use and cringing at how awfully sexist it was. But it wasn’t our fault, we had retrieved those words from the adult world and thrown them around without fully understanding the meaning behind it. Now we can see the meaning, and it is starting to repulse us.

Of course, there are still a few left in our year who are still refusing to accept feminism as a valid or necessary concept in our apparently perfect, middle class society. When I try to approach them in a different way and argue that if not for yourself then fight for the others, they still tend to resist. Fight for the women who are murdered in Honour Killings, for the girls who are not allowed to go to school, but, apparently, that’s different. This does not concern us according to them, and it is only barely worthy of feminism. But don’t worry …. I am working on this.

I think that overall being a young feminist is a positive, exciting thing for me now. I certainly feel deeply entrenched within a worthy cause I won’t ever want to stop fighting for, and what encourages me is that more and more of my peers are beginning to understand and feel that. We are young and passionate, and so I think by nature it’s a pretty powerful thing for us to work towards a freer, more equal world.

Mollie’s bio:

Mollie is a 17 year old student in the midst of her A Levels. She’s a passionate blogger at The Fully Intended, and all she really wants to do in life is write. She has been raised by her parents to want nothing more for the world than equality, and so intends to spend a lot of her time making sure her generation gets a little bit closer to just that.

On Education

By Tamar Lechter

I am hopeful that as public school conditions improve and new, great charters continue to arrive, all children in DC will be able to receive an effective education without breaking the bank or sitting on a golden ticket

It’s 8:30 in the morning and I’m watching my husband strap our three-year-old daughter into the bike trailer. I’m inside the warm house, holding the baby, and glad that it’s him, not me, braving the cold to drop her off at school and continue the 8KM ride to work. The fact that our daughter is heading off to her school today, at all, means that we won the lottery. The DC School Lottery, that is.

Washington, D.C. is one of the few places in the United States offering free preschool for children from age three. For many parents, free school at age three as opposed to waiting until kindergarten, is a huge financial gain. What’s the catch? Not every child is guaranteed a spot in a pre-K3 program. Continue reading On Education

Mind the green gender gap!

In 2015, Bristol is the European Green Capital.

Bristol is the first city in the UK to have this title, taking over from Copenhagen. The launch of European Green Capital 2015 happened on January 24th, and was nothing but spectacular: colourful bright umbrellas, a lot of excited supporters, the Mayor and even a stunt involving a cycle on a wire.

The stunt itself was amazing. Jade Kindar-Martin from Cirque Bijou cycled on the tightrope with trapeze artist Karine Mauffrey hanging below. The title of the performance was ‘Bridging the Gap’, to symbolise the difference between our green intentions and our actions. But perhaps we should also think about bridging the gender gap. Continue reading Mind the green gender gap!

Going Digital in 2015! Your story contributions required …. !


Yes, you heard it right! This year it’s all change at Bristol Woman and exciting times!

After a lot of thought we have decided that the most engaging and contemporary way of getting our Bristol Woman stories and messages out is by going digital. We will still be covering women’s stories and providing updates on key topics relevant to women in Bristol and beyond. The only difference is that we will be putting these online which will mean we can reach our Bristol Woman audience quicker, faster and in a more relevant way. And do to that we need YOU! Send us in your ideas for stories and topics, your own stories, poems, cartoons, photography. Our core areas of topic coverage, as with our earlier printed magazines, will continue to cover Equality, Business & Leadership, Motherhood and general Lifestyle subjects. If you want to contribute or have some ideas – they don’t need to be limited to our core topic areas – just get in touch with Bristol Woman by emailing editor@bristolwoman.org.uk.

In terms of our plans for a print version of Bristol Woman magazine, we have come up with a plan. We are going to produce one bumper issue of Bristol Woman each November (which marks our birthday – November 2015 is our 2nd birthday). This will be launched on the 25th November – the International Day for the Elimination of Violence – which is also the first day of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence international campaign.

You may also have read that we are considering the possibility of a Bristol Woman magazine app. Watch this space for further updates!

In the meantime, PLEASE send us your story ideas and your stories. All ideas and stories welcome. If you are a photographer, film-maker, illustrator or cartoonist, please also get in touch. We would love to talk to you!

Onwards and upwards! Please help us get Bristol Woman to go digital big time in 2015! Your stories and ideas are what we need! Get in touch! And many thanks for being a Bristol Woman supporter. Cezara, Sian and I really appreciate your stories, engagement, support and ideas.

The Bristol Woman team can’t wait to hear from you! Let us have your stories and ideas!

Bernie Ritchie, Editor-in-Chief, Bristol Woman (2015)

What lesson can we learn from 2014 to make 2015, the year for equality?

Since the turn of the year, I have kept seeing articles about how 2014 was “the best year for women since the dawn of time”. Certainly, we did have a strong year – Malala Yousafzai won the Nobel Peace Prize, Emma Watson stunned the world with the launch of the HeforShe campaign, reminding us all that women’s equality is not just a women’s issue, William Hague teamed up with Angelina Jolie on making rape a war crime and the #YesAllWomen phenomenon reminded us all that social media can have a powerful effect for women to get their voices heard, share their stories and raise support for challenging misogyny and sexism.

For me, 2014 highlighted the growing power of social media and how small individual campaigns about something you feel passionate about can be both explosive and powerful. Take for example, the ice bucket challenge that took over Facebook for at least several months last summer. Who would have thought that throwing a bucket of ice-cold water over your head would have caught on so quickly? The challenge resulted in over 100 million dollars worth of funding to charities supporting those with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Pretty impressive to say the least. Continue reading What lesson can we learn from 2014 to make 2015, the year for equality?

Before and after Charlie Hebdo

By Marina Chanderot

I can’t help but feel uncertain about what the future holds

charlie-hebdo-cover-paris-shooting-012Wednesday morning , January 7th, a regular day begins, I get up, prepare my daughter’s breakfast, have a shower, and while she watches her traditional breakfast cartoons I take a sneak peek at my Facebook news feed where I see a friend posting: “Charlie Hebdo wtf???”

Quickly I type the newspaper’s name into Google and there it is, the horrid, appalling, shocking news: two gunmen walked into Charlie Hebdo and killed amongst others, the crème de la crème of French satire cartoonists : Charb, Cabu, Wolinski, Tignous… The list of victims gets longer as the day goes by, the rest, as you all know, marks the start of a horrid end of week for the French nation as the events unfold on Thursday and into the week-end.

To be honest, I have never been an assiduous reader of the paper. I mainly came across it now and then when I went to my parents’ in law house in the countryside, a true mine of ancient newspaper and magazine issues that I enjoyed going through while sipping on some” thé à la menthe” in the garden. I remember though that back in 2006, when Charlie Hebdo published the controversial caricatures of the Prophet, I had mixed feelings about it. On one hand, I thought that they were merely pouring oil onto the fire, given the violence that these caricatures provoked all over the world. On the other, I felt, like a vast majority of the French population, that Charlie Hebdo had the absolute right to publish any caricatures they wanted, whether they be of Muhammad, God, the Pope, the French president, the police etc., in the name of freedom of expression and speech. As Evelyn Hall puts it in her biography of Voltaire: « I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to death your right to say it » Continue reading Before and after Charlie Hebdo

Top earners

Top business schools produce top earners – if they are men.

IMG_8272Yesterday, we all heard about the new statistics published by free salary benchmarking service Emolument Alumni on the average salaries of graduates from different universities. The top 20 universities, and the average salaries of graduates within five years of leaving, are listed below.

The question we are most interested in is – what does the pay gap look like for these graduates. Emolument Alumni promised to come back to us with more detailed information, but in the meantime we found out that graduates from Imperial College have a huge gender gap – Men £53,000, Women £40,000.

This comes as no big surprise, as last year’s Fawcett Gender pay Gap Briefing “THE TIME TO ACT IS NOW”. According to the briefing, in 2013 the gender pay gap widened. A woman working full-time now earns, on average, £5,000 less a year than a man. In the case of Imperial College London graduates – that is £13,000 less a year. Continue reading Top earners

Pensions are a human right

Pensions are a human right that TESCO is happy to drop.

This week, TESCO has announced plans to close its pension scheme. The company said the scheme will be revalued in May and that it would consult on the planned changes in June, before implementing the changes in February, 2016. Not many people think of it that way, but pensions are a human right. How did we get that idea? No other than the UN Declaration of Human Rights Article 25.

Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

The UK government has not been doing very well ensuring this right is available to women. Not only are pension schemes and offers largely dictated by employers, they are also discriminatory towards people who have not been in employment for large periods of time, or people who have been in part time employment throughout their lives. Continue reading Pensions are a human right

VAWG & Sexism in Contemporary Culture

2014-08-05 23.25.00Words by Honor Tuttiett

With all this discussion of rape culture lately, it feels as though we are heading in the right direction to becoming properly aware of its significance as a nation. However, with the dawning of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Girls, Bristol has been preparing some suitably respectful events to mark how far we have still have to go in the fight. In this thought piece, I wish to discuss some of the elements of contemporary life that I believe are holding us back, and preventing us from feeling the full gravitas of the on-going abuse that one in three women are being subjected to.

I was very pleased to see a question chosen on the BBC Free Speech programme last week that concerned abuse against women. This was a powerful subject that had some new thoughts shared about it on live television; progress. However, I have been seeing a clash against this in the young men around me recently. There is a huge rise in a jokingly sexist attitude that stands as a massive hindrance to understanding both sexes. It has been with the prominence of ‘lad’ culture amongst the under thirty males that misogyny is kept mainstream. If you are not aware of this term ‘lad’, it defines a young male that is loud about his ego, jokes about absolutely anything and mainly, is sexist towards women. ‘Lad’ culture, ‘rape’ culture; one jokes about it and the other does it and both seem criminal to me.

Although I believe this isn’t a new attitude amongst young men, perhaps it is becoming a more jarring one as the world becomes increasingly conscious of the importance in equality. I also personally think that it has had deep roots in a loss of masculinity, and see it as an attempt to retain a difference to women through the outright sexist attitude towards them. Of course it is all in the name of ‘banter’… that is their motto and excuse for saying any controversial joke. But they are actually perpetrating a mindset that excludes and damages half the population in a time when they easily could be progressive for equality.

To give reason to this belief, we can look at masculinity throughout history. The main attributes to being masculine that we can clearly see were to be strong, both physically and emotionally, to gather and to provide. However, in the 1st world today, where can these attributes that masculinity has been built around actually take place? You don’t need to be strong to work at a desk or get food from the super market. You don’t need to solely provide, as women are most often their own providers now, and for children you both are usually earning. So where do these key elements to being masculine go?

I find that this ‘jokily’ sexist culture contributed by the ‘lad’, is also being perpetuated by the music industry. Repeatedly showing explicit male dominance through music videos is one way in which I see archetype masculinity being retained. The recent criticism and fame of controversial songs like Blurred Lines by Robyn Thicke or even more recently, Plan-N-Skillz with Literally I Can’t, have been a huge focus in the media and luckily went too far in their expression of sexism resulting in public focus of the significant issues of racism and misogyny that still go on. The artists have defended their songs as a parody of an already made cliché in music today however; they don’t seem to be demeaning this cliché at all. It is hard to see a parody in the lyrics because they sound just like the songs they are trying to satirise.


Another good example of ‘lad’ culture dominating pop cultures themes and expressing their want for sexism to live on is with the adoption of Dapper Laughs on ITV2. It’s show based around the comedian Daniel O’Reilly after he got noticed through releasing Vine videos. When my boyfriend first showed me him, I tried to see the funny side, but found that really this guy is the class nob who has been given air space. It is alarming to me that this guy was given a place on national television,

His show was recently taken off air due to public outrage over jokes he made at the expense of homeless people. The charity Shelter has refused his donations in a way of an apology because he had outraged them so much. Showing the extent that this culture is at odds with the good work being done in the world.


It seems that young men are building this culture in order to still define themselves as masculine in a world where there is little place for the old archetypes of masculinity to perform. I see it is a response to the feelings of uselessness that come from these pre-existing expectations of men that can no longer be fulfilled. But the world is waking up to violence against women and I feel how we speak about them is a good place to start looking at for reform.


We need to look at why there is a platform for sexism in mainstream media, there has to be a market for it otherwise it wouldn’t be made. So how come in a time when we are becoming ever more conscious of the atrocities sexism brings, are we making the perpetrators rich? And is it this that makes young men think that sexism in speech (even if it is joking) acceptable?


Please discuss with me your thoughts.