Fairy Tale Novels

The Top Five Fairy Tales:

In New Skins

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Hey Dolls,

It came to my attention last year that we have a significant lack of up to date fairy tales. and by up to date, I mean tales that still follow the whimsical plot that the old ones did, but instead were more inclusive and preached our values of the 21st century.

So I set out to find some fairy tales for us all.

Now, I have had to sift through a lot of shit to find the good stuff here, and by no means is this the definitive list, more this is the collection I have found where if I was asked for a recommendation, these are what I would give.

What makes these tales different? They all either have strong LGBTQ relationships instead of the prince and princess, and they all have strong feminist messages that are pumped full of girl power.

All of these are the “novels” whilst my list of Short Story collections within this genre can be found here.

So, let us begin through the forest with our trail of breadcrumbs…

 

The Seafarers Kiss

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Based on: The Little Mermaid

By: Julia Ember

Publication: 2017

Length: 212 pages

Avoid if: you want a tropical story, this is set in the arctic and does not inspire any rendition of “Under the Sea”

Ideal for: LGBTQ+ fiction lovers!!

About: So the Seafarers Kiss is a retelling of the little mermaid. It is set in a mermaid ice kingdom in the arctic, filled with beluga whales, seals, viking explorers and of course, actual mermaids. It tells the story of Ersel, a young mermaid who is now of age. Within her kingdom, those of age must be put forwards for the mating ceremony, a prospect that terrifies her. She plans to swim away with her best friend but he instead betrays her by enlisting in the evil kings guard. In her despair, Ersel swims to the surface where she meets Ragna, a human girl who is stranded on the ice. (As you can imagine, the romance blossoms).

In the face of a life as a fish wife, breeding merchildren for all eternity, Ersel summons Loki the god of lies, and makes a pact with him; she will steal a voice to gain some legs in order to be with Ragna. But he never specifies who’s voice… and she never specifies what legs…

This has genuinely been one of the best mermaid books I have read. There is no lame hetero-normative  romance or misogynistic selling out, it is mermaid power, mermaid love, and overall mermaid magic throughout. Honestly I highly recommend this for any merbae.

 

Ash

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Based on: Cinderella

By: Malinda Lo

Publication:

Length:

Avoid if: you want a more straightforward adaptation, this is very much “inspired by”

Ideal for: bisexual book lovers!

About: So Ash tells the story of Ash, our poor version of Cinderella whose mother dies. Shortly after this, her father remarries and then dies too, and as the fairy tale dictates, she is left at the mercy of her step mother and sisters who treat her like a slave.
However, Ash has magic. magic that allows her to connect to the fairy world. Thus she meets her “fairy godmother” an elfish prince who will grant her wishes.

We expect she will meet and fall in love with the prince and loose her shoes, but here Lo mixes things up, having Ash fall for the Prince’s Huntress, with the duo having an illict romance. But Ash is also falling for her elfish prince, and has to decide between the human world and the world of the fae…

Overall this was a fun and somewhat empowering adaptation of the story. It had its highs and lows, but Malinda Lo has also released a prequel to this about the huntress, who was easily the best character!

A Court of Thorns and Roses

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A Court of Thorns and Roses

 

Based on: Beauty and The Beast

By: S J Maas

Publication: 2015-present

Length: 3 books with a 4th on the way!

Avoid if: you loathe YA fiction

Ideal for: everyone who needs a fairy tale Katniss Everdeen like character

About: I think its safe to say everyone has heard of Maas and her world of Fae? In short the trilogy tells the story of Feyre, a human who stumbles into the world of Fae and must become the High Lord of the Spring Courts prisoner. The first book, (ACOTAR) follows the plot of Beauty and the Beast, with our High Lord even taking the form of a Beast. However, unlike the tale as old as time, our beauty Feyre does not sit back and wait for Gaston and the Beast to get over themselves, Feyre rushes to her Beasts aid and saves the world from the evil Queen.
The sequel to this, A Court of Mist and Fury, is essentially Persephone, but sadly the final novel in the trilogy does not follow any particular fairy tale…

Overall this trilogy is truly fantastic. It is magical, easy to read and such a wonderful indulging story. Its truly a treat for any fairy tale fan.

Girls Made of Snow And Glass

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Based on: Snow White

By: Melissa Bashardoust

Publication: September 2017

Length: 374 pages

Avoid if: if the dwarves are your favourite. They make no appearance here!

Ideal for: anyone craving a fairy tale about the relationships between women.

About: Girls Made of Snow and Glass is a Snow White adaptation, minus the seven dwarves. It focuses on two different narrations; our snow white, and our “evil” queen, with Snows being present and the Queens being past. One of the most enjoyable aspects of this novel is how romance is not forced down your throat. Yes there is some lovely romantic side plots (some even for those of us in the LGBTQ community!) but it is primarily a story of mother-daughter relationships. This is definitely a unique spin on the original tale, no handsome prince or pretty princess breaks the spell, no magic kissing, just good solid GIRL POWER!

The Lunar Chronicles

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Based on: Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

By: Marissa Meyer

Publication:

Length

Avoid if: you want a quick read… these books are quite long -and that’s not including the novellas…

Ideal for: sci-fi lovers

About: So I couldn’t quite pick just one of these books! The whole collection is so wonderfully adapted into a sci-fi retelling of these classic tales.
Starting with Cinder, our retelling of Cinderella, Cinder is a cyborg girl who like Cinderella, lives with her step mum and sisters who are awful to her. However, her feelings for the prince aside, she is on a quest to save him from making a terrible mistake. However, the prince does not know she is a cyborg, who are essentially scum of the earth. With the help of her robot bffl, Cinder must save her world of New Beijing from a terrible plague that is rapidly spreading…
Followed by Scarlet, our retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. So Scarlet lives in France on a farm. Her Grandmother has gone missing and no one is taking her seriously. That is until she meets Wolf. Thus her and Wolf embark on an adventure to save Grandma, but along the way Scarlet discovers things about her Grandma, and in turn about her new love Wolf, that she never thought possible.
Thirdly we have Cress, the retelling of Rapunzel. Cress is imprisoned on a satellite above the moon by the evil queen. She is a master hacker and desperate to escape. Like Rapunzel, the cost to her rescue from the handsome “prince” is more that any of them could comprehend.
Finally, we have Winter, our very own Snow White, whose beauty rivals the evil Queen of Luna. All of these books tie in together with all our disney princesses joining forces to overthrow the evil queen. They are wonderfully strong, independent women who save the world and get the boy.

I hope these books have made it onto your TBR… especially you mermaid lovers out there 😉

Love,

 

HRH xox

 

 

 

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Fairy Tale Short Stories

The Top Five Fairy Tales:

In New Skins

The Short Story Edition!

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Hey Dolls,

Continuing on from my last post, which focused on the novels that retell our fairy tales, here are the selection of short stories that re-tell fairy tales in a whole new way…

As always, this is not the definitive list nor is it the only list, this is a collection of the short stories that struck me as different within this fairy tale retelling genre.

 

So, let us head back through the forest with our trail of breadcrumbs…

The Bloody Chamber

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Angela Carters Book of Fairy Tales

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Based on: Little Red Riding Hood among many others.

By: Angela Carter

Publication:

Length:

Avoid if: you want a long story, these are all very short.

Ideal for: all fans of the Gothic and of course, feminists!

About: Angela Carter is the Queen of fairy tale re-tellings. She primarily focuses on the lessons and symbolism of these old tales and what they really should be. SO many of them focus on the colour red, the wild woman and our menstrual cycles. These stories make me feel sexy and seductive, it awakens my most carnal, ferocious inner goddess.

And honestly, these stories gave me Period Pride. Yes, I am a woman, yes I bleed each month, no it does not make me dirty, no it does not make me angry or irritable, yes I would like a tampon, and I REFUSE to hide my most natural bodily function. I am not ashamed of my periods!

Kissing The Witch

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Based on: your usual childhood fairy tales

By: Emma Donoghue

Publication: 1997

Length: 228

Avoid if: You want a direct adaptation and are not an erotica fan…

Ideal for: If you just want something a little different

About: So Kissing the Witch was the first book I found that claimed to retell fairy tales with an LGBTQ spin. However this was published a good 20 years ago now so I am not 100% if they’re as out and as loud as we would like them. But that aside, this is definitely a fun collection of stories.

Witches, Princesses and Women at Arms: Erotic Lesbian Fairy Tales

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Based on: Your generic prince saves the princess and her kingdom plots

By: Ed. Sacchi Green and A variety of authors contributing

Publication: 2017

Length: 210 with 13 stories

Avoid if: erotica isn’t your thing. There are clits and tits galore!  This makes fifty shades seem like pride and prejudice. (note* I think P&P is more erotic than 50 shades but you get my drift) 

Ideal for: anyone who wants some PROPER GOOD SMUT.

About: So as you might have gathered, this is a collection of erotica within fantasy settings. Most of the stories are inspired by your usual George and the Dragon esque legends and fairy tales. Most involve some princess or other who needs to save her kingdom. But it is so refreshing, inspiring and damn right sexy having a woman doing it and then going home to ravage the woman she loves -who is often a fairy or some kind of witch. I have a very specific type ok.

All Out

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Based on: Little Red Riding Hood and other random fairy tales.

By: Ed. Saundra Mitchell and written by numerous authors.

Publication: 2018

Length: 353 and 17 stories

Avoid if: legit got no reason for this… if you’re a homophobe I guess?

Ideal for: anyone who is coming out and needs to know they are not alone through the medium of good old YA fiction!

About: All Out is a collection of short stories by some of the bets YA authors within the LGBTQ community. Some of these are personal stories about the authors own coming out, some are adaptations of fairy tales, and some are just stories that will support you. These aren’t just the “Mum I’m Gay” comings out, they cover all aspect of Coming out as a member of the LGBTQ community. Whether that is trans, queer, a-sexual, non-conforming, gay, lesbian, bisexual, all sexual! It covers a lot of unique stories that we all need to hear.

The Sleeper and The Spindle

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Based on: Snow White and your usual fairy tale troupes.

By: Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Chris Riddel

Publication: 2013

Length: 66 pages

Avoid if: you want a story of more substance, this is more of a bedtime read.

Ideal for: anyone who needs a kick ass woman to save the world and inspire! Plus the illustrations are GORGEOUS.

About: I have chosen to feature this story in this section as A. it is a short story and B. it is just beautiful. It is your usual story of a young Queen destined to be married, a gaggle of dwarves and an eternal slumber, but this features a woman who saves them all. There is a bit of romance between the two lead female characters, but it is primarily a story of our favourite words: GIRL POWER!

Once more, I hope you’ve found some short stories that inspire you and give you the lessons you need in life!

 

If there are any books I seem to have missed let me know in the comments as I am always up for broadening my already bowing shelves.

Love,

HRH xox

Publishing Houses for women

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Hey Dolls,

 

Some of you may or may not remember the article by author Kamila Shamsie back in 2015 in which she called for 2018 to be the year of publishing only women.

This year is a historic year here in Britain. Women (aged 30 and with a mortgage) could vote. Although this start was a limiting one it was one small step for woman one giant leap for womankind in what it then lead to. In the UK now, women of the age of 18+ can vote irrespective of their race, class and economic status. And you don’t have to have a mortgage! Which is a relief because the housing market is so fucked having a mortgage seems like the holy grail.

I digress.

Back in 2015 many laughed Shamsie off. With a variety of authors and publishers alike calling the idea rubbish. On one hand, I can see their point. Why should those who do not identify as women have to suffer and lose out? I mean its not like they will never be published… if anything its another year in which they can do some meticulous editing… Yet I can also see how the entire publishing industry has been favored towards men. The sheer amount of men who have been shortlisted for the various book awards is outstanding. You can argue that they were all deserving and fantastic writers, I’m sure they are, I’m not here to say they aren’t worth their booker prize. But the amount of women who are worthy and have lost out is astounding.

So here we are in 2018, the year of publishing women, and next to no publishers have partaken.

But I am here to shine light on those who are publishing women only. Some of these publishers have been doing this since the dawn of time, others have recently made the decision for the year whilst others are still publishing men, but they are focusing on those from a non-white background. Because at the end of the day Equality isn’t just for women, it is for all of those who have been neglected because they are not a white man.

But why should you support independent publishing houses? Because, quite simply, they are bringing forth the unique voices that other publishers neglect.

These houses are bringing the stories of women long dead and gone, the narratives of people outside of the western world and the unique tone that realistically, Faber and Faber aren’t going to deliver.

Virago

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Established: 1973

Notable authors: Maya Angelou, Margaret Atwood, Stella Duffy, Sarah Waters, Naomi Wolf

website: https://www.virago.co.uk/

About: You can check out the entire timeline of Virago here which is something to behold. Overall, Virago has always and still to this day remains dedicated to publishing women and celebrating their work.

They were founded by Dame Carmen Callil, they decided to call it Virago which means “heroic war-like woman”. They champion all women from the bitches, to the dragons, to the harpies, to the whores and hussies.

Like Penguin, they have been producing some absolutely stunning cloth bound classics, for authors such as Daphne Du Maurier and Sarah Waters.

They tend to publish literary fiction, I haven’t seen much fantasy or sci-fi or horror from them yet… but their author list is definitely one to watch.

Funfact: the Virago book challenge on Instagram of 2017 was what got me into book blogging.

 

Persephone

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Established: 1998

Notable authors: Cicley Hamilton, Jocelyn Playfair and Emma Smith.

website: http://www.persephonebooks.co.uk/

About: Founded by Nicola Beauman in a room above the pub in the late nineties, Persephone’s aim was to sell a few out of print books by women a year. They aptly named it Persephone for its femininity and links to spring (Zeus’ daughter Persephone is associated with new beginnings).

Their niche became selling and republishing books by women who were out of print -primarily those from 1900. Following their first best seller, (their 21st book) Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson, they were able to set up shop in Bloomsbury, London. They occasionally publish men, but the vast majority of their authors are women.

If you’re ever in London’s Bloomsbury area (Russel Square/Kings Cross ends) you must go to the Persephone shop.
Not only is this shop GORGEOUS and the staff wonderful, but the books are magical. The Persephone books are all bound in a thick paper back of blue/grey with the inside covers all unique wallpaper designs, then the books come with a matching bookmark that contains the blurb!

It’s such an experience going to their shop. Whilst they won’t be publishing any budding new authors, they will rediscover authors that were once lost. And honestly, the books are so unique and they are the classics you would never have found otherwise.

They also do a monthly subscription to receive a book a month!

Oh and one more thing, they stop for tea and cake at 4pm every day. 

And Other Stories

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Established: 2010

Notable authors: Deborah Levy, Vasia Tzanakari and Cristina Rivera Garza

website: http://www.andotherstories.org/

About: &Other Stories (not to be confused with the clothing brand…) is a not for private profit publishing house based in Sheffield, England. The CIC status allows them to publish books on merit rather than profit. They have funding from subscribers and the Art Council and strive to show the importance of publishing outside of the London sphere. They are the only UK house so far to have pledged to publish only women this year. Which is a phenomenal commitment for a publishers that is essentially run on goodwill and donations.

They also run reading  groups!

Jacaranda Books

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Established: 2012

Notable authors: Indu Balachandran, Jess de Boer and Radhika Jha.

website: http://www.jacarandabooksartmusic.co.uk/about/

AboutJacaranda Books Art Music Ltd  is an independent publishers based in London. They opublish Adult fiction and non-fiction, but their focus is on those that cross racial, cultural, gender and linguistic boundaries. Basically, you won’t be seeing any E L James or Ian Rankin on their shelves -phew.

Their mission is to discover and treasure all voices from around the world that are unheard and under represented in the publishing industry. Founded by Valerie Brandes, a publisher with over 10 years of experience and a member of the Fiction Uncovered Industry.

They have an Ebook store as well as books in print. 

 

As someone who has been striving to read more books by People of Colour these four publishing houses are perfect. By just browsing their Authors page I have been able to find so many books that ordinarily wouldn’t appear on my Goodreads feed or my local Waterstones.

Publishing houses like these are fighting the good feminist fight by raising those whose voices have previously not been heard. Plus by buying from these houses, you are helping to fund the authors and artists, rather than the corporate giants over at Penguin and beyond.

I hope I have helped you expand your reading list and for any budding author, hope within the industry!

 

Love,

HRH xox

International Women’s Day: Authors

Hey Dolls,

 

Its finally International Women’s Day!

In honour of this momentous occasion, I am sharing with you some authors who are very close to my heart. These authors aren’t known worldwide like Margaret Atwood or J.K. Rowling, but they are well of their way there.

I have previously written about my Top 5 Feminist Reads or my Top 5 Books to Read in Your Twenties, but today I am taking a look at the women behind the books. These authors have all had a profound effect on me and I hope you love them as much as I do!

Tricia Levenseller

Bio: Tricia Levenseller is a YA author from Oregon, Portland. Her debut novel was Daughter of the Pirate King, followed by its sequel, Daughter of the Siren Queen. Having studied English Language and Editing, she spends her postgrad life writing, reading and playing Overwatch.

Nationality: American

Notable Works: Daughter of the Pirate King, Daughter of the Siren Queen, Warrior of the Wild.

Why: SO, like many of you, I am obsessed with the whole mermaid culture. I love the aesthetic, the style, the costumes and I love the books. So I began trying to find as many books that fed my mythical curiosity as possible, thus stumbled upon Levenseller. In all honesty, one of the biggest things about her Daughter Of books that drew me in was the red head female protagonist. Finally. Representation. That aside, Tricia provides that sea freshness to the YA genre. Her writing is fun, light, imaginative and gives you that girl power kick.

Reni Eddo-Lodge

Bio: Reni Eddo-Lodge is an award winning British journalist and author. She studied English Literature at the University of Central Lancashire and writes freelance for a variety of magazines and other publications.

Nationality: British, Nigerian heritage.

Notable Works: Why I’m no Longer Talking to White People About Race

Why: For my full review and discussion on Why I’m… click here. But for the purposes of this condensed post, I shall summarise. Reni Eddo-Lodge is the most honest, brutal and powerful writer I have read in a long time. We have all heard of her collection of essays, and if that is anything to go by, 2018 is going to be a very exciting year for her. As women, we know how it feels be treated unfairly because of our sex. Reni highlights how black women and women of other ethnic groups, feel this inequality tenfold because of their racial identity. As white women, we cannot understand nor comprehend what that degree is like. We can certainly try to imagine it but there is only so far we can go without experience. But, reading Reni’s essays has really helped me to open my eyes and see that my silence is complicity. My lack of “seeing colour” makes me a bystander to structural racism.

We should all read this book so we can understand the perspective of those who have been previously silenced.

Louise O’Neill

Bio: Louise O’Neill was born in 1985 in Clonakilty, West Cork, Ireland. She has a BA in English Studies from Trinity College Dublin and prior to her career in publishing, she was an assistant stylist at Elle Magazine in New York.

Nationality: Irish

Notable Works: Only Ever Yours, Asking For It, Almost Love, Surface Breaks

Why: Louise O’Neill is the single most powerful writer I have ever come across. Someone once said she writes with a scalpel and that’s putting it mildly. She is the Angela Carter of the 21st century, swapping goths for lip gloss in her writing. Introductions aside, this woman made me a feminist. Through reading her brutally honest chapter in I Call Myself a Feminist I realised it was time to come out as a member of the F word community. Outside of that, she captures exactly what it is to be a young woman in the 4th wave of feminism. From social anxiety, to sex, to the medias portrayal of women, to slut shaming, she some how manages to portray the experiences of thousands of women within a single story.

Why should you read her work? Because it will help you to understand you are not alone.

Julia Ember

Bio: Julia Ember is a bisexual American author, living in Scotland. She has an MA in Medieval Literature, essentially making her a professional viking. She also has two cats named after Harry Potter characters and strives to write diverse stories.
Nationality: American
Notable Works: The Seafarers Kiss, Unicorn Tracks and The Tiger’s Watch
Why? Because for a long, long time, bisexual men and women have been sidelined. Our ability to love all genders has excluded us and thus made non-Bi’s ignorant to us. So Authors like Julia are important. In addition to this, she has written The Seafarers Kiss, an adaptation of The Little Mermaid, and yes, it is LGBTQ!

But why should you read Ember’s work? Because 1. its amazing 2. Its important to read books we wouldn’t normally pick, yes straight laced sally I am talking to you. And 3. she is a fantastic writer with so much talent and she will enrich your life.

Mira T Lee

Bio: Mira T Lee is a debut author of 2018. Prior to the release of Everything Here is Beautiful, she has had short stories published in a plethora of magazines. Outside of writing, she is a salsa dancer, biology graduate, drummer and graphic designer. Master of all trades to say the least.

Nationality: American

Notable Works: Everything Here is Beautiful.

Why: We are all guilty of only reading our favourite authors. So often when a new writer is on the block we haven’t the time to give them. But I promise you Lee is worth it. Her Debut novel Everything Here is Beautiful tells the story of two sisters whose mother has just died. It follows the ups and downs, the mental health, the love, the laughs, the tears that life encompasses and it is truly beautiful.
Why should you read it? In a world where each time we start to understand mental health, something often happens to take us back ten steps. So reading novels that not only beautifully explains what mental illness is, but tells it in such a way it feels as though your very soul has been spilled onto the pages, is just a profound experience, one we all must have.

So there you have it. These are the authors to watch out for this year. All with fantastic books having just been released or about to be.

Go forth women, and read!

Love,

 

HRH xox

 

 

Photos: authors are from their websites and pictures of their books are my own.

Deeds not Words

Hey dolls,

Happy International Women’s day!

How are you celebrating? Vagina shaped food? Night in with the rampant rabbit? Drinking the tears of white men? Whatever it is, let me know in the comments so I can get some inspiration!

This is a day I have always struggled with. For a long time, and still now occasionally, it is a bitter reminder of in the inequality in our world. It is a reminder of all that we are fighting for and it is somewhat terrifying.

But then I remind myself of all we have achieved, and that is something to celebrate.

100 years ago, women (of the age of 30 who had a mortgage… specific I know) could vote. With the rest of us young peasants following ten years later. But this is a very historic year with that in mind. Its the culmination of the Suffragettes, the Times Up movement, Me Too and many more. In recent years 1 in 3 women have declared they are a feminist. But we still have a way to go. We will know we are there when the word feminist becomes redundant. When it is no longer needed in our vocabulary.

But until then, what do we do?

Genuinely how can we as your non-celebrity women make a difference? I think I speak for the masses when I say I am not rich enough to throw money at the situation. I am not rich enough to rescue a homeless woman on the street. Neither am I in a position of power within the work place to cause a revolution! So with this in mind,w hat can I do?

This is something I have thought long and hard about. I tipped the situation on its head and thought “what do I want men to do for me as a woman” and the answer I had for men was the same for women (equality bitches).

So without further ado, these are the Feminist Actions I suggest for all of you.

Donate.

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So I know this is one we might not all be able to do. I don’t mean sending £2 a month to a charity that may or may not be misusing that donation. I am talking about other forms of donations:
Clothes, bedding, household goods etc. how many of us own clothes we don’t wear, and lets face it, never will? Donate them to your local charity shop, or better still, find a homeless shelter in your area as these services are underfunded, understaffed and need all the help they can get. I always think what if something happens and I am homeless? What if I need that level of help? Don’t bin that perfectly good yet unwanted jumper, donate it.
– On that note; Caroline Hirons is accepting donations of cosmetics, toiletries, sanitary goods and all basic women’s essentials. These are including items that have previously been used e.g. a lipstick you used once or twice. So if you have a gift set left over from Christmas that you realistically are not going to use, donate it.
– your time: This can be through a homeless shelter, fundraising events, working for a charity phone line. There have been so many times where I have been incredibly low and unwell and have contacted charities like Mind and the Samaritans and honestly they are life savers.
-money if you are able to.

March.

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Marching and protesting is a topic I raised in my post on March4Women2018 but I cannot tell you how important it is to march!
Dear all owners of a Vagina, if you want to keep owning it, you need to get out there and march. You need to be loud and bold. This might be a sisterhood but your role in protesting is equally as important as mine.

Partake in Online Movements.


This year has seen a plethora of online movements, the majority of which have outed so many individuals and industry professionals who have abused their power. From Kevin Spacey, to Harvey Weinstein, to even members of the Labour party in Britain. Movements such as these are there for your benefit. They are here to show you that you are not alone. Own your femininity, take charge of your voice. Be the Little Mermaid as she was meant to be!
#MeToo
#TimesUp
#shepersisted
#feministfriday

Call Yourself a Feminist.

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I know this is easier said than done, but shout it in public. Or if you live in London and shouting in public is a punishable offence under the act of No Talking of the Tube, then wear a badge saying FEMINIST break down that barrier that people associate with the F word. My poor boss is so used to my feminist teeshirts, badges and rants that he probably thinks its my name.

Educate Yourselves.

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I know a lot of us associate education with nights spent crying trying to write an essay on a book we just “read” on sparknotes, but it doesn’t have to be. There are so many fantastic books out there that preach the feminist manifesto much better than any high school teacher. Head over to Our Shared Shelf  and have a browse. Or check out this selection here or alternatively, next time you pick up a book for your holiday, read one by a woman.
If you love a good soppy romance try authors such as Colleen Hoover, Louise O’Neill or Taylor Jenkins Reed.
Like fantasy? Check out Sarah J Maas or Deborah Harkness or N K Jemisin.
Want a bit of Non fiction? Well then, Reni Eddo-Lodge, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Caitlin Moran are the girls for you.
Or if you just want a good book with a strong woman to narrate it head over to your bookstore and interrogate the staff. Trust me, they love talking about books.

The bottom line is feminism is constantly learning and evolving, we must go with it.

Be Bold.

by this I mean, when you see inequality or any kind of degrading action, call it out! I know it’s difficult, this is something I myself have only recently started to do. It’s difficult as young women to address our seniors and explain to them where they are going wrong, especially in the workplace. I attended an awards evening for a CEO to stare at my cleavage all night. I didn’t have the courage to tell him to stop because I was worried my words would be twisted for aggression and I would get into trouble. But be bold girls, and you boys. Stand up for yourselves and those around you. Voice your opinions, be braver than me, make a difference to your world.

On this note, men in the work place, if your colleague makes a comment that might seem funny but in reality is derogatory or sexist, call them the fuck out. You are in a position where your voice is heard above all others. You wouldn’t sit and allow someone to make that comment about your loved ones, so why allow it for the rest of us?

Care International has posted this in the wake of #March4Women so by all means have a look and check them out should you want to work with a charity.

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Well people, I hope this has all inspired you to don your feminist hat and not be afraid to take it off.

Happy international women’s day and remember;

Deeds Not Words.

Love,

HRH xox

March4Women2018

Hey Dolls,

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It’s finally International Women’s month! And in celebration of the event, I took part in my first (I know) Women’s March on Sunday the 4th in London.

As this was my first march, I was a) a little nervous and b) somewhat unprepared. As a result, I have decided to share with you all my experience and how you can prepare for a march, and of course, why you should march!

First of all, the march itself;

March4Women in London was hosted by Care International a charity that fights poverty and injustice around the world, thus making our sweet little globe a better place to live.

The March started at 12:00 just outside of Parliament, then heading in the direction towards Trafalgar Square and outside the National Portrait Gallery for all the talks to take place.

I headed off with my Fellow Femme Feminista Belle and with the help of google maps, we made it. On our way there, we saw no one who looked like they would be marching, i.e. no one was brandishing signs like we were. Naturally we got a few looks. Bloody feminazi’s eh?

But alas, we made it to Parliament where the lovely event stewards showed us the right way and we joined a whole host of women for the march.

The march itself was roughly an hour long, with lots of whooping, chanting, a bit of singing and some drums. When we reached Trafalgar square, the lovely Sue Perkins was just beginning her introduction. We had speeches from Helen Pankhurst -Emmeline Pankhurst’s Granddaughter (aka the original suffragette) who read her grandmothers original speech! Incredibly atmospheric to say the least.

Followed by a speech from Sadiq Khan the mayor of London.

“I have three facts. 1. My name is Sadiq Khan, 2. I am the Mayor of London, and 3. unlike the President of the United States Donald Trump I am a PROUD FEMINIST”

Naturally at this interval we all started to weep. #SadiqKhanisbae

We had poetry readings, speeches, campaign announcements from a plethora of fantastic women. Such as Anne-Marie Duff, Bianca Jagger, Natalie Imbruglia, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Salena Godden, Urban Voices Collective, Nazma Akter, Sandi Toksvig, Faeeza Vaid, David Arnold, Shola Mos-Shogbamimu and the cast of Sadler’s Wells new production Sylvia. We were spoiled to say the least.

These talks and shows continued for two hours before the event concluded at 3pm.

Another speech that really stuck in my mind was from Nazma Akter, who is a labour leader in Bangladesh. She has essentially revolutionised the workers rights in factories and has motivated me to look at my own spending (thus fuelling by default) in shops that do not pay their workers fairly.

“When Clothes are cheap, women are cheap” 

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Now, the Do’s and Don’ts

 

  1. Do not wear stupid shoes. It’s a march for a reason. With risk of sounding like my mother, wear sensible shoes.
  2. Do bring a sign! Make it as bright, colourful, glittery, bold, delicate, as you like. Go to town. Just don’t be the weird person there who was waving a sign saying “down with the hijab”, whatever your feelings on feminism and faith, this is an occasion for everyone so waving signs that are shouting excluding thoughts isn’t cool.
  3. eat before you go and bring water/a snack. Honestly I ate at 10am, was at the March by 12 and by 2pm I was dying of hunger.
  4. This is London, if its not raining its because we have sacrificed another politician to Poseidon of the Thames. Given we don’t do that too often, it will be raining. So wear a coat that protects you from the damp.
  5. Finally, plan your way there and back! Tube stations on Sunday are temperamental and roads are closed for the March, so bare this in mind.

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Why should you march?

Given that I am now 23 and this is my first march speaks volumes about my commitment to feminism. But the past year I have truly become a “social justice warrior” so it makes sense for me to venture out like the uruk-hai descending on Helms Deep.

me aside, why should you march? what is the benefit?  A recent survey showed that 40% of Britons think feminism has gone far enough, yet of that 40% most of them believe there is a pay gap… hmm.

Well you should March for the pay gap. The tampon tax. The laws and regulations surrounding Abortion, Rape, Sexual Harassment, the very fundamental flaws of our society that teaches men to be macho and women to be docile. If you aren’t happy with the way our world is, then fight it!

What will marching achieve?

I think the Suffragettes showed just what we are capable of if we march!
Whats that? We have the right to vote what else could we possibly want? Well, we would like there to be no Tampon Tax, no pay gap, no fear of sexual harassment by our superiors, not having to phone someone on the way home at night so we can stay safe because far too many men think its okay to stalk a woman.

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Women, girls, anyone who has experienced any of the above or any form of inequality because of their genitals: MARCH.

Oh and by marching it will show that we are a force to be reckoned with. That we will not be complicit and wait patiently, that we are to be heard!

And at the end of the day, this march is for all our rights. Men, Women, Transgender, these are your rights that this march is fighting for.

Also, a little known fact that we so often take for granted. In England, it is our right to peacefully protest (as in to march and protest without smashing up the gaff). In so many countries, there is no right to protest. Look at Pussy Riot in Russia, protesters in America, even those in Turkey on the same day as our march were being arrested for doing the exact same thing. Use your right to vote, to march, to protest, to live.

That aside, the March is very fun and the atmosphere is amazing and you can meet some lovely people.

 

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I hope to see you all on the next march…

 

Love

 

HRH xox

Books to Read in Your Twenties

 

Originally posted on Almost Writers

Hey Dolls,

As a woman rapidly approaching 23, I am absorbing every single “what to do in your twenties” list Buzzfeed can offer me.

I’m not even a quarter of a century old and I am having a midlife crisis. What should I be doing in my twenties? I can tell you what these articles think I should be doing and that’s going travelling.

Now, when I finished college/sixth form, I wanted to move out of my small town in Norfolk Asap. I didn’t care for travelling; I just wanted to reinvent myself. So I moved to London for university and began working and studying. Sadly, from that point on there was never an opportunity for me to go travelling. And the brutal reality of post-grad life when you’re from a working-class family is unless you have the savings account of Tommy Wiseau, you’re not going anywhere.

So as all book-lovers, I have substituted my lack of travelling ability for books, thus the art of travelling in my mind. To be fair, if I hadn’t spent all my money on buying books I might have been able to afford a weekend in Europe… but alas, maybe I can go when Brexit has evolved into the state of Gilead and made me a wife…

Upon these “travels” I have discovered the books one really needs to read in their twenties. These are the kind of books that shape you as a person, that leaves some deep impact on you. And whilst Carrie Bradshaw knows shoes, I know books. So these recommendations are pretty spot on.

These aren’t the classics that your English teacher bleated on about in GCSE Literature. Neither are these the books that Richard and Judy would recommend in their book club. But these are books that will make you feel something profound.

Tipping the Velvet,
By Sarah Waters

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Ideal for: those in need of some LGBTQ love.

Pages: 472

Chapters: 19

Published: 1998
Everyone has heard of Tipping the Velvet. It is the Harry Potter of Lesbian Fiction. Even your Nan has heard of it. But for those of you who haven’t indulged in all things gay, Waters is the queen of lesbian fiction. It’s not all scissoring and undercuts as most stereotypes of “lesbian” will have you believe.

Tipping the Velvet is set in Victorian England and tells the story of showgirl Kitty and her biggest fan, Nan King. Without any spoilers, it is about their passionate love affair and all those that follow.

Why have I added this to my list? Firstly, I am a bisexual woman. Being able to explore my sexuality through literature is the best place to start. Secondly, it’s the 21st Century, whether your an “ally” to the LGBTQ+ community, or a member or maybe just curious. Tipping the Velvet is a perfect novel for any woman wanting to explore sex.

Fun fact: Tipping the velvet means cunnilingus. \:p/

How to Be a Woman,

By Caitlin Moran

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Ideal for: those who need a manual to womanhood.

Chapters: 16

Pages: 309

Published: 2011

Caitlin Moran is an Irish journalist and feminist. As a strident feminist, she has been featured on Our Shared Shelf, the feminist book club run by Emma Watson. Whenever I discuss feminist literature I always feel obliged to state that it is NOT stuffy, academic, guilt trip inducing, man-hating propaganda that we often associate feminism with. On the contrary, it is quite the opposite.

Feminist literature is uplifting, inspiring and relatable. Every single feminist book I have read to date has never made me feel guilty nor fuelled my dislike for men. Men have done that successfully by themselves. Caitlin Moran’s autobiography is no different. Each chapter is based on a different moment that every woman will experience. From your first period to discovering fingering, to shaving your legs with your dad’s razor, all the way to leaving home and being an adult. Moran fills the pages with hilarious stories of her growing up into a woman.  Honestly, it made me laugh on the London Underground. That’s how good it is.

Why have I included this? Because girls, in our twenties we become “women”. Most of us have experienced independence through leaving home, going to work, having relationships and essentially being our own boss. If we don’t know how to be women now, when will we? Plus this book covers all aspects of womanhood that you don’t quite feel like discussing with your mum.

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People about Race,

By Reni Eddo-Lodge

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Ideal for; White People, especially those who do not think they are racist.

Chapters and pages; Seven chapters and 247 pages.

Published; 2017

So this is the Our Shared Shelf book of January/February 2018. In 2014, Lodge wrote a blog post detailing why she was no longer talking about race to white people. The blog blew up, thousands of people took offence, calling her racists for her assumptions on white peoples racism, whilst others begged her not to give up on white people, and to tell them how to make it better. So, this book was born.

Why I’m No Longer… discusses the systematic racism in our society. From black history to white feminism, to issues of class and white privilege, it shows how Racism is a white identity. It shows how racism is so ingrained in our lives that short of the N-word being shouted, most white people won’t notice it. This is the most eye-opening read I have ever experienced. Like a lot of “progressive” white millennials, I like to think I “don’t see colour” and that to not talk about race or even acknowledge it, is the best method. As Lodge clearly points out, this childish plugging of the ears and screwing of the eyes is making me a bystander. So whilst I won’t be opening most conversations with the topic of racism, I will no longer be afraid to talk about it. Oh and, if this title did offend you, you really do need to read it.

Why have I included this? Because we are the next generation, we are duty bound to make the future a better one. Most of us are going to end up in positions of power in some shape or form. Whether that is in a management hierarchy, government, school, family, we are responsible for what comes next. It is our job to learn about racism and how to improve the future, not just for ourselves but for EVERYONE.

I Call Myself A Feminist; The View From Twenty-Five Women Under Thirty

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Ideal for: Women under the age of 30 who need to know they are not alone.

Pages: 269

Chapters: 25

Published: 2015

So this book is essentially the bible of being a millennial feminist. I know, because I am one! As much as I adore and admire feminists who have lived it and seen it all, I need someone within my age group to relate to. As I’m sure many of you will agree, there are some things that people who aren’t our age just don’t get. And I’m not talking about our £6 cups of coffee or our avocado on toast, more our relationship to the feminist movement. It is vital that we understand the importance of our own voices. We will be the old ones one day and until that time where the wisdom that only age can bring kicks in, we have to fight. Our twenties are for fighting for our rights, our lives, everything that we care for.

In short, this book is exactly what it says it is; a selection of women under 30 discussing why they are a feminist. Each chapter is short and sweet and rather reads like a magazine column. There is nothing intimidating or guilt-tripping about this collection of voices, if anything, it’s oddly comforting being able to find solace in the experiences of these women.

Why have I included this? Because our voices matter, and as such, we need to listen to each other and understand one another.

It is also one of the best books to read if you are still unsure about the F word.

The Bloody Chamber,

By Angela Carter

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Ideal for: Lovers of fairy tales, the gothic and femme fatales.

Pages: 149

Chapters: 10

Published: 1979

Ange. Angie Carter. Angela Fucking Carter. Girls, this woman is your fairy godmother. But instead of being motherly she’s more your Morticia Adams with wings. In case GCSE English Literature missed her out, Angela Carter is your Goth queen of fairy tales and feminism. Why should you read these in your twenties? Because this is the time to embrace your sexuality, not hide from it as they stories previously taught us.

The Bloody Chamber is a selection of 10 short fairy tales adapted from previous well-known classics. From The Snow Queen to Puss in Boots all the way to Little Red Riding Hood, these stories are sexy, scandalous and can be damn weird.

Why have I included this? Because fairy tales taught us when we were children; they taught us morals and rights and wrongs. Yet they were often crooked and played to an agenda that we no longer care for. So it’s time we had some new tales, fairy or not, The Bloody Chamber is the answer.

I hope you can navigate your twenties better than I have done. I have seven years left and my mental age is probably around 35 whilst I have the face of a 16-year-old. So by the law of averages, I am still in my twenties.

Regardless, I hope that these books and authors shape you and give you the perspective we often need at this time in our life, even if that makes you into someone slightly neurotic, passionate, narcissistic and extra. That’s fine.

Never apologise for being a woman. Whether you’re a cis-ster or sister, anyone who identifies as a woman should be proud to do so and should be given the freedom to do so.

Love,
HRH xox

P.s.
Here is my bonus list of authors you should really read in and out of your twenties. They are a mixture of Fantasy, Contemporary, Poetry, Essays and just damn good literature.

  • Robin Hobb
  • Deborah Harkness
  • Marissa Meyer
  • S J Maas
  • Naomi Novik
  • Carrie Fisher
  • Stella Duffy
  • Eve Ensler
  • Hilary Mantel
  • Kate Millet
  • Roxane Gay
  • Marjane Satrapi
  • Patricia Highsmith
  • JK Rowling
  • Audre Lorde
  • Octavia Butler
  • Margaret Atwood
  • Malinda Lo
  • Mary Beard
  • Rin Chupero
  • Holly Black
  • Virginia Woolf

Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race

By Reni Eddo-Lodge

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Stars: 5/5

Ideal for; White People. Especially those who do not think they are racist. White People that are racist, you’re going to need more help.

Avoid if; you’re a racist and proud. You’re lost already.

Age; YA and above

Chapters and pages; Seven chapters and 247 pages.

Published; 2017

First off, for all those offended by this books title, read it.

This book is incredibly honest, accurate and hard hitting. In all honesty, there are moments I felt uncomfortable reading this. Because it addresses so many issues that I, as a white woman, would never have acknowledged.

Reni Eddo-Lodge presents a thoroughly researched account of black history, politics and feminism. With interviews from the creator of Black History Month to Nick Griffin, Reni explores all aspects of Britain’s racism.

I’m ashamed to admit that prior to seeing this book on Our Shared Shelf, I wouldn’t have picked it up. I would have thought “but I’m not racist! Racism doesn’t affect me, I don’t see colour, etc.” And for all of you who think that, that is exactly why we need to read this book. We refuse to acknowledge racism in our society because we think by ignoring it, that by viewing everyone as “just humans”, the problem will go away. It won’t.

Each chapter discusses a different aspect of racism; history, system, white privilege, fear of a black planet, feminism, class, and the future. So I will review this book by its chapters as each raises so many discussions, of which I shall summarise each chapter in bullet points with my views alongside.

Black History

Like most people in Britain, my education with Black History started And ended with Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks. Not that this part of history is invalid, its just not the full picture.

I knew Britain had a sinister history in regards to people of colour. From the slave trade, to the British Empire ans to the more recent Brexit and BNP/UKIP parties. But there is quite a jump between those periods, thus missing our own civil rights movement.

“Racism does not erupt from nothing, rather it is embedded in British Society. It’s in the very core of how the state is set up. its not external. its in the system”.

This history is vital to our understanding of racism in Britain. Here are some of the key facts I discovered from this chapter.

  • Abortion of slavery introduced 1833, less than 200 years ago, It had been operating for 270 years.
  • 1987 London begins to celebrate black history
  • The Windrush Generation of 1948
  • Over a million Indian soldiers fought for Britain in WW1. Despite the war having nothing to do with India. They were told India would be freed from the colonial rule. This was revoked.
  • Newport Riots 1919: rumours of a black man slighting a white woman circulated.
  • In 1919 Charles Wootton, a black sailor, was thrown into Kings Dock and pelted with Bricks until he died. This followed by any black person in Liverpool being attacked by white people on site.
  • League of Coloured Peoples established 1931
  • Dr Harold Moody; a black doctor who was in a relationship with a white woman of whom he had children with.
  • Anthropologist Rachel M. Fleming researched “hybrid children” aka, mixed race children.
  • British Nationality Act 1948: a law that gave all commonwealth victims the same rights as British subjects.
  • LandLord Peter Rachman, creator of “Rachmanism” a concept which is still around today in which landlords exploit their tenants and subject them to slum like living conditions. Black people were mainly subjected to Rachman as he was the only landlord who would let property to them.
  • 1958 Notting Hill Teddy Boys begin rioting, hunting and attacking any black person they saw.
  • In 2002, government documents revealed that the police had successfully convinced Home Secretary Rab Butler that the Nottinghill riots of the late 50’s was nothing to do with race.
  • Labour MP Archibald Fenner Brockway and the Race Descriminations Act 1960
  • Oswald Mosley, founder of the British Union of Fascists, returns to politics.
  • 1962, Commonwealth Immigration Act, essentially revoking the British Nationality Act of 48. Those from the Commonwealth and beyond who wished to live in Britain had to have a job secured.
  • 1965 Britain’s first ever Race Relations Act. Stating that overt racial discrimination was no longer legal in public spaces -but excluding shops or private housing.
  • 1965 Guy Bailey and the Bristol Omnibus Company.
  • 1970 Police Officers often wielded a section of the 1824 Vagrancy Act, of which they could harass anyone who looked “suspicious”. Nine times out of ten, this meant anyone of colour.
  • 1982 John Fernandes, a black sociology lecturer attempted to teach the police force how their behaviour was racist.
  • 1985, police officers burst into the Groce Family home, shooting the mum, Cherry, in the chest whilst proceeding to shout at her for information on her son. Cherry Groce was left paralysed from the waist down. Needless to say at this point the Groce Family is black.
  • 1985, Floyd Jarrett, a young black man is arrested for having an out of date tax disc. The Police search his home, which he shared with his elderly mother, sister and niece. They let themselves into his home with his keys because they suspect he has stolen goods. An officer pushed Floyd’s mother, causing her to fall, have a heart attack and die. Her death was labelled “accidental”.

This book taught me so much about British History I felt incredibly embarrassed to not know. From the Bristol Bus Drivers to the various laws in place that have deprived justice to victims of racism, I knew none of it. And I’ll bet not many other people do too. We are all vaguely aware of black history in Britain. Much like we are aware of events around the world but realistically know nothing. Being aware and knowing are two very different states I have learned.

The System

  • Stephen Lawrence, 1993
  • 2012, nineteen years after Lawrence’s murder, his killers are finally punished.
  • Systematic Racism; how our relationship with racism has distorted and infected equal opportunity.
  • How laws have not benefited but work against people of colour.

We live in a world that is against non-white people. That’s the truth.

We have always associated racism with white extremism and nationalism and use of the N word. But the harsh reality is, its in our every day lives. We assume that because the N word hasn’t been used, the action cannot be called racist. We cannot recognise racism because we have trained ourselves to ignore it. If it does not affect us, we will not care.We think that by eliminating racism, by refusing to acknowledge it, it will go away. It is a childish, stunted way of tackling racism. But sadly it is the approach that so many of us are taking.

“I don’t see colour”

Prior to reading this book, I thought it was the best method. I thought that if I didn’t discuss race, if I didn’t see it, it would cease to exist. Yep good one Harriet.

But seeing Race is what we need to change the system. Like we want men to acknowledge we are women who are different to men, yet we should be celebrated as different, I believe this is the approach we need to take to ensure that racism is changed.

White Privilege

  • What we, as white people, take for granted. The opportunities that we are offered, the lives we lead, the choices we are able to make.
  • Fact: white people have not, and cannot experience racism.
  • White privilege is the automatic sense of trust that is extended to you in any situation. Reni draws on an experience in a job interview, of which she was interrogated over her tweets about racism. I on the other hand, routinely tweet Donald Trump a whole variety of insults and political questions. Yet I have never once been questioned over it.
  • White privilege is being seen as “diverse” and “intersectional” when we talk about race. Whilst anyone who isn’t is seen as the “angry black man/woman”.
  • White privilege is feeling angry when the “race card” is played.

Reni says that racism and black identity are very different things. Racism is a white identity. Racism is this bizarre fear white people have inherited over the centuries against people of colour. If there is one thing to take away from this book it is this distinction. White people are racist. It is a white identity.

“Racism’s legacy does not exist without purpose. It bring with it not just a dis-empowerment by those affected by it, but an empowerment for those who are not.”

I went to university with a guy whose family was from Pakistan. He had a “foreign” sounding name and couldn’t get a job. Thus he began the process of legally changing his name to a more western sounding one. At first, I found this baffling. Surely, surely in 2015, this was not the case? This is London! The home of diversity! In my white privilege, I could not imagine a world in which my name would exclude me from opportunities. But in hindsight, I understand his concerns and I wish I could have understood sooner.

“The idea of White Privilege forces white people who aren’t actively racist to confront their own complicity in its continuing existence. White Privilege is dull grinding complacency.”

An aspect that this book heavily discusses, and has indeed been discussed many times before is, can white people be on the receiving end of racism?

Once upon a time I would have thought yes. To me, racism was discriminating against someone because of the colour of the skin. In one very basic form it is. But, and this is a big but, as a white person, you can be treated with prejudice, malice, and unkindness, but at no point in your life will you ever experience racism. It is not as simple as being judged and treated differently based on the colour of your skin. Racism is a whole system. It is a system that has been brewing and evolving for years against anyone who isn’t white. Therefore, you cannot ever experience racism. Also, the only time you can take offence from being called a cracker is if you are in fact a biscuit, and even then, you need to reevaluate your life.

Fear of a Black Planet

  • Enoch Powell, 1963 “The black man will have the whip hand over the white man”.
  • An Interview with Nick Griffin 
  • Token Characters and those who are assumed to be white.
  • Black Hermione Granger
  • Black representation

Black representation is something I have become acutely aware of recently. In light of an all girls Ghost Busters remake, a new Oceans film with an all female cast, and Daisy Ridley the first ever female jedi/protagonist. It’s been an exciting few years to be a woman. Finally we are being represented as dynamic individuals! Yet, these are almost all white women.

“White people are so used to seeing a reflection of themselves in all representations of humanity at all times, that they only notice it when its taken away from them.”

I get annoyed as a woman when I don’t see other women in positions of power. I feel let down and misrepresented. I get excited when I read a book and the protagonist and I have something in common. I was elated to read Tricia Levenseller’s Daughter of the Pirate King and discover the protagonist was a red head. Since delving into the world of book bloggers and thus discovering more and more fandoms, I have discovered how white this all is. At first, I thought, why? Reading is something anyone should enjoy. But, I soon discovered that this is because so many authors write white protagonists. These past few years have seen a huge increase in women who write fantasy. They have spawned thousands of devoted fans. From SJMaas and her ACOTAR series to Marissa Meyer and the Lunar Chronicles. I explored the fan art of these fandoms and was taken aback by how white their interpretations are. These fandom’s are excluding people of colour from them through their lack of identifiable characters!

As a book blogger, I like to live the lives I physically cannot live. Yet I probably own a grand total of five books by women of colour. Why do I not actively or even subconsciously gravitate towards books that discuss race? A part of me is scared. A part of me thinks that reading books by people of colour will make me confront my own role within this very racist society. I’m not out there being your generic slim head, yet I’m not out there protesting at black lives matter either. It’s also shame. I am ashamed at the fact I haven’t explored or made an effort to learn more about the black literature. It’s like how I said with feminist reads a while ago, they aren’t hard reads, they are accessible to all. So why should reading a book by a woman of colour be any different? Maybe because I know the premise is one in which I won’t be able to physically identify with the narrator. Yet I’ve managed to read far too many series with a white straight man leading when I have more in common with a woman of colour than I do a man. It’s a mess. A confusing mess.

The Feminism Question

  • White feminism
  • “Feminism, at its best, is a movement that works to liberate all people who have been economically, socially and culturally marginalised by an ideological system that has been design for them to fail. That means disabled people, black people, trans people, women and non-binary people, LGB people and working class people”
  • Intersectional Feminism

The topic of White Feminism is what drew me to this book in the first place. Emma Watson was dubbed a white feminist and thus set out to explore that entire concept. As someone who religiously follows Our Shared Shelf, and who looks to women like Emma Watson for guidance on her feminist literature, I knew I had to follow suit.

White feminism is the horrible part of feminism that doesn’t fight nor acknowledge the rights of people of colour.White Feminism sees racism as another issue, something that feminism shouldn’t be involved with. It’s the “We will come back to that one later…”. White Feminism is concerned with a very narrow minded view of what women’s rights means.

Reni draws on experiences where she has been in feminist discussions and has pointed out the lack of black representation in the world of modelling. The white women in the room awkwardly bumbled over the subject and tried to make it out like it wasn’t an issue. They later took offence at Reni and some other women of colour having their own separate feminist group. It is in my personal opinion that these white feminists do this because they are naive. Like many of us, they assume that if they don’t talk about race, racism will cease to exist.

“Your silence will not protect you. Who wins when we don’t speak? Not us.”

For a long time I really resented the notion of “intersectional feminism”. This means that you support the rights of all humans from all corners of the world. I hated that the word feminism wasn’t for everyone. I hated the flaw in such a beautiful word. But as Reni says, feminism has a long way to go. It is still learning, still evolving, still adapting to this world. As a result, we feminists must go with it. We must learn more, we must keep up and be aware. So, I am an intersectional feminist and I am proud.

Racism and Class

  • examining the relationship between working class people who are black and those who are white.
  • “white working class communities”
  • the offence white people have taken over the increasing people of colour in industries and the opportunities they receive.

This chapter really highlighted how many people associate working class and white to be the same thing. When in actual fact, the majority of working class people are black. This is because Britain still associates working class with the 1940’s rose tinted lenses view. They are seen as the backbone of the country, which they are, but what they aren’t is exclusively white. Given how our society has organised itself against all non-white people, it is no surprise that the majority of our low earners are people of colour. They are simply not given the same opportunities. White privilege at its finest again.

Reni also highlights how the assumption of rich immigrants coming here and stealing “our” jobs is actually a very very low percentage. This also draws attention to the frequent confusion by a lot of white people that the world beyond ours isn’t all tribes tents and medieval garb. There was a lot of upset when some white people saw refugees from Syria with Iphones. SMH.

There’s No Justice, There’s Just Us.

  • How to end racism
  • Racism cannot be countered by white guilt.
  • Stop wallowing in self pity.
  • Get out there and do something.

This book isn’t a blue print on how to stop racism 101. That’s down to us, the readers, the bystanders, the people who are blinded by their privilege. But this book will educate you more than a class room ever can.

To everyone who has taken offence by this books title, you are the exact person who needs to read this. Once upon a time I probably would have thought along the same lines as you; “not all white people are the same FYI” or “please don’t give up on white people”. but the harsh reality is that we are all guilty of turning a blind eye to racism. Racism isn’t just the verbal and physical abuse we associate the word with. It is a system. It is something so entrenched in our society it’s maddening! We have all benefited from being white, whether we want to admit it or not. That is what has happened. You might think you have never stood by and watched but you probably have and you probably haven’t acknowledged the scenario let alone watched.

Reni emphasises the importance in talking about race. The moment we brush it under the carpet, we become an enabler of it. Yet at the same time, this doesn’t mean asking insensitive questions. Nor does it mean heaping on the white guilt in conversation. Just talk. Discuss the topic. Ask questions. Be a normal person.

But as Reni also says; stop feeling guilty. Stop wallowing in the self pity of white guilt. Get out there and be angry. Talk about race. No matter how scary it might seem at first. Don’t shut down conversations, explore them.

Just do something!

I am far from perfect, my education is far from over. I am nowhere near being the perfect feminist. My ideas and beliefs are still evolving. Reading this book is not admitting defeat, you are not resigning yourself to being a racist or a bad person. You are opening yourself to the possibility of being a better person.

So please, give this book a chance.

Love,

HRH xox

Feminist Reads

My Top 5 Feminist Reads

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Good Afternoon dolls,

I am back at work after my wonderful Christmas break and am feeling the pain.

Not just the pain of my sheer lack of sleep, but the pain of watching the Golden Globes the other night.

As we all know, the #TimesUp Movement, hosted by numerous Hollywood women to raise money, hope and power for those who have been victims of sexual assault, is in full swing. The stars wore black in solidarity to their cause, and brought activists with them to the ceremony to preach their message loud and clear;

Time is Up. 

However, it was the journalists of the evening that truly let us all down. Instead of discussing the biggest topic of the evening, the Times Up movement, they awkwardly tried to ask about fashion choices and the films of the evening.

I can appreciate it is tradition to treat award ceremonies like a live exhibition of gorgeous clothes, but there are occasions where one can deviate from tradition. Instead of asking the stars who designed said black dress, perhaps ask them why?

Cosmopolitan’s Amy Odell wrote a fantastic article of the sheer madness that this ceremony became because of the media in attendance. I think its fair to say that E! News was the most shocking with their decision to cut away from activist Tanara Burke, creator of the #MeToo movement (!!) when she began to discuss her work.

Now, I read books for escape. Like everyone else, I like to immerse myself in a world that can provide a sanctuary from my day to day life. However, books are also here to teach us. Learning isn’t always tedious and reminiscent of school, learning is often a subconscious journey, one we suddenly emerge from as a new and better person.

Reading Feminist literature is like that.

It’s very easy to assume that “Feminist Literature” means cock waving, boring, angry speeches, with references to the first feminists that none of us knew. I know because I once thought like that.

I once assumed Feminism meant women before men. That it was about blaming men for everything and condemning them for crimes of the past. I was surrounded by men who had never embraced feminism and only saw its bad side. They were the men that saw the statistics of innocent men punished for crimes they did not commit. They were the men that assumed all women were lying and attention seeking, the kind of men that called Kim Kardashian only famous for having tits and a sex tape. They were the men that spawned the hashtag “Feminism is Cancer”.

But I am here to tell you it isn’t like that.

Reading Feminist Literature is like reading any other novel, except you are guaranteed that wonderful moment of “hey, I think like that too, this character totally gets me!”. I emphasise, feminist literature isn’t gruelling, boring, guilt trip inducing material. In fact, they often read like blogs and will connect you, your experiences and your thoughts to women around the world who you never knew existed.

So I am here to introduce to you my top 5 feminist reads that have made a lasting impact on me.


Best for Epiphany:
I Call Myself A Feminist: 25 women under the age of 30.

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Stars: 5/5

Ideal for: anyone under the age of 30!

Avoid if: you are dealing with trauma. This is a raw read.

Age range: 13-30

Chapters: 25

Pages: 269

Published: 2015

As far as feminist Reads go, this is very easy and is broken down into very small chapters per author. The language isn’t difficult or academic. It’s like you’re sitting in the room with them and chatting about their experiences.

As a 22 year old woman, the aspect that I enjoyed the most was having the opinion of someone from my generation. Someone who understood what it was to be a young adult in the 21st century. To anyone who isn’t a “lazy, self indulgent millennial” you might laugh. What horrors do us millennials know! How can women of today possibly understand the true horrors of the past? Well, we can’t. There are many things us western girls take for granted. We have the ability to vote, speak out minds, wear whatever we like and hold hands with other girls without being arrested.

So with this in mind, its easy to feel guilty when we experience 21st century sexism.

The whole “We don’t have it as bad as they did” argument is poisonous. It makes it easy for us to forgive and forget, to allow behavior that realistically shouldn’t be permitted.

I Call Myself A Feminist explores what it is like to be a present day feminist, helping you to not feel so alone and naive. It validates your experiences and your identity as a feminist.

“The F Word is Fairness.” -Kate Mosse

This book enabled me to connect with a part of myself I had kept hidden for years. It was Louise ONeill’s account of sexual abuse and how it affected her relationship with the women around her that helped me to forgive myself. When you’ve had someone force themselves on you and get away with it, you are consumed with so much anger and hurt.

For me, disappointment in myself was big. I was ashamed that I hadn’t spoken louder, that I hadn’t screamed or called for help or even tried to lash out. Instead, I froze up. I was 13 years old and I had my first boyfriend. I wanted to just hold hands and be cute at school. He said to me “there isn’t a thing I wouldn’t do for you” I said “me too”, my thirteen year old mind couldn’t comprehend what he really meant. He pulled my top down. The my shorts, tights and pants. I was wearing Mr Men pants from Topshop. I barely felt comfortable in the gym changing room let alone with a boy.

He said “you’ll like this trust me” I said “I’ll pass thanks”, he did it anyway. Naturally, word got out, rumours flew around about me at school, everyone was furious, with me. He was commended as some kind of war hero, whilst I became the school slut. I had boys making up rhymes about me, girls giving me filthy looks. Even my own friends were dumbfounded. No one asked me if I was okay. Because no one asked, no one knew. Because no one knew, I felt irrelevant and that how I felt was wrong.

You’re probably asking “well, why were you alone with him?” Because at that age I never imagined what would happen. I was young, naive and childish. People have said to me since “what did you expect! being alone with a boy” I didn’t expect it. But he did. And that’s the problem.

Somehow, somewhere along the line, children are assuming that its the done thing. They are assuming that it is a rite of passage to touch someone up and that if they say no, being called frigid is the worst thing imaginable.

I’m not sharing this story to receive sympathy or attention, I am sharing it because sexual abuse doesn’t always mean being dragged into a bush late one night on the way home, kicking and screaming. I want people to realise that when someone takes advantage of you in a vulnerable position, you are not at fault. Because in your terror you froze up and didn’t fight, it does’t make you a coward or to blame.

YOU ARE NOT TO BLAME.

It took me such a long time to realise that I had no fault in what happened and if sharing this can help anyone else realise that they are not at fault then I will gladly preach this.

I was angry at him for a long time. But, it is in my opinion that he was as much a victim as I was. Society taught him that he could help himself to my body. That is the chain feminism wants to break.

It made me realise why I am a feminist: to break this chain of abuse.

I am a feminist.


Best Comedy:

How to be a woman

By Caitlin Moran

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Stars: 5/5

Ideal for: all women

Avoid if: you don’t want to risk laughing until you cry in public. Messy business.

Age range: 16+

Chapters: 16

Pages: 309

Published: 2011

For any of you who don’t know, Caitlin Moran is hilarious. She has five books now, How To Be A Woman was her second, published in 2011. This book serves as a memoir with a focus on being a woman. From periods, to orgasms, to naming your vagina, to dating, to children and abortion, and to career. It covers a whole range of experiences, each one of them relating back to feminism and delivered with so much gusto and humour that it is impossible to not laugh! (See section on naming your daughter Cunt)

The most redeeming thing about this book, outside of how much it will make you laugh, is how it simplifies feminism.

Do you think everyone should have equal rights?

“Congratulations! You’re a feminist” -Moran

Also, my favourite moment in this book will always be when Moran’s sister is told that she will want children when she finds the right man, to which she replies

“When Mrya Hindley met her right man, it was Ian Brady.”

Nothing will ever shut up those pesky baby boomers quite like the uttering of a child killer.

It discusses all aspects of sexism, such as appearance, work and porn. With regards to the first two, Moran essentially says, Girls, do what ever you want to do. Be a lap dancer, be a porn star, be a model. Flaunt your bodies or don’t. Just whatever it is, do it for YOU. Moran states how porn isn’t inherently bad. Only the way it is portrayed. The moment we get some decent porn that isn’t all about some woman having an explosive orgasm upon entry then we are good.

Although, if you are one of those women who can achieve an orgasm from penetration alone tell me your secrets.

This book gave me the confidence I needed to wear my feminism on my sleeve. It brought me out of the feminist closet and taught me to not be afraid.


Best Short Read:

We Should All Be Feminists

by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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stars: 5/5

Ideal for: E V E R Y O N E.

Avoid if: it’s simple, don’t avoid it.

Age Range: All

Pages: 52

Chapters: N/A

Published: 2014

Arguably one of the most famous books on this list. We Should All Be Feminists is a very short book, the kind that can be read in your lunch break or on your commute. It’s also pocket sized! So not only is it feminist, but its practical! Tah-Dah!

Dimensions aside, this book really pulls a part what is is to call yourself a feminist.

Adichie asks; ““Why the word feminist? Why not just say you are a believer in human rights, or something like that?” Because that would be dishonest. Feminism is, of course, part of human rights in general—but to choose to use the vague expression human rights is to deny the specific and particular problem of gender. It would be a way of pretending that it was not women who have, for centuries, been excluded. It would be a way of denying that the problem of gender targets women.” 

Which is exactly right. Feminism is a word that acknowledges all dimensions of this movement. Its past, its presence and its future. To just be a human rights advocate is akin to being a casual.

Of late, there has been a lot of discussion over the various feminist subtitles… Intersectional Feminist, White Feminist, Feminists who hate men, Feminists who don’t hate men and like wearing lipstick. The whole thing is a bit of a mess.

Adichie ends up calling herself:

“A Happy African Feminist Who Does Not Hate Men and Who Likes to Wear  Lip Gloss and High Heels for Herself and Not For Men”

Then there is a bigger issue all together; White Feminism. In short, White Feminism is a form of feminism that focuses on the struggles of white women alone. It forgets and often ignores the issues that women from other parts of the world are also feminists. White Feminism is naive and inherently racist. It follows that classic western mindset of “If it doesn’t affect me then I won’t affect it”.

I hate the concept that this belief in women being equal to men is exclusive to non-white people. Its embarrassing to think my beliefs are discriminating. Feminism should be a united front, its concept and motto plain, simple and universal. I don’t want to come across as ignorant, nor saying that there isn’t a problem, because there clearly is one, else why would this even be a discussion?

I want this fight to benefit and include everyone.

The one thing I took away from this book was that Feminism still has a way to go. Just because we now call ourselves feminists it doesn’t mean we are exempt from stupidity. We need to keep learning, supporting and empowering one another until the word feminist becomes non-existent.

We will know we have won then.


Best Fiction:

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

and

The Power by Naomi Alderman

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Stars: 4/5

Ideal for: Men! In a non threatening way, The Power will help you understand what it is like to be in a woman’s shoes.

Avoid if: you don’t enjoy dystopian fiction

Age range: Young Adult

Chapters: The Power N/A , THMT 44

Pages: The Power 339, THMT 324

Published: The Power 2016, THMT 1996

I have included both of these books because 1. they are both fantastic pieces of fiction and 2. they are the opposite of one another. One asks; what if women had no rights? The other asks; What if men had no rights?

These novels switch and play around with gender roles in their most extreme form.

The Handmaids Tale portrays women at their most subservient point; used as nothing but baby making machines. Their identities are stripped from them both mentally and physically. Made to bare the same name as the man they serve and made to dress in the uniform of their class. There is no freedom for anyone, man nor woman under this regime.

Meanwhile The Power tells the story of multiple women and one man from around the world. They are all dealing with the fact that women have evolved to have a “power” allowing them to rule the world. This power is in the form of electric, living in a skein under their collarbones/chest  allowing them the upper hand in any conflict. Thus men are no longer safe. They are scared of walking home late at night, of being around women in large groups, even their own partners. The story deals with the rising of this power, to how it changes the world, the end of the book ultimately showing the world at its lowest point. There is Allie, who is abused by her foster parents, she runs away and becomes Mother Eve, the leader of a women’s only cult. There is Roxy, daughter of a prolific crime boss in England. she joins forces with Mother Eve after realising her power. There is Margot an American Politician who appears as a Hilary esque figure, fighting for control over this ever changing power dynamic. Then  there is a Tunde, a young Nigerian man reporting on all he see’s around the world.

The writing style aside (which I personally struggled to enjoy) The Power, is indeed a powerful read that will encourage you to look beyond the broader statement of being a feminist and draw attention to the little details. It shows the reality of extremism irrespective of your gender and beliefs.

The aspect of this book that struck me was how it shows that Men and Women are not evil. Feminism is not evil. Instead, it is extremism that can be evil. Neither one of the genders alone in this story project hate. It is a select few that abuse their power in the world that is ultimately the downfall.

With this in mind, not all men are evil. Not all men will hurt you, just like not all women are good and some women will hurt you. It isn’t our gender that defines us, it is our choices as individuals.

So men, without me sounding like Mr Burns from the Simpsons in his alien form, don’t be afraid of Feminists. We aren’t all bad.

P.s. If you enjoyed these books, try Louise O’Neill’s Only Ever Yours  It is a dystopian Mean Girls.


Best Essays:

The Bad Feminist 

By Roxane Gay

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Stars: 5/5

Ideal for: If you want a structured read

Avoid if: the word essay brings you out in a rash

Age range: 16+

Pages: 320

Chapters: 42

Published: 2014

Author of The Black Panther graphic novel series to writing numerous autobiographical feminist tales, Roxane Gay is sensational. Bad Feminist is a collection of essays broken down into five sections. Within each section is numerous chapters/headings.

1. Me

2. Gender and sexuality

3. Race and Entertainment

4. Politics, Gender and Race

5. Back to Me.

Don’t be put off by the word “essays” they’re not the kind you’re used to writing crying at 4am because its due in 4 hours time and you haven’t read the book. like with the previous feminist texts, this reads more like a blog post, just with the structure of an essay.

Each “essay” is short, snappy and straight to the point. There is no fluff or waffle as my old Professor would say. Gay hits the nail on the end with so many points she raises, such as “How to be friends with a woman”: Abandon the notion that all female relationships are bitchy.

Like Moran, Gay perfectly sums up what being a feminist is;

“I believe feminism is grounded in supporting the choices of women even if we wouldn’t make certain choices for ourselves.” –Roxane Gay

It is the acceptance that everyone is different yet united in their belief of equality.

On the topic of White Feminism, it has a whole chapter dedicated to the discussion of white people who depict black history, primarily in regards to the film/novel The Help. Gay essentially says the problem with these adaptations is how assuming they are. How they don’t tell the full story and how they portray western people as saviours. Its all very narrow minded and ridiculous.

I am going to do my best not to be a hypocrite here, I am only trying to phrase the scenario in a way us white chicks might understand. White portrayals of black stories are akin to a man with no medical knowledge or experience explaining how a period works. Its frustrating and insulting. Imagine that his explanation alone is hailed as genius. A genius piece that is heart warming and emotional and sums it all up. He is rewarded and commended for his brilliant intuition into the female sex. When in reality, he is barely scratching the surface and is 99% wrong. That is how I can only imagine women on the other side of white feminism feel.

Overall, this book is incredibly powerful, Roxane Gay is a fantastic writer and I urge you all to start reading her work!


Bonus! My Current Read:

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race

By Reni Eddo-Lodge

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#OurSharedShelf ‘s book for January and February!

So, I am still reading this, so my full review is a little way off. But from what I have read so far of the book and its reception, we all need to read this.

As I mentioned with Adichie and Gay, Feminism shouldn’t be an exclusive club. It shouldn’t be a place where you have to fit certain criteria. It should be open for all and an identity for anyone to adopt.

One thing I have noticed is how a lot of white women, feminists or not, have been offended by this book. Honey, the fact you are offended alone means you need to take a step back and get some perspective. I wouldn’t consider myself to be a “white feminist” but the fact remains I no doubt will exhibit the behaviour of one. I am not a racist person but I am a person who is guilty of not thinking. I am a person who can make assumptions and be naive. I will frequently put off reading a novel written by a woman of colour to indulge in some western woman’s fantasy fiction. This is because I assume I won’t be able to identify with these women. But, I am wrong. At the end of the day, we are all human. We are all women and as such we have the same experiences. So It’s time I stepped out of that mindset and gave myself an education.

For those of you who think you don’t need to read this, or perhaps don’t want to read this, take a step back and consider the bigger picture.

Start by reading this book. It’s not a guilt trip, its an eye opener.


And finally, my message to the boys, and particularity my brother.

Just because there are some women in the world who believe that feminism should be women triumphing over men, it doesn’t mean that that is its definition. If you believe that we should all have equal rights, welcome to the club.

Don’t be afraid to call yourselves a feminist.

 

Love,

 

HRH xox