Tag Archives: Feminism

2015: The year menstruation made the big time

Girl walking | lizniland.com

I know it’s not even June but I’m calling it. And it’s about time.
They’ve been all over the news this year and whether you see them as a necessary evil or a deep connection to the divine feminine, periods are something around 50% of the population will directly experience. Hopefully through their experiences with the various ladies in their lives (from mothers to lovers), the majority of the other 50% could hardly claim ignorance to them either.

The way periods and menstruation are dealt with in politics, advertising and general discourse however, could easily make you think Brick Tamland is the main source of some peoples’ sex-ed.

The blue liquid loved by advertisers, whispers of “that time of the month” and pretty floral packaging make it seem like it all has nothing to do with the “blood coursing from our uteri like a crimson landslide“. The kerfuffle these realistic images caused is proof of that: just as many men & women seemed to shout it down as offensive and unnecessary as those who praised it.

So why are we so euphemistic about a perfectly natural and essential bodily function?
Is it because men have traditionally run the show when it comes to media and advertising? No, I don’t think it’s the fault of blokes alone that we ladies feel like we have to smuggle tampons into the work bathroom and that lube & nicotine patches are considered more essential to public health than sanitary products. I’m not going to dive too deep into the wave of “tamponomics” sweeping Aussie politics right now, but if you haven’t signed the petition to have the GST removed from sanitary products, please go do it here.

It seems to be relatively unheard of to talk about periods with other women (other than in a whisper when you need to deal with a surprise guest) let alone with men or on a larger stage. We ladies are most definitely part of the problem. For a current example that struck me as interesting: of the assortment of premiers, chief ministers and treasurers Triple J’s Hack program spoke to about lifting the tampon tax; MPs Dave, Tim, Andrew and Tom were quite happy to scrap it. Gladys, Liberal Treasurer for NSW, wasn’t keen to give a position yet and wants to discuss it further. Thanks fellas but Gladys, come on sister!

The last taboo
I loved the story that came out earlier in the year of female tennis player Heather Watson blaming her poor Australian Open performance on her period. Journos said she broke “the last taboo in sport” by speaking of it. I really don’t think we can blame the lads for letting it get to that point. Why is it such a rarity for women, especially those in sport, to talk about how their period affects them? Because surely it does. Surely Cathy Freeman was watching the calendar in the lead up to Sydney 2000. Performance aside, most girls wouldn’t be putting their hand up to wear that skintight onesie on day 29 of her cycle.

I think women fear being seen to have any weaknesses that relate to their gender. We aim to look tough, seamlessly put together and in control. I know I, and a handful of my friends, loathe the idea that we’ll fall into any kind of stereotypical emotional-chocolate-feasting mess and endure headaches, cramps and other general crappiness. Even if it becomes reality, it has got to get pretty bad for us to consider calling in sick to work or skipping the gym. It might mean we have to pop a painkiller to get through an afternoon meeting or drop a few reps but we’ll do what we can to soldier on, without letting anyone in on the details (at least until a Friday night wine with a close mate).

The tide seems to be turning steadily.
Pioneering underwear makers Dear Kate recently put together a video series of women talking about their “first time” and Hello Flo’s The Period Fairy is another fun one to check out. These are social media-friendly, won’t make awkward Brick Tamland-types run for the hills and will hopefully contribute to more conversation, better understanding and continued cross-gender education in our community.

Review: #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso

Review: #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso | lizniland.com

#GIRLBOSS is a part-autobiography, part-business advice book from Sophia Amoruso; the 30-year-old founder and CEO (until last month) of fashion e-tailer Nasty Gal.

I found this an easy, entertaining and inspiring read, perfect for those who are seeking more out of life than their current 9-5 job. And while it’s geared towards entrepreneurial types and career-driven individuals, I think it’d be an empowering read for any young woman – not just those aspiring to be the boss-lady either.

#GIRLBOSS was part of the A Beautiful Mess Book Club last year so I decided to write to the same questions they posed in their discussion.

1. What was something you related with?

As a comparatively straight-laced, straight-A-achieving, relatively untroubled kid, I thought it would be tricky to relate to Sophia’s story. Obviously dumpster diving & hitch hiking were not commonalities I could claim, but the striving to find your niche and succeed on your own terms was something that I really appreciated.

“I always suspected that I was destined for, and that I was capable of, something bigger”.

It may just be the ‘curse’ of the Gen-Y dreamer but I think the rebellion Sophia shows against a life of suburban mediocrity is inspiring. She is living proof that a laptop, a solid idea and hard work can get you places.

I also loved reading Sophia’s approach to feminism.

“#GIRLBOSS is a feminist book, and Nasty Gal is a feminist company in the sense that I encourage you as a girl, to be who you want and do what you want”

I really identify with this kind of definition. Too many people, not just women, avoid labelling themselves as feminists thinking that it’s all about women. Obviously what women are able to do is a big part of it, but the whole “be who you want and do what you want” is a message that every man, woman & child the world over should hear & be able to live. Whether a bloke wants to run a business or do the 3pm school run (or both!) it should be just as supported as a woman’s right to do so too.

I’ve just finished reading Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg & it covers this concept heavily. I’ll write up a post on that soon – I loved it though!

#GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso | lizniland.com

2. What was something you felt challenged by?

The chapter titled “Money looks better in the bank than on your feet” is definitely a challenging phrase to my ears. I wouldn’t say I’m irresponsible with money but my eyes do glaze over at talk of budgeting and spreadsheets.

In the fashion world, sensible financial chatter is rare – Carrie Bradshaw sums the general consensus up nicely with “I like my money where I can see it: hanging in my closet”. Sophia uses examples from both a more personal perspective and from the position of a #GIRLBOSS to show that this is not a sustainable attitude.

I’m lucky to have a partner that forces me into financials every so often but the messages in the book hit me loud and clear!

And the shoplifting was definitely challenging to my lofty ideals that everyone is always trying to be good and do the right thing! That said though, I love that by explaining the consequences of her actions, Sophia has the opportunity to discourage would-be wannabes without sounding hypocritically preachy.

#GIRLBOSS by Nasty Gal founder Sophia Amoruso | lizniland.com

3. What was something you learned and put into action?

I was really surprised how much practical advice #GIRLBOSS had to offer. I’m working towards building my own business and although Sophia started Nasty Gal from the point of nothing to lose, her ability to just launch and learn is truly enviable.

“I was addicted to my business, and to watching it grow everyday”

It seems like the strict timelines of eBay really prepared Sophia for the consistency and dedication needed for following through with her business. Consistency is something I know I struggle with so #GIRLBOSS has provided a good kick up the butt to sort that shiz out.

#GIRLBOSS also drives home the overarching importance of absolutely nailing customer service.

“I just went with my instincts and treated my customers like they were friends” has arguably been one of the keys to Sophia’s success. By focusing on what her customers really want, and utilising a natural talent for content marketing, Sophia has created an authentic tribe of loyal followers. In her early business days, Sophia would post on social media and create a blog post about every eBay auction she had running, just to advise potential customers of what was available.

By legitimately filling a void in their lives, meeting their needs and solving their fashion and styling problems, she has been able to share her products with her followers without feeling all slimy-salesy.

And this. I want to read it everyday.

“Abandon anything about your life and habits that might be holding you back. Learn to create your own opportunities. Know that there is no finish line; fortune favours action.”

Fortune favours action: that’s something I’m going to put in action!

 

Have you read #GIRLBOSS? What did you think of it?

 

Image #1 by me, the others are from deathtothestockphoto.com.