There is no doubt that starting a blog – and remaining consistent – will open up incredible opportunities to you. I’ve been fortunate to have met some wonderful people and worked alongside some fantastic brands so far. It’s been an absolute dream.
The BBC ran live debates in a bid to get people talking about issues that are hindering and affecting women from all walks of life.
An ambitious feat, the BBC managed to engage communities of women from around the world and have them discuss issues surrounding various topics.
So you’ve completed an impressive degree, got work experience that makes your graduate CV glow and have landed a great starter job that has the most incredible prospects. When it comes to life, you’re totally winning. At least that’s what you think.
I thought I was reading another one of those tasteless Hollywood hoaxes on Sunday morning. Jackie Collins dead. One of my favourite authors. Gone.
But then scrolling through Twitter, it became apparent really quickly that this was actually happening. My heart sank.
You only have to look at Twitter’s trending topics to see the multitude of fans certain celebrities have. The almost instantaneous reactions from fans who leap to their role model’s defence is both shocking and impressive. But are all celebrities who have become role models deserving of this outpour of support, and are they actually an inspiration or a complete distraction stopping us from reaching our full potential?
Whilst watching re-runs of BET’s The Real, it was said that a Match.com survey revealed that men preferred to ‘date up’, meaning they were seeking intellectual, career driven women. Though there are some men who believe in traditional gender roles such as being the breadwinner whilst women maintain the home and raise the kids, this shift is definitely a step in the right direction, especially when it comes to social discussions on gender equality.
We’re always encouraged to ‘date up’ whereas the idea of dating down is regarded as doing yourself a disservice. However from a female perspective, is dating up necessarily a good thing?
First of all, we need to define what dating up actually is. More often than not, it is associated with physical aspects. To date up would mean dating someone who is far more attractive than a previous ex. Perhaps someone who is much more refined in terms of their physique and meets a mental image of what you feel to be attractive.
Maura Kelly wrote an article for Marie Claire recalling a conversation she had with a friend who said: “You know, I think for the most part, 9s date 9s and 7s date 7s.” He then went on to list the type of people who were exempt from this rule and could afford to date up easily. As common as this may or may not be, thinking in terms of where you rate on a scale is not an accurate or realistic way to properly explore this topic.
As discussed on The Real, hosts Tamar Braxton, Tamera Mowry-Housely, Loni Love, Jeannie Mai and Adrienne Bailon were inclusive of other elements such as education, finances, career aspirations and morals in their discussion. There’s no doubt that physical attraction plays a big part in relationships, but by redefining the idea of dating up and focusing on equally important aspects, we are better placed to determine the longevity of our relationships.
It’s important to be inclusive of various factors rather than placing an emphasis on one. Jessica Machado explored her habit of dating down and being drawn to men who were dependent on her. Writing on The Frisky, what made her admission somewhat unique was that it wasn’t looks that attracted her to the men she dated. It was that sense of security, knowing they weren’t going anywhere when she needed them.
What kept us together wasn’t as exciting as sex or arguments over our incompatibility — but that I could show up at his place at 10 p.m. for a bowl of Cocoa Puffs and a snuggle in front of “Law and Order.” There was a comfortable fondness and security. I knew he wasn’t going anywhere, literally and figuratively.
After words with her step-mum, she was advised to “date better” and “date what you deserve” which is exactly what she did. She stopped ignoring the one aspect that had been detrimental to her previous relationships from flourishing and eventually met a man who stimulated her mentally and shared common interests. By redefining her interpretation of dating up, Machado found a connection that challenged her and made her appreciate a dynamic that had previously been absent within her relationships.
She writes about her eventual husband:
He took me to museums and talked about politics deeper than a 16-page New Yorker article, and at first I worried that he was too smart, too cultured for me, but once I got over my insecurities and learned to find my legs on this equal ground, I felt brighter to form opinions about his opinions, and more inspired in my own writing to see the artwork he was creating.
In this instance dating up can open our eyes to appreciate our own capabilities, in turn making us better rounded individuals as oppose to dating down where we become accustomed to a comfortable situation that does nothing for us in terms of stimulation. When done right, dating up can be empowering and fulfilling, however there are times where expectations are too high and can be detrimental to our wellbeing.
Not having enough confidence or self esteem can damage us when dating someone who excels in a certain area of their life. For example, a very successful person may find it hard to wind down often as they have consistently worked hard to attain what they have. Another example could be that the person you’re dating has always been complimented on their looks and are still desirable to some people. These are both very testing environments where jealousy and envy can easily develop. It takes a certain person to cope with intense dynamics like this and frankly speaking, if you’re not confident and comfortable within your own skin, then you risk chipping away at your own insecurities by dating up.
If we go back to that Match.com survey though, it’s clear that attitudes are changing, which is great when it comes to discussing gender related issues. This change in men challenges long standing gender stereotypes. Nowadays, men aren’t necessarily threatened by successful females, whilst women are viewing men as more than just earners. Roles are becoming equal and that’s the way it should be.
Tracy Moore, writing for jezebel.com said:
Expecting a woman to shoulder the more mundane aspects of domestic relationship upkeep — social calendar, cooking, cleaning, finances and so on — because you’d rather play video games is, of course, a hot load of retrograde shit that no person should tolerate. If a person is too lazy or apathetic to contribute to a relationship, that person is likely a garbage person, male or female.
Moore’s article encourages us to disregard this notion of dating up or down and encourages us to date equally. This has nothing to do with ‘how much money they make or how their resumes compare. It’s a matter of chemistry and like-mindedness and shared values.’
People’s tastes vary so vastly that it’s impossible to properly determine who rates highly on the desirability scale. Dating up in fact has more to do with you, your value and what you feel you deserve. Not everyone is going to land a ’10’ by society’s standards, but as long as you are fulfilled in the areas that are important to you and are with someone who compliments you mentally, physically and morally, then surely that’s worth much more than a superficial rating?
“Not again. How many more people have to die before something is done to stop this?”
This was the initial thought when news broke that 50 year old Walter Scott was shot several times in the back whilst fleeing from a police officer in North Charleston.
Originally stopped because of a broken brake light, it’s been said in reports that Scott had owed child support money and was afraid of going to jail as a result of that. He ran away from Michael Slager, the officer in question, and was chased and then shot. He died as a result of Slager’s actions.
Slager had cited that he shot Scott out of self defence. Apparently, Scott had taken his taser and he was “fearful for his life.”
But unlike the shooting in Ferguson of 18 year old Michael Brown, extraordinary video footage emerged, which allowed the world to see what really happened. Contrary to Slager’s story, the footage showed Scott running away, not at all posing a threat to Slager.
I reluctantly watched the video and was further disgusted to see that Slager went so far to handcuff Scott as he laid there face down and motionless.
On Saturday, large crowds took to the streets for Scotts funeral. The venue, chosen by the family, quickly reached capacity, with mourners spilling out on to the porch and streets, huddled under umbrellas to shield themselves from the pouring rain.
One mourner reportedly said: “I am so sorry that this had to happen this way. But I hope that this can close the gap between the police department and the communities, that they can learn to recognise each other as citizens. I’m hoping and praying that it doesn’t happen again.”
The issue of racism and tension between police and African American communities have been rising over the last few months. It seems as though just as we digest the death of one individual, another is named in the news, once again killed by a police officer.
If this footage hadn’t come to light, there is every chance that Michael Slager would have walked away without as much as a warning to his record. This potential outcome really disturbed me. Even though I’m not based in the US, the thought of people abusing their power in such a way makes it a very unsafe environment for civilians.
To think we have to rely on our personal smartphones and cameras in order to make sure justice is served is a scary thing. Rather than have confidence in the law and judicial system, it’s never been more important to be able to back yourself up using technology. Calls for police officers wearing cameras whilst on duty have been garnering support given the number of recent deaths of African American men. As highlighted by the press and on social media, these deaths have been at the hands of white police officers.
Now, I’m not saying that all police officers are racist. But if wearing a camera means we catch individuals who abuse their power and commit crimes that are racially motivated, we should all be supportive of this. Law enforcement has no problem in monitoring us through CCTV and it’s high time that a significant focus is firmly fixed on them.
This isn’t usually a subject that gets mentioned much on this blog. But given the level of deceit and just how easily Walter’s death could have been brushed under a rug, you can’t help but want to speak out and encourage people to take up a vested interest in worldly affairs and how our own society is progressing.
Last week on April 9th marked a significant event in American history which led to the end of the civil war and the abolition of slavery. It’s an event that should have been celebrated and remembered. However, the people in North Charleston were coming to terms with an untimely death and will likely be waiting to see whether justice is really served.
I’ve had a few days to let the tragic events in Paris settle and permeate in my mind. Who would have thought that such horrors could unfold so close to home. And for what? Revenge? Scaremongering?
The Charlie Hebdo shooting has been dominating Twitter and the news for the last few days with people declaring their solidarity, defiant in their support. However these events have sparked much wider debates on a number of subjects, revealing both good and bad aspects of our society.
The way in which everyone rallied together is something that I love about humanity. Even in the face of such brutal violence, we all manage to come together as one enormous unit and show solidarity against hatred and violence. But there are always opportunists who opt to take the more negative path and aim to incite hatred within a society that is still in shock and emotionally fragile after these attacks.
Rupert Murdoch for example believes that all Muslims should be responsible for the attacks in Paris as the terrorists were acting in the name of our faith. So let me get this straight. Approximately 1.6 billion people on this earth are responsible for the actions of three violent men. Ahmed Merabat, the police officer who was gunned down should be held responsible as well as Lassana Bathily, the employee in the kosher supermarket who hid customers in a large freezer to avoid being killed. Religious profiling much Rupert?
I’ve seen countless Muslims condemning the attack and I’ve done so too. But what I don’t like is this expectation some people have for us to be apologetic for the attacks. There’s no need for us to apologise for these attacks happening because these men do not reflect the faith we practice and try to live by daily. We would never expect Christians to apologise for Hitler’s actions because we all know the vast majority are the polar opposite to the dictator. Are we shocked and upset at the shooting and murders? Of course we are. We’re humans too. We can only imagine what the families of those victims must be going through. This idea that we need to validate ourselves to show that we stand with the majority is ridiculous. Being Muslim doesn’t mean we have an irrational train of thought. I think the fact that two Muslims were killed, (one police officer and a copy-editor) should be enough for people to know that the men responsible do not care about their religion or anyone other than themselves and their selfish, warped reasoning for unleashing this kind of violence.
These men have done much more damage to Islam and to the Prophet they were avenging in comparison to the cartoons published. I have to say, I’m pretty secure in my religion and wouldn’t let a couple of cartoons anger me to the point of murder.
Now, I support free speech and expression – how can I not? I’m a journalism graduate who enjoys nosing around for different perspectives and opinions on loads of topics. However what people may not understand is that free speech is exactly that. Free. That means going against the tide now and again. If we really are all about freedom of speech then I have the right to express that “I don’t like those illustrations Charlie Hebdo published.” I have the right to explain that I found them quite distasteful – and not just the Islamic ones. I also have the right to say that I do feel that Charlie Hebdo often crossed a line where their content stopped being satirical and became somewhat offensive. These are my thoughts and I too am entitled to them, even if they may not be echoed by the mass media. Does that I mean I don’t stand in solidarity? Nope. Does that mean these journalists and cartoonists deserve to die? Of course not. Their material, like most media we consume, is a matter of preference.
Do I think they had an agenda? Of course. All publications do. This was made even more clear after learning that the magazine once fired Maurice Sinet for depicting Nicholas Sarkozy’s son as a Jewish convert. He was accused of anti-semitism and was told to apologise, which he refused to. In the end he was dismissed from the magazine. I do find it astonishing that such heavy punishment was taken for this circumstance, however mocking portrayals of both Islam and Christianity are seen as expressing “freedom of speech.” Surely freedom of speech should extend to everything and everyone, right? Plus, it’s not like our media is completely free and unbiased.
Yasmin Brown for the Independent pointed out other notable cases to do with freedom of speech: “Not good is the way the powerful control our right to know or speak. People are prosecuted for thought crimes; the BBC films on the monarchy have allegedly been blocked by the royal family; the Chilcot report on the Iraq war is still withheld.”
If we are going to stand for free speech and expression we should remember to stand for it everywhere. Not just in our hometown or city. We should support it in areas of the world where leaders silence civilians and where the media purposely ignores. Hashtags are another growing trend and whilst I haven’t used the #JeSuisCharlieHebdo, that doesn’t mean I don’t stand in solidarity against violence and hatred. For me, #JeSuisCharlieHebdo is reflective of the magazine itself and for me, I don’t feel it’s a representation of who I am. I will stand by #JeSuisAhmed, for the police officer who died trying to tackle these violent monsters and better yet, #JeSuisLiberté in support of free speech and peace. In this way, it is a hashtag that reflects a cause that everybody should feel inclined to stand by.
If there’s anything to take away from this unfortunate attack, is that it’s never been more important to stick together. This is the message we should all be spreading. As far as I’m concerned, as long as there’s a pen in our hands and people are sitting up and taking notice of what needs to be done, there’s nothing any terrorist, racist or bigot can do.
How dependent are you for encouragement from your family and friends? This was the topic of conversation last Wednesday evening from 7pm – 8pm on Twitter with the lovely ladies from Asian Women Mean Business.
A number of the women taking part in the Twitter chat noted that family and friends encouragement was quite important in order to achieve goals. With such a strong sense of family, it wasn’t surprising that most of us appreciated our parents supporting our dreams, passions and livelihoods.
Knowing that you have a solid unit believing in your abilities can serve as a strong foundation on which you build upon by working towards your own successes.
However, being dependent on encouragement may not always bode well for you as an individual. Relying on people to validate your decisions can easily hinder your growth and decision-making ability – a quality that is essential in the working world.
There’s no right or wrong answer to this. But there is a difference in terms of our need for encouragement. Women who had started businesses found it to be a great source of comfort in receiving encouragement from their nearest and dearest. It’s easy to see why too. Launching a business carries with it great risks financially, more investment as well as plenty of stress and concerns which would naturally result in us turning to family and friends for advice and support.
As a blogger, there’s less of a need for encouragement as the expense is drastically less than starting your own business. Being behind a screen and keyboard acts as our security regardless of whether our content is well received or not. There’s far less risk involved and should your blog not work out, the only thing that may be potentially wasted is your time.
That’s not to say we don’t like it when we receive praise for our work on designing a new website, or the research that went into our latest blog. It’s human nature to react positively to compliments. What’s important is that we don’t become dependent on this. Sadly, social media doesn’t make this easy as we’ve become use to a virtual world where we thrive off of the amount of ‘likes’ and ‘favourites’ we receive. This kind of online validation only serves to make it harder for us to establish a stronger, independent mindset in the real world.
Even with the influence of social media, it was obvious throughout the talk that most of the women credited the older generation as their inspiration for being strong minded and ambitious. Having lived through times where women were expected to be a certain way and conduct themselves in a manner that was deemed acceptable by society, they are fully aware of the opportunities our generation have. More importantly though, they want us to grasp each and every one of them.
Surely that’s that’s all the encouragement we need?
On Wednesday, Zoella was trending on Twitter after an article published on the Independent’s website criticised the Youtube star.
Chloe Hamilton, a writer for the Independent rather viciously picked Zoe (pictured above) apart from the size of her eyes, to her hair, which honestly surprised and shocked me all in one go. Among the onslaught of insults, Hamilton’s point (when you eventually got to it) questioned how on earth Zoella could be regarded as a role model for young girls when her YouTube videos were mainly focused on beauty, hair and prettifying oneself. It seemed a bit ironic to her that Zoe, who once said she would advise young girls not to fret about their appearance, has built a fan base by posting make up and hair tutorials, which essentially places a strong focus on your appearance.
Now, like many other bloggers who have posted in response to Hamilton’s article, I too am not particularly familiar with Zoella. I haven’t subscribed to her YouTube page and I don’t religiously watch her videos. Even though I’m not a raging fan, I agree with many that the 24-year-old vlogger didn’t deserve to be burned in such a public way.
Hamilton crossed lines that made me shake my head in utter disbelief. However, when you rummage through all the unnecessary bitterness she displays throughout the article, you do miraculously find that Hamilton does pose a valid observation.
It is somewhat ironic for Zoe to advise young, impressionable girls not to worry about their appearance when she has built her following on posts and tutorials relating to hair and beauty. However it’s unfair for Hamilton to point the finger only at Zoe, when there are hundreds if not thousands of people who demonstrate that same irony everyday. Is it fair to single her out? Absolutely not.
Hamilton talks about her not being a suitable role model because of her inconsistencies, but what kind of “role model” or authoritative voice is Hamilton shaping up to be having attacked a 24 year old girl who has simply achieved success in a non-traditional way?
Like her or not, you can’t deny that Zoe has worked pretty hard to get to where she is. Blogging is not an easy feat and realistically, not all of us will attain the same success she has. It takes time, dedication, being at the right place at the right time and a great deal of commitment to make a blog or digital channel work.
But she’s done this because it’s clearly her passion. Just because she hasn’t used the traditional route of going to university and working at established newspapers, doesn’t make her less worthy of the achievements she’s attained after five years of constantly posting engaging content to a massive community. If anything, she should be a role model for her fierce focus.
Yes, she vlogs about beauty, but she really isn’t that bad considering the number of scantily clad celebrities that get snapped everyday. YouTubers are fast becoming a new wave of celebrities, but if it means that youngsters are encouraged and inspired to write, exert creative thinking, be bold enough to carve out their own identity, learn the intricacies of video production and editing, blog design, HTML, SEO, branding, marketing and so much more, then we should really be thankful that not all hope is lost for the next generation.