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WELCOME TO THE GUEST BLOG SECTION – HOORAH

Here, you will find a selection of amazing blogs from some of the most funny, feisty and at times, controversial bloggers in town.

We will be featuring some of Caitlin’s own writing but to start us off we have tasked our bloggers with writing about some of the topics inspired by Moranthology.

Unfortunately, no one is talking about Boris Johnson being a Posh Albino Fanny Hound, but they are all brilliant, and well…give it time.

So, sit back, put your feet up and take a look. If you strongly agree or furiously disagree, get commenting.

All our bloggers are happy to engage in a good old debate.

Enjoy!

Are you a brilliant blogger and have something to add? Submit your own guest blog here: marketing@eburypublishing.co.uk

So. Recap. Caroline Criado-Perez runs a campaign to make sure that the forthcoming redesign of British banknotes includes at least one British woman. However, around the time the Bank of England announce that they will, indeed, include Jane Austen on the new tenner, Criado-Perez became the target of a group of Twitter-users, who started sending her messages, threatening to rape her – sometimes numbering up to fifty an hour.

At the time of writing, this has now been going on for six days – despite a 21-year-old man in Manchester being arrested after sending Criado-Perez a threatening Tweet.

I think it would be good to show here the kind of messages Criado-Perez has been getting, as there are those that have discussed these kind of messages as part of “the rough and tumble” of the internet – suggesting women just need to toughen up a bit, and deal with the unpleasantness of the “real world.”

“Everybody jump on the rape train – @CCriadoPerez is conductor.” “I love it when the hate machine swarms.” “Rape rape rape rape rape rape.” “Everyone report @CriadoPerez for rape and murder threats and also being a cunt #malemasterrace.” “Wouldn’t mind tying this bitch to my stove. Hey sweetheart – give me a shout when you’re ready to be put in your place.” “HEY GIRL – WANNA THROW THAT PUSSY TOWARDS THE BLACK MESSIAH?” “Rape threats? Don’t flatter yourself. Call the cops. We’ll rape them too. YOU BITCH! YO PUSSY STANK!”

So that’s fifty of those an hour. For a week now.

In the last 24 hours, these rape-threats have expanded to include MP Stella Creasy, who has been vocal in both defending Criado-Perez, and calling for changes in the way Twitter is run, and Creasy – along with the Independent TV critic Grace Dent and Guardian fashion columnist Hadley Freeman – have received bomb-threats. Again, this is all after an arrest has been made for abuse on Twitter. After.

Many commentators have suggested that, when women – or, indeed, anyone – gets abuse like this on the internet, that the only and best solution is for them to simply “block” the abusers, and get on with their lives.

But consider the logistics of this. If a woman is getting fifty of these messages an hour, blocking all the abusers becomes something of a thankless, full-time job.

By the time a woman has finished defending herself for her abusers, and actually gets around to doing what she came on Twitter to do – to talk, to communicate – she’s already exhausted. And, also, a little more angry, paranoid, defensive and, frankly, rattled than the non-abused people her Tweets appear next to. There’s nothing quite like being repeatedly told you’re violatable and worthless to send you to bed anxious and unhappy.

On top of this, there’s something that would offend most people’s notion of how we want a society to function in the idea that if groups of people – in this case, women – are being regularly attacked, and their voices shut down in public, that – when they ask for help – we shrug, and say, “Sorry. Every woman must deal with this on her own.”

I don’t think most people would want someone they loved to be told to deal with this on their own. And I’m pretty sure most people would agree that this would be a better world if women did not get besieged with threats of rape and death after running a genteel campaign to have a picture of Jane Austen on a bank-note, or reviewing a restaurant or dress.

So: some solutions were suggested. Maybe Twitter could have a “Report Abuse” button? Maybe Twitter could run algorithms, to spot the traits of multi-account-opening trolls? Perhaps, for 24 hours, supporters of Criado-Perez could quit Twitter, to show solidarity – and focus Twitter’s minds on coming up with some solutions of their own?

No-one really had a definitive answer, but there was a “Report Abuse Button” petition – currently signed by 104,000 people – and a general debate on how Criado-Perez, and anyone else like her, shouldn’t have to deal with this kind of thing on their own.

But within 24 hours of this quiet debate starting up, a whole slew of columns and blogs appeared, firmly rejecting the idea of there ever being any curbs on “freedom of speech” on the internet.

“This isn’t a technology issue – this is a societal issue” a Telegraph blogger said – adding, in a later blog, that people who wished for better regulation on Twitter were behaving “like Mary Whitehouse,” and that this was a simple matter of censorship. “This is a curtailment of freedom of speech” was a very popular refrain.

Handily, this neatly abutted with what has, over the years, proven to be a fairly infallible rule: that anyone who says “Hey, guys – what about freedom of speech!” hasn’t the faintest idea what “freedom of speech” actually means.

There is no such thing as “freedom of speech” in this country. Since 1998, we’ve had Article 10 of the European Convention on “freedom of expression”, but that still outlaws – amongst many things – obscenity, sedition, glorifying terrorism, incitement of racial hatred, sending articles which are indecent or grossly offensive with an intent to cause anxiety or distress, and threatening, abusive or insulting words like to cause harassment, alarm or distress.

As you can see, if you are suggesting that you are allowed to threaten someone on Twitter with rape or death under “freedom of speech”, then you do not – as predicted – have any idea what “freedom of speech” means. Because it’s prosecutable.

Anyway, let’s move on – for if we got upset with bloggers and columnists who chucked around portentous-sounding phrases they’d heard on Legally Blonde without really knowing what they meant, we’d be here all day. The key thing here is the odd, underlying attitude that has permeated so much of this debate about women being harassed – to the point of paranoia and exhaustion – on social media. There is an air about this that is bizarrely … exhausted, and cynical.

Currently, an air of jaded world-weariness drives the debate about what we want the internet to be – an affectedly sardonic edge, which the practitioners seem to wear as if it were a black biker jacket, or an edgy nasal piercing.

Wielding what amounts to a massive cynicism boners, these people are adamant when they say, “NOTHING CAN CHANGE. THE INTERNET JUST IS WHAT IT IS!”

People who, in 2013, who say, with utter certainty, “nothing can change!” are one of the more discombobulating developments of recent years. I’ll be frank – it does my head in to see someone who lives in a democracy, wears artificial fibers, drives a car, has a wife who can vote and children whom it is illegal to send to work up a chimney, saying, on the internet – invented in 1971!!!! – “NOTHING CAN CHANGE!”

Dude, everyone in the Western world lives an existence wholly defined by constant change. – change that was brought about by people going, “I tire of people dying young. That sucks. I will invent antibiotics,” or “I have thought of a marvellous thing – global communication, via a glorified typewriter!”

It is a particular quirk of egotism/a lack of any sense of history or perspective to say, confidently and crushingly, “Things cannot change.” What someone who says “Things cannot change” means, more often that not, is “I do not want things to change.”

There is a neat squaring of the circle when you notice that, on this issue, those who say “Things cannot change” are, in the overwhelming majority, men – and that the people they are trying to shut down who are saying, repeatedly, “Things must change,” are women.

And this is all particularly inappropriate when the conversation is about how, of all things, it is the internet that cannot change. The internet, which was invented, within our lifetimes, by hippies. Tim Berners-Lee, who gave away the coding for free, with the words “This is for everyone” – the sentence that was so astonishing and inspiring when it lit up the stadium at the Olympics Opening Ceremony.

In short, the internet was invented, very recently, for people, by people, and founded in optimism and idealism.

For this odd new groundswell of commentators to start claiming that the internet is inherently dark, cruel and cynical is a gross misappropriation of one of the wonders of the modern age. It misunderstands what it was, is and, most importantly, could be.

Shame on anyone whose argument basically boils down to saying that “The thing about the internet is, it’s a place where hundreds of anonymous men can threaten to rape women – and that is how it will always be.”

That is in an odd, dark denial of the fundamental decency of human nature and the law. It is illegal to act in this manner on the internet, and the social networking sites on which it happens need to be reminded of that unambiguously. As Andy Trotter said on Monday, of internet platform providers, such as Twitter, “ You can’t just set them up, and then walk away.”

I’m pro the mooted 24-hour walk-out on 4th of August, because not only is it a symbolic act of solidarity – which are my favourite kinds of symbolic acts – but because it will also focus minds at Twitter to come up with their own solution to the abuses of their private company.

You know – the popularity of social networking sites waxes and wanes with ferocious rapidity. Twitter might currently be the hot thing – but it only takes a couple of bad months for it to become the new Friends Reunited, the new MySpace, the new Bebo. Another ghost-town, left empty when women, and their good male friends, tired of this horrible clown caravel of rape and death and threat and blocking and antagonism and cynicism and the shrugging insistence that this is how is will always be.

If 52% of Twitters customers – women – see other women being repeatedly left to deal with abuse on their own, then when a new social networking site appears that has addressed this issue appears, then I suspect they will drain away from Twitter in a way that makes a 24-hour walk-out look like a mere bagatelle.

The main compass to steer by, as this whole thing rages on, doubtless for some months to come, is this: to maintain the spirit that the internet was conceived and born in – one of absolute optimism that the future will be better than the past. And that the future will be better than the past because internet is the best shot we’ve had yet for billions of people to communicate equally, and peacefully, and with the additional ability to post pictures of thatched houses that look “surprised.”

….asked Look Magazine this week. “Is she leaving him?” quizzed Grazia.

In light of the recent Nigella Lawson and Charles Saatchi abuse case all eyes and questions have turned to Nigella.

These questions aren’t uncommon. The world winces at such high profile cases and we find ourselves asking; why does ‘she’ stay? Why is ‘she’ putting up with this? Is she MAD?

Even the most enlightened publishers, writers and broadcasters will jump to question the woman’s motives. Each time the woman eventually just becomes a victim. Her individuality lost as we label her the abused wife or girlfriend. The reality is that with every high profile case of domestic abuse, the media turns the lens on women in general and abused women in particular.

I endorse the support and the need to raise awareness through popular culture and the media. However, we systematically ignore the abuser. The man.

In turn the abuser simply becomes a baddie. The ‘bad man’ women should be hiding from and that’s it. We never seem to probe further and ask why did he do it?

It’s a strange elephant-in-the-room situation. Women everywhere, myself included, can’t comprehend returning to an abusive partner. But that’s because we haven’t been abused, yet we are hungry to understand why and find ways of helping women look to themselves to make sure they don’t ‘choose’ these men.

I get it. I know we need to communicate this too but making women better at picking ‘em isn’t going to change things on its own.

After the initial story goes public the man suddenly becomes distanced from the conversation and thus absent from the big picture. That is what I am talking about, the bigger picture. The reaction to an incident of abuse and the next steps usually focus on the woman. Yes, this is a solution to a problem but what does prevention look like?

We dissect the life of the likes of ‘poor Nigella’ to understand what went wrong and then wonder why women feel like they are to blame or why they feel patronized as the labeled victim?

I think amongst the wonder we should be trying to understand these abusers too. Why they are doing this? What has happened in their life? Why is it so common? What messages are we sending our young men? Because if abused women are societies problem, then so are the abusers.

More from Holly? Follow her on Twitter or check out her blog.

Verity Johnson’s Mum was once told that women were scientifically less intelligent that men because they have smaller brains. Ridiculous maybe, but its still happening…

I’ve never been good with science. The closest I get to understanding elements is when I forget to wear a jacket outside.

My scientific, numerical and technological illiteracy meant that until recently if you can prove something ‘scientifically’ then I’m persuaded.

But reaching the end of the teenage years has taught me two things. One, fishnets aren’t attractive. Two, a lot of people have explanations for why men and women are different.

The ones that make me scrape the walls in anger are the ones that involve science.

Yes, there are gender differences based on genes that I’m fine with. Like Men having more upper body strength. Sure. You only have to watch me doing a push up (well, belly flop) to see that.

But some of these ‘biological’ explanations for gender differences make me want to pour bleach in my eyes.

Take humour. The belief that ‘evolutionary’ reasons meant that men are funnier than women. Being young means that a lot of older guys think they’ve a right to tell you your opinion. I remember the first time I was told that women aren’t as funny as men.

The guy patiently explained that humour had evolved as an evolutionary trick to help men seduce women. Men were funnier because it helped them in the competition to win a woman who would rear their offspring.

Apparently the high male to female ratio of comedians proves this.

That’s like saying that there are far fewer female surgeons because women are less capable than men at operating on people.

Ratios don’t reflect gender talent. They show that comedy is traditionally seen as a ‘male’ business that women are beginning to break the monopoly on. Just as with the rise of female doctors and lawyers – traditionally ‘male’ roles.

Plus, ahem, Kristen Wiig?

“Just an isolated example.”

Melissa McCarthy? Dawn French? Jennifer Saunders? Joanna Lumley? Joan Rivers? Emma Chambers?
Still isolated examples. Hmmm.

And have you heard the one about female ambition? I’ve been told repeatedly that women are less ambitious than men due to hormonal differences.

John Gray, the ‘Men Are From Mars’ guy argues in his new book on working women that women are less ambitious and hence less successful in business. Why? Because they have less testosterone than men do.

But ambition is a social product too.

Ambition is hugely related to how much we are encouraged. If girls aren’t encouraged to be ambitious by society then it’s not likely we will be.

Moderately bright, middle class girls like me dream of becoming big in the business world. But with only 3 companies in the FTSE 100 having female CEOs it’s hardly encouraging. A lot of girls just look at that and think “well, it’s obviously a male world, what’s the point in trying?”

That doesn’t mean they lack ambition. It’s just a bloody scary picture to look at. You’d have to be a fool (or Beyoncé) to think that your dream, as one 18 year old girl, can take on the entire corporate world.

See how these biological arguments are dangerous?

When behaviour becomes a question of hormones and genes it suddenly becomes ‘natural’. This makes it incredibly hard to protest against. It’s seen as the way-it-should-be and therefore challenging the belief is challenging nature.

This isn’t very useful when it comes to topics like female ambition. To us teenager girls, being told it’s unnatural for us to want powerful careers makes us almost ashamed. We’re going against God’s genetic game plan…

Then there’s the fact that anything with science-y words in it sounds so…authoritative.

We just end up accepting these biologically based differences because apparently science says so. And when a belief has ‘scientific backing’ it becomes much harder to change people’s minds on it. This means the stereotypes become ingrained and the whole sodding process grinds on.

Plus it means that other explanations are side lined.

Like in the ‘men are funnier’ argument has any ever thought that maybe women are largely just being polite when they laugh at a guy’s jokes? Most of my male friends couldn’t even laugh their way into me giving them a post-date coffee. Let alone my ovaries.

If someone asked me today what I wanted when I am all grown up I’d have to say this. I want a world where women and our abilities aren’t defined away by ‘genetics.’

Guest blogger Sarah Whatnall tells the story of a young pregnancy that happened decades ago and how it makes her reflect positively on today’s society. More from sarah? Visit her blog.

Yes world, we teenagers have a confession to make. The rumours are true: underage British binge drinking is very much our frenzied ally – EVERYONE’S AT IT. However, don’t be fooled into thinking this is bad – instead think of it as the cuisine of our people, just like how paella is to Spain or escargots are to France. In the supermarket, amongst all of the Italian wine you will find our section filled with vibrant bottles of WKD and Schnapps. None of us see any problem with this, but in truth it shows how times have changed for young women since an era not so long ago – the 1950s – and today.

At eighteen years old my Gran had a secretarial job in a northern UK city, administrating papers having left school at fourteen as many young girls did back then. The 1950s was generally an optimistic time for women: after the war equal pay was introduced for women teachers and Rosa Parkes made history refusing a white man her seat on the bus in the apartheid-dom. Nevertheless, society was different and when my Gran was raped by her boss at work, she assumed marriage and a good future were out of the question in her shockingly faultless yet impure state, as an unmarried woman who had had a child. Thinking about the reasoning of these times, they seem completely ancient, although in reality, this is not the case. The abortion act of 1967 was still years away.

What followed seems horrific to us now, particularly as the 1950s seems so feminine and jolly, with cheerful poster girls portraying the supposed general consensus. Having a child as an unmarried woman was deemed disgusting although abortion was even more frowned upon, so she was sent away to a religious centre in Manchester, hundreds of miles from home, to stay in secluded care.

Imagining the solitude, the fear, the shame, the lack of acceptance suffered is abhorrent in this day and age. What I find so appalling is that upon delivering her baby, the authorities (yes, authorities) stole him away in a kind of legal disappearance to put him into adoption. She was left with only a photograph, which her own mother snatched off of her with a quick, ‘You won’t be needing that, will you?’, throwing it into the fire to combust into groaning scrolls of ash. Just a metaphorical dunce hat remained along with no hope for marriage or a future.

For decades, my Gran thought her maternal relationship with this child had been terminated the day he was taken from her at birth. For decades, her knowledge of what became of her disapproved product remained a mystery to her until 1990, when contact eventually and unexpectedly arrived. (CLIFF HANGER ALERT! If only I could insert the tense Eastenders ‘dun-dun-DUN-dununununa’ in here somehow)…

FORTY YEARS! That’s forty years until a private investigator paired the two together at a kind of hilariously late meeting: a child not knowing his real mother and a mother not knowing her child. During this time things actually had turned around: she’d started a family and a business

This story fascinates me as a sixteen year old in 2013 due to how much we in the enclosed, menial and freezing snow globe that is Britain have changed to become people who are actually KNOWN for teenage pregnancy and the freedom that comes with it. I’m not saying having a child before you are completely independent should necessarily be encouraged – each one so moral that they all deserve the whole biblical host of frankincense, gold and myrrh. I just believe it is so much better that the right people, women in particular, now get the respect they deserve in the case of being a victim especially.

UK justice has switched from war path to the right path where families no longer betray rape victims and abortion sufferers, as once was common. Anne Frank’s wartime hiding heading towards the unfair road to Auschwitz manages to change paths in this case, in the age of today.

I’m just glad that this series of unfortunate events has a happy ending. And hopefully our generation of WKD-wankered loonies (and proud) don’t all end up in confined institutions either.

Guest blogger Kat Thomas is a writer and also, a woman. She claims that women don’t eat yoghurt together…advertising has us fooled. More form Kat? Check out her blog. @Copy__Kat

I’m sorry to shatter millions of illusions built up by advertising over the years in one fell swoop. But it needs to be said.

Recently I have found myself becoming more and more annoyed at advertising aimed at women, it seems that after a brief period of ‘girl power’ which involved turning the tables on the sexes and watching women drool over the diet coke man et al, the rise of social media has forced women back into their domestic box. Scenarios in which women are featured in ads are largely domestic, or surrounded by other groups of prattling women who seem to fall into two camps, dieting miserable faced shrews or cheeky snack-stealing ‘funny friends’.

I like to laugh, and not in an aww-look-at-that-kitten-lol way or even a Miranda-fainting-every-time-she-sees-a-cute-man way but in an observational, rude, juvenile, silly, nonsensical, clever or anything else kind of way. Simply, the same sense of humour as a man. But if advertising is to be believed, I am a tiny majority. Women aren’t rude, they’re homely, heavily bonded with other females and only laugh about ridiculous clichés like having your skirt tucked in your knickers (minor tangent – since writing this, I managed to walk down Oxford Street complete with said seemingly impossible and mortifying cliché. A woman stopped me. She didn’t laugh; she discretely pointed it out, smiled and went on her way. I have never felt more proud to have had a moment of sisterly solidarity.)

I totally understand why stereotypes are used, a quick jump for the mind in order to cram a plotline into 30 seconds. And I know they’re used in every ad, aimed at both men and women, it’s just that our ones always make us come out that little bit worse… nagging, dieting, cross, self obsessed man eaters. And whilst, I’m more than happy to hang out of a window whistling at a passing semi naked man whilst cramming a cereal bar down my throat and hating myself for leaving the kids at home and wondering what I’m going to wear tonight, it’s not something I do every day.

Maybe it’s something to do with my age or location. Having my ‘girlfriends’ huddle together in my kitchen is nigh on impossible in a 2-bedroom flat in south London. But even if I did choose to have the girls round, I’d like to think I’m not the kind of person to put out snacks for my friends and then berate them when (oh horror of horrors) they eat said snacks.

If the ads are to be believed we have snack brands to thank for this country’s current obesity epidemic – apparently women just lose all self control around them and resort to… wait for it… snacking on the snacks that were put out as a snack for them to snack on!

But perhaps it’s just the kind of girl I am. I am not the type to discuss passing stools whilst drinking margaritas nor meeting friends for a coffee just to chat about my weak bladder.

We Brits are often accused of keeping our cards too close to our chests and yet if British advertising is to be believed, we just can’t help but spill our most intimate physical and emotional secrets over a yoghurt.

Personally, I can’t wait until I have children because then it seems the real fun begins: this is the time of my life when I am required by law to objectify men, and trivialize their input in society to my heart’s content.

I can join my ‘girlfriends’ in collectively rolling our eyes at all men everywhere. I can also sexualize men, safe if the knowledge that if they tried to do the same to us, there would be a string of complaints made to the ASA.

Not that I have a problem believing these women exist. I too have my fair share of Facebook mums who litter my feed with a mind numbing amount of photos of their children whilst simultaneously snorting in derision at anyone having any matter of personal problem with their self styled ‘you-don’t-know what- (insert common parental complaint here)- is-until-you’ve-had-children.

What I’m basically getting at is that I can’t recognise any of the women I see in ads these days and (assuming they exist) this small percentage of simpering bitchy women that are being over-portrayed in UK advertising at the moment is making me hate my sex.

The thought process seems so glaringly lazy. This is a product aimed at women… we open on a kitchen. Seriously? There are plenty of occasions in which a group of women get together and yet, in my 28 years I have never, and will never invite three of my closest confidants into my kitchen for yoghurt. Whether it’s fat free or not.

Writer Julie Tomlin discusses the media perception of the “three brave angels” following the terroist murder in Woolwich, London… @JulieTomlin

There’s a sense that media normality has been interrupted by the actions of Ingrid Loyau-Kennett and Amanda Donnelly and her daughter, Gemini Donnelly-Martin.

Like many others, I was impressed and moved watching how the three women responded when the soldier Lee Rigby was murdered close to his barracks in Woolwich in London last month. Their actions have prompted over 70,000 people to sign an online petition calling on the defence secretary, Philip Hammond, to honour their actions with a George medal.

Rev Jesse van der Valk, the rector of the two Anglican churches in Woolwich who organised the petition, wrote: “The fact that no other bystander was hurt in the incident is testament to the courageous actions of these women. As the people of Woolwich come to terms with what happened here – coming together to honour the heroines of that day will send a positive message of unity and peace.”

I don’t disagree that they acted heroically, but it also seems necessary to recognise that calmness, kindness and courage in the face of terrible situations, or even a more vocal, bolshy response when it’s all kicking off, shows us what human beings – including women – are like at their best.

We can’t always rely on the media to tell us about them, because somehow the idea has stuck that women are only good as case studies or victims. On the other hand, most of the authoritative voices, the experts, as well as the heroes, we hear on radio or see on TV are men.

Of course, it’s good when women are recognised. It’s the underlying notion that courageous, determined women with a sense of their own agency are a rarity that bothers me.

It’s hardly surprising that women who took part in protests across the Middle East and North Africa, and were shot at and tear-gassed, got pretty fed up answering questions about the fact that they were women.

It’s not that women aren’t doing remarkable and courageous things around the world, it’s just that what they do is rarely seen. At a screening of Pray the Devil Back to Hell, a Liberian woman pointed out she had never even heard the story about the women who took on the President Charles Taylor and all the warring factions and forced them to agree a peace deal.

In The Terror Dream, Susan Faludi chronicles how the stories of female rescue workers following the attacks on the World Trade Centre on 11 September 2001 were completely ignored by the media. The police lieutenant who dug in the rubble and helped rescue 100 people with a chunk of cement in her skull just didn’t fit the media’s preference for a heroic “Brotherhood” rescuing swooning, grateful women.

Whatever the media makes of “the three brave angels” Ingrid Loyau-Kennett Amanda Donnelly and Gemini Donnelly-Martin, I hope we recognise them as representing something that all of us are capable of. Their actions should be a reminder that we all can make a difference if when faced with something terrible we decide to act in the best way we know how.

Blogger Anna Roberts usually blogs about London but she isn’t from London, plus she is pretty short. Problem?

I have a new idol and she comes in the form of the BBC Breakfast news business reporter, Stephanie McGovern. She’s female, she hails from Middlesbrough and she knows her shit about the business world.

The first two ingredients in the Stephanie McGovern idol recipe are the main reasons why I like her so much. Society suggests being a female and being northern should hold her back in a southern male-dominated industry. But she’s up there every morning telling us in a detailed and confident manner about financial crises in the UK and overseas, for instance. Or questioning corporate CEOs on their policies with intellectual thinking behind her arguments.

I am a girl, I’m a fellow North-Easterner and I should probably know a thing or two about business, after doing a Management degree. I now live in London and I’ve done well in my career so far, a fact of which I’m proud. I want to shout this fact when I get ‘the look’. The look that says a young, 5’3” female with a northern accent doesn’t have anything important to say. I feel like I have to prove my worth in the business world of London and this is wrong.

Yeah, yeah you don’t believe me do you? Well here are some of my favourite quotes- some of which from friends who mean no harm:

“I was surprised your writing is so articulate compared to the way you speak.” (We do learn to read and write in the north, you know!)

“Where are you from? You don’t sound, unintelligent northern.” (So just where is this ‘unintelligent northern’?)

“I love that city. If we could just take it and put it in the south, it’d be so much better.” (I think it’s fine where it is thanks, it doesn’t need to be in the south to survive.)

Upon commenting that I don’t believe in the SAT exams and separating children into different grades so young; “Yeah but you went to school in Durham, it doesn’t matter there.” (Great, so we Durham-ers don’t deserve an education do we not?)

These comments in isolation may not be too offending, but when you are continuously on the receiving end, you start to lose patience and become overly defensive. Defensive to the point where I take any hint of ridicule of the North as a personal insult which then makes me appear uptight… and a bit crazy.

So do I keep quiet and take the comments? Because they were never said to me in a malicious way. Plus, I guess London is the capital city where a lot of the business takes place and I did choose to live here…

Except I am one of those people who can’t accept an unfair society. Discrimination against anything that doesn’t affect how well someone performs in the work place isn’t right. Just because I don’t pronounce my ‘Ts’ when ordering a latte, doesn’t mean I can’t write eloquent copy or make intelligent decisions.

So as my new idol has demonstrated, the tact is to be the best I can be – not as a female or as a northerner; just as a person. Stephanie McGovern has gotten far in her career because, simply, she is good at what she does. So regardless of what some may assume of me, I know I am good at what I do. Maybe I should take it as a compliment when they are pleasantly surprised when they realise this too.

Author & blogger Lorelei Mathias reveals her cure for our ever increasing indecisiveness… (follow her @loreleimathias)

Has anyone ever suffered from the debilitating condition known as Indecision Paralysis? You know, you’re in a restaurant, all eyes are on you, it’s your turn to speak. But you look down at the menu and everything on it is dancing around, you’re trying very hard to concentrate but you can’t because Carbs and Salad are having a wrestle in your head, and you’re waiting to see who’s going to win.

Eventually you hear a voice say, ‘I’ll just have the salad’. But then, your friend orders the pasta. Next thing, you’ve called the waiter back because you know that there’s no affliction on God’s good earth worse than FOOD ENVY. Watching your friend chow down on some cheesy carby oily goodness while you fork another smug, joyless bundle of celery-based spartanism into your disappointed gob. No, far better to clutch the waiter’s lapels, look into his eyes, implore him to let you change your mind please if it’s not too much trouble please. ‘Please sir, give me a second chance!’

You might say, why not go for a compromise – a pasta salad? There’s only one problem with this. It’s NOT a salad! It’s not going to make you lose weight, it’s just a COLD VERSION OF WHAT YOU REALLY WISH YOU WERE EATING. It’s neither here nor there, neither vice nor virtue! It’s the SPORK of the dietary world. Surely, if you’re going to get fat on something, at least let it be HOT? Not yesterday’s leftovers?

Cases of Indecision Paralysis are most severe when you’re hungover. Me, I’m off the chart. On a bad day I’ll be stood, centre-aisle of a supermarket, arms laden with carb-based joy, knee deep in pesto and hummus and multi-buy garlic baguettes, when suddenly I’ll imagine something else totally different, and I quickly become stuck, at which point a friend (or carer) will tell me to abort the mission and for the love of god, GET OUT OF THERE. No, I’ve learned my lesson. When nurturing a Grade A hangover, stick to Locals, Expresses and corner shops. Enter supermarkets or – worse – department stores at your own risk.

As a partial sufferer of what you might say is ‘quirky, endearing indecisiveness, forward slash, infuriating scattiness’, I have begun to cultivate a method of survival. I present to you, the fool-proof way to quash your IP, like a high-grade chemical moth-spray (the kind you need gloves and a face mask to administer) to an evil mega-moth. I give you… Neuroses Top Trumps.

Do we all remember the iconic eightees card game? You know, where you’ve got a pack of cards all based on a theme – aircraft, dinosaurs, ninja turtles. Each card has some geekily compiled numerical data on it. The aim of the game is to try and out-trump one another’s cards. It feels pressing to mention at this point that this was way back in a time when the word ‘trump’ didn’t have another meaning synonymous with eating too many baked beans. I won’t lie, Top Trumps was never the most exciting game, but it DOES make for a fun way to make decisions in the noughties.

There are lots of real-life scenarios where you can play it – from house hunting, to shopping, to choosing what the heck to eat. All you have to do is, work out what the different things you’re currently stewing over, and what are the factors you’re weighing up. Then, give each one different values of importance. Then, try and picture them as little cards in your mind, then let the buggers trump each other out.

For example – in the mealtime scenario above there are various common neuroses at play. First up, the DIET card – a vague awareness that you should have a salad, or vegetable themed dish. Then, distinctly at odds with this, the FINANCES card, which rears its head to remind you that unhealthy food is always that bit cheaper. Then there’s the FOOD ENVY card, and we’ve seen where that can go. But trumping the ass of them all, there’s the HANGOVER card that tells everyone to fuck off and demands fat and carbs immediately.

Another sometime hurdle is when someone else is controlling the purse strings. Then you’re dealt the GUILT card (a.k.a. FINANCES BY PROXY) to boot. Recently my sister who lives in Zurich took my mum and I to a local Swiss spa. It was bliss. But taking us to a rooftop spa with a view of the Alps was not enough; she then said, here, have a drink and a snack, anything you like. So on top of all the usual trump cards I had the whole ‘Oh we’re somewhere fancy, wouldn’t it be lovely to have some Prosecco (The PONCE card), battling with the ‘Oh I’d better just have a tap water’ (The SPARTAN card). Suffice to say, my mum is just as remedial at decision-making as me, and this was all taking place Pre the-Top-Trump-revelation, so it took ruddy ages for us to decide and almost began to ENTIRELY undo all the good of the amazing spa. Ridiculous.

Anyway, so there you have it. Neuroses Top Trumps. Quite possibly, the modern day cure for being an indecisive fucktard. Hurrah.

So next time you’re over-analysing incessantly about whether to get the bus or the train, just turn it into an Eightees card game and have a play.

Donna Amey, creator of blog Thoughts On Mainstream, writes about the need for more nakedness and asks, is scrapping Page 3 a good thing?

Page 3 is irritating for two reasons. Firstly, all the girls look exactly the same, with the exception to hair colour. Secondly, most readers are under the impression that they are the only people to understand the irony of ‘News in briefs’. Unfortunately it’s not one of those things that get funnier every time you hear it.

However, where else do we see naked people? Growing up, there are few places for young people to see real life nudity. Unless you have particularly liberal, naked loving parents, the ways you’re going to get a glimpse of what your body is about to transform into are pretending you’ve fallen asleep on the sofa then watching late night Channel Five, taking all the clothes off your Barbie, or communal changing room staring.

Of course the most realistic glimpse into your future is the changing room option, but unfortunately this can make people feel quite uncomfortable. Although these glasses could be useful, and also look pretty cool.
Late night Channel 5 unfortunately isn’t famed for representing real looking women either, you would be just as well looking at a particularly slim courgette lying next to two grapefruit.
As for Barbie, she wouldn’t actually be able to stand up if she was a real person and the closest thing to her actually looks pretty weird.

So is scrapping Page 3 a good thing? A regular place to see naked people can’t be a bad thing – especially as Brits are famously prudish about our bits (most of us don’t even use the right terminology; hence ‘bits’).
You only have to visit any naturist venue or gym changing room to find that people of all shapes and sizes not only like being naked, but will walk around naked for an uncomfortably long amount of time.
Surely it’s not only readers of The Sun who have an interest in breasts? Would it hurt The Lady readers to see the odd bottom, or for Horse and Hound subscribers to catch a glimpse of a normal looking ball sack every now and again?

The argument for The Sun’s Page 3 encouraging eating disorders and objectifying women seems largely to be because they all look exactly the same – and not what most young girls will eventually turn into.
Would removing the page and creating mystery around the human form actually help, or could we actually encourage healthier body images by having more designated nudity?
It’s not only flawless, barely-legal young girls who’ll stand in front of a camera in pants: there are both men and women of all shapes and sizes who will happily show off their wares. Why hide them away just because their bodies aren’t ‘perfect’.

@Doonkris

Caitlin Moran, author of How To Be A Woman and Moranthology