Thursday, 26 November 2015

Thursday Thoughts: Free the Nipple

A (longer than usual) note from Joelle... 
When I first heard about the 'Free The Nipple' campaign a few years ago, I thought it was bizarre. I thought it was a publicity stunt by radical feminists who were wasting time fighting for something that wasn't actually that important.

"Why on earth do women want to expose their breasts?"
"Children will become too desensitised to sexual things if they see boobs bobbing about everywhere."
"Men will feel awkward and it will probably make more women uncomfortable about their bodies."
These are all things I used to think about women wanting the same treatment as men when it came to going topless in public.

And then it hit me. Why isn't it okay?  What's so offensive about breasts?
How we view women's sexuality and bodies needs to be changed drastically.

I'm going to address each of my old questions one-by-one:

"Why on earth do women want to expose their breasts?"
Why on earth do men want to? Not all men do, but they have a choice to on a beach or on a hot day somewhere. That's what it's about - the choice. Women and men are still not equal when it comes to their bodies and that is a big problem .

"Children will become too desensitised to sexual things if they see boobs bobbing about everywhere."
Are you sure about this one, Joelle? Because even today, when you're more likely to see a pig fly than some bare breasts in the city centre, children are still 
And it all boils down to the sex and relationship education we received from our school and parents. The British syllabus is abysmal and needs serious reform. 
Research has shown that a lack of good sex/relationships (aka THE FACTS) education at school-age directly correlates with the rise of teen/uneraged pregancies.
Britain is the worst in Europe - suprise, suprise
Teen birth rates (even though the age of consent is as low as 15 in some European countries) continue to fall, because of sex education that is taken seriously. No "mock" names are given to sexual organs, just the scientific names and facts.
That takes the awkwardness and "jokes" out of the vital education and actually makes citizens appreciate their bodies without feeling embarrassed.
"The Dutch take sex very seriously – and their focus on education for young children pays off when they grow up". - The Guardian, 2011. Boom. No messing about - just facts.

You could argue that they have a lower population so you can't compare, blah blah blah... but they are definitely doing something that we Brits need to get on board with.

"Men will feel awkward and it will probably make more women uncomfortable about their bodies."
"Feeling awkward" isn't a good-enough excuse to criminalise female nudity and censor female breasts. Instead of automatically judging, Joelle, I challenge you to think about why you/some men  feel awkward in those situations. Does it have something to do with the fact that breasts have become so sexualised that actually seeing one in the flesh (pun intended) puts you on edge? Hmmm.
In relation to female self-esteem, the sexualisation of breasts in the media has created a generation of females who currently think there's one acceptable aesthetic: symmetrical, perfectly-spherical, gravity-defying DDs. 
Removing the censorship around the female form will hopefully open up a discussion addressing the fact that all shapes and sizes are fine and desirable. It's normal to compare the stuff we have with other people - it's normal. But the key is generating conversations, promoting awareness about breast health and saving lives.

This campaign isn't actually just about giving the women the right to parade around the streets topless (male or female, it's cold out there, y'know).
Even in the day-and-age, women STILL don't have control over their own bodies and that's what the movement is challenging! In some US states, women can be arrested for going topless in public. And in the UK, well, we all know about that ridiculous breastfeeding scandal that happened during the general election.

In today's society, it's okay to pay to see women's breasts in a newspaper/"lad's" mag, strip club or porn site, etc. - for entertainment and arousal.
But when a woman is owning her own body in public (e.g. feeding her baby or sunbathing), she is made to feel dirty and ashamed for doing something so natural.

Bare breasts aren't only for the male gaze and it shouldn't belong just in a 2D glossy format. They are more than that and we all know that deep down, no matter how uncomfortable it makes us feel.

To be honest, can't even run up or down the stairs braless (#ThePainIsReal), so I doubt I'll be going topless around town anytime soon. 
But I want the choice to be there. I want to live in a world where I don't have to censor my own body and feel ashamed of having something so cool and natural.
This movement is the catalyst needed to drive the conversation along about many other injustices and issues regarding the female body.

If you've been reading my blog for a while, I know what you're thinking: "But Joelle, didn't you write an article about banning Page 3? One minute you want boobs banned, and next you want them free. You're a hypocrite!"
Well, banning Page 3 isn't about telling women to not expose their breasts - honestly! It's all about context and a family newspaper isn't the place for soft porn. How can you have an article about current affairs on one page and then a topless model posing on the nest? It doesn't make sense. 

Also, the models in Page 3 expose their breasts for the sole intention of arousing men. They are told how to stand, how to pose and how "desirable" they are from people they don't know that well. They are not in control even if they think they are because they chose to model.
"Look at the tits on that", *lots of laughter*, I once heard a boy of around 12/13 say to his friend on a bus to college. They were flicking through a camera roll full of topless women they had probably taken from a tabloid somewhere.
"Her" became "that" - a thing. The woman is now an object, not a person. And it's sad that most people wouldn't even notice that.

Furthermore, a woman owning her body and posting a topless image in social media, like Twitter and Instagram will be flagged and removed within hours, yet masses amounts of pornographic images of nude women are easily accessible on those same websites. Interesting.

Breasts have been so overly-sexualised (e.g. topless women in video games, porn, Page 3 etc.) that we have forgotten what their biological use is. What the fuck is wrong with us humans? How have we allowed ourselves to become so basic?

A mother breastfeeding her child in public has nothing to do with you or your wondering eyes. She will not let her newborn starve because you find it uncomfortable seeing a bit of breast. Look away.

A woman on a beach with her bikini off does not and will not ever make her a "slut" or a "slag", because guess what? She doesn't want those annoying tan lines. It has nothing to do with wanting attention or "asking for it".

We need to check our breasts often and love them no matter what anyone else thinks of them. If we are fortunate-enough to still have ours, we have a right to take care of them, enjoy them and do want we want with them.

Every single person on this planet deserves to have control over their own bodies without being judged. 

The male and female supporters of the Free The Nipple movement are reclaiming our nipples from the itchy nuisance that is today's unjust society and it feels great to be right there with them. 
It's time we set 'em free and be free in return.

Agree? Disagree? Not sure? Let me know your thoughts in the comments! 
You don't have to agree with me, but you have to agree with yourself - no one else but yo'self.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

RECIPE: Fisherman's Pie

A note from Joelle... 
I made this quite spontaneously after realising I had some seafood in the freezer that I'd severely neglected for two weeks. This is an original recipe (aka an experiment that turned out pretty well) and I hope you enjoy it!
There are 3 components to this dish: the mash, the sauce and the fish/veg filling. It may look like a lot of work and ingredients, but it can be done from scratch and ready to eat in just over an hour - trust me!

You will need:
For the mash potato
800g white potatoes, 1 tbsp butter, splash of milk, 50g grated cheddar, 2 tsp grainy mustard, pinch of salt

For the filling
400g cod fillet (or skinless white fish of your choice), 200g peeled prawns (I used king), mangetout, mushrooms (any kind, I used white button), sprinkle of salt/pepper/dried mixed herbs

For the sauce
2 tbsp plain white flour, 50g butter, milk, salt/pepper

The mustard Mash
  1. Peel and quarter potatoes
  2. Boil them until soft
  3. Mash them
  4. Add butter, milk and season to taste
  5. Once smooth, add in 2 tsp grainy mustard and stir
The standard white sauce
  1. Melt butter in a saucepan
  2. Add flour and whisk until is becomes a paste (or  roux, if you're fancy)
  3. Add a splash of milk 
  4. Stir continuously until it gets thicker
  5. Add more milk if it starts to get too thick  - you want a rich pouring consistency!
  6. Add a pinch of salt, ground pepper and dried mixed herbs if you have some (fresh parsley would be good too!)
The Fish/Veg Filling
  1. Chop up a white onion, a spring onion, two garlic cloves, some white button mushrooms and some mangetout
  2. In a frying pan add the onions and garlic into a pan of hot oil
  3. Fry off the prawns (can do it from frozen or defrosted) and then set aside once they change colour
  4. Stir in the mushrooms and mangetout
  5. Add a splash of white wine if you have some (not essential)
  6. In a separate pan, submerge the cod under 400ml cold water (or milk with 2 bay leaves) and leave to poach on a medium heat for about 15-20 minutes
  7. Once both the cod and prawns are ready, drain off excess liquid (mushrooms can create a lot of extra water) from both pans and put the contents into a pie dish.
Combining everything:
  1. With the fish/veg mix on the bottom, pour on the white sauce, making sure the coating is even
  2. Then dollop on the mash
  3. Using a fork, you can spread it easier into the corners and make a traditional pattern on the top at the same time
  4. Bake in a hot oven for about 20 minutes at 200 degrees C to get that crispy top and bubbling edges
Season's eatings! 

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Friday, 20 November 2015

21/94: Karishma, UK

A note from Joelle... 

What was your month of birth in 1994?

August, baby of the year.

Where were you born?

Who were your idols or role models when you were a child?
I don’t actually think I thought about this when I was a child.

Name your favourite singer/band from your childhood (the cringier the better!).
S Club 7. Hands down was obsessed with them

What did you want to be when you were younger?
When I was really young I’m pretty sure I wanted to be a teacher. But from about year 7, something to do with Journalism

Do you still want to go into that profession?
Yes, I’ve just graduated with a Journalism degree

What were you like as a teenager?
Shy, kept myself to myself, unconfident

What was high school like for you?                            
Not bad. I had major rabbit teeth (I used to suck my thumb a lot as a child) which affected my confidence and got braces during high school which definitely helped.

How have your dreams and goals changed through your life?
Career wise, no. I’ve always wanted a job to do with writing. In other senses yes. I’ve grown up so understand everything more.

How do/did you feel about turning 21 this year?
Excited, but nervous.

Is turning 21 a big deal in your opinion?
Yes and no. It’s made into a bigger deal than it is. But for me personally, it marked the start of growing up. Because I’d finished uni and am starting a whole new journey and chapter. It is just a number though so it depends where abouts in your life you are, if that makes sense.

What’s one thing you are looking forward to doing in the next few years?
Working towards my dream career.

Has anything shocked/surprised you about adulthood so far?
How time consuming looking for a job is. And money. I didn’t realise how much I depended on my student loan. You also want to make money on your own rather than get it from someone else.

Do you have any hobbies or special interests?
Blogging, cooking. I’ve recently started to learn how to crochet (It’s harder than you think).

What would you say to a teenager who is worried about adult life?
Take it as it comes. I’m a massive believer in everything happens for a reason so don’t stress if everything doesn’t happen as you expect it to. Jobs, family, relationships…they’ll happen as they’re meant to.

If you could give your 13-year-old self a piece of advice, what would it be?
Don’t be so shy. Come out of your shell more.

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word ‘future’

Who are your idols or role models now?
My parents – they’ve both worked as hard as they could to give me the future I have now. But also my oldest cousin and his wife – they’ve both got their goals and nothing will stop them from achieving it. It kind of makes you realise if you want something go and make it happen.

What steps are you going to take to make your twenties a smoother ride?
Just take it day by day. Take every opportunity and enjoy it.

In 2015, do you think that life for young adults is optimistic or full of pressures?
I think you definitely have to stay optimistic because there’s so much out there for us. I don’t think it’s full of pressures but of course there are pressures – it’s only natural. I don’t think the media and press help. But you have to go and find whatever it is you want I think.

What sets your generation apart from everyone else?
The ever growing world of social media. I’m not sure if it’s always a good thing. But boy do we use it a lot. 

Thank you, Karishma for sharing your thoughts with me.

If you'd like to take part in my final few interviews, please send me a blank email with '21/94' in the subject line, and I'll get back to you :).



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