A long break

Well…what can I say? I took a hiatus….a long one. It involved lots of tea and wearing pyjamas…

Since I last posted on realwomenmag, I started an MA Social Work, decided it wasn’t right for me, and started a new role as a Project Manager, where I am currently working in East London, with 16-24 year olds who desperately need support with finding employment.

Its no excuse for neglecting realwomenmag for so long, but Im back, and ready for a renovation, and some new material! Keep your eye out for new stuff coming your way soon

Truth be told I had a difficult few months, experiencing anxiety and at times depression, often not wanting to leave the house.  Thats something that is hard to share, especially on social media, where friends post edited and happy versions of themselves, and you feel more isolated than you did before logging on! Im working through it now, and feeling more positive.

But Im all about being honest, so there you have it. Im planning to get some mental health posts up soon, where hopefully I can begin to start an important conversation with friends and family on what its like to suffer from anxiety, depression and other mental health problems. Because when you open the conversation, you’ll be surprised how honest people can be, and to realise you are not suffering alone. And Im going to look at the role social media can play in this-the good, the bad and the ugly!

Im also going to have more reviews-of books, spa days, products, tv shows, you name it, I’ll review it. I often look to blog posts if Im considering buying, doing or watching something, so I would like to give something back!

For now, Im off to work on new ideas and designs for the site…stay tuned!


Changing workplaces and the role of women

I wanted to write a post about the workplace, a topic I find particularly fascinating. The UK places a real emphasis on work, which is reflected in the figures-the UK work some of the longest hours in Europe (not to mention the fact we don’t even get a siesta in the afternoon…)

It has occurred to me recently that many people, by their own definition are ‘floating’. This is a very technical term for doing jobs which tend to involve temporary contracts, or moving on after a year or two. (And this is men and women, young and old)

I can certainly vouch for this. I recently tallied up every job I have had since I began working at the age of fifteen, and in ten years I have worked in sixteen different jobs. Averaged out over the ten years, this amounts to an average of approximately six months per job.

I have worked everywhere. If you don’t believe me, take a look:

Wanna Haircut, Millets, MKOne, Whsmiths, Barclays Bank, Lloyds TSB, The Litten Tree, The Richmond Group, Au Pair, The Disney Store, Michael Rhodes Estate Agents, Doubletake Studios, London Advice Services Alliance, Migrant and Refugee Communities Forum, Groupon, and my current role at The College of Social Work.

I think I cover a lot of the bases-banking, retail, childcare, catering, admin, IT, charity work, creative industries…

From here……

To here……

Based on scientific research (aka talking to friends/work colleagues) I’ve noticed a real change in the way we view the employment market. Jumping from one job to another had the potential to feel liberating, that we weren’t committed to one role until we retire, like many generations before us.

But I want to argue that it isn’t liberating, We are clinging to our temporary contracts, and shrugging off the lack of pension or maternity benefits. We are scared to search for a new role, counting ourselves lucky we have a job at all.

Gender also comes into the discussions  (because you just knew it had to). Women are losing their jobs at a disproportionately greater rate than men. Of the 2.67 million people who are unemployed, 1.12 million are women – the highest number for 25 years. Women are paid less. FACT. In the UK, women get paid, on average, 15.5% less than men.

And a final interesting point by the Guardian this week. Women pay more for stuff. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/shortcuts/2012/mar/21/women-pay-more-than-men)

We pay more for haircuts, for our toiletries. Why do we pay more? Because we spend more I hear you cry! But WHY do we spend more? Because we have been bashed over the head with the message that WOMEN NEED TO LOOK GOOD. Must shave, must fake tan, must smell good, must do my highlights, lowlights, back comb, perm, relax, condition, moisturise, scrub, cleanse, tone, and rub in circular motions?! If my boyfriend rubbed cream on his face in circular frickin motions I’d laugh til I cried. But he wouldn’t, because he doesn’t have to, and he doesn’t use creams. I’m lucky if I can get him in the shower.

Women also experience sexism in the workplace. Recently I’ve been asked to serve tea and lunches in more and more meetings, as has my fellow female colleague. This isn’t part of our job description, but we’ve done it. I have since been referred to as ‘stewardess’ and trolley dolly’ whilst carrying out these duties, which I have to say, leaves me feeling pretty demoralised.

It’s good to be aware of these patterns. The ones affecting all of us, regardless of age or gender, and also of the discrimination that women still face. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one with stories like this…

Have I got news for..who?

So I was watching Have I Got News for You, which I do occasionally. The same goes for Q.I and other panel shows. But I find the lack of women on the show really frustrating. I am aware this is part of a deeper problem, about a lack of representation of all minority groups, and it feels as though I’m being bashed over the head with the views and witty retorts of a group of middle class privileged men.

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes a woman appears on the show. And that is the problem, its usually just the one.  Said (token) ‘woman’ usually becomes the subject of sexual innuendos coming from Ian Hislop and the gang. Either that, or she acts naive/girly/giggly/idiotic. Im not sure whether they choose the women that they hope will behave in this way, or whether that is how you end up acting, in a room full of testosterone. I’m interested to hear your thoughts…

Finally, I will leave you with a short video clip of last weeks show. The topic- super-injunctions taken out by male premiership footballers. Personally, I’m not comfortable with Ian Hislop calling women ‘slappers.’

Links to some excellent blogs and websites

http://lifeanthat.blogspot.com/   A fantastic blog from a very thoughtful and hilarious woman!

http://frenchforcupcake.blogspot.com/   Cakes, fashion, feminism-perfect!

http://www.foodographic.com/author/Nick/   For any food lovers, this is a must!

http://www.weareequals.org/   Great campaign for equality by Annie Lennox

http://www.any-body.org/   Challenging representations of women

http://www.fawcettsociety.org.uk/   Brilliant site for campaigns for equality

When I say a feminist magazine, what I mean is…

This week I began my quest to find people who would like to contribute to this magazine. I asked my Mum to write something and she said ‘oh no, I cant, I’m not a feminist.’

I need to explain what I mean by ‘feminist’ magazine.

By feminist, I mean I want the magazine to explore issues that are important for women. ‘Real women.’ This term is problematic, but what I mean is women who can’t afford the designer clothes in Grazia, who try the face creams and still have wrinkles, and who wish that magazines covered issues that relate to their ‘real lives’. You know, the life where you wake up and haven’t done last nights washing up. The life where you dont want to go to work, you dont have any money, and you certainly cant be bothered to try Jessica Alba’s bikini diet with smoked salmon for breakfast. The point is, things arent as glossy as they are in Glamour magazine.

Don’t get me wrong, I read these magazines, and they are light relief and I enjoy looking at the clothes, shoes, bags and other shiny things. But then I realise the clothes are too expensive, or they only look good on the size 6 model, and I’m left to go figure out whether a curvy girl can wear a playsuit all by myself.

So the aim of this magazine is to provide something for everyone. Everyone can contribute something, and I hope that in time I can have regular editors for different sections. Here are some ideas for now:

    • Experiences of the current jobs market-redundancy, internships, paid work
    • Body image-Positive or negative, own experiences, eating disorders, size zero models
    • Fashion-affordable, current, accessories, different shapes, best shops
    • Reviews- films, books, TV shows etc-rant about something you saw and loved/hated
    • Views from students on fees, courses, universities, workload
    • Experiences of women in particular areas of work/study-e.g law, journalism
    • Traveling experiences-where have you been, where do you want to go and why?
    • Relationships-highs, lows, types of pressures, being single, children, weddings etc

Please email me anything you write to charlene_legg@yahoo.co.uk. I’d also love pictures so please feel free to use pictures or videos, especially for fashion pieces. Thanks