christmas

Unconventional Christmas

I’ve had Twitter since I was 15. It’s my constant companion; the voices of these journalists and comedians that I have followed in many ways for seven years now. I check it when I wake up and I check it when I go to bed. A good tweet is like a good joke – satisfying.

My favourite time on Twitter is Christmas Day, when the connection it gives you to other people makes the day feel bigger than whatever is going on in your own Christmas. In recent years, Sarah Millican has started the hashtag #joinin, so that people can follow this directly and share what they’re doing, as a way to reach out to people who might be having lonely or difficult Christmases. I get to see commentary on Christmas TV, quotes from racist grandparents, and see everyone share their best and worst gifts. The tweet I look out for especially though, is comedian Robert Webb who reminds us that Christmas without a parent or both parents can be tough, shitty and sad, and what’s more, that that’s okay.

Christmas is a particularly tough day if you’ve lost a parent, or don’t have a strong family unit. It can be hard to admit you’re not enjoying yourself on a day with so much pressure on it, when everyone else seems to be having a jolly old family time. The traditions you grew up with change, as they inevitably do with age, but they change because of absence – because no matter how hard you try, on that day it will always feel a bit like something’s missing.

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I miss Christmas with my dad. I don’t have anyone to watch It’s A Wonderful Life with anymore. The responsibility of being the person who’s too drunk by lunch has fallen to me. I once told my dad that I hated Wilkinson’s because he dragged me there every Saturday, so one year he bought things he knew I’d like from there and left the labels on so I knew I was wrong (I was wrong Wilkinson’s is the best shop ever). Fairytale of New York is my mum and dad’s Christmas song. There’s no one to argue with over the 80’s pop Christmas CD (my choice) and the Rat Pack one (Dad’s). We don’t drive to see grandparents in his car, with it’s very specific smell. There was always a moment on Christmas morning where we had to say ‘Dad – please stop checking your emails and come and watch us open stockings for god’s sake you grumpy bastard.’ We’d hand him what he always got – a) a DVD, b) a book, or c) a box of Sports Mix and he’d say ‘A football!’

So for those who find the festive season a bit tough, like me, I’d like to offer some advice, that I’m trying very hard not to make condescending. Instead, you must make your own traditions. Build your own family. Appreciate the new.

My favourite part of Christmas is the flat meal; an important trip to Lewisham Shopping Centre, lucky dip with Poundland gifts, Secret Santa, Frankie’s honey parsnips, the glee with which Rob rearranges the living room, Steve’s Christmas jumpers, and more roast potatoes than anyone can conceivably eat. On Christmas day the group chats light up with everyone’s best presents, wishes we were all together, and tales of whose nan is pissed. We compare potatoes.

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We have a ridiculous new year’s eve party and watch the fireworks from Best Hill in London, Telegraph Hill with the entirety of SE4 (you can take your Primrose Hill and shove it). We spend new year’s day mopping the floor and feeling sorry for ourselves, regretting our dancing and then decamp to the seaside the day after to clear out the cobwebs.

I’ve taken on new present buying responsibilities – I buy my cousin a different sit-com box set every year so I can educate him on these things the way my dad educated me. I am the best at making presents for my sister. Together, we watch all the Christmas TV, and drink wine, and miss our dad. Last year she gave me a framed letter that he’d written me. We always cry.

And it’s okay to miss him on Christmas Day because, to be honest, it’s a bit shit that he’s not here. He was a grumpy old bastard, but that’s what you need at Christmas more than ever. Someone to point out that the whole thing is bloody ridiculous.

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To me, grief is like a bruise that never goes away. At first, it’s the stabbing pain, it’s the injury, and the shock. Slowly that bruise changes colour, and maybe it gets a bit smaller, but I don’t think it ever goes away. And sometimes, you need to poke it. To check it still hurts. To feel that pain again, because when you feel it, you remember the injury, and you remember why it hurts. And it’s the remembering that’s so important.

For more on this see the amazing tweet from Rachael Prior about her dad and M&S Jumpers that recently went viral. The replies are full of people sharing how their Christmases aren’t the same now that they’ve lost someone, but there’s a bittersweet quality to it all.

 

Words by Sian Brett
Tweet from Rachael Prior, ‘@ORachaelO’

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Stop WINE-ing About Women Drinking

 I am fully and wholly aware that alcohol is bad for you. It’s bad for your physical and mental health. It is a drug.

But my god it’s fun, isn’t it? When you’ve had a few, and you dance your way back from the pub, eating some chips that taste like the best chips ever… and it is my god damn right to do that.

In the wake of New Years and Christmas festivities there have been a spate of ‘oh no binge drinking women how awful’ articles in the typically awful right-wing press. The narratives of these stories are often about how terrible it is for us young girls to go out in short skirts, or heels, and to get merry. They depict us as ‘messes’, as out of control, or loose.

If you’re decrying young women going out and acting disgracefully on nights out, you should probably stop putting photos of it in national newspapers.

I am sure that some of this notion of women going and getting drunk being a terrible thing stems from the fact that many of these women probably end up having one night stands, and that many people still have a problem with women being in charge of their own sexuality and sexual freedoms.

I wonder if there’s a rise in young women drinking because the pressure on us to be everything is so intense that we need something after a long day of the patriarchy to take the edge off.

Or if it’s because we are made to feel so constantly self-conscious and aware of our looks -as that is taught to be the only thing that defines us – that having a drink is sometimes the quickest way to feel good about ourselves.

In her article ‘Pictures Of Today’s Young Women That Make Me Weep’ (I’m not going to link you to it or even suggest that you look it up because any more hits on their website is exactly what The Mail wants, and I’m loathed to ever give them what they want, the absolute fucks), Sarah Vine writes “[e]ven more depressing, however, is the fact that these are not the usual suspects – thuggish male louts or football hooligans – we see brawling and barfing their way to destruction; but young women”.

OKAY. LET’S DELVE IN. Vine seems to be suggesting here that if it were ‘the usual suspsects’ that would somehow be okay, and that the fact that it’s not makes it worse. She even calls it ‘depressing’.  

I wonder why, Sarah Vine, wife of Michael Gove, young women would feel the need to go out and get rat-arsed these days. No idea? Me neither, Sarah Vine, wife of Michael Gove.

I’m not okaying binge drinking. It’s silly, and foolish, and is a strain on public services. People put themselves in dangerous positions and many die or are hurt. I’m just saying that being a woman doing it is not any worse than being a man doing it.

Also, being drunk is a right laugh. There is something intensely powerful about a group of girls on a night out. It is one of my favourite places to be. When you give up with glasses and swig from the bottle, and do each other’s eyeliner and cackle. When you hold back your mate’s hair as they’re sick in a bin. My two best friends from school and me would take it in turns to be the most drunk on a night out so no one was always the one doing the looking after. That’s not being a ‘mess’ that’s being considerate. Rae Earl put it best on Twitter when she said this:

Vine’s article also says this: “These girls have grown up in a post-feminist society that tells them anything a man can do, they can do better. And that includes getting monumentally, catastrophically bladdered.”

You know what?

Yeah. It does. Today’s young women can do whatever they bloody like. Have a drink mate. Mine’s a pint.

Words by Sian Brett (@sian_brett)
Tweet by Rae Earl (@RaeEarl)

Another Feminist Gift Guide for 2016

You’ve probably already seen around 100 different gift guides on your news feed, or on Amazon or Etsy, and you may even have read some of them, and the may even have been feminist or girl power gift guides, but I’ll be damned if I’m not making my own for Anthem. I spend enough time online window shopping, I might as well share my findings. So here’s a few items I think the girl power enthusiast in your life would appreciate…

  1. Don’t Fuck With Feminism‘ jumper from Joanna Thangiah
    $50 (roughly £40) from her online store
    Find it here.
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  2. A sassy/glittery pin from Robin Eisenberger
    $10-$12 (roughly £9) from her online store -she also stocks stickers, and her own illustrated zine.
    Find them here.
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  3. ‘Bad Girls Throughout History‘ illustrated book by Ann Shen
    £10.78 hardcover from Amazon
    Find it here.
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  4. ‘Girls Need To Support Girls‘ crop top by Minga
    £14.90 from Minga London’s online store
    Find it here.
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  5. Love Sick‘ book by Jessie Cave
    £9.98 hardback from Amazon
    Find it here.
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  6. ‘Milk and Honey‘ book by Rupi Kaur
    £6.99 paperback from Amazon
    Find it here.
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  7. Cuterus‘ enamel pin by Punky Pins
    £6 from their online store – full of cute pins like this one
    Find them here.
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  8. Femme Ain’t Frail’ gift set (enamel pin and patch) by WhoAreYouCurlySue
    £11.42 from her Etsy store – items can be bought individually.
    Find them here.
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  9. ‘It’s All Absolutely Fine: Life is Complicated, So I’ve Drawn it Instead’ book by Rubyetc
    £9.99 paperback from Waterstones
    Find it here or in-store.
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  10. Girl Almighty’ lightning bolt pin by Milly Pins
    £7.34 from her Etsy store
    Find it here.
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  11. Girl Gang‘ embroidered hoodie by Missguided
    £18 from their website
    Find it here.
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  12. Feminist Activity Book‘ by Gemma Correll
    £9.66 paperback from Amazon
    Find it here.
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  13. Pendant necklace from H&M
    £2.99 from their website or in-store – silver and gold available
    Find it here.
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  14. Girls Bite Back’ sweatshirt from H&M
    £6.99 from their website or in-store
    Find it here.
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  15. Feminist journal/diary from Chronicle Books
    £7.99 from Amazon
    Find it here.
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So there you have it, my list of 15 items (mostly books) that would make a pretty snazzy feminist gift (I know I like them). Seriously though, if you have a man or woman in your life who’s getting into feminism of any kind, then go for a book and let them read up. Some of these books are an excellent place to start, as well as Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay, anything by Caitlin Moran, or Virginia Woolf, or just go on up to the Sociology section of Waterstones and choose for yourself.

Happy Gift Giving!

 

Words by Briony Brake
Images courtesy of Joanna Thangiah, Robin Eisenberger, Ann Shen, Minga London, Jessie Cave, Rupi Kaur, Punky Pins, WhoAreYouCurlySue, Rubyetc, Milly Pins, Missguided, Gemma Correll, H&M, Chronicle Books, Amazon and Etsy.