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sleep1It might come as a surprise to some of you that me and the boyfriend don’t live together after being together for such a long time – everyone seems to be moving in together at the moment! But actually, our living situation has enabled us to enjoy the best of both worlds. On my wage, I would have been seriously poor if I lived with him and would have had no life, but staying at my parents’ house has given me an opportunity to save money while paying low rent and it gives me an easy way out of any contract when I go travelling. In Wolfy’s case, he lives with a friend in a house that is owned and has been remodelled by his parents. Both quite independent people, we really like our own space so living apart has actually been quite nice, we have the option to see each other whenever we like, and the money I save on rent can also go towards us doing fun things together like all the festivals back in the summer.

Since moving out of his parent’s house, Wolfy has lived in two homes and the first one, which he shared with two other boys, provided me with quite an experience. I know a lot of people who are in shared homes – some with couples and a few other friends, others are trios or groups of four – many find this is the only way they can afford to live out. So I know I’m not the only one who will have had some pretty hilarious and gross experiences in my time spent staying over at a shared house. I’m quite lucky that now Wolfy lives in a house with just the one friend it is kept really nice and clean, and that this house-mate knows not to just barge in when you’re getting changed. But the old house did make for some rather entertaining times.

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20 experiences every girl has had while staying at her boyfriend’s shared house

  1. Everyone has seen everyone naked. Not through choice, but it’s just a bond most of you share. Particularly in a boys’ house, willies are constantly on display and privacy is a thing of the past
  2. Never a moment’s peace when you want a pee, someone always comes barging in or starts talking to you through the door
  3. There are mouldy plates everywhere – half eaten Dominoes/curries and nothing is ever clean if you want to cook
  4. Good luck actually trying to find a glass if you want a drink – most liquid is drunk out of glass bottles in this house
  5. Date night is a thing of the past and Friday’s are spent partying with the house-mates and whoever else turns up
  6. A romantic meal for two becomes dinner for five – and that’s if you can find a clean spot in the kitchen
  7. Things get really, really dirty before “the big clean up” which happens about once a month
  8. Farting. There’s a lot of farting. And there’s always one house-mate who doesn’t understand the concept of personal space and likes to leave the door open when he’s on the toilet.
  9. There’s always someone about for a laugh, food and getting drunk, no matter what time of night it is
  10. Clean towels are a thing of the past, and you consider buying jelly shoes to wear in the shower
  11. Every time you try to have a quiet night in front of the TV, someone comes and changes the channel
  12. Starting to keep up with the boys because you spend so much time drinking and partying with them
  13. Everyone in the house has been caught in a compromising position – with no locks on the doors, everyone just seems to barge their way in!
  14. That moment when you sink to their level and eat something out of desperation despite it being seriously debatable how long it has sat in their house
  15. Realising quite how gross men can be when they are grouped together without a woman to clean up after them
  16. All those hilarious nights full of silly jokes and plenty of banter that left you in hysterics
  17. Everything in the house belonging to everyone – your booze is up for grabs to anyone passing through, but so is their food
  18. Having a place for the whole gang to meet up, have house parties and get together on any night of the week
  19. Really appreciating your own experience of living at home or with friends in a much cleaner girls’ house
  20. Knowing that you’ve firmly grown out of shared housing

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Any classics you want to add to the list?

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rulesoffeminismI was too busy to write this post last week, but it’s been playing on my mind ever since and I’ve now actually delayed another post to share this with you guys today. Those of you who don’t follow many blogs might not be aware of the scathing column written by Independent journalist, Chloe Hamilton, about the nation’s number one blogger and vlogger, Zoella. This attack came completely out of the blue, and interestingly at a time when Zoe Sugg is at the top of her game, winning awards, becoming a charity patron, launching a beauty range and more. Perhaps more to do with attracting attention than actually making a valid comment? Zoe has the amazing success most bloggers dream of and aspire to. She is a beautiful young girl, both inside and out, who vlogs to share her experiences and struggles with anxiety with others, creating a support network for teen girls across the world. Pretty amazing for a 24-year-old! With over six million subscribers on her YouTube channel, she must be doing something right and is nothing short of an inspiration to a lot of us.

I’m sure you can already tell I disagree with the column, but my concern is not so much the viewpoint of the writer, but the fact that she felt the need to be so nasty while making her point. Chloe is welcome to feel that Zoella reinforces certain stereotypes and perhaps doesn’t represent the “typical” view of feminism – but where is the need to describe her as “the latest creation spat out by the YouTube machine” or slate her “brand of sickly sweet girl power”? And what is the “typical” view of feminism anyway? There are so many stereotyped ideas of a “typical feminist” that I wonder how anyone could say what a feminist looks, speaks and acts like. This column is pure nastiness and really just embarrasses both the Independent and the “journalist” behind it, who quite frankly both appear to have published the piece to stir up reaction and page views. Well I’m sure it has worked, considering the reaction from countless bloggers and vloggers across Facebook and Twitter, and I hate to give the article the time of day because I know it just gives the writer what she wants. But I’m more concerned with the greater cost to “feminism”.feminismToo many already consider feminism a joke – a way to justify beating down men at every opportunity, to not conform to society expectations, to just kick up a fuss at every given opportunity – I’ve seen and heard these views given several times over the years. They don’t understand that in its purest form feminism means “the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes”. The reason they don’t understand this? Well, because feminism has become a bit of a fashion statement, I’m not saying everyone is jumping on the bandwagon, but all too often I am seeing women using feminism as an excuse for their behaviour, when actually there is no excuse. I’m not talking about those who are campaigning, who stand up for those who are mistreated because of their gender – those who are underpaid, treated with no respect, or even abused simply because they are women. These are the good feminists, the true feminists who are paving the way for women. They are the inspiration to us all to follow their lead and do the same, to stand up and say something when we see real-life sexism and inequality.

I’m talking about those who are using “feminism” as an excuse to slate successful women and who use their own medium, whether blogging, writing, vlogging, “journalism”, social media or something else, in an attempt to bring them down or leech off their fame. I’ve seen a few examples of this recently, a couple over Twitter that were indirectly attacking a woman seemingly out of jealousy because she was successful and yet they felt the need to attack her looks and the way she dressed, and the way she wrote. How sad. No matter how indirectly you dress it up, we all know who you’re talking about, and honey, it doesn’t make them look bad – that’s all on you.pat-robertsons-quotes-4This latest attack by Chloe Hamilton is far worse because it targets not only Zoe’s success – which has caused her to become an inspiration for millions of teen girls. But it also launches an assault on how she has made her living – I just struggle to understand how a young woman who has found a hobby that she loves and turned it into a huge career through hard work can be seen as anything less than inspirational. Although many may not realise it, blogging is hard work – it takes up a huge portion of your life and is a massive commitment. You spend hours each week writing posts, videoing them, shooting pictures, brainstorming ideas. We do it because we love it, but as a professional journalist, an editor and a blogger, I can say I spend a lot of time perfecting my posts and I know others are the same. So the fact that Zoe has dedicated so much of her time to creating a brand, to promoting it, to working with her viewers and communicating with them is no mean feat. And the fact that for a long time she wouldn’t have been getting paid for any of it – just shows what a hard worker she is.

My next question is why does Chloe Hamilton hate Zoe so much for enjoying make-up, for trying out hairstyles and for liking getting dressed up? Since when has any of this stuff meant you are any less of a feminist? I love make-up, fashion, getting my hair done and styling it, not because it makes me pretty for men to look at, but because I enjoy the process of treating myself. But I also love equality, I love that my gender does not prevent me from getting an education, that it doesn’t have to hold me back from certain career paths and I hate that there are women out there who are preyed on because of their gender, who are raped and attacked and persecuted. Isn’t that the essence of feminism? Not what lipstick I’ve put on today. Or the fact that we choose to wear lipstick at all.

femChloe needs to try watching Zoella’s videos about her anxiety and feeling confident in your own skin, she represents and covers all these important issues alongside beauty and hair – that doesn’t mean she is going back on what she has said. Instead she gives us the boost we need and represents the girl-next-door, showing that everyone struggles with confidence and fears, but that it’s okay and that we don’t have to worry. She then gives girls the techniques and the tips so they can do make-up and hair well if they need it to boost their confidence or make them feel better individually, not for men.

Perhaps Chloe needs to spend a day in a high school to understand that the majority of teen girls want to learn about make-up and hair, they want to feel pretty and confident. I was a real bookworm at school and loved spending time with my friends, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t want to get dressed up as well. Zoella isn’t playing on insecurities of youths, she is talking about her passions and her loves and they are obviously shared by girls across the world or she wouldn’t have such an enormous following.sisterTaking a quick look at the bigger picture here, something that Chloe seems to have missed. When Zoe is encouraging teen girls to enjoy innocent hair and make-up tutorials, or videos about anxiety and coping with it – shouldn’t we be grateful that all these millions are tuning into her videos? All that time they spend watching them is another few minutes they are not watching and idolising “celebrities” like Rihanna, Nicki Minaj and the rest of the women who feel the need to take their clothes off or dance provocatively while aiming their music at teen audiences. Zoe Sugg is making a credible difference to young audiences already because she respects herself, she is a successful woman who has forged a career in an industry that is only just beginning and she is a real girl, who doesn’t have a team of make-up artists and retouching equipment that makes her seem perfect. She isn’t afraid of her imperfections, she just finds ways to live with them and be happy with them.

Sorry this has ended up being such a long post, but I think it is something that really needs to be said. Women need to stop attacking each other and instead look at the real problems. Green is a terrible colour on some people and jealousy is a nasty emotion. Isn’t it time we all started building each other up and being proud of our success stories? I’m happy and lucky to have a fantastic group of women as my friends, all strong feminists with big personalities who support and encourage each other to the bitter end. And the blogging community has been such a warm and welcoming place full of words of encouragement, congratulations at every small success and generally a huge amount of support at every stage of the game. We all believe in equality and women’s rights, otherwise we wouldn’t be voicing our opinions on the internet, creating these little spaces for our voices to be heard. THAT belief, THAT support and THAT passion is what we are proud of and what we love about blogging. That is what we should focus on and that is the future.

What did you think of the Independent column? What do you think about the Mean Girls who are calling themselves feminists?

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