Brighton Pride 2017 

On Saturday 5th August I attended my second Brighton Pride. The atmosphere, love and pure joy I witnessed and experienced made for an amazing day. In the challenging times we live in, it was beautiful to see people coming together to celebrate the LGBTQA+ community. When we come together and champion love, great things can happen.

I wanted to share some photos from the event… Enjoy! 

How to write a First Class Dissertation

I started googling the title of this blog almost a year ago exactly. I knew I wanted to do a dissertation (I know that this is compulsory for some courses) and I also knew the area I wanted to research. This post is for those of you who want to get a First, or at least do well in your dissertation.

This post is for those of you who want to get a First, or at least do well in your dissertation.

(If you get a choice) Make sure you’re doing a dissertation for the right reasons…

Dissertations don’t suit everybody’s skills or schedules, so if you get a choice, make sure you’re doing it because you want to do it; not just because you think it’ll make you look good.

Pick a topic you like

Make sure you select a topic that genuinely interests you and that you’re going to enjoy reading about. My dissertation had over 200 references – so I am so thankful I selected a topic that I loved to learn about. It is also a good idea to pick a topic that you know a little bit about, you have a lot of time but you don’t want to be spending that just reading the basics.

Your dissertation tutor / academic support 

I began my search for my dissertation tutor way in advance, I looked at my university’s staff database and found someone who had expertise in my area. I contacted them early on to ask to meet and to see if they could be my tutor. You need to have a good relationship with your tutor and find the best way to communicate with them in a way that suits you both – email, meetings, etc. You also need to tell them that you want a First (right at the beginning)! In my first meeting, I used the words “I want a First for this, so tell me what I need to do to get that”. This shows that you’re serious and willing to put in the work. If you get allocated your dissertation tutor and you don’t get on with them, don’t panic. Try and flag the issue early on with someone senior at your university. If nothing happens, don’t worry I know how these things go, find other lecturers to look at your work and get as much feedback as possible.

Resources 

Use a variety of resources for your dissertation. Make sure you use credible and up to date sources to add substance to your paper. Check out what’s available in the library, try your university’s online resources (journals and articles) and Google Scholar is great too. Don’t shy away from using the internet and video sources, just make sure you reference everything properly! Find out what reference system your university wants you to use and stick to it.

Organisation & time management

Organisation and time management is really important. You need to set time aside each week and specific goals for what you need to do. You could even pencil in sessions to work on your project as if it were its own module. This might seem obvious, but with such a big project ahead of you, the basics can be forgotten in the panic.  Part of the purpose of a dissertation is proving that you can work on an independent research project; use this as an opportunity to develop your skillset and ability to work well on your own – it can become a great example for interviews / your CV!

Speak to other students doing a dissertation 

You are going to need support from other students doing dissertations. It can be a very isolating time for students as it is independent work, so it is really helpful to be able to talk about your ideas and ask each other for advice.

Learn how to work smart

This is advice I would give in regards to revision as well as writing a dissertation. There is no point in spending endless hours of half-hearted energy on your work. It is much better to set yourself goals and be more task-orientated in your working style. Manage procrastination habits (e.g. checking Instagram) and be realistic about what you can achieve in the time you have.

Balance 

I’m just going to say: self-care, take breaks and don’t worry about it too much. Just work hard, listen carefully to feedback and you will see results.

 

Great advice videos:

More detailed help:

GOOD LUCK! 

What’s your advice? Let me know in the comments or tweet me! @maldrichwincer 

 

Let’s Talk About Love Island (Who Knew?!)

This year I decided to watch Love Island. Last year the show got a lot of attention and I wanted to see what the fuss was about. I also think that to have an opinion on something, it’s probably a good idea to engage and learn more about it.

The show could be seen as problematic from a feminist perspective for a number of reasons. But that isn’t actually what this blog is about. I want to talk about the #TeamCamilla / #TeamJonny drama that unfolded last night. First I will explain very quickly what the show is about and what happened. Love Island is a show in the UK where single young people go to a villa and have to “couple up”-  it is made up of sunshine, mini-challenges and drama. Camilla and Jonny recently coupled up and their relationship was slowly growing. Here’s what happened next:

To summarise, Jonny told Camilla that if a girl wouldn’t let him pay for a date, he would feel emasculated. When Camilla disagreed with this idea, he went on to say “You’re a feminist, aren’t you”, where Camilla replied, “Shouldn’t we all be feminists?”. At this point, my heart did a little jump for joy.

Now I want to say my piece about what happens next in the clip. Jonny isn’t sure about feminism, saying that feminism is about inequality and essentially argues that women don’t need feminism in the UK. Camilla then goes on to get upset about getting involved with Jonny without really knowing him and his beliefs.

I think the issue here is not that Jonny doesn’t identify as a feminist, but that he doesn’t recognise the need for equality. I personally like the “feminist” label, but I also understand that others don’t. There is freedom of speech and belief. However, you simply cannot disagree with the fact that women are disadvantaged and oppressed, even in Western societies. Yes, despite the fact we have a “female Prime Minister”. How? I’ll give you just a few examples.

  • The gender pay gap
  • Sexual harassment – The TUC (2016) reported that more than half (52 %) of all women polled in their research had experienced some form of sexual harassment in the workplace.
  • Cat calling
  • Abortion rights 
  • Tampon Tax (and the higher cost of “female” products in general)

In other parts of the world women still cannot vote, drive and work. Some are denied education and even stigmatised for menstruating. 

Gosh, listening to him talking about feminism and women’s rights (especially as a white, straight and cisgender man) made my insides cringe.

As soon as the incident happened, I quickly turned to Twitter to find out what other people were saying. I was pleased to be met with some strong #TeamCamilla posts:

“If you think Camilla is upset because of a ‘difference in opinion’ and ‘him wanting to pay for women’ you have missed the point. #Loveisland” 

“Seeing men moan about Camilla talking about ‘something as small’ as equality is exactly why we need feminism in the first place. #Loveisland.” 

“Remember though, Camilla has worked in many different countries where women have no rights and are treated with no respect #Loveisland”. 

However, the misconceptions about feminism and lack of education also shined through.

“Definition of irony is Camilla walking around in a bikini with her arse out claiming to be the queen of feminism #LoveIsland” 

“So Camilla pays 50/50 on a date. Does that mean she’ll only let the guy hold the door open half way?!! Get a grip hun.” 

“Camilla please man up. Wrong show for you. Tonight’s viewing was boring.” 

Feminism is about equality and pro-choice, in every sense. That means that women are allowed to dress as they like and behave how they wish. In my opinion, Camilla had every right to be upset, especially in response to Jonny’s shockingly immature attitude and tone towards her. But I know that’s up for debate.

I am pleased that a show like Love Island (widely watched and enjoyed as a guilty pleasure) is highlighting these kinds of conversations. Who knew it could be a tool for social justice? Not me, that’s for sure.

What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments or tweet me @maldrichwincer.

Have your voice heard on 8th June

The UK general election is fast approaching and I wanted to say my piece to make sure that you use your voice. Amongst my friends, it is a very tricky subject. Not because we have polarising opinions, but because it’s actually really hard to choose a party we genuinely feel represents our views – politicians can often all seem as bad as each other.

But it is really important that you use your vote – there are lots of resources that might help you decide:

You should also spend some time reading through each party’s manifestos to work out which one is your preference.

Of course, there are also other ways of getting involved in politics, such as getting involved with online forums or supporting organisations who lobby for change.  But it is critical to use your vote as well, particularly if you are a young person.

Voting gives you the opportunity to get your voice heard,  don’t miss it.

Other good stuff to check out:

 

Feminism 101

It should come as no surprise that feminism is one of my favourite topics to talk about. I even decided to write a dissertation about it. I wanted to outline some of the basics. Feminism is arguably becoming more “mainstream”. The good thing about that is that more people are talking about gender equality and calling out sexism and all of that fab stuff. However, there are still a lot of misconceptions surrounding what feminists want and what it really means.

So let’s start a little discussion about what feminism is about…

To me, feminism is about representation and opportunities. It means that the world needs to be more inclusive and needs to listen to the voices of those who are oppressed. It is knowing that sexism still exists as it always has but in new ways. Terms like “Girl Boss” are being printed on t-shirts at the same time as a photo with two female politicians making front page news not because of politics but because of”Legs-it”. Everyday sexism and lazy stereotypes fuel my passion for fighting for equality.

DEFINITION: Feminism is aiming to achieve equality for all genders. 

(tw: rape culture)

Some Keywords

Feminist – a supporter of equal rights.

Patriarchy – we live in a society where masculinity is systematically viewed as superior to femininity, which often leads to the oppression of women.

Privilege –  unearned benefits that members of ‘dominant groups’ get based on social identity factors. For example, straight people experience the benefits of living in a heteronormative society (whereby you are assumed to be straight unless told otherwise).

Political Correctness – avoidance of saying or doing something that could exclude or marginalise people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against. More thoughts on political correctness here. 

Intersectionality – recognising that individuals are made up of lots of identity factors and each of those will contribute towards how they perceive and experience the world. Read more about this here.

Equality – being equal, especially in status, rights, or opportunities. Sometimes this requires more support to those who are systematically oppressed or discriminated against.

Sexism – stereotyping, discrimination or prejudice, typically against women, on the basis of sex; this can be against men too.

Genders – there are more than two genders; gender is a social construct.

Consent – rape culture is a huge topic in feminism. This video explains consent using tea very well…

 

Books & Resources 

I wrote a blog a little while ago about some of my favourite books which you can read here. 

Other stuff you should check out:

 

What’s next? 

Want to know more? Luckily for you, there is so much out there about feminism. I have barely scratched the surface in this post. Obviously, you have to take everything you read with a pinch of salt. It is all open to your own interpretations.

I hope I have at least opened up some thoughts and ideas for you… I’d love to hear what your interpretation of feminism is in the comments!

How to Survive Exam Season

I am fast approaching the end of my degree – mixed feelings fill my brain on a daily basis about that. Although I am organised, I am also a huge worrier and find this period of the academic year really challenging. So,  I thought  I would share some tips on how to survive exam and deadline season.

Here’s some advice:

Self-care is SO important at this time. Look after yourself.

Every day set yourself some goals about the work you want to achieve

Find out when and how you work best – and stick to it! Are you a night owl or lark? Do you work better on your own or with friends?

Be realistic about your expectations. If you have been working towards a particular grade all year, chances are this is what you’re going to get

Work for 20-30 mins then have a break. Keep the breaks short and regular (I never used to believe this, but trust me, it actually works!)

Don’t spend more time making a pretty revision table and selecting stationery than on your actual revision

Make it fun – I find A3 paper and sharpies provide a lot of entertainment

Book/plan something for the end of exam season which you can look forward to

If you really can’t concentrate and you feel crap, take a break and call a friend

Keep your surroundings tidy!

Get dressed in the morning – it can be tempting to stay in your PJs all day, but studies show you concentrate better when you have made the effort to get ready

Use all of the resources available to you – ask your lecturer/teacher questions, go to your library and read through your notes

Concentrate on the topics that you’re less confident with or dislike the most, then move onto the areas you like

YOU HAVE GOT THIS!

 

Tweet me your own advice – @maldrichwincer 

Make Gender Inclusivity Compulsory in University Surveys

During the course of my degree,  I have designed and distributed at least 6 surveys for various modules. Times that by the number of students studying my course and that is a lot of questionnaires and desperate pleas for respondents. We have all seen the Facebook statuses and received the messages- – “it will only take a few minutes and it would REALLY be helping me out”. We have also all felt the slight sense of doing our good deed for the day once we have completed it and message back with the three relief inducing words of “I’ve done it!”.

Now, for all of these fun surveys, a majority of the time we will start with some demographic questions. This is to try and prove our research is relatively “representative” (ignore the fact that we might ask our mate to pretend to be a 45 year old professional to even things out). We get asked our age, gender and ethnicity.

Today I want to focus on the gender question. Often, we get 2 options: Male or Female. Sometimes if we’re “lucky” we get a couple of extra options: Other and prefer not to say. Before I go on, let’s go back to the basics. Gender and sex are different, although arguably both are a social construction. The gender binary does not exist and we all belong somewhere on a spectrum.

Side note: I recently enlightened one of my close friends with this information and she was delighted to discover that gender is a construction and that she gets to decide how she identifies, quote “so if I wanted to, I could be a boy?!”.

Some are cynical about all of the language available to describe gender and sexuality…. Ash Hardell does a good job in this video talking about “Snowflakes”:

Long story short, we need to give more options when we require information about people in surveys. Enforcing the gender binary can be triggering for some and can isolate and exclude individuals.

Surveygizmo gives some really useful information on the topic, click here to read what they have to say.

To put it simple, if you are going to ask for someone’s gender try:

  1. Leaving it open ended, i.e. Gender? __________
  2. Give MORE options

I am disappointed that in class during modules specifically about research and how to conduct effective research projects, these issues were not discussed at all. I believe that gender inclusivity should be made compulsory or at least talked about during academic studies. This is because EVERYBODY regardless of identity deserves to be included and represented.

 

 

Self Care

Self care is the latest buzzword. Everyone from Precious Lee to Beyoncé is talking about it. But what is self care and how can you give it a go?

Self care definition : Self care is care provided “for you, by you.” It’s about identifying your own needs and taking steps to meet them. It is taking the time to do some of the activities that nurture you. Self care is about taking proper care of yourself and treating yourself as kindly as you treat others.

As a student I see people neglecting their personal needs on a daily basis. It’s so easy in today’s world to not get enough sleep and forget to drink enough water. It doesn’t matter how old you are or what job you have, every body needs a break and the tools to make sure they’re okay and that they can look after themselves.

Basically you need to learn how to evaluate what your body and mind needs. That might be a quiet walk by yourself or a plate full of vegetables. Maybe you need to get rid of some toxic people or habits.

You need to learn to listen to yourself and make your needs a priority. If you’re worried about becoming selfish:

1) Everyone has to be a bit selfish sometimes

2) You have to be feeling good in yourself to do anything productive or help anyone else.

Here are a few easy peasy self care tips for you to try. You can also find some links at the end which might provide more detailed information about self care:

  • Get at least one early night a week
  • Drink water. You hear it from e v e r y b o d y, and it seriously helps
  • Take some guilt free time off
  • Dress up for yourself. Put on your favourite outfit that makes you feel like a million dollars.
  • Do some form of exercise – anything
  • Get outside – fresh air and sun (maybe)
  • Learn and practice that no is a complete sentence 
  • Cook yourself a nutritious meal
  • Shower / bath with your favourite bubbles

 

Links 

Mind –  http://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/mental-health-problems-introduction/self-care/#.WKtbdPnyjIU

Self Care Forum – http://www.selfcareforum.org/

Self Care tips by Lucy Moon – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VamqK8P3WfI&t=144s

A Self Care Revolution TEDx Talk by Megan McCormick – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sUKKJapwUXc

GUEST BLOG: Starting your own business by Eleanor Owens Gardening

I asked Eleanor to talk a bit about why she decided to start her own business and what it’s like:

“I have a garden maintenance business that I started in 2015 when I was 19 years old. I hope to develop my business by employing people and evolve a part of it into garden design.

People talk about the ‘freedom’ that comes with owning your own business, being able to take time off when you feel like it and working from home. I see ‘freedom’ as being able to evolve and change your business and make decisions without having to negotiate this with bosses/managers. This can be intimidating and involves taking risks but is fantastic when it pays off.

Reasons why I started my own business:

* There is a considerable lack of employment in horticulture in my local area. I was looking to be sub-contracted by an established independent company or in a garden centre/nursery.

* You are expected to gain experience before being employed. There is a lack of volunteer roles in my area and for some volunteering roles you need to have experience too; it is intimidating and becomes a vicious circle.

* Have to earn money to live and survive, you cannot be a volunteer if you have to pay bills.

* Personally, I had to fill my time. I became restless and useless whilst searching for jobs/volunteer work. I have the drive and energy to learn new skills but was unsuccessful in finding employment.

The hard parts of running my own business:

* Without being taught ‘life skills’ at school, you have to become your own ‘accountant’ and business advisor. You are expected to know about tax and finances. This was daunting.

* You have to be confident in your own skills and knowledge. Your customers hire you as the expert. Prove to them that you are competent.

* You represent your own brand. You want your brand to stand out and be well acclaimed. You must present yourself well and be smart.

* You must build good relationships with your customers, you are your own boss so customers must be able to praise your work but also confide complaints to you (on the odd occasion).

The best parts of owning your own business:

* Being independent with own brand pushes you to be your best everyday.

* It pushes you to make constant improvements to expand your knowledge and improve your business.

* You have control over expansion: who you employ, who your clients are etc. You get to choose the services offered and get to enjoy working.

* You won’t become a ‘dogsbody’: what younger people usually become when starting out in an industry. You have control over the business environment and can make it positive.”

 

Check out her website and send her your thoughts on twitter @eogardening.

Filming & Editing: Molly Aldrich-Wincer

Music: Rock Angel by Joakim Karud https://soundcloud.com/joakimkarud
Creative Commons — Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported— CC BY-SA 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/b
Music provided by Audio Library https://youtu.be/K8eRXvLL7Wo