The Cows book

Having been listening to Emma Gannon’s Ctrl, Alt Delete podcast I just so happened to listen to the episode with Dawn O’Porter and it was such a good programme and her latest book sounded so right up my street so I thought, why not! So if you are looking for a new book, that will give you a laugh with strong women that make mistakes and learn a lot about themselves then read ahead!

The Cows is about three women, Tara who is 42 and works as a documentary maker. She is constantly belittled at work by her misogynistic male colleges. Tara also has a 6 year old child from a one-night stand but the father does not know about the child. There is Stella, who is still mourning the death of her twin sister and mother from cancer, also she has the BRCA gene (which puts her at high risk of developing cancer) and is yearning for children although at the same time her relationship is falling apart. Finally there is Cam Stacey, owner of the blog Through the blog she has turned into a bit of a feminist icon as she doesn’t want children, much to the dismay of her mother.

The story really gets going when Tara gets caught masturbating (yes really, I wasn’t expecting that either) on the tube as she is travelling home after a date with a guy called Jason and a nearby passenger films it on his phone. The footage gets put on YouTube and goes viral. Tara becomes the butt of all jokes overnight, she can’t eat, she doesn’t want to leave the house, she got a warning from the police and she has lost her job. Tara finds solace in Cam Stacey who has been the only person to support her by writing a blog post sticking up for her after the tube incident. They soon strike up a friendship and constantly email each other. Stella on the other hand is Jason’s PA, it just so happens Jason is on an internet ban as he tries to finish his book. Therefore Stella goes to great lengths to protect Jason from finding out about Tara. Yes, it does feel very six degrees of separation.

The Cows banner

I am not going to lie this book is a bit bat-shit crazy. There are a lot of themes touched here – feminism, misogyny, whether you should tell the father of your child that he has a child. The fact that women enjoying sex is deemed to be wrong (there is nothing wrong with it, just not on public transport regardless if you are male or female!). The characters are all flawed in some way and that women are just as bad as men. For example Tara is judgement about all the Mum’s at the school gates, thinking that they all stay at home and that they all judge her when she comes to the gates, on her own, from work. Which we find out later it couldn’t be further from the truth. Cam doesn’t see that her fuck buddy has feelings for her and when she does she tries to dismiss them. Stella is probably the most flawed of all- she literally does everything wrong. She lies and trolls all for her selfish gain. What I did like from the book that as the women are older, so you see clearly the impact of their actions unlike books about women in their twenties who are just starting out.

Have you read The Cows? What do you think?

Image of the book Everyday Sexism, Girl Up, The Equality Illusion and Strong Woman

I have accumulated a lot of really inspiring and interesting books by feminists in the past three years and today’s post I share my favourites.

Feminist Fight Club – Jessica Bennett

I heard about this book in Cosmo magazine. Feminist Fight details situations in which women find themselves struggling in, in their working lives and how to work though them. Feminist Fight Club details situations such as the good old mansplaining, saying yes to everything and feeling overburdened and the wage gap. The book came about because the author was part of a club where women in professional roles would meet up and speak about what they would struggle with in the workplace. The book doesn’t come across as preachy, it is an easy read, the advice is useful and realistic. The only thing I disliked about the book was that it try’s too hard at times to be ‘cool’ by using words such as ‘femulate’ having rules and a starter kit for the fight club. It really isn’t needed and doesn’t make sense.

What I told my daughter – Nina Tassler

This book contains mini life stories from successful women and what they would pass to their daughters. It covers topics as diverse as the glass ceiling, resilience and courage. This book is easy to read and you can dip in and out of it at any point.

Everyday Sexism – Laura Bates

Laura Bates, the founder of the Everyday Sexism project. In her first books writes about the everyday sexism that exists in everyday situations, including education, media, motherhood, politics and more. A very informative book full of facts and real life experiences from the Everyday Sexism site.

Girl Up – Laura Bates

What I would describe as the the younger sister to Everyday Sexism. Girl Up is meant to be a guide aimed at teenager women. This no bullsh**t book tackles issues head on that the majority of teen women unfortunately may encounter such as dealing with social media, cat calling and mental health.

Although a good read – I am out of the target audience this book is aimed at so I didn’t get anything out of it myself but I would recommend any teenage girl to read.

The Equality Illusion – Kat Banyard

The Equality Illusion is where Kat Banyard explodes the myths that women have never been in a more equal society. Like Everyday Sexism and Girl Up each chapter is covers a topic from education to reproduction to the sex industry. To be honest I found this book to be very similar to Everyday Sexism and Everyday Sexism was more thorougher.

Strong Woman – Karren Brady

I had to include this book because this autobiography covers the career of Karren Brady from starting out at Saatchi and Saatchi at 18, being managing director at Birmingham City football club at 23 and her opinions on working hard and how she balances being a working mother. Karren comes across as a really lovely person that isn’t afraid of hard work and gives some really good advice.

We should all be feminists – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Last but certainly not least! We should all be feminists is based on the famous Tedx talk of the same name. Chimamanda explores what it is like to be a woman today from her own experience. The book is far, far too short and powerfully explores the importance of equality without it becoming preachy. I recieved this book at an NUS Woman in Leadership conference

What are your favourite feminist books? Have you read on the list and if so what did you think?

Screenshot of Rebecca Merchant's podcast page

I was never really a podcast person, until I realised listening to the entire Ellie Goulding playlist on Spotify each day to and from work was a getting a bit too much. I decided to delve into the world of podcasts – and boy, I am glad I did.

#Girlboss – Sophia Amarouso

This popular podcast starts with Sophia reading out #girlboss moments that listeners send in via Twitter. Sophia then interviews females that have achieved success in their careers. The careers are mainly business based but contain a mixture of charity/ start-ups and women in senior positions of established organisations. Each podcast charters the guests work life from first job to lessons learned in each position.

The Unsorry Podcast

The Unsorry podcast by Sam Sparrow and Lea Rice where each episode talks about topics that women in their twenties and thirties often don’t talk about. The best topics I have listened too have been: Do you have to live the dream, Meditation – Bullshit or brilliant, Dealing with burnout, Difficult female friendships and Educating men on feminism.

Ctrl Alt Delete

Another popular podcast by Emma Gannon author of the Ctrl Alt Delete book. Emma interviews different people each week on a variety of different topics. The interviews with Estee Lalonde and Laura Bates author of Everyday Sexism are well worth a listen.

Death, Sex and Money

Last but certainly not least is the Death, Sex and Money podcast hosted by Anna Sale. This podcast claims to talk about topics that people don’t talk about enough and it is so true. Usually the podcast focuses on one person’s story and includes audio excerpts from listeners who have phoned in. Podcast’s I have enjoyed listening too (out of many) have been ‘I was more angry at God’, Falling in love with heroin, An Astronaut’s husband, left behind and In sickness and in mental health.

Have you got any podcast’s you think I should listen too? Let me know in the comments below!

Good Girls Revolt Poster

One of the best series on Amazon Prime recently has been Good Girls Revolt, based on the real court case that happened at Newsweek where female researchers sued over their right to become reporters. Starring Genevieve Angelson, Anna Camp, Erin Darke and Chris Diamantopoulos, series 1 has just finished. But Amazon has cancelled season 2 and it is currently been shopped around. The show was very well produced and here is why it should stay:

Women planning together to create change

The programme demonstrated well the researchers getting together and planning the court case. It also showed that the girls had something to lose. Patty didn’t tell Doug because she didn’t trust him, Cindy knew that her husband Lenny wouldn’t approve as he wanted her as a housewife. Naomi nearly pulled out as she was going to lose her flat due to her needing her husbands signature but he was away in Vietnam and she was not allowed to be the owner on the mortgage. The irony being that Naomi had put the down entire downpayment on the mortgage. When Jane realised that she wasn’t going to get to write a story by merit, seeing that Gregory saw her as a sex toy and that Fran, a fellow researcher, has been working at News of the Week since she graduated and is now nearing retirement showed that something had to be done.

It wasn’t just about the feminism story

It wasn’t just women fighting for equal rights. The African – American Civil Rights movement was between 1954 – 1968 and the Black Panther storyline where Doug is questioned on his white privilege was reminding viewers of african americans fighting to end racial segregation and discrimination.

How women didn’t have as much freedom in the 60’s as you may have first thought

At News of the Week, women couldn’t be reporters (they could elsewhere). If a reporter quit before the deadline the female reporters could finish it however the male reporter’s name would be on the byline. Women were expected in the office to make the men tea and coffee as well as research. The male reporters and even the Editor in Chief would make sexist jokes and remarks about the females. One memorable scene where the male reporters and Finn are choosing the photograph for the front page of the female liberation movement and they keep making lots of crass comments about the different females images they were looking at.

The researchers couldn’t go out to the meetings (which were dominated by men anyway). Men were paid a lot more than women – this was demonstrated well in the show where Patty remarks that Doug is paid three times more than she is. Cindy steals the sheet which details the staff’s wages which by the girls expression shows that they were very underpaid compared to the men.  The workplace may have changed in having women work but still that support for working women with children was not quite there. Shown by Angie who takes her Vera, her sick child, to work and hides Vera underneath her desk.

That wanting to be a wife is ok

In the second episode we see Patty answering a knock on the door by her younger sister. Her sister has come to tell her that she is recently engaged and invites Patty to a meal at their parents house. Patty laments the fact to Doug (amongst others) how her sister wanted to be a painter and travel across Europe but now wants to be a wife and Patty feels that it is a waste. When her sister confronts Patty and tells her that that is not her dream anymore and that it is ok to be a wife. We learn as a viewer that it is ok to want to be a wife and stay at home parent as long as you make that choice and not have someone make it for you.

We are all human

Patty who desperately wants to be a journalist messed up an article that Doug said she could write on his behalf (you could argue was due to the fact that she has never been able to write articles before). This humanises Patty, stops her being the perfect super girl the programme was up to this point was in danger of her making.  Sam messed up an interview which was saved by Jane. Gabriel had Denise helped him research and write an article he wouldn’t have written without. This enhances the girls contributions to the newsroom.

A reminder that abortion is still illegal in many countries and is a taboo subject for many

When Angie finds herself pregnant, Cindy rallies the girls round and they all pitch in to pay for her to have an abortion. Cindy accompanies Angie to the abortion clinic and this is when we learn that Cindy herself as had an abortion at that same clinic.  This touching, delicate storyline was shot with upmost dignity and a poignant reminder that many women still face this situation  today.

That looks can be deceiving

Cindy looks like a girl who wouldn’t hurt a fly however there is this inner strength that she has and is portrayed brilliantly. From planning the court case with Patty, having an abortion, confronting her husband about him purposely piercing her diaphragm and approaching Bea by flying out on her own from New York to Washington and leaving her husband. Cindy knows what she wants and will work at it until she gets it.

Women can emotionally be taken advantage of but make bad decisions too

I am talking about Patty and Finn and Cindy and Ned. Both were taken advantage off emotionally however they succumbed to this and ultimately they are old and wise enough to know what they are doing.

I really enjoyed the programme and it has so much more to give. This was evidently seen in the last episode where Finn finds out Patty is part of the court case and the fall out from this, Cindy leaving her husband behind, Jane handing back her cheque for her rent to her father as she wants to make it on her own. You could tell those scenes were being keyed up for a next series. The fact that Amazon cancelled the show just after one series is so disappointing.

I would love to hear your views on my article and the series. Let me know in the comments below!

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