Living With A Narcissist By Naina Ramavrat

*** Trigger ⚠️ warning ***

“Her once home sweet home, the place she re-treated to for solace, comfort, and serenity soon changed into a pit of chaos, torture, and mental torment. Her soul in chains, her heart fresh and ripe in danger, attacked by a powerful parasite that slowly rotted away at her deep from the core bruising her within. Even burning sage could not cleanse this type of monster”

-Hidden Hurt.

Home sweet home at last I thought after a tough day, I sat watching the news hearing about a landmark case that looked into Georgina Challan’s (known as Sally) murder conviction being overturned under new domestic abuse law.

A woman who killed her husband in a hammer attack after 40 years of being ‘controlled’ and ‘humiliated’ by him. This case has increased our growing understanding of domestic abuse and in particular the mechanism and impact of ‘coercive’ and ‘controlling behaviour’. Emotionally I could relate as I know of a ‘Sally’ who pretty much went through similar experiences. Luckily enough, she managed to escape the clutches of such cruelty and abuse.

However I must admit, it could have been very different if she had not freed herself from bondage, meaning she was on the cusp of either ending her life or that of her perpetrator. I remember speaking to the ‘Sally’ I know after her ordeal, she perfectly picked lines from one of her favourite songs by Sade sung I believe during the 80’s:

“He’s laughing with another girl and playing with another heart,  

Placing high stakes, and making hearts ache. No place for beginners or sensitive hearts.

His eyes are like angels, his heart is cold. He’s a smooth operator.”

I knew exactly what she meant.

Unlike Sally Challan she wasn’t married, neither had children, only in a what she thought was a civil relationship. They were introduced by a mutual friend where things became very serious very quick. He was exceptionally charming, made her laugh, was protective and shared similar views about general facets of life. They both were in their early twenties with so much going for them, both were in employment and had somewhere to live.

They fell in love very quickly, experiencing life to the fullest by making plans amongst themselves without seeing friends. Within 5 months of dating they starting living together.

She was and still is kind hearted always giving everyone the benefit of the doubt, she was vulnerable in many ways she just didn’t know that. She focused greatly on her job that was important to her as well as her home, it was her ‘sanctuary of peace.’

That ‘sanctuary of peace’ soon became a place of hell for her. She would find out that her home would become a torture chamber where the secrets of what happened would remain only behind closed doors.

The cracks started to show, after a hard day at work the routine would be to wind down not having to go out every night nor to have a drink. That was something her partner then enjoyed doing and seemed never to tire from it. He would stroll in at whatever time he wanted banging and clanging around, demanding affection on his terms to the extent of refusing NO as an answer not wanting to understand that it was inappropriate.

Arguments would unfold where she would be blamed for every little thing that went wrong.

He lost his job – it was her fault,

He was stressed- something she did, she was not affectionate enough- as she shouldn’t be tired.  

If she was not compliant, she would face all night torment of questioning and interrogation with no resolve, having to prove her whereabouts through providing access to all her passwords and codes for social networking sites where he would vigilantly monitor her.

This caused great isolation with her privacy being taken she fell victim to shame and guilt. (something many abuse victims feel).

The love that was once felt was lost and she wanted the relationship to terminate. The events that followed after, no one should ever go through. Not everyone knows about domestic abuse, they sometimes are in a trance not really knowing what is happening to them or why – many place blames on themselves as they are conditioned to feel that way. It is paralysing.

The ‘Sally’ I know suffered, as we know that one thing Narcissists loathe is ‘rejection’ .

He followed her to work, threatened to cause scenes wherever she went if she did not agree oncile. Non-stop messaged and called her, sat outside her house waiting. She refused trying desperately to stay strong using many masks to hide her bleeding heart.

Being forced against your will is terrible.

He never was remorseful for his behaviour and lacked empathy. I remember her going to the doctors once for a check-up, as she waited before being called, she looked around the sterile waiting room, her attention fixed on a poster, that described exactly what she was going through – it was ‘the cycle of abuse’ and it listed the following:

. Power & control

. Using Intimidation

. Emotional Abuse

. Humiliation

. Possessiveness

. Threats

. Coercive behaviour

. Manipulation

“I knew then my situation was abuse, I needed to break free, I needed to get out! all of those points were what was happening to me” said my friend ‘Sally’.

She became brave and confided in her doctor thankfully, who reassured her that help was available and to access it.

“I was told to seek help immediately, things won’t get better, they will only get worse”… those words are chilling.

She had supportive friends, even though she had not confided nor kept in contact always making excuses. There was enough evidence to show harassment and controlling behaviour.

On many occasions she reported her perpetrator to the police it made no difference as he still found a way to bother her.

That night she made it clear, she did not want anything to do with him and just wanted to get on with her life, he refused to leave, verbally abused her, threatened her, blocked her way so she could not escape.

She had no choice but to take the punishment the monster had to offer. He was unleashed, she begged and pleaded for him to let her go, she covered her ears, as the screaming and torment was too much, crouched in a foetal position she buried her head, tears flooding her ability to breath properly.

He took her phone so she could not contact the authorities.  This torture went on for what seemed hours, she knew from prior experience he would not stop, there was no one to help, no one heard her plea for help or could hear her cries. She wanted to escape but there was no way out!

Until she gave up “my mind shut off I could no longer take it I wanted out, and I said there is only one way”.

She got up drained and weary walked to the drawer where the knives were, picked one up stood toe to toe with him, her eyes solemn and said “You choose me or you? I cannot take this anymore if you do not let me go and stop, I will finish you, but if you persist, I will finish myself -now let me go!”

“I had never been more serious about anything in my life until that point, I was willing to kill, and willing to die at the same time, not because I wanted to kill or die, I wanted the torment to stop”

The monster released her. He took it up onto himself to leave and reported her to the authorities, she was arrested provided her reasons with proof it was evident she was a victim of domestic abuse, she needed support and the perpetrator needed to be punished. A court order was issued protecting her it has been so precious as it has allowed her to live freely.

“I’ve got my life back, I still have issues with self-confidence, but I am working on being kind to me, I’m doing well and know I will get there. I am happy to feel secure in my own home, it feels amazing to come back to a peaceful calm home again”

Her situation could have easily ended up just as Sally Challan’s. The truth is there are many ‘Sally’s’ out there who are going through domestic abuse usually only receiving help when it becomes too late. Many victims have died by committing suicide, have murdered, or have been murdered by the hands of their perpetrator.

I have read many stories where victims could and should have been saved but their cries were not heard clearly.

Many live with domestic abuse for years just as Sally Challan did as they do not see any way out and are in love so in essence put up with the hurt more so for the sake of their children. We all know that is not right or conducive to one’s health and wellbeing.

Many are afraid of living independently alone as they have developed security by being co-dependant with their abuser.

“ The narcissist creates a dynamic abuser victim relationship through a cycle of abuse resulting in traumatic bonding that makes it hard for their partner to leave the increasingly abusive relationship”.

“What was so disturbing was the fact that he could lie to the extent where he believed his own lies, making others believe him too. He was arrogant, cocky, and so self-assured, he would act one way with others and another with me. As if I didn’t deserve the respect he gave out to others. I’ve have never met anyone who could lie as he did and get away with it, he did that so I would lose myself and be totally dependant on him, his game of control, felling powerless a ‘puppet on strings’.”

Even though she felt free, she still had the dark cloud hanging over her a big contrast to when they first met.

She recalls the early days as, “during that time I use to feel the sun was hung out in the sky only for me, the sky would be the colour of love & happiness. A wonderful feeling and now an unwanted dark cloud just hovers wherever I go.”

“It is not the bruises on the body that hurt. It is the wounds of the heart and the scars on the mind.”

Recovery takes time, it is a slow process.

Knowing that the right support and care is available only speeds up the healing process, your soul can be restored!

Along the way you learn so much as she did, she learned about abuse, love, and self-love.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrong.”

Along her road to recovery she started learning more about her experience by researching as a form of therapy also to appease her curiosity. She came across a woman based in America; Dr Ramani Durvasula (Ph.D.) is a licensed clinical psychologist who has specialised in the field of narcissism and has published a self-help guide for those who are in abusive relationships, marriages, or who are just wanting to know more.  

It is called ‘Should I stay, or should I go?’ Please recommend to others or have a look.

I read this myself and became hooked on this lady, her videos on YouTube are amazing! She really hits the nail on the head with Narcissistic abusers – please check her out!!

“A relationship with a narcissist is a gradual indoctrination. You slowly become inured to their lack of empathy, their rage, insults, entitlement, lies, and challenges to your reality. Their insulting words slowly become your self-talk and before you know it, your new mantra becomes ‘I am not good enough’ “- Dr Ramani

Good old Dr Ramani really helped with her healing process.

She says “I count myself lucky now, to think there are so many who are going through what I did is unbearable and not only women suffer but men do too, we can unlock the chains that keep us imprisoned especially within our own homes, we have the key, we must be strong we must speak! The more silent we are the more the chains become entangled around us. No one should ever be a prisoner in their own home, we need to speak against abuse.”

“The abhorrent crime has no place in the UK”- Theresa May

The Prime Minister this year has pledged a new legal duty for local authorities to provide secure homes for those affected by domestic abuse/violence. Councils in England are currently under no statutory obligation to house those fleeing violent or abusive relationships, meaning that victims and their families face varying levels of help depending on where they live.

However, in a statement she said “we are ending the postcode lottery by placing on local authorities a legal duty to deliver support, including secure housing, to survivors of domestic abuse and their children.  

‘whoever you are, wherever you live and whatever the abuse you face, you will have access to the services you need to be safe”

The new duty would be backed by government funding to ensure the councils have the resources to deliver.

We need to make sure victims and their families are being supported appropriately. When the ‘Sally’ I know of was going through her horrendous situation she was referred to a charity within her borough that helped women who experienced domestic abuse, they were very accommodating and helpful.

There is more awareness, but we must use that awareness to help properly without many victims falling through the net or becoming lost within loopholes in the system.

Help is available and we must not suffer in silence.

Narcissists are empty hollow individuals hence lack empathy, nothing can or will ever fill that hole they have within.  

Do not suffer in silence remember love doesn’t hurt.

On Fatness… By Lisa Bullock

About four years ago, I got off a train and walked past a smart looking man, who leaned toward me and whispered in my ear:

“God, you are fat”

Now, reader, be under no illusion, I am fat. He was merely reporting fact. My usual suite of excellent witty ripostes deserted me in that second. I stood and stared at his departing back letting the venom seep right into my heart. Then I cried. 

I cried all the way back to Glasgow, and I was still crying when I got back to my cold little flat, miles from my family and partner, at 12.10am.

As a fat woman, I’m used to having insults hurled at me, usually from cars inhabited by late teenage boys, of seemingly both sub -par intelligence and taste in tracksuits. I take this on the chin, with a cheerful flick of the fingers – there isn’t actually much malice in what they are saying – Its just something else to yell, something to pass the time for them – they’ve forgotten me by the time they pass an attractive woman, or old person, or anyone that isn’t them.

But the guy in St Pancras really meant it. He wanted to hurt me.

He didn’t say it to make himself look funny, or clever. He wanted to hurt me, a stranger, someone who hadn’t taken up any of his space, or interacted with him in any way, for being bigger that he deemed acceptable.

I sometimes wonder if he thinks he was trying to help. Perhaps he thought that his brave intervention might shock me into action, and that in a year or two’s time, I’d be strolling through St Pancras, slim and lithe, see him, and thank him for saving my life. Instead, I did what I always do in times of deep sadness: I went back to my flat in Glasgow and ate my feelings in cake form.

I’m engaged in a constant battle with my body. It is able and willing and does all the things I ask it to do, almost without complaint, yet still I treat it with contempt.

Recently, I noted the new Nike mannequin launched in London, showcasing their plus size range. They had dared to display the clothes, designed for fat bodies, on a fat body.

The reaction was baffling. This piece from Tanya Gold, for the Telegraph, was particularly myopic:

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/life/obese-mannequins-selling-women-dangerous-lie/

The idea that fat people can barely stir their stumps to movement is laughable. I am fat – really fat – and I have witnesses over 30 in number who can personally attest that I have stood In front/behind/beside them every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday wobbling energetically away, shedding sweat and hair ties and  mostly looking like a chunky Animal from the Muppets. I love exercise. I’m still not slim, because I still eat too much. 

I consider myself incredibly lucky. I am blessed with a supportive family network and friends. Some of these friends have supported me in my quest to become fitter.

From Sam, who puts up with my bitching every Saturday morning, and she helps me to become stronger and stronger to Chantal and Chloe, who came with me to my first ever Clubbercise class, when I was too embarrassed to look anyone, even the instructor, in the eye.

3 years later, I was at that instructors baby shower, now able to count her as a friend (thank you Hannah!). Sharon, who I smiled at nervously through the dark, and who I am now planning a weekend away with.

Sara, Clare, Alison, Denise, Sam, Maxine, Julie, Judi, Sarah,Kim, Sabrina, Louise, Natasha, Rachel and Chrissy…just some of the women I have met at classes who have given me confidence and enriched my life.

I’m fortunate really.

I don’t face concern trolling on a daily basis, and I have never been turned down for a job for being too fat. I’ve never faced fatphobia in a professional environment.

My white, solvent privilege allows me to more easily navigate the difficulties of being fat. It won’t come as a surprise to learn that there is overwhelming evidence that obesity is a symptom of poverty, both in the UK and US. The cheapest foods, which keep well, tending to be higher in fats and sugars, with little to no nutritional density, have to be staple diets for many simply to exist.

Anyone who has tried to lose weight will know how expensive it is to buy fresh, unprocessed foods – usually prohibitively so for families on low incomes. In turn, their obesity is weaponised against them, denied opportunities on the basis of size, often conflated with health concerns, even if they are not actually present. 

When fat people politely ask for the right to exist, dress themselves and not be verbally abused in the street, through the fat acceptance movement, pearls are clutched, and we are accused of ‘glamorising’ obesity.

I do not believe that anyone sees a fat person on the cover of a magazine and says “Yes! I must immediately take steps to become fatter!”; inclusion of fat bodies in main stream media is just that: Inclusion.

We aren’t asking you to be us, just that you treat us with the same human kindness you would show a slim person.

My quest to lose fat continues.

I won’t deny that I’d like to move through the world as a smaller entity. I try my best everyday, to be a good daughter, a good friend, a kind stranger, yet still I am fat.

Is that really so bad? 

 

Me (right) being fat and sort of fit.

Is The Pen Mightier Than The Sword? Maybe…. By Kelly Grehan

It’s National Writing Day.

Lisa and I, started The Avenger, after meeting through blogging for another page and quickly discovering we had lots in common. We both believed in the power of words, both for the writer and the reader.

Of course when we started our own page, we knew the internet was crowded with blogs and we would never be able to reach audiences of millions, but we both passionately about giving it a try.

We feel so proud of some of the blogs we have published, many anonymously, by people who usually do not get the opportunity to tell their story: stories of mental health workers, domestic abuse survivors and carers.

In the last two weeks I have written blogs on two of the subjects dearest to my heart: living with grief and women’s representation.

The first one was very difficult to write and I thought about keeping it as a piece of person writing. I showed it to a few close friends and three said it made them cry. I then felt that, if I could provoke such a reaction with words then maybe I was duty bound to publish it.

I waited a few days and put it up.

I was aware of the potential for criticism and accusations of attention seeking, but I felt strongly I had been true to myself in writing it and so if that was the case then so be it. I also realised that getting the truth out of my head and on the screen had been good for me.

In the event, I received lots of private messages from people who knew my mum, who I wrote about, and from people also affected by grief who wanted to say they identified with what I said.

This was humbling and touching and really made me think about the power of words.

Last week I wrote something more traditional, in terms of what I usually write about; politics, and specifically women in politics. All my writing is from the heart and is only ever about things I feel strongly about.

Again, I received reactions, including private messages of support from prominent people in politics, and from others who identified with what I had said. Others disagreed.

That’s fine too as the words are my truth.

So, on National Writing Day, I really just want to acknowledge that writing is important.

It brings opportunity for truth and reflection and I would encourage everyone to give it a go.

Women Will Remain Poorly Represented While We Fail to Accommodate The Realities of Women’s Lives By Kelly Grehan

“Women are not interested politics Kelly, that’s why I voted against it.”

So said a member of my CLP, when explaining why he voted against an AWS (All Women’s Shortlist) motion.  Of course, this comment was no surprise to me. Years as a political activist have shown me time and time again that, for many, the idea that women do not belong in politics persists.

The failure to bring about gender equality in any part of our political system is used by some as proof women are not interested or not ‘cut out’ for politics.
Of course, the truth is that, 101 years on from some women gaining the vote, the infrastructures of our political systems continue to conspire to exclude women.

When the first women entered Parliament, beginning with Nancy Astor in 1919, The Palace of Westminster was not designed for women at all.  The only women’s toilet was a quarter of a mile from the debating chamber and a small staff room in the basement, known as ‘the dungeon’ was designated The Lady’s Members Room.  

Women were expected to use this as an office, changing room and everything else. Meanwhile men had access to baths, dining rooms and a smoking room. Things have largely continued in the same vein- with women expected to adapt to the political system, as it is, with little thought given to how it could change to incorporate the realities of womens’ lives.  

This surely, is one main reason why women remain so underrepresented in all layers of government.

Take maternity: in 1976 Labour MP Helene Hayman became the first sitting MP to give birth. When her son was 10 days old she asked the Conservative Whip if she could be paired in order to miss a vote, and received a negative response.  Labour Whips refused her the time off so she came, baby in tow, forced to breastfeed the child in the only suitable place, which happened to be Shirley Williams office. A senior Conservative called the police when she left the baby with his nanny in the Ladies Members room while she voted.

And so things continued like this until last year, Liberal Democrat Jo Swinson was ‘furious’ after Tory Barndon Lewis, who she was paired with, voted in a Brexit vote while she was on maternity leave. This led to Labour MP Tulip Siddiq, delaying a planned caesarean, in case the same thing happened to her.  The outcry over this led to a temporary standing order being introduced to allow new parents to vote by proxy, with Tulip making history when Vicky Foxworthy voted in her behalf in January.

In 2010 a nursery was put in the Palace of Westminster.  Predictably, a complaint followed – about the loss of the bar, about the ‘waste of money’ and, of course, that this was a ‘perk for women.’

The numerous bars which adorn the building are apparently not a perk worthy of comment.  The fact is the changeable nature of Parliamentary debates, with urgent questions and the like, make planning childcare incredibly difficult, for staff as well as Members and a nursery helps.

Last week Parliament debated making the place more family friendly and accessible.

Ellie Reeves said:

“If Parliament is to be truly representative of these we seek to serve, we must continue to look at ways to break down barriers for those who might consider putting themselves forward for public office.”

Why have we not done this already?  

This week MP Stella Creasy announced her pregnancy.  At the same time she bravely told of her experiences of suffering miscarriages and having to continue with her work as an MP while bleeding and in pain. MPs from all parties have commented in support of her campaign for maternity leave for MPs.  

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) regulates the pay of MPs and authorised the budgets they claim for their work. It does not ‘recognise’ that MPs may go on maternity leave and so bears no responsibility to make provision for any paid cover for what they do outside the parliamentary chamber like campaigns and constituency casework.

In Denmark a member of the national parliament would have a substitute MP appointed.  Stella said she felt “forced to choose between being a mum and an MP.”

How many great people are we missing out on because Parliament does not account for the simple fact women have babies?

Why is all the responsibility on the mother, rather than on the structure which is oppressive in penalising parents who wish to serve?

Then there is council, where women and people under 60 continue to be poorly represented, which is a shame because councils should be representative of all groups within the community.

I know that when my children were under 5 I knew much more about local provisions for preschoolers, what was available and what was missing than I do now. That’s not to say I don’t try to be an effective voice for mums battling with services I no longer use, as I will for anyone,  but there is no doubt that councils benefit from people with a broad range of experiences – and at the moment that is rare.

I could not have dreamt of standing for council when my children (now ages 12 and 9) were younger as I could not possibly have been attending committees within days of their births, or managed bath time routines around late meetings, or canvassed while breastfeeding.  

Being a councillor and a mum is difficult: late meetings, casework, reports to read, but I love it. Representing my community is what I always wanted and I am sure there are many other women like me who dare not put themselves forward because the systems are not in place to support them.

It may surprise people to learn that there is no expectation of time off for anyone who has recently given birth, from council work. Only around 5% of councils have baby leave policies.  I’ve heard female councillors being told they must attend meetings within weeks of giving birth and feeling shamed for not ‘pulling their weight.’ This is not good for them, and frankly it is not good for our society.  

Until we act to change things we will continue to exclude people from standing and will not get the representation we need.

Petition for Maternity Leave for MPs:

https://www.change.org/p/marcial-boo-chief-executive-of-the-independent-parliamentary-standards-authority-give-mps-six-months-parental-leave?signed=true&fbclid=IwAR0IlkD_xjnQ4sRPZ-LoQJTWtQA-D6MQiMJ8uGkD–L_1Ow9bmbZNaFbUkI

Grief and The Search For Meaning – A Reflection By Kelly Grehan

“Grief is the size of love” is probably among the truest truisms.

 

My mum died four years ago, after two years of suffering from ovarian cancer, aged 58.

 

Living with the knowledge that some one you love has an illness that statistically will kill them, but trying to be positive, enjoy each day, mentally prepare yourself for the worst and to continue with everything else in your life is, what I can only call a head fuck. It’s taken me these four years to really understand what effect this has had on me. I think some sort of numbness came over me and I became obsessed, subconsciously  with finding some kind of meaning in everything.

 

Maybe some of this came from the conversation my mum and I had the day after tomorrow we were told her treatment wound stop and she would have about two weeks left to live.

By then we knew I had inherited the faulty brca gene which caused her ovarian cancer, giving me a 50% chance of developing the same disease and an 87% chance of breast cancer. As mother’s are prone to do, she blamed herself for my situation, but I told her, her illness has brought me the knowledge that would save my life, as I would take the opportunity given to me to have a mastectomy which would reduce my breast cancer risk to 4%. It was a beautiful conversation. I had the mastectomy and reconstruction 24 months later.

I never cried or felt sad, I felt certain that this was something that proved my mum had not died in vain: her diagnosis meant I would almost certainly avoid the same fate. I knew that would be what she wanted. At least her suffering was not in vain.

 

For the record, I remain thrilled with my mastectomy and reconstruction and have never had an ounce of regret. But, on reflection I do wonder if my lack of sadness or hesitation was a bit unusual.

 

Whilst my mum was in her final two days, at the hospice, I signed up to take part in a skydive. Again, this was a good experience and I raised a lot of money for the lovely hospice that took care of us all. Sitting around a bed waiting for someone to take their last breath is a difficult situation.

It is a strange limbo, that’s hard to describe and, I suppose is an intense ending to the experience of loving someone with a terminal illness – the mental confusion of waiting to grieve being in the periphery all the time. I was determined I was not leaving that hospice without having done something positive, in this case signing up for fundraising.

 

And so, I continued on a path of looking for meaning. I signed up for a post grad counselling course, I did a fire walk, me and my friend expanded our little charity activities into a bigger organisation. All of these things were fantastic. It’s also fair to say I never let myself stop for a minute.

 

Then there is the way I viewed myself. I was determined that I would look back on my life, secure I had lived it to the full, and with no regret about missed opportunities.

 

I dedicated myself to my legacy, as I saw it, to be regarded as an amazing friend.  I never stopped to think how vulnerable that left me and, maybe inevitably this has meant I’ve found myself in an altogether different grief, for friendships I thought were real, but were not.  The loss of one person in a family inevitably changes the dynamic of the rest of the family.  Trying to find a new normal for everyone is hard.

My mum was also a person with a lot of close girlfriends and so I sought to find friendships which were like surrogate family relationships.  This has led to poor judgement on my part, with my giving too much of myself to people and not seeing this was not reciprocal.  

 

Grief, is a process that must be worked through, but for which the end can never be reached, and which inevitably changes all it touches.  I have found it hard to understand how it has affected me until this time has passed.  

 

 

In memory of my lovely mum.

 

 

 

Let’s Judge Our Second Female Prime Minister on Her Policies Not Her Clothing By Kelly Grehan 

As her premiership came to an abrupt end yesterday, Theresa May said:

 

“I am proud to have served the country as the second female Prime Minister but certainly not the last” 

 

Now, I’m not a fan of Theresa May, I despair about many of the policies brought in by her government and the legacy she leaves across the country is, in my opinion, one of toxicity and division. 

 

However, as a feminist, I also despair about the misogynistic undercurrent they runs through the way stories are written about Theresa May.

 

 Take this front page from The Metro

 

The insinuation is hard to miss: that a woman needs a man to tell what to do, even  when when she holds the highest office in the land, that it’s about time her husband puts his foot down and takes control of his wife. Can you imagine a similar headline about David Cameron or Tony Blair?

 

It brought to mind this Daily Mail front page from the week before Article 50 was triggered.

 

 

 

Now, I’ve had a good search and I cannot find a single article about David Cameron’s legs. Just think what could have been reported about a meeting between two female leaders who met to discuss the future of our nation. With this kind of news reporting is it any wonder so many people appear without a grasp of the complexities of our political system. Is it too much to expect some content about what they actually said at the press conference from which this phot was taken?

 

 

The other thing very notable about news stories about Theresa May’s Prime Minister is how many centre around her clothing.

 

For example, not long after she became PM, in 2016, The Guardian wrote a story called ‘Theresa May sidesteps question about £995 leather trousers.’ In a country used to reading about politicians sidestepping questions about offshore tax havens and dodgy business deals, this seemed a particularly weak scandal.

 

Similarly, the 2018 budget caused then to publish a story called ‘What is the meaning of Theresa May’s £750 ‘twofer’ coat?’

 

In January 2017 the Evening Standard, edited by former Tory Chancellor George Osborne, printed an article entitled ‘Theresa May’s finest footwear: 30 memorable looks from parliament’s most talked about shoe closet’

 

Even last week, days before the EU election The Telegraph printed a story called ‘Theresa May’s Greatest Shoe Hits.’

 

I’m sure I could go on, but you get the point. This ridiculous, trivial analysis would simply not be applied to a man holding the same office, and it’s very triviality demeans the person it is applied to. We should be debating Theresa May’s decisions, policies and principles, if for no other reason they they impact on all our lives.

 

But for as long as women are assessed based on their shoes, coats and marital relationships women will be put off entering politics and equality will remain out of our reach.

 

 

 

 

Observations Of Attending My First Iftar As A Non Muslim By Kelly Grehan

Last night I went to our local Mosque with some friends to experience Iftar. Before I went I thought I might write about that experience, but actually it is my journey there I want to discuss.

Before I went I visited a friend’s mum, who is a Muslim, and she fitted me with a head scarf. I then drove to the Mosque. As I walked the short distance to the car I became nervous about people staring at me and potentially shouting.

As I drove on I realised I needed petrol and so went to the petrol station. As I used the pump I could not shake the feeling that people were making assumptions about me and I felt slightly panicky.

As I queued up to pay in the petrol station I felt concerned about what people might say about me and was pleased to get back in the car.

Why did this worry overtake me?

Well reports have shown that Muslim women are the most likely to be the victims of hate crime, and awareness of that was certainly with me, I felt a real fear I could be the victim of such an attack.

To some degree the scarf, on one hand an innocuous piece of fabric, made me feel that I had put a target on myself.

I imagined, that if anything were to happen to me people would apportion blame to me because of what I was wearing. It was really insightful to experience how some Muslim women must feel whenever they leave the house.

Then there is the feeling of assumptions being made about me, based purely on what I was wearing.

This felt deeply uncomfortable, not least because it reminded me of how sometimes, try as I might not to, I make snap judgements about people based on what they are wearing too.

This was only a small experience but, it certainly gave me a new perception.