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David Cameron, please treat me like a Jaffa cake

I love a Jaffa Cake. I love a whole packet of them even more. Give me a pitta bread and a pot of hummus and I am in heaven. Any other day of the year if you told me that pitta breads and Jaffa cakes are zero-taxed items, I’d take it as a valid reason to buy as many Jaffa cakes as I can carry home and spend the evening eating myself into a carb coma.

However, today MPs voted on whether or not to scrap the current 5% VAT on women’s sanitary products. Women are currently taxed the luxury VAT rate for tampons. So that means that under the UK’s current Finance Bill, we are taxed more to have a period than we are for buying biscuits (we will discuss whether Jaffa cakes are really a biscuit or a cake another time).

Ask anyone who has ever had a period and I guarantee you, unless they are violently allergic to Jaffa cakes, they will consider eating a Jaffa cake to be a far more luxurious experience than spending the average of one week of every month for the majority of their life having periods. And having that many periods is pricey without the added ‘luxury’ VAT. Based on the average number of sanitary towels a woman would need per period, each period costs a woman at least £3.75. Turn that into the average 39 years of periods women go through, the average woman would be spending a minimum of £1,755 on tampons or towels throughout her life.

Over one and a half grand is A LOT of money for women to be spending on a product which is a necessity. And yet, we are made to pay for tampons and towels as luxury items. Now. When was the last time you thought, ‘Holy shit?! I forgot to buy a sewer cleaning service! I really need that right now.’ Or how about the last time you were going about your daily business and it suddenly dawned on you that ‘Crap?! I totally needed to buy some exotic meat’.

Chances are, it’s never been necessary to your wellbeing or hygiene that you have access to buying exotic meats such as ostrich and alligator or someone’s sewer cleaning service. But guess what? There is absolutely zero tax on either. Nor is there tax attached to flapjacks, herbal tea or bingo. So right now, having a period is taxed more highly than buying an ostrich burger.

A woman cannot switch off her uterus. She cannot stop having periods to save money. Periods are a necessary evil that women have no choice but to live with. They are not a luxury. I can choose to buy Jaffa cakes whenever I please. That is a luxury, because having choice is a luxury.

So today when MPs were given the opportunity to force negotiations with the EU to reduce the 5% VAT rate on sanitary products (the VAT rate is the lowest allowed under EU law), what happened? Did our MPs decide that women’s sanitary products are as much of a necessity as an evening of bingo? Were they compelled to make tampons as essential as the pitta bread in your Saturday night kebab? HA.

The proposed amendment to the Finance Bill was rejected by 305 to 287 votes. In response to the proposal’s rejection, the financial secretary to the Treasurer said that the tampon tax will be raised as an issue with the European Commissioner. So the issue of tampons being taxed as a luxury is going to be raised to the EU. A step in the right direction? Yes. However, the proposed scrapping of luxury VAT on women’s sanitary products was still opposed by a majority of the MPs who voted. And some of them were women.

YEP. Some women with the power to change the luxury tax actually opposed scrapping it. I don’t get it either.

No woman has ever said to herself, ‘hmm, I’ll treat myself to a cheeky pack of sanitary towels’ or, ‘hey, you know what? Those tampons are a really cute colour. Oh what the hell, I’ll have them!’ BUYING THEM IS NOT A CHOICE. It’s time to stop charging us as though it is. Below is a link to the list of MPs who rejected the proposed scrapping of 5% VAT on sanitary products. If your local MP is on there, write to them and tell them that it’s time to start treating periods like Jaffa cakes.

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/tampon-tax-full-list-mps-who-voted-against-cutting-vat-womens-sanitary-products-1525886

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1

World Cup 2015: Why We Can’t Celebrate Equality In Football Just Yet

On Sunday 5th July 2015, a record number of viewers in America turned on the TV to watch a football match. By 8.30pm, a reported 22 million people tuned in across the States to watch their home team play Japan in what was an impressive final, with the final result seeing the U.S beat Japan 5-2.

Morgan Brian

So, women getting the highest ever ratings in the U.S for a football game out of both male and female tournaments seems like we’re heading towards the direction of women’s football being considered as interesting and worthy as men’s, right? Well, yes and no. Such a strong amount of interest being shown is a brilliant indicator for the amount of respect women’s football and sport in general has gained. However, it is soon tarnished and overshadowed by some rather startling events. The first being that Sunday night’s winning team received just a quarter of the amount of dollars that the U.S men’s team received in the World Cup.

Say what?!

You heard me right, Bey. FIFA awarded the U.S Women’s Football team with $2 million for their World Cup victory. That’s a boat-load of money, I hear you say. Enough money, in fact, to buy 160, 263 jars of Nutella (not just the normal-sized ones either but those big ones you want to drown in whenever you see them at a crêpe stall). Enough money, even, to buy 801 pug puppies (imagine) or 106,842 months of Netflix.

All. That. Netflix.

So, yes $2 million is definitely a nice sum of money to receive. BUT, something is definitely up when a winning female football team only gets a quarter of the sum of money a male football team gets for getting booted out (sorry ’bout that pun) in the first round. Whilst the U.S. women came away with the title of World champion on Sunday night, their male collective counterpart made a World Cup exit in the initial rounds of the tournament. And yet, the male team received $8 million.

You serious?

So, $8 million to the men for coming 16th, and $2 million to the women for winning and becoming world champions? Huh. It doesn’t matter how many times you say it, it still doesn’t make sense. Believe me, I’ve repeated it in disbelief all day. Just the other day I was reading comments on an article reporting a cafe’s decision to only charge women 77% of the bill to highlight the gender pay gap and saw endless comments on how the gender pay gap was just a myth, some creation of militant feminist propaganda. Well, in case you needed any hard proof that in some industries at least, women still have a long way to go before they earn the same as men, here it is in the form of that credible organisation we all know and love, FIFA. Yes, men’s football brings in more revenue for FIFA currently but there’s a blindingly obvious reason as to why. FIFA invests much more money into men’s football – the Cayman Islands (home to just 58,435 people and a team who have never actually made it to the World Cup) are being given over $2 million by FIFA to fund efforts in their men’s team.

f u pay me

As if that wasn’t enough to make it clear that women still have a long way to go before they achieve the status of credibility they deserve in the world of football, the England Women’s team were welcomed home by this message from their FA.

HOLD ON. England’s Women’s Football team made it to the semi-finals of the World Cup. England’s Men’s squad haven’t made it that far in the entire time I’ve been alive (I join the twenties club on Friday) – and would you ever see them described as ‘going back to being fathers, partners and sons’ whenever they fly home to a disappointed and entirely unsurprised crowd at Heathrow?

That’ll be a nope

That’s right, Bey. When our male footballers are celebrated, they are celebrated as being just that; footballers, athletes. But this tweet from the FA creates the image that the women’s team have had their fun for a couple of weeks in Canada and now they can get back to their ACTUAL jobs; getting married and making dem babies. The female squad isn’t going to hang up their boots and disappear into societal gender roles resembling the 1950s just because the TV coverage they’ve had in the World Cup is going to suddenly diminish again.

Whilst viewer stats and the general public has shown a definite increase in interest towards female football, we clearly have a long way to go before the organisations making the decisions in the industry make a serious effort to give women’s football the credibility, funding and status it deserves.

femin

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The World’s Worst Dinner Party

In one of my many attempts to delay doing holiday homework, I decided to compile a list of some of the people I would least enjoy spending time with at a dinner party.

1) Derren Brown. Some people say his work is a fix. Others are convinced his mind games are all real. I am undecided, and am therefore terrified of him. The thought that one man can convince another man on his own birthday that he is living in a post-apocalyptic world quite frankly disturbs me. If I ever met Derren Brown, how on earth would I know I wasn’t under his hypnosis not just at the dinner party, but afterwards also? I do not want to wake up on Christmas Day believing everyone including the Loch Ness Monster and his friend have moved to Mars.

2) Michael Gove. Imagine if one privately-educated man was screwing over the country’s education system. Imagine having to spend lunch with him.

3) Mr Blobby. His glassy eyes give me the heeby-jeebies. I also had a dream once that he was chasing me with an axe. No, I would not like to sit and eat pasta with Mr Blobby.

4) A goat. It wouldn’t just eat its own food. It would eat my food. And the table.

Now I really must answer these psychology questions, but if you’re avoiding doing holiday homework too, leave a comment below of people you’d least like to go to a dinner party with.

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Like this if you’re not lazy

facebook like button

Facebook. The Social Network. The place where you can message friends, like photos and wipe your moral conscience clean daily. Yes, more and more frequently, the admin behind those facebook pages you liked three years ago because you thought they were hilarious but actually now rather regret liking at all, are uploading pictures ranging from the mundane to quite distasteful, all titled ‘Like if…’. An example scenario would be a picture of a BN BN biscuit uploaded with the title, ‘Like if you remember these and are a true nineties kid’. Why is she getting her knickers in a twist when there are biscuits involved? I hear you ask. Well my friends, it’s not just pictures of biscuits that are being uploaded. It has reached the point where I could create a ‘like page’, upload a picture of some toilet roll and say ‘Like if you ever use this’, and get over a hundred likes. Seriously. In the last holiday off college, I was scrolling down my Facebook page and there was a picture of a dog in a thumbprint. The title of the picture was, ‘Like if you can see the dog’. How painfully boring does life have to be for liking a picture of a dog that is so mind-numbingly obviously there to be a fun way to pass the time? Go into Google and type in ‘Adopt a Llama’. You’d be amazed at how time flies as you choose your new companion.

My Facebook friends are not just liking pointless photos. They, and by they I mean girls, are liking photos of mushy, cringey quotes about relationships. If one or two of these photos appeared down my News Feed every so often, I would deal with the cringe and just keep on scrolling. Every so often is not the case. Instead, it’s every single time I log into my Facebook, and the quotes constantly use terrible grammar. ‘Their’ instead of ‘they’re’, ‘you’re’ instead of ‘your’ and vice versa. Now, don’t get me wrong, we all have our nights where we scream the lyrics of ‘Come What May’ to pictures of Ewan McGregor whilst crying into our third tub of Ben and Jerry’s as we accept a future living with 27 cats we’ve knitted matching His and Hers outfits for – or maybe that’s just me – but never, ever stoop down to bad grammar. Even if you do want the perfect relationship the badly constructed quote describes. Buy a dictionary. Maybe the guy at the till will be super cute and nice, will like you back and slip his number into the inside of your dictionary cover all Carley Rae Jepson ‘Call Me Maybe’ style, and boom! no more need for knitting needles and feline friends. Or maybe the guy at the till will be a 45 year old woman who ate all the pies and looks like she wants to hit every human being over the head with the dictionary you’re buying. Maybe. But hey, you never know if you don’t get your booty out into the big wide world and look instead of sitting behind a computer screen and liking a million pictures about what you want from a relationship because an admin page told you to.

My next point is more serious. It is about my least favourite kind of ‘Like if…’ pictures. Pictures that are often titled ‘Like if you have respect’, but are quite frankly disrespectful and upsetting. Babies in incubators with wires coming out of them, disfigured army men, grandparents on their deathbeds. ‘Like if you want them to live’, ‘like if you respect this man’, ‘like if you want terminal illness to not exist’. I would never wish death on any baby, or any human being. I respect any man unless he gives me a strong reason not to. If I could, I would make terminal illnesses non existent. That doesn’t mean that everytime I log onto Facebook I want to see photos of distressing situations where there’s an option of clicking ‘like’ so that I can clear my conscience for the day. ‘Liking’ the photo won’t change the situation captured or make me a better human being. Just like ignoring it doesn’t make me a bad human being like the photo’s caption would suggest. People are suddenly being given the chance to feel as though they’ve done something good by ‘liking’ a picture. Maybe if every ‘like’ resulted in the uploader giving money to a charity directly helping people in a similar situation to the person in the picture, I could understand. But that doesn’t happen.

I would like to finish with the following thought. Generations above us constantly call us ‘the lazy generation’. Prove them wrong. Don’t be.

5

Size Matters

Every once in a while I think to myself, ”That is it. Starting tomorrow, I am going to eat healthily”. Everything starts off well; decent breakfast consisting of a healthy cereal and a leafy-salad sandwich for lunch. Then home time comes along and that means being trapped in a house with a breadbin full of goodies. Two hours later I am surrounded by empty biscuit packets and muffin wrappers telling myself, “I’ll start again tomorrow”. It never happens. Today, two things happened that made me think to write this article. The first was my desire to eat healthily for study leave. Eating a gazillion calories whilst sitting around all day desperately trying to revise pronouns was surely only going to end in a rotund Khadija. The second was the fact that in the space of two days, two people have posted about how being a size 8 does not mean you are too skinny, it depends entirely on your height and size. It got me thinking. What is the right the size? The curvaceous Marilyn Monroe Size 14 that everyone has recently been embracing as the ‘sexy’ size? Or is it the size 10 bikini-clad bodies that are on every single magazine spread, described as ‘hot’?

How about ‘there is no right size to be’. I ate muesli for breakfast – it tasted like cardboard – and a small chicken salad wrap at lunchtime. By five o clock this evening I was nearly chomping through my revision cards like there was no tomorrow. Mum came home and I was blessed with the option of having a takeaway. Takeaways are a rarity in our house so I jumped at the chance and my god were those noodles good. Today’s health regime went straight out of the window along with any hope of me passing my Philosophy exam tomorrow. Truth is, I could not care less. I would much rather eat a pleasant meal and not be hungry for a while than pick at some chewy beige stuff and be craving anything edible half an hour later. “Khadija, Khadija, you are just trying to make yourself feel better for your lack of willpower!” the good fairy screams in my head. I have never liked my good fairy, in fact I’m sure she’d be far more useful as a doormat. We shouldn’t have to constantly feel guilty for ‘eating that chocolate bar we really shouldn’t have’. But people also shouldn’t feel guilty for being naturally slim. I sometimes wonder whether we have gone so far the other way in saying that being a Marilyn size 14 is more sexy than being a size 8, that anyone who is a size 8 feels like they need to visit McDonalds regularly to keep up.

I’ve seen beautiful and sexy done in pretty much every size going. I’ve walked past girls of many different dress sizes and thought “I wish I had that figure”. So next time you walk past the pastry shop and be good, walk back again and pick out the fattest jam doughnut you can find. You are a person. You do not fit into a box ‘one-size-fits-all’. Leave that to the cats. Cats love to sit in boxes.

Peace out, Dija x

0

The Dog Days really are over as Florence wows Manchester

Artist: Florence+The Machine       Date: 15th March 2012        Venue: Manchester Evening News Arena

 

A silhouette is lit behind a screen centre-stage. Hysteria breaks out and all eyes are on Florence as she walks out to meet her audience more than three hours after doors opened and support acts Spector and The Horrors have warmed us up. Dressed in a black full-body catsuit and netted cloak crested with golden-jewelled shoulder pads, she looks like a warrior queen of some ancient legend with her fiery auburn hair tied back into a Grecian plait around her head.

‘Only If For A Night’ starts the programme and the queen’s voice is echoed by every single member of her audience. When ‘Between Two Lungs’ begins, she starts to dance like a graceful nymph, twisting her wrists and pirouetting across the stage. She is mesmerising, more so than any piece of flashy choreography performed by a troupe of uniform backing dancers could ever be. Florence tells everyone to jump on the count of three over the booming drum beat of ‘Dog Days Are Over’ and it is like sharing a trampoline with 20,000 other ecstatic fans. It is the power performance of the night and as the adrenaline bubbles over across the audience, three piano chords sound. We are taken into a heart-wrenching rendition of ‘Cosmic Love’ and all hands are in the air, emotion pouring out of every fibre. She continues the show in equal beauty and honesty throughout, leaving the stage to screams for an encore. She doesn’t disappoint. ‘You’ve Got The Love’ starts slow and acoustic and it is then that one can appreciate the volume of the M.E.N Arena as her voice sounds over the soft music and 20,000 voices sing back. It makes me think to earlier in the programme as she introduced ‘Heartlines’ and told us how the last time she had played the venue she had been the first support act for Pete Doherty and had to cut her set short due to drunk hecklers. It is indeed, incredible for an artist who has written all of her own material and manufactured her own style completely to be able to say that she has sold out an arena tour after just her second album. After ‘You’ve Got The Love’ explodes back into its upbeat original sound, she goes on to finish the show with beautiful new single ‘Never Let Me Go’. Again our heartstrings are pulled and she is gone all too soon.

The train home is packed with sweaty Florence fans all babbling about their favourite song from the show. I am left with only one thought as we travel back to reality like tightly packed sausages; Florence Welch is the most exciting and spellbinding thing in music right now, and after the huge success of her first and second album, she looks like a queen who isn’t planning to give up her throne anytime soon.

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I’m not a pigeon. Don’t pigeon hole me.

After reading an article today called ‘I hate indie people’ and since starting college, I can’t help but notice how easy it is to label everybody. We all do it, I’m guilty of it myself. If you listen to obscure bands that aren’t on the radio everyday you’re indie, if you love Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter you’re a geek. That’s not true, of course it’s not. Yet all we seem to do is put labels on people just because of what they’re wearing or the music they listen to and I have to admit, it’s all left me rather confused.

My iTunes library is filled with music that’s never in the Top 40 so I’m indie.

I watch QI, University Challenge and Only Connect so I’m a geek.

I’m an atheist so I’m a pessimist.

I’m young so I must go around rioting and have a low IQ.

I eat what I want and don’t cake up in make-up so I dont look like a model everyday.

That’s what society says.

My iTunes library is filled with music that makes me want to dance, cry and sing from the rooftops. I don’t listen to any of it because I want to rebel against popular music, I listen to it because I like it.

I watch QI, University Challenge and Only Connect because my family watch them and I like spend time with them. I don’t watch these programmes because I’m a ‘mega-brain’, I watch them because they’re witty and intellectual.

I’m an atheist, optimist and open to all beliefs. I don’t think all religious people are crazy delusionals.

I’m young, the only breaking and entering I’ve ever done is into a pack of biscuits.

I eat what I want because I love food and it tastes good. I don’t wear lots of make-up, not because I’m confident in my looks. I’m still insecure but I’m not completely driven by my appearance.

That’s the truth. People aren’t pigeons, so let’s stop trying to put them in a pigeon hole.