Mouth to mouth – life rings, friends, eating disorders at university (Tw: EDs)

2 Apr

I’ve had an eating disorder for a couple of years now. I don’t remember when it started, exactly.

Here’s some other things about me:

Before coming to Edinburgh University last September, I took a gap year, filled with sun, with new and exciting things, with people I didn’t know, with being as far from an academic life as humanly possible, and on August 17th I had a tornado of a day where I found I didn’t get into Medicine at Edinburgh, then literally 30 minutes later I found a place doing Biomedicine at Edinburgh, and well. It was a lot.

I’m really glad I came here – it sounds cliche but I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else now. It’s good to power out of second semester with something approaching contentment, but the first few weeks, months, were rough.


I was bringing some stuff into University – along with my physical, beloved clutter of magazine cutouts and tinsel wall hangings that I’d been dragging from room to room since I was 14, I had this eating disorder which almost no-one knew about, that I couldn’t quite shake.


Because no-one knew about it, and those who did thought that it was done (and it was ! I swore it was! I wasn’t that person anymore), I guarded the secret of how I wasn’t doing fine like someone keeping a cranky goat in their bedroom when their landlord doesn’t even allow a goldfish.


There was a plan for university. I like plans.

If you don’t know already, EDs give you the tendency to make weird rules about food, and by extension about everything else too. If you stick to these rules it will be fine. If you don’t – well. You don’t want to know. So don’t break the rules.


Firstly, work with what you know; I’d been cooking big meals for my family since I was in my early teens.

The way to deal with this thing, I thought, was to make enormous salads and pack up all my problems in tupperware and bring it to the library. Adding to that was the fact, in the back of my mind, that I would overspend somehow and I’d have to ask my parents for money and as well as humiliation and the desire not to repeat the mistakes of my older sister, I knew they couldn’t afford it.

I ate a lot of plain oats. I turned over peanut butter jars and hummed about the price, and buying tangerines AND apples in one week was a treat. I ate like a fucking saint and didn’t stray except for booze, but that was ok in the Mental List that I must constantly consult, although occasionally I was like hangovers probably shouldn’t feel as world apocalyptic as this, but everyone feels like that.


Did I mention? I also liked going out, but my cast iron throat and simmering worry about calories led me drinking Lidl vodka with tap water as a mixer. My flat, bless them, must have thought some Things about me.

I told them about being a recovering bulimic, appropriately, while drunk. Honesty is cruel.


Secondly, which was both an aside and the whole damn point of being here, I didn’t know how university worked. I came directly, underprepared, bewildered, into second year, from a year of fucking about, and absolutely everyone knew each other.

I’m not very good at making friends in the best of circumstances. Imagine this: I wore a lot of eyeliner, and worked really hard while not knowing if I was making any progress, and didn’t speak to a single fucking soul for a month. It felt like that, at least. I had a conversation with someone coming out of a practical and I went home and wrote in my diary how it felt I was walking on air, couldn’t stop grinning, the world had become real again and people were real too, I wasn’t so devastatingly alone –


Being lonely at uni SUCKS.


They don’t give you this as one of the paths you might choose, coming into uni – you’ll make the best friends of your life and it will come as easy as breathing, they say. My friends from home, and we’d been friends for the better part of my life at that point, told me about the cool drugs they were taking and how they were one step away from getting each others’ fucking names tattooed on their buttcheeks. Cool. I’d joined a society.

That was good, I guess. I joined another one.


I’m making it sound awful.

Some of it definitely was.

This is not a sad story, however.

Each weekend I would choose a place to visit in Edinburgh on my rusty bike. I would bring lunch, and I cycled to art galleries and along canals and to the beach and to the hospital and to some weird parks. Choosing to be alone is a completely different thing and I treasured these afternoons, remembering again that I was an interesting and thoughtful person, agreeing with myself about art or colonial history, reading in cafes.


I made a zine about things being weird good and weird bad.

I’ll come to that in a bit.


However, something had to slip. I did, not spectacularly, but quietly. It felt kind of inevitable, monitoring myself that much, expecting that much, that something would happen. I felt like an idiot, and weak. Aware that I was making this entire experience an Arthur’s Seat when it really could have been a stroll across the Meadows (only Edinburgh peeps will relate), it was my secret, the slip. I would not recommend repeating this experience.


Christmas came. I was worried about that too, because, food, but I got home and hugged my sisters and almost cried.


You know what? Fuck this. I got firsts in all my courses and joined the gym.

Nothing is irreparable. I am not broken, and I never was. I reached points that would have previously been it, enough to ruin a day or a week, and I moved past them.


Second semester – I had got a pair of sick Fenty Pumas for christmas, and I was feeling the love of my family swell up in me like it was visible, and I had a game plan again, but this time it wasn’t based on hating myself.

I made a friend. Miraculous – we were introduced, and we were friends, and we ate pop tarts.

I made another.

I joined a society, and another, and another. I started teaching sex ed at schools and looked at these kids and said “The clitoris is a really important pleasure organ, and so is the frenulum,” and my younger self would have died to be in the same place.

I made another zine. This time it was filled with bright colours and a drawing that I really liked of me looking out, tired but gaze steady, while lime green ghosts swirl around me.

It was good, suddenly, to be here. I bought cakes from the constant bake sales outside the library and it was OK. It really was.


I can’t explain to you what changed over Christmas.


I can say this: not everyone is OK, not by a long shot. We are all living in this weird place, with weird people, and a quarter of us have mental health problems and even if it’s not diagnosed (which – hey!), things go wrong, often with domino-like devastation. 

I’ve been getting a lot more involved with uni extra curricular life, and especially the mental health side of it. It’s explicitly designed to be academically stressful – the coursework, the deadlines, the feeling of being left out on your ass – but that wasn’t the problem. I just needed someone to talk to, anyone. 

To be honest, I don’t know if it could have gone any other way than the way it did, with me being how I was, and emotions are incomprehensible and they have changed like the seasons in a great crocus burst.

But maybe it would have been good, to have a space.


Speaking of.

Someone made a group called Students of Edinburgh Eating Disorder Support (SEEDS) and I joined, a little guiltily, at the start of January.

Zines for me are a illustrated diary. I thought about how my ED had informed my university experience, and how I had never heard anyone talk about it, and my response was, make a zine.

Then I thought about how I could involve other people since apparently my life included that now.

Does anyone want to make a zine about this? I asked.


Yes, it turns out.


Flash forward to literally a month and we have funding and I’ve made a great new friend and it’s getting printed on glossy paper: the real, weird, sad, ridiculous, struggles of coping with what can feel like 2 separate full time jobs – university and being mentally ill. It’s called Mouth to Mouth. I drew the logo. I did that. We’re making badges and posters and all of that. I’ve had to learn what marketing is, and we’re maybe making a committee. 

This has been an amazing experience, and most of all has taught me about making a space for anything you’re interested in, or sad about, or just the power of being vulnerable and motivated simultaneously. 

My point is: there is a space for that. You can make a space to talk about what is hard in your life in a productive, interesting way. There are enough people here that someone will be able to hear you – other students, sure, but if it’s really hard then there are spaces where adults who actually know what they’re talking about can help you too. (This is not a ringing endorsement of our deeply flawed mental health system, but we can Still Have Hope.) I don’t know who this is directed at – past me, maybe. Anyone who’s ashamed. 

Please look after yourselves. I can say that too since I’m learning how to. Make art and chill out and do things you like doing. If you’re lonely do something new and if that doesn’t work try again.  

It’s tough that I actually like it here, since ironically I’m going to Montreal next year, starting September.

I’m not starting this shit again.

No square one.

Contact us at or make your own goddamn zine about being sad at uni. I believe in you.



Companion Texts, or, How Good Books Saved My Life Thanks

14 Jul

Hey! I know it’s been a while, like literally years! Hi! I don’t know if you read this anymore but! I feel smarter now! Qualified to write! I am nineteen and off to university to do medicine and to pay a lot of money to stop thinking as much for myself and maybe also learn something about bones, but I feel prepared for it. Like my life is on track. Like I know who I am.

And why might that be?

It is my accumulated hoard of books, books.

(Also, like, life experience and better mental health. There are many things.)

They are my children (and somehow also my parents?). My paper sorority. My boxing gloves. My teachers. And, as Sara Ahmed puts it, my “companion texts”.

Companion texts guide you, wait to be referred to in times of trouble when none of your friends, maybe, know, but the living paper holds the answer.

They do not have to be feminist in an academic sense, a weighty sense, but when I think of these I think of writing that inspires me to be strong. Stronger. Enjoyable to read, a breeze, does not mean that it isn’t educational. Some of the best lessons are through humour.

Reading is so good for me because it feels like an active process. When I went through a phase of writing out endless lists of Pros and Cons about myself to Truly Understand Who I Am, No For Real This Time, I would always write “reader” on the good side. I take it in and churn it and the knowledge hardens like a fist.

I must thank my older sister for a large proportion of this list. Thanks! However, I can also thank myself for wanting to learn and making it my hobby to stretch out my mind and love myself when I could easily not. Thanks, me!

So – I recently had this conversation with a friend on a train. A male writer who is famous.  She loves him. I have tried three of his novels and am Uninspired. She is trying to convince me and I am talking out why I don’t want to be convinced.

I realised that – and this almost certainly makes me a Nasty Feminist™ (how dare I let my politics interfere with my appreciation of art?) – beyond any artistic concerns  what really Ground My Gears was the blandness and predictable perspective of the inevitably male protagonist. He dreams after women, projects his everything onto them, hopes that they will sort out his life and its beigeness without contributing anything himself.

I said, hey, maybe this is why I don’t really read books written by men any more!

It clicked into place.

Once I thought this, other thoughts followed as they are wont to do.

  • Is this why I haven’t been enjoying the Classics™ like I used to?
  • Is this why all the books I’ve read recently have been by women?

And then the meta of:

  • Is this why I am saying sorry less?
  • Is this why I am getting into more fights?
  • Is this why I am less craving of approval?

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I have moved towards and am gravitating towards women and PoC and queer writing to help understand the world. The new views split apart what we know. What I know. As a white woman there are lots of worlds that I don’t know, and literature helps me to understand them and grow accordingly.

My list as follows consists of what I have read that I think falls into this category – of strength giving, teaching, world opening. If you have any others I would like to know. And I hope this lists keeps extending through my life, amen.

  • Living a feminist life, Sara Ahmed.

Because this book basically inspired me to start this list I have to put it first. So. So good. It made me get into my first argument with my dad about him speaking over the female members of my family. So make of that what you will. But! I resurfaced incandescent from reading it!

  • Anything by Octavia Butler. Especially Dawn and

As well as being compulsive reads, the science fiction is remarkable for its 1) brown woman characters 2) really smart explorations of the world we are falling into. Exactly what sci fi should be!!

  • The Earthsea Quartet, Ursula Le Guin.

Especially the last one! Amazing amazing fantasy but the last in the series just puts a Big Ol’ Dollop of all the women we needed in it, and IMO the best.

  • Modest_Witness@Second_Millenium.FemaleMan©_Meets_OncoMouse™, Donna J. Haraway.

It’s technical and you might need to read it with a glass of water and a dictionary, but for me as a prospective doctor being introduced to the idea that science is not infallible (!!) and that it is constructed, like anything else, by history and culture, was really important to think about!

  • Sister Outsider, Audre Lorde.

I started reading this again after receiving it for Christmas and devouring it in one (1) sitting. Yes. Yes, yes.

  • A little life, Hanya Yanagihara.

TW: graphic descriptions of sexual abuse and child abuse. Fucking heartbreaking. I cried in work reading this, but delightfully my manager had read it too and understood the struggle.

  • Fun Home, Alison Bechdel.

A Classic. Subtle family and art and everything and

  • Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi.

One of the first books I read that changed how I thought about reading. So fun! Like a friend telling a good story and you gasp and cry! So good to read as a 12 year old and now as a 19 year old and hopefully again and again until I’m 80!

  • The mushroom at the end of the world, Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing.

About mushrooms (matsutake to be precise) but also about everything that connects humans with nature and commodities and culture.

  • Are Prisons Obselete?, Angela Y. Davis.

Small but groundbreaking. Filled with restrained and measured anger at a system we cope with because we haven’t the bravery for anything else.

  • Staying with the trouble, Donna J. Haraway.

We cannot give up. We have to stay with it, and work with it, and hope. Whether it’s the environment or capitalism, the ways that we have destroyed the world can be not reversed but acknowledged, and to survive means finding radically new ways of doing it.

  • Beloved, Toni Morrison

Like a piece of poetry. Like a spell. Thank you. Can’t believe its my first Toni Morrison book but ya gotta start somewhere I guess.



A few thoughts about london pride 2016

25 Jun

Fuck mainstream pride
Fuck the straight homophobes (ie most london pride attendees)
Fuck the police
Fuck the god damn military
Fuck the colonialist racism
Fuck the violent misogyny
Fuck the islamaphobia and antisemitism
And fuck the people that tolerate it.

Sick of my social media right now. Full of straight people at the Starbucks no filter photobooth and a viral picture of a police man proposing.

London pride doesn’t make me proud.

Pride is a Protest! Pride is radical love, for yourself and fellow queers. Pride is anti-fascist, decolonial and feminist. Pride is ACAB!

I don’t have a problem with mainstream pride being a party, I have a problem with it being so exclusive it is impossible to show real solidarity to fellow queers.

Where do my undocumented queers go?
Where do my queers observing shabbat or fasting for Ramadan go?
Where do my queers suffering ptsd from state violence go?
My transfeminine queers, my poor queers, my disabled queers?

London Pride doesn’t make me proud, it makes me scared and angry.


Why I tell gross boys at parties that I’m a lesbian (not true).

21 Jan

Here is something I don’t like: saying no. Rejecting people. Resisting the urge to start nodding before the question is even asked. (I just want people to like me??? Is that a crime???)

Here’s something I do like: parties. I like Absolut and dancing and treading on the fun side of “too glittery”. (Who makes the rulez anyway? Fight me. I have more glitter than you will ever understand.)

Here’s an experience that connected these two things and revealed something small and unimpressive about myself:

I was standing at the edge of a party, panting and getting ready to rejoin the fray, and I saw a Boy approaching. A boy that had already approached my friends but had been put off by their defensive group formation. But I was alone, and recovering from a surprise piggy-back, and there was nothing I could do apart from wait.

He swooped and slotted next to my bum with his delighted grin already prepared, showing his slick teeth. There was nothing less I wanted in that moment than to speak to him. Nothing.

He said words which I could not hear over the bass but it really didn’t matter because we can probably all guess. I definitely caught the word “beautiful”, which is always a bad sign when from someone you don’t know.

I grimaced at my friends who gave me cheerful thumbs ups and laughed. Cruel friends!

This boy got closer and closer and my feeling of please don’t touch me got closer and closer to overcoming my politeness until he said something like “so, are you here alone,” and I was like. No.

The time honoured excuse of

“I’m sorry, I’m a lesbian.”

burst out.

This is not true. In the plastic language of describing sexuality to teenage straight boys, however, it is partially true.

I am into boys. I was not into this boy. At this point, I was really into spinning in circles with my excellent friend until light smears and we collapse laughing, and at the back of my mind was a fierce desire to obliterate anything that got in the way of that.

The boy says “What??”

And then “You’re too cute to be a lesbian. I never would have guessed.”

And then “Are you sure?”

And then, blessedly, he detached in search of some goddamn straight girls.


When I was less drunk, I thought about this incident and what it shows about how I perform being queer and a lady – alternate hidings and dramatic reveals when it suits me.

The way I just described this, it sounds like I was against it from the beginning. Although I was never going to do anything with him and it was too noisy to flirt properly anyway, the vibe he got from me at first was probably “Lol, whatever, at least this boy appreciates this dress because none of my friends gave me enough credit and I look like the one hundred emoji tonight.” I was not flirting with him, but I was also not giving him the No as soon as he walked up, probably because I was too out of breath to move fast. He took this as a yes – lol @ entitlement – but this is kind of his problem. However, I didn’t say no. Is that my fault?

So why didn’t I? Why did I semi-lie to get him to go away? Why is the word no trapped somewhere deep in my throat when it comes to situations like these?

I turned him down with amusement, with the word sorry of all things because no way in hell could I just say no. I was so unable to say no that I couldn’t just say I’m queer and therefore interested in all genders (true), I had to shut him out completely, provide an excuse for not being interested in him and not appreciating his unwanted attention.

Being a lesbian, in the snap judgement I made at the time, more acceptable to this random guy’s ego than a straight (( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)) rejection in a situation I was uncomfortable in.

I mean, it worked! He went away! But this entire experience – and it’s not just a one-off – makes me realise that I should work on rejections, because my sexuality is not, technically, a reason, but my lack of attraction is.

Another thing: I am femme AF. Make-up, shiny everything, heels, whatever. This is why this dim boy thought I was ””””too cute”””” to be gay.

People think I’m straight, all the time (itself a form of erasure)*, which can make life easier for me in specific situations. It can hide me, and I am often hidden. If I am flirting with a boy, sometimes I purposefully don’t tell him I’m queer for fear of putting him off (I’m fully aware I have bad taste in boys and don’t know how to flirt.) I’m also white, cis, acceptably-bodied, etc. (see below for me breaking this down further). I also don’t want to deal with the endless nonsense of explaining what queer means and having  people say, actually from a straight person’s perspective I don’t understand and think you’re wrong. (Good).



*two interesting articles about femme privilege and whether it exists or not. It’s all about intersection of identities, guys! The main point is – the shit I get is shit that all women get, and the good stuff is probably due to white privilege. WoC, trans women etc. are likely to have a very different experience as being femme from my middle class white one. Still interesting points though. And also, is people wilfully ignoring the possibility of queerness a plus? Are small favours rooted in misogyny (free bus rides, free drinks etc.) really evidence that I’m lucky? idk

As I turn 18

2 Jan

I feel like I am totally alone in this fear but like so many things I am afraid to talk about, many others probably share it.

As I turn 18, my mind is full of worry, hopes, dreams and fears for the future. Most are what you would expect, scared of becoming more independent from my family, worrying about school and so on but there is another fear in the back of my mind. This niggling voice saying “now you’re fair game, there’s nothing to protect you”.

You have probably seen in the media many a disgusting countdown to some child celebrity turning “legal” at 16 or 18, old enough that the old men leering over them are accepted readily by both the law and society.

You may have seen the kerfuffle around the “women who eat on tubes” facebook group a while back, a group where non-consensual pictures of women innocently sustaining life are mocked and shamed.

How are these related? you might say. Well these are both voyeuristic, misogynistic situations where women and girls are viewed as sexual objects without their consent and sometimes even knowledge. They violate a woman’s privacy, they encourage violence against women by disregarding the fact she is a human being with rights and feelings.

These are both situations where I, as a child, would have some degree of legal protection, or at least the illusion, but would not as a woman.

One day I was waiting at a bus stop in Hampstead Heath, leg hair flying in the wind and enjoying the last bit of summer warmth. A balding man of about 35-45 years old struck up a conversation with me about the weather, “thats nice” I thought “you never get strangers talking to each other in London”. Oh how innocent you were Lilipop.

Conversation quickly turned to my leg hair and got very very creepy. I felt desperately awkward as his eye contact shifted from my eyes to my boobs and he questioned me on my reason for growing leg hair (because no woman can do anything without it being to sexually please a man) and if I was hairy “all over”. He offered to buy me a drink from the Starbucks opposite and I said no. That no was totally disregarded of course and this man kept asking.

“I’m 15” I said quickly, then turned and ran away.

He didn’t follow but some have. This situation has played out in 100 different places, with different people and different outcomes. What if it happened again? Where is my “top trump”, my “get out of jail free” card? What can I say or do that will get rid of these weird men because saying no doesn’t work.

As a child, I do not legally have the capacity or say yes or no. It is Paedophilia, it is Statutory Rape. Headlines in the Daily Mail and 5 years in jail. Men can respect this but not me.

As a woman, I can legally say yes or no but it doesn’t make a difference. I said no but I smiled at him when he said hello so really I mean yes, right? He wants a yes so he will get it by any means necessary. Now I am no longer a child I don’t even feel like I have the right to say no at all. I feel unresonable for being a person.

As I turn 18, I am scared for a future where attack feels imminent.

There is nowhere to hide anymore.

#ThisGirlCan have forreals feminist adverts

31 Jan

When Daisy first showed me this ad at my school feminist society, I almost cried. I think this might be the first truly feminist advert Ive ever seen.

In case you don’t know, #ThisGirlCan is an advert by Sport England on TV as well as a poster campaign to encourage girls to do more sport. I adore it so much because it actually promotes sport for girls in a healthy way. There is no mention of weight loss, in fact there was even some diversity in size (although no one who was “too” big. Let’s not get carried away, this is the fatphobic patriarchy after all), women of different colours and ages were shown having fun exercising as a hobby instead of the usual, suffering in the pursuit of the elusive (because it doesn’t exist) perfect body shape, promoting the Pain is Beauty narrative which justifies so much social and emotional violence against women (a.k.a. diet culture) in the name of “health”. The ad shows exercise as something positive in itself, not because it makes a company money, makes you more attractive or thinner, but because it might be enjoyable and make you happy. Full stop.

“Woah” I hear you say “something encouraging women to do sport by not fat-shaming them, profiting off their insecurities, pushing unhealthy diets PLUS showing a reasonably diverse range of women? This must be a hoax”. Now normally I would agree with you, it seems after some thorough googling that this is not a drill however #ThisGirlCan is by no means perfect. Some of the camera angles were *ahem* interesting (read: weirdly sexualising) and there wasn’t brilliant representation of of women with disabilities or older women either but all in all, I’ve definitely seen worse.

As far as I can tell, what sets this #ThisGirlCan apart from the usual “eat my product or no one will love you because you will be fat and ugly” or “give me all your money to join this gym and you too will be able to miraculously run a 10k with perfect hair, no sweat and be 7 sizes thinner” kind of ads usually associated with selling women a healthy lifestyle is precisely the fact that it is not trying to sell women a healthy lifestyle. If we look at some of adverts that have been trumpeted as a revelation and totally feminist for example Dove, Special K or CoverGirl no matter what the adverts say, no matter what stereotype they subvert and no matter what kind of diversity of female images they show, they all have one thing in common; their purpose.

Their purpose is to sell, snatch your money, do anything to get you to buy their product and everything else is just marketing strategy. Empowering women is not their aim and they do not give a damn about women, it’s not what they get paid for because, have no doubt, its all about making a profit. If these feminist ads like #GirlsCan (CoverGirl), Potty-Mouth Princess’ (FKH8) #LikeAGirl (Always) didn’t make companies money then they would give up and try a new strategy. A good example of this is Dove, in the West Dove says “Love the Skin You’re In” but all over Asia they sell dangerous skin bleaching products taking advantage of endemic shadeism that they encourage.

#ThisGirlCan is not from a company seeking to make money though, Sport England is a charity and at complete odds to previously talked about ads, the main purpose of #ThisGirlCan is female empowerment and women taking on a genuinely healthy lifestyle. This is the reason Sport England has been able to create one of the first sincerely feminist ads I have ever seen.

No One Needs Their Male Opinions

11 Jun

In general I try to only consume content created by women and other minority genders (herein WaMG) in all the media I consciously consume because men already control too much in my life. Lets take school as an example since I spend most of my time there. The most obvious one is my headteacher is a man as well as the majority of the SLT (Senior Leadership Team for those of you not stuck in secondary school) but then it becomes a little less obvious. Men write and approve the curricula taught in our schools, the for examination boards for England (AQA, Edexcel, WJEC and OCR) all have male CEOs, men are more likely than women to be in senior leadership positions and this is all leads to a laughable male-centric bias in not only the curriculum but the way schools are run in general for example slut shaming uniform policies.

It isn’t just that male created content is more prevalent and celebrated (78% of all UK front page bylines are male), men are deciding what content is prevalent and celebrated. Men are the music executives, the film producers, the TV commissioners, the newspaper editors which get to tell us the opinions and the points of view we consume. They decide what music we listen to on the radio, what we read in magazines, what we see on the TV and almost all the rest of the mainstream media. Their decisions severely effect our world view, whether we realise it or not, for example in the recent UCSB shooting, the coverage of the event has framed the murderer as having ambiguous motives despite an extensive internet trail of the man’s blatant violent misogyny. The media have been doing everything possible to hide the fact that these murders where a result of male entitlement in our culture. Men feel so much entitlement to women’s bodies and affection that it is some how a reasonable response to take a life. This is misogyny and a hate crime but from reading the large majority of the mainstream media’s coverage you wouldn’t know that.  That is just one example of the incredible influence men have over our lives, its almost like some international conspiracy… OH NO THATS PATRIARCHY  (ahahaaa I’m so funny). In short, there are too many men telling us their opinions.

So how do we fix this problem? I know one well discussed possibility is just to get rid of them all but on a more practical level, having a Men Cleanse is a good way of renormalizing the disproportionately male opinions we consume on a day to day basis. I have been doing a very basic version of the Men Cleanse for about a year now but it’s time to completely eliminate them from my life, at least for a week. The aim of this cleanse is to take the everyday media we consume and take it our of the male paradigm. This means not consuming any content created by men and if possible something men have had little direct control over. Until I started doing this I had no idea how much I consumed was actually male dominated and how hard it actually is to do this so I have made a little guide for you!

The Men Cleanse


  • So the most obvious place to start with books is the author. Try not to read books written by men, google the author if you have to and if you are in doubt then just don’t read it yet, save it for another day.
  • To take this one step further, only read books which have been edited by women and are published by publishing houses with female CEOs


  • In general women’s magazines and fashion magazines are drenched in misogyny so just no. However if you are reading a knitting magazine or something similar, only read magazines edited by women and articles written by women.


  • There are three categories I normally evaluate films with. The screenwriter, the director and the main characters. I would say a film would need two out of three of these to be a woman to pass the test and a majority female cast gives bonus points!


  • Try to only listen to female singers or bands with female singers. In certain genres this can be really hard (rock, metal etc) because there is a huge lack of female representation at all levels of the corporate music industry. Hopefully this will also mean you get to discover some cool new bands too!
  • For extra points try to only listen to songs written by women and/or produced by women. This can be extra tricky as it differs from song to song even on the same album but if you have time it would be a great thing to do.

TV shows:

  • Again there are different categories to judge TV by. Producers, writers and characters all can be taken into consideration but these can differ from episode to episode. I try to only watch shows with the main character being a woman or over half the main characters being women but you may want to choose your differently.

Social Media:

  • Now this may be tricky and can cause friction. Ideally you would unfollow/mute/unfriend all the men on your social media but this may not be possible, especially if the men in your life are not as feminist or understanding as they could be.
  • On twitter you can mute a user which means you don’t get push notifications from them and their content does not show up on your TL and you can without them knowing an you can still follow each other.
  • Almost the same thing is available on Facebook. You can unfollow a person on Facebook without them knowing and with you still being Facebook friends.


  • Its pretty easy to make sure the writer of any article you read is by a woman. There can be issues if there is a news item you want to read about but you can’t find any coverage by a woman, I would google it and you probably will find something by a woman but I think exceptions can definitely be made here.

Online articles and blogs:

  • It can be hard to find out who is editor/sub editor of what you are reading online so with online articles I just make sure the writer is a woman. I cannot tell you what a huge difference this makes to your perception of the world, there is so much ignorance and privilege cut out of your life, its great!
  • I keep to blogs run by women and group blogs edited by women with women writers.


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