Scouting vs. Periods

Hey! Today the lovely Em has written a brilliant guest post for us inspired by a topic that we’ve been discussing a lot as a group – the stigma around periods and how boys often just don’t get it. As a scout myself for several years, I really enjoyed Em’s post and hope you enjoy it too! – An Overthinking Teenager


Hello! I’m Em from Adventure’s of a Lost Teen and the lovely Feminista’s are kindly allowing me to guest post on their awesome blog!

Today I’d like to talk about the epic war between Scouting and periods.

For those of you who don’t know me, I’ll give you a brief bit of background information: for the past 8 years I have been a member of the Scout Association and have loved every second of the adventure. However, as well as being a Scout, I am also a teenage girl. So, as you will know, I am also subjected to rather unwanted and inconvenient visit from good ol’ Aunty Flow once a month which, when you are an adventure-addict like me and absolutely love being outdoors and taking part in the adventurous activities that Scouting has to offer, can be very irritating.

So, as you can imagine, there are a lot of instances where I have to miss out on doing the thing I love most (aside from blogging of course) because of being a teenage girl and all of the joys that brings with it.

The great thing about Scouts is that we take every opportunity to be outdoors and enjoying the beauty of the world around us, so many of our activities are planned to incorporate and harness the great outdoors and all that it offers. This could be as simple as going out to the local woods or beach (as my Explorer Scout group often does) to do activities such as fire lighting, cooking and shelter building to name a few. The first thing that crosses my mind when I think about these types of activities is: no toilets. Generally, to get the best experience of being outdoors, you have to go quite far away from civilisation (and therefore toilets) which is something we do quite a lot in Scouting. The fact is, if I am on my period, I simply cannot be away from toilets for a whole two hours (which is how long my Scout meetings last for) – I mean, anything could happen in those two hours and without access to toilets it could get very messy to say the least! So, sadly, most outdoor activities where I don’t have access to toilets are a definite no-no whilst I am on my period.

Next up: physical activities. So that means any type of sport that involves lots of movement, especially hiking as this is a key part of Scouting and in my Explorer Scout group, it is guaranteed that there will be at least 5 or 6 hikes per year, sometimes more. As my fellow females will know, doing physical activities whilst on your period isn’t exactly the best idea as it usually results in pain and high amounts of stress due to worrying about the state and quality of your sanitary products. The thing about Scouting, however, is that you’re expected to jump right into every activity and put in all of your effort. Unfortunately, due to 75% of Scouts (and leaders) in the UK being male, saying ‘I need to take a break’ or ‘I can’t do this right now’ earns you nothing but a few odd looks and sometimes even accusations of you being a ‘wimp’ and ‘giving up too easily’. Alright, the motto of Scouting is to ‘be prepared’ so perhaps us girls should just struggle through our periods and get on with it, however – and every girl will understand this – sometimes we have ‘code red emergencies’ where we need to be excused to run to the nearest toilet as quickly as possible, which, in my experience of Scouting, isn’t something that is easy to do as generally men do not understand this. Although doing physical activities would generally not be a good idea during my period, I did once decide to go mountain biking with Explorer Scouts during that time of the month, purely because I was fed up at having to miss out on things just because my period decided to show up at the worst possible time. Let’s just say…I’m never doing that again! The mountain biking was fun, yes, but it was soooo uncomfortable and there was no time for us to stop and have a break, let alone any toilets nearby! Therefore this is an experience I would definitely not like to repeat, so unfortunately strenuous physical activities such as this will have to be avoided whilst on my period in the future.

Along similar lines to physical activities, the next candidate for ‘Scouting’s No.1 anti-period-friendly activity’,  is watersports. Living on the coast, my Scout group has always had considerable access to beaches and rivers –  and just water in general – which has always been taken advantage of when planning our meetings. As you will know, periods and water generally do not mix which means that during my period, I can’t comfortably take part in activities such as canoeing, surfing, kayaking, raft building – you get the point. These are the types of ‘more adventurous’ activities that we do in Scouts and are often the ‘treats’ we are given at the end of each term. Also, as per tradition, we hold an annual water fight on our last meeting before summer which often ends up with Scouts being dunked headfirst into barrels full of icy water which, as you can imagine, is unpleasant at the best of times, let alone when you are on your period. So, for me, all of these events have to be missed during my period as I am certainly not comfortable with going in water at that time of the month.

Finally (as this post is getting rather long now) we have Scout camps. Scout camps are notorious for their rigorous itinerary, packed full of adventure with hardly any time for breaks, their culmination of outdoor, physical and water activities – which, if you have read the rest of this post, you’ll know can be a nightmare whilst on your period – and their poor toilet facilities (which usually consists of nothing more than a dozen portiloos which are not exactly practical for a girl on her period and tend to get blocked up after the first day at camp, which is rather grim). So, as you can imagine, Scout camps certainly aren’t the best place to be whilst on your period – they are a culmination of the three other problematic instances within Scouting for girls on their periods but even worse as they lack the promise of a nice warm shower and comfy bed that evenings outdoors or doing physical activities can at least offer.

Throughout my Scouting journey, I have been on countless Scout camps, but have luckily (or rather not so luckily) had to experience the struggles of being on my period at a camp only once. And guess what? My activity schedule for said camp included both a kayaking trek along a river (water – ugh) and a days hiking through the countryside (countryside = NO TOILETS). Fortunately, as my mum is a Scout leader and was also on the camp, she was able to cut a few strings and swap my rota around a bit with another Scout who sadly had to go home. Therefore I ended up doing shooting and backwards cooking instead of kayaking – which meant I had a full day of shooting and cooking as I was supposed to be doing that in the morning anyway, so by the end of the day, I was practically an expert shooter (not really, I can’t shoot to save my life plus I managed to shoot myself twice as the pellet ricocheted off of the target and hit me…oops) – and snowboarding instead of hiking (which I guess was slightly better as at least I would be near toilet facilities). In the end, everything worked out fine, although I am definitely not signing up for any more camps in the near future unless I am certain they won’t coincide with my period.

So, those were a few of the battles I have had to face when my desire to be a Scout clashing with my uninvited monthly guest. But don’t think that just because you are female and have periods, you can’t be adventurous and have lots of fun within or outside of Scouting – there are so many more amazing things I have experienced and participated in within Scouting than I have missed out on because of my period! And you don’t even have to miss out on these activities I have mentioned above if you don’t want to – it’s all about what you are and aren’t comfortable doing during that time of the month and for me, I am not comfortable doing these activities, but you might be! Having periods is definitely not a reason to be put off of joining Scouts because we need to show our periods – and ourselves for that matter – that we can achieve anything we want to – whether that be an adventure within Scouting or outside of. And what about those times when your period prevents you from doing adventurous activities? Well, my fellow females, the next time you are able to spend time outdoors, exploring and having fun, you put 100% effort into it, have tonnes of fun and make as many memories as possible so that even just the thought of all of the adventures you have participated in will be enough to keep your adventure-addiction at bay (for now) whilst mother nature is having it’s own way.
Thank you for reading this, I hope you have learnt a bit more about the struggles of being a female Scout now but also why our periods don’t always have to stop us from doing what we love. I strongly believe that more girls should get involved in the Scouting movement as currently we only make up 25% of Scouts in the UK alone. Scouting has helped me develop as an individual so much and taught me countless life skills as well as given me amazing memories to cherish forever. If you want to read more about being a girl in Scouting, I have written about “Scouting for girls, Scouting for all’ on my own blog.

Advertisements

Why I (Kinda) Gave Up Social Media For Lent

OK, I am so flippin’ annoyed right now because I had a decent 50% of a post written and I ONLY ACCIDENTALLY DELETED IT ALL.

Hmph. #FirstWorldProblems. 

Oh well. Anyway, I *finally* have reappeared on here to explain why I am quitting some social media for Lent (or, in the case of Instagram, why I’m not). I’ve only ever given something up for Lent once before (Facebook the year before last) – I’m not religious, but I think it’s a good chance to try and cut down a bad habit while having a specific length of time to focus on. I wouldn’t say I’m addicted to social media, but I do use it to procrastinate quite a lot and as I use it to promote my blog, I’m on more platforms than most of my friends. So this year, I decided to follow the school chaplain’s advice and try cutting down. (My friends and I are also giving up swearing by trying to replace swear words with pomegranate and donating 20p to charity for every swear word, but that’s for another post…)

I’ve decided to quit Facebook (excluding automatic WordPress posts and Messenger), Twitter (except automated IFTTT/WordPress tweets) and Snapchat. I was going to get rid of Instagram too, but then I was talking to a couple of friends about my favourite accounts and I realised how much I actually like it – good photos make me happy and, as Hannah Gale mentioned in a post that I annoyingly can’t link because I’m on my phone, it makes me appreciate the little things in life more – a pretty sunsent, the way the bare branches of a tree look against a bright sky, a pretty shop display. And don’t even get me started on how much more I appreciate book covers now I’m aware of bookstagram…

 

That accidental colour coordination though.


The point is, Insta has made me appreciate the beauty of everyday things more, and has inspired me to put effort into taking pretty photos. Facebook, however, was just sucking me into a bottomless pit of funny photos and procrastination. So far, I’m doing OK cutting it out. I still reach for my phone when I want to kill time or am trying to procrastinate, but now I’ll either go on Instagram, which often provides genuine enjoyment and inspiration, WordPress, which I’d rate as much more worthwhile, or I’ll reach for a book. In fact, maybe I’ll start carrying a book around with me more…
So overall, to conclude this long, rambly and fairly pointless post, I’m cutting out *some* social media because although I wouldn’t say I’m addicted, I do think it’s taking up too much of my time and if I’m going to procrastinate, I may as well do it in a way that makes me happier – by reading a good book or looking at pretty photos. 

There’s just something about this that makes my soul happy.

 What, if anything, are you giving up for Lent, and what are your thoughts on social media? 

An Overthing Teenager

Blog | Instagram Twitter 

The One Where I Lack Inspiration {An Overthinking Teenager}

Hey!

This week is free theme once again, and I will openly admit that I can’t really think of anything to write about, so I’ve decided to highlight and summarise a few posts I’ve done on my personal blog, Mixolydian Musings, that fit this blog. Hope you enjoy!

  • OK, first up: this is an Open Letter to All The Keyboard Warriors. I wrote this after one of my bloggy friends had a bit of an issue with a ‘keyboard warrior’, and the Blog Squad had a big Twitter advice-and-hugs session. I decided to write it to vent some of my frustration, in the hope that maybe some future keyboard warrior might read it and change their ways…
  • This post is about how humans have a tendency to judge each other at first sight, even without meaning to.
  • This is just a casual mini epiphany I had about what music really is (ft. Mickey Mouse and Spongebob gifs, so it’s gotta be worth reading, right?!)
  • This post about ‘you were born to be real, not to be perfect’ was pretty much just a coping mechanism after I had a major teenager meltdown back in March. Still, may be relatable cos y’know, teenagery stuff.
  • And finally, this post is a discussion post about social media – is it as bad as everyone says, and what do ten billion likes (I exaggerate. A little bit) really mean in real life?

Did you relate to any of these posts? Have you written something along the same lines? Feel free to share in the comments down below!

Thanks for reading!

An Overthinking Teenager

An Overthinking Teen: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Blog | Bloglovin’

The Feministas: Facebook (wooo, we just smashed 30 likes!) | Twitter | Tumblr | Pinterest | Bloglovin’

Hey, HON(e)Y: Facebook Done Good

Huma

Hey, everybody! So, I just remembered today is my post day, and after ascertaining that our current theme is once again free, I decided to write about the topic I meant to do my last post on but never got round to: the Humans of New York social media movement. It was started by New York photographer Brandon Stanton in summer 2010, with the aim of providing “an exhaustive catalogue of New York City’s inhabitants”. It was originally started with the goal of shooting 10,000 street portraits and plotting them on a map, but now is more about just creating a photographic census of NYC. Originally, Stanton was doing HONY as a full time job, albeit without an income, supported only by a couple of benefactors. Now, HONY has been monetized, with a popular and New York Times bestselling book.

The photos are published on Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and Twitter as well as on his website, though I’m not sure which came first. The photos are all captioned by a quote of varying lengths – some a line, others a paragraph, other mini sagas spread across two or three posts. HONY has become something of a quiet internet sensation, well known among social media users – 15 of my friends have liked the page – and around the world – Stanton has allowed people to use his idea in different places around the world, although he will only personally promote a select few that he feels  show sufficient dedication to the project. When I travelled to Nis, in southern Serbia over the summer, volunteers at the jazz festival I was playing at created a ‘Humans of Nisville’ Facebook page.

But why has a simple photography project become so popular, so mainstream? For me, the magic is in the stories. Often, I glance at the photo but regularly take the time to read the full caption. You just find out such interesting stuff about people and their lives, from the heartbreaking to the hilarious, things you would never guess was going on in their lives. And when Stanton takes the project abroad – most recently, Iran and Pakistan – you discover even more, about the people who live in these less economically developed and often conflict-riddled countries. You find out about the humanity the media is so desperate to hide in it’s reports about rebels and guns and massacres. You find out that people all over the place are, in essence, the same.

The Facebook comments are also something to behold. No idiotic memes in sight, and rarely a negative comment either. Instead, people have often taken the time to offer advice, even if they doubt the intended recipient will read it, or to empathise and share their own experiences. These – often heartbreakingly honest – comments regularly garner sympathy, empathy and responses from all over the world. The President of the United States has even commented on one of the HONY posts! I just find it incredibly refreshing to see comments, even on often tragic and sad posts, that are mostly upbeat and positive.

I just want to share one last thought with you – one that’s not actually my own, but belongs to a commenter on one of HONY’s posts at the end of the summer. It said something along the lines of, “I was about to ask whether you’re still in Pakistan, or back in New York. But then I realised that that was the whole point. It doesn’t matter.” To me that’s incredibly profound, and gave a whole new meaning to the page that I hadn’t really considered before.

Have you seen the HONY social media? What do you think? Pointless project, or powerful photography? Let me know your thoughts, and if you haven’t seen HONY, I’ll leave all the relevant links below.

Thanks for reading,

An Overthinking Teenager

Humans of New York: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr | Website | Pinterest | Bloglovin’

An Overthinking Teen: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Blog | Bloglovin’

The Feministas: Facebook (wooo, we just smashed 30 likes!) | Twitter | Tumblr | Pinterest | Bloglovin’

Is Mental Health Really More Of A Modern Issue?

Hiya again, Feminista readers!

Once again, it’s my turn to grace you with my (virtual) presence. As you may have already gleaned from previous posts, our current topic is mental health. This was a topic I wasn’t sure about – I wasn’t sure how comfortable I felt writing about it, and then I was sorely lacking in inspiration. So when I remembered today was my turn to post, one of my first feelings was of panic. What the heck was I going to write about? But it’s all good, because my creative juices got flowing and I had An Idea. So here goes…

Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve been very much under the impression that mental illness is a very modern issue, worsened by the internet and the rise of 24/7 media, as though it didn’t exist before the world wide web and permanent TV news channels. It’s often blamed on social media and Photoshop, setting impossible-to-follow standards and making us all feel generally rubbish about ourselves.

And that’s at least partially true. I do think that social media and the internet has increased the amount of mental illness around the world. But what if it’s been there all along? People say that the stigma of mental health is slowly beginning to be broken down, as more and more mental illnesses seem to appear – what if those two facts are interlinked? Maybe it’s because more people feel comfortable talking about it that more mental health issues are beginning to surface. Perhaps there’s always been this many, it’s just that we’re only just beginning to open up and tell people about them, so the sudden flood of discussion about mental illnesses makes it seem like there’s more than there ever were before.

I’m afraid that’s pretty much all I’ve got to say today. It was just a thought that got me curious.

Thanks for reading!

An Overthinking Teenager

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Blog

Clearing Up The Definition Of Feminism, And Why Even The West Needs It

Through being a member of The Feministas, I’ve encountered and become aware of many more opinions regarding feminism and feminists than before. One example is of an Instagram user who commented on this post on my Instagram account (@booksteaonesie, if you’re interested ;)) (OK, shameless self-promotion over) soon after becoming a Feminista:

This photo spawned 21 comments, primarily from two different people (and myself, obvs). One of these people argued that believing in equality did not equate to being a feminist, something I entirely disagree with. They said this was the case  because by definition feminism is “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men”. However, if you look in the Oxford dictionary (or the Oxford dictionary website, as I did), you’ll find that this is actually the definition of feminism:

feminism definition

My understanding of this definition is that although feminism primarily focuses on improving women’s rights (because they need the most improving), equality of the sexes is the ultimate goal. Not to have women superior and fantastic and worshipped like gods, which appears to be a fairly widespread understanding of the definition of feminism. Of course, there are many different definitions floating around out there, but I think this is the one that I want to base my identity as a feminist on – and I suspect many (if not all) of the other Feministas would second that. Also, although it may seem like feminism is only about women, there are people fighting for overall gender equality, including men’s equality, for issues like the fact there’s a massive stereotype that men have to have six packs and act manly and never show emotion. I won’t go into massive detail about that now (I’m running out of time) but as a starter, I highly recommend you listen to Emma Watson’s incredible speech to the United Nations.

Another thing that this commenter said was “if it feminism did advocate for everyone’s equality then it would not be referred to as feminism. The word feminism is pertained to the word female. Not equality.” [sic] OK, this is kinda a good point. I think the origin of the word ‘feminism’ is related to ‘female’ because originally, the movement was much more based around women’s rights, whereas more recently the focus on men and women’s rights has become more equal. Also, something I saw on probably a Tumblr text post on Facebook – how can the word ‘feminism’ be sexist when the word widely used  for all humans is ‘mankind’?

OK, now onto an issue the other commenter raised. She said about much the same things as the previous one, but added something – she’s not a feminist because she doesn’t think the west really needs feminism, what with all the laws against gender pay gaps and whatnot. Now, I don’t have the time right now to research gender pay gaps in the West in detail, but I’ll leave you with this: one reason I believe the West needs feminism as well as more Eastern LEDCs, is that while crocodile steaks, helicopters and edible sugar flowers aren’t taxed because they’re supposedly essential products, women’s sanitary products are taxed because they’re apparently a luxury and not essential. And that’s in the UK. I believe that isn’t right, and that’s one of the reasons why I’m a feminist.

*mic drop*

(sorry, couldn’t resist).

An Overthinking Teenager

My Blog | Bloglovin | Facebook | Instagram I Twitter

This Is What A Feminist Looks Like

Hint: It’s Benedict Cumberbatch!

   Via @ELLEUK on Twitter

Hello! I’m An Overthinking Teenager, and this is my first proper, themed post on The Feministas, which, by the way, I am so proud to be a member of. Today I’m talking about the awesomeness that is Benedict Cumberbatch. “But why is he so awesome?” I hear you bemused mortals say. Well, first off there’s his hair in BBC Sherlock. YES ON SO MANY LEVELS. (Oh, and his acting in Sherlock. That’s good too.)

Wait for 0:06ish…

Then there’s him as Alan Turing in The Imitation Game. Need I say more? Oh, go then, I’ll give you a few more examples…his ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Watch and learn how to get ice dumped over you in style, people:

And his Beyonce walk.

And his inability to say the word ‘penguins’, despite starring in a film named, you guessed it, ‘Penguins’.

YAY PENGWINGS!

But guess what? (actually, you’ve probably already guessed from the title and the name of this blog but whatever) Benedict Cumberbatch is also a proud feminist! Yasss!

You want an example? A few years ago, Benedict told The Times his view on the use of the word ‘Cumberbitches’ as the collective noun for his fans. Here’s what he said:

“I won’t allow you to be my bitches. I think it sets feminism back so many notches. You are… Cumberpeople.

*applauds*. Nicely done, Mr Cumberbatch! Brilliantly, Benedict has recognised his fans (yay!), but also stood up for feminism by suggesting they use a less potentially derogatory term (it hasn’t worked that well, but at least he tried, eh?).

I think Benedict Cumberbatch is such a good feminist to have around, because he proves, like Tom Hiddleston, that you can have male feminists (something that some people struggle with), and that casual, almost normal sexism is present all the time – sometimes brought about by girls themselves (see Cumberbitches). And not only has he proven this, he’s spoken out about it and tried to do something about it. It’s people like Emma Watson and Benedict Cumberbatch that are going to help the world move forward – because they’re influential, they’re flippin’ good actors and they use their fame in a worthwhile way. So thank you Benedict, and thank you for reading this rather long and rambly, possibly incoherent admission of love for Benedict Cumberbatch disguised as a legitimate post.

Thank you.

An Overthinking Teenager

Books, Tea and a Onesie | Twitter | Instagram | Bloglovin’: MeMy Blog

The Land Of The Blue (And Red): The Feministas Meet Social Media

The Feministas Meet Social Media: Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook and Tumblr

Hey!

As you may have noticed, either from Twitter or from the sidebar of our blog, we have a bit of a social media presence. Quite a few accounts, actually. So I thought, as my first proper post on this lovely, shiny, sparkly new blog, I would do a quick roundup of our internet presence for you 🙂

Twitter // @TheFeministas. Our first form of social media! We all take turns on here, and are fairly active – come say hello, and admire our lovely new header! (I AM SO PROUD OF IT IT DOESN’T EVEN MAKE SENSE)

Facebook // ‘The Feministas’. One of our most…fledgling…accounts. No likes yet but, YOU COULD BE THE FIRST. Go, my precious readers (in a non-creepy way), go and LIKE OUR PAGE! (please)

Tumblr // ‘The Feministas Blog’. Come say hi! We post and reblog relevant but interesting stuff…and occasionally irrelevant stuff…’Harry Potter as a teen comedy’ *cough cough*.

Pinterest // ‘tfeministas’Cora is the person to speak to about this, as I have no clue with Pinterest – but go follow us!

And obviously, you can follow this blog by email or via WordPress! We’re also planning on setting up a Bloglovin’ soon, so we’ll let you know when that’s up and running 🙂

See you elsewhere on the Internet! *waves*

An Overthinking Teenager

Twitter: @booksteaonesie // Instagram: @booksteaonesie // Bloglovin’