Her Guide To Life

An Unofficial Guide to Staying Sane(ish) in your 20s

Monday, 17 April 2017

Females 'Fess Up: Sex and the Scarlet Ladies #SLTpanel

A couple of weeks ago I headed from my workplace to the Duke and Duchess in central London to my first ever Scarlet Ladies Talk panel. If you haven't heard of them before, Scarlet Ladies Talk is a female members club that holds panel talks and events that frankly, openly and honestly discuss sex, femininity, 'femaleness' and everything in between in a safe, non-judgmental space.

The panel on this occasion was made up of Franki Cookney, a married and pregnant polyamorous journalist, Catherine Dunworth, boss at all things tantric, Alyssa Black, kinkster and trans activist, and Jannette Davies, a masturbation evangelist and half of the founding team behind Scarlet Ladies. The panel was moderated by Alix Fox, who is an absolutely hilarious sex educator and journalist.

L to R: Jannette, Catherine, Alix, Alyssa and Frankie
The title of this panel was 'Females 'Fess Up'. The idea was simple - females (and, for the first time ever, there were also some men present in the audience) sharing stories, ideas, and questions around sex and sexual experience. Topics discussed included polyamory, the different types of orgasm, kink, porn and the role of technology, lube, masturbating before/after sex, consent, having different libidos with your partner, sex education in schools, and so much more.

Cocktails that looked like boobies were drunk
Holy shit, guys - I learnt SO much. I learned what a cervical orgasm is. I learnt what a urinary orgasm was. I was made to think more complexly about the idea of consent - like, if you're not in the mood for sex at the start of your partner getting kissy with you but then become turned on, is that coercion? I learned from a porn director sitting in the audience that icing sugar is used for cum sometimes. I learned that you shouldn't use coconut oil-based products as lube (it disrupts your natural bacteria). And the list goes on. If I thought I was clued up on sex before I went in there - damn. I don't even know the HALF of it (and really, now that I think about it, as an able-bodied, monogamous, mostly straight cis woman - of course I wouldn't).

Every single one of the contributors (plus Alix, who is an ambassador for Brook) spoke candidly about their experiences, what they wanted from female sexuality, how the conversation around female sexuality was changing and what we could each do to help this shift in a positive way. It was so great to be around so much positive energy and informed, smart women who were all working towards the same goal.

And look, I'm not a prude. I'm really, really not. But I'll admit straight up that I was a bit nervous about being dragged into something I didn't feel comfortable with. And this just wasn't the case AT ALL. You wanted to ask a question, raise a topic for discussion, or add something to what's already being said? You go for it. You wanna sit there, drink a cocktail, and literally just listen to the conversation around you? Fair. That's cool too.

At the end of the night, despite arriving there in a somewhat shitty mood, I really didn't want to leave. It just felt like thirty or so friends in a room together, hanging out, talking about orgasms. You know. Like a big sleepover almost. Everybody was respectful of everybody else, opinions were listened to, stories were shared, and a giant vibrator was included in a tombola at the end of the night.

It was just a really open, honest, inclusive, and FUN evening. We also all got given a box of goodies at the end, including condoms, lube, and bath oils. Plus, there was a HUGE picture on Frida Kahlo on the wall behind us the whole time. Bonus points.

Anywhere that has a mural of Frida Kahlo is OK in my book
The next panel being held by Scarlet Ladies is on May 2nd. If you're looking for an alternative to a night in the pub, on the sofa or in a club, and you're interested in sex and body positivity (the next panel is titled 'Body Positive Sex'), I seriously recommend you get a ticket. You'll have a lot of laughs, listen to some seriously smart women talking positively and openly about sex, and hey, maybe you'll even come away with your own mains-powered vibrator.

You can follow Scarlet Ladies on Twitter to keep up with what they're doing here.

Hannah x

Feature image © Her Guide To Life


Sunday, 12 March 2017

Review: HOW TO BE A GROWN UP by Daisy Buchanan

It's 2017. Donald Trump is President-Elect of the United States. Britain are leaving the EU. The far right has risen up once more. Last year, Ed Balls performed on Strictly Come Dancing. Everything, basically, has gone to shit. But in the midst of all of this big political fuckery, everyday life still goes on. Hearts are broken. Job applications are fretted over. Bank cards are lost, laundry is forgotten and buses are missed.

If, like me, you're in your early twenties, have just bagged your first permanent grad job, rented your first apartment and actually had to trust yourself to haul your own arse out of bed to get to work in the morning without relying on your Mum to wake you up, you'll know that being a fully fledged, functional 'adult' is hard. Really hard. So, hi, if you consider yourself in this group of people. Firstly, let's be friends. Secondly - you need this book - HOW TO BE A GROWN UP, by Daisy Buchanan - in your life.

This. Book. Is. Great. It's basically exactly what it says on the cover - it's a guidebook on how to be a grown up. But not the kind of grown up that you looked at your parents as when you were tiny. More like today's grown up, who, yes, might still be living at home because they can't afford to move out after university, but doesn't engage in Twitter wars with trolls, manages to call their childhood best friend at least once a month, and remembers to take the recycling out on the right day. These things are all huge, huge achievements, and Daisy reminds us to celebrate every time we do something like this... and not to beat ourselves up if we don't.

The book is split into chapters each covering a specific part of life: health, friends, love, the Internet, fashion (or 'How to dress yourself'), money, and more. This genius means that if you're having a certain prob in life, you can flick through to the right section and hear Daisy's words of wisdom on the subject. She covers so many topics that are so relevant and predominant right now. Things like rape culture, body insecurity, the grad job/student debt struggles, dealing with anxiety and panic attacks, being trolled on social media... Basically, if you've cried about it in the last six months, it's in this book somewhere, along with some pretty good advice from someone who's been there and got the (vomit-stained) T-shirt.

And trust me, this gal is wise. She's fabulous and funny and if you don't follow her on Twitter, you definitely should do that right now. Each chapter is a mix of Daisy's anecdotes about her life and past and some actually seriously decent life hacks, including an AMAZING part about how to wash your hair properly that will have you grabbing the Head and Shoulders and dashing off to the bathroom as soon as poss.

I love, love love, the fact that the cover (the actual cover, not the pretty pink proof cover) has the words 'HOW TO BE A GROWN UP' in glitter, because that's exactly what this book is - every sentence is glittery and sparkly and funny and pithy and so, so spot on. It's pretty much like carrying a friend around with you in your handbag.

Feeling a bit crap because you don't own any tights without holes in them? Don't - just buy this book.
Blithely ignoring your bank balance? Buy this book.
Hating your first job out of uni? Buy this book.
Love straight-talking feminists like Caitlin Moran, but feel like you're honestly a *bit* more like Bridget Jones? Buy this book.

Trust me, you'll laugh out loud a lot, and realise that we're actually doing this whole adult thing pretty damn well, too.


(*For reals though, it comes out on April 6th, and you can buy it from Waterstones here.)

Feature image © Her Guide To Life

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Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Is This Happily Ever... After?

Today, my friends, is a very special day. A very special day indeed. After leaving university approximately 587 days ago, today, Tuesday 21st February 2017, I finally, FINALLY signed my first ever, real, permanent, hardly-any-chance-of-being-fired-after-three months for breaking the coffee-machine contract for a graduate job. 

And the best part? Its a job that I actually truly, really, like doing.

This post isn
t going to be one about never giving up, or always following your heart, or about how everything happening for a reason, because I like to think that Im not an arsehole, and to me that seems like a pretty arsehole-ish thing to say, especially if youre currently looking for a job/stressing about your post-university choices/having an existential crises about your entire life/all of the above. What I will say is that graduate life today is bloody hard  - not just in London, but anywhere you are in the country. 

You come out of uni full of bravado, clutching your diploma in your hand like it

As a lot of us know, graduate life doesn
t work like that. Reality has an unfortunate tendency to slap you in the face like a big ol' wet fish. Most of us move back in with our parents, and we realise that , to quote the wonderful Daisy Buchanan, 'living at home when youre twenty two really isnt that much different from living at home when youre seventeen'.

I'm trying really, really, hard not to say 'don't give up', because trust me, so many times over the last year I've been tempted just to get an admin or receptionist job, call it quits on the Publishing Girl in London dream, and move on. Nothing - and I know this from experience - NOTHING is worse than the person who has an actual job in the actual field they actually want to work in looking at your unemployed ass with eyes full of sympathy, slowly placing their hand over yours as you're wailing about companies who CAN'T EVEN BE BOTHERED TO SEND REJECTION EMAILS (seriously guys, really?!) saying in a sincere and honeyed tone: 'Things will get better'.  

The amount of times I cried after uni. The amount of times I woke up, dreading the day, knowing all it was to be filled with was watching my family leave the house, one by one, for work or school, leaving me along in a big, silent house, with an empty email inbox and very little hope. It's terrible for your bank balance and even worse for your mental health. 

Im not really sure what the message to this post is – if there even is one. It just feels like, after a year and a half of temporary jobs, moving to London, moving out of London, moving back to London, job interviews, internships, a thousand, million cover letters written, rewritten, typos spotted too late and Tube strikes – it feels like a new chapter is beginning. Im on a proper wage. I can start thinking about getting my own room somewhere, instead of crashing at my dads and my boyfriend's.

m excited. I am. 

Hannah x

Feature image © Hannah Billie Perry

Sunday, 12 February 2017

FEBRUARY WISH LIST // 20 under £20

Consumerism sucks, OK? We all know this. But sometimes, you just gotta treat yourself to some goodies. You're worth it, yeah?

Here are twenty things under £20 that I've got my eye on in February!

Hannah x


Monday, 6 February 2017

If I'm An Introvert, I'm Completely OK With That

You know how there are actually still people who think being called a 'feminist' is an awful thing? That feminism is akin to man-hating, bra-burning, non-shaving angryness? Those people don't understand the definition of a 'feminist' as we all know it, but they're sure quick to lump people with the label.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

JANUARY WISHLIST // 20 under £20

Happy Sunday! This year, I want to do a monthly list of 20 things for £20 or less that I'd love to get my hands on. Right now, it's January, everybody's poor from Christmas, payday seems like a distant memory, and sometimes some good old-fashioned window shopping can be almost as fun as buying the actual thing. 

Thursday, 5 January 2017

The Elizabeth Gilbert Quote That Changed My 2016

Okay, I'm going to start this post by saying, I have mixed feelings about Elizabeth Gilbert. Yes, I've read Eat, Pray, Love, and yes, I did enjoy it (and then watched the film pretty much immediately after), and no, I don't think she's an idiot for ditching her international husband and getting involved in a same-sex relationship with her best friend. Why, do you? In that case, you probably shouldn't be here, reading this post.

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