In the words of Ross, “We Were On A BREAK!”

Hello internet folks and VFM followers!

Now, you may have realised it’s been a little quiet on the blog for a while now. I’m here with the explanation! Before you get worried, the site is going nowhere – VFM is to remain active for the foreseeable future and we have some fresh new articles on the way! However, now all out of university and trying to find our way in the big, scary world as adults, a lot of us have had to put our time and attention on other projects and into the workplace. Some of us have been travelling, others on internships and, in general, it’s all been a bit hectic!

LUCKILY a lot of us here at VFM have our individual blogs and pages that you can follow our ventures through! So, if you want some more reading material, or are just plain nosey and want to find out what we’re all up to, we’ll be sharing links soon! 😀

Alicia

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Hindsight Is 20/20

After 16 years of constant education, you will think that you’re supposed to know exactly what you want to do with your life. After all, you’ve completed your GCSEs, your A-levels (or equivalent) and now, the third year of university is coming to a close. After that last exam or that last coursework deadline or presentation has passed you realise, you have suddenly entered the ‘real world’ and the uncertainty of it all starts to get to you. You’re not quite a ‘student’ and at the same time, technically you are; this odd waiting period between being an undergraduate and your graduation ceremony causes you to look back at all the things you think you would have done differently.

We at Venus from Mars have come together with this advice piece for our past selves and future freshers, because Hindsight, as they say, is 20/20.

 Save that money– Dothrakimermaid

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With university comes a student identification card. And when you have a student card, a whole bunch of doors open for frugal shopping. Take as much advantage as possible of the student discount, it doesn’t seem like much but the 10-15% you can save off of clothes, electronics and entertainment purposes really adds up over the years. Be aware of local shops and services that do student deals. Save that money. Buy fruit and veg cheap and in season. Buy your meat frozen (if you eat it), or if your parents are willing, buy a large amount of meat back home and put it in the freezer when you arrive on campus. Don’t always buy brand, store own can be just as good and for a much lower price. If you’re doing a ‘big shop’, are you going to need a taxi home or will it be cheaper to do it online and get it delivered (if applicable)? Alternatively, shop around for cheaper groceries in general, understand that Aldi and Lidl are going to be cheaper than Tesco or Morrisons and that M&S foods, as delicious as the adverts cause them to look, will be out of budget for a while.

Know your campus’ and local area’s provided services – Dothrakimermaid

Check your library out. There are so many books on the reading list that are expensive. Again, this is about saving money. Sometimes the lecturers will say an entire book is relevant and will only talk about one paragraph for 10 minutes. (This sounds lazy, but believe me, sometimes the recommended reading isn’t all that necessary). University is an uncertain place. It can be lonely, there might be a counselling service that will be helpful over the course of your stay. There are always job opportunities on campus. Cafés, bartenders for the student nights, till workers and stackers in the campus shop, some universities even hire students to take tally of students in the room for room management. Look for societies to take part in. Or start one. University is all about ‘broadening your horizons’ and interacting with people of different walks of life, but sometimes you really need some like-minded individuals to help settle you some. At least go to the taster sessions and one social, if they’re not for you, say goodbye, no fouls done.

Socialising – Dothrakimermaid

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Please, realise that being friends and living with your friends are two different things. Prepare for possible fall out. Be prepared to drift a little from friends back home. Especially if they’re going to different universities. Timetables and term times don’t always sync up, you’re not going to see everyone over the holidays, and unless you have a lot of money, travelling across the country regularly to see people is out of the question. (Get a train 16-25 railcard, and a coach pass, depending on your location and theirs you can decide on which route is best). While students are known for excessive wild nights out, don’t expect to go out clubbing every night (depending where your campus is). Some clubs near universities usually have a student night with cheaper entry and drinks, there is always the night out organised by your student union, not to mention local pubs, bars, and the ever familiar house party.  Some people prefer pub-grub and actually being able to carry a conversation over bass you can feel and sloppy dancing, others prefer a more comfortable (and cheaper) option of chilling with some friends with a bottle or three of wine (or tea, or coffee). All you need to know is that whatever option you prefer, you will find someone sharing the same sentiments, either way: make your nights out your definition of fun!

“The University Experience” – Dothrakimermaid

American media and older siblings and friends can make university look like this magical place where you’ll find your group of friends for life, the person you think you’ll spend the rest of your life with, where you’ll change and discover new parts of yourself and where you get your future together. The truth is that doesn’t always happen, there’s no real “Uni Experience”, go in with lower expectations, a lot of first years enter Uni and after the festivities of Fresher’s week find themselves underwhelmed by their course or campus life. Just try and make your time at Uni something that you enjoy and benefit from, that’s all you can really do.

Student Housing –  Catsmith92

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From student tuition being increased to job prospects being as depressing as watching the ten o’clock news; it’s the horrors of student housing that really is the cherry on the top.

I would like to put it down to the fact that I’ve had a bad experience, but I know it’s not just me. A lot of students get ripped off to live nine months in squalor, where you’re having to battle with the house’s long-time residents, damp and mildew, and your downstairs toilet is the set of “Bugs life” and, in some instances, masking tape is the only thing holding your window together. And let’s not get started on landlord/ladies, ‘cause that’s a whole different article.

Since students usually pay by room, at one point you’ll realise that you’re paying an extortionate amount per month to live in some filthy, shit-shack where the electric always cuts off half way through your Freaks and Geeks marathon.

So, here is my advice: Don’t just go for properties that are advertised as “student living.” Most of the time, you can get better deals from renting a normal property.

It’s true! Just because you’re a student doesn’t mean you’re segregated from other properties. Universities recommend you to go through student housing because the leases will match your student year. One downside hunting for a regular-Joe place is that landlords/estate agents may be disinclined to offer you a showing because you’re a student. So, maybe keep that one to yourself until you have to tell them.

Yet, it’s semi-understandable why we get fobbed off. Let’s face it, students don’t have the shiniest reputations. From pre-drinks where half of the campus turns up on your doorstep to finding that old bag of onions your Mum bought you at the start of the year, we’re not exactly the most responsible bunch. Even so, there are a few of us who go to university to learn. Yes, learn! And even though we want a good time (like everyone else in the world), we’re not hell-bent on ripping off the staircase’s bannister.

When it comes to bad student housing, it’s down to where your campus is situated. I’m sure not all student houses are as bad as I’m describing, however I don’t know any different because my campus is located in a piss-poor town. Your rubbish student living is more-than-likely down to the economic situation of the place you’re living in, because I know (from countless of ads on the internet) there are some pretty swanky student digs out there in the big cities. So, it’s either your town’s money situation or, y’know, your landlord (again, whole different article…).

The best advice I can give to a fresh-faced student is: Look hard and look long for that dream abode. It might not be home, but I guarantee, student housing ain’t the only way to go. 

Mixers in a Can is a False Economy – lassomagicarescarte

JD

I wish I could have told my cheap ass self this back in first year. I didn’t like beer because I still hadn’t acclimatised myself to its urine-esque flavour, and wine was for old people. Somehow whiskey and rum by themselves were horrible, but add coke and something magical happened! But this was where the problem lay – I didn’t want to buy a whole bottle of Jack Daniels because it was expensive and I felt that it would be the first step towards becoming a full blown alcoholic and spending my final days drinking in a workhouse, selling my hair for money and singing. But the mixers in a can, on the other hand, were so impossibly cute and harmless looking (and generally on a three for two offer) that I gladly paid the extortionate prices and kept coming back for more. Within the space of maybe two weeks, I had already paid the cost of one of the larger bottles, and over the course of the year I probably blew a small fortune on those devil juice cans. I should have just bought the bottle, which would have lasted me a lot longer, and I could have mixed it the way I liked. Better yet, I could have bought some of the supermarket brand bottles and had a real party, like Gatsby mixed with Macklemore.

Dust Your Room!– lassomagicarescarte

dustI know, I know, it’s not exciting, it’s the kind of inane shit your parents do in their house, but I’ll tell you what dusting and hovering once a week or so means. It means that for a start, your room is tidy and you won’t have Kim and Aggie coming over and screeching about dust mites. Secondly, and far more importantly, it means you aren’t spending HOURS cleaning on that inevitable final week where you have to get rid of the debris of the past year only this time your room is full of boxes of your stuff (and a sad mound of mixer cans) and you’re stressed out of your brains and everyone else is having a barbeque in the two minutes we have left of the British summer because they dusted. You can save yourself a lot of tears, sneezes and frustration by just not living like an animal. And bleach your toilet, because that shit can get cray cray nasty.

Be Yourself – Alicia Ballard

Whilst the other advice you read may be more practical, my university experience has been more about growing into myself as a person instead of growing up. And, as a Student Ambassador who often gets a thousand questions about personal experience thrown at her, I offer this: Be Yourself. It’s the number one cliché, it’s ‘simple’, but it’s true. University – for me – is the place where you can be comfortable to show your true colours! It’s where I finally found my confidence and my voice, where I was finally ‘allowed’ to wear what I wanted, and finally found out what I wanted from life.  It’s not like school or college, where history eludes you and you fall into ‘convenient friendships’. University offers you likeminded people (and not so likeminded) and not one of them knows your name. Scary? Definitely. But, remember, everyone’s in the same boat! So don’t be nervous to join a society; sign up to EVERYTHING at Fresher’s and give it all a go! Don’t be afraid of not getting on with your flatmates; there are more people out there! And don’t be held back by stereotypes or other people; if you want to do something, do it. Your university experience is yours, no one else’s. So be the person you want to be, and shape it just for you.

grad

 

Looking back, is there any advice you wish you were given as a fresher or any experiences you would promote for new students? Comment below, let us know!

VFM’s Top Bad-Ass Heroines!

VFM’s TOP BAD-ASS HEROINES!

With the next instalment of The Hunger Games franchise rearing its shiny head, we welcome back Katniss Everdeen—easily one of the best female heroines of cinema and literature today, and not only because what she can’t do with a bow and arrow is nobody’s business. Katniss is a modern day heroine whose motives doesn’t rely on revenge nor a man; she’s a character whose strong, independent and in no-way sexualised. Plus, she starts a revolution, ‘kay?! Unfortunately, all these factors in this day and age is still pretty fresh in our modern day women. Yes, I’m glaring at you Bella Swan.

The return of Katniss and The Hunger Games has the VFM team thinking about other strong women of our books and screens, whether she’s a classical heroine from a book or controlled by you in a game. So, Venus From Mars proudly presents a specially selected top five bad-ass women who can hold their own in any fight (drum roll, please!):

Willow, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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Buffy…Willow…Buffy…Willow? Which one deserves a slot? On one hand, we have Buffy; she saved the world countless of times, while having to tackle school, boys, making sure her besties don’t die and being resurrected from the dead…twice! But then we have Willow.

Willow is introduced to us as the typical wallflower who’s in love with her best friend. The reason why she’s one of VFM’s favourite heroines is mainly down to the fact that she had the most character development. Ooo, character development, pretty bad-ass, right? Well, from starting the show as a shy teen who hides behind her curtain-like hair, she turns into a young woman who, as the episodes go on, dates a werewolf, becomes an all-mighty powerful witch, saves the world, then nearly destroys the world, but most importantly, she was a half of one of America’s first lesbian relationships on television when she hooked up with her witchy-lover, Tara. So, is there really any question to why she’s on this list? No, I didn’t think so… CatSmith92

Scarlett O’Hara, Gone With the Wind

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Let’s face it; who doesn’t love a bad girl? An anti-heroine who challenges all the rules, turns society on its head, thinks and acts outrageously, and can bitchsmack with the best of them?

For me, the first and last word in anti-heroine is Scarlett O’Hara, protagonist of Margret Mitchell’s sweeping epic Gone with the Wind. When we first meet Scarlett, she is a spoilt pretty thing who manipulates men and cares about nothing but her beloved Ashley. When we leave Scarlett, she has grown up. And when I say grown up, I mean she has killed a man, rebuilt her empire almost single handed, has fallen out with the ideologies of her society, delivered a baby during the shelling of Atlanta with no knowledge of midwifery, is an alcoholic, and has defied social conventions time and time again. Oh, and she’s amazing at Maths.

Love her or hate her (and some people really do), Scarlett is driven and doesn’t let anything get in her way. Anything.Scarlett is not only one of the most exciting and well developed anti-heroines; I’d argue that she is one of the best realised characters ever to appear in fiction- male or female. Lassomagicarescarte

Carol Peletier, The Walking Dead

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Sit down, shut up and let me tell you all the ways that Carol Peletier from AMC’s The Walking Dead is a total BAMF (Bad Ass MotherF*cker for those not in the know). Can’t avoid it so I have to throw it out there: pre-outbreak Carol lived with her abusive husband Ed and her daughter Sophia (who she somehow managed to shield from the abuse). Despite Ed’s awful personality and existence during the zombie apocalypse, Carol remained a total sweetheart, sharing supplies with others during the outbreak and making sure that her husband did not cause too much violence in the survivors group (which often meant taking care of things that Ed was supposed to be doing).

This is where the spoilers begin: Carol stepped up to the plate and took care of Ed’s body to prevent re-animation. Carol and Daryl (eye candy archer) bond in the search for Sophia. Carol learns medical aide from Hershel and practises delivering babies via C-section on a walker. She also survives a breach without food and water for a couple days. Co-names baby Judith “Lil Asskicker”. Carol’s true BAMF character is revealed when you realise just how far she is willing to go to keep her group safe. She prepares the children for life outside of their safe compound, the education she wishes she had given Sophia. She straight up kills two sick people and burns their bodies to prevent an infection spreading. She risks her life trying to replace the water that she wasted.

Carol is a BAMF pre and post walker, she can get away with calling Daryl ‘Pookie’. You can’t sway me to think anything else. Dothrakimermaid

Beatrix Kiddo, Kill Bill

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While Quentin Tarantino doesn’t exactly have the best track record when it comes to representing women on screen (*cough* Django Unchained *cough*), in the character of Beatrix in Kill Bill Vol 1 & 2, he created one of the best classic action heroines of all time. By mixing the hyper-masculine genres of westerns and martial arts films, Tarantino unleashed one of the ultimate female icons of action cinema, showing that it’s not only men who can get their hands dirty with the best of them. Beatrix Kiddo surely has an impressive body count for any action hero, brutally slaying at least 40 members of the Crazy 88 in roughly ten minutes. Moreover, she is forced to battle with some amazing female villains too (Lucy Liu in particular provides the kind of visual bad-assery in O-Ren Ishii that was woefully lacking from her character in the Charlie’s Angels film). 

I’ll admit that Kiddo is a, shall we say, “complicated” feminist character – many argue that Beatrix is fuelled by a) the knowledge that she gains from her male teachers, b) her relationship to Bill and c) her status as a mother. Hell, she’s even referred to for most of the first film rather ominously as ‘The Bride’. These are all valid criticisms, but ultimately Beatrix’s skill, ability and surprisingly realistic character development comes out fighting. Like Die Hard is the ultimate Christmas movie, so too are Kill Bill Vol 1 & 2 probably some of the best darn mother’s day films you could possibly show your family.

Now, stop arguing with me, before I use the virtual five-point-palm-exploding-heart technique on your WordPress account. IntrinsicallyOdd

Ellen Ripley, Alien Franchise

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Ellen Ripley, what is there else to say? She’s one bad-ass bitch. Science fiction as a genre has held home to many strong female characters, but very few have even come close to Ellen Ripley. So, what makes Ripley so cool?

Firstly, despite not being very feminine (she has an assertiveness normally associated with men) she is clearly a female character. She shows a motherly protective nature. For example, in the first film she risks her life going back for the cat and in the second film she risks her life for a child. She is also constantly the voice of common sense.

But what makes this woman stand out is what she accomplishes—not just literally—but also metaphorically. In a literal sense, Ripley (sometimes single handedly) stops Alien reaching earth and eradicating the human race about four times, which is a feat in itself, but also metaphorically Ripley kills rape.

Yes, she kills rape.

Alien is a film, not only about space exploration, but also about a woman fighting off and defeating a creature that symbolizes sexual violence. Rather than just have female characters as victims much like the Lambert character was, Ripley overcomes and defeat this terror.

She is forced to fight not only Alien but also members of her own race as well, who see Alien only as a weapon. She is denied the chance to raise her daughter, is forced to kill herself and she destroys god only knows how many ships in order to kill this creature which is a walking embodiment of rape itself. If that’s not badass enough, really what is? KerrySlater

Fiona Goode, American Horror Story: Coven

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This coven doesn’t need a new Supreme. It needs a new rug,” Fiona mutters as she sits back in her chair and lights a cigarette in exhaustion. Her first kill in a while really tuckers her out and yet the next day she throws on the Givenchy and gets right back to business. Since the anthology horror series debuted back in 2011, actress Jessica Lange has been playing tragic and evil women who, if she’s not battling ghosts in a fabulous LA mansion, then she’s beating mental health patients in an 1960’s asylum. In the third season, Coven, Lange played arguably her best character yet as the stupendous and seductive Fiona Goode, Grand Supreme of all witches in New Orleans and one hell of a shit mother! Having sought out youth and beauty to no avail she returns to her old stomping ground to build bridges with her daughter and teach the young witches of Miss Robichaux’s Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies how to defend themselves against the return of Salem style executions.

Fiona’s bad ass in very sense of the word. Not only does she posses the powers of telekinesis, resurgence and knocking back a substantial amount of bourbon in one go, but she also fights for what she wants. Yes she may suck the life out of a doctor in order to maintain her ever-dying youth and yes she may slit the throat of any woman in line to take her crown, but Fiona isn’t afraid to take action when she feels necessary. Although her ways are far from the norm, they are put in place to protect her coven and keep it from crumpling into ruin and I think that is pretty bad ass! JamesTaylorrr

Zelda, The Legend of Zelda

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Arguably Nintendo’s second biggest flagship, The Legend of Zelda has had strong debates over the feminist issues it presents through its character of the same name–Zelda. On the surface, she is nothing more than an objective marker for the protagonist–or even (like many claim) another damsel in distress trope. But after several hours delving into the many worlds of Hyrule, you will discover the truth. Zelda— or more precisely Sheik– is a complete Badass. For those who haven’t explored The Legend of Zelda series yet, Sheik is Zelda’s bitchin’ alter-ego. Her disguise has manifested itself in all sorts of ways over the years, a ninja style magic user, and even a fucking Pirate Queen! It has been pointed out that while she is out of her disguise and back in her dress, Zelda is always more vulnerable. However, Zelda the princess symbolises times of peace, when in war her alter-ego comes out to play. Sheik is a true warrior, and within the gaming world, she’s a refreshing sight to look back upon, one that doesn’t follow the Japanese gaming conventions of only wearing an ‘armoured bikini’ into battle. Matt Lightbound

Have we missed your bad-ass woman out? Comment, and tell us who and why!

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And So It Begins…

Hello & welcome to our new adventure!

Venus From Mars is a place for all types of readers! From the rock chick to the female film buff, and for the guy who likes a little dash of opinion with his reading. Our mission is to provide you with the female slant on the male media!

Despite our different passions, we all agree on one thing; feminist values. Be it the exposure of guitar grrls, or the lack of females in the film industry, you’re sure to find an article that you can dig your heels into.

So, what are our areas of interest?!

The Chicks On Lit team love to read and write about anything that’s Marvel, Mantel, or Manga!

Over at Dames On Games, we’re taking over the console! Finally!

Grrls On Film is giving a new meaning to the name! Covering cinema fads to new releases, we aim to get girls out the ‘Twilight’ zone!

Showing you that it’s not all Top 40 when girls are involved, Off The Record brings you reviews and news from all kinds of scenes and their Rock Queens!

And finally, we come to Running In Heels. These are the topics important to our hearts. And our minds. Exclusively feminist articles, we’re ready to delve into issues of female representation, stereotyping, and sexism.

Madam Media, we're back in business!

Madam Media, we’re back in business!

We encourage you, the reader, to tell us what you think, because opinions are what we do best!

Whilst we’re building up the blog, check out our baby steps, with our original site at http://www.vfmarticles.wix.com

See you soon!

Cat & Alicia