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


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


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


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


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.



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!


The Petitioner’s Guide: Know What You’re Signing!

The internet has given us easy access to be part of big changes, the recent selfie craze is just one example. But I’m not going to dwell on charity today. With a variety of websites set up for members of the public to officially share their protests worldwide, it’s more accessible than ever to voice issues and rally for support. For me,  there’s nothing like a good petition or protest; any opportunity to raise concerns or be part of a much needed change should be grasped with both hands! And so, when a petition started being shared across my Facebook newsfeed yesterday, I thought I’d have a look to see what it was all about!

Sophie Jones, a 19 year-old cervical cancer sufferer, tragically died last Saturday. Being denied a smear test by her doctor after months of stomach pain, due to the age restriction of 25, contributed to this; she was not diagnosed quickly enough and therefore treatment came too late. Sophie’s Choice is the online e-petition created as a result of Sophie’s devastating story, urging the smear test age to be lowered to 16 years old. Of course, I thought ‘why the hell not?’, and began filling out the e-petition form –

When I decided to stop.

I realised I had no true, in depth knowledge of the case – only the biased and emotive response of the family plugging the petition and articles that supported such a perspective. Much like many causes with an underlining current of emotions, the petition appears to have gone viral across social media, reaching national news headlines a day after posting. I can’t help but wonder how many people, out of the hundreds of thousands of petitioners, have gathered the facts before signing something that could implement any amount of change to our nationally run systems.

Stumbling across this article, my mind was changed completely. Knowledge has always been and will always be power, especially in protesting. It dawned on me that I didn’t know the procedure’s science; smear tests have been proven to be useless at detecting cancer development in women under the age of 25 due to cell changes still occurring in the cervix. This bears the mandatory testing in younger women as an unnecessary and painful process to put them (including myself) through. If it was more direct to the real issue with the health department – that treatment should be given based on symptoms not age restrictions – I would still jump to signing. But amidst emotion, the right question has, unfortunately, been lost.

So, please, I urge you all – before being swayed by emotional pleas or an entire friend’s list of shares – to look at the facts. Whilst you may feel that what you’re doing is for the best when you’re first seduced by a tragic story, in reality it could be pointless or harmful, or it may be that a completely different issue needs fighting.

A Birthday Blog: 5 Things for Feminists To Actually Do In Their Twenties*

*If they want to, I mean. This is the end of the Third Wave/start of the Fourth Wave and all. Who the hell am I to tell you what to do?

So, today, the 20th March in the year 2014, is my birthday. I am twenty years old. Woo.  


I thought I’d take some time out of my day to reflect on a little internet nugget that has been floating about on my Facebook feed for a while now. No, not that somewhat well intentioned yet misguided “No make up selfie” one, there are enough blog posts criticising that right now. I mean the now infamous “X list of things to do when/before you are Age Y” article.

In particular, now that I am an official member of the twenties club, I’m focusing on a particular article on Thought Catalog that’s done the rounds of late, “Five Things women need to do in their twenties or else the suffragists died for nothing” which is a sort of lovechild subgroup of the horrific “things to do in your twenties” brand of buzzfeed/studentbeans articles. Because if there’s two things that generation Y loves on the t’internet, it’s a) pointless lists and b) THINGS WHICH MAKE YOU FUCKING PARANOID ABOUT WASTING YOUR PRIME ADULT YEARS.

100% Accurate Venn Diagram Lovingly Crafted By Yours Truly

100% Accurate Venn Diagram Lovingly Crafted By Yours Truly

Anyhow, days after people flagged out the obscenity of this article, it turns out it was written by a guy for a joke.  If that information doesn’t point out how shitty and poorly researched the world of ThoughtCatalog is, I give up with you people.

Anywho, in light of my new age group and the busting of the article, here’s I think feminist women should actually do in their twenties. If you want.

1) Vote, and Be All Political and Stuff

Hey! Voting is fun. Women threw themselves under horses and starved themselves so you could have the right to do this, so why not actually fucking do it rather than complaining. Turns out the suffragists were not so much about travelling and getting a tan so much as using your political autonomy to have a say in how your local and national councils represent you both nationally and internationally. Whodathunkit.

She knows where it's at.

She knows where it’s at.

And if you hate politics, why not do something about it? Don’t “forget” to vote or be too apathetic to bother. Campaign for a better system. Make signs and stand in public places and shout for a bit. Petition councils and governments. Get mad. Do stuff. Don’t sit there on your arse.

2) Know Stuff About The World Around You

That means actually knowing stuff that’s happening which can have an impact on a global scale, e.g. that situation in Ukraine’s that’s a been a bit whacked up recently. Do you know what’s going on like a well-informed and person, or are you too busy to care?

Likewise, there are issues that are not traditionally associated with western Europe but still occur here and worldwide such as FGM, forced marriages, lack of access to education, lack of access to knowledge sources, lack of political representation etc etc etc. Go read a few books, watch the news, know stuff. Then think and act on’t.

3) Actually Like Your Body For Once

If you treat your body gently and with respect then you can look however the hell you want to. Fat? IDGAF. Skinny? Likewise. It’s high time for the fat tummy and chubby arms appreciation society. Knowing yourself and respecting yourself is an important step on the way to adulthood. Go do that.

When I Google "Happy Women" a Lot of Stock Images of This Kind Show Up. Don't Be  a Moron and Jump About in Cornfields Like a Pleb (Unless You Want To). Just Be Happy In Your Own Skin.

When I Google “Happy Women” a Lot of Stock Images of This Kind Show Up. Don’t Be a Moron and Jump About in Cornfields Like a Pleb (Unless You Want To). Just Be Happy In Your Own Skin.

4) Know That Intersectionality Exists, Work Towards Understanding It

Being an intersectional feminist does not mean “I am privileging race over gender”. As a white woman I occupy a certain area of inherited privilege. If I understand when I fuck up and use that privilege unknowingly, apologise, learn from it, and do my best to not do it again and help understand and help improve experience of women who occupy a more discriminated sphere than myself (trans women, black women, Asian women, disabled women), then I’ll have at least done something. Privilege is a real shitty thing in this society which we need to change. One of the first things you can do is understand that notion of “privilege”, how you are “privileged”, and how that relates in real time in society.

5) Understand that You Have Rights and Responsibilities, and That Action Must Be Taken When Necessary to Protect Them.

If you don’t pay the slightest attention to anything else in this article, then read this point.

As human beings, we all have rights and responsibilities. I have the right to be safe, healthy, well represented with an autonomous voice – and the responsibility to use them to the best of my ability, and not infringe the rights of others or be an arse to anyone else. If my rights or responsibilities are threatened, or if the rights and responsibilities of any other group I know are being threatened, it’s my obligation to give a crap. Again, whether that’s signing a petition or standing on a picket line, THE TRICK IS TO AT LEAST DO SOMETHING rather than writing a Facebook post about it.

Here’s to doing something decent with the next ten years of my life.

You could always follow VFM on Twitter or Facebook if you don’t like lists OR posts about Things To Do In Your Twenties. Because most articles on here aren’t that. Promise.

Selfies for Science? Hashtag: No Make Up…

Some of you (and by some I mean anybody that has had access to a Facebook account for the last 24 hours) would have found selfies of fresh-faced ladies scattered across (or clogging up) your news feed. ‘What’s so different about that?’ you may ask. Appart from their apparent lack of make-up, each selfie also consists of a list of ‘nominations’, a plug for cancer awareness, and an apparent claim to support the fight against the world’s most prominent illness. But something’s not quite right…

That’s right, things are about to get a whole lot controversial on here!

So, what’s so wrong with a bunch of beautiful women bearing all in the name of supporting the fight against cancer? Nothing. Share those natural faces more often, I say! It’s a sad reality that women feel the need to hide behind a cause to reveal themselves as they truly are, and – perhaps – this is one way to combat low esteem in body image. Yet, the sadder reality is that ‘nothing‘ is exactly the result of the girls’ efforts and attempts. There are very rarely links to fundraising, or hospice support, or evidence that the participants are involved in any form of literal support. There is only an image on a scrolling newsfeed that will disappear quickly into the non-viewed realms of the internet. And it’s a shame.

As for the awareness side of things, I think we’re all more than aware of cancer itself, which – it appears to me – is the only form of ‘awareness’ I’m finding on my newsfeed. It’s a somewhat shallow viewpoint. What we aren’t aware of are the different charities that aid sufferers in a variety of different ways. We aren’t aware of the different forms of cancer. Many aren’t aware of how drastically it can effect someone’s life, or those around them. And we most certainly aren’t aware of how this ‘selfie support’ is meant to transpire into literal aid.

Whilst I respect that people feel the need to show their support, why not show support by contributing to the battle so many are fighting? Go ahead and take no-make up selfies, nominate a bunch of friends to do it too, but throw in a donation to any established cancer research or hospices! Make it worth the post. Take it a step further and get people to sponsor you in a week or month of no make-up – in a modern world seduced by body image, this might be a challenge for you, but supporting the cause should always be a challenge in respect to the sufferers. The idea of ‘no make-up selfies’ could go a long way if it’s real fundraising or support potential is uncovered. Not only is it great in defying the media’s perspective on beauty but a great form of approachable fund-raising that anyone can be a part of! Or do something REALLY crazy! Long hair? Chop it off to help children going through cancer treatment feel happier in themselves (www.littleprincesses.org.uk). Like sports? Join in on your local Race for Life! Or if you’re really crazy, why not jump out a plane for charity?

The thrilling moment I decided to go in for the chop myself! All hair donated to the Little Princess Trust.

It’s not as hard as it looks girls! (The thrilling moment I decided to go in for the chop myself. All hair donated to the Little Princess Trust)

It’s great to see so many people publically displaying their support in one of the biggest (and longest) wars humans have ever begun. But, let’s be honest, it’s going to take a lot more than words and digital code; the ease of just saying the word ‘support’ and hoping for a better outcome undermines the struggle of sufferers and efforts people are going to in order to really support the fight.

Are you a ‘selfie for support’ taker? Did you donate? What are your thoughts on the ‘internet craze’? Leave your comments below!

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All The Single Feminists (Eat Some Ice Cream and Be Proud)

Hello. It’s Valentine’s Day. I’m a feminist, and I’m single.

I like cuddles. I also like Helene Cixous, Caitlin Moran (when she isn’t being horrifyingly blasé about intersectionality and race, or male feminism), Margaret Atwood, Maya Angelou and Angela Carter. I campaign for gender equality whenever I can. I am also looking for a boyfriend.

Bombshell: these things are not mutually exclusive.


That’s not to say that being a feminist on the dating game isn’t crap; navigating the world of internet dating and sounds roughly as appealing as eating a packet of fingernail clippings. Navigating Tinder seems roughly as appealing as eating an entire, fungal-infected crusty toe. In a world where my attractiveness seems to be based on a profile picture with at least thirty filters, I am utterly lost. And yet, as a singleton seeking another singleton for some meaningful interaction, the dating world is the most evil and necessary of necessary evils.

I don’t quite know what caused this irrational want. Perhaps, growing up, it was old uncle Disney and his motley crew of princesses (these were the days before Frozen after all, and I didn’t get access to Princess Mononoke until I had long passed puberty).

San wouldn't be dealing with this crap.

San sure as hell wouldn’t be dealing with this crap.

I personally blame Jane Eyre. At the impressionable age of 12 I picked up a book and gained an unrealistic expectation of love that was dramatic and based on intense mutual respect. Though I now think that Rochester is indeed a bit of a douchebag (Mr Thornton from North and South is totes a better dude, obv.), what with the racism and wife locked up in the attic and all that shiz, the lingering desire to find another person, much like a tick stuck on my leg or a particularly nasty case of gangrene, still won’t leave me no matter how much I shake myself.

So, how to deal with this predicament? Feminism on the one hand, a desire to desire and be desired on the other. The fact that I have to consider these things separately is part of the problem. Gender equality and not being treated in a wanker-ish fashion because I don’t have a Y-chromosome has always been a pressing issue to me since I learnt what was “fair” as a kid. Equally, I’ve always found having a significant other (not in the “let’s snog at a club, have casual and disappointing shag on the sofa, shake hands and call it a day” kind of way) important.

Contrary to the advice of such women’s bibles such as Cosmo and Glamour magazine, politics, specifically feminist politics, is often a topic of conversation that’ll come up in my initial courtship rituals. It is the deciding factor that sorts the proverbial wheat from the chaff. Observe:

A Typical Encounter

B: “I study English Literature!”

RANDOM MAN WHO I THINK LOOKS VAGUELY INTELLIGENT AND ATTRACTIVE: “No way! You’re never going to get a job are you? Has anyone ever told you you look like David Mitchell?”

B: “Yeah way! Of course I’m not! And Unfortunately, yes. Many times.”


B: “Also, I’m a feminist!”

Awkward Pause.


B: “What do you think about gender equality then, mister?”

RMWITLVIAA: “… Are you a lesbian? Aren’t all feminists butch lesbians?”

B: “Why, NO! Some are, some aren’t, in fact that’s a woman’s choice… In fact it’s really interesting-”

RMWITLVIAA: “- sorry to interrupt, but can you hold my drink?”

B: “What?”

RMWITLVIAA: “There’s a woman over there with no obvious political opinions whatsoever. I am going to proceed to make out with her happily, and avoid this awkward situation.”

B: “Oh.”

Cue sad violins, tumbleweed, and Celine Dion’s “All by myself” playing softly in the background.

The reactions I get when I announce that I am a lonely feminist provoke even more outrage among my supposedly “intellectual” friends, who mistake “want” for “need”, and “desire” for “dependency”. Or, less problematically, from my supportive girlfriends, I get well-meant criticism in the form of “Giiirrrrllll, you don’t need a man to be content!” while playing awesome Beyonce songs. Yes, I do not need a man. I ended my last relationship, with (shock!) a man, because he was pretty hopeless and put about as much effort into the relationship as he did into washing his socks i.e. none at all. Rather than mutating into a shrewish she-harpy with talons at the thought of my being forever alone, I am still a competent and capable autonomous lady.

I don’t let my choice of phone or computer or clothes define me as a person, but  it’s rather nice to have the stuff I want from time to time. I don’t need salted caramel ice cream to live, but damn it, it’s bloody delicious and I do want it from time to time.



So, this valentine’s day, let us single feminists who kind of want a man but do not need one unite; let’s go eat salted ice cream together. Or chocolate ice cream. Or vanilla. Or mint. Or maybe you’re more of a frozen yoghurt type of person. Maybe you don’t want dessert at all.

Whatever you want or don’t want, that’s cool. Don’t let anyone judge you for wanting that ice cream, reader. As long as you’re a strong, independent and autonomous lady confident in her own skin, you go ahead and EAT THAT MOTHERF*KING ICE CREAM LIKE A CHAMP.

Metaphor over. I’m going to waddle off to the freezer now.

Like this Article? Then why not follow us @VFMarticles or on Facebook? They don’t come with ice cream, or spoons for that matter, but do contain all the feminist media-based articles you can eat. Virtually, of course. 


A Women’s Best Friend Part One: Standing up for friends


In the media dogs have not had a great time: with reports of dog attacks, the branding of certain dogs as dangerous breeds and the demonization of their species, over the past few decades. Once described as man’s best friend these creatures have found themselves slowly becoming ostracized from society by humans, with many being abandoned, put down and left to become aggressive. So who will come to these canines’ rescue? How about women?

Growing up I made a lot of assumptions of how humans view dogs, believing that the rest of humanity viewed them in the same way I did. Not once in my childhood did I see dogs as aggressive, only as protective; never as dangerous, only as powerful; never as monsters, only as friends (and some of them as jack asses). It also never in a million years crossed my mind that my gender would be a problem when it came to owning a dog. Growing up with and around powerful breeds, I never thought being a girl would disqualify me from owning one of these breeds. However as an adult not only have I been warned against adopting powerful breeds, due to the fact that as a woman, I would be too weak to control one. I have also been told quite frankly that as a woman, I should never own a dog, as woman can never really train any dog without a man.

In these collections of articles, I want to put my argument forward as to why women (without male supervision) not only should adopt dogs, but also why women should consider adopting some of the more powerful breeds. I also want to  set the record straight about the myths about breeds, why some dogs become aggressive,  and how it can easily be prevented. Dogs can bring so much to a human’s life, why can’t they be our best friend too?

Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer Answered?


This week it has been reported that Putin may grant amnesty to the two remaining Pussy Riot members still incarcerated. Maria “Masha” Vladimirovana Alyokhina and Nadezhda “Nadia” Tolokonnnikova, may be freed from a two year “religious hatred” sentence. And it’s about time, right? The Russian Government has been a bit too power-happy and, let’s face it, they have been in a fluster over the band’s actions. However, Pussy Riot has stuck to their guns and kept cool, to the extent of eye-rolling at their prosecutor’s accusations.

Pussy Riot is a Feminist Punk-Rock band, who formed in response to Vladimir Putin being re-elected in 2012. They’re known for wearing bright clothes and balaclavas, and turning up in public places to do protest performances. Most of these performances are campaigns for women’s rights—as sexism is still a massive issue in Russia. They’ve performed in clothing stores and most notably they’ve performed in Red Square.

Their most famous gig to date was in February 2012, where Pussy Riot stormed the altar in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour and sang their ‘Punk Prayer’ called Holy Shit; a punk prayer that calls on the Virgin Mary to kick Putin out of power because of the corruption in the Orthodox Church.

After pressure from celebrities such as Madonna, who took her top off to a stadium audience to show the words “FREE PUSSY RIOT”, to Yoko Ono, who personally pleaded for the release of the band members. And nobody should say no to Yoko. Yet, authorities still proceeded with charging the three members of the feminist punk band. Even after the mass media gave Pussy Riot their support and multiple protests were held throughout the world, did the court budge under pressure?


The news of the possible release of the two remaining members, Masha and Nadya (Katia, the third member, was set free after she appealed in October 2012) came at the same time as the documentary, Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer was shortlisted for an Academy Award. I wouldn’t go as far as saying that the documentary has everything to do with the remaining members’ possible freedom, yet it definitely has played its part. Over the past three months, pressure has mounted for the two women to be freed. In September, reports were leaked to the press about Nadia’s hunger strike, which wasn’t anything to do with her sentence, but to do with the prison conditions she lived in. It was claimed that the penal institution she was sentenced to punished the inmates if they complained about the conditions or about another inmate’s health. In a penal institution in Russia, an inmate will work a 14-16 hour day of hard labour and live off four hours of sleep. Nobody can live like this. It is inhumane.

It wasn’t just Nadia’s hunger strike that caused a stir in the media, putting pressure on the Russian government. In September, thirty members of Greenpeace—who were peacefully protesting against the Russian company, Gazprom, for drilling in the Arctic for oil—were arrested on the grounds of piracy. For Greenpeace to be arrested for piracy is insane. This meant that they could face a 10 to 15 year sentence. Not only were they faced with piracy charges, but the foreign members were held in St. Petersburg, unlike the four Russian activists who were allowed home. Luckily, (yet, this doesn’t have anything to do with luck…) the charges were reduced to a Hooliganism sentence—the same Pussy Riot faced—and slowly the members have been released, however they still have a legal battle hanging over their heads.  If Putin lets the amnesty grant go through, this would also mean that the Greenpeace members could avoid jail.

As all these travesties of justice happen before our eyes, the members of Pussy Riot keep it cool under pressure within their time in prison, and, also in Masha’s case, having her child threatened to be taken away by the social services. To go back to the documentary, Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer sheds light on the case, giving the world a detailed insight of the bravery of these women and their beliefs. In one scene, the members are surrounded by a media frenzy. One journalist tells member, Katia, that they are releasing an album with all of the Pussy Riot protests songs. ‘What are they calling it?’ she asks. The reporter replies, ‘Occupying Red Square.’ Katia smirks. ‘It should be called “Kill the Sexists.”’

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