While speaking to the women featured in my documentary, The Herring Quines, I was struck by the sense of history, legacy, and tradition they conveyed. In fact, these themes seemed to emerge in every discussion I had, both on and off-camera. They emerge again in this chat with my wonderful friend Lucy about how these women made ends meet, the role of mental health, and the wonderful world of fisher fashion.
It’s spring, and graduation looms for many – myself included. To celebrate this/ help process this reality, I gathered wisdom from 17 writers’ commencement speeches to see what they had to say about life after university. Of everything I read, this from Toni Morrison resonated most:
“I know that happiness has been the real, if covert, target of your labors here, your choices of companions, of the profession that you will enter. You deserve it and I want you to gain it, everybody should. But if that’s all you have on your mind, then you do have my sympathy, and if these are indeed the best years of your life, you do have my condolences because there is nothing, believe me, more satisfying, more gratifying than true adulthood. The adulthood that is the span of life before you. The process of becoming one is not inevitable. Its achievement is a difficult beauty, an intensely hard won glory, which commercial forces and cultural vapidity should not be permitted to deprive you of.”
Despite all the changes on the horizon, it’s a process I look forward to.
Photo: Lincoln Memorial University
I don’t know about you, but January’s a slow month for me. The weather here gets so cold that it feels like an effort to do anything that requires going outdoors. To tackle my winter blues, I got to reading, mostly because it’s a cosy indoor activity, and came up with this list to pull me out of my midwinter fuzz:
The women on this list have done some pretty cool things, and you might well recognize some of them. I need all the energy I can muster to push through my last semester of university, so I’m taking a few leaves from these books to get me mentally prepared. If you’re feeling the same way right now, I hope one of these titles appeals to you, too!
Photo: Ian Aberle/Flickr
In March this year, I joined Spectrum, a podcast that looks at the various surrounding gender equality.
I came on board just in time to join their episode on intersectionality, and looked at class. It impacts so much that Jo (who worked on the segment with me) and I found plenty to talk about. To me, St Andrews feels very different to other universities across the UK, but we’re not immune to ‘lad culture’. I wanted to find out just what that is, and what it means to St Andrews students – what do they think it means? Have they experienced it?
Being a history student, I was also curious about how class and gender feed into historical representation – or lack thereof. While historians themselves have worked hard to pick apart the complexities of the past, there’s still very much a stereotype of ‘the Victorian woman’, a domesticated ideal. Scottish history and its diversity is also skimmed over in a wider British narrative. I spoke to my great aunt, whose mother’s experiences as a herring gutter challenge both of these narratives.
Fast forward to October, and our team has grown! We lost two of our members who were studying abroad here, so recruited some newbies to put together our episode on Birth. Kara and I were interested in how birth and motherhood has been represented throughout history. We spoke to art historians, a film scholar and the producer of Downton Abbey to trace how people have tackled anxieties surrounding childbirth and parenting.
You can listen to all of Spectrum’s episodes on our Spreaker page.
And if you’re interested, like our Facebook page to stay posted on the next episode – Love & Sex.
It’s taken me 20 years and 3/4 of a university degree to learn about the amazing achievements of these Scottish women. That’s a problem and we need to address it.
Read the whole thing on ScotsPolitics.
A couple of weeks ago, I took a trip around the East Neuk to St Monans to watch the annual crowning of the Sea Queen. It’s a tradition I first came across in Mike Hildrey’s documentary, Sunrise to Sunset: East Neuk Fishing, and a prime example of the role of women in a fishing community. Since this is exactly the topic I’m examining in my own documentary, I seized the chance to see the ceremony first hand.
I originally wrote this piece a while back for Scotspolitics, however it was reposted on the Opinion Panel (the same place as ‘Guiding girls’ was a few months ago). There’s a lot of great stuff on there, so do check it out!
Here’s the link to my piece – enjoy, and don’t forget to comment, rate and share!