Friday, March 08, 2019

International Women's Day - Girl, Lady, Woman

Happy International Women's Day! To mark the occasion I'm reposting my thoughts (again) about the use of the words girl and woman from a year or so back.


I'm a woman and resent being referred to as a girl.

In my mind a girl is a female under 16, a young girl is a girl under 12 and a little girl is a girl under 5 or a girl under 12 of particularly small stature.

Some people say calling adult women girls doesn't matter, but think about it, would you call a male work colleague a boy? If you would then maybe it's fair enough to call your female work colleagues girls, but I'm guessing that most people refer to their male work colleagues as men (or possibly guys) and so should refer to their female work colleagues as women. I've only ever met one man who has ever referred to his male colleages as boys.

There's a time and a place of course to use the word girls - 'Girl's night out' for example, but in that case it's a choice made by a group of women to refer to themselves as girls and is directly equivalent to the use of 'Boy's Night Out'.

Using the word girl to refer to adult women is just another symptom of the increasing sexism of today's society and it tends to infantalise women. The word 'Girlpower' is an attempt to reclaim the word girl from it's infantalising useage.

Sometimes I think focussing on the use of words can detract from the issues. For example news articles sometimes obsessively analyse a politician's use of one word or phrase on one occasion while the issue behind the words isn't touched. However, the use of 'girls' to refer to women is still so persistant I feel it undermines a lot of the work done by feminism to move towards the equality of women and men.


You may also be interested in my blogpost about women's health 'Our Ovaries Ourselves'. 


It's great to see Poetry24 devoting the whole day to poetry for International Women's Day!

Wednesday, January 30, 2019


You travelled alone
posting pieces of time
in sea-views and lines -
rewording your life.

My only map
a patchwork of postcards
with scribbled notes.


Salt on my tongue,
I taste the tidemark
of your travels,
explore you back from absence.

Abandon distance. 

Originally published in Envoi magazine and first posted on this blog in 2007. 

My poem Home Town is now up on the Crafty Green Poet blog, you can read it here.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Tarragona Widow

Sixty years inseparable love, I knew you perfectly,
read the maps of your mind and body unerringly,
rejoiced in your company.

Our love was strong and sure, multi-layered, a symphony
with melodies and harmonies in balance, perfection.
Passion entwined our bodies in dance,
hearts beating in time, part of each other.

Sixty years inseparable love, childless and contented,
Your long lean body cold to touch,
your laughing eyes dead and glassy now,
your loving lips pale, still and grey,
your passion, your humour and vitality
all have drained away.

This empty husk is you,
is all that’s left of you,
is all I have of you.

They can’t take you away from me,
I will hide you away from them,
I’ll keep you safe in a secret place,
you’re mine for eternity.

I don’t want to lose you.

The pungent, rich sweetness of you,
like incense, hangs in the air,
rises with your soul like a prayer,
fills the room with heady aroma.

I breathe you in.
You are part of me once more. 


This poem is based on a true story. 

(Previously published in Quantum Leap poetry magazine and first posted on this blog in 2006) 

I also reposted an old poem on Crafty Green Poet today, you can read it here.

Tuesday, January 08, 2019


She gave me cheap carnations,
petals falling too soon
in the cold room.

I said flowers weren’t the point.

She brought more anyway,
their pale presence
filling the silence.

It was easier than talking.

Originally posted on this blog in 2008 for Totally Optional Prompts

First published in Raindog

I've also reposted an old poem over on Crafty Green Poet, you can read it here

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Three Christmas Films

We saw Gremlins again last night, one of my all time favourite Christmas films with its anti-consumerist message which was undermined by the merchandising campaign that went with it when it was first released.

I also recently watched the DVD of The Christmas Choir which is a lovely, moving, feel good film with a very strong social message. It was originally a TV movie and is based on a true story.

Plus of course no Christmas would be complete without It's A Wonderful Life which every independent cinema seems to show repeatedly at this time of the year.

What are your favourite Christmas films?

Wednesday, December 12, 2018


I self-consciously pocketed
the image of cowbells
as a text-book ‘poetic moment’
to add authentic colour.

Now, looking back
I dwell on the disintegration
of our friendship
that began that day.

And the endless melancholy of cowbells.

originally posted on this blog in 2007

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Taking a blog break

One candle burning by itself becomes
a glitter-ball of warm beauty

but festive lights lined up in banks
on every city centre building are a nightmare
of visual overstimulation
when added to the glare
of bright rainbows and extra lights
round every traffic light,
every car headlight
and every street light. 


I'm having cataract surgery tomorrow and will then be taking two and a half weeks off from blogging and social media to rest my eyes. Though my Etsy shops will remain open. 

Meanwhile a cataract inspired haibun I wrote is now up on The Other Bunny, you can read it here

Friday, October 26, 2018

On Foot

Let me write poems on your feet
in clouds of henna,
take you places you’ve never been.

Come with me to distant galaxies,
my words glowing in your wake
to flare across the night sky

and haunt your dreams

(This poem was previously published in Poetry Cornwall. I made the collage in response to the poem)

First posted on this blog in 2007 for 'Images and Poetry' theme for Poetry Thursday

I reposted another poem today over on my Crafty Green Poet blog, you can read it here

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Our Ovaries Ourselves - for World Menopause Day

(A long post, in which I rant a little and share far more personal stuff than I normally would but it's an important medical issue)

If you have ovaries, don't let the doctors take them from you (unless you've been diagnosed with ovarian cancer in which case you probably should have them removed as soon as possible).

Your ovaries are vital whether you want to have children or not, even beyond menopause. Even into old age, your ovaries produce small amounts of hormones that help keep you healthy. And removal of both ovaries will send you into a catastrophic, immediate menopause.

If you are diagnosed with an ovarian cyst, in the USA or Canada your gynacologist will likely do their best to preserve both your ovaries, whatever your age. If you're in the UK and you're over 50, your GP and gynacologist are likely to recommend the removal of both ovaries.


Late last year I was diagnosed with a very large ovarian cyst on my left ovary. All the nurses I spoke to and my female GP made reassuring noises that I might not even need surgery as many cysts go away of their own accord. The (female) gynacologist I was referred to however had different ideas. She said that as I was 51 (the average age of menopause) then I no longer needed my ovaries. I was to put it mildly shocked and said little other than 'that seems a bit extreme'. Which it was, particularly as tests showed there was very little chance of cancer.

A male GP from my medical practice then phoned me (why him and not my own female GP I don't know) and he too said that I no longer needed my ovaries. Well by that time I had done my research and I raged at him telling him that women who have both ovaries removed are not only catapulted into a catastrophic medical menopause but have a greatly reduced life expectancy and a greater chance of dying of almost any disease (other than ovarian cancer). I also pointed out that I had not hit menopause myself and in fact was barely perimenopausal so should not be automatically considered to be post menopausal just because of my age.

The male GP and the gynacologist obviously spoke to each other and when I had my next appointment with her she reluctantly agreed that she would allow me to keep my right ovary. I asked if she could let me keep the left one and she said no, the cyst was too big. (And sticky as it turned out, it was the size of a large bread roll and stuck to all my internal organs and took hours to remove, much credit to the surgical team). But even on the morning of my surgery my gynacologist was recommending removing both ovaries and I was still needing to fight to keep my right ovary - an hour or so before surgery! I don't understand her reluctance to let me keep my right ovary, she told me that it was very unlikely I had cancer and if I had had cancer and she had removed the right ovary she would still have needed to go back in to give me a full hysterectomy.

Anyway, it's all months ago now and I've made a full recovery and have still not hit menopause, in fact I'm still barely perimenopausal.

Some women might not have the confidence or the energy to fight to keep their ovaries and I know women who have had terrible experiences of catastrophic surgical menopause in situations where it probably wasn't necessary. So do your research and if you are diagnosed with ovarian cysts then make sure your doctors know you want to keep your ovaries.

For World Menopause Day.