Hellosie, it’s Maisie. There are ways we can begin to positively influence the minds of young women. One of these is mentoring and nurturing.


“Run like a girl.”

“Throw like a girl.”

Show how girls’ impressions of themselves change when they hit puberty really brings home the lack of confidence that some young women have in their abilities.

Who is to blame for this? Men? Women? Society? Certainly not the girls themselves.

Changing society is a pretty big task, requiring a fundamental shift in the (largely unconscious) prejudices that many of us grow up with. Having said that, there are ways we can begin to positively influence the minds of young women. One of these is mentoring and nurturing.

Girls have too few real role models

Women are under-represented at the highest levels in most industries. Decision makers, influencers, editors, politicians – all these roles are dominated by men. This is not only worrying from a business perspective, but also because of the message it sends girls and women around the world: this is a man’s job.

It doesn’t help that women who do make it to senior positions in the public eye are held to often impossible standards and derided publicly the minute something goes wrong. Think Helena Costa, the Portuguese football manager, or Maria Miller, the former culture secretary.

So, perhaps we’re short of female role models in business, sport and politics – but what about our female celebrities? Surely there are still some role models out there? It’s true that some celebrities set a good example, inspiring and encouraging the younger generation, but in an industry that judges women largely on their appearance, these should not be the only role models our girls have.

We’ve heard all this before.

And this is particularly acute among girls in low-income communities, who had few role models in their own networks. If you can’t see any women doing a job you aspire to, then it’s very difficult to believe that you can get there yourself.

Deeper conversations challenge stereotypes and widen aspirations.

So, what’s the solution?

More role models! And not just in the media, either. Evidence and experience show that it is personal relationships and deeper conversations that really make an impact.

Girls need role models they can relate to. Girls need girls.

It’s easy to look at the gender inequality issue as an insurmountable problem, but by sharing our experiences, expertise and passion with the next generation of women leaders, we can take steps towards a more diverse, balanced working world.

Hellosie, it’s Maisie. The reality of rape is still clouded in myth. This is what you need to know.


A study of more than 8,000 adults found that two out of five men and one-third of women thought that a woman was partially to blame for being sexually assaulted if she was out late at night, drinking and wearing a short skirt.

This isn’t shocking because it’s new – it’s shocking because it’s nothing new. Even today, in the midst of marches to highlight injustices against women, archaic attitudes still burn bright. There still exists a mind set that sees nothing extraordinary, repellent or plain wrong about blaming a woman for being sexually attacked simply because of the way she’s dressed or because she’s been drinking.

In the study, there was the usual boorish tosh from people who seem to think that droning platitudes about “personal responsibility” puts the little feminist ladies straight. Perhaps in some misguided attempt to play devil’s advocate.

It bewilderingly suggested that women in short skirts were looking for sex. Erm, no, not all women wearing short skirts are looking for sex and frankly who cares if they are? Looking for sex is not the same as wanting to be sexually attacked. The first is a matter of personal agency, the second is a crime.

As it happens, I’m all for personal responsibility – women looking out for themselves and each other. I remain a huge fan of the “girl pack”, which certainly helped keep me safe on many a wild night out, even when I was wearing one of my special “fuck me” mini-skirts.

However, I’ve come to realise that this angle is a tedious red herring – no one concerned about rape has ever argued in favour of people taking less personal responsibility. No one has ever said: “Women should definitely not look after themselves – they should place themselves in harm’s way at every conceivable opportunity.”

People who are concerned about rape issues want it to be acknowledged that the only person to blame for a sexual attack is… the sexual attacker. Not only because the person being raped has suffered enough without being somehow blamed, but also because the very notion of someone provoking their own sexual attack, with their choice of dress or behaviour, is offensive and ridiculous. Rape isn’t fundamentally about sex or attraction, it’s about violence, abuse, power and opportunity.

If it’s astonishing that two out of five men still require this basic education in who’s to blame for sexual assault, then it’s downright depressing that one-third of women are just as ill-informed. It suggests an attitude among some women that dressing and acting in a certain way deserves a certain vile outcome. A woman-on-woman psychological distancing, a treacherous sense of them and us, that is truly disturbing. Though is it really so surprising or just a reminder that there’s no convenient gender barricade for the kind of social conditioning that produces rape misinformation?

In truth, these prejudices swirl around us all the time, a poison gas to be breathed in by men and women alike. Thus, while it’s supposed to be men who succumb to Madonna-whore syndrome, women are not, it seems, immune. All of us are susceptible to this brutal compartmentalisation, dividing women into the pure and good (who don’t deserve to be raped) and drunken sluts who do.

If people want to talk about personal responsibility, then here’s an opportunity to demonstrate some – by fighting these prejudices all the way.

Devastating news: Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg isn’t your friend. Zuckerberg, who’s promised to combat fake news, may be a bit fake himself, at least where his chummy, spontaneous Facebook posts are concerned, including ones on jogging, reading with his daughter and some excruciating “joshing” with A-listers such as Morgan Freeman.

Apparently, Facebook staff produce their boss’s charming posts. Which sounds almost as though Zuckerberg were a billionaire CEO, heavily invested in personal “brand management”, who’s been putting emphasis on a more presidential, down-with-the-people image. Oh, hang on…

If we’re all feeling a little unfriended right now, it’s small comfort that Zuckerberg appears to be even less friendly towards his Hawaiian neighbours, some of whom are being strongly encouraged (involving legal action) to sell him land for his beachfront estate. Though it’s shocking to find that Zuckerberg isn’t our buddy, it’s even more upsetting to discover some people are so thick they believed the social media mogul was “liking” their cat photos. These people need to stop being so gullible – President Zuckerberg wouldn’t like that.

Scots may be gratified to learn that Mel Gibson was (sort of) responsible for sparking an interest in Scottish independence. Talking about his 1995 film, Braveheart, in which he played William Wallace, Gibson observed: “It certainly woke something up there in Scotland. I know they achieved partial autonomy and I think it is a good thing.” (It’s believed that Gibson was referring to the creation of the Scottish parliament, which followed the 1997 devolution referendum.)

All of which sounds wholly correct. It’s a historical fact that BB (“Before Braveheart”), people in Scotland didn’t realise that they were Scottish – they just thought that they were English with sexier accents or Irish with less sexy accents. Back then, in the dark days of BB, the Scots didn’t even know that Scotland was part of Great Britain. It was only when Gibson appeared as Wallace, shouting “Freedom!” while sporting tartan and wild unbrushed hair that Scottish people finally realised what had been going on with this “United Kingdom” malarkey and, boy, were some of them mad!

After his Braveheart observations, Gibson modestly said: “I like to stay out of the politics of other people’s nations so I won’t go any further.” Such a display of reticence was noticeably absent from his “Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world!” drunken outburst when stopped by Malibu police in 2006.

Sadly, it was also a lost opportunity for film buffs everywhere. I, for one, would love to get the inside track on how other of Gibson’s films shaped world events. Say, how What Women Want paved the way for modern feminism. Or how Mad Max made it all kick off in the Middle East This has film school module written all over it.

Hellosie, it’s Maisie. What every feminist can get their girlfriend for their birthday, and not worry it will be the wrong gift.


Here’s the problem with feminism: it makes Birthday presents very hard. Particularly when it comes to gift-giving. Of course, most women are content with something pink and expensive. But what about those feminists who demand presents that don’t prop up the patriarchy, gifts that don’t give in to gender stereotypes, trinkets that don’t trade in transmisogyny and objects that don’t objectify? It’s a minefield, basically – and one you should tread carefully. Everyone knows feminists don’t have a sense of humour.

Thankfully, there are already numerous gift guides tailored to the feminist in your life – you know, as opposed to all those other women who are not interested in equal-gifting rights. According to these guides, feminist-friendly presents include a Uterus Plush Figure (“an informative tag describes the wonders of the womb”); a $155 (£122) Vagina Charm Necklace and a body-positive iPhone case.

These are all bloody good suggestions, don’t get me wrong. Sometimes, however, a feminist just has more vagina charm necklaces than she knows what to do with. So, I’ve helpfully put together a few more ideas to help you close the gift gap for your girlfriend’s birthday.

1. A nice broomstick

Definitions of feminism can differ so it’s worth quickly recapping what the f-word actually means. Pat Robertson, an American televangelist, might have said it best when he described feminism as a movement that “encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practise witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians”. Now, I hate to make sweeping generalisations, but if you’re going to practise witchcraft, then you’re going to need a broomstick.

2. A witty slogan T-shirt

If you’re a feminist but don’t have a T-shirt proclaiming you’re a feminist, are you really a feminist? Probably not. Women have never had so much freedom to purchase hideous T-shirts that let the world know that they truly do buy into feminism. With slogans such as “Girls just wanna have fun-damental human rights”; “Who needs gender roles when we can have pizza rolls?”; or “Ovaries before Brovaries”, you can show the world how important it is to have equal access to terrible puns.

3. A mullet

The bigger, the better. What, did you think the patriarchy was going to topple itself?

4. A pinky ring

If you like feminism, you should put a ring on it. More specifically, you should put a pinky ring on it. Fred+Far, an LA-based jewellery company, offers a “self-love pinky ring” billed as an anti-engagement ring. “Woman,” the website says, “reclaim yourself … choose power, choose fulfilment, choose choice … choose yourself.” If you think this sounds like some grade A bullshit rather than Serious Feminism™, I’d caution you not to be so cynical and have a little feminist faith. Buy a $325 (£256) pinky ring and equal rights will undoubtedly follow.

5. Some fancy makeup

Don’t let anyone tell you that makeup is a foundation of patriarchal oppression; makeup is war paint. Suffragettes suffered for our right to go to Sephora and we should celebrate this freedom, not debate it. In case you still need convincing that eyeliner won’t ruin your feminist credentials, may I remind you that the Nigerian writer and feminist role model, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, is a beauty ambassador for Boots No. 7. In an interview regarding this role, Adichie says that she wanted to be “part of the message that women who like makeup also have important and serious things that they’re doing in their lives … it’s time to really stop that ridiculous idea that somehow if you’re a serious woman you can’t and should not care about how you look.” So, there you go: makeup still maketh you a feminist. A(wo)men to that. See the pun there?

Hellosie, it’s Maisie. If you’re a woman in your 20s, chances are Facebook thinks you are right for reproduction.


Are you a woman in your mid-20s, perchance?

As a daily Facebook user at the peak of my fertility (well, I assume; its data-gathering hasn’t got that specific – yet), my feed is full of advertisements for Clearblue and its competitors. One called Natural Cycles appeared a few days ago because it sought to “reach women aged 18 to 45 who live, or have recently been, in the United Kingdom”. You might say it’s casting a wide net.

Advertising is one of those areas in which the internet, and Facebook in particular, wears its unsettling insights on its sleeve. Just about every ad you see online says something about you, your habits, interests and desires, as gleaned from the hours you spend pootling around the world wide web. They’re so bespoke as to be utterly unobtrusive – until you see how someone else’s feed differs from yours.

Whatever Facebook’s pushing, it’s possible to find out why by clicking on the arrow on the top-right of any sponsored or “suggested” post, and then then “why am I seeing this?”

The same data is displayed at Facebook.com/ads/preferences, painted in brush strokes so broad as to be comical – think proper, Picasso-tries-a-face Cubist. Mine suggests I am interested in entrepreneurship, beaches, smoking as a treatment of meat, watercolour painting, women’s rights, Royal Caribbean International cruises, parties, and something called “botargo” that I understand to be a sort of salted relish made of fish eggs and pressed into rolls.

At first, I found the crudeness of these approximations somewhat comforting, given how much is made of tech companies’ precise and nefarious data-mining. What dirt could Zuckerburg have on me if I’m defined in his eyes by my interest in ichthyology?

Google’s insights were more accurate but also more generic, flagging me as a fan of all kinds of culture, news and “general info”.

If I had a rather laissez-faire approach towards my personal data, it was because I was given the sense I had control over it. That same Ad Preferences page on Facebook presents you with the ads you’ve interacted with, the information that’s informed them, and whether or not your engagements with brands are served up to your friends as a vote of confidence.

There’s even an option, currently in testing, to hide advertisements that relate to two topics: alcohol and parenting.

The requests for permission and the potential for personalisation may give you a sense of agency, but the reality is it’s so piecemeal as to be negligible. Even giving you the option to review your data is a bit self-serving of the platform: by correcting its understanding of your interests (“are you still interested in ichthyology?”), you’re making yourself an easier target.

Facebook’s and Google’s user guides are the friendly face of their advertising services, specifically simplistic so as to be accessible to people of all levels of tech-savvy. Whether or not it’s by design, the effect is reassuring. The apparent transparency gives you the illusion of control over your data and what companies do with it – the true extent of which no one really knows except them.

In May it was revealed that Facebook had touted its ability to identify teenagers at low moments to advertisers, reminiscent of its infamous 2012 experiment in manipulating its users’ emotions. The same month, it was fined €110m (£94m) by the EU for misleading the commission over what it was able to do with WhatsApp users’ data once it took over the messaging service in 2014.

When Facebook has appeared disingenuous about its intentions in the past, it’s no wonder we might not take it at its word. A Huffington Post/YouGov poll of 1000 US adults, conducted early last year, found that 28% did not trust Facebook with their data “at all”; 34% said they did not trust it “much”.

But nothing screams “breakdown in trust” like a public denial of spying. In June, Facebook felt moved to formally reject an academic’s speculation that it was listening in on users’ conversations through their smartphones’ microphones so as to show them relevant ads.

Of course, Facebook can access the microphone, but only for specific purposes, and only if it’s been granted permission – but the wherewithal seems enough for the theory to be floated on social media whenever an ad seems a little on-the-nose.

The coincidences across Facebook and Instagram, like being swamped with ads for probiotics after a passing mention of them on chat, are easier to explain: Facebook owns Instagram. I get pregnancy tests there, too.

It’s hard to overestimate just how significantly advances in targeting have changed the game of digital marketing, and even electioneering. I won’t begrudge you for having better things to do, but it is edifying to read material geared for the other end of the equation: advertisers.

Facebook’s how-to guide for businesses explains how one might market to a “person who likes cooking but doesn’t own a home and/or isn’t a parent”; so, put into practice, that ropy list of stock images suddenly points to a powerful tool.

When social media is so often experienced as a mundanity, a distraction, or back-to-back photos of strangers’ dogs, it can be easy to forget that we’re the product being sold. But why should any thinly-disguised marketplace need to know something so personal as your relationship status, or favourite honorific?

We’re able to access only the tip of the iceberg of our personal data, but we might as well do what we can. Review your privacy settings. Turn off every option and refuse every permission you can.

Facebook calls it “managing ad preferences”. But make no mistake, it’s a token gesture – no one benefits more from this exchange than they do.

Hellosie, it’s Maisie. On social media is gay themed content restricted. My experience is one of yes it is.


YouTube has supposedly altered its classifications of some LGBTQ-themed videos, following protests from users. The site had been criticised for having non-explicit videos featuring LGBTQ themes classed as restricted, which filters out “potentially inappropriate” content.

The “restricted” designation on self-published videos on YouTube and other platforms allow parents, schools and libraries to filter out content that isn’t appropriate for users under 18. Turning on the restriction makes videos inaccessible. YouTube calls it “an optional feature used by a very small subset of users”.

It’s unclear if the types of videos in question are now being categorised as restricted for the first time, or if this is a long-standing policy towards sexuality that is only now getting attention.

Making some gay themed videos invisible.

In an emailed statement, YouTube said: “Some videos that cover subjects like health, politics and sexuality may not appear for users and institutions that choose to use this feature.” Filtering out what is and isn’t appropriate can be difficult in the case of LGBT topics, which are by definition intertwined with health, politics and sexuality.

YouTube followed that statement with another: “We recognise that some videos are incorrectly labelled by our automated system and we realise it’s very important to get this right. We’re working hard to make some improvements.” The company offered no further explanation.

YouTube content creators can age-restrict their videos themselves. But that’s just one of the ways sensitive content is filtered out. YouTube says it also uses “community flagging”, which means users can flag videos for possible restrictions or removal.

But just because something is flagged, it is not automatically removed. Once a video is reported, YouTube reviews it. If no violations are found by the review team, no amount of flagging will change that and the video will remain on site.

What sorts of content are filtered out in restricted mode can vary by region, based on countries’ community standards. In general, though, it includes “sexually explicit language or excessive profanity”, and violent or disturbing content, according to YouTube’s policies.

The website’s rules also state that videos containing nudity or dramatized sexual conduct may be age restricted when the context is appropriately educational, documentary, scientific or artistic. Videos featuring individuals in minimal or revealing clothing may also be age restricted if they’re intended to be sexually provocative but don’t show explicit content.

Videos that show adults engaging in “activities that have a high risk of injury or death” may also be age restricted. But in short gay themed content is restricted generally. I should know.

Hellosie, it’s Maisie. It’s okay to feel insecure sometimes. We all have bad days. Days we feel bad about ourselves.


We’ve heard it all before: women need to up our confidence game. We need to work on our self-esteem, feel beautiful just the way we are, lean in, be bold, practice self-care, battle our imposter syndrome and be a girl boss. A day doesn’t go by on social media where a friend doesn’t share some sort of inspirational meme created for women – it’s all motivation all the time. It’s … nice, I suppose.

Surely there’s something to it – there’s nothing healthy about walking around hating yourself, and there’s no doubt that self-loathing is a long time female rite of passage. So, I understand the ubiquity of self-empowerment directed at women these days: a lot of us need it.

But when it becomes all-encompassing – when we feel compelled to constantly buck up outwardly and in our inner lives – well, it can all be a bit exhausting. Lately, the anxiety around being more confident is starting to feel like a bigger problem than the insecurity itself.

There’s a booming business in helping women to feel better about themselves; the self-esteem industry never tires of telling us the various ways we consciously and subconsciously belittle ourselves or don’t adequately cultivate our power. We say sorry too much, don’t take our seat at the table, don’t ask for what we deserve.

A lot of these are real, actual problems, but there’s a difference between taking on tangible issues – such as not asking for as much money as men – and being on constant guard for momentary lapses of confidence.

The truth is that there’s nothing wrong with women feeling inferior from time to time. It’s a natural reaction to a culture that largely tells us that’s what we are, and a little insecurity can actually be a decent motivator. Why not sit for a moment with our crises of confidence and accept them as normal, rather than constantly trying to battle through them?

 Feminism isn’t just a fad – and that’s why so many anti-feminists are angry.

I simply don’t buy that the spiral of self-awareness is entirely a good thing. I don’t want to constantly be working on myself, or powering through tough times with validating, feel-good platitudes. We have bad days; we feel bad about ourselves. That’s OK. Believe me.

There’s a longstanding feminist saying that in a culture that disdains women – the way we look, the way we age, the way we act – that loving ourselves can be a revolutionary act. I agree. But part of that self-love has to be forgiving ourselves when we’re not feeling at the top of our game, instead of treating the feeling as a deficiency that needs to be tweaked or fixed.

I do hope that women feel good about themselves. I like that we’re in a moment of feminism where women feel comfortable declaring themselves bosses and badasses, especially those women who have long been treated as if their self-confidence is unfounded or unattractive. I just also hope we can make some room for those difficult days and bad feelings. They’re part of us too.

Hellosie, it’s Maisie. Young women (16-24) are a high risk group for mental health issues. These are the facts you should know.


Psychological distress in women aged 16-24 is at an all-time high, with record numbers admitting to harming themselves to relieve their distress, according to an alarming study.

Experts say young women are now a “high-risk group” and point to links between mental illness and violence or sexual abuse, and possible pressures from the rise of social media.

The Adult Psychiatric Morbidity survey of mental health and wellbeing, carried out every seven years across England, reveals soaring rates of mental illness among young women, who are suffering from a range of common mental health problems, including depression and anxiety.

Worryingly, in this age group, reports of self-harm in women had trebled to almost 20% between 2000 and 2016. Often, they were suffering from anxiety or depression. Yet only around a third of this age group received treatment, compared with more than half of over-50s who self-harmed.

Elsewhere, the study found 13% of young women had post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – three times the rate recorded when the government-funded study was last conducted. Experts believe violence and abuse, including rape, was part of the explanation for the sharp rise in PTSD, but they also said a new screening tool may be detecting more cases.

The gender gap in mental illness has become most pronounced in young people. These results were staggering, but similar figures have appeared elsewhere. The figures on self-harm are particularly worrying. The risk is that without alternative, positive coping strategies, illnesses will become long-term and entrenched.

Exposure to violence and abuse is the biggest predictor of mental illness. However, there is evidence that poverty is also a factor and there are possible links to social media, with the “selfie generation” feeling under pressure over their body image.

There are currently only four models of treatment: therapy; medication; behaviour modification or psycho-education (where people were given information on how to manage their own condition). However, interventions needed to be more targeted to the needs of an individual. At the same time, there needs to be a model that could improve resilience, involving the wider community. Many schools recognised that distressed pupils needed professional help and pilot projects involving schools and mental health providers were supporting youngsters in a variety of ways.

This is not just about putting more professionals on the ground, but also increasing the emphasis on things to help, such as mindfulness. We also need to look at ways to tackle inequalities, as mental health difficulties are associated with inequalities and deprivation.

Young women who self-harm can wait a long time for treatment. By immersing themselves in a positive image, they can feel some enjoyment. This can be enough to lift their mood and eas the problem. But we all have to work at it and help our peers.