The F Word

There is a word that has developed a bit of a bad reputation. Yes, I’m talking about feminism.

I don’t call myself a feminist (even though I am), because there are people out there who misunderstand what that word means. Do I believe in women’s rights? Of course I do. Do I think male privilege exists? Of course it does. Do I believe there is inbuilt gender bias in our society? You’re damn right I do. Would I like to wave a magic wand and change all this? You bet. By definition, I am a feminist.

Just for clarification, here is the Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of ‘feminism’:

“The advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.”

Okay? Are we all agreed on that? Alright, moving on.

And yet, I choose not to identify myself using that word. Why? Because I’m concerned that if I do, there are people who won’t take me seriously.

The sad reality is that the debate on gender inequality has long been centered around the issue of ‘man-hating feminists’. All feminists are lumped together under the one umbrella, and the F word has become something that even women who believe in feminist ideas don’t want to be associated with.

I’m not trying to play the blame game here. Feminists are often angry (and rightly so) about the inequalities women face. In turn, men come across this anger, feel it is directed at them, and lash out in response. Well, that’s productive… Issues like this tend to polarise people, so of course there are going to be opposing sides of the debate. But this kind of us vs. them/’I hate you, you hate me’ debate gets us nowhere.

Gender inequality is much more accurate name for this issue than ‘feminism’, because there are inequalities on both sides. Unfortunately, these are not distributed evenly and women tend to bear the heavier side of the scales.

As a young, white, Australian woman, from a small, middle-class family, I have privileges. Both my parents obtained university degrees and used them to good effect. My dad was the main bread-winner, while my mum stayed home looking after me and doing part time work. She was lucky that she had this option, as many women do not. But do you not think that my dad would have jumped at the chance to be home all day with us too? Unfortunately, someone had to support the family financially. My dad had (and still has) a well paying job, which meant that my mum was not forced into the workforce and I was not forced into childcare. My mum did not have to fight for adequate maternity leave and risk not having a job to come back to. As my years steadily advance, I am faced with the prospect that someday I will want to start a family of my own. And, when that happens, what will become of my career?

As of right now, I have very little career to speak of. Due to health issues I’ve had in the past, I can’t work and simultaneously study full-time. So, here I am, at 24, finally studying a degree in a subject I’m passionate about, with the goal of then getting a job that uses those skills – a job that pays well, and that will provide me with choices when the time comes to have kids.

Anti-feminists argue that having a child is the woman’s choice. Which is (mostly) true. They argue that if a woman chooses to have a child she knows what the deal is, so she shouldn’t complain when she’s forced to take time off work. However it is not our choice that we are the only gender of our species who can bear children. And it’s not men’s choice either. It’s just biology. So why is it that women are often forced to choose between their career and their family, while men are not? There are plenty of stay-at-home dads out there, and I think that’s fantastic. But the reality is that women are the ones expected to become the main carers for their children, while men are expected to provide for their family. This separation of gender roles is one thing that really irks me. Our culture has been this way for so long, that it’s not going to change overnight. But so many women accept their position in society without asking why. This inbuilt gender bias is something that all people experience and perpetuate, sometimes unknowingly.

Another anti-feminist argument that annoys me is the one that goes something like “Men and women are different and have different needs so gender equality is impossible”. True, I have different needs to my male counterparts. But the issue is that my needs, as a female, are often not taken into account as much as a man’s. The best example of this is the ‘tampon tax’. In Australia, sanitary products such as tampons and pads are taxed. Condoms are subsidised and therefore cheaper than they would be if they faced the same tax as sanitary products. Condoms are important. Let’s just get that out of the way. If you’re having sex, you should use them (unless you’re trying to get pregnant, obviously). But sex is optional (again, unless you’re trying to have kids…), it’s a choice. Periods are not a choice. Trust me, if they were optional most of us women would choose not to have them!! They’re a pain (literally). They’re uncomfortable and unpleasant and a hassle. But we put up with them because we have to. What’s crazy is that the products we need to manage our periods safely are not subsidised. We pay what they cost because we don’t have a choice. But how great would it be if each month your period didn’t cost you the best part of $20?

There are many other ways in which women are disadvantaged over men. Why is that? Because the people who have the power to change these inequalities are predominately men. Now, before you put me in the ‘man-hating’ box, let me just say this – men are great. To quote Mrs. Banks in Mary Poppins, “Though we adore men individually, we agree that as a group they’re rather stupid”. There are many men in my life that I love and respect – my father, my brother, my boyfriend, my grandfathers, my friends, and my nephew (still a boy, but will be a man before too long!) – and their rights mean just as much to me as my own. I’m a lover, not a hater. I don’t hate on individuals. That’s mean. What I hate are ideas and ideologies that are illogical, make no sense, and are founded on fallacies. And anyone who argues that male privilege doesn’t exist, that women have everything they need and should stop whining, is making an illogical argument. Yes, there are issues that affect men more than women. More men are homeless, more men take their own life, and many men feel they cannot be open about their feelings for fear of not being ‘manly’ enough and being judged accordingly. But these issues are seperate to that of women’s rights and should not be bartered against each other. The ‘feminism’ issue gets clouded by ‘men’s rights’ groups which are mostly arrogant white men with privileges complaining that they can’t express their feelings, therefore they are underprivileged. In my mind, these groups just reaffirm the idea of male privilege and make it harder for gender equality to make progress.

As far as I’m concerned, regardless of what gender you are, if you don’t support women’s rights, you’re sexist. If you buy into gender stereotypes, and think a woman’s place is in the home, you’re sexist. If someone mentions the statistics on domestic violence against women and you find yourself retorting with stats on men’s suicide rates, you’re sexist. If you don’t think feminism is a good thing, you’re sexist.

You don’t have to agree with someone’s methods to agree with their ideas.

I have to be a feminist. Because, if I wasn’t, I’d be sexist.

There’s no grey area on this one.

Don’t be an idiot. Be a feminist.

 

But maybe a ‘small f’ feminist for now, until the f word loses some of its power…

 

 

Advertisements

Sometimes (I think I’m over you)

I’m sure everyone single one of you can relate to the process of trying to get over someone.

Process is definitely the right word.

It doesn’t happen overnight and it’s not always permanent.

When you first lose someone you care about it hurts. No matter how it happens. But then, after a while you suddenly realise it’s 4 in the afternoon and you haven’t thought about them yet today. And soon you can go the whole day without them entering your thoughts at all. But, inevitably, they’ll be back before too long. You can be enjoying your day, going about your business, and then you see someone across the street that looks like them or their favourite song comes on the radio.

I know in my case, I find it takes a really really long time to fully get over somebody. And I’m talking months, if not years. That’s my personal experience and I know everyone is different. But it’s incredibly tough when the other person moves on before you, no matter how long it’s been since you were together.

I wrote this song quite a few months ago, about this very situation. About the moment when you’ve got enough distance from everything to realise that maybe the other person is not entirely to blame for what happened. About the feeling of loving and hating them at the same time. And about those times when you really miss them, but you know they’re never coming back.

Just to clarify, I am now completely over said person. And writing this song actually helped me work that out. This isn’t an unusual step in the songwriting process for me and it’s one of the reasons why I love it. The song is definitely more about me than about the other person.

We all get our hearts broken at some point or another. That’s just a fact of life. But it doesn’t make it any easier to live through.

But we do get through it.

We all come out the other side.

Eventually we stop thinking about them all the time, and only think about them sometimes. And then you reach the point where, when you do think of them, it doesn’t hurt anymore.

 

(One benefit of getting my heart broken over and over again is I get plenty of songwriting material! 😛 Listen to ‘Sometimes’ and my many other songs on similar topics any time you like on my Soundcloud page.)

Sometimes

It’s been a while since I heard from you
It’s been a while since you heard from me too
But lately you’ve been on my mind
I can’t explain it, so don’t ask why

Sometimes I think I’m over us
That all the memories have turned to dust
But then you enter my thoughts and I can’t make you leave
Just like I couldn’t make you stay with me

[chorus]
Sometimes your eyes
Make me fall or make me fly
Sometimes your voice
Makes me scream or just forget all the noise

I had a dream about you last night
I met your girlfriend and we had a fight
She thought I was trying to win you back
I said “Honey, don’t worry – I’ve never had the knack”

Coz guys come around but they never wanna stay
I don’t know why they all walk away
I think sometimes I hold on too tight
Or I let them walk away when I should put up a fight

[chorus]

Why did I let you treat me this way?
Why did I hold back everything I wanted to say?
Why did I let you walk away?
Why did I never once ask you to stay?

It’s been a while since I heard from you
It’s been a while since you heard from me too
But I had a dream about you last night
And I missed you so much that it made me cry

[chorus x2]

The Summer of ’44

Any songwriter knows good songs don’t always come easy. They also don’t always turn out right the first time.

There have been a few of my songs where the original idea has been good, but my execution was a bit below par. In some cases I’ve given up at this point, but in others I’ve come back to the song months or even years later and tried to make it the song it could be.

The song I’d like to share with you today is in exactly that category.

I first had the idea for “The Summer of ’44” when I was about sixteen. I had a bash at writing it but was never very happy with it. So it’s sat there for at least six years, just waiting for me to be ready to come back to it again. Tonight was that moment.

I’m not going to talk too much about what the song is about, because it’s pretty self explanatory and I don’t believe in spoilers. The audio quality of my recording is pretty terrible, so the lyrics are below if you can’t make them out at times.

Hope you like it! 🙂

The Summer of ’44

You sit down to write him a letter
Wishing life would get a little better
But maybe the war will end soon
And bring him home to you

The nights are long and the days are slow
And your rations always seem to be low
Five months is far too long
To be apart from someone you love

You don’t know how you’re gonna get
From one day to the next
But you do know that you’ll never forget
The summer of forty four

[chorus]
Always waiting for the letter telling you he’s coming home
Always hoping things will get better each day you turn on the radio
You listen for the words “the war is over”
Children hunt for four-leaf-clover
You hope that they’ll remember life before
The summer of forty four

Now the water supply is going down
And the fields on the farm are brown
Tom gets sick and you can’t afford the doctor
Money is running lower than the water

You don’t know how you’re gonna get
From one day to the next
You wonder if anyone will ever forget
The summer of forty four

[chorus]
Always waiting for the letter telling you he’s coming home
Always hoping things will get better each day you turn on the radio
You listen for the words “the war is over”
Children hunt for four-leaf-clover
You wish you could remember life before
The summer of forty four

You remember the death of your baby brother
You remember the day you became a mother
And you remember too well the day he left
There are some things you can never forget

One day there comes a letter
But this one won’t make anything better
You know what it says before you read it
But you just don’t want to hear it

Now you know you’ll never get
From one day to the next
And you pray to God to help you forget
The summer of forty four

[chorus]
Always re-reading the letter telling you of the final blow
Remembering when you were together, knowing he’s never coming home
Sometimes you think it must be a dream
The children ask you if it’s real
You wish they didn’t have to endure
The summer of forty four

Oh, the summer of forty four

Let Yourself Be Colourful

I’ve always tried to live my life without regret. I know I will make mistakes along the way, because everyone does, but I’ve always planned to just learn from them and move on.

The reality is that I’ve made a lot of mistakes and a lot I haven’t learnt from. And I often dwell on these mistakes and wonder how I could have avoided them.

In my relationships with other people I’ve often made choices that haven’t worked out for the best in the long run. I’ve lost relationships, I’ve lost friendships and, in some cases, both.

Recently I realised that one of my more common mistakes is to play down how I feel. It’s probably due to all my years of theatre classes, but I got very good at covering up how I really feel so that everyone around me thinks I’m an incredibly laid back, chilled out, happy person. If I were to put this bluntly I’d say I’m good at hiding my feelings. When I’m upset I pretend everything’s fine. When I’m overjoyed to the point where I feel like I’ll burst, I act all casual. I’m that annoying female who says “I’m fine.” when I’m really not. This makes romantic relationships problematic, and I think that this has been my downfall in the past.

We’re all afraid of being hurt. Human frailty is a part of who we are. But sometimes we can take it too far. Sometimes in our scramble to avoid getting hurt by others, we end up hurting ourselves.

I started this pattern at a young age. As a child I was extremely badly bullied in school, and I learnt very quickly that getting upset in front of the other kids just led to more teasing. I was told not to react, so that the bullies would think they weren’t hurting me and give up. So I desperately tried not to show how hurt I was every time someone made a joke at my expense. I taught myself not to cry when no one wanted to play with me at lunchtime. If I couldn’t contain my emotions I hid in the playground somewhere until I could.

In the last twelve odd years, not much has changed.

When I’m on my own, my emotions are like a roller coaster. I can feel elated, crushed, embarrassed, excited, overjoyed and pissed off all in one afternoon. If I’m around other people, I doubt anyone else would notice the changes in how I feel.

What this means is that people don’t realise when they hurt me, or when they make me happy. I can feign indifference, then come home and cry all evening or dance around my bedroom (depending on which way it went).

As a teenager, when I liked a guy, I would constantly write in my diary something like “But I can’t do [such-and-such], because then he might realise I like him!” – guess what! I still behave like that! When I really like someone I work overtime to be cool as a cucumber. I don’t drop hints, I don’t obviously hang around him all the time… I might watch him subtly from the other side of the room but that’s about it. And then I wonder why I’m still single…

I’ve been single for three years now, with a little blip half way through which didn’t amount to anything. I used to think it was because the guy met another girl he liked more, so he dated her instead of me. But now I’m not so sure. Now I wonder if it wasn’t my fault all along. I was pretty casual when I was with this guy, especially when our mutual friends were around. I let him make most of the moves and when he stopped talking to me I didn’t ask him why. I tried so hard not to be the clingy, desperate girl that I think I went too far the other way. I went so far the other way that he thought I wasn’t that interested.

This is where I let us both down. Because I was interested. I was really interested. I didn’t just like the guy, I really liked the guy. But I didn’t want to be too forward or too pushy, or basically do anything that might drive him away. And what happened? He left.

So here comes the moral of the story – don’t always stay in the grey emotions. Sometimes let yourself be black or white. Or silver or orange or purple! Let yourself have colour. Let your emotions show sometimes, bring them out when they really matter. Don’t let people you care about think you don’t care at all. Don’t lose them because of something you didn’t say.

But also know when to put on the “everything’s okay” face, because sometimes it’s useful!

You have to open up, to let people see who you really are and what you really feel.

Meet a nice guy? Tell him how nice he is. See a pretty girl at the bus station? Compliment her scarf or her eyes. Your boyfriend of two months dumps you in a cafe and says it’s because things are getting “too serious”? Tip his coffee in his lap and walk out.

Okay, so maybe don’t make a habit out of dumping coffee on people – only use that one when necessary!!

The main thing is, don’t be grey. Don’t stay in the safe zone. You may think no one can hurt you there, but that’s only because no one can reach you.

Let people reach you. Let yourself be a person people will want to reach. Be a person who has colour, who has light and shade.

And, most importantly, be you.

Because, let’s face it, you’re pretty awesome!

Kodak Moments

This week I wrote a song called ‘Kodak Moments’.

It was one of those songs that just happened, as if it was writing itself. I didn’t even realise what I was trying to say until I’d completed it.

You can listen to it at the bottom of this post, but please read it through first.

 

Life is made up of moments.

Whether we want to forget or remember them, a moment is just that – a moment. Once it’s gone you can’t get it back. The world keeps spinning around the sun and, even when bad things happen, life goes on. People are born, people die. But, somewhere, life always goes on.

Lately it seems has been a lot of tragedy around the world. A few weeks ago 50 people were killed, and 50 more injured, in a mass shooting at an Orlando LGBT nightclub. Last Sunday saw the worst terrorist attack carried out by Islamic State, which left nearly 300 Iraqis dead on the streets of Baghdad. In the last few days we have seen 2 black American men unnecessarily killed by police, which sparked a surge of posts online sporting the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter, and protests all over the USA. At one of these protests 4 gunmen tried to take justice in their own hands and shot at white police officers who were standing by in case they were needed. 12 officers were shot, 5 fatally.

Looking at these incidents of violence, you’d have to be a pretty callus person not to feel some sadness.

 

But please don’t feel hate. Hate is not a productive response. Feel upset, sad, sympathetic, empathetic, even angry. But don’t feel hate. Don’t fight hate with hate, don’t fight guns with guns.

Do you want to see a change in the way we, as humans, coexist with each other? Then work to achieve harmony. Harmony means working together to find a solution. Harmony means all sides pulling together for the greater good. It doesn’t mean shooting at each other or discriminating against a particular religion, race or gender. It means offering each other a helping hand when things go wrong.

Because things do go wrong.

We’re human. We all make mistakes. Some of us make bigger mistakes than others. But we can also all make amends.

You only get a certain number of moments alive. And you never know exactly when your quota is going to run out. So make them count. Don’t spend your moments hating each other. Let’s move forward together, not divided.

Do #BlackLivesMatter? Of course they do.

But #AllLivesMatter.

#YourLifeMatters.

So make it full of great moments. Meaningful moments.

Your moments.

Kodak Moments

My life fit into a dozen boxes
I was only seventeen
Birthday cards and broken hearts
And everything in between

I tried to stop the earth from spinning
I tried to slow it down
But now I know that’s the way it goes
It keeps going around

[chorus]
This great big world keeps us moving
What great big dreams are you pursuing?
It’s time to start a brand new chapter
Of the Kodak moments we try to capture

We fit into a million moments
A million miles away
I’m so far from where you are
And I can’t seem to find a way to stay

I wonder if we’ll meet again
In another time and place
I wonder why I feel like I
Am always losing the race

[chorus]
This great big world keeps us moving
What great big dreams are you pursuing?
It’s time to start a brand new chapter
Of the Kodak moments we try to capture

The years roll on and the years roll fast
Nothing stays the same and nothing lasts
We make mistakes and we make amends
Things begin and then they end

My life fit into a dozen
And my hand fit into yours
A memory under lock and key
Where secrets are stored

And even though you were just a boy
And I was just a girl
I’ll never forget the time we spent
Spinning around with the world

[chorus]
This great big world that keeps us moving
And the great big dreams we were pursuing
It’s time to start a brand new chapter
Of the Kodak moments we try to capture

[chorus]
This great big world keeps us moving
What great big dreams are you pursuing?
It’s time to start a brand new chapter
Of the Kodak moments we try to capture

The Kodak moments we try to capture

The Tale of a Canberra Garden: Winter

Today was one of those spectacular Canberra winter days, where it was absolutely freezing but there was not a cloud in the sky.

Garden web-1

These are the days I remember from my childhood here. I have memories of dancing on a frosty lawn before school, seeing how much of the ice crystals I could crush before our bright red Toyota Camry station wagon left the garage. We had a large tree stump in our backyard and I used to jump off it to see how precise I could make the impressions of my shoes on the icy grass.

I wasn’t doing anything like that this morning (in fact, I spent the entire morning in bed finishing the book I was reading) but, while I made my morning cup of peppermint tea, I stood at the kitchen window admiring the crystals on the ground and the crystal clear blue sky.

The last few weeks have had a lot more rain than usual for the time of year, so it’s a relief to see my beloved winter weather coming back. I don’t much enjoy numb fingers (which are just a fact of life here in the winter) but I can cope with anything as long as the sun shines.

When I lived in New Zealand as a teenager, the weather used to get me down – it just rained. All year round. In winter we could go for weeks without seeing the sun and I used to sit in my room, watching water droplets run down my window, missing the Canberra frosts and fog.

This afternoon I hummed to myself (and to my cat, who was lurking in the bushes), as I hung out the washing. I admired my broad bean seedlings that are growing rapidly after all the rain we’ve had.

Garden web-2

I also noticed that, by some freak of nature, the hibiscus in our pool house (which acts like a glasshouse) are still flowering. They haven’t noticed the frosty nights and are carrying on with their gay blooms as if it was mid-summer. The irony of this is that we’ve spent five summers trying to coax them to flower and this year they finally got the hang of it – it seems that now they’ve started they can’t stop.

Garden web-3

As I headed inside I had to walk up the steps onto the deck, which leads to the back door. The deck is surrounded by the bare tendrils of our wisteria. Bare apart from its velvety seed pods, which I can’t help fingering on my way past.

Garden web-5

In spring the vines will be covered in giant sprigs of glorious purple flowers. Bees will be everywhere. Soon after the flowers drop, green shoots will appear and in a few weeks the entire deck will be encased in a lush green hedge. We’ll eat our summer evening meals out there, swatting away mosquitoes. But soon enough autumn will come around again and the leaves will turn yellow and fall. Mandy (the cat) will make her usual autumn bed in them.

I looked around the backyard before I went back into the warm house and my eyes were caught by the ornamental Manchurian Pears, with their branches covered in buds ready to burst in a few short weeks. Already other trees around town have started to blossom and we even have some jonquils out in our garden too.

Garden web-4

It’s an encouraging sign of the next season, just around the corner.

Canberra winters always seem short to me. I just get used to the cold and I suddenly notice it’s getting warmer. It won’t be long now before I stop needing to wear my woollen coat every time I leave the house. That won’t be happening this week though – on the weekend we saw the first snow on the Brindabella ranges to the west. I watched it falling from our kitchen window on Friday afternoon. It had melted by lunchtime the following day, but it’s made the last few days extra cold.

So, for now, I’ll huddle into my cosy bed every night and try to avoid spending too much time out of doors during the day. But when I do step out and look at the blue sky with a smile on my face.

Life is good, whenever the sun shines 🙂

And if all else fails I just listen to this song:

My Top 10 Chick Flick Picks

I love chick flicks. If you don’t, I suggest you look away now, because this post is dedicated to my favourite cheesy rom-coms with their cliched declarations of love and predictable boy-gets-the-girl endings.

I’ve seen plenty of click flicks in my time and I also have a habit of re-watching my favourites over and over until I know each line from memory. When I’m sick in bed I like nothing better than to curl up with a cup of tea and watch a girl meet a boy and fall in love against the odds. Either that or have a Downton Abbey marathon, but I’ll leave that for another post…

So, without further ado, here are my top 10 favourite chick flicks!

Note: All these movies have happy endings 🙂

#10 – The Vow (2012)

Inspired by true events, this movie has it all – romance, gorgeous lead actors, comic moments and plenty more moving ones. After Paige (Rachel McAdams) is injured in a car accident she wakes from a coma to find she cannot remember the last few years of her life – including her relationship and marriage to Leo (Channing Tatum). As Leo struggles with his wife not knowing who he is, Paige struggles with being married to a stranger and her life not looking at all like she expected it to. Leo works to rekindle their romance and help Paige regain her memory, but it’s not plain sailing. But that is why we love chick flicks – if it was all easy and straightforward it would be a very boring movie!

#9 – While You Were Sleeping (1995)

I promise this is the last movie on my list that involves people in comas!!

This loveable rom-com is considered one of the films that launched Sandra Bullock into stardom, and it’s not hard to see why! She makes her character, Lucy, seem like a real, genuine, kind person – even though she pretends to be a stranger’s fiance and lies to his family! Lucy’s life seems to be a lonely one. She works as a fare token collector at a Chicago train station, but her life turns around when falls in love at first sight with Peter Callahan (played by Peter Gallagher), even though they’ve never actually spoken. When Peter accidentally falls into the train tracks on Christmas Day, Lucy rushes to his rescue and saves his life. When she accompanies him to the hospital there is a misunderstanding and a nurse introduces Lucy to Peter’s family – as his fiance. Lucy panics and doesn’t know how to tell them the truth, but then once she gets to know the family it gets even harder. Especially when she meets Peter’s brother Jack… The supporting cast in this movie are fantastic – especially Glynis Johns playing Peter’s grandmother – and watching the gorgeous Sandra Bullock help her character navigate a tangled web brings this movie to life.

Honourable Mentions: If you enjoy Sandra Bullock in chick flicks roles, I can highly recommend 2002’s Two Weeks Notice (co-starring Hugh Grant) and The Proposal (made in 2009 with Ryan Reynolds). Bullock has a real talent for making eccentric characters believable and likeable.

#8 – Love Actually (2003)

If you haven’t seen Love Actually in the last 13 years, you’ve probably been living under a rock. With a stellar cast, this movie follows ten different stories which intertwine as the movie progresses. There’s weddings, breakups, new romances, inconvenient romances and everything in between. My favourite parts of the film include Hugh Grant’s dance scene, the Claudia Schiffer moment, and the whole plotline of 8 year old Sam who has fallen in love for the first time. Set in the lead-up to Christmas this is one of my favourite holiday movies, but I’m happy to watch it any time of year. I also love the ending of this film – never failing to make me smile, this is definitely a feel-good film!

Honourable Mention: This format of ensemble cast and multiple intertwining plot lines was reused in the American rom-com Valentines Day (2010). I only watched that film because Taylor Swift was in it, but found it to be enjoyable enough to watch again. If you like these ensemble films you might enjoy Valentines Day too, although I reckon Love Actually is far superior.

#7 – The Holiday (2006)

I’m just going to come right out and say it – this is one of my all time favourite movies. It’s full of everything I love and I’ve watched it too many times to count. Watching this movie is like wrapping yourself in your favourite warm blanket. I know how it all ends, but a little part of me still wants to see how it all turns out. And just when I thought I couldn’t love it any more, I watch the trailer and discover they used a song by The Corrs as the ‘trailer theme song’. I’m well and truly sold now… Anyway, this movie is about finding love when you least expect it. Two women (both recently single) switch houses for the Christmas holidays. Amanda (Cameron Diaz) lives in LA and Iris (Kate Winslet) lives in the English countryside. We watch them adjust to different countries and houses, and then we watch as they each meet a new man. There is sub-plot of Iris developing a friendship with Amanda’s elderly neighbour, a retired screenwriter, and he gets all the best lines of the film. There’s lots of laughs and plenty of heart, so it’s no wonder this is my favourite Christmas film.

#6 – Letters to Juliet (2010)

When I first saw the trailer for this I knew it was going to be my kind of movie. Mainly because the ‘trailer theme song’ was Love Story by Taylor Swift. But when I saw the movie I was blown away by how charming the story is. When aspiring journalist Sophie (the gorgeous Amanda Seyfried) travels to Verona with her fiance for a ‘pre-wedding honeymoon’, she discovers the place where the heartbroken leave letters for Shakespeare’s heroine, Juliet, and the women who answer them as ‘the secretaries of Juliet’. Sophie finds a letter from 1957 hidden in the wall and is so touched by its contents she decides to write back to the woman who wrote it all those years ago. Within the week the now elderly Claire (Vanessa Redgrave) arrives in Verona with her handsome but irritable grandson, Charlie (Christopher Egan). Charlie and Sophie take an instant dislike to each other, but the lovely Claire and her story get under Sophie’s skin. So much so that when Claire announces she has come to find her childhood sweetheart, Lorenzo, (that she wrote to Juliet about 50 years before) Sophie decides to tag along and starts writing about their journey. There are happy endings all round, after a few bumps along the way for everybody, and by the end of the movie Sophie has found out what really matters in her life. This film has gorgeous scenery, being almost entirely filmed in Italy, combined with a great soundtrack of Italian music and Colbie Caillat pop numbers – what’s not to love?!

#5 – 27 Dresses (2008)

What would a chick flick list be without Katherine Heigl? There are several of her films that I love (see Honourable Mentions) but this is by far my favourite. The story of Jane (Heigl), the perpetual bridesmaid who never sees her own dreams fulfilled, and how her life changes course when her younger sister gets engaged to Jane’s boss – who Jane is secretly in love with. Jane also meets Kevin (James Marsden), the sexy but cynical guy who is not at all what she had in mind. Things are complicated by the fact that Kevin is actually a journalist, who writes the wedding vow column that Jane is a big fan of – is he actually a cynic who “spins romantic crap” for girls like Jane? Or is all his cynicism about marriage just a smoke screen to protect a sensitive heart? You can probably work that one out for yourself but the movie is well worth watching to find out.

Honourable Mentions: Other Heigl chick flicks that are worth the watch include The Ugly Truth (2009) and Life As We Know It (2010). There is also Killers (2010), which has the romantic elements of a chick flick but plenty of action (fast car chases and people shooting at each other) to keep male audience members happy too.

#4 – My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002)

Including this film on my list seemed particularly appropriate as My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 was released earlier this year. I haven’t actually seen it yet, but I doubt it could be better than the original! The first movie started as Nia Vardalos’s one-woman show, until one night Rita Wilson was in the audience and she convinced her husband, none other than Tom Hanks, to see it…and the rest is history! This delightful movie follows the story of Toula (Vardalos) who shocks her large Greek family by dating handsome teacher, Ian (John Corbett), who is decidedly un-Greek. This is a story that proves love can conquer all, with lots of wonderful characters to meet along the way.

Honourable Mention: I love Nia Vardalos and if you enjoy her in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, you’ll no doubt also enjoy her in My Life In Ruins (2009), in which another set of delightful characters help the main character find her way back to herself.

#3 – Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001)

What’s not to love about this movie? The three leads are wonderfully dynamic together and the script is clever and funny throughout. Hugh Grant’s role as Daniel Cleaver, the guy who doesn’t get the girl, is just as entertaining as his others, and you’ve got to chuckle about the use of the name Darcy used in connection with Colin Firth! Renee Zellweger is charming as Bridget, the slightly off the rails 30-something, who is desperately seeking love. This is another film that shows us it’s not always about love at first sight, but that love is out there for all of us. Except maybe Daniel Cleaver…

#2 – Sleepless In Seattle (1993)

We’re really getting into the good stuff now! I absolutely adore this movie (hence why it comes in at number 2) and I never get tired of wondering whether Annie (Meg Ryan) and Sam (Tom Hanks) will ever finally get their act together and meet each other properly!! The 1990’s saw the revival of the romantic comedy, after spending a few decades out of fashion (the last burst of rom coms being the pairing of Doris Day and Rock Hudson in the 1950s and 60s), and Sleepless certainly picks up the momentum of the chick flick train. This story of two people who have never met, but are destined to, is full of wonderful cinematic moments – alternatively humorous and touching. Ryan is adorable in this role, and Hanks is constantly charming – watch out for his hilarious Cary Grant impersonation! And the few minutes they actually share the screen for are magic.

Honourable Mentions: For another paring of Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks (one where they actually appear on screen together for more than 10 seconds) is You’ve Got Mail (1998), (which might take some of you younger viewers a while to catch on to…) and there’s plenty more Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally (1989) which co-stars Billy Crystal.

Bonus Honourable Mention: Check out An Affair to Remember (1957), which is the movie Annie watches during Sleepless In Seattle. It’s a wonderful film, and is a nice introduction to the movies of that era if you’re not familiar with them. Keep an eye out on this blog too over the next little while, as I’m planning to post my favourite movies from the 1950s and 60s!

 

#1 – Notting Hill (1999)

And, last but not least, my favourite chick flick of all time – Notting Hill. The wonderful pairing of Hugh Grant as William Thacker, the owner of an unsuccessful travel book shop, and Julia Roberts as Anna Scott, the most successful actress in the world. Their worlds couldn’t be further apart, but with the magic of film these two worlds come together. Combine the great chemistry between Grant and Roberts, and the delightful supporting cast of Will Thacker’s friends (including a much younger Hugh Bonneville), with the charming setting of London’s Notting Hill – and this movie practically sparkles. Here’s a heads up for you Notting Hill fanatics – if you didn’t already know, the infamous ‘house with the blue door’ does actually exist although its door has since been painted black for camouflage purposes. Google it if you’re going to be in London and go hunting! Apart from blue doors, this movie has so many wonderful moments it’s difficult to pick a favourite. But I don’t think you can really go past the “a girl standing in front of a boy” scene!

Honourable Mentions: I am yet to see a Hugh Grant movie I didn’t like. However another particular favourite of mine is Music & Lyrics (2007), which will be of particular interest to any fellow songwriters out there! Julia Roberts is also ridiculously gorgeous in Pretty Woman (1990), which was her breakout role.

 

Well, folks, that about sums it up! Do we all have warm fuzzy feelings now? Do we believe in true love? Good. Excellent 🙂

Did I miss your favourite chick flick? Head on down to the comments and tell us what it is and why you love it!

Stay tuned for my next post about movies from the 1950s and 60s!