Helene Combe

Through my journey as an English teacher and a language learner

Category: feminism (page 1 of 2)

Yes, Doctor Who can be a female

I wanted to write today about my second week at CELTA but something else came up and just couldn’t avoid it.

“The next Doctor Who will be a woman!”

“Have you heard? The 13th Doctor Who is a female”.

I received 3 texts within an hour and saw 25 posts on Twitter. And I have to admit that I don’t get it. Doctor Who is an alien: it can be a male or female, by definition. Also, it’s a fictional character, so basically, there is nothing to yell at, considering that it’s just entertainment. Why are people freaking over that fact?

Because it apparently matters. Because for some reasons, some people cannot be female. Whatever we might say, whatever what Gloria Steinem might do and fight for, whatever our praises for Malala, whatever our hypocritical #genderequity, it’s still upsetting, for some people to see a woman as an iconic character, and worse, a strong, independent one. I mean, do you imagine the other way around?

We couldn’t care less.



Wednesday, I had a little glimpse of what the word “hypocrisy” means.

Thousands of women on this planet was captioning their latest selfie on Instagram, or Facebook, or Snapchat or whatever network is trendy now with these hashtags: #internationalwomensrightday , #feminism, and of course, my favorite, #genderequality.

Last Wednesday, I got into a prestigious teaching program in England. My goal, you got it by now, is to be a top level English teacher: I enrolled to Cambridge ESOL Examination, I passed two exams within four months even if I have full time job, I worked my ass off to be on this program. I had to pass a written test, to ace an interview to finally get in.

If I were a man, I would have been praised. People would be congratulating me. No red carpets, but almost. I would have been the boss, am I right?

But I have ovaries, and apparently that is more important than anything else. When I told people about my enrollment, about the fact that I had to study in England (AKA my dream since age nine) to achieve my goal, this is how they freaking react:

What about your husband?

Does he agree?

Wouldn’t be clever to have kids instead?

(My husband is fine, thank you)

Nobody cares that you have a brain, girl. You may be the smartest person in your block, you may ace every test you are going to pass, but your main objective is to bring kids to this planet. How can you pretend that we have gender equality if these remarks still exist?

It’s not men who said these to me. It was full grown up women. That’s maybe what hurts the most.

There is no gender equality.






Women’s day should be abolished

Don’t throw me stones just yet, hear me out.

Imagine that you are black person, and on the Abolition of slavery day, every people around you would come to greet you, to buy you some “black” stuff, talking about “black” stuff and basically, move the Earth around the fact that you’re black.

I am pretty sure that any black person would be upset. They know that they are black they don’t need a special day to remember it, they have a mirror. It’s exactly the same thing for women. We know that we are women, we don’t need an ad in the subway to remember it.

Okay, I didn’t plan to focus on Women’s day, because I thought it was too mainstream, but right after I decided to write about another topic (which was how public university libraries were poor because the librarian asked me if I wanted to borrow a copy of Witness  on VHS), Google and Facebook and Snapchat and Amazon and everything on Earth decided to put under my nose some “women stuff”.

So when I clicked anywhere on the search bar, including on the Amazon one, these few items were automatically suggested:

-make up


-shoes… (that’s just examples, but you got the idea!)

I am no scientist but I am 100% sure that having a vagina doesn’t mean we live for make up or recipes or shoes. I don’t, my friends sure don’t either, and that’s just purely sexist.

Can we stop being hypocrite and pretending it’s cool to have a Women’s day? No, it’s not! It’s not cool at all! Why don’t we call it “Ovarian days” for what it worth?

Is there a “Testicle day”? A “penis day”? No, I don’t think so. Because we don’t need to make men remember that they exist: they already know it. Women’s day is just another excuse to say: we know you’re here, it’s cool but don’t think you’re too important.

Well, we are.

A letter to my nineteen years old self

Dear 19 years old me,

Please don’t be so harsh on yourself. Don’t treat you so bad, you don’t deserve it. Being lost is not the end of the world, and you’re gonna do so much stuff after. It’s okay to feel bad, and lonely, but it gets better, I promise.

Don’t worry about your parents, they won’t divorce eventually. They’ll break up for a few months, they’ll come back and then, they forgave themselves, and life goes on. It wasn’t your fight, but you fought along your father, and nothing would break up both of you from now on. You two are now making an incredible team, and he never tried to slice his wrists again. That wasn’t your fault, by the way, what happened, not even for a second: he needed help, and you were here, and you gave him what he needed. You gave him the strength to continue, and even if you don’t know that yet, he will always remember it.

It’s not that bad that you left school. You didn’t want to study history, not that way, and it’s okay, that doesn’t mean you won’t do anything with your own life. You were right to decide to move, because that decision saved your life, even if it was to study something you didn’t care about. It doesn’t matter because you’ll find something, you’ll figure it out, and you’ll be amazing, even if right now, you think it’s nothing. Not everybody figures what one can do for the rest of its life at fifteen years old. You think that because the people around you are bragging about that, making you feel bad, because they have academic success for now, but you’ll learn quickly that didn’t mean anything after all. He was maybe successful at twenty, but in a few years, he would be still living with his mother, when you’ll be buying yourself a bright new car.

It’s okay that you can’t forget him. You won’t, in a long time, be able to forgive and to forget what happened. You will try, several times, you will pray for a second chance, even if you are not the one who needs it. He is the bad guy, you are not. You’ll need years to recover, literally, but once you will, your life will be change forever, and you are going to meet the most incredible, generous and kind man ever, and you will marry that guy, even he isn’t your type, because at some point, that doesn’t matter anymore.

And that girl you are always with, your confident, your sister, well, she’ll stab in the back at the minute you’ll be gone. Because after all, you are still kids even you are pretending to be adults, you are not. You will miss her, you will hate her, but at the end, it will be better for everybody. You may think right now that she will come back eventually, but you won’t let her. On the way, you will learn to fight back, to stand up for yourself and you won’t let her crush you the way she did.

It’s not going to be easy. You’ll hate yourself most of the time, you’ll regret mostly everything , you will do all over again in your head, each time different, until you’ll make peace with yourself. Because you are just a kid, with a very strange hair color, and you don’t deserve what happened to you, but it’s life, and you’ll get over it.

You will be a fucking kick ass, and people will find you hard to manage, and you will never let anybody tell you what to do, and you will find your dream. And more importantly, you will live it. That’s what life is all about.

From your twenty eight years old self,

Best wishes.

Don’t talk about my uterus,please

So, as you know, I got married five months ago. It’s pretty recent, and every time I tell people that I just got married, the reaction is mostly always the same:

When will you have a baby? 

And my answer is pretty much always the same also: My cat won’t allow it.

The truth is: I don’t want a baby. I mean, at some point, yes, like in two or three years, but not right now. And every time I am saying this, that I am not ready, that I have others plans (like I don’t know, graduating from Cambridge University, going on vacations, having a new job, be stable), people are always responding with that tiny sentence which give me the impression that they want me to stroke them to death: you are getting older, you should think about it.

Let me get this straight: I am not forty, or thirty something, I am twenty eight. 28 years old. I am fucking young. I am so young, I still shop at Primark. I am wearing my Harry Potter sweatshirt right now. I am not old. I don’t want random people telling me I am old. You just don’t  go in front of people telling them they are old. What’s the next step, asking them what kind of casket they want? Imagine you do that kind of thing in front of a handsome forty something guy whose girlfriend is twenty something. How do you think he will react if you tell him he’s fucking old and he should hide underground until death? He is going to kick your sorry ass.

Asking a woman why she is childless is rude. It’s even ruder when the woman is still young and it’s apparently crazy that she doesn’t have a child yet. Sorry to burst the bubble, but a child is not an achievement. You got laid, your forget your condom and BAM! Having a degree, a stable situation, buy an apartment, that’s an achievement. Reproducing is NOT an achievement. Everybody can do it, but not everybody can decide it.

Since when talking about human part, in my case, my uterus, is allowed in public? Are we free to talk about testicles either? If you see a childless thirty something, will you ask him if his balls are going to fall? No, because a man’s achievement is not reproducing, and even then, we don’t talk publicly about penises or testicles, it’s called common sense. Talking about uteruses, not a problem, but testicles, you can try, everybody is going to be offended.

So,my uterus, and what I do with it, it’s nobody’s business. It’s fucking rude to ask a woman why she is childless and it’s worse to remember her that time is passing. We all know that, we are all going to die this kind of stuff. But we also know that we can do what the fuck we wanna do and we don’t need someone’s approval.

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