Meet the King’s student creating women-only spaces to shine a spotlight on womanhood

‘It is beneficial for someone’s general well-being to be grounded in a strong female friendship group’


The art of sharing stories is sometimes easier in a room full of strangers. When you are in a room full of open-minded, intelligent and receptive women racing through their London student lives, sharing life experiences can become a natural response for even the shyest person. As we celebrate International Women’s Day today, I personally wish to celebrate the trailblazing women around me. I am grateful that they give me a space to learn. 

When my friend Monica, a final year PPE student at King’s originally from Brighton, reached out to a group of 30 girls she knew from her King’s circle and beyond, I had never imagined it would amount to such a special encounter. Monica hosted us for an evening of snacks and chatting, where we were encouraged to bring a piece of art, poem, book or a photo that reminds us of what it is to be a woman today.

You might be thinking, aren’t there places enough in London where a group of girls can go and chat? Yes, London is big. Sadly, the spaces in which women feel entirely safe are small. Monica and I are both haunted by the attacks on Zara Aleena, Hina Bashir and Sarah Everard. Equally, the recent tragic murder of sixteen-year-old Brianna Ghey sparked the phrase “if trans kids aren’t safe, then neither are you”. 

Monica

“I wanted to create an open women’s space to combat the precise lack of spaces in London where women could meet and socialise, without distractions or drunken heckling,” Monica told The King’s Tab.

There we sat, willing to share our thoughts

And there we were, sitting on the floor of a friend’s living room, willing to share our thoughts. Eleven women attended this first event, most of us strangers to one another. We hailed from all directions near Brighton and Wiltshire and far to Barcelona, Norway, Prague, India, Warsaw and Hong Kong. Some of us even call two places home. Even better, we have degrees spanning Law, Philosophy, Politics, PPE, Languages and Neuroscience. 

The evening did not hold the romcom rose-coloured tint of girls entertaining a pillow fight, nor did we all wear pink – although please make a note that colour blocking is very much in. It was a group of young women actively defying the simple rules, standards and stereotypes placed on us every day.

The evening did not hold the romcom rose-coloured tint of girls entertaining a pillow fight, nor did we all wear pink – although please make a note that colour blocking is very much in. It was a group of young women actively defying the simple rules, standards and stereotypes placed on us every day.

Throughout the evening, we touched on more topics than I can physically count. There were references to feminist theories, attachment forms and societal trends that I had never even heard of. Ugh, so much for that £9,000 a year in education. 

Some of the other ideas included: The spotlight theory, main character moments, lucky girl syndrome and the individualism of society, language as both an experience and energy, craving telepathic responses without voicing what you want (like when women wait around for a response to a message that we never ended up sending), the duality of being the “girl boss” and the stigma of the phrase “what a psycho”, and finally, adopting fierce independence as an identity. 

The inspiration for the night came from Monica’s own life too. Looking at the gigantic social landscape of London, she said: “Many young people are prone to feeling isolated. Beyond the time I spend with my partner and my male friends, I realise that other women can also feel this isolation.”

Ultimately, “to prioritise a sense of community and belonging, outside of immediate romantic relationships. I think it is beneficial for someone’s well-being to have women as friends in their lives, and if you’re lucky, then to have a strong group of them.”

One line particularly stood out to me from the evening. Where women sometimes sprint through life as people-pleasers, “no” is a full sentence. Girls in the back, read that again. Say it out loud. You do not have to explain why you are choosing not to do something. The silent sigh of relief in the room said enough for me – it said we were shrugging off society’s weight that demands women always to be bright, and enthusiastic and shriek “yes, yes” like it’s a marriage proposal. We don’t all even want to get married or have your children, relax. 

Monica hoped we could find common threads of experience and understanding, for this type of knowledge is invaluable

I picked a passage from Annie Lord’s Notes on Heartbreak (2022). On this evening, the title was rather deceiving: I read a page that made my throat catch and words stumble out as I smiled and understood what she meant. 

Then, there were the things women tend to speak less about. The difficulties that come with moving abroad, not fully knowing your own culture or mother tongue, losing your identity in the male gaze and the boundaries one should put in place to exist as a happy human being.

From these silences noted in society, we tried to uplift each other and challenge one another’s views in a beautifully constructive way. We approached topics from many angles, looking at issues back to front, and tracing time from adulthood to childhood. It was like figuring out part of the huge puzzle which is womanhood. 

As a result, everyone’s voice was listened to closely and heard. We encouraged conversation and waved our hands around respectfully if we had further questions or thoughts. The diplomatic core of the PPE students truly shone through. 

A lot of what I learnt that evening was about love – not just about love for a partner or romantic interest, which is often the most drawn-to, glossy ideal. Instead, we debunked the taboo about self-love. Love for your friends around you. Love for your family roots, traditions and home-made foods that you miss when you move abroad. It was okay if these topics were sometimes met with confusion or difficulty. In which case, the floor was opened to anyone that possessed a little nugget of advice. 

Having said this, as an ode to Little Women, love is by no means all that a woman is fit for. But, the thoughts on love that were shared in a room full of strangers certainly is something magical. 

I also find that women are great listeners. If you overhear a phone call between two female friends, they are likely to be filled with “oooh” “hmmm” and “uh-huh” sounds between the occasional “fuck him”. These are signs of a great female brain at work. Advice is poured out whilst simultaneously reminiscing over meals that you shared on that balcony in Spain on holiday last year. “Remember we peeled the skin off those frozen prawns for ONE HOUR! Never mind, that pasta was so worth it”, is how a recent call with a best friend actually ended. That phone call was worth it too. 

The final thing that this evening taught me was the inherent female power to communicate, even amongst people you might not know. By the end of it, we were hardly strangers anymore.

Whilst some boomers might blame the internet for being a buffer to real-life communication, simply look at how necessary it was for this evening to take place. Our group chat was a hub for sharing our prompts, favourite songs and dog memes, without which I wouldn’t have been able to write this article. Through discussing all these different “homes” that connect us, we reflected that some of the most beautiful female friendships are maintained thanks to the internet.

Overall, Monica’s initial hopes for a space where women would sit, chat and listen definitely came to fruition. There was no hierarchy, no superiority and no judgement in our discussions. Sharing, an act that is so difficult for some, became an easier task, voluntary even. Our host’s hope that we would learn something from being in the company of such extraordinary women, was the evening’s greatest success. 

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