Wednesday 8th March. International women’s day. What does that mean to me? International Women’s day means telling the strong women in my life thank you for empowering me and inspiring me to raise hell when hell needs to raised, to speak out when there are injustices and to respect everyone around me. To me this day is about appreciating the miles we have covered as women and the fights we have been through (and still are going through) to get to where we are today. International Women’s day is about remembering what we have achieved and at what cost we have achieved it, today is about appreciating the Emmeline Pankhursts, the Millicent Garrett Fawcetts, the Malala Yousafzai’s and the Rosa Parks of the world and what we can do as a generation to reach the goal women of the past have aimed for to secure something incredible for the girls of the future.
I have studied a hell of a lot on women’s rights, I have read many articles and academic journals by the women’s rights historian June Purvis on the Suffragettes and I have dedicated a significant amount of time learning about the acts of the past that have gotten me to the fortunate place I am today. This day is about learning from the actions of the past, right or wrong, and acting upon the injustices.
I have been known to tiptoe around the word ‘Feminism’ as I know how reactionary it is in the limited culture that is my small town life, as soon as you call yourself a feminist you’re labelled a man hater or a lesbian. A few years ago that would’ve bugged me as I spent the first half of my teenage life trying to get people to like me and to try to be someone that people would like. But one night after too many drinks I realised to myself that I just didn’t need to do that, I did not need to change myself to please other people because I was an incredible person already. Once I realised that I could be myself and still be liked, my whole world and mentality changed. I began to appreciate the idea of feminism more, I began to express it more because I slowly began to realise I don’t give a damn what people think of me because if they disagreed with the idea of equality between all people then there was something wrong with them not me. I get told all the time that I dont need feminism and I have rights and so all I want to do is whine about men and try make myself better than men, and at these points I realise that there is such a taboo around feminism and empowerment that we’re all missing the point. Feminism isn’t about women becoming better than men and feminism isn’t about me whining about the unfairness; it’s about us as a species taking actions of justice and courage and righteous anger and trying to help each and every person suffering injustices. Feminism and International Women’s day isn’t about making women better than men, it’s about celebrating the strength of women which has been torn down and trampled on so many times for so many years, this day is about breaking free from the limitations that history and society has laid on women and succeeding incredible things and most importantly supporting each other in this amazing things we are doing.
Emma Watson and Angelina Jolie are perfect examples of women that people will claim don’t need feminism, they have money, they have rights, they have perfect lives and are suffering no injustices so they must be doing this for popularity. Wrong. These women have recognised the position they’re in, the platform they are on to make a difference and have taken advantage of that publicity. These women have the capacity, finance and opportunity wise, to speak out about these issues affecting people closer to home and people all over the world. They are using their limelight for something good, something productive and they are so idolised for this very reason and rightly so. Emma Watson’s first famous character was the role of Hermoine Grainger on Harry Potter. Hermoine is a intelligent, strong minded and brave character, I mean if Hermoine wasn’t around Harry Potter would’ve died in the first film!! This character was not the damsel in distress, she wasn’t the broken girl that needed saving by the love of a man..oh no she was a strong independent women who knew what she wanted and worked hard for it, she acted upon what was right and was so courageous and strong in doing so. This character is someone that we all need, someone we need to be, someone we need to be inspired by and someone we need to see more often. Miss Watson pursued this role and now is a speaker at the UN and does incredible work all around the world to help protect and help women who are in need of feminism.
Thinking on a smaller scale, feminism is still most definitely needed in first world countries such as the USA and the UK. In both of these countries rape culture is at a high, sexualisation of girls is still extremely prevelant and the wage gap STILL exists. These problems facing women are still significant, and despite them being belittled by men who claim I don’t need feminism they are still there. I cannot walk through a club (sober or drunk) without being touched by a man, I cannot walk through a crowded place with drunk men in it without being told to smile or being wolf whistled at. I cannot walk down the streets when it’s dark without the fear of being attacked or followed or even worse..I cannot walk down the street and feel safe alone. These issues are still there and it is as significant as ever. Instead of tearing down and degrading the problems women face everyday just because they’re not as bad as someone else’s in the world why don’t you try and make people feel safer in public, why don’t you keep your inappropriate behaviour to yourself because I can guarantee now not one single woman in the world will appreciate the unwanted attention from drunken (or completely sober) men shouting derogatory terms at them in a public place. It’s embarrassing and frankly scary.
I for one definitely used today to appreciate and thank the incredible women in my life who have really helped me build my morals, inner strength and confidence to believe in what I believe and believe in who I am. There are two people I would like to dedicate this day to: one my cousin who we will call Red and my Grandmother. So thank you Red who I look up to for advice and guidance through the hard parts of my life, I thank you for the copious amounts of support and I thank you for showing me how not to give a shit. To my grandmother who has been through hell and back with health but kept on fighting, thank you for standing up for what you believe in and protesting all those years ago for things you thought were right and won, you have really inspired me. Thank you to my great grandmother who read to me stories of the rights that her and her mother fought for and for leaving me her diary of her suffragette days, as well as leaving me with inspiration and pride of your life’s work.
I am going to end this post here on a positive note, if you have gotten this far thank you so much for reading this I honestly appreciate it so much. Hopefully this has represented International Women’s day in the way I have intended it to and I would love to hear any of your views on this subject and who you would dedicate this day to!
Happy international Women’s day everyone! And to round off this post here are some of my favourite #IWD posts!