March 8th is a huge day of importance for all of us. It may not seem like it, but it is.
As we use today to celebrate all the incredible women who are among us, who have come before us and the women who will come in the future, today is also a day that through its celebration highlights all the gross inequality around the world, emphasising how imperative it is to be innovative and work as a collective in order to conquer inequality globally.
It will take us a long time unfortunately before we live in a world where equality is the norm - where woman can walk down streets unaccompanied without worries of being harrassed or sexually assaulted, where women don’t have to worry about losing their jobs just because they’ve birthed another human, where women all over the world are able to vote, attend school, learn to read and write and be able to do the careers they want to, rather than be subjected to a life of restricted domestic tasks and limited opportunities.
When looking at the statistics it may seem that from where you are standing that gender inequality is a huge and impossible task to deal with - especially when the same problems keep coming up again and again and again.
However, in the UK there are so many ways we can each slowly and subtly change the game - even if we think that our actions have little force, in fact the ripple effects of our decisions are huge.
After reflecting on all the things I've learnt from the women around me up til now as a 24 yr old working woman I've decided to write down 8 ideas that I feel really help with encouraging and aiding the feminist movement.
Some of them are super obvious, but I wanted to write them down anyway....
I hope you like them and if you agree, share.
Happy International Women's Day sisters!
VOTE - Yeah, i know that the elections were last year but this is a HUGE TOPIC STILL... also REFERENDUM ANYONE?! Women got the vote LESS THAN 100 YEARS AGO IN THE UK. - yet, despite the fact it’s still bloody new for us and we should still be gasping that we didn’t receive it sooner women in the UK are still not taking advantage of the voting system. Only 66% of women in the UK placed a vote in the 2015 elections... imagine how different it could have been if all 100% of us had turned up? You can argue all you want about ‘why’ someone may not vote but the truth is, if you don’t vote, your voice isn’t heard. The excuse that you don’t like the politicians and you don’t care about the MPS in your area is not an excuse to take a step back and walk away from the situation, instead it should encourage you to step forward and get more engaged with what is going on politically where you live. Big changes come out of small steps forward. Write to your MP, volunteer and join a party. Do whatever you need to do to be engaged. We need more women active in both local and global politics and the first way we can achieve this is by doing the easiest step first of all and putting a tick in a box in a polling booth
CLEANSE YOUR VOCAB - there is some language that is never going to help the feminist cause and we need to accept that. Words such as ‘Slut’ ‘Slag’ ‘Cunt*’ ‘Bitch’ ‘Bossy’ ‘Dyke’ ‘Frape’ are some of them. Cunt is a great word when meant as a compliment but stop using it as an offensive put-down - if you look at its etymology it is arguably a more feminist word than the word VAGINA. Without often thinking about it our language reinforces so many gender biases. Is your co-worker ‘bossy’ or is she just ‘assertive’. Is she really a ‘drama queen’ or is she actually a woman fed up of everyones patronising jargon? Sure, you may hate Lucy, but do you really need to call her a ‘slut’? ALSO - my major bugbear is the phrase “HARD TO GET”. No, we don’t need to be hard to get... why? because we are not Moose on a hunting ranch. No, we are not playing hard to get, we are merely getting on with our lives.
RESPECT ALL INDUSTRIES AND PROFESSIONS This may seem totally obvious but it is so easy to without realising it completely judge and disregard a profession or industry that needs female support. If a woman works in an industry of her choice, she needs to be supported by her fellow women in that choice and protected in that job and we need to make sure that no one in that profession is being exploited. Industries that you often hear people demonize and judge the workers in tend to be the more vulnerable ones also, such as the Porn industry, the sex trade, even the fashion industry! My friend of mine who is a model recently met up with an MP in order to chat about protecting young girls in the fashion industry....the first thing the female MP said to her was “Thanks for coming, I know you guys don’t normally get out of bed for less than 20k” before making the joke that she "hated them already" for being so thin - although meant as a joke, this type of behaviour is detrimental to the cause.
READ. Half a billion women around the world cannot read - two thirds of the global total. I learnt today that 93% of girls will never attend school. This means they’ll never know the beauty of reading JK Rowling... they won’t be able to write their stories, alongside being able to fully communicate their own. For 2016 I’ve chosen to only read female authors, inspired by an experience where I walked past a popular book store and saw only novels written by male writers advertised in the window. I started to list off my favourite writers and suddenly realised that my knowledge of female writers was surprisingly lacking. Thus, I’ve jumped head first into a world of literature I would never have discovered before, I’ve been reading lots of female literature from Patti Smith, Elena Ferrante, Maya Angelou, Ali Smith, Adrienne Rich, Octavia E. Butler, Naomi Woolf, Lynn Barber, Sarah Waters etc. All stonkingly different and all incredibly mind blowing in their insight towards the life of women throughout history all over the world. Support female artists by buying there work. But don’t buy on Amazon guys.... because of the whole ' tax' thing.
BE CONFIDENT AND WRITE! - If you’re not good in face to face verbal combat, one technique that has helped me in calling out sexism is by writing. Your voice matters and your voice means something - write a blog, write for your local paper if you can, write anywhere, but write and vocalise. Call out sexism you spot in your community. The more you write the more confident and concise you can be in calling out the inequality you see , hear or experience in your life.
BE WISE WITH WHERE YOU SHOP. -Sweatshops are a huge issue concerning women everywhere. Workers in sweatshops around the world usually consist of young women and children - all working insanely long hours with minute wages. Women are heavily abused in the sweatshop industry - for example there are many circumstances where workers are forced to take birth control so companies do not have to pay maternity leave costs. The more that we buy from places that use sweatshops we add to the problem. Thus, one simple way of aiding to the cause is by simply being more vigilant with where you buy your clothes from. Shop at places that are reputable sweat-free labels and if you are involved with a club or society petition to make sure that only sweat-free clothing is sold at your school, university or sports club.
WORK WITH OTHER WOMEN AS OFTEN AS POSSIBLE. We are more likely to break the glass ceiling if we hit it head on with multiple impact from all angles. The more women you work with, liase with, help and support, older and younger, the better. Someone I don’t know particularly well said to me the other day “It must be annoying for you now that there are now so many female comedians around now. So much more competition.”. No, it’s not annoying for me - it’s brilliant. I get to do gigs surrounded by other cool women. But what is annoying is the common misconception that just because we have vaginas means that our puns and comic styles are going to be the same.
FINALLY, STOP NEGGING YOUR BODY. Your body is the host to your amazing mind and personality and the first step towards combatting sexism and inequality is by dealing with how it has affected you and your own self-esteem over the years - normally most evident in our relationships to our bodies. I have spent my life thinking and telling people "If only I was thinner..." "If only I was less like this..." conforming to the notion created by our current society that I was not good enough the way I was. This needs to change. It is so sad to read continuously about the amount of women affected by body dismorphia around the world. 1.6 million people suffer with an eating disorder in the UK. Everytime you slag off your gorgeous and unique shape, or indeed criticise another woman for being "too fat", "too thin", "too flabby" it is one tick for the patriarchy and all those shitty horrible magazines, advertisements, films and songs that have manipulated women everywhere that their body is somehow wrong and not good enough. The more we talk to eachother about how flawed we think we are, the more we help spread the idea that each of our female bodies are wrong. Instead we need to praise our shapes, praise our womanliness, praise our friends bodies and through that start generating a new era of body positiveness.