Yeah ok, so the title might be a bit of click bait but as we look to celebrate International Women’s Day I feel it only right we have a look at the ‘F’ word ( yep thats the one FEM-IN-ISM) and celebrate it too!
My journey to calling myself a feminist has been a bumpy one. Brought up by a single Mum who came out of a relationship marred by domestic abuse I always felt an affinity to strong women…. I learned from an early age we didn’t need men and quite frankly from my experience and listening to the tales of my Mum and her friends they caused little more than down right misery .. . .
So as a teen I spouted how we didn’t need men one bit and girls were far better than boys so ner ner ner! Voila I was a feminist surely?? . . . .fast forward to the age of the laddette and I realised actually boys weren’t always that bad and actually now we were laddettes we could drink with the boys and sleep around like the boys …..
Now…… in a haze of nineties Britpop finally we were real feminists weren’t we? I know, I know I can hear Emmeline Pankhurst turning in her grave too!!
After this I never had much reason to consider much whether I was a feminist or not until I committed the upmost caridnal sin a woman can ……. I decided to HAVE A BABY and then another and just like that I was pushed out of my job of over 7 years. After giving years of pre baby over time (unpaid), picking up tasks that weren’t mine to get the job done for the team I was out and my maternity cover who didn’t have the limits of 2 tots was in!!
I re-evaluated everything – things like this didn’t happen these days surely there were laws against this sort of treatment?! But low and behold as I began to trawl the internet this sort of thing was happening in alarming numbers and in a lot of cases the discrimination and poor treatment a lot of these women suffered was much worse than what I’d been through!
I started to post about the injustices women were facing and found I was being tagged on social media and presented with cases of inequality and poor treatment of women in lots of different ways . . . . I thought the suffragettes had won the war but it would seem they had won the battle the war was a long long way of being done. The more I talked about issues women faced, the F word started to be banded about …. usually about me. I’d never much considered myself a feminist. Whenever people said the work it was usually followed with jeers about burning bras . . . so I did the logical thing and looked it up
A feminist is someone who supports equal rights for women. (www.vocabulary.com)
Definition of feminist – a person who supports feminism. (en.oxforddictionaries.com)
Feminism – The advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes. (en.oxforddictionaries.com)
Ah ha I was a feminist after all and I have very much embraced the term ever since. However there are still very negative connotations around the word so below I have listed some out and out feminists who I personally have found to be amazingly inspiring women:
1. Maya Angelou
Angelou was awarded a presidential Medal of Freedom for her works that spanned over 50 years including 36 books, 7 autobiographies and over 50 honorary degrees. An advocate for equal rights for all her poems are hailed as radically feminist because of particular struggles for black women particularly in ‘Phenomenal woman’ and ‘caged bird’. Her words still still as relevant today inspire feelings of courage and rebellion in women who seek change and equality.
“Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently” – Maya Angelou
2. Malala Yousszai
Malala a young Pakistani activist for female education. Her notoriety became known to the world as some one willing to fight for Women’s rights in the face of adversity after being shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up to them defending her right to an education. Malala became the youngest ever Nobel Laureat after sharing her story following her miraculous recovery from the incident and writing the international best seller ‘I Am Malala’
“One child, One teacher, one book, one pen can change the world” – Malala Yousafzai
3. Joelie Brierly
Joelie Brierly is the founder of pregnant then screwed in support of women facing Pregnancy discrimination. A particular inspiration to me after finding advice and support following my own issues of discrimination on returning to work. Joeli was sacked from her job when she was four months pregnant with her first child and has since made it her mission to raise awareness of discrimination and help other women. Joeli recently got the chance to sit in parliament and put forward her case against the use of NDAs as gagging orders that silence women ultimately being forced out of their jobs for having children.
“ Pregnant Then Screwed has become my life’s work. I will never stop campaigning for the rights of working Mums” – Joelie Brierly
4. Jo Cox
The senseless murder of Jo Cox in 2016 shook the UK, a newly elected MP for Batly and Spen Jo had spent years campaigning for equal rights and in particular disadvantaged women spending much time working within the charity sector across the world. Jo was also a keen advocate for helping other women in politics Naomi Mcaulliffe who collaborated with Jo on women’s rights campaigns was quoted as saying “Jo was one of those women who helped up other women in the sector”. Also well known for her inspirational maiden speech which talked about bringing people together and tackling loneliness Jo’s legacy still lives on through her families passionate work with ;More in Common’ and the ‘Great Get Together’ which looks at how loneliness can be conquered across the UK.
“We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us” – Jo Cox
So in conclusion don’t be afraid of the ‘F’ word and if you believe in equal rights for all or you too have found inspiration from some or all of the women above! Then my Friend its about time you embraced it in all its glory and meaning just the same as me.
Lets face it, it is high time we educated young girls and boys for that matter that its is not scary to be a feminist and start to eliminate the casual sexism still faced in society everyday.
So in celebration of International Women’s Day this year I challenge you to be bold state your claim on the ‘F’ word and give a nod and wink to those who have trailed the blaze before us magnificently leading the way.
Laura is a late thirties, self-proclaimed feminist and mother of 2 who feels passionate about championing women’s rights and empowering women from all walks of life in the local community. She aims to achieve this through being proactive in the local community putting on events and as founder of Women’s Group Fortuna Female Society (link above).