Sandwiched as we are between International Women’s Day and Mother’s Day, my mind has been dwelling on questions of what, exactly, it is to be a woman in 2015. Try as I might, I can’t seem to put my finger on it – is it an instinctive, maternal compassion for others? No, I am not delusional. Is it a pride in our long struggle for equality? No, that isn’t what we are, it’s what we have already achieved. Ah! So is it long, glossy blonde hair and a fabulous pair of heels? No, unless you are looking at the world through the small, fuzzy window of a certain Pink Bus.
One theory I did seem to return to was that many of the females I know, work with, have met through friends or family or even went to school with seem to have an awareness of, an interest in, and informed opinions on women’s rights, and a collective outrage when they are breached. I hasten to add that although this can be said for most of my male friends too, I am leaving you out of my argument for simplicity’s sake (don’t be selfish, it’s International Women’s Day).
A small look at the history of womanity shows us how far womankind has come in just a few short years. In 1970, females seeking mortgages still had to provide a male guarantor and it was only 36 years ago that the first female UK prime minister was instated. Although we will soon enough reach the 100 year anniversary of women being able to vote, there are other parts of legislation whose centurial celebrations will not be in our lifetimes. For example, 1975 saw The Employment Protection Act illegalise firing a female from her place of work for falling pregnant. In 2015, this seems utterly absurd considering the superhuman skills many businesswomen with families display. The 90s brought a BOOM of Feminism to the younger generation in a peace-sign-making, hair-crimping, leopard-print-wearing mash of colour, attitude and terrible singing via the Spice Girls and other bands like Destiny’s Child. Perhaps the conviction to “Girl Power!” and other glamorised examples of Feminism in popular culture – flappers in the 20s, hippies in the 60s, anyone who isn’t Jeremy Clarkson now – have always had elements of rebellion at their core, and maybe this is what makes some people so scared of the big F word. Yet no matter how many times I hear it, and in how many different ways, it still baffles me when people misunderstand, or worse, condemn the basics of Feminism. The suggestion that it is to do with bra-burning, man-hating lunatics who want nothing less than world domination is similar to truly believing that pigs flying or fat ladies singing are accurate measurements of the unlikely.
Feminism, to me, is merely the acknowledgement that women are equal to men, and the call to action to make sure that the law, the public and the individual all reflect this. Although it has been around for hundreds of years, perhaps where previous generations aimed to improve women’s socio-political rights, our generation may have shifted the focus to tapping the resources of females all over the world by paving the way for them in business. A new dawn of supercharged female intellect is emerging from the ranks and it’s more important than ever for organisations to encourage this in every field. We might have been overlooked in the past, but the call for evening out the gender statistics of both boardrooms and pay means that women and their workplace rights are a hot topic and it is our duty to keep pushing until the male/female divide is abolished.
So if, in this very womanly week, you are indeed contemplating becoming – or continuing to be – a woman, my advice to you is this: Keep your eyes firmly set on your goals and feel comforted and inspired by the forward-thinking females in the past and by your side. For, as women, we too are standing on the shoulders of giants. And our giants have heels on.
Read some inspirational quotes by women here.
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