Sunday, 8 March 2015

#IWD2015

Sylvia Pankhurst
Strong women always inspire me, I read into them looking for where I identify, looking for where I ask questions about their choices and where I differ. I am inspired because we strive for a better place, and whilst we all go about it in different ways - their efforts cannot go unnoticed. For  I recognise those who have influenced my learning and my beliefs, those who have cut some of bullshit out of the world. 

I applaud my historical icons, whose philanthropy, socialist ideals and a common sense that people may well call "before their time" but I consider to be far closer to "bravery that was just in time" - reading about clever, informed women such as Sylvia Pankhurst who supported women's suffrage and fought hard to keep it linked to a political movement. Yet she recognised the horror of war in a way that many of her peers failed to, and worked hard provide relief - a "cost-price" restaurant for the hungry, setting up a factory for those women who had lost their jobs, fighting for the rights of soldiers' wives.

Philanthropist Octavia Hill found her own way to find better housing for the poorest citizens of London who were still being failed by a too-slowly improving system - she became a landlord, creating a housing scheme which focused on regular visits by volunteers who acted akin to social workers, whilst collecting rent; improved sanitary conditions; the creation of open space (she later became co-founder of the National Trust) - her ideas and inspiration to improve social conditions helped develop the management of local authority housing in the inter-war years, ironic considering her complete opposition to government and bureaucracy! 

Celebrities often have an enormous hold over the general public, and due to that I applaud the women in the public eye that challenge the stereotypes the media pushes on us, who respond to nonsense in an appropriately scathing fashion and time and time again highlight that being a woman is about being a human being - just like anybody else - rather that tits, a pretty dress and a polite smile. 

Interesting, thoughtful unapologetic women (and even that descriptor is horrible - what do they have to be apologetic for? Being clever, sassy, sexy, witty women with thoughts in their head and a mouth to define those words with? I still get excited when Victoria Coren is on my television screen, being human and cool and always, always well-considered in her utterances.) are some of the best people of the planet - just like interesting and thoughtful men are, the world sparkles when we are equal and your consideration of another is based on their words and actions, without regard to whether they've got a cock or not or whether society has pushed its sexist ideals and morals on you. 

I am so lucky to surround myself with amazing women, women I envy to be like - whether that is my mother-in-law just down the street who defeats every burden that comes at her, or the friends who will call out every episode of sexist cack because there is only one way to defeat sexism: look it in the face and call it out for the shitty thing it is. I am so lucky to be surrounded by amazing men, men who aren't blinkered by the traditions of patriarchy - my brother and his wife whose children have their mother's surname, by men who are rightly furious by the stories they hear and the everyday instances of derogatory media towards women. 

Applaud those who know not to accept the bullshit. Everyone considers feminism and how to be a feminist differently, but we stand united in declaring our utterly disdain for the bullshit that still permeates modern life.