When I was thinking about writing this blog about Women’s History Month I was thinking about all the amazing positive examples of women across all walks of life. All those throughout history that have made important discoveries, conquered scientific conundrums, quietly faced oppressive regimes and changed nations, sat on a bus and challenged segregation. There are many amazing and wonderful pioneering women that are overlooked in history, those that made inroads in a ‘man’s world’ or created beautiful pieces of art only to be overshadowed by a males perspective on art history. Those that wrote novels and important scientific papers under the guise of a male author, because SHE couldn’t be published in her own right.
There are many examples of women overshadowed by men, there are many examples of women who stood up to their patriarchal age as beacons of the female mind.
I thought we were on the road to see equality in my lifetime, it started when I was a child, the feminists and the bra burning that my dad scorned and humphed at, yet always told me to do what I wanted to do in life. To me that meant anything I chose, life was open to become whatever I decided and I could do whatever I was passionate about. I was free to choose.
Goodness me I was naive.
The world of Feminist marches and Greenham Common became the world of power suits and shoulder pads… you had to become a feMALE to fit in. To dress in suits and be ruthless.
I worked for BT and met women who were engineers, who had Blonde bleached hair and boilersuits, I met female managers who wore floral, I became equal to my male colleagues in salary and status, it was progressive. But all the time I was in an inner battle feeling like it was all dressing up and I would be found out. So even though I had worked as a top level engineer my inner status as a powerful woman was slowly being undermined, firstly by myself and then by the realisation that equality was all smoke and mirrors.
I met male managers who believed women just worked for ‘pin’ money and any single working women were losers. There was the leader in a youth group I ran who only spoke to my male co-leader. There were the ‘old skool’ engineers in BT that muttered under their breath whenever I or a female colleague spoke. The senior boss who would look at me to make the drinks for a meeting…. It goes on and on.
THEN this week happens.
A woman who fell in love with a man who also happened to be a prince goes on television to speak about her lived experiences, her suicidal thoughts, her mental health issues and how she was silenced ONLY to be ripped to shreds by the press and openly called a liar.
Another woman walks in the dark and gets murdered and the world talks about a female curfew, we the females in society are not the problem. Social media is alight with women talking about how over the years they have adjusted their lives to be safe, all the old fears and ‘keep safe’ advice comes flooding out of the woodwork. But only a few ask why is it up to us WOMEN to change?
Women history month is meant to celebrate the role of women in our society, to raise up those that make a difference, those that we look up to and admire. And rightly so.
However society is on a downwards path to subjugating women into the second class role that the male hierarchy is most happy with. How have we gone from those pioneering women of the feminist movement to shutting ourselves away when it’s dark outside?
Discrimination is once again out in the open. During this pandemic women were the ones that became, in the majority, the home schoolers. They were the ones that lost their jobs first, the ones that put themselves on the front line as care givers and health workers only to be rewarded by a 1% pay rise. The scientific team that advises the PM is all male, the teams on University Challenge are mostly male. It’s becoming the norm AGAIN.
And now if a woman speaks out they are vilified, if they sit next to a man who is a bully on national television without challenging him she is as much to blame. If she dares to walk or run in the dark…. She is putting herself in a dangerous situation. SHE is the problem, not the male, not the bully, not the tabloids, not the men.
For a country that has a female monarch, that had two female prime ministers, and has a female head of police we are pretty rubbish at equality.
To change we need to start now….
So much to do, so many mountains to re-climb and so many minds to educate.
Start with yourself and become aware of the discrimination in your life. If you are a woman, challenge the norm; if you are a male start changing your expectations of the females in your life and become their champion.
Start a conversation. Be the change in your friends, family and colleagues lives. Be inspirational, be influential and let’s celebrate Women’s History Month.
11th March 2021