I had a discussion, a little while ago now, with a male friend of mine about feminism, and he asked me… how far can it really go? And will there come a time when it’s been exhausted? And it really got me thinking…
We easily forget, all of us; men and women alike. We forget that in our history women had to fight to be seen as more than just wife’s and daughters. We’ve had to fight against being sold and brought, to be seen as individuals, not just the property of our fathers and husbands. We’ve had to fight for an education, for the right to work, and not just in roles deemed suitable for us, but for the jobs we are good at and love. We are still fighting for equal pay and championing companies to get more women in their boardrooms and in positions of power and authority… all of this, it’s so easily forgotten because here in the UK we’ve already overcome a lot of these obstacles, but in so many other countries, the women aren’t so lucky.
It’s easy to think of ourselves as individuals or as a singular in terms of country, nation, but the truth is… if things are ever going to get better, we need to think collectively, as a world. And this doesn’t just apply to feminism. We need to be nicer to each other, to learn to share and to recognise that people aren’t and should never be seen as problems. Every life matters.
The great thing about feminism is that it’s a fight for equality, and equality is something we should all strive for.
(It really is the most beautiful word.)
So for me, feminism is a reminder to keep those ideologies alive, otherwise they can easily be forgotten.
On the opening night of my play, ‘Matilda, Mike & Dan’ a man approached me, stating that he had to check a few times that it was, indeed, written by a woman. It was meant as a compliment. But I wondered what, thing, about it made him think it couldn’t possibly have been written by a woman, but more so… does it matter? I’m a person. A human being… I just happen to be a female of the species. Likewise I’ve had huge discussions with men who think it’s easier for women to pursue a career in the arts… this baffles me. It’s difficult for anyone to pursue their dream. It takes courage and guts to go after anything we truly want in life. Being a woman doesn’t make it any more easier or likely, and in saying so, it only takes away from the things I have, and may achieve in the future. My father doesn’t support me financially, he’s not in that kind of position, but I’m lucky enough that my family have always supported me in other ways. The greatest gift my parents ever gave me was making it easy for me to at least try. And likewise… I don’t go out looking for a man who can offer me stability in the sense of a home and money, because to me… stability in that sense, isn’t love, it can so easily be lost, and you need each other to over come life, not money. All I’m looking for is a man who can make me laugh.
Plus… why can’t I be the bread-winner of the family? 😉
We recognise there is a difference between us. Male and female. And I like being a woman. I also, daily, fall in and out of love with men. In an age where we are fighting for the rights of so many things, it really all falls in to one category – equality. We want everyone to be seen, heard, kept safe and the right to love whomever our heart desires. The right to an education. Food, water, a fair justice system, and a safe home, are things I shouldn’t even have to mention.
I, like so many other women, have been in situations where we’ve felt uneasy about how a man is behaving towards us. Either touching us inappropriately, it’s never OK to grab my bottom as a way of getting my attention, or shouting out to us in public. Being rude or aggressive when we’ve refused your advances… And like wise, trying to hold our own in an intellectual situation. Please, never underestimate us. And I know if I’m ever lucky enough to have a daughter that she too may experience similar situations and that scares and saddens me. I know I’ll have to work hard to get her to see all the good and wonderful things about herself, so she has the strength to walk away, should she ever find herself in a situation that brings her any kind of pain. But my greatest hope for the future is that it won’t even be an issue, that we’ll all have evolved enough that things are better, not worse.
It’s not a difficult job, teaching your son’s to respect women. It starts by getting them to respect all life. Same goes for your daughters. It’s a simple case of equality.
Likewise it expands to religion, politics, our justice systems, employers, and to us individually to recognise the changes needed and to make them happen.
Some facts I found: The last Magdalen Laundry closed in Ireland in 1998. Only 16 years ago. Not that long ago, and not that far away. At least one in four women in the UK will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. In 2013 women accounted for only 16% of the writers, directors, producers, executive producers, editors and cinematographers of all the top-grossing movies of that year. (http://time.com/8788/9-depressing-facts-from-the-latest-women-in-media-report/) Only 30% of girls in the world are in secondary education. And there are more. So many more, that I could list and are heart breaking to read. Have a google, search for yourself, talk to each other, listen and learn. Make a difference. Even if it’s a small one. And ladies… challenge what you don’t like. Make the changes happen.
So in conclusion. How far can feminism go? – All the way. And will it ever be exhausted? – I hope so, that’s my dream anyway, that one day… we will no longer need her. Her work will be done and she can retire, happy and safe. A job well done.