I’ve always had mixed feelings about International Women’s Day. Whilst I love that it’s a celebration of women and all we have achieved, I also recognise that it’s a time to reflect on what still needs to be done to create true equality.
And it’s this reflection that bothers me. I see so many women who appear to be blinkered to what I believe true equality to be – everyone having the chance to pursue the same opportunities regardless of age, gender, religion, race but at the same time acknowledging that we aren’t all equally capable of the same thing due to limits in our physiology, psychology and genetic make-up. To me, true equality is about celebrating the individual as they are, with all their strengths and weaknesses and enabling them to do whatever it is they wish to do whilst recognising their limitations.
Yes, there is a lot still to do to ensure equal rights and equal pay and I’m all for that but not at the expense of men and that is very much the tip of the iceberg.
I see too many champions of women’s rights creating forums for man-hating and that’s where the problem lies.
I’m a huge advocate in raising awareness of domestic violence and too many of the online communities I have entered are little more than platforms to belittle men. Yes, it is a fact that more women than men are the victims of domestic abuse but this doesn’t mean all men are abusers.
The instances of men being victims of domestic abuse are increasing. Some of the stories I have heard are awful and make me feel ashamed to be a woman.
So celebrating International Women’s Day has a bitter taste for me.
I’m also an advocate of supporting women who are or have been sex workers. Because the sex industry isn’t going away, it is first and foremost, a service industry and the majority of its workers are there through choice.
In my opinion, true equality will be created when we have developed a culture that respects the individual and his or her right to be who or what they please.
Do I have an issue with women who choose to flaunt their naked bodies in order to gain wealth and fame? NO – it’s their choice.
Do I have an issue with women who work in the sex industry because they choose to? NO – it’s their choice.
I do however, have a massive issue with other women who decide that these women need saving because they are being exploited by men. They don’t and they aren’t.
The women that need help are those who are forced into the sex industry as a result of abuse, those who are threatened with all sorts of horrors if they don’t pose for the camera, if they don’t ‘put on that red light, if they don’t put out but ironically, campaigning to help these women in the seedier side of the sex industry isn’t as sexy or headline grabbing as a scantily clad woman only too happy to flaunt her assets for the camera.
It’s those women, forced to do things that no-one should have to do without consent, that need to be helped and celebrated on International Women’s Day. Help them to understand they can change their lives, help them to understand that there is no shame in having gone through what they’ve gone through, help them to understand that it’s not their fault. But also let them celebrate the fact that they’re still here, they’re alive and they can get through this.
It’s time that we as smart, intelligent women of the world who have the means and ability to create change start to make change where it matters rather than trying to create headlines and jump on the bandwagon that the sexualisation of women is a bad thing. The sex industry isn’t going away, it’s nothing more than a service industry with an incredible business model – I know, I’ve worked in it and I’ve researched it extensively.
Change needs to start taking place in our homes and our schools, where we learn to challenge unacceptable language and behaviour and respect that we all have equal status despite our very real physical differences.
Only when we can create equality in the home, which then extends outward into our society will we be able to say we are truly equal. When we as women allow our men to be men, our sons and daughters to follow their own path regardless of whether they like blue or pink, football or dolls, regardless of whether they prefer girls or boys, regardless of their gender or sexuality without worrying about what the neighbours will say, only then will we be truly equal.
And then I’ll feel happy about properly celebrating International Women’s Day, knowing that as a society we can all truly celebrate the fact that we are all equal and have access to the same opportunities should we CHOOSE to take them and that we don’t judge those who make different choices tot hose we would make for ourselves.
Whatever your opinion of International Women’s Day, I applaud it. Without an opinion we would not be able to bring about change.
To all of the incredible women I know, and those I don’t, who are getting on with their lives in spite of or despite appalling adversity, I salute you. And to all the men I know who support those women – thank you.
Happy International Women’s Day
Don’t you just love books? Try as I might I can’t quite get as attached to my kindle as I do to books. I love the convenience of my Kindle for travelling but nothing beats the smell and feel of books, old or new.
World Book Day always excites me. It evokes memories of books long since destined to the great library in the sky, books that sit on my bookshelf unread since the first time but too valuable to pass on, books that have helped me through some tough times, books that have educated me about subjects I’m passionate in, books that create wanderlust, that make my mouth water, that help me escape.
I’ve often said that I can live very easily without a TV but I can’t live without books and that’s true. In fact, I remember moving to London to take a job 20+ years ago and my parents buying me a small portable TV. I knew no-one and they were worried that I’d feel lonely so bought me the TV to keep me company. I switched it on once a week to watch BBC Question Time in bed! These days, I watch so little that I don’t have a subscription service to any of the satellite channels or Netflix and yet again, it gets switched on only a couple of times a week, usually to find a family film to watch sometime over the weekend.
But I can’t live without books. It was heart-breaking when I downsized a number of years ago and had no choice but to reduce the number of boxes of books I was taking with me. The decision over which books should stay and which should be donated to charity took much longer than packing down the entire house!!
We now have two full book-cases in the house but that’s nowhere near enough for me. My dream is to have a house large enough that I can have a study where one wall is completely full of books. A girlfriend of mine has an entire reading room of which I’m inordinately envious but I know that if that was my room no-one would ever see me in any other part of the house and I’d never get any work done.
I get completely immersed in books and it’s the only time I’m totally able to block out everything else around me. I can remember as a teenager being told off by my father on numerous occasions because I hadn’t heard the call in to tea or to get ready to go out because I was curled up somewhere with my nose in a book, in my head I was a million miles away from the sofa or the garden or wherever it was I was reading. I even used to sit and read in a tree outside our house, two of the branches were very old and thick and the exact size for the 13/14 year old me to lay back in and read for hours on end. Nowadays, the fact that those branches were directly over a very busy main road would undoubtedly mean children would be banned from enjoying them! Yes, I had to climb about 15ft up the tree with a book tucked under my arm, held between my teeth or shoved into the back pocket of my jeans in order to sit on the branches.
But I digress, are you a bookworm or do you prefer TV?
I also have a confession to make; if I walk into a house where there’s no bookcase, I get ever so slightly disappointed and sad. I worry about how the occupants have coped without having books as a focal point of their lives. To me a house with books is a home, a house without books is just a cold empty shell.
And now, even my own published books adorn our bookcase. I don’t think I ever expected that to happen.
Do you have a bookcase or do you prefer to keep everything electronic?