"Never apologise for being a powerful woman":thoughts from an author this International Women's Day!
I remember quite vividly the moment I realised that the world was not the same place for men and women. I was five years old, in kindergarten, colouring in a picture of the Magic Pudding for arts and crafts. As a little girl, obsessed with the colour pink, I decided to colour my pudding in what was, at that point in time, known as "skin colour" (a pale pink colour that was 100% racist). Another little boy, let’s call him Thomas, decided to colour his pudding in bright green. I was placed in the naughty corner for two minutes for “not listening to instructions”, Thomas was given a merit certificate for expressing creativity. Sure, I didn't specifically realise that this was a gender issue at the time, I just remember feeling like the world was not an entirely fair place, a feeling that has continued through the rest of my life. As a woman, trying to make my way in a still male-dominated field (83% of writers surveyed by The Guardian in 2011 were male), it’s easy to feel like you are running an uphill marathon every day of the week. And, even if you are lucky enough to make it to the top of whatever field you are in, you are still going to be paid, on average, 13.8% less than your male counterparts.
And the inherit bias doesn’t end in the work place, it comes with a sad look from an older person at a younger friend’s wedding… because your worth lessens dramatically every year you spend without a ring on your left hand. It comes with the men who act as if you are simply a shining gold prize who is there merely to reflect on them (and before any a** holes comment on this- yes, I know it isn’t all men, but it’s enough for there to be a goddamn problem so sit down and shut up). Finally, it comes from those in power all over the world, those with no vagina, no breasts and no uterus who feel the need to dictate what we can and cannot do with our bodies and/or the beings growing inside of them.
The world is an different place for men than it is for women and anyone who says otherwise has not been paying enough attention. Today is the day where we are meant to celebrate all the amazing achievements of strong women and, don’t get me wrong, that is so incredibly important but there is still so much work to be done and a few token Instagram posts from big headed politicians is not going to bring about the change that is required. This is a systemic issue yes but it is also a familial issue, it starts with the language we use to build our little girls up and the way we raise our little boys. My best friend and I were talking the other day about how we love the idea of raising a boy who is kind, who has respect and who treats women as equals… and it wasn’t until right now, as I am writing this, that I realised just how f***ed up that really is. Raising good boys should not be some unattainable goal, it should be the absolute minimum we hope for, yet somehow our society has deemed this to be the gold standard of child rearing. We see it in the conversations we have with our friends about a new guy we’ve just met… “Oh my god he’s actually so nice” … “He would never lay a hand on anyone” – we have set the bar so low for men that literally all they need to do is be a decent human, and we will fall in love with them… yet somehow, so many can still not manage it.
Now I want to be clear on one thing, I am not some man hating, crazy feminist, I am simply a women who has had enough of living in a world where she has to run 5 times faster than any man to reach the same destination, at the same time. So this International Women’s Day, I encourage you to take a stand, be proud of who you are and “never apologise for being a powerful f***ing woman”!!!
If you, like me, turn to words when feeling lost or needing inspiration, take a minute to read through my top ten favourite feminist quotes. Read them, get mad, and take a goddamn stand!!
1. “The question isn’t who is going to let me, it’s who is going to stop me” - Ayn Rand
2. “Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim” - Nora Ephron
3. “You must never behave as if your life belongs to a man… your life belongs to you and you alone” - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; half a yellow sun
4. “Don’t let the bastards grind you down” - Margaret Atwood
5. “There is nothing stronger than a broken woman who has rebuilt herself” - Hannah Gadsby
6. “A man does something, it’s strategic. A woman does the same thing, it’s calculated” - Taylor Swift
7. “I just want to work until there are fewer and fewer firsts and onlys” - Raquel Willis
8. “Screw beautiful, I’m brilliant” - Christina Yang
9. “I’d rather be alone than unhappy” — Whitney Houston
10. “Listen, listen and then yell at the top of your lungs
Be a voice for all those who have prisoner tongues
For the people who had to grow up way too young
There is work to be done
There are songs to be sung
Lord knows there's a war to be won” - Halsey
Sending love and power, wherever you are this International Women’s Day!
Aimee J Edwards
Author of Limitations