Today I bring you a guest post from a woman that I really admire, we have disagreed recently over marriage and taking your husbands name but we did it with grace and both of us listening to the others point of view.
I love that in a person,
So let me pass you across to the wonderful Ashleigh to talk with you about International Woman's Day.
If you enjoy what you read, please do go check out Ashleigh further at http://www.25to30.co.uk/
And many thanks to Ashleigh for writing this.
Today, as some may know and some others may not, is International Women's Day, an initiative supported around the world by charities, political bodies and individuals to raise awareness of women's issues and the on-going fight for sexual equality in every country, at every level of society. It is, in many ways, a day to look outside of our own, comparably comfortable existence, and recognise the pain and suffering faced by women elsewhere on the planet. I could have offered up a lengthy monologue about how as an international community we still have such a long way to go to stop women from living in constant fear of sexual harassment, discrimination and violence. In South Africa for example, where the rate of sexual violence is among the highest in the world, women's charities estimate that a woman is raped every 36 seconds. Every. Thirty. Six. Seconds - not in the world, but in one country alone. A country where 25% of men anonymously questioned admitted to having raped someone, more than half of those to having raped more than one person. But the problem isn't on somebody else's doorstep alone; here in the UK there are around 230 rapes reported per day, with only around 1 in every 100 surviving victims seeing the conviction of their rapist. I'm not going to preach about this, which I consider to be a very real crisis facing us as a human race, a crisis which we've sat in for centuries; because International Women's Day is also a day about looking positively at the strength, resilience and inspirational power of women in our world today. In the UK alone we're seeing a change in attitudes not just amongst us lady folk, but within our entire society at large, we can talk openly about sexual equality and discrimination and can discuss very publicly the struggles faced by the women in our communities, drawing attention to what has, for a long time, been a silent battle. With everything from whistling builders to The Sun newspaper's Page 3 legacy under intense scrutiny from a female army who feel empowered and confident enough to say "No!" - We do live in a very different world, one which has a long way to go, but one which is moving towards providing women with the perfect platform upon which to thrive.
But perhaps, just maybe, you're not all too fussed about nipples in your news, after all, no Page 3 model has ever been forced to undress and stand before a camera against her will for the feature right? Maybe, even more controversially, you have once, maybe twice, maybe a whole host of times, got the odd wolf whistle when you've been out and about and been just a little bit (whispers) smug? Because let's be honest, you had just left the salon, or bought a new dress, or just had a bloody good morning, and you did look pretty fine. Any then there's always the possibility that you might have stopped what you were doing to catch that H&M advert (yes, the one with Beckham, in the pants) or the Diet Coke man doing his thing - so you can't really complain if men are doing the same thing over "Zoe, 22, from Cambridge" huh?
So perhaps you wouldn't describe yourself as a feminist. You might be married, heaven forbid you might be married with your husband's surname to boot. You might stay at home raising your awesome kiddies whilst Mr. You goes out to work. You might even like men. Who knows! So you're not exactly a feminist are you?
Well here's where I argue with every married stay at home Mum who bitches regularly about the woman next door but has a bunch of male friends who absolutely rock (and wouldn't think twice about asking them to carry the shopping in from the car) - feminism isn't just relevant to everyone, but it's practiced by the lot of us in our way.
I probably have the least, what many would think of as "typically feminist", outlook and attitudes amongst my friends; not because I hate women, on the contrary most of my closest confidants are fellow girlies, but I'm a great preserver of the gap between men and women. It's a sideways gap in my mind, with those with willies and those without standing side by side with a space in between, as opposed to us trailing behind like a lame golden retriever, but it's a gap none the less, and it's a vital one that ensures that being a woman continues to be fabulous.
To me, and I don't consider myself to be speaking for the feminist movement at large here, I see feminism as being the campaign for our right to carry on being women, not to alter what it means to be a woman, but to alter how we function within the societies that we live in.
I don't want to be the same as any man, on the contrary the thought depresses me, but I want to be able to exist alongside men in a world where my femininity is cherished and my strengths as a woman are put to good use. There is a place for a female presence in every work place, whether we're talking schools, beauty salons, or oil rigs. It's not just about equal pay (although of course that's a no brainer) and it's not about us shouting from our soap boxes that "anything he can do we can do better" - the fact remains that we have chips to bring to the table that may not be present in a man only work force, or a man only circle of friends, or a man only club or organisation, a man only sport, a man only event, a man only team. The female fire fighter, the female police officer, the female film director, the female rally car driver; and the stay at home Mum; each of these women has been blessed with a natural, in-built woman-ness, which she applies to her lifestyle, her job, her every day doings in her own special way.
Feminism, for me at least, is not about ensuring that we're all saving border collies from burning buildings and breaking up bar brawls (although - kudos if you are!) it's about creating a global community in which women are celebrated, not as being better than men, not as being a man with a womb, but as an equal to men in our intrinsic value, as beings and to the society that we contribute to, with very very different biological and psychological makeups that make us a true asset to our community.
And whilst we're at it, let's also hope for a world where those men can be hairdressers, florists, wedding planners and domestic cleaners without assumptions being made about their sexuality, a world where men can work with young children without being suspected of criminal activity, and a world where men can have a sneaky peek at a lingerie ad without being labelled a pervert. Men are different; and those differences need to be exploited just as much as a woman's should be (they're also handy for reaching top shelves).
There is no place in this country, on this planet, for a woman who calls herself a feminist and believes that men are useless.
I write this as news appears that the UN has cancelled this year's Gaza Marathon after the authorities governing the area decided to ban women from taking part. The race has been run annually for the past 2 years, with a third race scheduled for the 10th April 2013, and previously both men and women, from countries across the world, had taken part. In a statement issued this week the Hamas authorities said that they were disappointed at the decision to cancel the marathon, but that they "did not want men and women being in the same place."
I shall leave you with a quote from Gwyneth Paltrow at the launch of the new Hugo Boss fragrance Boss Nuit
"the key to female empowerment is truly knowing yourself and not being scared of what others think of you"
What do you think everyone?
Let me know.
Big Fashionista xx