Tag Archives: equality between the sexes

A Slightly Feminist-y Rant

Recently, a woman I hugely admire posted the following Tweet.

Also recently, another woman – not known to me personally – announced that she was taking a break from Twitter because she had received a barrage of death threats, from men, simply due to a rumour that she was slated to take over presenting a TV show.

A TV show.

I don’t normally get too deeply into my feelings about feminism, and things like that, on this blog (I tend to keep that sort of stuff for Tumblr), but there are times you just have to say: enough. This is enough. In fact, it’s more than enough.

A year ago yesterday, the girls of Chibok were taken from their families and loved ones by a group claiming religion as a valid reason for their abduction. Nobody really knows what has happened to the majority of these girls and young women, but one can guess that they have suffered some sort of sexual violence, or been married off against their will. They may have even been sold into slavery. Nobody seems to care.

Image: change.org

Image: change.org

Earlier this week, a woman in my own country waived her right to anonymity in order to name the abuser who destroyed her childhood – a man who was her mother’s partner, but who made her suffer unspeakably for a very long time.

Another woman, again in Ireland, who took a high-profile case against her own father for years of abuse suffered at his hands (and who went back to court to argue for a more severe sentence when the original one handed down was decried nationally as a disgrace) had a pipe bomb placed beneath her car. Luckily she, her husband and her family survived without injury.

I could go on.

Why is this happening? Why do things like GamerGate happen, where women who have the temerity to work in a male-oriented environment become objects of vitriol by certain men, who feel entitled to threaten their personal safety and sexual autonomy to the point where these women have to leave their homes and uproot their families? Why is sexual violence bandied about online as a threat whenever a woman dares to have an opinion? Why don’t the people responsible for this sort of hate speech (because it is ‘hate’ speech, not ‘free’ speech) understand, or care, that their words cause fear and pain and disruption? I sometimes wonder whether the people responsible for this sort of threatening language genuinely don’t see it as ‘serious’; perhaps they view it as being no more realistic than threatening to smash someone’s head in during a pub brawl, where both parties know it’s simply ‘big talk’. Well, it’s not just harmless blather. It’s causing real pain, and real fear, and achieving nothing.

I don’t know. I just know I’m sick of it.

Deeply misogynistic, troublingly sexual threats are made against women in the public eye every day. Men might suffer people disagreeing with their point of view, or being called an idiot or all manner of offensive or upsetting names (and I’m not saying this is right, either) if they put forth an unpopular viewpoint online, but it is overwhelmingly women who suffer death threats, and whose personal safety is jeopardised, and whose privacy is violated. This is not right. It shouldn’t be acceptable. People are fighting back, and spending five minutes on the Everyday Sexism Twitter feed will illustrate that more than handsomely.

But sometimes I wonder whether any of it is working. Sometimes I wonder whether the men and women who stand up for equality between the sexes are actually being listened to. Does anyone remember the threats made against the actor Emma Watson last year when she launched the UN’s equality campaign, HeForShe? I do. Threats were made to ‘doxx’ her (post her personal information, like her address and telephone number, online, a common tactic against women in the public eye) and leak naked photographs of her. This sort of violation has happened to other famous women, for no reason besides – apparently – the fact that they are women, who are deemed attractive, and hence seen as ‘public property’.

I just don’t know how to wrap my head around a world like this.

I hope we do, one day, see an end to a way of thinking which assesses a woman’s beauty before her ability to do a job. I hope we see a world wherein a woman can declare her intention to run for President of her country without anyone feeling the need to comment on her unsuitability because she is a grandmother. I hope we live to see a world where women are seen as people, and not just pretty objects to be looked at. I hope I, personally, live to see a world where women are neither deified as ‘perfect goddesses’ by virtue of their roles as mothers or potential mothers nor reduced to the level of an animal if they dare to express their sexuality, or own their power, or live up to their potential. I want a world where women can sit, in equal numbers to men, in boardrooms and houses of Parliament and courts of justice in every country, and where their words will be listened to and considered with the same respect that would be offered to a man. I don’t want any more women to be able to share anecdotes of oppression from the workplace, of being ignored at meetings or having men take credit for their ideas or having implications made that their jobs are dependent on them staying single, or not having children. I want to see a world where women, all women, have choices, and where those choices are respected – and where, when criticism is levelled at them, it is levelled because of something they have said, or done, or stood for, not simply because they’re female, and where that criticism is respectful and refrains from sexual threat.

I want to see a world where a baby girl is welcomed with as much joy as a baby boy. I want to see a world where a pregnant woman does not weep with disappointment if her unborn baby is female, and I want to see a world where women are not pressured by their families and society to abort their female babies because they are seen as ‘a burden’ or ‘less honourable’. I want a world where girls are not forced into marriage while they are still children. I want to see a world where no woman is killed or oppressed for doing something which would not cause an eyelid to flicker if she were a man. I want men to stand with women, and to resist misogyny and sexual violence wherever they encounter it, and I want women to stand with men, resisting attempts to belittle them because of their gender – because that happens, too.

I want women to stand with other women, and not tear one another down in an attempt to gain traction with, or acceptance by, a man – or, indeed, for any reason.

I want a lot, I know. What I want more than anything is the courage to make a stand in my own life to bring these things about, in tiny increments, in everything I do. Perhaps that, I can achieve.


Just another word for nothing left to lose? Well. I’m not so sure about that.

It was, of course, the Fourth of July yesterday; I’m not American, so for me it was just another day. I know, though, that the Fourth of July is a holiday held dear all over the world, and one which is remembered, if perhaps not observed, in many countries. It got me thinking about the idea of freedom – what it means, the implications it has, why it’s important, and whether it’s possible to achieve a world order in which everyone is free, all at the same time – and so today I thought I’d take a short ramble through my thoughts on the issue. Will you join me for the walk?

Image: footage.shutterstock.com

Image: footage.shutterstock.com

Freedom can be used with a lot of prepositions – freedom from, freedom to, freedom of – so, clearly, it is a concept with many facets. It means different things to different people, and freedoms expected in one culture may not be expected, or even desired, in another. Freedom is not a ‘one size fits all’ – one culture should not impose its own notions of freedom on another, I think – and, in that sense, it’s difficult to speak of a freedom that can encompass the world. In my opinion, nobody should live in fear, under oppression, or with the expectation that their liberty may be removed at any time, without warning; however, in order for this to happen, I think the world would have to change so much that it’s hard to see a way for it to become a reality. Freedom can be a threatening force to some – we all know of political regimes in which the powers that be keep an airtight hold on their citizens’ daily lives for fear that granting them an inch of liberty might spell their own downfall – and some people are interested only in a freedom that applies to them, and them alone.

Why are human beings so complicated? And so cruel, sometimes? I don’t think I’ll ever figure that one out.

For some terrible reason, humanity seems to have developed in such a way that it can only function if some of the world’s population is oppressed. Our economic systems are designed to keep certain people down; western consumer culture has trapped generations of people – often, people who live ‘far away’ and who are, therefore, easy to forget – in a spiral of poverty and overwork; certain religions and cultures deny people the freedom to gain an education, to drive a car, to live where they wish… the list is endless. It takes a greater brain than mine to come up with a way to solve these problems, I fear. It causes me a great deal of guilt when I compare the life I am privileged to lead with the life of a person who is exactly like me, but living in a different country or under a different set of beliefs, and whose life is vastly different to mine as a result of mere geography.

Can a world be forged in which we are all, to echo the great phrase, created equal? Obviously, I know every person is intrinsically equal to every other human person, simply by dint of being alive, but anyone taking a look around our planet can see that the idea of equality between peoples is, in a lot of places, nothing more than a beautiful dream. I fear too much change would be required to make it a feasible reality everywhere. Sadly, there are people who would fight tooth and nail to protect their own freedom, and that of their families and loved ones, while not caring what happens to others. But if we are not all free, to whatever extent we wish it, is there any point in any of us being free? And how free are we, really, in a world where we’re bombarded with messages about how we’re not good enough, and how we must buy and acquire and hoard more and more, and how happiness is only achievable when a particular total appears at the end of our bank statements? There are many forms of oppression, though some are far more insidious than others.

In order for freedom to be extended to all, I think a lot of people would have to give up some of the things they’ve always taken for granted, and governments all over the world would have to prove themselves trustworthy and incorrupt, and we would all have to agree on what the word ‘freedom’ actually means. Because of this, I’m not sure we’ll ever see universal equality, though it’s certainly something we should never stop striving towards. I am very grateful for the freedoms in my life, and for the fact that so many of those who’ve gone before me have paved the way for me to have the life I’ve got. What more selfless act can there be but to take action which will guarantee a better life for people you will never meet, or know? What better example to follow?

I hope all of those who celebrate the Fourth of July had a wonderful day yesterday, and I hope that people all over the world took a moment to reflect on their own freedoms, and to be grateful for them. I know I did.

Happy Friday, and I hope a wonderful weekend, full of happy things, awaits you.

Woman Power

So, I’m alive. I’m awake. I’m functional, even. I’m a little bit late with the blog post, but what’s that between friends? I hope you’ll forgive me.

If you can't forgive me, then maybe you'll forgive this cute kitten in a bonnet. Image: fourms.catholic.com

If you can’t forgive me, then maybe you’ll forgive this cute kitten in a bonnet.
Image: fourms.catholic.com

Yesterday was a hard day. Doing a 10K walk is not necessarily difficult in itself – I’ve often done long walks before – but the extra complicating factor in yesterday’s Mini Marathon was the heat. Yesterday felt like one of the hottest days I’ve ever lived through, even though I’m sure it wasn’t. But if you take a hot, dry, bright day and add upwards of 40,000 people all in close proximity to one another, it’s going to feel ten times hotter than it really is. There was a lot of perspiration going on. So much for the old maxim that ‘horses sweat, men perspire, and women only glow’: this woman right here sweated litres yesterday. Sorry for the gross image, but it has to be done!

It feels great to have completed the Mini Marathon, and I’m very glad I did it (with a lot of encouragement from my lovely mother-in-law), but I must admit that the build-up to it was nerve-wracking. I wondered if I’d be able to do it, and I worried about letting people (and myself) down if I failed. I worried that I wouldn’t be physically or mentally able for it – walking for pleasure, which I do every day, is a different thing from walking in a sporting event like this one, despite the fact that the participants weren’t in competition with one another – and I feared I wouldn’t be up to the task.

But I was. I did it! I have a lovely shiny medal now to be proud of, and my father-in-law and brother-in-law were kind enough to take high-resolution, sharp-focus photographs of me as I came away from the finish line so I’ll have those to admire in perpetuity, too. The cameras looked big enough to be capable of taking photographs of deep space, so I’m sure they captured every open pore and strand of sweaty hair, not to mention the lobster-red of my face. Thanks, guys!

Something which struck me yesterday was the amount of women who walked and/or ran the Mini Marathon in memory of someone else, and in honour of someone they loved. People wore images on their t-shirts, lovely photographs of lost children or friends or parents, sometimes with a note of their age and what had claimed their life but sometimes not. I found myself very moved by some of these memorials, especially those in memory of babies who hadn’t managed to survive being born too prematurely. I was awed by the strength of these women, the mental and physical power it took to undertake something as strenuous as yesterday’s event while also carrying the weight of memory and loss. I’m sure they were taking part in order to raise some money for all the excellent charities and causes out there, and I hope they managed to raise as much as they wanted to. Nowadays, there’s not a lot of extra coinage sloshing around, and things like this – really worthy things like this – are suffering.


Women are amazing. So are men, of course, but today I want to celebrate women and how strong and fantastic they are. I’m very proud to be one, and I’m proud to know so many wonderful women and to have taken part in an event so full of strong and capable women yesterday. I’m glad to live where I live, and I’m glad to live at this time in human history, where my life is important and my personal sovereignty is respected and my opinion is listened to and my vote is counted. I’m proud of the women who’ve come before me, and I hope I’ll leave the world in as good a state for the women who come after me.

Image: envisionus.com

Image: envisionus.com

Happy Tuesday!