Wednesday, 8 March 2017

International Women's Day

I was going to just write a short paragraph on Facebook to give a "Woohoo!" to the many awesome women I know, and then, as I composed said short paragraph in my head, it became longer, and had more sub-clauses and explanations, until I realised it was probably worth more than a Facebook status update.

So, here is my "Woohoo!" to the many women I know who are awesome, often in the face of huge challenges thrown in their path...

... the women who have been knocked down, but got back up again, gave a swift two-finger salute to the world, and built themselves amazing new lives, often returning to university, or starting their own companies, or launching into new careers in midlife. You are my Wild Women of Worth and you stand as an amazing example of how not to be beaten down by the vicissitudes of life.

... the women who have refused to accept "women can't build IKEA furniture" or "Mummies can't mend things, we'll have to wait for Daddy" and have rolled up their sleeves and shown the world, and their children, that women certainly can make, mend, build and do.

... the women who have taken a leap of faith, trusted themselves to spread their wings and fly high and left behind a safe, known career and gone where their passion has led them.

... the women who are carrying the burden of caring, both for their children and their parents and still finding time and energy to be their own person too.

... the women who fight, and fight, and fight to get the best for their children, often against systems that don't accept difference, systems that want to pigeon-hole children and won't flex for the needs of the individual.

... the women who are holding their families together, caring and nurturing and loving and cleaning and cooking and working and collapsing at the end of the day only to start again the next day.

... the women who went before me, especially those in my own family who made it completely normal for me to got to university and become a physicist. To my mother, my grandmothers and my great-grandmother, who paved the way for me as university-educated women.

And, if you're a man reading this, and you think that there are plenty of men who do all that too, you're right. Men do. But they don't do it against a background of being told they're the weaker sex. They don't do it being afraid of walking home alone. They don't do it while being told that how they look matters more than what they can do. They don't do it knowing that if they wear the "wrong" clothes they will be blamed for what happens to them at the hands of criminals. They don't do it while worrying that if they travel on crowded public transport they risk being groped. They don't do it in a world that wonders if they'll still be able to do their job if they become fathers. They do it all in a world where their sex is privileged above mine. And if that still doesn't cut any ice with you, wait until November 19th and you can rejoice in International Men's Day.

And, while I'm here, there's another "Woohoo!" to all the men who value me for who I am, and what I can do. The men who know that women are not lesser beings. The men who are raising awesome daughters. The men who are cheering on the success of their mothers, sisters, wives and daughters. The men who recognise their privilege and recognise that feminism is not about dragging men down, but about raising women up, so that we are all treated as human beings, and what we keep in our trousers is not the most important thing about any of us.

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