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The story of women's struggle foe equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organisation but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.
- Gloria Steinam
There has been so much written on the subject of sexism, misogyny and feminism of late. Three cheers to all those who have written so eloquently on the subject lately without turning it into a competition.
It concerns me however that in a lot of the comments on blogs, newspaper items, tweets and discussions, a number of women start their comment with 'I'm not a feminist, but…' or 'I'm not an avid feminist, but…' while agreeing with the writer or commentator about the deplorable state of affairs for women.
I became a feminist (or at least with the benefit of hindsight, became a feminist) at the age of eight, when I was expelled from Brownies for refusing to earn my badges for sewing, craft, and various other 'feminine' pursuits. Actually the truth is it was probably writing 'Brown Owl is a bum' in chalk on the footpath Brown Owl walked on her way home, after getting into trouble for that attitude that got me expelled but I took a stand. You see the Brownie hut was next door to the Scout Den and they got to build fires and canoes. I didn't understand why I couldn't do that. I can still build the BEST fire but don't ask me to sew on a button.
From a young age I was aware of discrimination — at high school being made to do Mothercare lessons which again I eventually refused to do. I went to university and studied law. In one of my first lectures the male lecturer told us how much a degree would be worth over the course of our careers, but added it wasn't as important for the female students because we could always just marry a lawyer. My complaint to the Dean went nowhere.
The thing is this — no woman should be embarrassed about being a feminist, or worry about being labeled a feminist. Being a feminist is terrific, and is not an exclusive club — all the members of that club are frankly marvellous. So here is my take on it:
EVERY woman who believes that equal work deserves equal pay is a feminist.
EVERY woman who believes workplaces should not be places of fear just because of your gender is a feminist.
EVERY woman who believes promotion should be on merit and nothing else is a feminist.
EVERY woman who believes that girls in Afghanistan and Pakistan deserve the right to go to school without fear of being shot at is a feminist.
EVERY woman who believes that women have the right to choose whether or not to have a baby is a feminist.
EVERY woman who believes no one should suffer through a violent relationship out of fear and want to help that woman is a feminist.
EVERY woman who believes she has the right to walk home after a night out without having to fear sexual assault is a feminist.
AND – EVERY man who believes these things is a feminist too.
You don't need to be feisty about it, grow armpit hair, hold placards or write articles. But you can if you want to. You can call it as you see it without the need to apologise for your views. You can do it quietly or loudly. You just need to do it, and be proud of it.
There are lots of disagreements amongst feminists about what it takes to be one and they are always interesting discussions. These are just my simple rules. I think we're all feminists and I'm proud to be one.
Thanks to Destroy The Joint for publishing this cartoon in 2013.
Happy International Women's Day tomorrow!
There is no chance, no destiny, no fate, that can circumvent or hinder or control the firm resolve of a determined soul.
Ella Wheeler Wilcox
I’ve never been one to make a long list of New Year’s resolutions. Mainly because it is so easy to fail at them – the lofty ideals we set at this time of the year; when we are looking back at the year that was and what we want to be different somehow in the coming year. The only resolution I made in the past (which I have now stopped making) was that I would be ‘serene’ the next year. I don’t think that is ever going to happen completely, but bit by bit I am learning. Honestly. Delegation appears to be key.
F0r 2016 I am quietly determined not to read the comments on public facebook pages or on twitter, and participate in the discussions. I really don't need to participate in the outrage industry social media seems to breed these days and correcting grammar and spelling on the internet has lost its sparkle.
Resolutions are very different to goals made with resolve. Goals can be broken down into achievable parts. ‘I’m going to lose 12 kilos’ as a resolution often fails at the first hurdle when one hypothetically wakes up with a hangover on New Years’ Day unable to get off the couch to get any exercise. Yet having a goal of losing 12 kilos in the next 12 months can be broken down into losing 1 kilo a month, by exercising 5 days out of seven, by reducing your calorie intake so that output is higher than input and so on. Possibly even giving up wine, if one was so inclined. And every month that goes by and you see your goal reached is a mental tick in the box that you’re doing well.
And while resolutions come and go; resolve is easier to maintain, especially when you set yourself a goal and have a clear picture in your head, and written down on a piece of paper of what you want to achieve and how you are going to achieve it.
So think about your career and life goals for 2016, and how you are going to measure your success at achieving them. Do you want a new client? What steps do you need to take to win that work? Then keep it? Do you want to achieve a certain financial target? What changes do you need to make to ensure that happens? Do you want to move into a different area? To whom do you need to speak? Do you want start your own business? Where are you going to start and who can help you? Do you want to get a promotion? How do you find out about the criteria and who makes the decision? Do you need to make more time for yourself? What has to change to make that happen? Do you need to give up control of some things? What are you going to give up doing that has been distracting you?
Each of these questions is a whole blog post on its own, (especially the last two) but I want you to think about one important thing where we can all maintain resolve.
Is there a difficult conversation you have been putting off having with someone, whether it be a supervisor, colleague or junior employee? If you are doing reruns in your head of what you could have, should have or would have said to someone, that is a sign that a difficult conversation needs to be had. Plan it, frame it, and have it. Nothing changes unless you have those conversations – in particular the enormous space those thoughts are taking up in your head, and the energy expended in thinking about them. If you are a manager of people one of the most important skills you can learn is how to have a difficult conversation. I have yet to meet anyone who has dreaded a difficult conversation at work, but who has regretted finally having it, regardless of the outcome.
But back to the concept of serenity. I will never be Princess Grace (assuming she was serene and not just faking it). And most people with busy lives will have difficulty achieving serenity. I am however learning to be mindful. And so can you. I am day by day learning to focus my attention, to pause between tasks, and take a deep breath before moving on to the next one. And so can you. Trust me, it works.
And in 2016, let’s all practice gratitude and kindness regularly ( have written about gratitude previously), and be the person people look forward to seeing when they come to work. Gratitude and kindness, however small the act, are never wasted.
Happy New Year everyone any may your 2016 be successful, whatever success means for you.