I saw Star Wars Episode VIII in the cinema the other day and, in amongst trailers for Infinity War and Ready Player One, and ads for cars and mobile phones, I saw this:
It made me think about the countless discussions I have with Luke about modern feminism. I totally support his arguments that there are male issues too, such as the high suicide rates amongst young men and the struggles for working dads to have time off, but women are still worse off in many ways.
We’re fortunate to live in a modern western world where women can vote, drive and have successful careers. But there are still women who earn less than men for doing the same job, women who don’t have control over their own bodies (i.e. access to birth control) and women who have been silenced/threatened for telling the truth. And that’s just in the developed world.
Across the world women are being murdered by their families for being ‘dishonourable’, forced into marriages and mutilated. How can we live in 2018, in a world where there are only slightly more men than women (101 males to every 100 females), and still be treated so differently. Treated as less. Treated as worth less.
Last year I (unintentionally) read a lot of books which could be classified as feminist, both fiction and non-fiction, featuring novels, memoirs and collections of essays. And they genuinely moved, inspired and encouraged me.
In 2017 I was inspired by so many women. The women who marched against Trump. The artists whose work featured in I Am Woman. The Etsy sellers who create beautiful work. The mum friend who delivered her own baby alone in a bath tub. The actresses who spoke out about sexual harassment. The mental health bloggers who reassure vulnerable readers that they aren’t alone. There is a platform for the voices which were previously silenced and it’s incredible.
Growing up I had to search for strong female role models. They weren’t in the books I read or the films I watched. We certainly weren’t taught about any in school, beyond the Suffragettes. Now, although they are certainly not commonplace, there are more strong women featured in the mainstream media. Films directed by women and featuring strong female leads are storming the box office (the top three grossing films of last year had female leads, one of which was directed by a woman). Young women can look to the likes of Malala, Amal Clooney, Emma Watson and Serena Williams for examples of what they have the power to become. There’s still a long a way to go but I believe there’s been no better time to be a woman.
This year I am making a very active decision to read more books written by and about strong and interesting women. I’ve put together a wish list featuring the likes of Zadie Smith, Gloria Steinem, Hillary Clinton, Lara Bates, Nora Ephron, Rebecca Solnit and Roxane Gay. If you’ve got any recommendations, do leave them in the comments.
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