Sweet Dreams Are Made Of Humans
A couple of days ago I read an interview with Annie Lennox in The Guardian. She talks about winning the Barclay’s woman of the year accolade in 2010 when she asked for people to stand up if they were a feminist. Half the room remained seated, and chances are I’d have been in the half of the room that stayed on my bum. Not out of meekness or embarrassment. Certainly not because I’d have been picking my nails wishing I was back in the kitchen darning my partners socks or whipping together a casserole.
I’d of remained seated because I don’t feel the need to label myself just because I am female, independent, feel strongly about women’s rights and enjoy dancing to Beyoncé. For those reasons I also don’t know how I really feel about International Woman’s Day.
In the interview Annie Lennox ponders “it made me wonder, what is wrong with the word”. Nothing at all is wrong with the word, and being female (working ovaries, a brain, two feet etc) no one is more grateful that it exists. I may stand alone here, I just don’t feel the need to brand myself because of my gender.
I grew up in a family where my parents shared the mortgage, housework and childcare. I have watched my parents sitting down to the crossword every weekend together, mutual respect for their intelligence, as equals. Way before fathers were allowed into the delivery room my Dad was trying to barge past burly matrons to support my mum (only to be smacked round the head and sent down the pub by the midwife, “nothing for you to see here”).
In my career I have been lucky enough to work with inspirational men and women (more commonly known as my colleagues) and although I have experienced utter idiocy and poor decisions on numerous occasions they have simply been that. Foolish management choices, not sexist choices. I have frequently felt more supported and more equal to my male colleagues in fact. In the workplace it’s more often been female co-workers creating unnecessary competition and tension unfortunately (and I could write a book on how much this saddens me).
As for my relationships, I currently date a feminist. If you frequently take the central line in London look out for a man ranting at anyone daft enough to be caught ogling page.3 on public transport. He will also march against those that find strip clubs “lads” entertainment and spit at TV shows “aimed at woman enforcing the idea that you’re ditzy emotional idiots” (Sex and the City, Take Me Out). I must stress he doesn’t do this in order to get a hot meal and my pants off.
But when Annie Lennox says this shouldn’t be a female only members club I do wholeheartedly agree. Do not cross the line unless you can show your bra and prove you own a Patti Smith CD is outdated when I know so many brilliant men that see us as equal, not less able sex objects who have no worthy opinions or contribution to the world. Take a look at the men in your life and ask yourself if this is their picture of you? I suspect not. The reason being is because us women are great judges of character, have choices, earn a wage, know what is unacceptable and therefore we wouldn’t give anyone the time of day if they did treat us like this.
Maybe I am exceptionally lucky and rare, I am certainly not naive enough to think my experiences are a blueprint for every woman out there. Yes we have a long way to go. Woman are woefully represented at board level and in our parliament (and when we get there end up doing “ironic” sexy GQ shots, Mensch I’m looking at you). Vile programmes like Loose Woman do the sane, clever, witty lady zero favours. Mens appearance is not picked apart in minute details (Lana Del Rey recently at the receiving end of quite vitriolic abuse). But the people, male and female, I surround myself with give me hope.
I will be eternally grateful to the advent of birth control, the suffragette’s for pioneering the feminist movement and to Annie Lennox for cropping her hair, putting on trousers and showing us we can do it just like the fella’s. All these things are the reason I have the voice and platform to type all this and it was her voice that drifted through the walls from my sisters bedrooms when I was seven, one of my earliest influences and examples of a strong, talented, intelligent woman (all those things we weren’t meant to be once upon a time).
It’s just that I’d have felt more inclined to jump up on the table and swing from the chandeliers had she asked me to “stand up if you’re a human”. That’s where we need to be. ♥
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