There's something kind of beautiful about the fact that when Mitch McConnell spoke these words, a reprimand to Elizabeth Warren, intended to shame, belittle and undermine her, what he actually gave was a rallying cry and a voice to a movement bigger, more enduring and more important than anything he has ever done or ever will do.

For some time, feminism was a dirty word. To be a feminist was to be a sullen woman, an 'emotional' woman, a 'hysterical' woman. The word couldn't be used without Thatcherist style matriarchal imagery - the buttoned-up, frigid and agitated middle aged lady, shouting and 'hen-pecking' to make her feelings known. Well, wake the fuck up 2017. This is what feminism looks like.

I could not believe over the past week, whilst promoting 'Beauty and the Beast', that Emma Watson, a grown ass woman, was having to defend her creative choice to pose topless (whilst, let's note, being completely covered - no freeing of nipples here) in Vanity Fair magazine. Guys, once again - it is TWENTY SEVENTEEN. We are working on BIGGER THINGS TOGETHER HERE. I don't think I can say anything quite as eloquently as Emma does herself in that video but, rest assured, feminism has a lot more to concern itself with than someone's - anyone's - tits, and what they choose to do with them.

It's a wake up call we keep receiving over and over again in these recent months, it seems - no matter how far you think progress has come, there is work to do. The work starts first with yourself, but it is so important to extend that work outwards, in a positive way. Extend your work to your friends, your family, your community. Meet prejudice and misinformation with kindness and empathy. Take time to talk. Get frustrated but use that energy to get active. And, if you could, allow me thirty seconds to tell you a little personal story before I say more encouraging things.

As recently as seven or eight years ago, I didn't want to call myself a feminist. In fact, I remember saying to my mum: 'I don't want equal rights. There are some things that I just can't do as well as a man.' It makes me shudder now, but I was young, and acting school does funny things to your head. Later that summer, I was walking down the street in Liverpool, elated, having finished one of my favourite shows in my final year of my degree. We nailed it, standing ovation - I was on cloud nine. I was dressed up, heading to a pub to meet my boyfriend, flanked by two female friends. I came across a group of drunk men - much older than me, maybe just shy of my dad's age. One stepped aside and gestured to let me pass, bowing down a little in courtesy. Just as I was thinking how polite it was and parting my lips to say thank you, he smacked me on the ass, hard - hard enough to leave a mark, and yelled out: 'JEEEESUS CHRIST!'

My reaction was pure shock. I didn't say anything. I looked to my companions for some kind of cue, but neither of them spoke at first and then - to my humiliation - they both laughed. As did the group of men. So I laughed too. Because I didn't know what to do, and I was scared of looking 'hysterical'. Know what I should have done? Slapped that guy and told him where to get off. Why didn't I? Because I wasn't secure enough to seize an equal platform to this drunk lech who was perfectly fine victimising young girls.

The worst part? It wasn't the first time. And probably, won't be the last. And whilst each time I get a bit more confident and able to deal with those awful situations - what about the girls that don't? What about my beautiful friends, about my Arabic family - my baby cousins. How many times have they been too scared or humiliated or silenced? I decided in that moment that feminism wasn't a stance - it was a right. This isn't political. It is the simple acknowledgement that everything afforded to a man should be afforded to a woman. It is the promise that no matter where she is, she knows her own skin is enough. That she won't be treated differently because of her body parts.

This International Women's Day the call from the ever-inspiring Women's March is to embody 'A Day Without Women' - for women to strike the world over, and take part in no paid or unpaid labour, and/or to consume nothing commercially for the whole day, and/or to wear red in solidarity with our fellow woman. Here's how you can get involved. For my US ladies, you can sign up in solidarity at this registration page.

To my male and female readers, my kick-ass, feminist, woke and passionate readers - I hope you'll join me in celebrating each other today, and taking a tiny step in solidarity, however insignificant it might seem. You don't know whose life you might change for the better.

2 comments

  1. I'm finding it hard to articulate how much enjoyed this post (you wrote this SO well), but just wanted to tell you that I feel energised and supported and empowered and ready to empower others. Thanks for making me feel all that!

    :)
    Flora
    www.theeverchange.com

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    Replies
    1. Aah Flora this absolutely made my day, you babe! I'm so glad this resonated with you - I was a little nervous about putting this up and your words just made it all worth it. Thanks so much for reading and commenting. T xx

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