There was a post on a facebook group the other day with a comment saying how they didn’t think Girlguiding should be a ‘feminist’ organisation. I honestly wanted to scratch my own eyes out to un-see that comment. However, the next day I watched an incredible speech given by a young woman who has helped bring two of my favourite characters in literature to the cinema screen through her acting talents. That young woman is, of course, Emma Watson.
Emma is working with the UN as their Goodwill Ambassador for Women, and this speech above was at the launch of the UN’s ‘He For She’ campaign.
This summer, I had the pleasure of attending events at the Edinburgh International Book Festival where I got to meet the founders of the Vagenda blog, Holly Baxter & Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett, and writer & author, Melissa Benn. All three ladies had smiles and compliments when they found out I was a Girlguiding leader. However during both events there were women and men who said they didn’t want to call themselves feminists ‘even though they believed in gender equality’. Because the media has done a grand job at making us believe that feminism is about oppressing men – it is not. And I loved that Emma addressed that in her speech to the UN.
Girlguiding recently launched their Girls Matter campaign. I won’t say I agree literally with all their points (my main concern is that I’d never want a woman or man to be in a role to fill a quota – I simply wish that we always have the best people for the job, however I think that inequalities in representation of all people need to be addressed in our political and economic arenas). I’ve had members of the units I’m part of report to me some of the sexual harrassment they’ve experienced at school and I still have strong memories of the struggle we had to find stories of famous women in the media that were about who they were and the inspirational things they do/have done, rather than their looks.
It says a lot about people’s attitudes to gender equality when you see the appalling backlash Emma Watson has faced since the speech went public, and how it was reported in the media. Some journalists wanted to talk more about what she was wearing while making the speech rather than discuss the content of her speech. The same week, pictures of Gloria De Piero were shown in the papers discussing her outfit more than her speech at the Labour Party conference.
We still have a long ways to go folks!
So yes, I am a feminist. I believe in gender equality. I believe that the world was not created to have this imbalance. And yes I will speak out against inequality of any kind.
Girls matter. Women matter.
And the world needs us as well as the men.
It’s not about one or the other. 🙂