What is International Women’s Day and why do we need it?

Yesterday, the 8th of March, was International Women’s Day. The day was first organised in March 1911 and officially started being celebrated by the United Nations on the 8th March 1975. In the past 105 years so much has been achieved for women’s rights globally, but we’re not done yet.

For those of you that claim feminism and International Women’s Day is no longer needed, it must be considered that gender inequality is a global issue. Even if you think that you are in the privileged position that you and everyone in your life is completely equal regardless of their gender, there are billions of women across the world who aren’t that lucky.

It is predicted to take 118 years for the gender pay gap to close and only 55 of the 500 richest people are women. Only one fifth of parliamentary seats are held by women and only 19 out of 196 heads of state are women.

If this isn’t indicative of a problem, then I don’t know what is. However this problem isn’t just global, it’s personal. It affects every women who is told she can’t or she shouldn’t or she won’t simply based on her gender.

So, why do we need International Women’s Day?
To celebrate everything women have already achieved despite the adversity they faced and to remind where we’re going and what we’re aiming for.

#ToTheGirls2016

This is something I have already posted on my blog, but I want to share it with you guys too, because I think it’s so important.

This hashtag was inspired by Courtney Summer’s All The Rage which can be found on Goodreads here. It is basically people tweeting their messages to womankind! So, here’s mine:

#ToTheGirls2016

I have more to say than could ever be squeezed into 140 characters so I’d thought I’d write a letter!

Don’t let anyone else define you. Being a girl doesn’t decide what career you can do or tell you that you can’t have a career – you must be a stay at home mother. Be a scientist, an engineer or doctor! But equally you don’t have to go into science or maths to prove them wrong. Be a writer, a translator or a teacher! Do whatever makes you happy and don’t apologise for it. You shouldn’t have to say sorry for doing what you love. Be unapologetically yourself.

Your beauty isn’t limited by someone else’s. For some reason, the world is trying to tell us there is only one definition of what beautiful is. That’s wrong. My beauty isn’t defined or limited by yours. We can be beautiful together and we don’t have to look at all alike. In the same way a rose and a sunset are beautiful, you and I are beautiful.

Help other girls out but don’t feel indebted to them. As girl, it’s easy to feel like you’re in competition with other girls, but that’s not true. You prove nothing by being better than her, you only put her down. Instead help her up and support her. Let her know she’s not alone. At the same time, you don’t owe everyone. Sometimes you just have to put yourself first and that’s okay. In fact, that’s better than okay, that’s a good thing.

Say No as often as you like. Don’t be afraid to say No. It is always your right to say no, regardless of the question or circumstances. Whatever the question is, you should never feel guilty for saying no and you never owe it to someone to say yes.
At the same time, don’t be afraid to say yes. Don’t turn down opportunities because someone else says you should. Go out and grab what you want, saying yes to everything that comes your way. Don’t think you don’t deserve it, becuase you do. You deserve the chance to try just like any man.

Lots of love,
Emily

Masculine and Feminine characteristics – why the labels?

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What inspired me to write this post, is the above picture. Someone on Twitter posted it, saying they had to discuss it as their homework, and it had such an impact on me, I knew I just had to write about it.The picture shows a list of Masculine Ideals and Feminine Ideals. For some reason, someone has felt the need to categorise everything and this is the way they have chosen to sort it, but I don’t agree.

One of the phrases that particularly stood out to me was the fact that athletic was categorised under ‘masculine’ when there are just as many female athletes as male ones and little girls love to play sport just as much as little boys. Can you imagine telling Jessica Ennis,  Serena Williams and Ellie Simmonds that being athletic is a masculine ideal? I’d imagine they’d laugh in your face. Gender doesn’t impact whether or not you’re athletic.

Another things I found striking was that ambitious was a masculine ideal. Do we now suddenly live a world where women don’t have any aims or aspirations? Because last time I checked my female friends have just as many ambitions as my male friends and are willing to work just as hard to achieve them.

Leadership qualities were also sorted under ‘masculine ideals’ when I love to take control when trying to organise things. I am completely happy to admit that I can be bossy, but at the same time lots of people have told me I’m a god leader. And it’s not just me, there are women leading things all over the world and they seem to be doing okay despite the fact they’re not male.

Another shocking thing was that compassionate was categorised as female, when actaully all human beings should try and be compassionate towards others no matter their gender. Compassion should go hand in hand with the qualities I mentioned above. A good leader is compassionate. A athlete, particularly one who is part of a team needs to care about others. If all our leaders in everything were men, but only the women were compassionate, our world would never get anywhere.

Overall, the conclusion I can draw from this is that we don’t have to label everything. Not everything has to fit into a neat little box, where it can be filed away. Characteristics shouldn’t be defined as male or female. Every characteristic should be someone anyone can aim for and a full, complete human being should try and have characteristics from both sides of the table above.

Alwaysopinionatedgirl

Halloween Costumes – disrespectful or just good fun?

We are coming up to that time of year where almost everyone loves to dress up. Whether it’s for a party or for trick-or-treating, costumes are an integral part of Halloween. Traditionally costumes tend to be people’s favourite characters, think Disney princesses and superheroes or they would be paranormal creatures like witches or vampires, however now costumes are getting wackier and wackier.

Before I start to talk anymore about Halloween costumes, I suggest you check out these three Buzzfeed videos that inspired me to write this post today.

In these videos, people from three different cultures try on shop bought, premade Halloween costumes that are advertised as being from their culture, Overall the summary that the people trying on the costumes come to is that these costumes rely heavily on stereotypes which mean they can be offensive and sometimes racist.

Obviously the people designing the costumes did not mean for the costumes to come out this way and simply mean for them to be a bit of fun. The whole purpose of the costumes is to be something different that people get to wear on one night of the year.

When looking at whether or not these costumes qualify as disrespectful and offensive, there are two view points which can be taken. The first, is that of the people manufacturing the costumes and the people choosing to buy and wear them. Since very few people intend to be offensive, the assumption that can be made is that the designers have attempted to oversimplify an entire culture into one outfit, whilst also making it appealing to the Western market and failed. Clearly, when designers do this, they are not and they know they are not providing a full and accurate view on the culture, simply choosing to pick out the most popular bits. Therefore this means that whilst the costumes may not be accurate, they are not intended to be a history book or exhibit, they are just a bit of fun.

On the other hand, those belonging to the cultures that are being misrepresented in these Halloween costumes feel very differently. They feel that these costumes are making a joke out of values and cultures that are close to their heart and that other people don’t understand. As a privileged white girl living in the UK, I have been lucky enough to never experience such casual racism, meaning I can’t even begin to imagine the frustration and disappointment these people feel as their cultures are made into jokes. This is where the problem lies. These costumes are casual racism, Racism so ingrained into people’s everyday lives that people don’t know it’s there. To some people a Halloween costume may just be a bit of fun, but the people’s whose cultures are being made a joke, it is yet another sign of the constant and often unnoticed racism.

What do you think? Are these Halloween costumes offensive or just good fun?

I’d love to know what you think.

Always Opinionated Girl

My Favourite Charities

Before I start, it is without a shadow of doubt true that all charities do valuable work and should be supported. Just because I don’t mention a charity in this post doesn’t mean I don’t support it or think it’s worthwhile.

Some of the charities I donate to regularly are ones that I have an emotional attachment to, in particular Cancer Research and East Cheshire Hospice. These charities mean a lot to me, because just over 4 years ago in October 2011, my Nana died of cancer in that hospice.

I support the hospice because everyone there was so kind and generous in what I can describe as one of the darkest times in my life. To all the staff who worked and continue to work there, it isn’t just a job. They care about and look after everyone there with bright smiles and a caring attitude. They not only care for the patients, but for their family and friends.  At the time, my cousin was a young toddler who didn’t understand and needed entertaining. Everyone there was so happy to help out and always willing to make a cup of tea, when we needed it.I am absolutely terrified of hospitals but they managed to make this somewhere they could provide medical care when needed, but was also warm and homely.  I am truly grateful for everyone there who made my Nana’s last days as comfortable as possible and looked after me and my grieving family. I don’t know I would do without them.

Less than 20% of their funding comes from the government, meaning for the rest they rely on donations. I can’t imagine a family going through what we did without having the support of the hospice, so I donate in memory of my Nana, but also to give others the same peace and happy memories about their loved one’s last days

In my mind, cancer research is just as important. They search for a cure, in the hopes that in the future no families will have to suffer through the pain of cancer. This is a more long term goal and it can sometimes be hard to see where your money is going, but I donate for a future where my children’s or grandchildren’s lives won’t be touched by cancer. I donate in the hope for a generation that thinks of cancer as a thing of the past. Almost everyone’s lives have been affected by cancer in some way and Cancer Research aims to stop that.

On their website it is written “450 people survive cancer everyday because of research.” For me, it is amazing to think that my cake sale money or my spare change has helped them to achieve that and I hope that as I keep donating, they’ll keep achieving and soon that number will double, triple until eventually we live in a world without cancer.

This has been quite an emotional post for me today, but I hope you enjoyed hearing about my favourite charities and that this made you think about why you donate to charity and what your hopes are for our world in the future. Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear your story.

Alwaysopinionatedgirl

The Start of it all – Emma Watson

Hi guys! Emily from Alwaysopinionatedgirl here.

When we first came up with the idea of talking about famous feminists, I knew exactly who I wanted to talk about, the woman who started it all, Emma Watson. It is thanks to her that this blog even exists. We were talking on the bloggers chat on Twitter and I brought up Emma Watson, who then got us on to feminism and eventually the idea of creating The Feministas.
Before I even begin to start, I would suggest you let Emma speak for herself and watch her speech as the UN Women Global Goodwill Ambassador.

She speaks so beautifully and powerfully with so much power and emotion. I couldn’t think of anyone better to stand up and give such a speech.
For me, it seems only right that the girl who inspired me as a child, playing the role of Hermione Granger, goes on to not only inspire me and other Potterheads, but the UN and the rest of the world.
If you’ve watched her speech, you know that she raises some really interesting and carefully thought out points. Some of my favourite quotations from her speech include:

I realized that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating. If there is one thing I know for certain, it is that this has to stop. For the record, feminism by definition is the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of political, economic and social equality of the sexes.

Both men and women should feel free to be sensitive. Both men and women should feel free to be strong. It is time that we all perceive gender on a spectrum, instead of two sets of opposing ideals. If we stop defining each other by what we are not, and start defining ourselves by who we are, we can all be freer, and this is what HeForShe is about. It’s about freedom.

 I feel it is my responsibility to say something.Statesman Edmund Burke said, “All that is needed for the forces of evil to triumph is for good men and women to do nothing.” In my nervousness for this speech and in my moments of doubt, I told myself firmly, “If not me, who? If not now, when?” If you have similar doubts when opportunities are presented to you, I hope those words will be helpful.

Hermione Granger inspired, inspires and will continue to inspire me. But now, I feel equally inspired and challenged by the brilliant woman who helped.

For me, Emma hits the nail on the head when she describes feminism. We often shy away from this word that has become almost taboo. However as she so clearly state, the word doesn’t matter. What matters is the sentiment behind it.

Emma Watson has not only redefined the word feminism, but she has made me think about who I am as a feminist and how feminism affects my life and the lives of others around me.

So I’d like to end with a thank you and a challenge.

First, a thank you to Emma. Thank you so much for such an inspiring and thought provoking speech. I couldn’t think of a better UN Women Global Goodwill Ambassador.

Second, a challenge for each and every one of you reading this. Tell someone you’re a feminist. It doesn’t matter who they are and remember, ‘If not you, who? If not now, when?’ You never know, you might find out new things about people and teach someone that feminism is about equality, not man-hating.