2015 was the year that a lot of things happened for me – from finally learning how to use all types of make up brushes to becoming completely financially independent. I grew up in different aspects of my life, and I accepted different truths that accompany growing up… And that’s the funny thing about growing up – you always think you’re done until you learn yet another thing or two. It’s surprising every time and I hope to never forget this feeling.
This year also marks another important milestone for me in that of my realisation that I am a feminist. It’s interesting to make that declaration, because it’s often associated with ball-busting, loud and maybe power crazy women. But here I am proudly making a statement, one which often has negative connotations but I don’t think feminism is a dirty word. It’s a movement which represents decades of fight, suffering and determination – so this post is dedicated to just that.
My realisation came from 3 different touch points in the last few months, the first of which was reading “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg – COO of Facebook. Now I am not one to pick up a book based on celebrity status or books which are more ‘self help’, but quite honestly, I was at the airport about to board an 11 hour flight and I thought… Why not. I had seen the posters plastered across the London Underground and I obviously love Facebook, so that was credibility enough for me to buy the book and give it a go. And boy, was I glad. This book is not really a life history of Sheryl, but it’s an inspiration for every woman in the workplace who thinks twice about asking for anything, whether it’s a parking space or promotion. Every single time we choose not to speak, we are holding back our whole gender. As generation X, I think we often forget about the struggles those before us went through to get us the rights around the table but it should never be taken advantage of.
That was reminder no.1 for me – the book didn’t change my whole life, but it made me more aware of the little things we take for granted – and the impact small decisions can have one ones career. Moving onto touchpoint no.2 – this was a obvious one… Watching Suffragette. As I have not been brought up in the UK, I was quite oblivious to the movement and the actual suffered and sacrifice women had to make to get me into an office where I am respected and treated as an equal in the 21st century. It’s astounding. I admit to my ignorance, and being a literature graduate, all feminism was to me was hours of Sylvia Plath and Virginia Woolf going on in their disjointed inner monologues. And again, boy was I wrong.
This film is exceptional – capturing the history of the events, and showcasing beautifully what life was less than 100 years ago. It really hasn’t been that long!
And lastly, my 3rd touchpoint – attending an event for women. Now, working in media, I have the opportunity to attend talks, lectures and inspirational speakers but somehow this was different. Whether it was because the speakers were outstanding, or that the first 2 points amplified it for me – or both. The event was hosted by Facebook and called Women in Media 2015 – and I wasn’t expecting to be so in awe for a 9 am breakfast talk. They had Zanny Minton Beddoes, Editor in Cheif of the Economist, open the event with her tips on success in the business world, followed by a panel with the finest the media world and ending with TV presenter Clare Balding. Each speaker was a confident woman who had relentless determination and drive to be the best – and the message resonated across the room – Be Bold. I left this talk feeling empowered and proud to be where I am – also realise how hard we have world to come this far!
Now these 3 touch points are just that – little reminders that we have come a long way and that it’s a lot better than it used to be. I’m not the feminist who gets ragingly angry if a man opens a door for me, or get offended by “ladies first” – and that’s just because there is a huge difference between manners and being polite to being condescending and unfair to a women. I’m so proud to have this realisation, because as it turns out, I was always a feminist and am 100% equal rights regardless of gender – and these events just cemented my belief and I hope reading this makes you feel empowered to be bold and lean in to situations whether it’s at work or not.