Never has a book had such a profound and immediate impact on me; my sense of the world, my knowledge and influence on my life path. The War on Women, a book written by former BBC video-journalist Sue Lloyd-Roberts, who very sadly passed away while writing, takes a look at stories from around the world relating to women’s rights.
In each chapter Sue recalls her journeys to investigate and reveal the various abuses women have faced and continue to face around the world. From the very first chapter Sue does not hold back. Although many of the stories are harrowing, difficult to read and occasionally brought me to tears they are counterbalanced with the wonderful and optimistic stories of the women who are fighting back.
The book begins with FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) and the story of Maimouna’s escape from the Gambia in order to avoid having to take the role of the village cutter. Sue looks at the issue from all angles; the graphic reality of it, the reasons for it and how people are working to prevent it – both governments, individuals and organisations.
Every chapter of this book taught me something new. Be it whole episodes of history, such as Argentina’s Dirty War to a deeper understanding of issues such as Rape as Weapon of War. There were not only new facts but new perspectives that I had been unaware of previously. Overall, it showed me how much further, on a global scale, we have to go to achieve safety and security for women along with equal rights.
Sue was a brave woman and an honest reporter. Her work, in light of recent events, seems to me to be more important than ever. The book is one I keep returning to, one I will keep learning from, keep reflecting on and will keep inspiring me to help fight back. It is a book that I think all should read, and all would benefit from doing so.
I previously mentioned that I was unable to travel to a Women’s March on January 21st, I am however going to try play my part as much as possible. 10 actions over 100 days is the plan and so here is my email to T.May(be) as part of action numero 1. I would have loved to write much more but sadly they limit your characters!
Dear Mrs May,
There is very little that we have in common. The majority of what you say and do I oppose and as a young woman, currently living another EU country, I believe that in no way do you have my best interests at heart. What we do have in common is our gender, however, and come Thursday you shall be seen shaking the new President’s tiny hand and treating him with the dignity he does not deserve, dignity he does not offer others himself.
I write this email to implore you to stand your ground, defend human rights. Remind him that he will be held accountable for his actions. Remind him the world is watching. Remind him that together we are strong, we shall not be quiet and we shall not let him repeal what so many have fought so hard to achieve, what so many people are continuing to fight for. We must fight for future generations and for the future of those generations.
Equality makes us stronger, it makes us prosper and it is our undeniable right.
Unfortunately, I was unable to attend a Women’s March yesterday but I spent most of my day in contact with friends attending, following Twitter and other live updates. I found it incredibly exciting.
For me, and many I know, we moved from 2016 to 2017 under a cloud of global negativity, dejection, grief, so on and so forth! Yesterday, however, was the day when the sun came out, the negativity turned positive and the dejection turned into a fighting hope.
Spending the past hour pouring over images of women, men and children marching together, marching in peace and projecting one loud and clear message of equality and hope has put a huge smile on my face!
It is something that will be said over and over, but we cannot allow the anger to dissipate. We have to hold onto this fire and march forward, the dialogue must be open, it must be understanding, it must be inclusive. Despite the events of 2016, the effects of which we are still yet to feel, we must hold our ground and not allow so much progress to be regressed!
A woman’s place is in the Resistance, and we must resist united!
It was refreshing to wake up this morning with a clear head, a rarity these days living in a regressed state teaching abroad in Spain. Anyway, with Fighting Talk on the radio, eating pancakes and sipping fresh coffee I set about on a morning internet surf…
I came across a great article titled as above, here is the link https://www.the-pool.com/news-views/opinion/2017/2/what-men-would-do-if-stereotypes-didnt-exist
The article discusses a recent Reddit post in which male contributors relay the things they would do if they weren’t deemed to be ‘too feminine’ by wider society, these ranged from sewing to yoga pants to buying flowers. The responses from other men were encouraging, supportive and friendly which in the world of Reddit is not always the case. It can be a dark place filled with all the bad -isms of the world and it was refreshing to see it in a different light.
There was, however, a sentence in the article that didn’t sit quite so well with me:
“Feminism has been working to break down the female stereotypes which, in turn, prop up the ideals of what a man should be.”
As a friend with whom I shared the article noted too, surely the breaking down of female stereotypes also serves to break down male stereotypes? Surely we don’t prop them up? I hope that this is not how it is perceived, if it is the case then we are doing something wrong.
The inclusion of men in the feminist debate is all-important. We need men to be able to express themselves as much as women too, the high numbers of young men with depression is something we need to discuss more in society as the knock-on effects this can have are all our problem.
I’m not very consistent with these posts, but I have been consistent with my 2016 New Year Resolution – reading female authors.
Besides two summer exceptions, which were definitely worth it – Yoga for people who can’t be bothered to do it by Geoff Dyer and The Tortilla Curtain by T.C Boyle – I read books by females all year.
As the year progressed more and more people around me became interested in the idea, requesting I share with them my list of books or inquiring as to what I had gained from the experience. In truth, when I read I get consumed by the story, I fall easily into the setting and the characters and this is the same for each book be it by a man or a woman.
It appears obvious to note that novels by female authors have predominately female protagonists, hence many of the characters, if not more relatable are at least more understandable. My intention in reading more female authors was innocently that of supporting females in literature who, like in many other industries, are often overshadowed by males.
As Christmas rolled around it felt natural, when asked what I wanted as a present, to ask for books. It turns out everyone caught wind of my foray into female lit and all in my family were regaled with female books, it was great to see!
A number of the books I was very lucky to receive are non-fiction, this is a first for me besides the endless essays and critiques I read during my degree. All are by women, and so here goes 2017’s Resolution – to begin my non-fiction female reading (not the whole year, I still need my story-time). To begin with I have The War on Women and the brave ones who fought back by the wonderful Sue Lloyd-Roberts.