In this episode Erin and I discuss her article that shares her wishes that she be allowed to say “I’m a woman, and I have NOT had a bad time.” *see her article below and I hope you enjoy this episode. subscribe to our soundcloud if you want to hear more
CHANGING THE TONE OF FEMINISM by Erin Wallis
I don’t feel like I’m disadvantaged in society, and I’m sick of reading that I’m supposed to feel that way.
A friend sent me an article last night, and both the article and her sending it really pissed me off. It is amongst a slate of articles to be read about women being objectified, unequal, having to ‘overcome this’ or ‘put up with that’.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s an awareness job to do here – you can’t create change, without awareness of a behaviour first – but I cannot help but feel down-trodden and angry when I read articles about how tough going it is being a woman.
A study in done in the States a couple of years ago showed that white boys’ self-esteem increased with TV consumption, because of the way they are represented on-screen (heroes, main characters, successful). In contrast, girls and black children’s self-esteem decreased as they are often represented as marginalised in some way.
You can probably see the parallel I’d like to draw between this study and the way women are being written about. It’s important for females to be exposed to female role models. Thus, we need to be thrusting inspiring representations of women into media, rather than continue to perpetuate a negative image. How are we ever going to feel inspired, if the only way we read about ourselves is as marginalised?
To exemplify through my own circumstances, for which I whole-heartedly acknowledge is why I don’t feel disadvantaged by society, and for which I’m truly grateful – I have grown up surrounded by positive female role models:
My mother grew up in a time when she was not expected to be educated past year 10. Luckily for me, that meant she proactively pursued an education when she was older and I was around. So I grew up valuing that education allows you to develop a sense of empowerment, independence and identity.
I have also pursued a career in an industry that has a particularly high proportion of women, and again, I am personally lucky to have worked with a gamut of inspiring women who have engrained a belief that I will achieve corporate success, and it isn’t at the sacrifice of my sense of compassion.
Beyond this, I’m so proud of my group of (female) friends for all their individual achievements and sense of self. Whatever they’ve defined as their path of personal success, it has been inspiring to watch them attain it.
None of these women have inspired me because they’ve told me about the hardships they’ve beared, they’ve inspired me just by being and doing. As is the case with any role model, they have simply led by example… and they just happen to be women.
My point is, that for those women who aren’t as lucky as me, we need to perpetuate an image that is inspiring. We need to tell as many stories about as many representations of successful women as possible.
We need to move past writing about what needs to change and start being the change.
To provide a topical example, I’m sure you’re familiar with the recent outrage over the lack of a Rey piece in the Star Wars edition of monopoly, following this mother posting her daughter’s letter to Hasbro online. While it’s easy to lay responsibility on Hasbro to have created the character piece in the first place – and in fairness, they have responded to this onus – there is a more constructive story to tell:
Why not just create a Rey character piece with your daughter yourself, share instructions on how you did so, and use that story to insight change?
The undertone of the story changes from “another example of how women are being marginalised” to “let’s inspire the change that needs to happen”.
And so, I implore you to write and tell as many positive stories about as many sorts of women as possible. I implore you to share positive stories about women with other women instead of negative ones. I implore to you to BE the change, instead of talking about it needing to happen.
I really love the whole world of podcasting. I love the freedom it gives you to go and seek out the sort of content you want to hear. The sort of people that truly interest you. I rarely listen to radio much these days because I’m busy listening to my favourite podcasters. It made me think about starting a podcast myself to talk about the sorts of things that I wish other people might like to consider. I’ve also been a big believer in the the world we live in today, should not be a world of ‘us and them’, depending on your age. I understand being 45 that I grew up without the technology I have around me today. I didn’t even grow up with a mobile phone, which I know to some of my younger friends, like my co-host of this podcast, seems kind of crazy and odd. We used to actually dial a number and speak to the other person in order to still stay in touch. We used our voices, not just one finger to communicate. I know that the young girls and guys who I work with don’t really recall much about the time when social media wasn’t a part of their every day. I want to learn from them when I hear there’s something new and exciting emerging in the digital space, but I also want to learn just as much about the world that existed before I was around, or at least a small kid. I want those that came before me to tell me what to look out for as I head into a different ‘tick box’ in life. And I don’t want these wise older souls to feel that they are obscelete in a world that seems at times like it is leaving them behind. I think we all have something to learn from each other no matter what age, who we are, or what we’re doing with our lives. So this is where I hope this podcast and future episodes will take both me, my younger, incredibly smart friend Erin, and maybe even you? Thanks for listening. x