Today is International Women’s Day, which celebrates the lives and achievements of women around the world. So today – and every day – I am celebrating all the amazing, inspiring and wonderful women in my life. Women I know and love. Women who have an impact on my life every day of every week of every year.
I am celebrating my strong and determined mother.
I am celebrating my talented, witty and intelligent sister.
I am celebrating my younger female friends, who approach living with an awe-inspiring passion, joy and strength.
I am celebrating my older female friends, some of whom may be retired but who most certainly are not retiring in their zest for life.
I am celebrating all the female artists, writers, poets, film-makers, musicians and DJs I know – all of whom fill my life with art and music and inspiration.
Many, many thanks to all the amazing women (and one male ally!) who let me photograph them and their placards at Saturday’s Slutwalk London – this slideshow represents a tiny fraction of all the photos I took, but every image has inspired me in some way…
(BBC News website report on Slutwalk London here)
Note: It has been pointed out to me that the first picture in the slideshow sequence doesn’t seem to be showing – will try and fix that as soon as I can!
Update: As of 15/06/11, the slideshow appears to be working correctly again – let me know if there are any more problems with it!
Call it street harassment, call it eve teasing, call it public sexual harassment – call it what you want, but it is a huge (and hugely under-reported) daily problem for a frightening number of women from all around the world.
And street harassment has an impact on all women. It doesn’t matter how a woman is dressed, what she looks like or how old she is; women of all ages, all ethnicities and all backgrounds have experienced street harassment of one form or another, often repeatedly, day in and day out. The continuous bombardment of what is a disturbing form of aggressively sexual objectification can (and often does) ultimately result in physical and/or sexual assaults on women.
Aside from the obvious trauma such assaults cause, street harassment can also lead to psychological harm to women, making them nervous, wary and hypervigilant in public spaces, especially after dark – and, particularly in the cases of women who are survivors of rape, abuse or domestic violence, it can trigger upsetting and difficult PTSD-type symptoms such as flashbacks and panic attacks.
Today is the 100th International Women’s Day. Last year, I wrote about why IWD is still of vital importance around the world – and very little has changed worldwide in the intervening twelve months. Despite the widely-held (and erroneous) belief that feminism is no longer necessary in our society, British women, too, are still waiting for full equality and safer lives:
“The fact that 700,000 people will experience domestic violence in the UK… that there are sex slaves imported daily to this country who live lives of abject terror, that equal pay is still not a reality nearly four decades after the act enshrining it was passed, that the conviction rate in rape cases still hovers around 6.5%, that only 12% of the UK’s boardroom seats (as compared to Norway’s 32%) are occupied by women, are just a small smattering of reasons why women’s rights should remain a priority even here in the UK” – Mariella Frostrup in The Observer
Shocking though those close to home facts are, there is also much to be positive about today. Many countries celebrate IWD as a national holiday, meaning that we can celebrate the remarkable contributions so many women have made to societies all round the world…
Oh, and by the way: it turns out that – rather unexpectedly – 007 himself, James Bond, is actually a feminist. No, seriously. Who’d’ve thunk it?!
Happy International Women’s Day!