Friday, 10 March 2017

Women who inspire... | Women's Week

In the penultimate post in my 'Women's week' I wanted to do a post about inspirational women.

In my life I understand that I have white privilege, in my life I am so fortunate to be surrounded by women who inspire me. Up until recently naively I wondered why Women's Equality was an issue, at school I had women teachers who were heads of departments, head teachers, my doctor was a woman. At home I have never been treated less favourably than my brother, and was (and am) free to aim for the stars. I'm also fortunate not to be asked if I want to start a family, that not being my parents goal for me. Then I have my friends who are all doing amazing things, in many different sectors. I am so proud of them all.

One of my oldest friends Grace is studying English at Edinburgh University, I thought she would be the perfect person to ask about inspirational having gone through a different life experience (going to uni). Here is what she had to say...
The pilot episode of BBC3’s new drama ‘Clique’ shows a strong, successful female lecturer delivering questionable views about feminism from behind her podium, designed to create character and generate plot, maybe to get a viewer to critically engage with ideas of gender. This image was still in my mind when asked to think about women who have inspired me, and reminded me that one of the most inspirational women I have encountered I have seen from the same perspective, separated from me by a lecture theatre stand. Dr Jan Penrose, teaching an Economic and Political Geography course, was a revelation in the ideas and the passion she presented, one of the few times I truly felt my eyes being ‘opened’ to the world in the cliché  that I had expected from university. And once I had considered this, I thought about how many other intelligent and bold female lecturers I have been lucky to learn from over the course of my degree.

I didn’t used to think much about gender in my essays – I thought the arguments involved were ‘obvious’ (forgetting the privilege of holding such a view) and wasn’t that interested in exploring them. But the more I’ve studied, the more I can see how angles of gender are subversive pathways that lead to other, crucial challenges, and how little these female and ‘other’ voices are represented in the canon and university courses. Institutions, academic and otherwise, can be amazing platforms for rethinking and change – but also dangerous and fossilising museums.

I couldn't do this post without mentioning Meryl Streep. I was captivated by her in my teens. She is the most Oscar nominated actor, of all time. She is smart, funny and stands for equal rights for all. Over her career she has been in such a wide range of films Sophie's Choice to Mamma Mia (I don't think you could get 2 more contrasting films) and has never been type cast. She is a woman at the very top of her game, and has been for years. If I could be half as successful as her in any way, I would be beyond happy.

I think now is the perfect opportunity to say, Women's Equality can be achieved only if we Women stop putting each other down. Until we stop collectively doing that, will the patriachy take Equality seriously.

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