Feminist Friday (with a nod to the bearded)

It’s possible you are still reeling from the shock interruption of Adele’s thank you speech at the Brits (an act of sexism when Damon Albarn was allowed to go on and on? Doubtful…).

But believe it or not, there have been bigger things going on in the world.

Like the death of the courageous war correspondent Marie Colvin in Syria, proof that courage and a passion for reporting the truth and for speaking for those who would otherwise remain voiceless, are not restricted by gender. Although female war correspondents are rare, Colvin was no more or less brave than any male journalist. But as a woman she leaves an inspiring legacy as a role model and example of exemplary bravery. I’m not sure if I would be so bold as to venture into the arena of war, let alone to do so repeatedly and especially if I’d already been injured covering a conflict.

Or like the investigation into sex-selective abortions launched by the Department of Health this week. As the Guardian article on this story highlights, there are certain and specific grounds on which abortions are permitted in this country:
– where continuing with the pregnancy is a greater risk to the woman’s life, physical or mental health that ending the pregnancy
– where continuing the pregnancy poses a greater risk to the physical or mental health of a woman’s existing children
– if there is a real risk that the child would have a serious physical or mental disability
Gender selection is one of the many things that do not fall into these categories. And for me this is a great example of where feminism is clearly also the humanitarian stance. Feminism is about egalitarianism, and as both genders are at risk, this is as much a feminist as a humanist issue. Feminists, in spite of what you may read elsewhere, are concerned about the wellbeing of men too. Well, for the most part. An egalitarian world benefits us all.

Or, or, or…

Plan UK are launching an interactive advert that used facial recognition technology so that only women can see it. It’s part of the charity’s ‘Because I am a Girl’ campaign, which aims to make sure girls in the world’s poorest countries receive a good education. Justifying what the Open Rights Group have called ‘creepy’, Marie Staunton, Plan UK’s chief executive told The Independent, ‘We’re not giving men and boys the choice to see the full ad on this occasion – so they get a glimpse of what it’s like to have basic choices taken away.’ Having the choice to view or not view an advert is probably a choice we’d all like a lot more of in the Western world, but the principle behind it is a sound one.

It’s good to keep a sense of perspective on these things. I am grateful girls get a great education in this country, and on Wednesday this week, the Evening Standard’s Rosamund Urwin reminded us of this fact at the inaugural meeting of WIMPL (women in media, publishing and liontaming?

Something like that anyway). We have achieved a lot, but in spite of this, there’s still a fair way to go before women reap the just rewards of their excellence in education.

And not just in Parliament and the boardrooms of FTSE companies, but across all levels and strata of work and society. How do we do this? Sticking together a bit more, was one of her suggestions, and, in truth, I’ve never

been hugged by so many strangers spontaneously in a place that’s not a church…

We met in the Dragon Bar on Shoreditch High Street, slapbang in London’s bearded heartlands. Alas a feminist women’s networking event isn’t really the place to exploit the bearded delights of E1. And anyway, according to the Independent, all the decent and famous beards were at London Fashion Week anyway.

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