Let’s do a quiz. I like quizzes. But don’t worry, it’s not going to be one of those quizzes. You know? Those quizzes where you answer 12 questions and then the internet reveals which one of Pablo Picasso’s paintbrushes you were in a former life. Not a quiz like that. A proper quiz. A simple one. So get a pen and paper. Go on. We’ll wait for you …
… incidentally, I was his fan-shaped blender. Badger hair bristles. He dipped me in the red paint …
… are you back? Good.
So, here’s your starter for ten: List as many historical figures as you can in 20 seconds. Go!
Keep going. Go on. You can do it. 5 … 4 … 3 … 2 … 1. And, stop! Well done.
Now, here’s your bonus question: How many men did you list before you wrote down your first woman?
Six? Ten? More than ten? Perhaps Florence Nightingale snuck in at number 3 but you still had more men than women, right? Now, why is that?
It cannot be denied that there have been strong women throughout history. Boadicea. Marie Curie. Emmeline Pankhurst. All famous names and yet, for some reason, not quite as readily retrievable at the forefront of our minds. Why? Perhaps it’s as simple a thing as us not being taught about them in school. It appears that women in history are fighting the same battle as women today for equal status within society. Being judged in the same way.
Lets take Elizabeth I as a prime example. A woman whose mother was executed by her most manly of fathers. A woman who survived numerous assassination attempts. A woman who had the body of a weak and feeble woman but the heart and stomach of a king. Self-depreciation in order to survive in a man’s world was obviously all the rage in 1588 as well. One of our most famous and revered monarchs. And how does history remember her? As The Virgin Queen. The monarch who failed to produce an heir. The woman who didn’t have any children. Forget everything else she did. Elizabeth I is remembered for not being a mother. In a way that no king would be judged for not being a father.
The rules are different for women. The game might be the same but the rules are different.
In 2016 Hillary Clinton might make history. She might become the first female president of the United States of America. And we all know that her entire election campaign will be dominated by media coverage of what her hair looks like or what trouser suit she’s wearing. Hillary Clinton’s shoe choice will face tougher scrutiny than George W. Bush’s foreign policy ever did. And the world will put up with it. Because when you’re a woman those are the rules.
Well, bollocks to the rules! And vaginas too! It’s time the rules were standardised. It’s time we all saw sense. Feminism is not a female only issue. It’s an issue for any woman or any man anywhere and everywhere. Men! Women are subjected to these rules every day and we’re not. And we need to stand up and be counted.
“But men are judged on their appearance too!”
No, they’re not. Not in the same way and you bloody know it. So, stop it.
Enough is enough. We need to join them, not judge them. Be proud to be a feminist. I am.