I forgot it was International Women’s Day today. Everyone was talking about pancakes yesterday and I am terrible with dates.
It has been fascinating to watch the mentions flying across Twitter. Articles highlighting women who have changed the world. Talks from inspirational and passionate women who are leading society in new directions. Analyses of women’s changing role. Examples of where there’s still inequality in the world. I have felt inspired, curious, proud. The pride is interesting as I have not always felt this way.
This morning, my friend tweeted a question that read something like: “what do you think is cool about being a girl?”. It has been rumbling around my head all day. I would have replied clothes, had I not felt a little ashamed that, after all the feminist activity, I went straight to the outside. Then I wanted to mention kindness and compassion, but I didn’t want to infer that these qualities were absent in men. Motherhood was the next thing, but that went back to role.
I have been thinking about the women I particularly admire and the list has been surprising. I thought that I’d come up with at least a few politicians or women who’d made their mark in history, but my names fall into two clear lists. Those who share a brutal honesty; and those who are closer to home.
Those who bare their soul…
My list of awe-inspiring women was full of writers. Emily Dickinson. Charlotte Bronte. Virginia Woolf. Jean Rhys. Maggie O’Farrell. I was trying to work out what exactly it was about these authors that so impressed me, and I think it is something like this. They say the things that I can’t say. They put into words, whether as poetry, fiction or prose, feelings that I can’t express and might not even have otherwise recognised. This exposure has not only opened the doors for what women can write and the consequent conversations, but it has also provided a thread that, for me, runs through the wider female experience and helps me to identify with women then and today.
Connectivity with other women goes back to the women who are part of my life today.
Closer to home.
I have not always viewed other women as friends. I have had a tendency to project my insecurities into relationships, or to find myself in contexts where competition is rife. I have been guarded. Jealous. Distrustful. Intimidated. Threatened. Bitchy.
Over the past few years, I have been shown that this is not the only way. The other women that inspire me are the friends that have taught me generosity and compassion and acceptance. Women who lead by example. Those who break boundaries to do the things that are important to them. Women who care passionately and selflessly and proactively, and are not afraid to admit to caring.
There are lots of these women in my life today. Friends, mentors, people whose blogs and tweets reach out to people. Women who have opened up to me and enabled me to do the same. Those whose generosity has fundamentally shifted my perception of female friendships. Women who make a big impact on other people every single day –
And so, if you ask me why it’s so cool to be a girl and I am brave enough to give an honest answer, it is for these reasons. It is because women are complex and complicated and compassionate. Because we are sometimes our own worst enemies and, yet, when push comes to shove, fiercely protective. Because we care and feel passionately. Because we are brave in sharing. Because we are as vulnerable as we are courageous. And because we get to wear great clothes.