A Cacophony of women

Yesterday, I was at Blogfest16 which is organised by Mumsnet, the UK’s biggest parenting network. The day consisted of various discussion groups with panels made up of some extremely inspirational and successful women: in politics, comediennes, authors, campaigners and the day was rounded up with a keynote speech from Davina McCall. It was a day that was rich in women. The audience was packed with them – most bloggers are female and I counted 4 men. As I listened to the speakers, I thought to myself how uncomfortable it must be to be a man in the audience. Themes began to emerge and repeat themselves. As the panels changed and a new group of women spoke about an entirely different subject, the same issues were being said over and over again and what was being voiced was just how much woman struggle in the face of men. Even these wonderfully intelligent and incredibly strong women were telling us that they have to fight because of men, again and again. I use the word ‘fight’, because from where I was sitting it sounded as if it was a daily battle to deal with the overbearing strength of the males in our society. Women’s voices aren’t heard, they were saying. We have to shout, but men don’t like us shouting because we are supposed to be happy and when we shout we don’t appear happy and when we don’t appear happy the foundations of society are rocked. Shouts of complaint are referred to as ‘moans’. Haters on line are always male, one panelist said. Ignore, ignore, ignore was the repeated advice. Sexism in the workplace is still rife, particularly in certain sectors – commercial radio didn’t get good press. Women must support each other, was another emerging and recurring theme. I sat and listened and I sat and thought: but we are not supporting each other. I read comments where women are judging women on line every day. Forty two per cent of Trump’s voters were women. Women who would rather vote for a man who demeaned them and bragged about sexual assault, than support a woman’s bid to be the first female president. I have recently been thinking about how there are still huge inequalities between men and women and as I spent the whole day listening to these strong women, it really brought it home to me, when I saw that even they seem to be struggling to be heard on the same grounds as men. Venus and Mars are still miles apart. “Women, support each other” they said, but the truth is: we don’t.

I suddenly felt a huge responsibility, as I have 5 daughters I can influence. I questioned whether I am doing enough to make them realise the task that lies ahead for them. How can I best equip them to be able to fight these battles? I don’t want them to be afraid of what the future holds, but I want them to be aware of these divides: forewarned is forearmed. Yet teenagers don’t seem ready for this fight, or particularly interested or bothered. This worries me. There is a palpable apathy that comes from their attentions being drawn on line to other things: to a celebrity, selfie, body-obsessed culture. A culture where fighting male dominance is irrelevant, but rather grabbing their attention is key. Just getting attention, anyone’s. It’s less about supporting other girls than comparing. It’s less about ignoring the haters, than letting them affect you and allowing them to drive you to being someone you are not.

I thought about my teenage years. I remembered the abuse I got from male friends through banter and how I didn’t know how to deal with it, so I took it. Harmless right? But it hurt. It confused me. Because I never learnt how to deal with it, I carried this confusion through my 20’s and 30’s – accepting that the male voice is louder. Expecting to be talked over. Expecting my voice to be the smallest in the company of men. 

Last night in the post-Blogfest bar, partner said to me suddenly: “listen.” There was a cacophony of female voices. Loud, deliberate, intelligent and strong. “This is how I want our daughters to be,” I said to partner and it is my responsibility as their mother and their most influential voice, to get it right.

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25 thoughts on “A Cacophony of women”

  1. An amazing post, so well said and written. It is true it amazes me how women can be so hard on one another when we need to be standing united! I want my daughters to be strong and to let their voice be heard and to not be judged harshly by other women. It amazes me how many women voted for trump, I am so saddened by it. Thank you so much for writing a post like this and for sharing it with me on #mg! I recently published a post on another blog about my feeling son the election and how I feel as a woman and a mother, here is the link if you would like to read it https://lisapomerantzster.com/2016/11/10/i-found-myself-in-tears-last-night/ I’d love your feedback. Thanks again!

    1. Thank you for your comments. I’ve read your two posts and both resonate deeply with me. My mind is now working overtime with questions that Trump’s election win has raised within me. So much food for thought.

  2. What a great post. I too was at Blogfest and it was lovely to be surrounded by such amazing, strong women. I too want to raise my daughters in the same way, it’s so important isn’t it? #mg

    1. It really is so important, because equality hasn’t moved on as quickly as it should have done. There’s still a long way to go and our girls will still need to fight to get equal rights. Thank you for your comments.

  3. A very powerful post. I am a mum to two young boys and I am preparing myself for the same battle albeit inverted! I have chosen to be a stay at home mum but I am so very aware of the message this COULD send to them. It is my responsibility to ensure my boys grow up knowing that men and women are equal and should be treated with equal amounts of respect.

    You’ve given me a lot to think about, thank you! #ForTheLoveOfBlog

    1. Thank you so much for your comments. It is true that we all have a responsibility. There is so much to think about, it can feel overwhelming.

    1. I’ve read a couple of posts by the dad bloggers who were there and neither rated it highly and neither will return! Thank you for your lovely comment x

  4. Totally agree. Things seem to be getting worse rather than better at the moment with the recent election, and we need to stand strong.

  5. There really is far too much completion between women, and what is really the need?! We should all just stick together to stand up to men that talk to us in derogatory and disrespectful ways. Having always worked with men on a farm environment I’ve definitely grown a thick dkin to their comments and learnt to be just as loud and obnoxious haha #MarvMondays

    1. Thank you so much for your comments. I found your comment about growing a thick skin interesting, as my post tomorrow is about how banter is bullying if it’s not reciprocated. It sounds as if you learnt how to give as good as you got!

  6. Fantastic post, thank you and so very now. I feel like despair is setting in being a women, Asian and trying to raise a strong daughter and son understand equality, feminism, self-esteem, empowerment – then you have the USA sweeping in a reign of misogyny and rascal – what a world we live in! Feeling the weight on my shoulders! #BigPinkLink

    1. Yes, me too! It’s a strange time for women. However, maybe it’s telling us that it’s time we shook things up again. Perhaps we were beginning to get a little complacent. Maybe we need to take empowerment to the next level. Thank you so much for your comments.

  7. I totally agree that women should be standing together – strong women raise each other up! The thing is, whilst women insist on tearing each other down, all we are doing is giving men permission to do the same!
    Thanks for linking up to #AnythingGoes 🙂
    Debbie

    1. You are absolutely spot on when you say, ‘strong women raise each other up.’ We need to fill our lives and those of our kids with strong role models and step away from the judgy sorts. Thank you for your comments.

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