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  • Writer's pictureEleanor Barr-Sim

FUCKING GIRL POWER

Updated: Aug 17, 2019

Like most women it has taken several years to truly find my feet within this patriarchal world. I have gone through many stages of my feminism. At one point, granted I was young and very naive, I didn’t even call myself a feminist. I saw a movement that seemed too aggressive and unnecessary. This is before any true contact with the world, before I could see with my own eyes the effects of what the patriarchal system has done. Also, when educating yourself you’ll find the problem is far deeper than you once anticipated and that actually ‘anti-men aggressive feminists’ as I once saw them were only a sector of the movement and not the whole picture. I’ve since grown, thankfully losing those previous naive thoughts and developed into the feminist I am today.


I have experienced cat calling frequently. I have been disarmed by a group of teenage boys in a car honking their horn and screaming “SEXY BITCH” at me. I have been at a bar where a man hasn’t left me alone. I have had unwelcome and expectant hands appear at my waist in a club. I have immediately told said men that I have a boyfriend, when I haven’t, because the threat of another man seems to be the only forceful enough statement to retract their advances, a simple ‘no’ is not good enough. I see the disparity in male to female presence in parliament, only 22.8% of all national parliamentarians are women. Reading about the gender pay gap you find that in the UK alone white women earn 19% less than white men on average, this rises to 24% for black women and 26% for Pakistani or Bangladeshi women. Did you know that there are more CEO’s named John than there are female CEO’s? The issues widen; at least 200 million girls and women worldwide have undergone FGM. 50% of all sexual assaults worldwide are against girls of 15 years old or younger. Therefore, there is still a fight, and this is why feminism is crucial. In recent years there's been a development that for some reason 'feminism' has become a dirty word. Perhaps it's synonymous with how I first saw it. However, I’m not here to write a paper on feminism, I’ll send you in the direction of Caitlin Moran’s ‘How to be a Woman’ or social media. Just typing ‘feminism’ into Instagram and there are endless accounts educating people from the first female astronauts to today’s leading women changing society’s outlooks while also building confidence and self-love.


My strength and my power come strongly from the women around me. It is not to say that I don’t have some amazing male friends who are also understanding and supportive but there’s just another level that comes from female relationships. When a group of women come together it sparks a kinetic energy. Through a mutual understanding from the worldwide struggles of being a woman in a patriarchal society

it builds an unspoken bond and now a very spoken drive to change it. When I speak to other women, strangers even, about this guy who was making advances on the tube, that woman will know 100% relate to that experience. I’ve been in uncomfortable situations and without even asking for help I have found a fellow woman, a stranger, by my side, there to dissolve what could have developed into a very dangerous situation. I have heard of women going out of their way to walk female strangers home who was looking vulnerable and alone, sharing Ubers and bringing safety to someone who was in danger. In the aftermath of the #metoo movement, after the atrocities caused by Harvey Weinstein and then so many more were unveiled, I felt the weight of those women who were assaulted on my shoulders. I felt a primal yearning to protect those women and to be a part of change in order for something like this to never happen again. Through the Internet and social media it has become possible to spread messages of change, love, acceptance, empowerment, support and education. Through people like Vicky Featherstone, it’s sort of old news now but we can’t forget the fundamental change she brought into the arts industry to protect people. To support intimacy directors. To hold an ‘I WEIGH’ banner in support of Jameela Jamil’s movement. To be a part of these female groups gives me the comfort that there is a whole heap of people out there at my fingertips where I can feel encouragement and support.


In this new era of female power comes exciting and 'fucking up society' work. In the wake of #metoo something like ‘Emilia’ by Morgan Lloyd Malcolm was written. It’s closing in June and if you haven’t seen it you must, as a woman you must, as a man you must. You must. Never have I ever (drink) felt such energy of connected emotion, connected anger and empowerment being radiated around the room. So intertwined were the 21st Century conversations and that of the 16th, it was blindingly obvious that the same issues are found today as they were 400 years ago. 400 YEARS AGO! In ‘Emilia’ there is a classroom scene, a woman is educating others on the power they could have, that they

have a voice and something more to offer than their bodies, than being a ‘quiet, well behaved, polite lady’. It felt very recognisable and I realised that there is a very similar scene found in ‘Blue Stockings’ by Jessica Swale. Same scenario; women that had grown up being a product of their society and learning how powerful their brains could be. ‘Blue Stockings’ is set in 1896, 300 years after Emilia Bassano was writing about these very issues. And I am sure there are plays yet to be written, the same class room scene yet to be celebrated. It’s an example of what truly ground shaking work happens when the anger of a lifetime of living in this society is built and channelled. The call to arms on behalf of all the women before Emilia and an anthem for all who are yet to come. Great things happen when women come together.


On International Women’s Day I felt like it was my birthday. Men were giving me flowers, my friends hugging me and raising a glass to me just for being a woman. It felt slightly ridiculous, to be so celebrated when all I had done was not develop a Y chromosome in the womb. However, because of just that often it feels like a fight. That putting on a bra is like putting on chainmail because simply by having breasts, you are in a war. And lest we forget another war for those that don’t have natural breasts, the beautiful women of the trans community are a part of this one too. We don’t want to be manipulated by the media on how to feel about our bodies anymore, we don’t want to have to take self-defence courses just to feel safe on the streets or carry keys in-between our knuckles or worry about the expense of getting a taxi home, we don’t want to restrict our travel plans because being a woman in some places is just too dangerous. We share the anger in our guts, that is what we felt in that theatre watching ‘Emilia’, it’s the anger when I see women hyper sexualised on television, when they fight and don’t get heard, when they get their rights taken away from them, when they don’t get a choice, when they don’t get education, when they don’t get paid accordingly. I want my life to one day have less anger and more ' Mamma Mia'. At the moment it's about 50/50.


I want to say that I am writing this not from a place of anger, there is a great deal of it inside of me that I am more than happy to project out to the world, I won’t silence it but I’m writing this from a place of empowerment. I am so happy to be a woman. I love who I am and the choices I make. I love the community I’m in, surrounded by such beautiful human beings. Which includes men, non-binary people, trans, LGBTQ+. I love them all because when you have a fight to fight it creates such an energy. I’d rather that than to be sitting on my arse without purpose. It’s why I so fiercely love ‘Queer Eye’, it’s people joining together with their version of armour on and they are changing people’s opinions and opening them up to love. They have a collective view and it is creating change, that is a beautiful thing. When I stand next to my sisters, I feel empowered, when I watch ‘Emilia’ I sit so proud of where we have come and determined to look back at my life having witnessed movement. There’s so much to be angry about and we can channel that into productive, powerful and incredible change.


‘And of they try to burn you, may your fire be stronger than theirs so you can burn the whole fucking house down.’ - ‘Emilia’ by Morgan Lloyd Malcolm






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