PICKING A FEW FEMINIST BRAINS ON INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY
International Women’s Day – feminists’ Christmas, right? Well, there’s a bit more to it.
Yes, IWD is about celebrating all the women in our lives – be that with a card, flowers, dismantling the taboo on menstruation, chocolates, jewelry, the fall of the patriarchy… you know, stuff women like. It’s calling your mum and treating your sister or friend to dinner, acknowledging and honouring female inventors and pioneers, showing your wife or girlfriend how much you love her.
It’s all of that. But it is also about respect, which we don’t want thrown out in a week, with our wilted flowers. Respect makes women a part of every important conversation – be it about school education, business or (and how is that even a conversation?!) our own bodies.
Our team is comprised almost entirely of women, and we all agree on one thing – we don’t want to be celebrated one day a year, we want to be listened to, always. We’ve done our very best to apply that philosophy to every part of our business – from constantly consulting and listening to our customers to seeking and appreciating the opinions of everyone on our team.
We contacted some of our customers and collaborators from different backgrounds and asked them a few questions, because we wanted to get to know them better, because they are pretty awesome people but, mostly, because their thoughts matter. None of them accused us of nagging them too much, for which we are very grateful.
We’re sharing some of the brilliant answers we received, in the hope that they will spark more conversations. You’re most welcome to drop us an email or pop in for a chat with your own opinions, or take the discussion to your friends, family or coworkers. At the end of the day, most change starts with a conversation.
On the progress we’ve made in the last 10 years:
Rachel (Communications and Public Fundraising Director, Bloody Good Period): It’s a lot more acceptable to talk about periods now than it was a decade ago. We have period-themed books, art, stock photos, films, comedy nights and TikToks. Many people also have access to a better range of healthier, more sustainable period products, and there’s more understanding of the whole menstrual cycle.
But there’s also still a long way to go. Many refugees, people in the asylum system and those living in poverty simply cannot afford period products. Women and people who menstruate suffer because of the culture of embarrassment and shame that exists around this natural, biological process.
We don’t believe that anyone should be at a disadvantage just because they menstruate.
On how we teach children about equality:
Maggie (Math and Science Teacher): As educators, it is our responsibility to teach our students about equality and respect. One of the most important ways is by being a role model, this can be respect for our students, our environment, our bodies... this means making our students feel safe around their peers and their teacher, admitting when we’ve made a mistake, being empathetic and showing awareness when talking about body size to avoid reinforcing stereotypes and avoid putting gender roles, such as asking boys to move tables for example.
I’m lucky that I work in a school where promoting equality and diversity is taken very seriously. For example, we spend a lot of time ‘decolonising our curriculum’. This means the English department ensures our students are not studying literature by ‘dead white men’ unless it is a specific requirement from exam boards. I use as much diverse material as possible in my lessons, for example a PSHE lesson on ‘consent’ would include scenarios with straight and LGBTQ+ people.
On what you’d like every woman in the world to know:
Natasha (writer, presenter & activist, author of the upcoming novel Toxic): ‘You Are Enough’. I work with young people and a teenage girl once said to me ‘I feel like we’re getting feminism wrong – I thought it was about women choosing whatever they wanted to do, not feeling like they have to do EVERYTHING and do it perfectly’.
This toxic perfectionism manifests so early and it’s not helped by all the ‘she’s a CEO, model, philanthropist, she has a cookbook, her own range of ethically sourced workout leggings and she’s back in her size 0 jeans just months after giving birth to her fourth child’ stuff that we see everywhere. Give us a break!
On advice you received from another woman or want to give your younger self:
Charlotte (Senior Features Writer at OutNewsGlobal.com): My mother is a font of wisdom and it's hard to pick one piece of advice she's given me that stands out amongst the rest.
However, I'll never forget the time I'd just been dumped when I was 18, and she said "Remember tomorrow is the first day of the rest of your life." A cliche, sure, but hearing her say it at that moment was so important to me. I could really imagine a line being drawn under everything I'd just been through and a fresh start.
Maggie: Embrace your differences, don’t hide it, it’s your superpower! Learn how to stand up to anyone who doesn’t feel the same.
Natasha: My Mum once said to me ‘some people are just kn*bheads’. I spend a lot of time trying to work out what motivates other people and what I have done “wrong” to make them behave badly towards me. The advantage of this is it makes me empathetic and open-minded, the disadvantage is it causes me a lot of anxiety and it means I tend to get my boundaries trampled over.
So ‘some people are just kn*bheads’ is something I really need to hear sometimes – Don’t overthink it, don’t change your own world view, just distance yourself from their kn*bheaddery!
On cliches about feminism – good or bad:
Natasha: ‘You’ll only ever be as pretty as you are agreeable’. I love and hate that depending on how it’s interpreted.
It can be used in a ‘be nice otherwise you’ll look awful’ way (think that Roald Dahl quote) or, a more useful way of viewing it is ‘if you say something that challenges the status quo people will attack how you look to try and shut you up’. I’ve had that happen to me so many times in my career and it’s useful to remember.
Charlotte: I object to any cliches which talk about how women "carry life" as some of us have fertility issues and/or don't feel comfortable with the idea of using a donor within a same-sex relationship.
And a few messages for everyone on IWD:
Natasha: I like Caitlin Moran’s theory that feminism is like a patchwork quilt and we each have our square. Sometimes the sheer scale of sexism and misogyny can feel too overwhelming to tackle, but if we all do our bit in whatever way we are able then we create something massive.
Rachel: The cost of living crisis will push more people into making impossible choices between food, heating, nappies or other essentials, and menstrual supplies. You can make a massive difference today by making a donation to Bloody Good Period - thank you so bloody much!
Check out our International Women's Day clothing here. Every purchase includes a donation to an inspiring women's charity.