The Feminine Agenda- Part One

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I read a post by a woman on Facebook recently that said:

“Our generation is so busy trying to prove that women can do what men can do that women are losing their uniqueness. Women weren’t created to do everything that a man can do. Women were created to do everything that a man can’t do.”

Now, I’m not trying to spark any kind of gender debate, but I disagree with the lady that wrote this and I personally think that without meaning to, she is doing us a real dis-service.

Women have been ‘competing’ with men for centuries. We’ve been doing the same things because we’ve had to and not because we’ve wanted to prove to men that we are as good as they are. Think of women who have worked and still do work alongside their men folk as subsistence farmers. What about the Pilgrims who journeyed to the New World and the journeys across to the Wild West? If the man died, the woman got on with it. And we still do. I hate to mention it, but there were women convicts who were transported to Australia for their crimes, even if it was stealing food to feed their families. We got ‘equal’ treatment there then.

Mae West once said:

“Every man I meet wants to protect me. I can’t figure out what from.”

I’m with Mae. I don’t think we really want men to protect us from life. We want to taste it all ourselves and eat greedily with a big spoon. We want to be able to do what we want. We want the same opportunities. We are prepared to take the same risks but we also deserve the same rewards.

“Sure he was great, but don’t forget that Ginger Rogers did everything [Fred Astaire] did, .. backwards and in high heels.”

My Facebook friend, I think, was making a point about the women who risk life exploring mountains and parts of the planet that are a risk to any human life. However, she hasn’t done her homework. Before the current crop of female adventurers there was Freya Stark in the 19th Century (and there are many others).

I think she’s missing the point. Women have had to push through boundaries, glass ceilings and a lack of faith in every aspect of our life for centuries. Depending upon your beliefs, you may accept that woman was created from the rib of man. Through the ages, women have been the possessions of man. We have been chaperoned and protected to within an inch of our lives, whilst all we really want is equality.

During the Second World War women worked the farms to produce our food, they ‘manned munitions’ factories making ammunition and also made the wonderful aircraft that prevailed in the Battle of Britain (and delivered them too).

Before Margaret Thatcher was refusing to do a U-Turn in one of the most remarkable and iconic hairstyles ever, Indira Ghandi was Prime Minister of India. And by the way, in the UK the Suffragettes fought for the right to representation and finally won us the right to vote in 1918 ( 1928 for women over 21).

Marilyn Vos Savant (appropriately named) is the person who has the highest recorded IQ in history with a score of 190. Albert Einstein’s IQ was 160 and Stephen Hawking’s is 162.

In the medical sphere Marie Curie was doing her bit. Born in November 1867, she did pioneering research on radioactivity and was the first woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize.  Before her, Florence Nightingale was nursing soldiers on the battlefields of the Crimea.

We were at last allowed to compete in marathon running races in 1972 – for the first time at the Boston Marathon. The first British astronaut was Helen Sharman, who went into space in 1991, way before Tim Peak, who only went into space in December 2015.

In the financial world we have Nicola Horlick and Helena Morrissey, both of whom have been successfully running wealth management firms for many years. Clara Furse was chairman of the London Stock Exchange before Xavier Rolet.  Then there is Baroness Karren Brady who was voted as one of the 50 most influential people in the world, is a life peer, Chairman of West Ham Football Club and a non executive director of SyCo Entertainment.

And frankly, we need not say anything about Anna Wintour. The woman is a legend.

There are so many other influential women in Britain alone that I would love to mention, but the post would end up as a book!

I want to expand the content of this blog. I’m very interested in the development of women. I’m interested in the achievements that we’ve made. I’m interested in understanding why we are what we are now and how we got here. I’m going to write a series of posts on the Feminine Agenda and I’m really looking forwards to writing them and celebrating who and what we are.

 

 

 

“A woman has to live her life, or live to repent not having lived it.”

I’ve been glued to the TV for what seems like, ooooh, forever, watching the Olympics and then the Paralympics and I’ve loved it. Every second. The Men’s Wheelchair Basketball match between GB and Turkey had me pacing the sitting room and bellowing at the tv. I’ve screamed to encourage, berate, celebrate and vent. I’ve cried tears of joy and admiration and sadness. I’ve watched athletes achieve success beyond their dreams or expectations and some who, on the day, simply didn’t. I’ve witnessed elation and heartbreak on these superhuman’s faces.

I’m in complete awe of the one legged high jump athletes ( by in awe – I mean I shout out loud ‘WTF?’ and cry)  and all of the other para athletes because they could so easily have given up; given in to their disabilities and lived a life wallowing in self pity, but all of them have chosen not to. Many of the athletes this year actually cite other athletes as their inspiration having only taken up sport since London 2012.

The road to Rio must have been long and tough and full of times when it would have been easier to refuse to go on, refuse to take a step further and simply sit by the roadside and watch others stumble along the path. There may well be those we shall never know of who may have done that, but our GB team did not.

By the way, I don’t mean to imply that if you are disabled and are not a Team GB Para Athlete that you live your life in self pity. Not at all. What I am saying is that actually, being honest with you, I spend MY life wallowing in self pity, decrying the lack of time and energy that I have and my perceived work life balance – imbalance as reasons for not going for a run or swim. I have all of my limbs and my faculties (well, may be not ALL of my marbles) and although I’m not going to be a GB athlete, I could be doing more to enjoy my life – even with yo yo-ing hormones and a fear of having to eat creepy crawlies. I recently accidentally drank my other half’s urine (which, let me tell you, was not the worst thing I’ve ever drunk – quite pleasant really), so I don’t think that I have any real excuses for not getting OUT THERE.

We don’t all have to be climbing mountains. Everyone’s OUT THERE is extremely personal – but we owe it to ourselves to do what makes us happy when we can. I don’t fancy Repentance that much. I think that feeling miserable because you haven’t achieved something for yourself is a form of repentance; and yet, its the city that I live in.

I have just read my first two posts…its like deja vu or groundhog day. The simple fact is that I don’t believe in myself. I don’t believe I’m capable of doing the things I want to do. I’m scared of failing and I’m scared that I look like a pale-ish sort of oompa loompa in lycra and my outdoorsy kit.

(link to my first post here:  https://ordinary2extreme.com/2013/11/24/starting-out/)

I think its about time I changed my post code. Repentance isn’t winning me the post code lottery of fulfilment thats for sure. After swimming the English Channel in 2014 I didn’t get back into the water properly until this year. Why not? Well, it wasn’t sharks. It was a simple realisation that I’m not Wonder Woman. It was HARD. REALLY HARD. I was scared of being too close to the boat as it pitched and rolled in a six foot swell. It was like being in a washing machine. All those pictures you see of calm seas as people swim in lovely flat water are gorgeous but aren’t always the reality. It certainly wasn’t for us. Instead of this adventure being a springboard to other adventures, it has limited me because I still feel like a failure. I feel like I failed even though we made it to France. I feel like a failure because it was hard and I had expected to feel confident. I admire amazing ladies like Anna McNuff and Lucinda Bayliss and my incredible friend Angel Paterson because despite being talented, they are human. Unlike me though, they’ve used their negatives and turned them into positives. (its my gorgeous friend Ang on my cover page with me, by the way, and here is a link to the video we made of the day)

English Channel Relay – Sivota Sharks July 2014 – YouTube

In Anna McNuff’s words, its time to get out my Pants of Perspective. I need to learn from the fear and use it to grow. Its time to pay those solicitors fees for moving out of a Town called Repentance….