#editorsletter is an editor’s letter with a hashtag in front of it.
Today is International Women’s Day and, as well as celebrating women, it is important to reflect on women’s history, discuss the injustices women face today, act in reaction to them and help make lasting change.
Girls can wear jeans and cut their hair short, wear shirts and boots ’cause it’s okay to be a boy. But for a boy to look like a girl is degrading, ’cause you think that being a girl is degrading.Madonna
Madonna first sang these words in the year 2000 and it’s sad to say that 15 years on they still ring true. Throughout the world women are still both consciously and subconciously treated as though they are of less worth than men. It is easy to say that things are better than they were 50 years ago – what’s the problem? – but, in doing so we gloss over the injustices which women still face, both in the U.K. and around the world. We gloss over double standards, which we’re too quick to ignore.
Men are considered lads if they sleep around; women are considered sluts. Men are considered bosses if they’re assertive; women are considered bossy. Men are considered bachelors if they’re 40 and single; women are considered lonely. Men are considered normal if they grow armpit hair; women are considered weird. Men can walk around topless in public; women can’t. Men dominate parliaments in most countries; women don’t. Men have access to education across the world; women don’t. Men can commit sexual assault; women can be blamed for it. Men can commit rape; women can be punished for it.
Men are given rights, which women are denied.
These are, to a certain extent, generalisations, generic societal views which don’t apply to all men and women and which many of us disagree with today but they are mindsets, codes of conduct and even laws which still pervade and shape cultures across the planet. It only takes a quick internet search to find out that only 22.8% of British MPs are women (19.3% in the U.S.), two thirds of the 774 million adult illiterates in the world are women and as recently as 2008 a teenage girl was stoned in Somalia for being raped.
There’s still reason to Chime for Change.
As a man it can often feel patronising talking about the struggles and prejudices which women face on account of their gender. I have and will never experience them. However, I do witness and learn of them and how they vary between women of different races, backgrounds, sexualities, disabilities and more on a daily basis. I have been taught for example about intersectionality and that it’s important to understand that the prejudice a cis white woman faces is different to that a trans black woman faces. Inequality does not take one shape or form and we have to remember that when discussing and planning how to eliminate it.
Simply by listening to and watching the women around me I have learnt that women across the world earn 77% of the amount paid to men. I have learnt that over 130 million women have undergone female genital mutilation. I have learnt that black women are often labeled ‘angry black women’ simply for speaking up against the prejudices which they face. I have learnt that trans women often have their gender identities and genitalia questioned and picked apart. I have learnt that disabled women struggle to get work and media representation because our society still has such limited and negative views of disability (and women).
The women who I admire: my friends, celebrities, writers – have taught me all these things. However, it is not the job of women to educate others in the inequalities they face; it is within our power as humans to question societal norms, educate ourselves in inequality and fight against it of our own accord.
The year is 2015. Equality does not exist. Let’s all work together – to help make it a reality, not a fantasy.
Ladies – I bow down to you and all the sh*t you go through.
Celebrate, reflect, discuss, act, change.
Sam is the Editor-in-Chief of PTL. He likes adapting surnames into brand names and pretending to be professional. His favourite novel is Cloud Atlas and he has Madonna marathons on a regular basis. Sam tries to make out that he has his shit together but more often than not can be found crying watching Desperate Housewives reruns. Some episodes are really sad okay.
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