Tag Archives: #empowering

FEMINISM IN POP CULTURE – A YOUNG FEMINIST’S VIEW

Bristol Woman is delighted to publish the second part of the ‘Young Feminist’ series from young blogger, Mollie Semple. Probably, our youngest guest blog contributor to date. In this blog, Mollie tells us her hopes and fears in terms of the evolution and expansion of today’s Third Wave feminism. Definitely worth a read!

IMG_0334

It used to be, in recent years, that there was only a very subtle undertone of feminism in any kind of pop culture most likely due to the fact the ‘Angry Feminist’ was the only stereotype thought of to refer to. And an angry woman just does not sell to the masses.

After the popularity of the full on 90s feminist movement Riot Grrrl, the whereabouts of feminists in the limelight, to me as a young person, appear to have dwindled away.

Only a few years ago I found it hard to find celebrities, songs and films right in the middle of popular culture to resonate with my growing feminist beliefs but now it’s increasingly hard to find an area that isn’t slathered in a new Third Wave feminist tint.

Obviously this feminism has always been around, but there wasn’t the same platform there is now to shout out to the world about one’s beliefs on equality. There wasn’t the same number of actresses questioning the press why it was only them who were asked about their family life or their skincare routine instead of their impressive careers. There was no Emma Watson to appeal to UN delegates on the importance of equality for women. Feminism was a dirty word, but I can see more and more of us embrace it as a powerful one. It is within this explosion onto the Hollywood scene, the music scene, the celebrity scene that one can see, mixed in with the added bonus of the Internet, the power of the media to share a message with the people.

This sudden surge of Third Wave feminism in the Western world, which has been building up, right from the first surge of Riot Grrrl, is completely exhilarating. Twitter is littered with it, Facebook is swimming in it and the celebrities are more and more becoming advocates for it. The Angry Feminist, for most, is now just a ‘Taming of the Shrew’ type exaggeration because a huge number of people are now fitting comfortably into a new “acceptable” egalitarian category. We are of course still angry, because you can’t see the gaps in equality and not become deeply impassioned in a desire for change, but it is now an accepted feature to be commended and not frowned upon.

Staggeringly, huge numbers of female celebrities are no longer afraid to open their mouth and express an important opinion in case of a drop in popularity. There has finally been created a safe space for feminism within pop culture where women and men can properly express their thoughts on it. The obvious inequality in this culture is no longer happily ignored, Third Wave feminism has broken through and started to dominate. Perhaps this is the beginning of the end.

However, I do just have one issue with this mostly brilliant popular movement. I worry that in between Emma Watson’s work for the UN, or frequent call outs on the Hollywood pay gap meant to ripple into the world wide pay gap, or the highlighting of the blatant racism in the film industry, there isn’t just a small element of inactivity with this newfound prestige. I wonder if there is too much focus on Western inequality and a lack of intrigue for the disastrous inequality on the other side of the world. Malala Yousafzai has been voicing her feminist views for her culture all over the world, but I wonder if she reaches the level of pop culture that, say, Ryan Gosling does. Western inequality is not unimportant or negligible in any way, but we mustn’t again fall into the trap of forgetting that the rest of the world exists. I also worry that this popularity might be detrimental to feminism in the way that it could exhaust its meaning without a sufficient achievement.

I am so excited by the fact that celebrities are using their platform to spread the word of feminism, but are they truly aiding us or telling us to actively do something?

Perhaps my criticisms are unfair here, perhaps I should just let feminism with its new fame find its steps and see where it goes. I just don’t want its power to become trivial, and for the feminist stereotype to be cyclical and in a few years time we fall into the unattractive label of the “Angry Feminist” once more. I just don’t want this fantastic opportunity to be squandered and lost in this fast moving pace of the pop culture world.

BIO
Mollie is a 17 year old student in the midst of her A Levels. She’s a passionate blogger at The Fully Intended, and all she really wants to do in life is write. She has been raised by her parents to want nothing more for the world than equality, and so intends to spend a lot of her time making sure her generation gets a little bit closer to just that.

Top Gear: Time for a Woman

Search for “woman driver” on Google images and pictures of female Formula One drivers is NOT what you get. Instead you get women arranging their hair and make up in car mirrors, parking badly, or getting into some ridiculous car accidents.

Images headed by “Caution! Women Drivers”, “Women Driving a Car: Always Ends Badly”, and even “Women Drivers: There’s a reason why it’s illegal in Saudi Arabia”. Compare these images to the fact that women make safer more mindful drivers.

Mainstream media is not helping promote the reality. I’m going to jump on the bandwagon here and talk about Top Gear as an example. Everybody else is! Continue reading Top Gear: Time for a Woman

Can we have it all?

Charlie Albers talks to us about planning parties, raising 3 children and letting dreams guide her life. The question we have for her – as a woman, as a mother, as an entrepreneur – can we have it all?

parties 4Before I had Eva, my eldest daughter, I worked in corporate events and for as long as I can remember I always loved organising events and parties. But it was only when a friend of mine mentioned how my parties were so great that I thought why not take this further? I have done this for large corporates; I love doing this at home, so why not do this as my own business, my own job? I personally feel that it is important for children, especially girls, to see their mothers working at something outside the family, not just in the home.  I was so driven, that in one night I bought the domain name, set up my email and website and was ready to go.

It has been running for a year now. I organise and run beautiful whimsical children’s parties and events. I also have a props hire part of the business where people can hire vintage china, fabulous photo booths and backdrops as well as a myriad of gorgeous props. I have just started hiring out beautifully decorated belltents, which can be used for an additional, quirky space for entertaining at weddings and events. I love it! Continue reading Can we have it all?

Balanced representation of women in the UK boardroom – will 25% become a reality in 2015?

So, it’s 2015 and the year is beginning to accelerate. Time to give some thought to what was promised for women’s representation in UK boardrooms by 2015. In publishing his review of women on boards in 2011, Lord Davies said this: “FTSE 100 boards should aim for a minimum of 25% female representation by 2015 and we expect that many will achieve a higher figure.
Fast forward to late February 2015 and how are we doing? Well, we can tell from figures published in the Guardian last October that ‘60% of Britain’s top firms have still to reach the government target for female directors’. In Autumn 2014, 61 FTSE 100 companies still hadn’t met the 25% female representation target set by Lord Davies. Given that, it seems unlikely that what Lord Davies had pushed for and advocated in his 2011 statement will bear fruit this year.
We can but hope but the 25% female representation goal across all FTSE 100 boards does not appear to be a particularly robust reality. Nevertheless, the 30% Club – founded and chaired by the dynamic Helena Morrissey, CEO of Newton Investment and mother of nine children – does feel that this could be possible (see quote below). Let’s hope so! That could only be good news all around.

Helena Morrissey, Chair of Newton Investment and Founder/Chair of the 30% Club
Helena Morrissey, Chair of Newton Investment and Founder/Chair of the 30% Club

‘The good news is that the goal set by Lord Davies to have 25% of women directors on FTSE 100 boards by the end of 2015 is within reach. Given the current rate of director turnover and proportion of new appointments going to women, the year end outcome will lie somewhere between Lord Davies’ target and the 30% Club’s slightly more ambitious one’.

Meanwhile, a Harvard Business Review article published just this week ‘Women Directors Change How Boards Work’ – authored by Laura Liswood, Secretary General, Council of Women World Leaders – tells us, crushingly, that the United States ‘seems to have hit a ceiling of about 16% women’ when it comes to the representation of women in the boardroom. This statistic sits glumly alongside the HBR article’s opening remarks.

‘We know that getting more women on teams can boost performance …. And increasing the number of women on a team also increases its collective intelligence’

For some hope and in order to tap a richer vein of reference, Liswood looks to Norway which boasts (since late 2003) a mandatory quota system of 40% on the boards of publicly limited liability companies. Early feedback following this move is now showing the value of having at least three women on a board is important.

Laura Liswood, Secretary General, Council of Women World Leaders, seen here speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
Laura Liswood, Secretary General, Council of Women World Leaders, seen here speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

In her article, Liswood also seeks insights into the Norwegian example from Professor Aaron A Dhir, an associate professor of York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School in the US. His forthcoming 2015 book ‘Challenging Boardroom Homogeneity; Corporate Law, Governance and Diversity looked deeply into the experiences of 23 Norwegian directors, men and women who had appointments both pre- and post-quota. From this work, Dhir then goes on to identify seven consequences of gender-based heterogeneity for boardroom work, board governance, and group dynamics. These are:

– Enhanced dialogue

– Better decision-making, including the value of dissent

– More effective risk mitigation and crisis management

– Better balance between risk-welcoming and risk aversion behaviour

– Higher quality monitoring of and guidance to management

– Positive changes to the boardroom environment and culture

– More orderly and systematic board work

– Positive changes in the behaviour of men

In a final statement on his findings in Norway, Professor Dhir tells us that his findings do indicate that:

‘the forced repopulation of board governance systems along gender lines has disturbed the traditional order of corporate board governance systems, dislocating established hierarchies of power and privilege in key market-based institutions’.

In other words, it can be done, but it’s going to be painful. No surprise there! But we need to bust through the pain barrier to come out the other side and begin to reap the benefits of far more balanced gender representation in today’s leading boardrooms across the world.
Clearly, reaching fair and balanced representation of women in boardrooms is unlilkely to be entirely achievable in 2015 but we need to keep the whole drive and thrust for this vital initiative moving forward. Boardrooms with heavily biased male representation need to become an anachronism in the not too distant future!

My balancing act between children and ambition

By Zoe Dobson

When I agreed to write this article, I never thought how difficult it would be.  How to get across that I’m a hard-working, single mum who hopefully has the work/life balance right for my children? It’s difficult.

I never expected my life to turn out this way – to be a single, working mum wasn’t the future I saw when I fell pregnant with my first daughter at 25.  Yes I knew I’d work, I’ve always been ambitious, always wanted to ‘have a career’, but being on my own with children plus a busy career wasn’t part of my plan.  But for the last two years, that’s how it’s been and I’d like to think we’re doing pretty well.

I love my children more than words can express.  They are the most wonderful, amazing, beautiful, entertaining, interesting people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. They astound and amuse (and sometimes aggravate) me daily. Yet you could question if I’ve been there enough for them?  I believe I have, but others may disagree. Continue reading My balancing act between children and ambition

A Monster Ate My Mum

Bristol author Jen Faulkner on tackling post-natal depression

frontcoverTHEONE_zpsa9dea037Post-Natal depression affects many families; and it affected mine. I am a mum to three beautiful children and have suffered either pre or postnatal depression with each of them. It is a debilitating illness that affects the entire family and I was painfully aware of this after the birth of my third child when I was at my most ill. I witnessed my older children, then three and eleven, look at me with confusion when I was crying again and asked me why I was so sad. I saw them shy away from me when I was irritable and tip-toe around me when I was locked in my own anxiety ridden hell. It wasn’t their fault, it wasn’t anything yet they’d done, but it know they were affected by it. I know they were confused by what was happening to their mum who was such a confident and lively person.

Reaching out to them, and anyone in fact, when I was ill was hard. I hated asking for help and for a while battled with the reality of the illness, refusing to believe it had taken me in it’s grasp. Yet I did want to reach out to them, I did want to explain why it was happening to me and that it wouldn’t be like this forever. So I wrote the poem ‘A Monster Ate My Mum,’ which looks at post natal depression through the eyes of a child. My children loved the story and it prompted some very honest and open discussions about the illness. It helped us so much; even my husband understood a little bit more about what I was going through after reading the poem. Continue reading A Monster Ate My Mum

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg: A Review

Business Sense journalist, Isabelle Macintyre, provides a critique on the book that’s taken the business world by storm.

130308101143-sheryl-sandberg-lean-in-book-cover-240xaSheryl Sandberg – COO of Facebook, all-round over-achiever – is the latest person to address the subject of women in power.

It’s an issue that still manages to provoke controversy. And while Lean In has received considerable praise from leading figures in politics and business, the acclaim has been countered by some censure.

Most glaring, at least from an SME perspective, is the concern that Sandberg is in too much of a bubble to have anything relatable to offer. Certainly, when considering her personal wealth of $500 million, and the fact that Fortunes magazine recently ranked her as more influential than Michelle Obama, such a position is hard to challenge. But for a busy SME owner, is there anything of value to be gained here?

Lean In is an enjoyable and interesting light read, and its author is likeable and engaging. I can certainly see why it has quickly become a bestseller. Sandberg’s chief talent (among many others) is her magnificent ability to inspire and motivate those she encounters, and given her professional success, one couldn’t ask for a better coach. Continue reading Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg: A Review