Feminist Friday with… Jess Willby

Feminism is… Listening to other women

This is a guest post by Jess Wilby, a Manchester based lifestyle blogger who writes for philocalist.co.uk.

My only brief is write about what feminism means to you.” This was my only guidance from Chloe and it really got me thinking. The commute home isn’t one that usually inspires me. Believe me, the wet armpit of another commuter certainly isn’t my regular muse. But as I made my way, trapped on a hot & sticky Metrolink carriage, I thought about all the ways I’d been wronged as a woman. Being paid less, because I am a woman. Being cat called in the street, because I am a woman. Travelling in fear that someone might grope me during the commuter rush because I am a woman.

But really, that’s just me in my little bubble. Feminism is about that – but also, it’s about something much bigger. Feminism to me is actually more about knowing what it means to you.

We all live within our own parameters. Try as we might, we will never be able to truly understand what it’s like to live someone else’s life. Empathy is one thing, but I mean truly understanding. That’s why the modern day feminist will never quite have all the answers and actually, our greatest tool is listening to someone else and letting them tell their own story.

There is power in silence; in the ability to shut the fuck up for a moment and stop banging on about your own personal brand of girl power.

The task of achieving absolute gender equality is almost unfathomable but you’re not going to achieve anything if you only exclusively focus on your own goals. Self-care is dope but contrary to popular belief we’re not just out here spinning on a space rock for our own personal development, you know?

It’s time we stopped excusing our ignorance and instead actively seek out varying experiences of womanhood. The internet might be a big place, but it’s not hard to find and share stories from women living a life different to your own.

Whether it’s Grace Victory talking to you about the lack of diversity in blogging, Stephanie Yeboah telling you how black fat women matter too or Ali Catrin explaining what it’s like to live with Autism, we need to take their words on board and celebrate their voice. Devour every word and pass it on, champion them for speaking out.

By listening and sharing these stories, you are empowering the women who truly need to hear them. The girls who feel alone; who are in the same position, needing someone to look up to. I’ll say it again, there’s power in listening to these experiences. You don’t need to put your own spin on it, we only need to take these women at their word.

Believing, listening, sharing – it doesn’t matter if you haven’t experienced the issues yourself, you can still be part of the domino effect. Not only will your own mindset start to change by exposing yourself to new ideas, so will those around you. Suddenly women who previously may not have been willing to share their voice feel empowered to do so because they know there are people who will listen.

And so – if like me – you ever find yourself armpit-deep on a sweaty, commuter-packed Metrolink take a moment to think about how the other women around you are feeling in that moment. What story do they have to tell and would you be there to listen?


Thank you so much to Jessica for this post, I completely agree. If YOU want to get involved with Feminist Fridays email chloefmetzer@gmail.com with ‘Feminist Friday’ in the subject line.

70 thoughts on “Feminist Friday with… Jess Willby

  1. I am a traveler and my trips have taken me to places like India, or Cuba, where women are seen differently. I’ve learned how a woman in India is doomed to have a life dictated by her family, by society and then by her future husband just because she was born in a certain cast. And when you think about that, and all the women like her out there, all of their stories full of violence and misery, girl brand flower power means nothing.

    1. I completely agree Joanna, there is so many women suffering in much worse ways. Would you like to write a post about it, I’d welcome your opinion on the blog.

    2. I am from India, and i think you’ve combined two completely different issues. While casteism does exist in India, it’s not strictly related to the discrimination of women. I haven’t come across many issues in which a woman was sorely discriminated against because she was from a particular caste while a man from the same caste would not be discriminated against. However yes, in India especially in rural areas, women are treated like objects, and they have almost no say in what happens with their lives (their caste is irrelevant here). In fact a movie which I think everyone should watch called ‘lipstick under my burkha’ highlights situation of many women from different religious and economic backgrounds.

  2. I completely agree – everyone’s feminism is personal to them and will be expressed differently. It’s so important to give time and space to others’ opinions!

  3. This is a fantastic series and one I would love to part of. Feminism is about supporting and empowering each other as women and we should all make the effort to do this.

  4. I love the thought of feminism being about knowing what it means to you.
    I will definitely be reading your Feminist Friday posts 🙂

    Dani x

  5. I’ve never really thought about what feminism means to me as I feel very lucky that I don’t generally get men shouting things at me and I feel safe where I am but it’s sad that others don’t x

  6. This post is well timed. I recently spoke to a group of female entrepreneurs about starting a digital magazine and gaining offline as well as online paid opportunities. Inspiring women to excel has been my goal this year. We are the largest group of entrepreneurs right now and we should support each other to reach our potential.

  7. Thank you for braving to write about this. Very very in time. Such a mind awakening as well. Every woman has its own stories to tell.

  8. This is a great read! Feminism really does have a variety of meanings, even amongst guys as well. Listening to each other, however, is really important!

  9. i absolutely love this post , i never used to take any interest in these parades or festivals or celebrations but i am so pleased youve brought this post to your blog, ive seen and heard about the way different cultures treat woman and its so important to know the truth x

  10. This is a fab series. I completely agree that we should be sharing more posts and talking about what issues women are bringing up and empowering other to do that

  11. I had a manspreader on the tram last night, I moved my leg slightly and he took the space! This is such a great series love reading this post x

  12. Hi I read your blog and I really liked it except that, I felt it was more on woman empowerment than on feminism, because isn’t feminism just the belief that men and women are equal? By that definition, men are also highly discriminated against in many spheres of life.

    1. Hi tejasvi, thanks for reading. I’m glad you liked the post and wanted to talk about your own opinions. I think for a lot of people feminism and empowerment is interlinked! I’d be interested to know why you feel men are discriminated against in regards to feminism meaning equality. Thanks!

      1. I think that feminism is a huge movement by itself and has many components like empowerment. I think that men can’t express themselves because of gender roles. For example, a woman who chooses to be a housewife is accepted/encouraged by society, but a man who might want to do the same thing is put down and called lazy ( at least that’s how it works in india).

      2. Ah I see! Yes I completely understand gender stereotypes are a big problem! To me, feminism and true equality would mean that these are broken down meaning women could be working while men care for their children. I’m sorry to hear it’s like that in India, shows that we have a long way to go for true equality!

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