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 firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘Feminist Friday’ in the subject line.