Today is International Women’s Day, a time when we remember the struggle for equal rights and the ongoing battle to change indoctrinated societal norms towards the so-called ‘weaker’ sex. But, let me start by saying I don’t believe this is an issue of ‘them’ and ‘us’, or even of ‘men’ and ‘women’. It is a recognition that every single person, irrespective of gender identity, is of equal worth. It just so happens that March 8th is a designated moment to celebrate the women who have done their bit towards breaching the gap.
I’ve known a lot of very strong women during my lifetime and it seems I meet new ones every day. First and always, there is my mother. Born in the early ‘60’s and encumbered with an attractive face and figure, not to mention being a natural blonde, she has faced her fair share of inequality and value judgment, particularly working in male-dominated environments. People tend to see the exterior, you see, and not so much of the razor-sharp brain beneath. However, this never stopped her from racking up an impressive array of academic and career achievements, whilst being a single parent divorcee at one time and a damn good mother, daughter and friend to many people. Now, though, she can look back and feel proud that she beat society’s system, the same system that wanted to hold her back and keep her tied to jobs far beneath her intellect – so that men “with more pressing demands on their pocket” could take them instead.
So much for a meritocracy, eh?
There was never any bitterness, though, only a consistently proactive attitude towards changing things for the better, which is something I’ve found very inspiring over the years. When presented with injustice, it is tempting to be submissive, to be accepting and not to speak “out of turn” – whatever the hell that means – but where would we be if everyone took such an apathetic approach to things that are clearly wrong?
For my own part, I sometimes reflect on occasions when I’ve been undermined in the workplace, or when a group of Cityboys have made me feel uncomfortable on a commuter train. I’ve laughed off my own share of casually sexist comments, but then, I’m sure I’ve made some myself without even realising it. I’m only human, like the rest of us. That’s the problem with endemic, entrenched norms; sometimes, you don’t realise when you’re contributing to a system you don’t like.
But, you know what was most enlightening – and saddening – to me, when I reflected on these things today? It was the striking realisation that it has not been men who have actively sought to undermine. It has been other women. Why has that been the case? Memories from childhood, from adolescence, from my early twenties all the way up until this very morning swam through my mind in a way I seldom allow them to. I don’t like to dwell on negative experiences and, taking a leaf from my mum’s book, I prefer to look to the future and try to behave like a decent human being. I distract myself from past disappointments by focusing on all the many wonderful people I have known through the years and remind myself to keep thinking the very best of people. In a more important sense, I believe that if we think ‘big’ and not ‘small’ as a society and as individuals, we can go on to achieve great things and not at the expense of our fellow humans.
On another note, what are we all reading this week? I’ve been sent a couple of books – one is ‘Blood Sisters’ by Jane Corry (to be released in May) and I’m excited to read this after enjoying her first book ‘My Husband’s Wife’. Another one is ‘The Girl Before’ by J.P. Delaney, who is a new author for me so I’m looking forward to trying it!
Next week, I’ll be at the London Book Fair at Kensington Olympia for the full three days (14-16th March) based from the Amazon KDP stand, where you can pop over and say ‘hello’ to speak to me, Rachel Abbott and Mark Dawson, alongside other writers and Amazon staff who will be happy to talk to you about their experiences publishing independently, or try to answer any questions you might have. It’s mostly an event for writers and industry professionals, but anyone is welcome to come along and discover what it’s all about. I’ll be doing a panel alongside the other authors every morning talking about various aspects of the profession, so I’ll hopefully see some of you there!
In between times, I’m working on two writing projects: DCI Ryan Book #6 and an entirely separate, standalone psychological thriller which is very different (but great fun to write!). If only I could type faster…
Have a great week!