March 8th is International Women’s Day. I wouldn’t have had a clue, were I not connected to the world through my social networks (and those around me – virtually and physically – who are more up to date with current affairs et al) and it did make me think once more about issues of equality, and I mean of how I was brought up, how I see myself, relate to others, am being seen, and most importantly, how much I believe in myself and my abilities. An awful lot, by the way, except when it comes to numbers, but then I’m dyscalculic, so there’s no surprise! Besides, I have many strategies of dealing with those pesky things and what one does with them.
I was alerted to this excellent video with M and James Bond. It is stunning, and I urge you to watch it.
Being a woman (shock! horror!) who builds her own furniture, does her own DIY, and so on, I have recently encountered patronising comments and (shock! horror!) looks when out and about in the DIY shops, plus, which might even annoy me the most, the girly syndrome. What is this, you make ask? Well, it’s not something I have encountered often in my life, because I have never been a girly candidate. I’m more an Amazonian warrioress (hahaha! I wish! But you get the picture). So when I do encounter the attempt at being treated like a silly girl who can’t possibly know what she is doing (hilarious at the age of 42, if you ask me) my first reaction is disbelief and surprise, and the second is designed to make sure the inevitably male perpetrator of this grave error will NEVER do this again, if I can help it.
I never thought I’d come across being regarded as not knowing what I am doing, just because I am engaging in DIY, buy hardware, powertools, measure slabs and battens, and all that while dressed rather swish and in make-up – because I’m on my way home from work. It’s also amazing to think that this doesn’t tend to happen if I trot down to my local DIY shop on a weekend, dressed in Chucks or work boots, trousers and no make-up. What’s going on here? Rhetorical question if there is any.
We are not equal, and I see the proof up close and personal, in all its ugliness. It makes me want to dress next time in a short dress, tall boots, more make-up and grooming (even though the thought of putting nail varnish on while DIYing is ridiculous) and demand a powertool presentation and have-a-go-yourself that they offer at the big B&Q I go to in the evenings, to test out the circular saw I have been eyeing up.
I put this post into the category of Inspiration, because whatever I might say about my family, my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, my sister, and the whole shebang that was my childhood, in the end, when it comes down to it, I was truly inspired by my mum and dad, who brought me and my older sister up as a person, a person with a core of steel (good old Ruhrgebiet Thyssen Stahl 😉 ) and with fairly unshakable beliefs in ourself and our abilities. Have I ever said, when in front of a potential project (may it be a brainy, a handy, a creative, a goodness what one) “oh no! I don’t think I can do that!”? No, I haven’t and I never shall. My attitude has always been “well … I might not have a clue yet how to do that, but there’s nothing I cannot learn!”
I was brought up as a person who happens to be female. I was not brought up as a female, if that makes sense. Thus when I do encounter inequality, I am truly shocked, same as when I encounter being regarded in certain ways because I happen to be the physical gender that I am. Bewildering.
I love making clothes, I adored my Barbies (I used to make all her clothes, I also built a functioning apartment for her and the Ken dolls were their stable boys, ahem…), I love make-up and beauty products and can pamper myself to oblivion. I also have been wielding powertools since I was a teenager, drive faster than a boy racer (uhm … just kidding, Guv’ner, honest), am happy to give talks in front of hundreds of people, and live my life with utmost competence on my own, confidently tackling every up and down (and blimey, the adultering ex-husband and subsequent divorce was a traumatic down, if there ever was any), every left right green red and every tweak and twitter in between. (I also like to invent words and phrases, but you might have noticed that by now)
My life has been about choices, and I have been privileged to be able to make my own choices, regardless of my gender. On this International Women’s Day I therefore want to say out loud, that every single woman should be just as empowered to make her own choices.
But it doesn’t happen just passively, if you are one who has the potential to make her own choices, you’ve got to get out of your little-girl shells, your pink princess dreams, and grab life by the horns. You’ve got to actually go out and DO it. Not wait for a man to do it for you.
And those who don’t have this potential, let’s make sure they’ll be given the chance one day.