March 8 has rolled around again – where has the time gone? March 8 every year is International Women’s Day, a global day celebrating women’s achievements.
The campaign theme for International Women’s Day this year is Break the Bias. IWD encourages us this year to imagine a world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. IWD invites us to appreciate a world that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive.
This year, I acknowledge that there are brutal, evil, and heavy things going on in the world right now, and I applaud the women who are resiliently battling and living these events every day. These are tough times right now and I hope we can all support each other.
Last year I wrote about International Women’s Day too, and it was a long post. Please do check out the nuances and challenges that women face every day.
To celebrate IWD, this week at work we had the privilege of having our questions answered by one of the top female executives at the company. It was interesting learning about her own experiences at work and at home.
The industry I work in is predominantly male, so to have a female exec quite high up and encouraged to speak openly and champion women is really inspiring. So much so that our sister companies and parent companies want her to do more!
I really appreciate working at a company that celebrates diversity and is actively listening with wide open ears. And that’s the first step, I suppose: listening. Being open for discussion to potentially change things.
Break the bias
And what can we do? We can speak up and continue speaking up. Shout and continue shouting louder.
We are human. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
Speak up and break the bias at work, at home, in schools, colleges, and universities, even in the streets. We can:
- let women speak;
- acknowledge women’s successes;
- support women-owned businesses;
- be a mentor to other women;
- give women opportunities;
- read books to children that have female protagonists, or swap the genders;
- call women’s sport… sport.
As I was thinking about breaking the bias and breaking stereotypes, I wondered what might inspire me (or others). If you perhaps aren’t actively having this open gender dialogue or if you perhaps aren’t listening with wide and open ears; what might you be able to manage?
So I thought of media and culture – an easy way to invite people to question biases and question stereotypes. And, in time, perhaps allow one to call out biases and to speak out against stereotypes.
So here are some media/ culture that you can consume that might open your eyes to biases or stereotypes. If anything, I enjoyed them, so am heartily recommending these:
Wonder Woman – what a heroine. Princess of the Amazons, Diana uses her training to help end the war of wars. One of the iconic scenes is when she’s told she can’t go over the top – it’s No Man’s Land – to which Diana replies, “I am no man”. A great scene. A lot of butt-kicking and really showing that women are just as strong and clever as men.
Brave – Princess Merida is quicker, stronger, and better at shooting arrows than the princes who come to court her. She is not afraid to speak her mind and be who she wants to be. There’s a curse that goes wrong too, amongst other things, and just a really fun and inspiring female protagonist.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer – I still remember the opening scene of this cult classic TV show. A blonde and timid female teenager is encouraged to break into a high school with an excitable lad, clearly up to no good. She asks him “Do you think anyone will see us?”, to which he cheekily replies “I sure hope not”. Wink.
And then she says “Good”, turns into a vampire, and sucks his blood. That’s sure breaking stereotypes of a young seemingly helpless woman. The female protagonist is the vampire slayer and she sure kicks some vampire ass!
Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea explores the tale of the “mad woman in the attic” before she turned “mad”. Serving as a prequel to Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, the narrative is flipped and gives the woman trapped in the attic with no voice a really strong voice.
Before she was trapped she was a real 3D living and breathing woman full of life. Most readers come to this book after reading Jane Eyre, and wow, is it eye-opening to this original side character.
Nikita Gill’s Greek Goddesses re-works the stereotypical take of the Greek pantheon, monsters, and so called damsels in distress and victims. This book also celebrates womanhood and sisterhood, weaving new inspirational stories amongst the old canon.
Everyone knows the story of Medusa, a Gorgon, and it’s one of my favourite poems in this collection:
“Perhaps the truth about Gorgons
is they are just women,
women who do not bend to the world
or fit into the narrow mould you want them to.
Maybe that’s why you demonised them,
turned them into monsters,
because you think monsters are easier
to understand than women who say no to you.“
I hope you managed to celebrate International Women’s Day in your own way. And I hope we can all strive for a better and safer world.