It’s International Women’s Day tomorrow. Ironic therefore that it was today when I was confronted – in the flesh (pun intended) – by those vile snowboards emblazened with naked women while out shopping with my two young daughters. Perhaps it was the fact that it is International Women’s day tomorrow that I mustered up the courage to confront the shop’s staff about why they thought it was acceptable and appropriate to have this soft porn in prime position in their shop … and in fact right opposite the children’s section. I was met with an interesting response. The two women I spoke to clearly understood where I was coming from. Even agreed with me to a large extent. I won’t repeat all the arguments used in our previous blog but it was all the more pertinent while my two daughters innocently played in the shadow of these monstrosities. One of the women offered to have them ‘turned around’ while we were in the shop. I said that that wasn’t good enough and that they should really reconsider stocking them at all. She then told me about how her own daughter – aged 15 – thought that the women on them were ‘just cartoons’ so it was all harmless, and in the next breath went on to say how unhappy her daughter was with her own body and how she suffered from self-esteem issues!
I can only say, that we all need to have courage to challenge these things whenever we see them. It’s so deeply ingrained in our culture and so normalised that many women can’t see what is staring them in the face or have become so used to seeing that our reaction is dumbed down or completely knocked out of us. I left the shop reminding them that Playboy is porn – that’s how simple this argument is. It’s not an opinion. It’s a fact. And that women snowboarders (and skiers … and men for that matter(!)) should be fighting against this invasion on the sport which we (and our young families) love. Be ashamed Burton. Be ashamed.
Now, moving swiftly on. It’s International Women’s Day in the morning and we thought, time to reflect on all the great and wonderful women who we have come into contact with over the last nine months. Our PinkStinks journey is only just beginning – we are nearly a year old – but we have been amazed by the incredible network which we have become a part of and the support, encouragement and strength that we find there.
We totally love The Illusionists – brilliant blog and project creating a film about beauty myths
Girls Inc – brilliant organisation and website for girls – based in the US with some amazing films
Women’s Resource Centre – innovative and brilliant UK-based organisation run by great women
Women in Science and Engineering – tackling girls’ lack of interest in science with some great new ideas and approaches
GirlGuidingUK – reinventing themselves and focusing on girls’ self esteem and achievement
Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation – finding ways of making active attractive! (Love their slogan)
Polly Toynbee – whose article on ‘girlification’ almost a year ago inspired Abi and I and her resounding support spurred us on
Barbara Follett – whose remarks about girls’ poverty of ambition caused a stir and ignited the debate
And that’s just off the top of my head. It’s through taking the time to celebrate an event such as International Women’s Day, that women all over the World gain courage to challenge, to oppose and to win their rights. There’s strength in numbers. And there’s also the need to recognise that small and seemingly insignificant actions add up. And mean something.
Finally, we’ve been compiling our list of real role models over the last few weeks and Miriam Makeba was one of the first whom we ‘wrote up’ ready for our website – huge thanks to Lucy Lawrence for this one. We aim to present our real role models to girls. But while putting this together I found that I was deeply touched by her story and indeed her journey – must have been as I downloaded a load of her amazing music straight after reading it! At the age of seven she was part of her church choir, and had practiced for weeks in preparation for a visit from King George VI. When he finally arrived the Royal’s car just sped past. Leaving the children standing there. Unheard. From this devastating incident she started questioning what was going on around her and found her passion, strength and her belief. It’s these smaller but powerful details of women’s stories which we think will ignite something within girls to inspire them to follow their instincts, be ambitious, be brave, and above all, to be courageous.