Tag Archives: feminism

#NoMorePage3

I have been so disappointed and saddened by the news that our delight over the achievement of #NoMorePage3 campaign had been premature, that I was not in a mood to write a Ladies Who Impress story today. Brave and inspiring women of No More Page 3 project have fought a relentless campaign since 2012, collecting over 200,000 signatures in a petition to convince The Sun to take the boobs off a ‘family newspaper’, and on Monday it seemed like their tenacity had finally paid off: the paper came out without its degrading trademark of objectification of women.

Today, it was business as usual with a topless model, labelled as “Nicole, 22, from Bournemouth”. Indeed, in the voice of Metro, “today The Sun has told all of those women that their appearance and sex appeal will always be more important than their voice.”

Back when I signed the petition a couple of years ago, I imagined my goddaughter, who turned five last week, growing up, coming across The Sun one day and wondering why a mainstream newspaper would display a photo like that. I wondered what I would say if she asked me to explain. I thought about her pretending to be ‘one of the lads’ when her male colleagues might flick the paper during a lunch break. I feared her worrying about her own body image and the development of her values. Would she bother aspiring to become good at her chosen vocation, develop a creative streak, if only for fulfilment, play football or rugby at school, which may be fun, but isn’t in line with what society deems to be worth displaying, not on page 3 anyway?

It’s not that I am prudish or against anyone showing off their assets and getting paid for it, like some some angry women on Twitter hastened to argue, but there are plenty of specialist publications and websites catering for the audience, which I am not going to judge. For me page 3 is a bit like a “Entrepreneur Barbie” – the only one in the “career” section on Barbie website, dressed in pink and, despite her gadgets, representing very little of what it might be like to start up a business. We want women to go into science and business, represent shareholder interests on boards, share domestic chores with their male partners, be offered equal opporunities and be judged by merit, yet here in 2015 we are staring at the pink elephant we inherited from the 1970s, which stinks of patriarchy.

And yet over the last couple of years we have achieved so much in the most unlikely fields: Irish Steph Roche was nominated for the FIFA’s goal of the year awardOxford and Cambridge women will compete on the same Thames course as men in the annual Boat Race in 2015 and there are no all-male boards in FTSE100 companies as of July 2014. There are plenty of reasons to be cheerful and inspiration to spur us all on.

Once I got over my dismay, I realised that skipping a newsletter, celebrating women for their talents and achievements, creativity and fearlessness would be losing a battle and a war. If I only could, I’d put together a story to counterbalance every topless photo just to put a passionate businesswoman or a discerning correspondent into the spotlight. I will keep finding inspiring stories to put over cringeworthy images, and perhaps give Lucy-Anne Holmes a nod of encouragement to keep campaigning and empowering all of us to stay resilient against any setbacks.

It only takes a couple of minutes to sign a petition. You will not receive any newsletters or junk mail, but your time and voice will contribute to a worthy cause. Click here to sign a petition for #NoMorePage3.

Lucy-Anne Holmes

 

This article was first published on Huffington Post

The F Word with Nicole Wilson, Alice Arnold & Polly Courtney

We have taken on Mission Impossible, we have had some Food for Thought, we’ve looked at London in Her Eyes… It was time to have a word, The F Word. The F Word stands for feminism, a subject I was keen to explore further ever since my rant about Caitlin Moran. The title The F Word was deliberate, since there are many women, who hesitate to call themselves feminists. For some ‘feminism’ may even feel like an insult. It is a shame because feminism isn’t about women vs. men, burning bras or refusing to shave, it’s about equal rights and opportunities. What’s there not to like?

On 4 October we gathered at the Skyloft bar of the Millbank Tower to admire breath-taking views of London by night, talk about feminism, support The What I See Project and, of course, to meet three very different, but equally inspiring Ladies Who Impress and hear their stories.

In my opening speech I said that Ladies Who Impress started with an idea to celebrate genuine female role models. These women are not just talented, successful and brilliant at what they do, but they also remain grounded and somehow ordinary, helping us to believe that we too can achieve tremendous heights and follow our dreams.

Here are some photographs and highlights from the evening:

Urvi and Jana Surprise guest

Ladies in the audience

Two guests

 

 

 

 

 

Nicole Wilson, Alice Arnold and Polly Courtney

Nicole Wilson, Alice Arnold and Polly Courtney

Nicole Wilson has been playing violin ever since her father decided  to become a music teacher and use her as a guinea pig. Nicole does not believe she was a ‘natural’, she worked hard to earn her place in such prestigious orchestras as the London Symphony Orchestra and the English National Opera. However, her tenacity and character always shone through. At some point Nicole was presenting her own show on Classic FM. How did she manage that? She just asked…

In addition to her ‘day job’ as a violinist, Nicole, her partner Colin and their friends recorded an album of popular nursery rhymes, performed for children by professional musicians. FunKey Rhymes won’t drive parents mad either. You can order a CD, download music from itunes or get an app following this link.

Alice Arnold writes for The Telegraph, addressing a wide range of issues such as representation of women in the media, women’s rights, gay rights, etc., effortlessly covering both public affairs and culture. Since leaving BBC Radio 4, her employer for the last 25 years, she has become a well-regarded and a much respected voice. Yet, she admits that leaving a stable job was not easy, not least because of the sense of identity it provides. She would not even call herself as a journalist, modestly saying ‘I just write…’, but I’ll insist on calling her a brilliant features journalist, taking on big issues in a calm, well considered way.

On the night Alice said this: “I don’t care whether women are confident or not. That’s not important. What’s important is that they appear confident and act accordingly. Do you think men are always confident? They are not. The difference is, they’re good at faking it.”

I may not have quoted her accurately, but I hope you get the message…

I’d like to compare Polly Courtney to a fish. Before she denounces me on Twitter, I don’t mean any ordinary fish, I mean salmon, swimming against the stream, guided by instinct. Back in 2003 she quit the City, started to write and discovered her passion. She is as fearless as she is talented, as opinionated as she is kind.  Her life is a masterclass in challenging norms and conventions and standing up for things she believes in.

Polly’s take on the City’s culture, her first self-published novel Golden Handcuffs became a best-seller. Her latest novel, Feral Youth, made me challenge my views on young people with unprivileged background, undeservedly frowned upon by  our society.

Me with Nicole, Alice and Polly

Jana Bakunina, Nicole Wilson, Alice Arnold and Polly Courtney

And here are a few testimonials I received. I cannot help but post them here. Shameless, I know!

“Fantastic! Great speakers, great guests, great night out!”

“Really interesting, fun and entertaining. I’m definitely coming back!”

“Fantastic. Inspiring, motivating, reassuring, stimulating…”

“Extremely well planned: the order of the speakers and flow were in my opinion perfect.”

“Inspiring – at least one quote from each speaker has been ringing in my head since.”

P.S. Have you spotted our surprise guest, Clare Balding, OBE? I felt like I was playing tennis in front of Steffi Graf or singing in front of P!nk. I can’t do either but it was an honour and a privilege to have Clare in the audience. She told me she had a fun night. How about that?!

Jana with Clare

Jana Bakunina with Clare Balding, OBE

My rant about Caitlin Moran

Caitlin Moran’s How To Be a Woman was first published in 2011, and it amazes me that it took me two years to discover it: two additional years in the Plato’s cave until, finally, this summer I saw the light.

For me How To Be a Woman is one of the best, funniest, most important books I’ve ever read, so I’d just like to go on a bit of a rant about Caitlin Moran and her eye-opening perspective on women, feminism and why it’s important.

“What do you think feminism IS, ladies? What part of ‘liberation for women’ is not for you? Is it freedom to vote? The right not to be owned by the man you marry? The campaign for equal pay?”

The trouble is, the word “feminism” has somehow acquired a bit of a funny label, a connotation many women today do not want to be associated with. I can say so because until recently I was one of them. For me the word “feminism” used by the media represented shouting, men-hating, unkempt-looking women and I am not one of them. But that’s not what feminism is about so it is time we reclaim its meaning.

“What is feminism? Simply the belief that women should be as free as men, however nuts, dim, deluded, badly dressed, fat, receding, lazy and smug they might be.”

I sign up for that. What’s more, Caitlin Moran argues that “it doesn’t need to be a ‘man vs. woman thing”.

“The idea that we’re all, at the end of the day, just a bunch of well-meaning schlumps, trying to get along, is the basic alpha and omega of my world view. I’m neither ‘pro-women’ nor ‘anti-men’. I’m just ‘Thumbs up for the six billion’.”

The thing is, How To Be A Woman talks about all those things I’ve always wondered about but never really voiced.

Let’s take shopping. Is it really the case that all women are obsessed with it? Do we really need £600 handbags, as Grazia tells us?

What about pornography? It’s been there since cavemen days but today’s pornography makes me cringe.

Motherhood is another interesting subject. The moment a woman gets married, it’s polite to ask whether she is trying for children, but is it?

What’s your view on cosmetic procedures? Is it OK to have a “tidy up”?

How To Be a Woman expresses strong, well-argued opinions of an intelligent woman who is not afraid to ask questions and makes you laugh out loud (a lot). It even makes me wonder why hasn’t one thought of writing such an honest, thought-provoking piece a decade ago.