(This post contains strong language)
Today, 6th February 2018 marks the centenary of women receiving the vote in the United Kingdom.
In 1918, a coalition government passed the Representation of the People Act 1918 which gave women, over the age of 30 and who met certain criteria, the right to vote.
It empowered 8.4 million women.
We celebrate this milestone and herald it as an achievement. But I am only left with a feeling of disappointment.
The same act extended the right to vote to all men aged over 21 and those aged 19 or above in military service. Before this act, only 60% of men in the UK could vote so actually men’s voting power increased by 5.6 million.
I am cynical. But this was done to dilute any powers that were awarded to the women. Women, whom due to the status criteria imposed by the act, would have all been women of means, middle class or above. The women who needed their voice to be heard the most were ignored. Failed.
And it is this sentiment that fuels my ire. It is as true today as it ever was.
We’ve had the sexual harassment scandal in parliament, the #metoo movement, the Weinstein revelations, Oprah’s speech and the President’s Club scandal. Has anything changed? No.
But will anything change?
I’m reading about Lady Doritos and the female body prejudice prevalent in the salsa and Latin dance scene. Looking at the free stock image sites and seeing how many pictures with the search term of “women” are sexual and deemed as adult content. I’m reading the activities list for my child’s school and wondering why there is a separate slot for “Football” and “Girl’s Football”.
1918 was a patronising pat on the head.
It wasn’t until 1928 that the Representation of the People (Equal Franchise) Act gave women equal voting rights to men. So we’ve got 10 more years before the real centenary, in my opinion. What can we achieve in this next decade that will actually be akin to progress?
Well, we need to follow the lead of those brave and indignant women who so long ago who stood up and challenged the establishment. The women who pushed back.
We have to keep the momentum going and we have to do this in every moment of every day.
I am a freelance writer because the workplace is so archaic and inflexible that I cannot work the hours I have when my children are at school. Part-time jobs are a joke that are only slightly less funny than their salaries. So I will be the best goddamn freelance writer I can be. And every single penny I earn is two-fingers up at a society that does not value parenting.
And I will dance. I will dance.
I will dance with my body: my beautiful, wonderful body that gives me so much joy. My beautiful body with full breasts, wobbly tummy and chunky thighs. I will smile when I dance – laugh even. Because I am so fucking awesome. I will not bow to any opinion of me other than my own.
And I will celebrate every woman I meet. I will know her for being perfect the way she is without having met her. And I will not judge her. I will not judge her on age or looks or size or clothes or race or sexuality.
The power is ours. We must not wait for others to change, or for laws to be passed. If we change ourselves and through our unity and our sheer number, society will follow.
So, I leave you with this from The Daily Mash (you may wish to have the volume down before you watch).
Lady Doritos – what the fuck?