A woman who has inspired me
“When will women be human? When?” - Catherine Mackinnon
My thoughts on feminism and women’s suffrage
All the feminist work that I do has at its core a desire to challenge the idea that men are the default humans. From women on banknotes, to the first female statue in Parliament Square, to the books I write, I am trying to counter the perception of women as an added, dispensable extra to the default male humanity. We live in a world designed around the male body and male needs. And women are dying as a result. Women are dying from medical care based on male symptoms and male reactions to drugs. Women are dying in cars which have been tested using male crash dummies. Everywhere you look, women are hidden, uncounted and unaccounted for, from who we prize as cultural icons, to the stories we focus on in our media, to the policies governments draw up to supposedly improve our lives. The women who fought for our right to vote correctly saw the franchise as the first step to addressing all the other inequalities women face. They were relentless in their pursuit of it, putting their reputations, their health, even their lives on the line. 100 years since the first women won that right, the generations of women who have come since have built on that right, but we still have a long way to go. Every election in Britain, millions of women don’t vote. This is not because they are stupid or ungrateful. It is because they correctly perceive that what goes on in Westminster doesn’t feel applicable to their lives. While politicians pontificate about macroeconomic concerns many women are struggling to juggle paid work with the unpaid carework that is mainly carried out by women, that is crucial to the functioning of the economy, but isn’t included in GDP figures. If by the end of my life I have managed to play a role in creating a world where women go without saying to the same extent as men: then I will feel proud. It’s a long road ahead.