After a nine hour shift and a two hour commute home from work on Wednesday night, I settled down and decided to watch The Scandalous Lady W (based on a novel written by Hallie Rubenhold), a true story of love, sex and of course the status and expectations of women in 18th century England. Just my style.
During this programmed, Lady Worsley, played by Natalie Dormer, proudly declares “I belong to no man, and while it is my misfortune to live in an age of men, I will never belong to any man ever again.” It was at this moment that my inner feminist cheered at the screen, applauding Lady W for her power, strength and passion. It was later that I began thinking about the progression women in Britain have made since this event, and how far we have come. Women are no longer considered property of men, we have the vote, we can own property and land – in terms of the law, women can pretty much do exactly the same as men. In Britain, feminism has come to focus more on the internal misogyny that plagues our society, and battles against the “traditional” view of what women can and should be allowed to do in terms of their career and day to day life, and most importantly, how women are viewed by others for doing just that.
It is clear that we still have a long, long way to go, but it is also evident that we have come a long way – although it has taken dedication to do so. Nowadays, most of us would (I hope) be sickened by the thought of a woman being owned by men. However, this is a reality for thousands across the world, and not only in “third world” countries. Young girls are being wed before puberty to men decades older than themselves; women are beaten and killed by their husbands for apparently not being faithful; transgender women are murdered for simply walking down the street – all stories that we hear in the news relatively often.
To me, whilst there is still progress to be made in Britain, it seems that we are easily forgetting those on the other side of the globe, in countries which have barely developed at all over the past 5 centuries. It seems that these countries are in fact going backwards.
I understand completely the work that is still to be done in Britain, and would hate for anyone to think that I am saying “well we’re all done here, let’s focus on what’s happening over there.” That is not what I’m trying to say at all. I am, however, saying that we should equally focus on those suffering around us. It is fairly rare that I hear about any work being done to help women outside of Britain, apart from some charity work, and I can’t understand why this is. I’m sure many of us are aware of what is happening, yet there seems to be very little improvement at all.
Feminism is not a national movement, it is international. We should work together to help those who may not be able to speak out for themselves. We should focus on ourselves and on others. Feminism needs to be global, and those of us who have the right and the platform to speak out should embrace that ability and use it to the best of our power.