To the women of the world

In a time of standstill, let’s take a moment to celebrate the progress of women. The women of the past, the women of the present and the women of the future – let’s celebrate the women of the world.

Corona has been a subtle reminder of the victories fought for and won by the women before us. It has shown us how it feels to be confined to a domestic space, robbed of your freedom and left with little to say or do. It reminds us of a time where you could scream at the top of your lungs, but no one would listen. A time where your attire was restricted and selected to suit the male gaze.  

Nowadays we are asked to stay home, follow the rules and wear the mask. For more sensible reasons of course. And more importantly, all of us included.

Imagine if these restrictions only applied to women. While women would have to stay at home, men could go to work, meet at the local pub for a beer and watch their favourite team kicking a ball at the stadium.

Although the thought is absurd, these were the conditions for many women less than a century ago. For some, changes have only happened recently. For example, prior to 2018 women in Saudi Arabia were not allowed access to sports stadia. Simply taking part in sport was only allowed a few years earlier.

Certainly, this is the far extreme, but it proves that we still have a long way to go. And while particularly the western countries have seen incredible progress, it would be naïve to suggest that gender equality has been reached.

Simply take the #metoo movement shedding light on the still dominating sexist behaviour. The stories are clear examples of the struggles women have to face when greasing the elbows, pushing their way forward into a male-dominated sphere. A sphere that is neither designed for women, nor by women.

For the men who are fed up with feminism and the hysterical complaints of women, I see no greater example than the world of sport.

While women take part in sport, compete in sport and succeed in sport, the sporting world still turns the blind eye to their accomplishments.

Women’s sports are trivialised, sexualised and ignored. Typically less than 10 per cent of media coverage is given to women. If you don’t believe me, just have a wee look at BBC’s sports pages. As a public service broadcaster that aims to represent the diversity of the nation, it is shocking how little attention is given to female athletes.

And while the coverage is less sexualised than just a few decades ago, women are still portrayed as secondary to their male colleagues. There is football and then there is women’s football. There is basketball and then there is women’s basketball. The list goes on.  

Perhaps, it’s not so surprising as the vast majority of sports journalists are men. Yet, it doesn’t stop at the media coverage.

Women’s events are adapted and shortened to fit the fragile, female body. Take tennis as an example. Women are playing three sets instead of the men’s five. Should women have less stamina than men? Female ultra-runners highlight a fault in such a claim.

Also fragile? The body that is capable of giving birth to life? I dare you calling such a body fragile!

Meanwhile, women can’t be too big or too muscular either. If so, their mere femininity and sex are questioned. A doubt that often disadvantage women of colour.

Simply put, women should be slim, but curvy. Toned, but delicate. No wonder so many women have complex issues with their bodies.

All while being paid a fraction of the money given to the male athletes.

So to the men, who are fed up with feminism, be prepared to listen a little longer, as the fight for equality continues.

While there are lots to celebrate, there is still plenty of work ahead.

So for the women of the present: let’s roll up our sleeves, construct our own narratives and make the world a little better for the women of the future.

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