Written by Lili la Scala

In The News

One day, a million reasons

Think there was no need for International Women’s Day? Have a word with yourselves, says Lili La Scala.

scared girl and man with clenched fistEvery year, I approach International Women’s Day with a certain amount of trepidation. It’s a day which should celebrate the achievements of incredible women and, more importantly, highlight the distance we have yet to cover for many of our less fortunate sisters all over the world.

Instead, yearly, this day deteriorates into a mud-slinging match, usually between women.

For every woman doing her bit to accentuate the struggles that many women face, there are many, many more shouting about not needing feminism, being ignorant about the plight of millions of women, both in developing countries and, shamefully, closer to home.

Of course, the odd man chimes in, whining “What about men? Why does nobody celebrate us?”, as if 364 days a year of patriarchal bullshit wasn’t enough.

On the eve of IWD, Kim Kardashian released a nude photo of herself and the Twittersphere went a little batty. Whatever your beliefs about behaviour, it is up to KK what she does with her body and that is the very crux of feminism. All the time, women get frustrated with other women as they attempt to nail down exactly what is expected from a feminist. Feminism is as personal to a human being as how they take their tea.

“If you think that most women suffer in developing nations, distant from our green and pleasant land, think again. Approximately 44 per cent of all UK women have experienced either physical or sexual violence.”

Our global sisterhood should focus less on the ‘haves’ like Ms Kardashian and more on the ‘have-nots’. Millions of women around the world lack the chances to reach their full and glorious potential. Their access to political freedoms, to safe sexual health and family planning, to have control over their own bodies is limited and yet we debate about whether celebrities should take nude pictures.

Nude pictures of a rich woman who craves attention do not matter. Not even a little bit. If posting pictures of yourself in the altogether gives you validation then more power to you, but you have to do so in the knowledge and with gratitude that women before you have fought and died for that freedom you enjoy.

Yesterday, throughout International Women’s Day, my Facebook feed was filled with kick-arse women. Strong, amazing, driven women and activists, women determined to make a difference for the better, by hook or by crook.

But it is very easy as a white, middle-class woman to forget, as the head of one of my favourite lingerie companies found yesterday to her cost when she sent a simple tweet wondering why we need IWD, telling the world that she was ‘too busy’ to bother.

IWD tweet blurredI was crushingly disappointed. Many vintage-styled women hold über-modern political and feminist beliefs, rather than sharing the old-fashioned views of the era from which they could have emerged. So to see a company run by women for women say something so damaging was infuriating.

After a huge outcry from their customers, the company eventually issued an apology. The whole thing was deeply disappointing and shines a spotlight on how desperately important it is that every single woman, every single girl learns the history of suffrage and continues to break new ground in the fight for genuine equality.

We need International Women’s Day because of tweets like this.

We need International Women’s Day because views like this exist.

We need International Women’s Day because it is estimated that 130 million women have undergone female genital mutilation, a procedure usually carried out without anaesthetic. Around 130 million women and girls have had their genitals cut off because men fear the power of female sexuality.

child on beachWe need International Women’s Day because this year around 15 million girls – some as young as eight years old – will be forced into marriage. At eight I was playing on the beach, playing with my friends, laughing, singing, dancing. I wasn’t being forced to have sex with a man old enough to be my father until my young body, broken by early pregnancies was damaged beyond viability.

Women in 10 countries around the world are legally bound to obey their husbands and this is not a problem that only exists beyond the shores of the UK.

If you think that most women suffer in developing nations, distant from our green and pleasant land, think again. Approximately 44 per cent of all UK women have experienced either physical or sexual violence. That is a dreadful percentage. No woman should suffer physical or sexual violence. Not one woman. Britain ranks among the worst in Europe for violent abuse against women.

So ask again why we don’t need International Women’s Day.

@lili_la_scala

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Written by Lili la Scala

Lili la Scala sings a bit, writes a bit and spends more time than is probably necessary discussing the toilet habits of her son. Bona fide vintage addict, though she is sure she sounds less tragic when described as a 'collector'.

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