International Women’s Day 2013 Starts Now

Good morning, Any Other Woman!  Welcome to International Women’s Day 2013

Do we have a day for you.  Every hour, on the hour, until this evening, we’ll be bringing you inspirational writing from you, our readers (interspersed with the odd bit of drivel from us).  This year we’ve decided to accept pictures as well as written posts – and the content is all the more diverse for it. Posts range from pictures, to quotes, to righteous indignation to deep and meaningful questions. 

They’re all fascinating.  They’re all passionate.  And they all deal with the incredibly wide brief of “what does being a woman mean to me?”

I don’t think any of us realised just how difficult that question was to answer until we tried to answer it ourselves.   But what it has  done is  thrown up questions, questions upon questions.  And that is what we’ve always tried to do in the past for International Women’s Day on the blog.  Ask questions.  Debate.  Discuss.  Ponder.  Celebrate what it means to be a woman today.

Enjoy, readers.  Read.  Think.  Leave comments.  Let’s make this a proper celebration. 


To kick off the day, I’ve picked some quotes relating to being a woman, and talked about what they mean to me.  Some of them drive me up the wall.  Some of them make me happy.  Some of them make me snort.  All of them make me think.   

“The thing women have yet to learn is nobody gives you power.  You just take it.”  (Roseanne Barr)

I spend far, far too long waiting for opportunities to fall into my lap.  I’m convinced that as I’m a hard worker and want to go far, it’ll happen, it’s my due, it’s my destiny.  That’s bollocks, actually.  No-one except me is ever going to advance my career.  No-one else is worrying about my career progression.  This is a curiously female trait, this idea of “sit back, it’ll happen, karma will pay you back in the end”.  Newsflash.  It won’t.  Not unless you bust out those application forms yourself, not unless you hit those deadlines yourself, not unless you decide to go for something bigger, something better than is “your lot”.  This isn’t just limited to the workplace.  This is true of every single aspect of your life.  You need to reach.  Higher.* 

*Now I sound like an M People song.   

The emotional, sexual, and psychological stereotyping of females begins when the doctor says, “It’s a girl.”  (Shirley Chisholm)

I’ve always wanted to bring up a child in a gender-neutral environment.  I realise that makes me sound like a Progressive Mother, and more than a bit ridiculous and perhaps that I should be wearing hemp and reading runes at dawn to decide what to eat for breakfast.  But I would really, really love to have a kid who just didn’t know that pink was traditionally a colour for girls.  It may be impossible but I can tell you this: I’m going to try. 

You don’t have to signal a social conscience by looking like a frump.  Lace knickers won’t hasten the holocaust, you can ban the bomb in a feather boa just as well as without, and a mild interest in the length of hemlines doesn’t necessarily disqualify you from reading Das Kapital and agreeing with every word.  (Elizabeth Bibesco)

This quote makes me livid.  So, so angry.  I agree with it in principle, and it’s actually quite witty - you can wear heels and HAVE OPINIONS, or BE ABLE TO READ, yes, I get it.  But it’s the very idea  that a woman can look like a “frump” that enrages me.  Who, quite frankly, cares if a woman chooses to dress in an unflattering manner?  How are we still at the stage where there is a distinction between “sexy” and “unsexy”, and where it’s notable if a woman shuns “attractiveness” as an essential component of her wardrobe?  It’s damaging.  I want to tell all 10-year-old girls the following: it does not matter what you wear.  It honestly doesn’t.  What matters is what comes out of your mouth, how you treat others, how kind you are to yourself. 

That is it.  Those are the only things that matter.   

To me, “sexual freedom” means freedom from having to have sex.  (Lily Tomlin)

This quote makes me sad.  It makes me sad that I know what she means.  Don’t panic, this isn’t me disclosing anything I shouldn’t be (hi Mum…) but this smacks of the inherent patriarchal expectations in your average shag.  I have a friend who,  when talking about sex, refuses to use the word “penetration” and uses the word “enveloping” instead.  Just, brilliant.   

[Feminism is] a socialist, anti-family, political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.  (Pat Robertson)

I have nothing profound to say about this other than it made me laugh.  Like a drain.

Categories: International Women's Day, Written By Anna
45 interesting thoughts on this


  1. Yanthé
    Posted March 8, 2013 at 6:12 am | Permalink

    Oh Anna. What a start to the day. Going to read that last quote to every unsuspecting person at my breakfast meeting. Yes I am.

  2. Posted March 8, 2013 at 6:16 am | Permalink

    The Shirley Chisholm quote made me think about a narrative I’ve been hearing recently from people I know (and friends of friends, I observe on facebook!); namely that it’s so great to have baby boys because they’ll be such fun, so adventurous and they’ll like rough and tumble and playing outdoors and dinosaurs and cars! As if baby girl’s emerge from the womb in baby ugg boots and won’t sleep in anything but a princess-themed nursery!

    • Posted March 8, 2013 at 6:33 am | Permalink

      It makes me wonder how much damage we do by this, and how much of our lives and personalities were determined by how many people played rough and tumble with us, and whether we had a doll ‘s house and wore pink.

      • Posted March 8, 2013 at 6:42 am | Permalink

        I had barbies (but I cut all their hair off) and My Little Ponies but I also had Lego and a skateboard and wore hand-me downs from my older male cousin. I also have no brothers, so sometimes I wonder if I would have been treated more “girlishly” if I had.

        • Posted March 8, 2013 at 7:27 am | Permalink

          I’m glad to report I was treated entirely the same as my brother except for curfews and I think that’s because he was younger rather than male.
          Also, lego is the best toy ever (although I did love my my little pony castle!)

        • Posted March 8, 2013 at 7:49 am | Permalink

          I had a baby brother, he dressed up as both a princess and a wrestler, and I climbed trees in my party frocks. We were both just… kids.

          K x

          • Posted March 8, 2013 at 8:31 am | Permalink

            When I was younger I always wanted to wear pink dresses and to play in the garden and climb trees. And I was encouraged to do so. There’s no reason why it should be one OR the other.

            • Yanthé
              Posted March 8, 2013 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

              I used to dress my little brother up in leotards and tutus and try to teach him ballet. In fact I have photographic evidence somewhere.

              We were treat very similarly, but I don’t know whether that was because I turned my nose up at the doll and pram my dad brought me home when I was about 3 and spent any of my spare time in my childhood in my bedroom reading books. Nerd? Me?

      • Posted March 8, 2013 at 7:52 am | Permalink

        Excuse me while I inform Corey I’m a lesbian.

        This is a brilliant post to start things off!

        • Posted March 8, 2013 at 7:59 am | Permalink

          Oh, no, I didn’t realise I was replying to a comment. That was meant as a general comment, not a reply! Oops!

          Although, that comment about how boys will be such fun makes me incredibly sad and angry that people really think that. That girls are somehow not as fun as boys.

          • Posted March 8, 2013 at 9:09 am | Permalink

            Someone probably ought to let Emmi know that she is not supposed to be as much fun as boys. She’s clearly not got that message.

            Or that she shouldn’t enjoy wrestling, kicking a ball, or banging things with hammers.

            • Posted March 8, 2013 at 11:53 am | Permalink

              I would tell her, but the thing is, I’d be lying, since I enjoyed all those things too, and know that girls are just as fun!

        • Posted March 8, 2013 at 8:30 am | Permalink

          Best comment ever. Ever.

    • Posted March 8, 2013 at 6:47 am | Permalink

      Amazing comment Catherine! Totally agree.

  3. Sharon
    Posted March 8, 2013 at 7:06 am | Permalink

    Fantastic start to the day. Can’t wait for the rest of the posts xxxx

  4. Mahj
    Posted March 8, 2013 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    Such a brilliant start to IWD! The prospect of a post an hour made me jump out of bed this morning just so I could make sure I’d read the 6am and 7am ones!

    And the last quote from Pat Robertson I’m going to write out on a post-it and leave on my computer today.


  5. Posted March 8, 2013 at 7:09 am | Permalink

    Sorry! Last comment before I go to bed!

    I’ve been thinking about the Elizabeth Bibesco quote. I think it’s actually a Jill Tweedie quote (I see it attributed to both, but Jill Tweedie seems more plausible) and I think I’m okay with it. I feel the same as you abut the notion of “frumpiness”, but placing it in the context of the 1970s, I read it as saying “hey you don’t have to buy into the stereotype of what a feminist looks or acts like. You can enjoy fashion and frivolity and care about social issues”. Maybe that’s wishful thinking on my part though.

  6. Posted March 8, 2013 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    Morrrrrrrrrrning!!!!!!!!! Happy international women’s day!! Let’s do this shit.

  7. ClaireH
    Posted March 8, 2013 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    Anna K – that first quote, and your comments underneath…can I just say a big thank you and that you are absolutely my virtual career mentor at the moment (yes, I know I’ve met you but you keep writing inspiring stuff and publishing it on the internet so virtual in that way!)

    I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to realise that things don’t just happen either, but all your inspirational posting has reaffirmed that I have to get out there and MAKE things happen. I’m going to belatedly adopt that as my 2013 mantra.

    • Posted March 8, 2013 at 8:32 am | Permalink

      You’re very very welcome! Don’t get me wrong, the lazy part of me does wish stuff just fell into my lap, and this notion of “I deserve it because I worked for it” SHOULD be true, it just should…but it isn’t, not in this world.

  8. Posted March 8, 2013 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    I was right – today is going to be EPIC! I am so excited I woke up early too Mahj!

    I was the same as a youngster, I used to climb trees, play with lego (the proper colours back then of course, why would it need to be pink for me to love it? It still does the same thing!), waterguns (I won a super soaker 2000 from writing a letter to The Disney Club about Hippos! My brother was SO jealous!), pogo sticks, mud….

    I’ve also thought about how I might decorate a nursery when we have children and it’s all underwater themed in my head with greens and blues and bright pinks – regardless of the sex!

    • Zan
      Posted March 8, 2013 at 10:00 am | Permalink

      Do you know they have ‘lego for girls’ now??? (in pink and purple). It actually makes me livid everytime I go in the lego shop in Manchester! What’s wrong with normal lego???

      • Posted March 8, 2013 at 10:24 am | Permalink

        As well as Nurofen For Period Pain (in a pink packet and it COSTS MORE. For the SAME PRODUCT. They think we’re IDIOTS) and of course Bic Pen For Women…

        • Zan
          Posted March 8, 2013 at 10:29 am | Permalink

          Because I’m always going to make a beeline for the pink packet of painkillers right?


          • Posted March 8, 2013 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

            I’ve not seen that Anna. But then I only ever buy the own brand painkillers – it’s all exactly the same stuff.

      • Posted March 8, 2013 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

        Yes Zan, that’s what I meant by being happy with the old colours, as I would be now! DOn’t even get me started on Bic for her!

  9. Posted March 8, 2013 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    Happy International Women’s Day!

    That first quote really resonates with me. I’m looking for and applying for new jobs at the moment, and it’s taken me a while to register that although there are some very kind people who will help me find opportunities and put in a good word for me, there comes a point where it’s all up to you to send that CV, to brush up those interview skills and to show the world how good you are. I don’t know if that’s something that comes more easily to men though (I’m not sure it necessarily is) – but maybe the mechanisms to do so come more naturally?

    • ClaireH
      Posted March 8, 2013 at 9:00 am | Permalink

      Oh I feel your pain Frances – I’m there at the moment too and it took a long while to sink in that yes, it’s all down to me or nothing will happen, no-one will just give me a job. There has been a whole lot of ‘I just want a job, someone give me a job’ wailing to myself.

      It’s so hard to put yourself out there and try and show people how great you are, especially in those dark moments of self doubt, but just believe in yourself and look really hard at what you’ve already done – I bet there are loads of amazing achievements and things you’ve accomplished and I found that the more you think about this, the more things you will remember, even if stuff comes back to you over a few days/weeks. Write it all down and read it when you need a boost and a reminder of how great you are.

      Argh sorry, totally went off on one there – hopefully it sounded supportive rather than weird. Good luck!

      • Posted March 8, 2013 at 10:12 am | Permalink

        Thank you Claire – I might print this out and keep it for inspiration!

        I got those moments of “But I’ve worked so hard up until now, can someone please just help me out for once?” too (I think that’s overtones from school – ‘if you work hard, you’ll be fine’) – life doesn’t quite run like that though.

        I hope you’re following your own advice and that everything is working out for you – we’ll get there!

        • ClaireH
          Posted March 8, 2013 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

          Oh god, totally. If I ever have kids I’m going to think long and hard before telling them ‘if you work hard, you’ll be fine’ – it might work at school but it doesn’t really help us later in life.

          Fingers crossed, I think it’s finally worked out (just waiting for written confirmation before I can actually believe it) but being unemployed and applying has been so soul destroying at times. There are days when I was all ‘yes, I can so do this’ and other days of ‘nooooooo not another application form’ *sob*

          Sending you lots of positive thoughts and crossing everything that a great job comes up in the right location for you soon xx

          • Posted March 8, 2013 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

            Such a good point about that message. And one that hadn’t occurred to me before. I’ve been there too and the idea of just keeping going is sometimes the worst thought in the world.

  10. Zan
    Posted March 8, 2013 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    Yay for IWD! Not sure I’ll be able to comment on every post, but will give it a go :)

    That Pat Robertson quote made me snort into my mug of tea. He’s such an arse.

  11. Cathie
    Posted March 8, 2013 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    Happy International Woman’s Day Everybody!

    The first comment really is the slap in the face I have long needed. I’m so incredibly unhappy in my career and have been for a few years but having been a designer for the last 12 years and studying to become one for 4 years previous to that I am a bit scared of what my new career could be… I keep thinking ‘something new will come along’ but I now realise that only I can go out and find that Something!!
    I am hoping that by next International Woman’s Day I can come back and say I am really happy in my new job / career whatever that may be.

    • Posted March 8, 2013 at 11:10 am | Permalink

      I hope so too, Cathie!

      • Cathie
        Posted March 8, 2013 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

        Anna Thank you & thank you all for AOW.
        I am an avid follower and am on here everyday I just never tend to leave comments even when many of times I have wanted to (not overly confident with my writing and feel it would most likely just be drivel ) but today I felt I should. X

        • Clare
          Posted March 8, 2013 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

          Cathie, never worry about your writing. What you have to say is important. Comment more! xx

          • Cathie
            Posted March 8, 2013 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

            Thank You Clare. I’ll make sure I will do from now on. X

        • ClaireH
          Posted March 8, 2013 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

          Hi Cathie – happy international women’s day to you too! Please do comment lots more – just jump in. I’ve only really started commenting since Jan and totally freaked the first time I did. I still worry I say stupid things but sod it!

          • Posted March 8, 2013 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

            Me too about the stupid things! I often re-read/edit my comments 3 times before posting!

  12. Posted March 8, 2013 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    I am so happy about this day of celebration here on AOW and this post to kick start it all too.

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Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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