Here at the School of Visibility we spoke up about a few challenging topics throughout September. We pushed back against an unquestioned assumption in the entrepreneurial space, we covered the topic of abortion, and we tracked women’s economic empowerment over the 20th and 21st centuries.
We also spent some time talking about how to spot your visibility blocks and about the amazing Netflix series ‘Unbelievable’. So pull up a chair, grab a cup of tea, and check it out all below!
FROM THE BLOG
‘Calling yourself ‘girl’ when you’re a woman is a nod to the long time infantilisation of women. It’s a tool that’s been used by the patriarchy to keep women submissive.
It sounds empowering because the word ‘boss’ is in it. But when it’s coupled with ‘girl’, it signals a discomfort with power. A knowing that we don’t really belong. An awareness that there’s a disconnect between the ways women are conditioned to show up in the world and the way a ‘boss’ is supposed to show up in the world.
#girlboss is a (largely unconscious) strategy used to assert power without being threatening to the men in the room.’
One of our A Visible Woman students wrote this personal and moving piece;
‘It was a difficult choice but it was MY choice.
And I can create many a beautiful thing from this womb of MINE. I paint and write and dance and rage and sing and wail and weave.
I make medicine. I share stories.
I commune with my wild nature.
All from this womb.’
‘What good girl behaviour am I imposing on other women?
‘Good feminists’ are just as trapped in good girl conditioning as good mothers, good daughters and good friends.
One of the ways feminism eats itself from within from time to time, is by not allowing a multiplicity of voices and forms of expression.
The imposition of ‘one right way’ keeps you and others in a straightjacket. I’m convinced that more women would speak up about women’s issues if only:
- they didn’t feel like they had to be a perfect feminist,
- and know all the data on women, and/or
- know the exact right perspective to adopt at any moment to keep themselves on the right side of feminism.
Because visibility blocks are as much about permission as they are anything else.’
And finally, we ended the month sharing a timeline of women’s economic empowerment in the UK, US and Australia. Here are two of my favourite moments on the timeline:
US, 1972: Katharine Graham, scion of the company that owns the Washington Post, becomes the first woman to become CEO of a Fortune 500 company
UK, 1982: Women are allowed to spend their money at the pub without being refused service
WHAT WE SAW
I watched the Netflix series ‘Unbelievable’ during September. It’s sooo good, albeit triggering (CN: it’s all about sexual assault + there are references to other forms of violence against women. So please, take care with that).
There are so many things to love about the show:⠀
– how clearly it outlines the ways that women’s voices are silenced, and/or experiences minimised, by the justice system
– how damaging the narrative about women making up stories of rape actually is
– the different ways people respond to trauma and how to accommodate that
– it shows you just how violating the system is and why many many women don’t report being raped
– it reminds the viewer that having women in positions of power matters deeply and can change everything when you’re dealing with gendered crimes (there are so many scenes which should be shown to police officers around the world about how to humanely support a sexual assault victim – to be clear, they’re the scenes which feature the female detectives)
– it canvasses the plethora of ways men are violent toward women without sounding preachy or losing the thread of the story
– it reminds you just how interconnected sexual assault, pornography, and family violence are.
I definitely found the series upsetting and triggering. After not sleeping one night, I realised I could only watch it at certain times of the day. I cried a lot and I shouted at the screen. But I’m so glad I watched it.
And finally, there was the climate change strike and the amazing Greta Thunberg, where over 7 million people went on strike to call for more action to be taken by governments the world over. (Side note on visibility; from one girl to 7 million in just one year is one hell of a social movement.)
Then the soldiers of the patriarchy came out in force.
Because there’s nothing more disruptive to the system than when a girl – someone who is far from the centre of patriarchal power – suddenly wields enormous influence the world over.
The scaffolding that holds patriarchal power structures together starts to loosen and those who have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo use all the tricks in their very old and well used tool box to discredit the person causing the disruption.
As a result, we saw men and women saying crazy things, creating and sharing fake news, looking for myriad ways to personally attack her and to discredit the climate change movement. It would be hilarious if it wasn’t also deadly serious.
You only need to pick up a Jane Austen novel to know that pathologising women’s anxiety and infantilising us, is one of the oldest tricks in the patriarchal handbook. And all the ableist nonsense about her being mentally unstable is frankly, sickening.
We saw a very ugly side to a bunch of hysterical men in September, which truthfully I think of as nothing more than encouragement to keep speaking up very very loudly.
Here’s a great article about the misogyny spewing forth around Greta if you want to read more, and here’s the very intelligent and articulate girl herself and what she has to say about the haters.
Keep going Greta. We’re right with you x