It is International Women’s Day today.

This is an incredibly important day for both men and women all over the world. The day has been observed since in the early 1900’s, a time of great expansion and turbulence in the industrialized world that saw booming population growth and the rise of radical ideologies. From the suffragettes, to equal pay and everything terrible and fantastic in-between, the day is focal point for both how far we have come, and how far we have left to go.

“Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures” is the 2012 theme, and something that we at HTC Towers are incredibly passionate about. For those of you that don’t remember, we helped to organise a fundraising event for Janies School, in order to build a school in rural Cambodia. This allows girls the opportunity of education and a better life that they would not have otherwise had – stopping young girls being sold into a life of slavery and instead allowing them to build a future for themselves. Slavery, Human Trafficking, Sexual Exploitation, Forced Marriages. This could all be their reality.

And when I read back sentences like that, I realise how lucky I am to live in the western world, where I was not sold into slavery as a child, and where education, career aspiration and opportunity are open to me (despite some issues), as a woman.

And yet.

Just how far have we come, when I have to read articles about feminism in mainstream magazines entitled “Can you vajazzle and still be a feminist?”. Yes Cosmopolitan Magazine, I’m looking at you. Does every article in the mainstream media have to combine the topic of women’s liberation, rights, feminism etc with a another topic such as sex, high heels, or indeed what we decide to do to our vaginas in order to get us to read?

Cosmopolitan Vajazzle Feminism

Let me tell you – I am pretty intelligent, and I can take my reading on feminism without a side dose of swarovski. Cheers.

Quite frankly, I couldn’t care less whether you have a pink striped mowhawk down there, as far as I’m concerned, if you are into pubic grooming it says the sum total of zero about whether you are a feminist.

For those of you who are still with me, let me make my point absolutely clear. I enjoy fashion. I enjoy wearing lipstick. I have been known to have the occasional wax. I wouldn’t consider a vajazzle because to be honest it looks uncomfortable. I am also a feminist. I can enjoy a myriad of different pleasures in life which pertain to my looks and my body and still be a feminist – as much as this may pain dyed in the wool “hardcore activist feminists” (what ever they may look like). I wear bright lippy because I like it. I wax before holiday because I like it – not because I think men might fancy me more if I do. I am also an ambitious woman who wants to progress in my career, who enjoys watching Eastenders and has varying opinions on everything from climate change, human rights, Topshop and knickers.

None of these things individually define me, and none of these things decide whether I am a feminist or not.

I believe that if I’m happy, then you should be too. I believe in equality of opportunity for all – whether you are male or female, whether you are rich or poor and whether you like to stick crystals in your pubes.  You know what is great about feminism? It is about freedom of choice.

But what I do care about is how serious we are about this equality thing. The Daily Fail still represents women in the most harsh light, and most magazines can’t write an article about an impressive woman without commenting on their looks or figure. For god’s sake I love a compliment, but if someone was to write about my career I’d be pissed if they commented first on the height of my heel. I was apoplectic when I left my last job and during the leaving speech by my boss, the one thing he singled out as defining my contribution to the organisation was that “I was glamourous”. Brilliant.

Sadly, we are still in the situation where women are not paid equally to men in the workplace, women are not represented equally in the boardroom or parliament, two women a week still die at the hands of their male partners, we still read regularly about forced marriages and the honour killings of women and around the world opportunities for women in all areas are still woefully lacking.

On this day, a day to think about women all over the world, I’d rather we discussed (and wrote about in magazines) all of these very serious issues, than quibble over whether I can do crazy stuff to my vagina.

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