'No matter what the world says or the cultural expectations, live your own life. So many people lead other people's perceptions of success. They don't notice they are miserable because they think they are successful.' - Arianna Huffington
The Bafta voting season is underway and I'm in the thick of seeing many new movies. I've just seen a film based upon the First World War memoir of the same name written by Vera Brittain called 'Testament of Youth' which powerfully captures Vera's passion, rage and ability to overcome great loss during the First World War. Her towering strengths as a wartime nurse and Oxford trained intellectual, which overcame her period's bias in favour of men, comes through viscerally! A great movie that got me thinking about that time in history as Vera's book is considered a classic in feminist literature and spans the years from 1900-1925 for its portrayal of a woman's pioneer struggle to establish an independent career in a society only grudgingly tolerant of educated women. It was during this time that Vera joined the Suffragette movement and part of the First Women's Revolution to give women the right to vote (please see my blog post titled 'Girl Power' - June 2013). She never lost sight of her early commitment to feminism and her subsequent public lectures and addresses revolved around feminist issues. What a gal! I thank and rejoice in her and all those other women who have helped fight to give women the opportunities they have today.
The Second Women's Revolution was led by Betty Friedan - in 1963 she wrote 'The Feminine Mystique' which laid the groundwork for the movement - and Gloria Steinem who fought to expand the role of women in society from 1960′s to the present day, only faltering for a few years in the 1980s. I remember as a teenager, the "Battle of the Sexes" tennis match in 1973 when Billie Jean King beat Bobby Riggs and it's contribution to the women's movement and its effect on society. I remember thinking at the time - this is the future............hurrah! The Second Women's Revolution is unfinshed and continues today...........
Arianna's Third Women's Revolution is to change the world that men have designed. She says 'The current model of success, in which we drive ourselves into the ground and in which working to the point of exhaustion and burnout is a badge of honour, was created by men. It's a model that's not working for women and it's not working for men either. Our work places are fuelled by sleep deprivation.' So this is not just a feminist issue but women can help drive this change forward. I think women are respected enough now that men will listen and follow their example. When women get it - that will take the pressure off men and they will thank women for allowing them to have a life too!
The Superboomer's (50-69 yrs) generation I believe are the banner holders for this revolution too. I happen to be one of the late one's and we are healthier, wealthier and better educated and more mobile than any other generation entering retirement before us. 72% evidently would rather spend their money to enjoy retirement instead of leaving it as an inheritance. They definitely seem to have Arianna's four pillars of "well-being, wisdom, wonder and giving required to be pioneers of this Third Women's Revolution. In this crazy world I believe there needs to be more self-esteem - you are entitled to have a wonderful life and not be bullied by some ogre of a boss who wants you to work 24/7 for the bottom line! It's bonkers - there are too many casualties. Better to start your own business and create your own rules - where people can flourish and have a life!
My conclusion is that I think there has never been a better time to be a woman but that is with huge gratitude and thanks to all the current and previous generations of women who fought for the equality and rights women enjoy now. The work continues but the fact that a 17 year old Mulala Yousafzai can share the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize for her work in fighting to give other young women the right to an education is celebratory!
Wouldn't Vera have been proud?
'The secret of a good life is that you have to put yourself on the list of the people you most admire' - Socrates - 2000 years ago!