Women behaving bravely
I’ve been thinking a lot about bravery recently, particularly the bravery of women. Wherever I look I find examples of women who have stood their ground against some rather unpleasant odds.
This year’s 100th anniversary of the first British women to get the vote is an obvious starting point. The more I read and learn about women facing arrest, imprisonment, force feeding and general shaming, the more I am astounded by their insistence and persistence in the light of such treatment.
It takes guts to speak out against sexual harassment; whatever you think about #MeToo, it’s not easy to go public with this sort of information.
Then there are all the extraordinarily courageous black women who fought slavery and oppression in the US. February 4th was Rosa Parks’s birthday. We have featured her on damesnet before – take a look at: https://damesnet.com/?page_id=961. In 1955 Ms Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus in Montgomery, Alabama, to a white man; the rest is history, but what gave her the strength to defy a status quo that seemed so much more powerful than a single person?
On holiday in the US a few years ago, I visited Memphis, host to a wealth of musical and political history. One of the key attractions is the National Civil Rights Museum, located at the Lorraine Motel, where Martin Luther King was assassinated in 50 years ago. One of the exhibits is a bus, which you board from the back. As you move towards the front, a voice is triggered that barks at you to move to the back of the bus. It is loud, shocking and momentarily scary, and it’s just a museum exhibit …
It’s also brave to stand up against a small group of right-wing hard Brexiteers who seem incapable of accepting that their vision of the future of the UK might not be the best for the majority of the population. The Conservative MP Anna Soubry has been greatly vilified for voicing her views on Brexit from the back benches – views that do not concur with those of the Prime Minister and her Cabinet. Ms Soubry has received threats in the mainstream press and online, yet she won’t ‘calm down, dear’, as ‘Dave’ once said so memorably to MP Angela Eagle.
Over in Iran, a country not well known for human rights, there are some very brave women currently protesting at the state’s insistence on the wearing of the hijab in public. All they want is the right to choose what they wear, rather than have the ‘morality police’ decide for them.
I haven’t done anything nearly as brave as any of these people. I was trying desperately to think of my bravest act to date, and one event came to mind. My best friend when I was a child was a year older than me. She was bigger and more fearless when it came to physical exploits, and was always suggesting scary things that we might do, such as jumping off that high wall, or climbing up a tree in the nearby woods. There was never an option for me to refuse or admit to being frightened.
One day she surpassed herself: we were playing in the garden of her house, and our task was to step out of a low window, creep along the ledge and jump on to the roof of the garden shed, conveniently situated nearby. I was completely terrified but somehow managed it.
Thank goodness for people like my friend and the Rosa Parkses of this world who embolden us to go where we might not have dared to on our own..