This Woman Did.




This Woman Did

Women conquered fear, oppression and inequality to achieve their goals and inspire others. 

This woman did is for those women who feel the pressure of “you must” “You can” and “you will” and changes the message into “you did” to celebrate the achievements that have been accomplished by women in order to change the world.

We are always aware that we can do better, but what happens to the work we have already done? Where is the celebration for the gains we have already made? Where is the applause for the successes that we struggled for years to achieve. 

We all know the pressures of life. Motherhood. Relationships. Friendships. Careers. Finances. Social lives. Heck, even drinking enough water in the day is hard. We see the perfect lives of consumerism that we aspire to be. And this guilt of being a woman follows us through to the most trivial subjects. How much kale we eat? Do we drink to much wine? Did we really need that new dress? Did we really say that? The list goes on. 

We face the realities of life by balancing the worlds problems on our shoulders, and we only are critiqued for what we didn’t do. We are only noticed when we didn’t jump through the high hoops of society. Why is that? Why are we only in the spotlight when we are being tore apart? Did you see what we have just came through? 

We are tired. We are frustrated. But we are living. Right in this moment. Right now. 

We look at the world around us and see despair and we wonder why no one is helping. We saw Jacinda Ardem tore to shreds for daring to gift a proverbial olive branch to the Muslim community of New Zealand, cradling a mother in her arms who lost her child in a terrorist attack, crying for the victims of yet another inhumane crime. We saw a woman in her most vulnerable state, showing the rest of the world how humanity really works, foregoing the “thoughts and prayers” of yesteryears and actually doing something. She ended that rights to bare arms for her country to prevent another horrendous attack. She did more than the world leaders had done in years. That woman did. 

We constantly see HRH The Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle in the papers blasted by journalists over her activism, her words and even her style. For goodness sake there were even articles damming her for cradling her baby boy while pregnant. Why? Because she dares to change the tabloids views on “proper conduct” and is paving the way for the modern woman to break free of the shackles and stand up for her rights. She constantly empowers women to use the voice that they were born with, and to be more than what society expects of you. She is a master of silent actions to make major waves. She is the powerhouse of her mind and the dictator of her soul, and she evokes the passion and fire in women around the world to achieve their goals and open their minds to a world without racism, oppression and the human rights of others respected and honoured. That woman did.

We look at women on the local level, your care workers, your doctors and nurses, your teachers and your women who silently keep your community alive and thriving. Your neighbours, your sisters, your mothers. We look into the eyes of these women and see not only their struggle, but their story. We see the light that keeps them shining. We see the passion they have for changing lives around them. From a child with a broken home, to a lonely pensioner looking for company. We see these women. We stand side by side with these women. Because we are these women. And these women did.

These women shaped our world. They gave us our rights. Our votes. Our passion. They fought so we could thrive. We honour these women and women like them by championing what they did. Because we have to know where we have been, to know where we are going. 

And with that brings “This Woman Did”. A celebration of women who did what they did so we can do what we do. They have made us laugh. They have made us cry. And made us love harder than we have before. And we salute them. We salute you. Because you did. And for that we thank you.

Look out for the launch in October.

@thiswomandid

www.thiswomandid.com

Mxx

IWD 2019 - What Does Feminism Mean To Me?


We all have a woman in our mind that moves mountains and paves the way for light in the world. You might be lucky and know one of them. You may even be luckier to be related to one of them. I know for sure I am.

I could write a book on feminism, as most of my friends and family could testify, I do tend to rant often about my role as a woman and an unapologetic feminist. I know my place in this world, as a daughter, a friend, a girlfriend, and as an educator. I'm Scottish. I was brought up with two wonderful women in my mother and my grandmother. My ancestral history ranges from the Middle East to the Iberian Peninsula, to back home in Scotland and the Celtic isles. So I have mixed variables of heritages to represent me. And I champion that. I embrace the tangents of my history and who I am. And so should every woman.

But what I really want to touch on this IWD is education and why it is the answer to our problems.

As I have championed for years, I tell any person who says that women need to find their voices, or have someone speak on behalf of them, that actually no, we don't need someone to talk for us, or for us to find our voices. We have voices, we just have to be inspired to use them.

And I'm using my voice to raise the problems that women and girls face with education.

Education is a human right. Education is one of the greatest resources the world has to offer. Unfortunately, for some young girls and women, they are rarely given the same opportunities as boys to learn, study and succeed.

That's approximately half of the population of the world, isn't getting the right education that they are deserved.

Globally, over 65 million girls are not in school. Out of the 774 million people who are illiterate around the world, two-thirds are women. There are 33 million fewer girls in primary school than boys.

And education really does save lives: If every woman around the globe had primary and secondary education, childhood deaths would be cut in half.

Women and girls continue to face multiple barriers based on gender and its intersections with other factors, such as age, ethnicity, poverty, and disability, in the equal enjoyment of the right to quality education. 
This includes barriers, at all levels, to access quality education and within education systems, institutions, and classrooms, such as, amongst others:
  • harmful gender stereotypes and wrongful gender stereotyping 
  • child marriage and early and unintended pregnancy
  • gender-based violence against women and girls
  • lack of inclusive and quality learning environments and inadequate and unsafe education infrastructure, including sanitation
  • poverty
So why are we denying women and girls a chance of education? Why are there no programmes publicized for STEM education, and wide baring degrees that women can craft a path to a stellar career?

The answer. Our Governments simply aren't doing enough to promote education and encourage women to have a life other than outside of the family home. This isn't just across developing countries and countries with deplorable women's rights, this is also in our home countries, and they should know better.

We need the education to show young women and girls that there is a life other than being the head of a household, there is more to aspire to. That they are not here to provide for their men. Women across the world are waking up to the idea that they are more than an accessory to men. That they can have education and inspiration to grow and develop their skills, regardless of their geographical lottery.

Women can be capable of so much more when we have access to education. When we give women the chance to grow as human beings, then we are opening up the world to a fairer economy. Why would we deny the women of our world the access to corporate jobs, careers and skill sets that are formally held by men? Why are we rejecting the idea that we can hold the same position? If we are happy enough for women to raise our children then why aren't we happy with them running our businesses?

With better education and awareness, women have the chance to be at the helm of corporate and critical businesses. They have the chance to have a seat at the table, instead of having to build our own. They finally have the chance to be on the same level that they aim to, just by allowing them to run in the same race, without any disadvantages.

So how do we correct this problem?

On a political level, we can write to our politicians, our senators, our representatives and to anyone that will listen. Make a noise with the voices we have. Make moves with the education that we have had, in lieu of those who haven't got the access to it.

A prime example of this is Malala Yousafzai, the courageous and brave young woman who was shot by the Taliban in Pakistan for demonstrating her right to education, and the right for women in her country to be educated. Despite having a death warrant against her, she still used the voice she refined to not only survive and stand up for her rights, and also continued to speak out on the importance of education. In 2013, she gave a speech to the United Nations and published her first book, I Am Malala, and in 2014, she won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Malala used her right to education to inspire her journey, her career, and ultimately her education as she now studies at the University of Oxford. 

Proving that education is a driving factor for many women to succeed is further solidified in the work of Michelle Obama. Motivating young women to strive to be the best they can be, and by this means getting on the path of education, which sadly they are normally the first women in their family to be higher educated over a secondary level. 

And on a personal level, we can encourage our young women to strive to better. Which you think might be easy, but when was the last time you looked into the eyes of a woman and really encouraged her to grab her opportunities and seize them? When was the last time you sat down with an impoverished child and opened up her eyes to a world beyond her local village? When was the last time that you educated a young girl about her life choices and helped her on a path to success? 

We can all do better in this world. We are not all perfect humans. But we can strive to do better, and one way I would encourage you all to do is to harness the power of your own education and career successes. Look at the ways that you can provide help to our fellow women. Can you donate your funds, your time or even just your knowledge to help many women's charities fight this cause? Can you look at your profiles, look at your outreach, who can you inspire? Can you look at your own status, what can you do to make a difference? 

The fact is that our world thrives on the will of its people. And it's our responsibility that we give the women of this world a fair chance of being a part of it, rather than being an accessory. 

So this IWD I really encourage anyone who is reading this to be a part of the revolution instead of watching it. Make the noise that your voice can deliver. Be the change that you would like to see. 

And most importantly, understand that the right to education is precious but endangered and we can not let it become abandoned. 

Women have the chance to educate the world, but only if we give them the right to educate themselves. 

Happy International Women's Day 

Mx 

What No One Tells You About Fertility In Your 20s

You're supposed to be in the prime of your life. Fertility wise that is, because we all know that guy who clearly peaked in high school.

But there are some things you can't really prepare for in your 20s. You've done what you wanted to and you've already made a headstart into your career by 25 and then the baby-isms begin. Unless you are the said guy who peaked in high school and he still spends every weekend cutting shapes to 'Bits and Pieces' in the ABC. Before you know it you are surrounded by babies and people who have babies, and people you don't even know are having babies and somehow you are like "OMG BABIES!".

Now I'll admit, if you handed me a baby at 21 I would have handed it straight right back to you faster than you could say "It's your turn next" (that single sentence is known to any 20-something that instantly fills them with dread, anger and a whole lot of f*ck you).

But now, 25 and somewhat in my fertile prime, I'll admit, it's actually fucking hard to get pregnant. What was I worried about at 17?! Jesus, it really is hard, and that's when you are somewhat cack-handedly trying.

Now, I'll put this out there now, I'm not pregnant, nor am I "actively" trying, by that I mean yes I have sex for fun (I am kidding, sex is less fun when you're actually adult about it and your pre-sex conversation is about who's taking out the bins and if you've finished your taxes) but if we fall pregnant we aren't going to freak out and have a fit like we would have done when we were 18.

But the rumors you heard at 17 about getting pregnant off a toilet seat (yup, someone apparently did get pregnant from a loo seat), or how you get pregnant faster in a hot tub (who in the sweet baby Jesus is having sex in a hot tub?) are just total bollocks. Yes, some people are naturally super fertile and have the perfect body like a week after giving birth but for us mortal beings, it takes a bit of planning and a bit of effort.

So what have I learned? Well for one, if you are aged anywhere between 24 - 29 you will be asked constantly "you trying yet?", and you are desperate to tell them your sex schedule and if they would like to watch since they seem so interested in your procreation habits, but then you remember you are in company and your mum is within earshot. Which while I'm here, sorry if you are reading this mum. I know in your head I'm a hard-hitting journalist, but really I'm sitting in my jammies writing about sex and the contents (or lack thereof ) of my uterus. Enjoy?

You can't walk through M&S without going to the newborn department (you'll, of course, say its via the food court, but we all know you can't resist looking at baby booties), and you'll genuinely feel warm and fuzzy inside. It's just so small! You can't imagine a human so small.

Or one day a little kid will grab your hand thinking your his mum and you feel like a responsible adult (for the first time in your life), and as you hand the kid back you can't help but think of the relief that went through its poor mother's mind as she is reunited with her little one. You sympathize with her because one day you couldn't find your phone in your back pocket and you totally relate.

You wonder what it could be like to be pregnant, even though you've been nursing a burrito baby since lunch that makes you look at least 6 months pregnant. You see it as a badge of honor, and then you hear the horror stories. You hear about the pooping, the tearing, the hormones and the fact your feet can grow?! You quickly forget about the pregnancy glow and how amazing Meghan Markle looks and you take solace in the fact you don't have to deal with that yet. Even though you might enjoy it.

The other thing that will hit you is the day your boyfriend turns to you and says, "wouldn't it be nice to have a baby?". And you sit there, him looking directly at the TV at whatever game he's playing, you gazing at the cactus sitting on his window ledge that's been dead for about a year and you wonder what in the actual fucking dreamland does he think he's in? You ignore it of course because if another word comes out of his mouth you will swear on his mother's life that you will smother him with a pillow. And also, there are no words to coherently describe your answer to that ridiculously stupid question.

But then a few days go by, and you catch yourself at dinner on a night out making faces to the toddler at the next table, giggling over his chubby cheeks and cooing over his adorable little dungarees. And then you wonder what in the fresh fuck has come over you. Your other half is staring at you, terrified that you will get any ideas despite what he said a few days ago because of course, he doesn't remember. And you look at each other, just about to utter something about babies, and said toddler that was adorable two seconds ago lets out a wail that could make Piers Morgan cry, and you both say "NOPE" and carry on with your dinner.

Because fertility in your 20s is just that, highs and lows of fighting with your hormones on trying to decide if you want a baby. Of course, you can't afford it. You're still paying off your student debts and no one pays your bills anymore. Of course, you know that you'll never have a night out again in the next 18 years, but let's be honest, it's not like you do anything on the weekends anymore anyway is it? Our generation invented the Netflix and Chill. Except "Chill" doesn't mean sex is on the cards, it actually means getting your other half to rub your back because you spent all night making dinner.

Another thing that happens is you get asked by the doctors "could you be pregnant" and you genuinely reply "I've no idea", because you don't know, you've got no idea. Your hormones are on a rollercoaster ride and you are crying at otters one day and throwing up the next, but are you pregnant? Who knows at this point, nothing can surprise you.

So what can we conclude from this? We all talk about pregnancy and fertility in your 30s, but us mid-20-somethings are always left out. We don't have all our shit together right now, we don't even know if we want a baby, but one thing is for sure if we hear the words "you're next" one more time, we will not be accountable for our actions.

It's Not Just Meghan, Some Parents Are Toxic



Even just writing the title of this makes me shake and shiver in anxiety. I've written and deleted the opening line to this post over 100 times, and it never seems to make sense. To me at least.

20 years of anxiety and depression. 2 years of CBT. A year of intense therapy and I'm just beginning to realize that sometimes you have to remove toxicity from your life. Even if that means going no contact with one of your parents.

Yes, it's hard. Yes, I can understand that some people might judge my reasons, and they are just that, my reasons. I'm pretty sure that many people would have done things differently. But my situation is unique to me. And after what I have gone through, I have decided to remove my catalyst for my depression out of my life.

I've spent most of my 25 years on this earth in search of love and acceptance from my father. Times I thought I achieved the basic need of this childlike need, only to be let down and devastated that I not only wasn't accepted by my father, but I was used for his own personal gain, or to inflate his own ego.

I've never been particularly close to my father, not even as a child. My mum has always been my closest ally, and even now we are very, very close. Especially after my parents divorced, myself and my mother, both unsure of what to do next, found solace in each other's company in times of distress.

In fact, I was terrified of my father. A very tall, dark man who was mostly angry and defensive, I became terrified of him. Having nightmares, watching over my shoulder, crying in the middle of the night thinking he would appear.

All because of his actions. Which I'm not getting into due to my own mental sanity. But trust me when I say, he committed a lot of terror and fear into my life at such a young age.

It took me a long time to even leave the house without my mother next to me after he left. I was so petrified my father would be there that I was having panic attacks every day, sometimes multiple times a day. I was depressed because he made me believe that this was my fault. That his actions were a direct result of my existence. Which no child should ever have to feel.

Looking back I can't help but cry in pain for my mother, having to watch a horrendous divorce play out in front of her child, being silenced to even explaining it to her distraught child, and having to endure the suffering from him as he time and time again put our lives into turmoil and in his own words "couldn't care less if we were on the streets, because he will make sure he will put us there".

He cared not for his child, nor for his wife - someone who he once loved and respected enough to have a child. He only cared about his own personal gain, and how he would "win" a situation.

Do you think this is typical fatherly behavior? Do you blame me?

I would say it gets better, but we have at least ten years plus of no contact from him, which was great but left me with a lot of issues regarding his abandonment, his abuse, and his lack of fatherly love and attention that left me feeling vulnerable, even more, depressed and lacking in self-confidence, to which my mother always overcompensated for, and I couldn't thank her enough for that.

Jeez...and I bet you are think was all Meghan Markle's dad did was a few badly represented interviews.

As an adult, I had a rather bolstered view with my own emotions. In the sense that I didn't let myself feel any. Nope. None. Which as you can imagine built up over a lot of years and accumulated in going into therapy for the first time at 24.

Nervous, shaking, crying and ready to faint, I walked into my therapist's office thinking I would fall dramatically onto a chaise lounge, and woe is me my way through the next two hours. Which obviously, if you have been to a therapists office in Scotland, isn't like that at all.

As a small curly haired woman appeared who barely even muttered my name and pointed into a room and told me to sit, I was looking for the nearest exit to get ready to bolt my way out faster than you could say "daddy issues".



However, when I sat my backside down on the chair, I felt superglued to the fabric and unable to move. This woman staring into my eyes speaking something that I couldn't even hear due to my heart beating so loudly, seemed to me like she was treating me as case no. 8292 and reading off a script ready for me to give robotic answers and tick off a checklist.

But as she kept talking I felt the little kid inside me, the kid that felt abandoned, unloved and emotionally and mentally abused by her father, raring her little curly pigtails and I started uncontrollably crying. Crying so hard I couldn't breathe. Crying for the little girl that was so hurt by her own father. Crying for her injustice. Crying that by what he did to me has led to 20 years of anxiety and depression and resulting in my having to endure hundreds of doctors appointments, various medications and finally being referred to a therapist to try and undo nearly two decades of emotional and mental abuse.

Through my treatment I felt even more depressed, I was desperate to live but for some reason, my mind was telling me that I wasn't good enough for this world and I should end my own life. I knew my mindset would get worse before it gets better, but this was something else. Dredging the pain and the feelings of a kid that was made to feel invisible by her father were enough to send my brain into a complete chaos movement. And that was how I suffered my first mental breakdown.



During the next 12 weeks, I was looked after by my therapist and my doctor, my mother, and my family and friends, all helping me see the best of my achievements, and nursed back to a stable mindset that I am good enough for this world. I was prescribed anti-depressants - which I am still on now and not ashamed to be taking them. I had weeks where I would spend my hours in my bed, not moving, crying and letting my emotions run free for the first time in decades, literally.

It was during this point that my therapist, during a session, took my hands and told me to cry. Just straight up, looked into my eyes and said "cry". And with that came years of pent up emotions, unleashed into an hour of crying, that I can honestly say healed my soul. She told me that none of what I endured was my fault. I was not accountable for his actions and I should never let myself feel that I should bear the emotional baggage of the last 20 years. I had a right to feel abandoned. I had a right to feel pain. And he was at fault for making his own child feel like that.

It was at this point that I came home after a session and looked at myself in the mirror. And I told myself that I was sorry for letting him in. I gave the child in me a cuddle and told her that yes, you will be okay.

And that is the essential part of healing. No matter what you go through, you have to get to the root of your issue and face it in order to feel normal again. You have to look at yourself through the eyes of the past you that faced that trauma, and I would 100% recommend therapy for that.

I decided that in order to heal properly I had to confront my father. So I did, and I told him my story. I told him all the years and suffering and even how I nearly didn't make it through my depression. I told him everything, and I was confronted with his response. That yet again everything was about him. In response, he told me all of his problems, his issues, how he was the victim during the divorce, how nothing was his fault. His truly narcissistic and sociopathic responses bounced off my armor that I helped myself build because I knew at that point that he truly did not care about my feelings or what he had done because he genuinely lied to himself and he didn't believe it himself. Like a true narcissist.

I knew then that it wasn't my fault. And he was never going to understand the impact of his actions.

So that brings us to now, starting a new year off and going no contact after a final attempt of reaching out to him, a final attempt for him to be the father that I always wanted him to be. Not just for me, but for my brother and sisters. I gave him a final chance to get his act together and become a father. I helped him with his issues, his own alleged depression and became the shoulder to cry on that gave a relationship less of father and daughter and more of father and therapist. In this, I was blindfolded into thinking that I was finally having a relationship with my father when really he was just releasing his guilt onto me and pretending that made it all better.



Then came the day I found out I finally got my degree. On the same day I found out my paper would be published. And on the same day, I found out that I was invited to be a Professor for my university on a research project. So I was over the moon. That not only had I built a blog, two businesses and overcame depression, I also got my degree and accomplished my life goal. Naturally, I wanted to tell the world, and with that included my father. And what did I get in reply? Nothing.

Two weeks went by and my pain turned to a realization. He was never going to change. And all he brought was his problems and his toxicity. I was better off without him. Look what I achieved in the years since he left. And I did it without him. I did it with my loved ones around me.

When I eventually confronted him and finally told him my pain for the last time he replied with denial. And told me to stay humble. That was what got me the most. Stay humble. Like I wasn't allowed to be proud of my achievements.

After a night of crying (and a lot of wine), I made the decision to go completely no contact. Just like Meghan. Just the same way that her family used her for their own gain. I felt for her because it's heartbreaking. I wasn't close to his side of the family because they ostracized myself and my mother. We were our own unit, just like Meghan and her mother.

It's hard to cut someone out of your life. Especially it being your father. But sometimes people aren't ready to be parents, no matter how many children they have, even after how many marriages.

Once you have been through what I have through, walked in the shoes of someone who was repeatedly let down by their father, you can see how you have to remove them from your life. It is heartbreaking. One to admit to yourself that the person who was put on this planet to be your father is incapable of doing so, and as a result doesn't respect you as a person. And two that you have to understand what you have gone through and ignore their guilty pleas.

But now I stand right now as a blogger, a graduate, and an author. Not to mention an activist and a powerful feminist. And now finally a professor of dictatorial led marketing, I can say that I did it without him. I didn't need him. And I can say I am better off without him.

I did it with my loved ones around me. I did it with their love and guidance. I did it because my mother worked her backside off to make sure she gave me the best in my life while he walked away.

I did it because I could. And I did it for myself.

And still. I rise.