THE FEMALE

Emma Watson

My most memorable International Women’s Day to date was the year I saw Florence + The Machine at Ally Pally. Granted, I didn’t buy the tickets in celebration of womankind, but it was a nice coincidence all the same.

I went there with a secret hope that she would acknowledge the day, and Florence being Florence, she did. In the best way ever.

After howling her way through hundreds of hits, she asked the men in the audience to lift the women nearest to them onto their shoulders. My brother is 6ft2 and frequents the gym daily, but I assumed he’d still tell me and my thunder thighs to jog on. Much to my surprise however, I felt myself being lifted into the air, along with hundreds of other women, desperately clinging onto my pint of wine and high-fiving everyone within reach.

I felt like a rock star.

And that’s how I think women should be made to feel every day.

Forget the princess crap – although a tiara would be nice – we would instead simply love to live on the edge with you, to be believed in like you, to be as bold and brave as you’ve been allowed to be, to run across stages barefoot; screaming and howling like Florence herself because it makes us feel good. Chuck us in the air, challenge us, swear at us (we’ll swear back) and let us be wild and free and live like the creatures we were made to be. We’re resilient you know, all it takes is for you to give us a chance to be.

Asking the men to lift women onto their shoulders in celebration was so symbolic of our fight for equal rights, because without men lending us a helping hand, we’re fighting a losing battle. You, dear gentleman, are crucial. Despite this, there are still so many who will do anything to avoid being deemed a feminist, mainly because they’re unsure of what the word even means. So if Emma (Goddess) Watson wasn’t clear enough, then I’ll try to be: a feminist is someone who wants equal rights and opportunities for both men and women. That’s it. No frills, no fancies, no shouting, no screaming; just a world where you, your mum, your niece and your brother, all have the same chance to be the best human they can be.

So although we are a long way from our end goal, I think it’s important to acknowledge the advances that we have made so far because, well, glass half full and all that. We now live in a time where The Oscars are less about manicures and more about Lopez, Streep and Arquette coming together in raptures for equal pay. A place where Amal Alamuddin is no longer referred to as George Clooney’s wife. And a world where being called a slut on the street is being challenged (finally).

Believe it or not people, times, although slowly, are a-changing. And I’m excited.

So lift up the women in your life, high onto your shoulders and celebrate them this Sunday. I don’t need to list the reasons why you should.

Have a good one.

THE SISTERHOOD

Don’t get me wrong. I, like most girls out there, might feel a slight pang of jealousy when my best friend tells me about her new job while I’m still unemployed three months after graduating. I also recognize that “oh-so-single” feeling when a coupled up chum tells you that her boyfriend bought her tickets to see a west end show while you sit at home watching Downton Abbey alone. But no matter how much you envy your gal pal, above anything, first and absolutely foremost, you should feel happy for your friend.

I’ve noticed recently that women seem to come together and show their strength of sex when things are going badly. When it comes to a break up, we’re there with chocolate and DVDs. Bad exam results? We’re there with the gin and tickets to the nearest club night. We spend hours and hours dwelling on the negatives but when it comes to congratulating our friends on something that’s going well in their lives, the notion of sisterhood goes out of the window and we’re either reluctant to congratulate our friends or we just quite simply forget. Although it’s great that we sympathise so well with our girlfriends, we should celebrate our wonderful characters and quirky abilities rather than join as one in times of woe-we deserve it! After all, since the turn of the century, women really have started to rule the roost. Think Lady Gaga, Michelle Obama and J.K Rowling to name but a few. And although we look up to them and seek inspiration from them, women continue to be threatened by other women. I guarantee that in our day to day lives, we’d be far more inclined to ask a man for directions or hope to be served by a male sales advisor than ask the help of a woman, and yes that is part of the rules of attraction but we should stop feeling threatened. Our sister strangers should be the next best thing to friendship.

For me, Beyoncé is the ultimate woman. She has a gorgeous husband with a baby on the way, a successful career and she celebrates all this by backing herself with an all girl band; something that a number of my male friends have expressed their concerns about and call sexist. I see it as more of a celebration than anything. Don’t get me wrong, she is most definitely making a point by using a band of boobs but I’m not sure that she’s on Pankhurst Patrol just yet. I think she, unlike lots of women in this day and age, feels most at ease surrounded by women. And this to me is a beautiful thing.

I wouldn’t have ever called myself a feminist until recently and I would never burn my bras-it would be far too expensive. But what I will do is sing along, very, very loudly to Beyoncé and her oestrogen extravaganza and celebrate how much I love being a woman.