Are you a cheerleader or not? – Birds on the Blog

Are you a cheerleader or not?

I’m a feminist

Why?  My answer is why isn’t everyone.  Feminism means equality – for everyone!  Women, men, children, of every colour, creed, ethnicity, sexual orientation, body capacity or otherwise.  Everyone means everyone!

So, when we ‘fight’ for equality – what does that mean?  It means that we are fighting for everyone to have the same rights, opportunities, and choices as everyone else.

Choice is a critical factor

Real choice doesn’t just come with the same opportunities, it comes with all of the responsibilities stemming from those choices.

We’ve come a long way since women first got the vote 100 years ago in this country.  There have been so many gains.  For all of the pros and cons of Theresa May as Prime Minister – none of which I’m going to discuss here – she’s our country’s second woman Prime Minister.  These days the debate appears to be more centralised around whether she is the right type of leader, not whether there should or should not be a woman P.M.  That is a great gain – a welcome achievement.

It’s more significant than that even – by virtue of our political system – there must be women in our Parliament to draw from otherwise a woman PM wouldn’t be possible.

That’s not to say that we have come anywhere near where we need to be.  Women are underrepresented in senior echelons of every sector and overrepresented at junior levels.  They make up the vast majority of low paid, part-time workers and are still underpaid compared to their male counterparts doing the same jobs, even in publicly funded institutions.

There is much to be done

Not helped by women who insist they’ve seen no signs of this and other discriminatory behaviour because it hasn’t affected them, then scream blue murder when it inevitably shows up in their lives.

We’ve got a lot to say about men and how they treat women, and there are a lot of men who deserve this critique.  However, we say we want choices for all women, we want equality but do we really mean that we want choices for all women as long as we agree with those decisions?

Our choices as women are often most harshly judged by …you guessed it – women!

Don’t get me wrong

the sisterhood is alive and well and long may it continue but we are bringing future generations of mighty girls into a world where they are judged, like the rest of us, from birth for:

  • What colour we dress in
  • What toys we play with
  • How ‘pretty’ we are
  • What we decide to study
  • What we should do as work
  • Whether we sleep with our partners too soon
  • Whether we live with our partners too soon
  • When and if we choose to have babies
  • Whether we choose to get married
  • Who we marry
  • Whether we choose to breastfeed or not
  • Whether we dare to breastfeed outside of a filthy toilet
  • Whether we choose to work or stay at home
  • If our marriage or relationship makes or breaks
  • Whether we choose to vaccinate or not
  • Whether we are too fat or too thin
  • Whether we wear too much makeup or not enough
  • How we dress, how long or short it is
  • Whether we are too old to wear jeans
  • Whether we colour our hair, have botox or plastic surgery
  • Whether we choose to buy a house or eat avocado toast

The list is endless.

And this is from women!

Ladies, the sisterhood is under pressure.

When it works it is very, very good – the best support structure a woman can have.  What on earth we would do without our girls’ nights I do not know.

However, it is straining under the pressure of allowing us to make our own choices and facing constant judgment about those same choices.

The fact is that we are either cheerleaders for other women or we are critics.  There is no in-between option.  We are either openly supportive of women who make different choices to us or we are not.

The world can be a tough place – we share challenges.  We share pressures.  With other women, not just our friends on our side, it can be a more companionable place, a kinder, more compassionate place.  A better place!

We are all doing the best we can

I’m no saint I can tell you – anyone who knows me knows I’m a mouthy, bolshie, opinionated, dogmatic soul but it makes me sad that we can’t do better.  No-one knows better than other women the challenges we face with discrimination, harassment, imposter syndrome, hormones, being the ‘perfect’ mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend, and having the perfect makeup, hair, body, and face.

Let’s try to speak and act ‘consciously’ before we criticise someone for being ‘mutton dressed as lamb’ or saying she spends too much time at work instead of with her family.  Let’s stop and think.  Am I being a cheerleader or a critic?  It’s okay to be either – that’s your choice but do it consciously.  Unconscious actions and words can be just as hurtful and damaging.

Viva la sisterhood!

Nicole Johnston Communications

About the Author Nicole Johnston

I offer a range of communications, policy and writing services. My extensive experience comes from central Government, Third sector organisations and businesses, both in the UK and Australia. I have held senior policy and communications positions advising Ministers and senior officials including the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Lord Chancellor, the Chief Secretary of the Treasury, the Economic Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of State for International Development and Ministers for the Home Office, amongst others. In addition I have worked at an international level working with the United Nations, the Word Bank and Gates Foundation, to name a few. Writing is my passion in all forms. When I'm not helping people with their communications and policy, I write novels. If you need some help or advice then please feel free to contact me on If you can’t see what you are looking for listed here then get in touch, as this list in not comprehensive. I look forward to hearing from you.

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