It’s one thing to talk about women who inspire you now but I think it’s really interesting to know who your first women inspirations were - both personally and in the media.
Sailor Moon, Cleopatra and Elizabeth I were mine (some very white #girlboss historical figures there - Cleopatra was Greek rather than Egyptian, so was kind of the ultimate cultural appropriator). I thought they were so powerful and cool.
Particular favourite things: Cleopatra being fluent in 9 languages and not actually being hot but just being super charismatic and charming and getting it on with 2 of the most powerful men in the world through that intelligence and charisma. I loved that she used very dramatic outfits for her, her lovers and her children to project statements about herself and her reign - fashion is power! And it’s kind of cool that the month of August is so named because Augustus Caesar respected her as an opponent so much that he wanted to commemorate the month in which he defeated her.
Think it’s my mum. She didn’t have an easy childhood and left school without any qualifications, but put all of her effort into navigating systems and institutions that were completely alien to her so her kids could have opportunities that she didn’t. And she did it as a single mum, without complaint.
I really admire scout for this reason - single mum and low income, but works insanely hard. A job, business and studying all while looking after a child alone and rarely complains about how hard it is?
Personally, an ex’s mum who i love and admire everyday. She makes me feel ok about speaking up for myself, shown me how i make my own happiness and to be self reliant, and she gave me such a lovely insight into friendship regardless of age and other differences. Even though we only see each other once or twice a year these days since M came along i miss her all the time and feel so lucky to know her
Also lots of tell it like it is old Scouse women from my childhood especially my Auntie Norma.
In pop culture well, Scout from TKAM, and probably someone headstrong (even if massively flawed), like scarlett o’hara. But as an adult I hope I’ve been influenced by less spoilt brat figures than her! I’m lucky enough that I’m surrounded by amazing women at work, on here, and personally.
my boss from my first job, overthrew the tyrannical previous team leader and was really friendly and easy to get along with while simultaneously leading the team into the future and not just mailing it in
Definitely my mum and her mother and sisters. My mum was the first in the history of her family to go to university and emigrated alone from Kuwait to London in her early 20s despite being very sheltered, my grandmother was a single mother who did her best raising her children and in the 30s and 40s she was part of a nomadic family herding sheep with lions and snakes and shit outside, and a man tried to attack her once but she scared him off by grabbing the knife and refusing to let go even as he twisted it and shredded her palms. He thought she had the devil in her and ran. My grandmother and aunts were stuck in the 1988 civil war in Somalia and fled alone with their kids after my grandad was shot and killed, crossing the border with bullets flying around them and they showed incredible perseverance. So many strong women in my family, really proud of them all. They sought asylum in the UK so I grew up with them all, and know them well unlike my dad’s side who mainly live abroad
Makes me sick to think that if they were seeking asylum with today’s government they would be rejected, or left to rot in UN camps for years while the home office put us through beauocratic hell. Innocent families fleeing for their lives, trying to reunite with family abroad who can look after them but denied it because of a bunch of racists
I grew up with lots of strong female role models - my mother, my grandmother, six aunties, numerous parental friends who weren’t relatives but were still aunties. They all had pretty hard lives, but inspired me in different ways. My mother inspired me to want more than life in a small town and three kids before the age of 25. My grandmother taught me that people in positions of authority often don’t have a clue what they’re talking about and everything’s a negotiation.
A big moment for me was finding out at age 7 or 8 that Madonna was the same age as my parents. I could not believe that there were people that age who had fun, creative lives. I was a huge Madonna fan at that time anyway, but it blew my mind that she spent her time travelling, recording bangers and having immaculate style while my mam spent her time running between work and childcare and telling me that we couldn’t afford everything I wanted to do. I was perhaps a little unfair towards my mother, but despite having been told that there was more to life than the lives of the women in my family, it was a very big deal to actually see a woman their age living a different life.
I was going to say Madonna too (and Whitney to a lesser extent) but didn’t know how to put it as eloquently! I think what made me sit up and take notice of her was the fact my much older brother thought she was cool and it was the first time a woman had really been seen that way in our house.
Can’t state strongly enough how Disney princess films totally warped my life views for the worse - the pursuit of romance above all else, being saved by a man, awful awful stuff and I hate how my daughter loves them now. Even ones that have potential to break the mould like Frozen still can’t stay away from the romance side. Thank God for rebellious Madonnas to balance it out a little.
I feel similar and can’t think of anyone I’ve been inspired by. My mum certainly instilled values in me around education and being capable and not helpless (probably sometimes to my own detriment) but I don’t think I came to feel inspired by her in the proper sense until having my own children.
In recent years the only person who probably comes close is Phoebe Waller-Bridge.
Yep years of unlearning and wasted potential to chase rubbish boys, years of despair when they aren’t interested.
I was chatting to someone I knew ages ago on Instagram recently - she’s just had a baby and although I find stuff to do with babies/kids quite intimidating as there is a very deep barrel of my issues there, I absolutely love her Insta stories and her honesty about the difficulties she’s had which are things that aren’t widely spoken about. we were musing about how we both used to fancy the same guy and how as in so many cases, that guy is wayyyy less interesting and cool than either of us! Why do we give ourselves so little credit???
Looking back, I’m frequently shocked by how desperately I’ve craved validation from lads who really offered nothing to broaden my mind and thought I was someone to be looked down on for having convictions and passions which they decreed insubstantial. Also how properly nasty they can be with the flimsiest of justifications (“my nan died” to justify a guy telling a friend they wanted me to drown in a river, for example) and then get off on acting like they’re a martyr when you call them out. Ugh!!
I think Disney was just symbolic of prevailing patriarchal attitudes of the time though. I don’t particularly remember the princessy ones but I don’t know if that’s because my parents deliberately steered clear of them? But I also totally sought validation through relationships from early on. Oliver & Company and the Fox and the Hound were the ones I watched to death though!