Happy 2015, Jar Belles!


It’s safe to say that the trend over the past 100 years has been continuing progress in the sexual equality stakes (in England at least, and if you include progress that is, at times, frustratingly slow – basically, it’s a bit of a tenuous trend but let’s go with it while we’re feeling optimistic). Therefore, we can hope to expect good things in 2015. To move things along more quickly, let’s all agree to make some feminist new year resolutions, because it really doesn’t matter if you bite your fingernails.

Unsure of what feminist resolutions to make? Luckily, Belinda Phipps, Chair of the Fawcett society, came up with a list and also luckily, I received it in the society’s monthly newsletter (I strongly recommend supporting Fawcett – see my added resolution at the end of this list). I hope she wouldn’t mind me sharing it with you, because I was struck by the value of this list and think the world would definitely benefit from us all taking up these resolutions. Without further ado, I give you the list:

“Here are some suggestions that we think are easily achievable in 2015 and we hope that you will take the ones you feel strongly about on board, and of course add your ideas to them.

  • I will refuse to fill in Ms, Mrs, Miss or Mr on forms or answer the question to call centres unless my gender and marital status are of direct relevance to the matter in hand.
  • I will make the effort to sign one of the following petitions, for example:http://www.5050parliament.co.uk and www.change.org/p/david-dinsmore-take-the-bare-boobs-out-of-the-sun-nomorepage3
  • I will remember the women who struggled and died in this country, and those who in other countries to this day struggle and die to make sure that I and women throughout the world can be educated and vote – and I will respect those women by making sure I vote in the 2015 election and every other election after that
  • I will follow my local Fawcett group on Facebook or Twitter and share or retweet
  • I will have recruited at least five new Fawcett members by the end of the year.
  • I will challenge the next sexist comment or joke I hear
  • I will tweet my support for influential women in a senior position in politics, the law, the boardroom, or anywhere else using the hashtag #InspirationalWomen, include Fawcett in the tweet so that we can follow.
  • I will tweet my support for men in public life who challenge sexism using #menwhosupportfeminism
  • I will give a copy of one of these books to teenagers I know: Caitlin Moran’sHow to Build a Girl or How to be a Woman; Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Women; John Stuart Mill’s The Subjection of Women; Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique; Cordelia Fine’s Delusions of Gender… but there are lots more so you choose.
  • If I can I will ask the company I work for to do a gender pay audit and publish it.
  • I will encourage men who have recently become a parent to take their share of parental leave to be at home with their children
  • I will share my knowledge of the domestic sphere and enable the men in my life to feel competent and capable in areas normally considered the preserve of women.
  • I will encourage my sons and daughters and my nieces and nephews to stop praising girls just for looks and start to get to know their interests and their lives
  • I will sign up to Inspiring Women http://www.inspiringthefuture.org/inspiring-women/ and speak in a school
  • I will find an older woman who lived through the earlier feminist struggles and listen to her story to increase my resolve to change things for the future
  • I will ask my children’s school to introduce a gender free uniform list so boys and girls have the same range of uniform to choose from
  • I will expunge the phrase “big boys don’t cry” and similar from my vocabulary and encourage others around me to do likewise
  • I will ask every shop that identifies some toys as girls and some as boys to remove that signage”

Obviously this list is geared towards the society, but if you’d rather not support them then I urge you to choose a different charity that promotes gender equality or similar and still use the resolutions. In fact, I’d add the resolution:

  • Support a feminist charity and/or organisation.

So many people are happy to say that charities and organisations should take the brunt of welfare and activism, but so few people support them. I’ve chosen my own charities based on some research (not extensive research, but a basic look into their admin costs etc.) and would recommend Women’s Aid, the Fistula Foundation and your local Rape Crisis Centre as good places to start.

I’d also like to add the resolution:

  • Try to be as inclusive and intersectional a feminist as you possibly can be.

Feminism is often criticised as overly middle class, heterosexual, and white, and as a middle class, heterosexual, white woman I’m aware that I need to think of other people’s experiences as well as my own. It’s a work in progress, but if we all try a little harder than hopefully the feminist movement will feel more inclusive to those who don’t necessarily feel that it’s relevant to them.

I hope that this list gives you some good ideas. Let me know if you have any more, or if you get particularly good results with any of them!

–  Jade Slaughter is editor of The Jar Belles and has written for The F Word, Parallel and Litro magazines. Follow her on Twitter: @msjadeslaughter.