"Feminism"/"Feminist" in many societies has sadly grown to become a bad word, I find myself and others disassociating themselves with it. Have you ever started a sentence with; "I'm not a Feminist, but...."?.
Last year, in the early days of She Flies, someone published an article that I wrote about Women in Extreme Sports, they shared the link on a Facebook Group and whilst the positive comments of interest, support, agreement came in - there was one particular comment that ruffled my feathers;
"...this is just another case of Toxic Feminism"
I wasn't angry, I was ashamed. I was ashamed that I'd been called out as 'one of those Women'. As I silently watched, a friend of mine and Pro Kiteboard Coach Zac Andrews was one of the first to respond. He laid into the messenger, told him he'd completely missed the point of the article. I stayed silent, reading the battle as it ended with the guy reasoning with Zac.
It made me realise 3 things:
"Toxic Feminism" means "Toxic Equality for Men & Women". It therefore cannot be a statement of truth.
Feminism is not and should not be associated to a women's thoughts; it's associated to both society and an inner perception of a human being, every human being.
Zac - responding as a feminist - was being treated with respect and I hate to admit it but I'm convinced it is because he is a male version of a human. My previous shame in being a 'feminist' is wholly because of the seemed respect I loose when I become one, and I, personally, am weak when I'm not respected.
I've never shared that story, and I don't want to labour it because there are so many things wrong with it.
It leads me to remind myself that today is about Women who need the step up to become Queens, Queens who will help those Women step up and for a world to recognise our strengths, our differences and our equality.
Women in Extreme Sports need all of this, to be given a place at the table.
I woke up this morning with a fire in my belly, a physical response to my emotional self. I felt strong and empowered, for no reason other than the label that we've given today.
International Women's Day to me, means a lot of things. It means respect. It means pride. It means honesty and it means appreciation for Women that are on fire and deserve to be pushed above the crowd, into the limelight to show the world that it's time to wake up, see them, know them, follow them and tell them they are changing the inner perceptions that may still need to be changed.
For She Flies, it isn't about blaming, looking back or being angry at what history has made, it is about bringing the Women up, so that when the world opens the door, that Woman is standing behind it, ready to go.
So here's to my Women, my inspirations and who I want to bring up today;
Because at 60 years my senior, she makes me snort and giggle until my tummy hurts every time we talk. She helps me (no, makes me) see the simplicity of life in my over ambitious world and she teaches me that the answer to many problems, is gin.
Because in 2018 she surfed a 68ft wave, since recorded as the biggest wave a woman has ever surfed, and in doing that she showed me that Women Fly too.
Because, at 4 years old, she expresses herself better than any Woman I know. She dances at every moment she possibly could; when everyone and no one is watching, she closes her eyes and does it for the feeling not the perception. I'm learning from her every day.
Because I recently realised that she became the World Champion simply because she has learnt in her life that in order to succeed, you have to give every ounce of commitment, determination that you have, give it every day and believe that you can do it. She recently said; "do what you love, that is the key to success"
Because whilst she hates the limelight, she taught me that despite a lot of other hardships, female bodies have a lot of responsibility, which is why we were made to have minds of steel and when you combine difficult things with a strong mind, you become unstoppable.
Every person engaged with She Flies.
Because at the end of the day, it is as simple as one women, telling another, that she appreciates what she does and that is what keeps the fire burning on every other of the 365 days each year.
For creating the video 'For the Girls' which opened my eyes to the power of inspiration.
For inadvertently making the World turn their heads to an opportunity for Women in Big Air Kiteboarding - but more importantly, for making Women turn their heads to an opportunity for Women in Big Air Kiteboarding.
Because through her guidance, a ton of love and a lot of genes, she gave me the fire that sits in my soul every day. It has driven me to be who I am, with a strong mind, a successful career in business and to become a founder of a brand that will spread this same fire onto others.
And finally, to every Women I have taught to Fly. Because for every one of you, you've opened up to me, made yourself vulnerable when I've asked you to and you've made me realise the importance of creating a different space to teach Women in Extreme Sports.
Who are your inspirational Women? Tell me in the comments or send me a message!
Don't ever be afraid of wanting to be treated as a human, in an equal field, within a world that admits your differences. It doesn't always mean opening up doors to women and it definitely doesn't mean to wrap nice little pretty ladies in 'cotton wool' and hoping you don't offend them. It means accepting their opinion on the table in a debate and fighting with them like you would any other comment, it means reasoning within the debate with respect and honesty like you would with any other debater, it means competing with each other with fire and passion but calling out to the world when the competition is right and isn't right, regardless of what you are 'supposed' to say.
Don't ever be afraid to be a feminist.
Happy International Women's Day. You have super powers. Use them.
If in need of that inspiration, remember that movie we did......