Phenomenal Woman Blog
I’m a woman with a phenomenological inclination, who believes we understand ourselves and the world better through close attention to our different stories. I aim to challenge stereotypical portrayals of how mid-life women should and shouldn’t be.
We’ve come a long way in how we think about mental health over the last few decades. It seems incredible that back in my childhood of the 1970s and 80s Victorian asylum-style institutions remained the primary treatment route for people with psychological problems
When it comes to women, a lot (or even a little) risks being too much. The many paradoxes presented by the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s decision on how much testosterone maketh a woman, go to the heart of current confusion about gender and difference. In Caster Semenya’s case, the Court decided that despite her gender classification at birth and a life lived as a woman, her hormone levels relegate her to some kind of grey area of middle ground, effectively disqualifying her from competing against other women and threatening her career.
You can count the seconds from any mention of International Women’s Day until the first (usually white) male asks the question: “Why don’t we have an international men’s day?”
Statistics suggest that I am far from alone in finding day-to-day day life more of a struggle at this time of year. Certainly, ideas for blogs are not tripping from my fingertips onto the keyboard and there is a bleakness to the days that goes beyond the weather.
There’s something unseemly about Davos – a modern day Mount Olympus, where a collection of mainly men - only 20% of delegates are female - cast themselves as the world’s decision makers and hang out loftily above the rest of us deciding the future of the planet and all that happens on it.
As 2019 begins, for the UK it is a year dominated already by endings rather than fresh starts. Brexit D-day looms: the political and economic arguments have been well rehearsed, but for many, feelings about Europe are deeply personal. This is my story of how being part of the European project transformed my life.
Resistant as I am to the cult of the first lady, Michelle Obama’s story and her meteoric success are so extraordinary in their own right that they merit telling. And she does so with intelligence and openness. Her comments on her own struggles with negative stereotypes and about affirmative action more generally started a train of thought about the perspective of those who have stepped away from power and how much they have to offer to the gender diversity narrative.
This week sees the publication in the UK of an indispensable book by Mylene Desclaux - “Who?” I hear you chorus: well, apparently she is a French blogger - offering tips on how to be happy in your 50s. From the press coverage (the book itself is not yet available) this appears to be a euphemism for how to pull eligible men once you are “over the hill”. This forthcoming literary milestone caused me to wonder whether national stereotypes might really in fact be true.
Among my generation there can be few formerly angst-ridden young women for whom the soundtrack to their sorrows did not include the songs of Everything but the Girl. The words of Bittersweet summed up my struggle between pleasing others and treading my own path.
In the week that Stan Lee died and as we watch Theresa May teeter on the edge of a very fragile Brexit glass cliff, my thoughts on the myths of the female superhero.