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Be Courageous, Be a Feminist

I am a FEMINIST.  I never ever thought I would make such a statement because admittedly, I lived in ignorance of what being a feminist actually meant so there was a reluctance and a fear of being labelled as a man-hater.  That’s what I thought feminism was, a movement of angry women who detested men and everything that they represented except, they're not.  

Maybe I am my own kind of feminist but I am 100% proud to say that I am a woman who understands the value and impact of empowering women and advocating for a world in which men and women are celebrated, valued, respected and treated equally for both their differences and their similarities. And, I do love men, just as much as I love women.  

In the last six plus years I have managed to nurture and grow my very own man cub who has (without knowledge or intention) changed my whole, entire outlook on life whilst making me realise the importance of raising him to be open-minded and accepting of all human beings, their differences, their similarities, their beliefs and their values.

I consider myself to be a feminist because I love women.  I love and I am so proud of everything that we can and have achieved throughout history. I hugely admire strong and courageous women who speak out for what they believe in and play a role in making a difference in this world.

That admiration extends to Virgina Mendez, Gender Equality Champion, author of “Childhood Unlimited: Parenting Beyond the Gender Bias“ and the series of children’s books “Mika & Lolo”, public speaker and co-founder of The Feminist Shop - an ethical brand that educates on the topic of feminism.  What a list of accolades especially for someone who admits to once upon a time refusing to identify as a feminist.

I greatly admire Virginia’s lionness-like courage and her determination to make a difference to the world by changing perceptions and behaviours and putting gender equality at the very core of everything she gets involved in, making it an essential part of who she is.  Which is why I asked her to contribute to the Fix My Crown blog.

Virgina beautifully represents all that is great and wonderful about feminism and delivers her message in an informed, smart and relatable way.... She is on a mission to inform, inspire and educate others on changing society, perceptions and thoughts on equality for all.

Here are her words...


How would you describe yourself as a Feminist?

Feminism is the movement that joins us together to change society. I believe in feminism as the active fight for equality, which includes the understanding of privilege in all different areas. I believe in intersectional feminism and as such I am very conscious of my own privileges and my role as an ally, the same way that I see my role as a woman in a patriarchal society and the struggles that come with it. I believe in constantly evolving and unpacking things, learning from each other and demanding better.

You describe feminism as being prevalent within your family unit. Would you mind describing how that looks?

Of course! For me feminism has been a journey. I used to hate the word and now look at me! I have done a lot of unlearning and re-learning, reading and researching. A lot of those shifts in my understanding have happened while I was with my husband and even more since I became a mother.

I am very conscious of the way society treats us differently (I wrote a whole book about it!) and I am really intentional about overcoming those limitations and making sure I equip my kids with critical thinking. I want them to question why they are treated differently just for being a boy and a girl and have strong role models that blurs those ideas, that can present themselves unapologetically in ways that society told us not to. We model vulnerability in masculinity, I model confidence and prioritising my needs so that they don't come everyone else's.

Where does your courage come from to inform and inspire others to adopt feminist outlooks?

I guess It comes from the inspiration I receive from others, the joy of being part of something bigger than myself and the excitement to share it with others so they too can be part of the chain. Because we need all of us! Every single step in the right direction is a win, every person questioning how things are at the moment, or exploring the possibilities of doing things differently is progress. I know how much I have changed in this journey and it is something that I passionately recommend to others. Yes, it is angering and uncomfortable, but it is also powerful and important.

What do equal rights and opportunities look like for you?

They look like kids being unlimited, and growing up in a world in which their sex doesn’t dictate a complete set of rules and expectations. Childhood where toys, books, clothes are just that and not part of the rules in the boxes we get into. Equal opportunities looks like celebrating individuals for who they are from the beginning to explore their full potential.

Why do you think there is so much fear towards the feminist movement?

Feminism can be scary because it challenges the status quo and it requires some level of reflection that can be daunting. Feminism invites us to think about who we are in a world that tells us who were are supposed to be from the beginning of life. It invites us to peel back the layers of what society has taught us and see what it is that we want to keep and what is that we want to let go. Everything that is liberating comes at the expense of discomfort and uncertainty.

Any movement that has capacity to bring change is always going to be stigmatised, ridiculed and feared. When those that benefit the most from nothing changing are the ones that have more power and have more capacity to drive the narrative it is easier to spread misinformation about what feminism is or what the movement is trying to do.

Can men be feminists?

They can, some are, they all should! I have met lots of feminist men, I am married to one and raising one myself.

We can't have feminism without men being on board.  There isn't a war between genders but a society that separates us and puts us into narrow boxes. Feminism advocates for a much healthier masculinity, which men are the first in benefiting from.

I think it is important for men to understand that feminism has a lot to offer them. It's also important to note that even if there was nothing for them to gain they should still support the movement, because it is advancing the lives of 51% of the population.

What advice would you give to someone like me, a mother of a young boy, who wants to raise her son to see girls/women as his equal?

I would recommend reading my book “Childhood Unlimited: Parenting Beyond the Gender Bias“.  I wrote it for parents who are passionate and excited about the impact it can have on their families.

Have the conversations in the house - be open, be real and teach them to question things and challenge ideas. The good thing is that the younger the person, the more open they are to learning and having their views challenged.

Role model an equitable home, celebrate the things that make you yourselves outside of your “roles” and the things that make him who he is outside of what is celebrated for being a boy. Praise him for being sensitive, for being in tune with his emotions, for being kind and affectionate.

And also, connect him with women that he can admire in every day life in books and television. Speak and celebrate women who do great things, and remind him that even if the world tells him otherwise women are not side characters and men the main characters.  

How would you encourage women to stand up to the world, speak out and be proud of what they feel they stand for?

Women are socialised to be liked, to be kind, caring. selfless and to please others. I would invite them to liberate themselves from that first. To truly embrace the possibility of being the most important person in their own life, to have their own needs met, to be able to set boundaries and use their voices for whatever they see fit.

I would encourage women to stand up for themselves, because by doing so they are standing up for all of us and changing the world already in some way. The rest will come along. The rest is part of the journey, but let it start with loving ourselves much more in a world that tell us not to.

Virginia, thank you from the very bottom of my heart for your time, your courage, your energy and undefeated efforts to change the world for us all.

You can shop online for Virginia’s books by clicking on the links below:

Mika & Lolo 

Childhood Unlimited: Parenting Beyond the Gender Bias


I hope you enjoyed reading Virginia’s post as much as I did.  You may also enjoy reading Orla McDade's blog post on how to manage stress and overwhelm in today's busy world.