Dear Great Granddaughter

7 March, 2013

Dear little one, Great Granddaughter of mine.

I sometimes gaze at you and catch the twinkling eyeballs your Great Granddad passed on to our daughter,  Ramona – peepers that have been handed down from skull to skull through the ages- and I am instantly transported to when Ramona was a kiddo herself. Those days when I was a young mum, your Nana was just a toddler, your Great-Uncle merely a bump and I spent far too much time blogging.

I am an ancient soul now, my typing hands are withered but my mind is  still sharp (ish. Well, as sharp as it ever was.)  I have just a few moments before Countdown begins (how glad I am this gameshow and it’s theme tune outlasted Caramacs and white rhinos), and on this International Women’s Day 2073 I’m going to exercise the privilege of the elderly and tell you about what it was like Back In My Day.

My, we have come far. We are FINALLY wearing the tin foil suits I dreamed of as a whipper snapper, and scientists have FINALLY cottoned on to the fact that no one cares about particle acceleration and all we really wanted from them was the ability to zoom about on our own personal jet packs.

But perhaps the biggest strides forward have been made for womanhood.

Some of this stuff is going to make your twinkly eyes pop, my love, in the same way it did when I heard about the world my own great-Nana was bought into- where women didn’t even have the right to vote!

Do you know, even just sixty years ago, we had actual bare boobies in the daily newspapers (er, these were big sheets of information that were already slowly traipsing the Road to Extinction) to titillate male readers? That women were hugely underrepresented in positions of leadership and that women across the board earned less then men for the same kinds of jobs? Even TOYS, little one, weren’t above the grubby grips of sexism and sciencey knick knacks were marketed for boys while girls got the beauty parlours. My darling, it was the norm for women to unquestioningly take their husband’s name, and the norm for women to be the primary care givers and stay at home parents.

Although we felt we had come far due to the wonders of fearless women before us, sexism and injustice reached into the crevices of every day life and made global statistics something to weep at. Women used to be the main producers of food globally, but the most likely to go hungry – and made up a whole two thirds of the world’s illiterate people. Violence against women and rape were constantly misreported by police, even in our own country victims held the blame. And this, this will make your jaw hit the ground;  I clearly remember one week the biggest online clothing trader was selling “Keep Calm and Rape” tee shirts. And, oof, you really wouldn’t believe it, precious, but women weren’t even allowed to become bishops!

Ramona as the chairman of the board at 18 months

Ramona as the chairman of the board at 18 months

How thankful I am that things have changed for you. That due to a host of courageous people fighting the big stuff and addressing the small daily acts of sexism the world you are growing up in has been transformed. Never would these brave men and women who spoke up to their bosses, who rallied outside newspaper offices, who took their rapists to court, who created Twitter storms against companies, who faced condemnation from a whole village for taking on a typically male role, who were called “humourless” for calling out sexist statements and stereotyping amongst conversation with friends, never would they have seen themselves as warriors in the likeness of suffragettes. But they were shifting society bit by bit. And now the world is wholly different.

When I look (okay, squint) around the globe now I am astonished that I lived to see it. Half of the G20 are women, and women are equally represented in every single industry. Playgrounds are filled with all children wearing all the colours of the rainbow and playing with every toy under the sun without shame. The trade in human-trafficking has been all but totally dismantled and there is no significant gender angle to the impact of poverty at all. It would be absurd, these days, for workplaces not to support parents perfectly splitting child care and domestic violence has been cut by 90%. Young women can walk the streets without fear of being humiliated by the objectifying grunts, shouts and whistles of men.

Little one, you and your friends can now do anything, anything at all! It is perhaps hard to contemplate another world, where even just sixty years ago there were so many hidden barriers for young girls. That I, when looking at my little Ramona, along with many other mothers, worried deep, deep down and tried to think up ways of pulling apart these barriers. Where I even had to take a pen (it was this small pointy object that a dark liquid came out that enabled you to write on paper, er, which is this white, flat, er… gah, ne’er mind) to her story books and make some of the heroes female because mostly they were naff rescuees or love interests.

You have a crowd of men and women who have pounded a path of gender justice before you to thank. At the time it didn’t feel like much, perhaps there were some days it didn’t even feel like worth the bother. Some women even stopped identifying as feminist. But your generation can walk unburdened because other generations didn’t stop with the vote, or the criminalizing of in-marriage rape or the introduction of paternity leave but kept on and on until all objectification was stomped out and true equality was heralded.

Right,the Countdown bongs are punctuating my words now, it is time to sign off, sweet one.

Keep celebrating this day, won’t you? There may be no need to use it as a time to bash at the doors of patriarchy, but celebrate in memory of those times when gender equality was just a dream.

Love your Great Nana,


Connecting this with the IWD blog link up – see posts from other bloggers right here.IWD Blog Hop
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  • nina gora 8 March, 2013 at 5:52 am

    lucy, am reading this from my bed in kabul and it has been such a lovely letter to wake up to and begin the day with. i absolutely love it. x

    • Lucy 8 March, 2013 at 10:22 am

      Let’s make it happen, huh?! Also, where is your IWD peice please hehe. Happy IWD you wonderful woman!

  • Sonya Cisco 8 March, 2013 at 6:47 am

    I bloody LOVE this letter, am going to scribble out the names and send it to my great grandchildren too….. (So they may have a plagiarist for a great grandmother….proud times!)

    • Lucy 8 March, 2013 at 10:21 am

      Hahaha! Loved your post too Sonya, so amazing to hear of creative ways people are challenging inequality x

  • Allie Jane Young 8 March, 2013 at 6:51 am

    Lucy, that was such a beautiful and well thought out letter. It made me well up a little. I know one day, we will all be treat as equals. I mean hey I am going to start a job working in a woodwork department to show that girls can be treat as equals and can still be a parent and work! Not quite baked though as yet! But I have a good employer who wants to promote women in industry. So when I get there. I am going to give it rock all and to break down barriers one by one.

    • Lucy 8 March, 2013 at 10:20 am

      Oh, that is GREAT! I do think these little things are so important, I try and do lots of DIY so Ramona knows hammers don’t just belong in daddy’s hands!

  • sarahhillwheeler 8 March, 2013 at 11:54 am

    Lovely post, I wish I shared your optimism.

    • Lucy 8 March, 2013 at 11:56 pm

      🙂 I think we are all motivated by imagining the more beautiful alternative and behaving as if it is gonna happen! Hope, hope, hope.

  • Margot Darling 8 March, 2013 at 11:56 am

    I salute you and raise my glass alongside you for all the little women out there. Some many great changes made but so many to be realised.

    • Lucy 9 March, 2013 at 12:05 am

      *clinks glass* It is the changes that have been made that make me feel we can make more!

  • Mary Firth 8 March, 2013 at 2:51 pm

    Brilliant! Let’s hope it totally does change in that direction. I’m currently trying to persuade people that you CAN be a feminist and a stay-at-home mum, but if my husband was anywhere near able to go part time and share childcare I’d be totally with you on that. Just hoping the message that i’m confident enough in my current powerful position of main up-bringer rubs off onto her as female empowerment!

    PS Totally going to change some of the heroes in her books to girls. So far the pen has been scrubbing out patently conditional and otherwise undesirable attitudes (and why are those the favourite books?) but I haven’t even THOUGHT about the gender yet! (…hunts around for special permanent marker used in these situations…)

    • Lucy 9 March, 2013 at 12:12 am

      YES! I hope this post didn’t question that, more the fact that we need a structure to allow both parents to make choices that work for them and their kids.
      In fact, the book you recommended, Robin Grille, has CHANGED. MY. LIFE and I am completely convinced that parenting is the most critical job in the world for social justice! I can’t thank you enough, truly. x

  • Susanna 8 March, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    Lovely post Lucy. Last year, I inherited a brooch that my own great-grandmother wore in support of women’s suffrage over 100 years ago. Realising how far we have come surely gives us hope how far we can go?

    • Lucy 9 March, 2013 at 12:15 am

      No way, for real? WOW. That is incredible.

      I so agree with you. It is looking back that makes me believe a totally equal future is within reach.

  • mymummylife 8 March, 2013 at 6:18 pm

    Very thought-provoking post. It’s interesting to think about what sort of women our baby girls will grow into, and what the world will be like for them. Here’s hoping the opportunities get even bigger and better.

    • Lucy 9 March, 2013 at 12:16 am

      Here hoping, and let’s do what we can to make it happen. Loved your own post, thank you for connecting up!

  • Valerie 9 March, 2013 at 8:44 am

    Do you believe it Lucy? Will it come to pass do you think? My own childhood is so vividly peppered with inequality I am not sure what to think about it, as in, do we say ‘we have come so far in such a short time’ or do we say ‘how awful that things were still SO but such a short time ago’? I am all about choice. That is what is really important to me. If you want to be a stay at home Mum, you can, if you want to be an astrophysicist you can, if you want to do a bit of both you can. We are struggling with Oscar right now because he likes EVERYTHING that is targeted at girls. Anything pink and glittery and he wants it. My instincts tell me we cannot say ‘no that’s not for boys’ but actually I hate all of the cheap crap pink sparkly tat churned out in every ad break before midday. So when I say no (when he makes a break for anything pink and Barbie themed in the charity shop), I question if its because he is a boy? At 4 he CANNOT grasp while girls clothes have sparkles and sequins and boys have trucks and footballs, neither of which interest him at all. Hee hee I am off on a ramble, but I think its still on point, a bit.
    Anyway, VERY good post indeed.

    • Lucy 12 March, 2013 at 1:06 pm

      Thanks Valerie 🙂
      I do believe it one day, I think we put up with racism for HUNDREDS of years, and then is only taking a tiny percentage of that time to dismantle it completely.
      I love your boy for this, I imagine it presents challenges but it is great he is resisting society’s expectations of him.

  • Liz Burton 8 March, 2013 at 7:49 pm

    Oh my word wouldn’t that be awesome? I can’t help thinking what a mixed up world it is. In some ways we’ve made massive progress since my nanas day, but yet she wouldn’t have thought twice about playing out or walking home alone when she was young.

    Fabulous post x

    • Lucy 9 March, 2013 at 12:16 am

      Yeah, you are so right. Giant leaps in some areas of justice and others, well, pretty questionable.

  • Jayne 9 March, 2013 at 8:16 am

    What a beautiful vision of the future. Its so easy to have a wholly negative idea about the way the world is going but I think I’m going to consciously choose to imaging your version from now on.

    Beautiful post.

    • Lucy 12 March, 2013 at 1:03 pm

      Thanks Jayne. Yep, I think it is probably for each person to make a decision around what kind of future we believe is possible. x

  • Charis 10 March, 2013 at 9:37 pm

    Bloody brilliant post Lucy! Love your vision.

    • Lucy 12 March, 2013 at 1:06 pm

      Thank you!