Leg 3, Day 29 – Women in History

Meg Dyos By

Day 29 – Women in History

Gender equality has always been a topic of conversation in all parts of my life. Coming from a family of lots of girls, turned independent women, and then going onto study English literature whereby I took particular interest in topics of gender and sexuality; it is a subject that I am hugely passionate about. I’m proud to call myself a feminist.

It was in the summer, when I received a letter from Melody Bottle, one of my grandparents’ friends, a woman in her 70’s with so much zest and passion for life and quite honestly one of the biggest babes of all babettes. In her letter, she said how lucky I was to be a part of the Coxless Crew, but she didn’t label the luck in the same way that others had. Instead she discussed it in the bigger scale of us as a team of six women, being fortunate enough to live in a society where it is socially acceptable to put our lives on hold and make history for women. She was a sailor herself in her youth, and said that she was always looking for an adventure, but instead, she conformed to society’s expectation of a woman, and in her twenties married and had children. She really is an absolute inspiration, and it’s people like Melody that come to my mind on days like today when the currents are holding us back.

Melody’s words had completely opened up another perspective for me, as I began to realise how true she was and how lucky we are to live in a society that is not patriarchal. To get the opportunity to partake in challenges such as this, without having ones role as a woman questioned is something that we shouldn’t take for granted. Nevertheless, I believe that we still have a long way to go, and looking at the media in the last year highlighting the difference in average pay between the sexes still questions just how equal we are. Personally however, I don’t feel that in my life that I have ever been directly subjected to inequality, nor have I ever not been given an opportunity because I am a woman. I discussed this with the girls, and they all had different views. Nats agreed with me, whereas Ems talked about Cambridge boat club and how the men’s team had funded kit and a nice boathouse in comparison to the girls shed, and kit that they had to pay for themselves. Laura also discussed how the world of sport and sports media is still male dominated, but with London 2012 highlighting the success of women in sport, this has certainly helped improve awareness. Next step equality of women in sport.

Before I left to fly to Samoa, I went and watched the film Suffragette, it was so insightful into exactly what these women went through in order to get us to where we are today. They fought and achieved the vote for women over the age of 30 in 1918 after years of hardship. In the film, the protagonist becomes a suffragette, and as a result, we see that her husband is embarrassed by her actions and beliefs and she is caste out of the family home. The support that we have had in undertaking this challenge has been incredible and I’m so proud to be a part of the Coxless Crew. For me, the thought that we might inspire other women to follow their dreams and fight for what they believe is what keeps me rowing. In 2015, Saudi Arabia gave women the right to vote. This fills me with hope that across the world there are women continuing to fight, proving that with a little bit of strength, perseverance, integrity, resilience, inspiration, and trust anything is possible.

Update: Today could possibly be the last day that I eat Maggi noodles. The girls appear to be quite good at stashing supplies for further in the journey, however I’ve been living in the noodle moment, and will have to suffer the consequences. On the plus side, the mighty Pacific offered us a belly flopping mahi mahi, and a sea turtle that we named Tim. Wow, this wildlife tour really is getting very exciting and I was quite overwhelmed by the whole experience. Who needs whales. As I’m sure you can see, the pink dot is currently moving slower than a snail, I think even the turtle overtook us quite rapidly. Here’s to less current soon.

turtle

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6 Comments

  1. Sara says:

    Great blog Meg I couldn’t agree more. We owe lots to those inspirational women who gave up so much to allow us to live as we do and then came The Coxless Crew who will inspire more respect and increased freedom for women in the future so here’s to all 7 of you (let’s not leave out Doris working so hard and keeping this precious cargo safe) women of our century waving the banner in supporting women in adversity and those still fighting for basic human rights. Keep rowing hoping the tide changes soon x

  2. Jim Andrews says:

    Just read the great news that Transglobal Express Ltd are bringing Doris home to the UK and covering the cost. How fantastic is that? I have asked previously what plans had been made for Doris, but no answers were forthcoming. I thought it would be an awful shame if she did not return to the UK. I for one will make the pilgrimage to her berth where ever she ends up and hopefully she will still be earning for your charities. On your blog. My birthright as a male born in 1952 has changed dramatically over the past 63 years, thank goodness. I like to think that we are evolving in the right direction? Are we? There is huge inequality in the World, I think every decent person strives for equality. Sadly we are still a million miles from where we should be. You, the Coxless Crew are making a huge impact for females, both in what, you are doing and why you are doing it. If Doris was Dan and had a crew of four guys, would I be such an avid follower? I don’t know. Probably not. Meanwhile, I wish for you, fair winds, friendly currents and inner peace. Stay safe XX

  3. JG says:

    I have never had a problem with women in any situation – employing them, subordinate to them, working alongside them socially and personally. It’s one of the many reasons that I am following Doris. I also follow the fortunes of the best soldiers in the Middle East, the Kurdish and Peshmerga female battalions fighting the disgusting Daesh. I’ve said this before, that there are so many powerful women in life today that I dont believe feminism is necessary. Margaret Thatcher Theresa May, Justine Greening etc are just the high profile ones. There is huge number of women who are certainly the equal of men and mostly better in my experience. I would rather be treated by a nurse in our medical centre than a male doctor. My GP is a woman and she is the best doctor I have ever had. I am a retired driving instructor with all the advanced qualifications in teaching and driving that you could wish for. My wife is a better driver than I am. My best, most intelligent, great fun to teach and be with, pupils were all female. I remember all my female pupils, most of whom have gone on to become doctors,barristers,equestrian center managers, transport managers and so on whereas I struggle to remember many of my male pupils. I cannot believe that I am alone with these thoughts. Yes in the days of dinosaur Victorians, and despite having a Queen, women were not treated equally. That has changed and only a few idiots with clapped out attitudes remain. There are places in the world where emancipation needs to occur and India has an appalling record but it doesn’t always have to conform to the western model. You have only got to see an Arab sheikh in the Gold souk with his two wives to see who is in charge there! OK women are not allowed to drive In Saudi Arabia. That is a cultural thing (which has had reforming legislation recently) – women still rule the roost and are steadily emerging to the fore. I worry about feminism – it makes me feel excluded. I suppose I am that rare thing – a feminist with a beard. Sorry you are having such a rough time with the currents but as always and with the finish within your grasp,your tenacity is awe inspiring. Keep safe.

  4. pete mewton says:

    Well, Meg’s definitelty cut in the same mold as the rest of the CC team. Good to hear you appreciate the progress your forebears made for gender equality. I listen to a lot of womans hour on radio 4 and feminism is often discussed and thete are still some gobsmacking instances of discrimination in the most surprising, often middle and elite classes of society.
    As for you 6 exceptional women I think equality is not really the word….but… the word is … superiority!
    Thinking about it I guess rowing and winning against the currents is a great metephor for womanhoods struggle over the years.
    Keep on keeping on .

  5. Judith Mills says:

    Great blog Meg. The film Suffragette is a reminder of how few rights women had and how hard they had to fight to get us a vote. As others have said, “still a long way to go.”
    I was thinking about Doris (and her crew!) as I walked around the National Maritime Museum where they have an exhibition celebrating women at sea so delighted to know that she is being returned to UK. Could be a fitting place for her but I may be biased!
    Bit tough again for you all at the moment. Keep strong and stay safe.xx

  6. Allen says:

    Hi there,

    Good progress so far.. Slow but steady. You’ll soon be at the halfway mark for this leg.. or the 5/6ths mark for the whole trip! Will you get to see any new wildlife when you pass close to the Islands?
    Have a great time. Thinking of you all.

    Stay safe.
    Allen.

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