Ladies who lunch or women who work?

Female welder in World War 2

Female welder in World War 2, Photo credit: Science in HD on Unsplash

Where does a female belong in the 21st century?

Throughout history, fine lines have been drawn between races, classes, genders and a whole host of other categories. The ideas of previous generations splash the future with waves of legacy and preservation. History is written from narrow perspectives, leaving the future’s interpretation even narrower, and unfortunately, the consequence for modern values, debatable and, perhaps, unreasonable.

Through the neglect of fact and proper account, identities can become ill-defined, and somewhat, lost. This article explores how women today, like men, need to feel the power to be everything, because, as the past has shown, females can do everything.

In every corner of the world, there are fragments of history buried beneath the earth. Every day, above ground, there are stories being told and lives being lived. These stories are what will define our legacies. And so, all the time, the world will keep turning, and history keeps writing itself.

And so, I pose the question: Can something, can someone, have two faces?

A female can.

Japanese painting of women having tea beneath blossoming cherry trees.
Yayoi asukayama hanami. Translated title: Third Lunar Month, Blossom Viewing at Asuka Hill. Woodcut print by Kitao Shigemasa, between 1772 and 1776. Image credit: Library of Congress on Unsplash

One female face is regal, elegant and ‘lady-like’. Over the centuries, ‘ladies’ have perched on thrones in great palaces. The obvious examples are Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth. However, sometimes, legend lets us down and stories are not fairly told. For example, the story was never truly told of Guinevere of Camelot, the ancient ruler of the mythical Welsh city. Instead, we have the Arthurian legend which cites Camelot, Merlin and Knights of the Round Table. The story is defined by King Arthur’s reign, with little mention of Guinevere’s rule. It is a disturbing flaw in a myth that had the ability to empower girls but chose to ignore their worth.

However, some stories cannot be ignored because their relevance is all too powerful. Historically, women have tried to smudge the boundaries which exist between genders. Only one hundred years ago, suffragettes fought against the power of the past. Emily Pankhurst enlightened the darkness that seems to lurk in the shadows of history, brightening the future for many women. Women won the vote, and likewise the right to a political voice. In the face of adversity, it was diversity which won, and historical ideas which dictated a modern woman’s rights were abandoned.

The second face of a woman is not always regal or elegant. Moreover, women can work to break barriers to continue brightening the future. They can fight in a war, whether on the 21st century front line or behind the scenes in war offices, farms and factories. The names of some are written in history books: Mary Ellis, a female Spitfire pilot, and Anne Frank. As the centuries roll back and forwards, chapters involve Mother Teresa, Cleopatra, Florence Nightingale, Beatrix Potter, Rosa Parks, Malala, Greta Thunberg, Michelle Obama and your mother, my mother and our grandmothers.

You see, as the world keeps turning, history keeps writing itself. As a society, the only responsibility we all have is to educate ourselves, with a critical eye, being always aware of who is telling the story and questioning why the story is being told.

Female medical professionals in PPE
Photo by Bofu Shaw on Unsplash

And as you go and question the history you read, you answer the question I first posed: Can something, can someone have two faces? History can.

It can lie and tell the truth. It can mislead and inform. It can be a tool of hinderance and progression.

Likewise, females can have two faces. Indeed, time has shown us that a queen can rule, a female pilot can fly and a woman can vote.

Painting of a ballerina
Ballerina, painted in 1845 by G A Turner. Photo credit: The New York Public Library on Unsplash

As a female it is your right to be both a woman and lady; to work and lunch and fight and dine. Simply, you have the power to do everything because, as the past has shown, femininity can be everything.

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