What makes an inspiring woman? | Discussion

What makes an inspiring woman? | Discussion


Hi guys, so today’s video is very much intended to be a part of a conversation, a dialogue, a debate, a discussion, so get ready to use your keyboards because I want to talk about something that I think constantly crops up and that I have thoughts on and it’s sort of who we choose to put on pedestals as inspirational figures and in this case in particular, inspirational women. So this discussion is inspired by this book, which you might have seen. It’s been very heavily publicized, it’s all over the bookstores, and it is ‘Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls’. And, I wanted to pick this up, I thought it looked amazing, I spent my own money on it and was so excited to flick through. Unfortunately I’m coming at this book from a bit of a critical position; I was disappointed by what I found within the pages, and that’s not to say that I am criticizing anybody who does like this book. It has a very admirable objective; there are indeed lots of inspirational and fascinating figures explored in this book, some interesting information, and, one of its main selling points, beautiful illustrations; absolutely stunning. I can’t get over how beautiful a book this is, if nothing else. However, like I said I was disappointed and there’s one main reason for that and that is that some of the women in this book, I would question why they are there. And that is what has inspired the wider discussion that we’re going to get into in this video. So I’m gonna focus on one example from this book. There are however other women in this book that it has been pointed out perhaps should not be there. This however is the woman that I came across at first that really bothered me and made me question the general outlook of this book and kind of what the reasoning was behind why we chose certain women. So, obviously we can talk about everybody in this book, please feel free to leave comments like I said, but I want to concentrate on one just to give in-depth analysis of that person’s inclusion and then go on to a wider discussion. And that is, of course, Margaret Thatcher. As soon as I saw this, I felt angry, I have to say. I felt angry. And, you know, here’s why. If you’re not familiar, Margaret Thatcher was the first female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, she was the leader of the Conservative Party, and she was Prime Minister for eleven years between 1979 and 1990. So where can I start? Obviously I have a lot of criticisms of Margaret Thatcher as a Prime Minister. A lot of her policies were incredibly detrimental to the lives of people in the United Kingdom at the time and have also continued to impact the country even until now. She got rid of free milk in schools for children, which was heavily criticized and it’s actually mentioned in the book. She tried to introduce the poll tax which was an incredibly unfair system of taxing people in the United Kingdom that was eventually eradicated through objections and protests by people, which I’d also like to point out she introduced early in Scotland, as if we’re some sort of cross-section of the UK that you can just experiment your policies on before implementing them everywhere else. She was, of course, infamously responsible for the closures of the pits in the UK, the coal pits which resulted in thousands of job losses, not to mention her treatment of the miners during the time in which they were striking and those job losses that resulted from her deindustrialization of the United Kingdom are still, again, impacting communities today where there’s still massive lacks of jobs in areas where they used to be sort of industrial towns and cities. She led a massive campaign of privatizing public services during her time as Prime Minister, she allowed people to buy their council homes, which, I don’t know whether you disagree or agree with the purchasing of council homes but she did not during that time then replace those now sold off council homes with more social housing and right now the United Kingdom has a massive, massive shortage of social housing which is a continuation of what Thatcher began. She was also responsible for implementing Section 28 to local government law which prohibited the discussion of homosexuality, any sexuality outwith heterosexuality in schools. In fact I’ll tell you exactly what that act said, which wasn’t even repealed that long ago: “A local authority shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality, promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship.” This is an inspiring rebel woman according to this book. So as you can already tell I am deeply opposed to a lot of the things that Margaret Thatcher did and that I feel they had a very negative impact on the country. And pre-empting some of the discussion that might go on: I don’t oppose to teaching children or adults about historical figures. I’m a historian. I think we should teach people about everybody. You certainly couldn’t do a political history of the United Kingdom without exploring Margaret Thatcher as a person and in her role as Prime Minister. But this book isn’t a breakdown of powerful women in history. That’s not what this book is marketed as. The title as it suggests is ‘Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls’. It also reads on the back “Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls reinvents fairy tales, inspiring children with the stories of 100 heroic women.” And it opens with the lines: “To the rebel girls of the world: Dream bigger. Aim higher. Fight harder. And, when in doubt, remember you are right.” So am I expected to apply all of these sentiments to a person like Margaret Thatcher? I would firstly question “heroic” or “rebellious” given that she was a conservative politician and the idea of “heroic” because obviously I see her as actually having harmed people’s lives. And also, the sentence “And, when in doubt, remember you are right.” Now I don’t think it’s wrong to teach young girls to fight for what they believe in but that sentiment, we then apply to all the people in this book? It wouldn’t even make sense. There are people in this book who fought for things that are in deep, deep contradiction with the things that Margaret Thatcher believed in. So, I do question this and I question the idea of this being an inspirational woman in a book that we might see as a piece of feminist literature. Margaret Thatcher was also notably anti-feminism and I’m not really sure what she did for women in general. The reason Margaret Thatcher is included in this book is because she was powerful, it’s because she was in charge of a country. But this is where my question comes in: Why does that make somebody inspirational? Is this really the kind of thing we want to teach young people and all people to aspire to: power for power’s sake? And the very fact of attaining power as a woman as being an achievement regardless of what you do with that power? Because I don’t think it is, and thus we’re going to look deeper into the text of this page. First up, my big, big gripe, this paragraph: “When she took free milk away from primary school children, the people disliked her.” It’s true. “When she won the war against Argentina in the Falkland Islands, people admired her strength and determination.” Some people probably did. I can’t say that everybody alive in the 1980s was opposed to war with the Falklands. But many, many were, and there was huge, huge outcries against the war in the Falklands and I might, and call me crazy but I find it really hard to believe that the families sitting around their kitchen table in the morning, considering the fact that the milk that their children was given at school had been taken away from them were thinking, “Well, at least we went to war!” Some of them might, but a lot of them probably weren’t and to kind of put those things side by sides implies that universally one was objected to and one was consented to and that people didn’t mind that they took the milk away from children because of the war. The word “determination” often also comes up in discussions of Margaret Thatcher. This idea that “Okay, she did some bad things, but let’s admire her determination.” I in general object to this premise. I don’t think we should admire people simply for the very fact of being determined. I think what people are determined to do is what we should admire or not admire them for. So take Women Against Pit Closures. The Women Against Pit Closures was a political movement that rose up during the time in which the miners were on strike in opposition to Margaret Thatcher’s deindustrialization policies. And during 1984 and 1985, Women Against Pit Closures encouraged and empowered women to take part in the political and public role that is often seen as dominated by men and stand up for what they believed in. These women, like the men and all of the families that were going through the strike didn’t have money to pay for their gas, electricity, and even food. These women, since we’re talking about a book about inspiring women, were going to food banks to feed their family. They were being treated like scum by the political elite. And as a network they were fighting to save jobs and through that save lives. These women actually lost out on what I would say are pretty much basic human rights to fight for what they believe in. What did Margaret Thatcher lose out on? Because to me she seems like a pretty powerful and wealthy woman during her time as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Two women: a group of women, a movement, and one woman, in opposition to one another, both determined, and I personally can’t admire both of them for their determination. I would rather admire the women whose goals and intentions I believe in and respect, as opposed to the woman whose determination led her to destroy lives. And generally the phrasing in the page about Margaret Thatcher in this book and some of the other objectionable people in this book makes me feel just a little bit underwhelmed by the text in the book in general. It makes me just feel a little bit like we’re not giving people all the information, we’re just kind of saying what we feel like saying, and it doesn’t put a lot of trust in me as a reader, even though I do confess there are lots and lots and lots of women in this book that I do admire, that I do think are inspirational figures, and that I can completely see why they deserve to be here. But as you can see that is one of my problems with that book and it’s just a general thing, that, like I said, I feel like we privilege power and determination and these aspects of character sometimes over people’s intentions and what they do and a lot, a lot, a lot of women that I find inspiring through history, groups of women, movements organized by women and individuals, didn’t have a lot of power. They were pretty ordinary women that I, perhaps, can identify a lot more closely with and don’t really get talked about that much, which leads me to the next part of this discussion, and this is kind of our focus on individuals in general. Now I don’t think it’s wrong to have role models or individuals that we are inspired by or look up to. I definitely do. I think it’s hard not to and I think especially if you’re part of a marginalized group or a group that is often oppressed, it’s important to see yourself in people, say, in the media, as being able to do things, and I completely get why we talk about individuals. But at the same time do we perhaps sometimes sacrifice talking about movements and groups and privilege talking about individuals? And is that necessarily the right thing to do? So perhaps something I would have liked to see in this book is a group of women, a group including women like, for example, the Ford sewing machinist strikers. In 1968 a group of women working in the Ford factories as sewing machinists went out on strike, something that was very much seen as a political act of men. These women went out on strike because their jobs had been deemed less skilled than the more skilled pay bracket, which resulted in them being paid less. But this then became part of a larger discussion on the fact that women in general were being paid less than men, and it was one of the triggers that led to the 1970 Equal Pay Act in the United Kingdom which enshrined the rights of men and women to have equal working conditions and pay. Now we still have issues with gender discrimination in the workplace and the pay gap in the United Kingdom, but this victory was that, it was a victory and it did have an impact on how we see the roles of men and women in the workplace. And there are plenty more examples of this. One book that I do have is called ‘Inspiring Women’. I’m not sure if you can still get this book, but it was commissioned by the STUC’s Women’s Committee, the STUC being the Scottish Trades Union Council, and I’ll link their social media and website and everything down below so you can explore their organization more, but like the title of this book suggests, it is exploring inspiring women. But what this book does is explore movements and groups of women who stood up for important causes. So on the topic of equal pay there are other women who went out on strike during World War II for equal pay. Then there are the women who as part of the TUC, the general Trades Union Council who organized a protest of 80,000 people, many, many, many women included who protested against attacks on women’s right to choose in 1979, which was at the time recognized as the largest protest for women’s rights in the UK. There are so many wonderful political movements including women and groups of women who have fought for the rights of workers, for women, for people of different races, of sexualities, of gender identities across time and history, and why aren’t we talking about them? Why is it always about the individual? It’s not saying that it’s bad to talk about individuals, but it’s also important to talk about groups and one of the major reasons for this is because if we constantly put individuals up on pedestals, it is incredibly hard for most people to see themselves in their shoes. We can’t all be the Prime Minister. We can’t all be the president. We can’t all be the first woman to fly an aeroplane or go into space. But we can as individuals be active in our communities and in our countries, to trying and improving the situation of those around us and the world in general. We might not all gain massive glory or power or money through doing any of these things but we can be part of wider movements, we can be part of groups, we can work together as a part of our everyday lives to do what we can. So perhaps talking more about movements of ordinary women who perhaps didn’t garner fame from their actions is also really important to inspiring other women to be rebellious girls. But now I would love to hear from you. I’d love to hear about women who have inspired you. Individuals or groups or movements, and those movements don’t have to be exclusively of women. There are certainly a lot of men who’ve also inspired me as a woman. Let’s talk about what inspires us; let’s talk about who we should inspire; the nuances of this discussion and this debate and what we should be talking about when we talk about inspiring figures and feminist figures and feminism and what we’re really aiming for. That’s what I want to talk about; all of that stuff; everything. I’d love to hear your thoughts so do please leave your comments down below. I hope you have enjoyed this discussion: the bad, the good, and the slightly less decided. On that note I’m sure this video is epically long at this point, so I’m going to go. I hope you are all enjoying 2018 so far and I will see you all again soon. Bye!

100 Comments

  1. Rachel Colley says:

    Most of the people that I get inspired by are people who just get involved and do everything. It’s like they never stop to even breathe. I guess I get inspired by them cos I think they have fulfilling lives. I definitely want to be involved more within my community in the next year because that’s when I’m at my most happiest when I’m helping people. Unfortunately I couldn’t do a lot of that last year due to medical reasons but I will be looking into it soon. Great discussion video! Definitely made me think 🙂

  2. Gary Swaby says:

    You raised some great points here.

  3. The Medieval Reader says:

    A great discussion. There’s this assumption that if a leader is a woman, she’s necessarily a feminist. That’s definitely not the case. Otherwise, why not include Sarah Palin in the book lol? We should definitely not teach children to admire power for power’s sake. It looks like the author of the book failed to consider privilege. And finally, I loved the final bit of your video. We can all be rebellious even if we are not in positions of power.

  4. Save Me the Waltz says:

    I agree with you, Jean, re: Thatcher and the need to have more books about movements as opposed to "famous" or "powerful" figures. However, as a teacher in a primary school, I have to say that younger children really identify with biographies of individuals. They love seeing themselves as President or the first woman in space or as the discoverer of radiation. I think the important thing is providing books that are not simply hero-worship of a figure, but more nuanced biographies. Kids aren't stupid. They can admire the good things, and disagree with the bad things. And yes, that may mean more discussions with teachers or parents, but that's our job, to raise critical thinkers. Anyways, that's my 5 cents.

  5. Ellamarie says:

    Completely agree with you on your points on Margaret Thatcher. I can understand why she was put into the book as she was the first female prime minister, BUT I don’t think that means she can automatically be classed as an inspiring woman just because of this achievement. I think an inspiring woman is simply someone who attempts to do good, and therefore encourages others to do good. I think these good actions can be big or small; like a mother encouraging their child to be kind, or the suffragettes who fought for women’s right to vote. Really loved this video Jean, and would love to seem more like this 🙂 xx

  6. drawyourbook says:

    Love this video!! I agree that determination is not necessarily good, since often that ends in stubborness, and not change their mind even when they should…

  7. Desertphile says:

    One of many things I dislike about some writers who have "strong" and "inspiring" women and girl characters in their books (and movies) is that they equate "acting like a man" with "strong" and "inspiring." A woman who fights with a saber is to be respected for her strength and dedication to wushu, not because she is a woman fighting.

  8. Isabella Burns says:

    I'm so glad you made this video Jean. I had seen people talk about this book and how brilliant it was, and thought that it might be something lovely to buy for two of my younger sisters (5 and 8 years old). However, now knowing who they included in the book, there is no way I can reasonably give this to them, because despite wanting to teach them about history and our country (I'm from the UK, but they were born in France), I don't want to praise Thatcher in any way. 
    I love your videos. Hope you're doing ok. 
    xx

  9. pyrsephone says:

    This video is amazing – I love your idea of focusing on groups of women instead of individuals to be held up as solitary heroes. ♥️

  10. Nataly Ramirez says:

    Such a great video! I'm from Chile and Thatcher is a controversial figure here. She was so closed with the dictatorship here. A dictatorship that tortured, raped, and killed lots of women. So for me it's so hard to think her as an inspirational woman because it's so much that have a power possession.
    PS: The ex wife of Jeremy Corbyn is a Chilean who had to leave the country for it.

  11. Regina Caballero Fleck says:

    I wonder how a chapter about an inspiring iron lady who took free milk away from British kids and won a war against Argentina will sound in Argentina.

  12. Layma says:

    You're such a passionate speaker, you should give speeches in front of thousands!😍
    On the topic of Margaret Thatcher, I've always been led to believe she was this incredible flawless figure who you should admire and nothing less. You've opened my eyes to the truth, now I'll look up this period of Britain's history more closely. You(!) are inspirational and always start a craving for more knowledge (in me and I think in others)

  13. Angela's Angle says:

    I felt angry all over again, living through the Thatcher era as a young child, teenager and young adult I remember all what you touched on such as milk, poll tax, social housing, job loses, the miners which was huge, also local council workers lost their jobs my dad included, through allowing outside companies to place bids for council depots. I now can not read this book, thank you for your inspirational truth.

  14. Josie T says:

    Such an important discussion! Thank you for making me aware of this

  15. Inessa Maria says:

    I couldn´t agree more with you! I´ve seen lots of people put on pedestal others than just want power, this makes me angry. A person can be admire as individual, but he/she must have represent a group, the group is the reason. It is just a thought.

  16. Rina says:

    Interesting discussion! I haven't finished the book yet but I was already really taken aback by the inclusion of Aung San Suu Kyi (her text, on top of that, was not factually correct). Probably will get rid of the book again and search for something better. Oh well, was really hoping for more, especially since the design is so lovely and well done!

  17. Cynthia Desgagné says:

    Very good discussion! I was considering this book among others, but I'll skip it now in favor of Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World.
    Also, have you ever read any stories on the website Rejected Princesses? I remember reading them for countless hours a few years ago. I definitely think those are inspiring women.

  18. EsWirdSpaet says:

    Completely agree with everything in this video! Thank you for making this.
    I think the trouble we often have (and which probably also happened in this book) is that we choose our female role models based on male standards. So of course Margaret Thatcher is "inspiring" if you see "powerful" or "dominant" or even just "being at the top of XY" as things to aspire to. But those are characteristics that are considered valuable from the point of view of traditional masculinity (we might think they are objectively valuable, but once again objectivity is only male subjectivity here).
    And the point you make for groups and communities of women fits exactly into that. Why can't we find someone who's compassionate and helps out their communities in need with food or clothes worth admiring? Why is there a need for someone to "fight" or "work their way to the top"?
    The women I admire are those silent heroes working for change, not just someone who happened to fit the male standard of what a leader looks like.

  19. Danielle P. says:

    It's always a pleasure to listen to your videos, but I especially loved this one. You put your arguments forward in such an articulate way, and pepper them with just the right amount of snark. Great food for thought!
    (I'm sharing this video on my social media!)

  20. Annedrie says:

    I think this is a great video! I agree with you on the fact that Thatcher should not have been in that kind of book, and power for the sake of power is not a good thing (even if many desire it) – I have not read it so I can't really judge on any of the other people mentioned. That being said I do think that there is a huge amount bias in using the word "heroic" for anything, because hero's are always choose by the winning side. As part of my BA I had to study cultural management and since this book is (most likely) created for the west – looking at Western cultures many are categorized as "individualistic" on many different cultural reference scales/categorizing scales. You see this in our religions, mythologies, modern political discussions, and everything in between, and of course the people we make our hero's. You nearly always have 1 hero vs. 1 or more villains. So maybe this explains the lack of groups put on a pedestal in western society? I completely agree that groups should be put on pedestals more often, especially ones who are actually creating good in the world. Maybe you can make a series about groups that should've been included in the book instead? (idk – maybe that's a bad idea)

  21. Sara says:

    I've been really pleased to see this book riding high in the charts and was considering buying it myself. However, I wasn't aware that Thatcher was included and that does put me off. I'm sure there are a lot of people who have purchased it without knowing as well. As you say there are a lot of good things about the book but it's important to talk about the not so good things too!

    I feel like there has been a lot more discussion about working class women and worker's rights lately. I've been hearing a lot about Know Your Place, a collection of essays about working class life in Britain which was recently published by Dead Ink. I also think that the power of the group and of coming together has been very evident since the revelations of sexual harrasment and assault that dominated the headlines towards the end of last year. The Times Up movement have made a commitment to supporting working women in all industries and I'm optimistic about that.

    I draw so much inspiration from people I see in daily life, friends, family and colleagues. I admire loads of public figures as well but I don't get to see how they live their lives day to day so it's really valuable to me to have people around me that can be role models or give advice. I also love the Work Life column in Stylist, there are so many interesting women doing so many different things!

  22. Velkoria Agrios says:

    I'm so glad seeing another eduated woman calling out that not every woman who has achieved power of some sort should be admired. This was a risky video for you to make but it shows how much you truly care about the subject. Thank you, as a fellow historian I appreciate it.

    Okay I have to edit my comment to add something… What you say about not always putting specific people on pedastles is so important. Sometimes we are disouraged to try things because we are not as sart as someone, we are not as pivileged or even as motivated as someone to be the IT person. In fact saying that you have to be the ONE person to make a change leads to a lot of discouragement when the truth is that it doesn't happen for you… but maybe working as a group would benefit you better instead of working alone at it. No one is an island but this type of mentality that encourages individuality above allt o get YOUR name on a book I find extremely troubling and works to set women out against each other in competition to be the best rather than realizing that together we are stronger.

  23. Read By Jess says:

    There are so many other women they could have put in Rebel Girls but for some reason they included really bizarre people…
    TBH the women who inspire me are just those who have a platform and use it to do brilliant, caring things/inspiring things

  24. Maria Potter says:

    I agree so much with everything you said in this video! I had the exact same problem with this book: I was excited about it at first, but when I flipped through it in a bookshop and saw that women like Thatcher and Hilary Clinton were included, I lost any interest in it. It's a shame really, because it sounded like a brilliant idea, and there are many relatively unknown but important women who could have been included instead. I have been struggling with this for a while, and now I realize that you are right: these women are considered important for the sole reason that had power, regardless of how they came to have that power or what they did with it. The book is such a best-seller, and yet I haven't seen anyone addressing this issue before; I'm so glad we are finally talking about it!

    Even though that wasn't the book's aim, and I hand't really thought about it before, you are also right that we shouldn't focus so much on individual women, but on groups and organizations. There are surely great stories to be told there, which are sometimes more inspiring, as they include solidarity and people supporting each other and fighting together.

    Thanks for making this video and putting all these thoughts out there!

    P.S. The Goodnight Stories even inspired a similar book to be published here in Greece, about 40 important Greek women, but as it includes several truly radical ones, I might actually give it a shot! 😉

  25. Susana_S_F says:

    Completely agree with you! A woman should not be seen as an inspiration just because she is or was in a position of power. It's what she did or does with it that is important.
    I was really curious about this book, because so many people had been raving about it, but some months ago I flicked through it at a bookshop I decided not to buy it. I found quite strange that Margaret Thatcher was in it, although my knowledge about her policies is limited, since I'm from Portugal.
    And there is also Aung San Suu Kyi… when the book was written, it probably wasn't widely known yet that she was doing nothing about the violence against the Rohingya, but this also reveals another problem of choosing inspiring women (or men), most of all when they're still alive. There is always a possibility that their future actions will fall short of what is expected of them or will contradict what they used to stand for.

  26. CooksBooks says:

    This was exactly my reaction when I read this book. I come from a little ex-mining village in the north east which has still not recovered from de-industrialisation and i'm not sure it ever will unless some investment is made by the government. Anyone who doubts her impact ought to read Chavs by Owen Jones. It ruined the book for me, her inclusion really upset and angered me. She was not the kind of woman we want children to emmulate. Drag the milk snatcher.

  27. Virginia Castiglione says:

    Eva Perón is in that book, and even though I don't personally dislike her, she was the wife of an awful man who destroyed my country's economy and even did really bad things to Eva herself, like hiding details of her cancer from her. She was the tool of a government whose leader was friends with Mussolini and she wasn't given as much agency as peronists like to believe.

  28. Larissa Stern says:

    I really liked the book, for what it was. It was however written for young kids and that’s why the language was simple and not overloaded with fact after fact. I think it was written to give kids a small taste of what can be achieved if you put your mind to it. I don’t think it was meant to be dissected and analysed as a book of great literary importance.
    Thatcher must have been liked by some people because she stayed in office for eleven years.
    There is a book 2 coming out soon, maybe you will like that one better.

  29. Crazy Little Book Page says:

    I always love your thought inducing opinions on books. I’m sharing it for my friends who want to read more feminist fiction.

  30. ktweeden says:

    This was a great video, thanks for making it!

    I bought this for my daughter last year, but seeing as she's a tiny baby I really bought it for myself. For me the other problem with including Thatcher, alongside everything you said, is that it completely undercut all of the stories where I hadn't heard of the person before: seeing how they wrote about Thatcher made me question what details they smoothed over in other places, knowing that my ignorance made me less capable of identifying where else this might have happened. So, I think I'm going to use it basically as a list of people to research, and donate the book itself.

    Thanks again!

  31. Emma Letham says:

    This was so good, please make more videos like this! Educate me, please!😄❤

  32. Pandora olímpica says:

    I’m so happy about this video! A few weeks ago I spotted this book and was drawn to its cover and its title. Then I started to flip through the pages and came across Margaret Thatcher and I thought: WTF??? And then I had a bit of an argument with my friend because he thought that, as a powerfull woman, she “had the right” to be in the book. No way! Power doesn’t make you a role model, whether you are a woman or a man.

  33. Cinzia DuBois says:

    You summed up all my feelings on this perfectly Jean; this was a really wonderful video to listen to! I could understand the inclusion of figures such as Margret Thatcher if it was a book presenting women who affected perceptions of Feminism in some way throughout history (be that negatively or positively), but to market it as a book featuring entirely positive and inspiring women and feature Thatcher…major logistical error there.

    I have way too many thoughts on inspirational women so I'm afraid I'm being old fashioned and making a video response to this topic haha, but thank you so much for creating this discussion!

  34. Astrid Helene Ege Pedersen says:

    I agree with you on the Margaret Thatcher case, and I wish it was more info on each individual. I like the stories about the «every day hero». We have to remember that this is a childrens book, and I hope they want to know more about them. Ask their teacher, parents, or find some information on their own. We can’t all agree with the selection in this book, and I am curious on the second book. I think we should form our own opinion (as you said) on what inspire us. It’s different to every boy or girl, and that should be okey. Sometimes I feel that we all should have the same opinion about certain topics, and that doesn’t make a good society. A man can also be a feminist, but men who wan’t to support the meetoo-campain are excluded simply because they are men. Well, that will not give us more respect. Just a little side note. Take care. Hope your mum is doing better.

  35. Hannah Carroll says:

    I got this book as a Christmas present for my 4 year old niece :/

  36. Francesca Lucci says:

    Loved this Jean! So insightful, made me realise how much I just don’t know… thank you!

  37. Nina Newman says:

    Thanks for a great video, you make some very good points.
    Well, the idea of goodnight stories about inspiring women is great. But I wholeheartedly agree that we shouldn't idolize individuals simply because they had power or were the first to do something.
    Also, I'll never buy a book with a that kind of title. Stories for girls??? Come on. Why wouldn't boys benefit from inspirational stories about women?

  38. Mollie Foley says:

    This!!!!! I got this book for christmas and now i will read it with a pinch of salt. I never bought a book so quickly than when you held up 'Inspiring Women – STUC', 1p used on amazon, bargain of the year! I know you're super busy but have you ever considered writing a book about inspiring everyday women yourself? Id buy it 🙂

  39. LettersAndLeaves says:

    I love how salty you are here! Also, hey, I'm Irish, we don't like her either.

  40. Scott Neigh says:

    Thank-you for this video! I picked up that book when I was browsing for gifts for my nieces before Xmas, and put it back down in horror for exactly the reasons you articulate. And I'm a big believer as well in focusing on groups and movements of ordinary people as sources of inspiration!

  41. Kazia Terry says:

    YOU inspire so many people!! I love this video x

  42. n4nette says:

    Jean you are so right! I saw your insta story about possibly losing subscribers and thought to myself who would do that? I consider you one of my role models because you have taught me things that no professor ever did, including about Greece and I am half Greek, went to school in Greece…I am all for self education but sometimes you need a stimulus and you have been that for me in so many different topics. Thank you so much for making videos like this one!

  43. Someone random says:

    This was a very interesting discussion. The book overall is a bit simple and perhaps the inclusion of Thatcher was to show young girls that they too could be prime minister if they wanted. Which even now isn't really common in a lot of countries, even in the West. Not that I'm defending her inclusion, mind you. She's awful and shouldn't have been included. But I could see that mindset being the catalyst. Could have handled it better obviously by touching upon the controversies and like you say, perhaps make the next page all about the female movements against her. Or better yet found someone else to put into the pages.
    But I find that it's far more interesting and realistic to have role models and inspirations that you don't always agree with. Even in feminism that has been a crux to the movement for generations. The second wave didn't agree with the Suffragettes but they were still inspired by them (whether they like to admit it or not.) Third wave disagrees with the second but again are inspired by them in some capacity.
    One of my all time role models is Roald Dahl. Was he racist? Probably, he was born in like the early 1900s. Was he sexist? Perhaps. Was he an anti Semite? I personally doubt it, but again maybe. Does that mean I can't respect him as an author and a person who constantly encouraged his child fans every chance he got? No, I find his curmudgeonly attitude kind of funny. Yeah I will readily admit the guy was a prick. But I dunno, I can still respect him for challenging those who told him he was an idiot. His English teachers told him his writing sucked and he went on to become one of the most beloved and influential children's authors of the 20th century. That I admire.
    But all of our role models are not gods but humans. Each with their own flaws and prejudices. You can wholeheartedly disagree with a person even occasionally their goals and still have respect or even find them inspirational. Again not saying this applies to Thatcher necessarily but I do think it's important to teach young girls not to view people they disagree with in some capacity as their enemy. A mindset I have seen all too often as of late. It's important to broach both sides sometimes.
    And what one person finds inspirational another may find horrendous. That's just sort of how life is. That said I do rather admire your channel.

  44. CezL says:

    Think I might have thrown that book across the room after turning to that Thatcher page. People can go on about how she was a strong leader all they want but I always feel like those are the people who weren't affected by her government/weren't alive during that time. To me, she was evil and nothing will ever change that opinion. (Yes, I'm from a working class, mining town in Wales so this is always going to be a sensitive subject for me).

    She might have been powerful but she is NOT an inspiration.

  45. rubenpseudogreek says:

    As soon as you mentioned M Thatcher I thought of my English teacher in high school teaching us "M Thatcher, milk snatcher". He told us about it because her name came up in some text. SO he was like "let me teach you a verb and tell you a little story".
    And that's how I learned the verb SNATCH hahaha
    Way before edges were snatched.

  46. Claire Rousseau says:

    Wait, what UK editor approved this Thatcher BS?

  47. Dane Reads says:

    This is fantastic. Putting individuals on pedestals is also dangerous. I think you put it well at the end. If anything, the people who don't achieve any individual fame or recognition for something are the most inspirational of all. I think we can all do our part to make the world a better place, men and women. You never know when something seemingly minor to you could make a big difference to someone else.

    To be honest, I'm less interested in whatever inspiring women someone pulls together in a book and more interested to see what the next ten, twenty, thirty years brings. Feels like the world is a little bit two steps forward, one step back, but I think we're going in the right direction. Maybe that's just me being optimistic though ;D

  48. Conor M says:

    Fantastic video. I also found Margaret Thatcher's inclusion very surprising, It's pretty jarring how her views, policies, stance on feminism and individualist ideology are in complete contrast to many of the other people in the book. The idea that being in a position of power is enough to make someone inspiring is extremely worrying, and in this case someone who has inflicted so much pain and misery on peoples lives, and whose legacy continues to have a negative impact on society. I've just realised I'm now basically just reiterating some of the points you made in the video 😂 Although I found a few of the people included in the book problematic and the information for a lot of them was pretty shallow, I did discover a lot of interesting people in it and I think it works as a good jumping off point to look into these people in more detail. It would be cool if someone did a video series where they took one person from the book and did a sort of deep dive into their story, or even just about inspiring women in general and not just limited to this book.

  49. Carina Collins says:

    The women who have inspired me the most are ordinary women. My mom of course has been an inspiration for me in so many ways. Professionally though, the many female professors I had in my undergraduate studies and in my graduate training have been the most inspirational. They demonstrated to me that a love of science and a commitment to hard work is what determines success, not anything else. And that you don't have to try to be "one of the guys" to make it in our field…that it's ok to be feminine in a field that is traditionally male-dominated. They were also great role models in their support of other women in science. It was absolutely wonderful to be in the company of so many intelligent women who spoke up about the success of other women. They directly inspired my current career choice. Because they did their jobs well, I am also now a college biochemistry professor.

  50. Julia K says:

    The point you made about focusing on groups rather than just individuals is definitely something we need to discuss more! I've seen countless stories of self-proclaimed "angry" and "tired" women (myself included) who feel that they can't make a difference by resisting in ways that aren't running for office. I have my fair share of individuals I look up to but a lot of the time that just doesn't cut it–thank you for reminding me alone isn't the only way…

  51. Maduvathi Venkatesan says:

    I do agree that we need a higher bar with which we deem women as truly inspiring , Thatcher should not have been included. I also think intersectionality is a must at this point, fighting against all manifestations of oppression and discrimination. As for me, I really admire Rosalind Franklin (although I am unsure if she identified as a feminist) and her work and contributions!

  52. robotnic says:

    Well said! Sounds like a misguided attempt to either pad the book or put in the people that parents of the target readers would expect to see.

  53. libby g says:

    I was loving this book until I came across Thatcher as well, as it made me question whether any of the women that I hadn't heard of in there's stories had been sugar-coated in the same way. Also please everyone watch the film "Pride" as it touches on Women Against Pit Closures and Steph is a true inspiring woman!

  54. William Cleary says:

    'Never the Same Again: Women and the miners' strike' by Jean Stead sounds like a good antidote to this book

  55. funfuz says:

    Jean, could you please make a video or a series about inspiring women and movements? I'd love that.

    I find Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson inspiring. I also find the women behind the NY shirt waist strike and the kids behind the Newboys' strike inspiring, as well as all the people who fought to raise the age of consent and those who fought to make education more accessible.

  56. nokiddingbrainless says:

    This video is incredible Jean! Thank you so much for talking about this! I was so excited about this book when I first heard about it, what a disappointment that it features people like Margaret Thatcher…
    For me, the women who inspire me tend to be just people I know personally. My soft-spoken, polite and gentle gender studies teacher who turns into a freaking warrior when it comes to supporting her female and trans students because she just knows.
    My mom's best friends who half-raised me, and were the reason I grew up knowing that female homosexuality existed and was normal so that I never had to think something was wrong with me when I discovered my own queerness, and who made it their life's work to create a safe place for children with crappy home environments.
    And of course my group of friends who continue to teach me and learn from me, and who are my little feminist community of care, who do so much emotional labour for me and who understand the importance of having each other's backs as feminists and activists in hotile environments.
    Also you! You inspire me to read more, to educate myself, to bang my feminist drum wherever I go and to enact my politics whenever I can! Not to seem like I've missed the entire point of this video but #Jean4President!!

  57. Laura Brand says:

    Love this video Jean! We might wish that the first female PM was someone to be proud of but it's more important to acknowledge that she really wasn't. Happily, the first thing that comes to mind for me whenever she is mentioned is the memory of being in school and one of the teachers running through the hallways, knocking on all the classroom doors and telling everyone she was finally out! That's always stayed with me, I wonder if the same will happen in a school somewhere when the current lot finally go.

  58. Simbelmynë says:

    YES, YES! I sooo agree with you, Jean! Just a short story from about a year ago: last Prime Minister of Poland was a woman and for some reasons was called one of the most influential women of 2017 ON A FEMINIST SITE. What the actual heck? I remember being absolutely outraged reading about "power" she held. They have mentioned her just because she was a female, while in reality she was (and is, even though she's not a Prime Minister anymore) incredibly anti-feminist (and was very outspoken about this), during her term there was one of the biggest outcries of women in Poland known as the Black Monday when thousands of women, including me, have gone on strike against proposals for a total ban of abortion; and basically just a figure who was conducted by one twisted dude (Kaczyński). So instead of mentioning her (with the reason behind it: she has a vagina, therefore must be a woman, and also power – so she's a heroine who broke a glass ceiling, hooray!), women who took part in Black Monday should be the ones to be talked about. Especially now, when women in Poland are just being completely fucked over and she was one of the people who led (quite silently) a movement of ultra-catholic conservatives who see value mainly in far-right groups of men beating up foreigners and talk about Black Monday protesters as "whores who work on a street" (true words!). Also – the leader of the anti-abortion movement in Poland is also a woman, apparently very much in power. Should we praise her for it? I don't think so.

  59. MyBookishDelights says:

    This was such a thought provoking and inspirational video. Thank you for taking the time to put it together and for being brave enough to post it. In my attempt to raise my children (sons and daughter) to be feminists (the belief that we all deserve equal rights), this book was one that was on my radar. However, I think you raised an important point in that we need to look deeper into what’s put in front of us. Even if it’s in pretty packaging marketed as something that is for strong females. I won’t pretend to be up on my UK history so I appreciate your synopsis on who Thatcher was and what she did. Certainly a woman in power does not automatically mean that what she used her power for was for good. I love your thoughts on showing groups of women, and preferably men along with them, making change. I personally find that more inspiring and relatable. I am trying to raise a strong daughter who demands nothing less than respect. I am also trying to raise sons the same way. I would love to see stories of not only strong women standing up, but also the men who stood alongside them. Inspiration for both my daughter and my sons to be good people and treat everyone as human beings. For my sons to see other men standing up for what’s right, but also for my daughter to see good men out there. (Can you tell I get a bit sick of the male bashing just for the sake of male bashing? Haha) Anyway, thanks for reading and thanks for this video. 💕

  60. Mina Ermelyn says:

    I remember seeing Thatcher was in that book and immediately not wanting to buy it. In general I found the tone a bit too casual to some of the things described and am very grateful for this video, Jean! Thanks!

  61. She Gathered Books says:

    Just saw your Instagram stories and that your dad was a miner. Living here in a nottingham, part of a county deeply affected by the pit closures, I am right behind you with your take on the Thatcher period. Am going to see a play called Wonderland next month, written by a coal miner’s daughter about his time working in the pits. I shall report back. Love how passionate you are 🙌🏻

  62. gildedgitta says:

    I loved this video – thank you, Jen! As a foregnein born after Tacher era, I knew vaguale that she was – quoting my British friends – a twat, but I wasn't that clear on the details. This video gave me clearer sense of that, and I wholeheartedly think she shouldn't have been included in that book.

    I also love the point you raised about looking up to groups and not only inviduals – that is a very, very good thing to remember, and I will have to think more about that myself.

    And, in the topic of inspirational women: for me, one of the most inspirational women I know is Tove Jansson, for many reasons. From the messages of her books I only realised once I grew up, for how political she was, and how she refused to hide her love for another woman in times it wasn't at all accepted – it all did, and still does, give me strenght.

    Anyways, thank you for this lovely video and for talking about this topic – it was so nice to hear your toughts on this. It made me ever happier about having found your channel in the past, and I find you one of the loveliest people I know of. I hope you're doing well! 💙

  63. Carey Jane says:

    This is why I love your channel! This was an amazing video and came just in time for me, as I had been debating whether or not to pick this one up, because I feared that originally well-meaning, there would be that overlooking of details and appreciate – and agree with – your questioning of how exactly each woman was decided as "inspiring/heroic".

  64. Gemma Harris says:

    As the daughter of a miner who lived and struggled through the Miners' Strike and suffered the consequences of Thatcher's government, I wholly agreed with everything you said about the woman who is never mentioned at our house.

  65. YourFriendlyNeighborhoodSpidey says:

    I'm puzzled by your assertion that "you don't believe it's wrong to teach young girls to fight for what they believe in" alongside your obvious disdain for any form if conservative thought. Surely you Must recognize there are girls in America and the UK and across the world who believe in conservative ideals such as private property rights, capitalism, gun rights, etc, and yet I imagine you would have some difficulty encouraging young girls, women, or anyone to pursue those rights and ideals. I recognize that Margaret thatcher did some things that you frame as heinous, and that's fine, but what about conservative thought as a concept? If it had been any woman who entertained any form of conservative thought, or even just libertarian thought, would you be just as opposed? For instance, what if Christina Hoff Summers had been represented in this book, or Phyllis schafly, or Michelle malkin? (I apologize for referencing primarily American activists; I'm an American viewer and am simply more familiar with American politics)

    I think any discussion of empowering/inspirational women must include space for political diversity among the women represented. I recognize that a viewer of booktubers, it's atypical for me to conservative. I've had people comment things such as "How could you support conservative/Republican leaders or policies, you being a disabled woman?" Which I've always found to be a narrow-minded concept. It shouldn't be odd when someone's political thought transcends their gender/sexuality/disability status/[insert minority status of your choice here]. Moreover, it shouldn't be odd that a group of people with differing political thought (i.e. conservative vs. progressive) have a similar interest (books) or vice versa.

  66. TheBibliophile says:

    What a great video! I completely agree. The way Margaret Thatcher is held up as some kind of inspiring figure always seems incredibly ironic. An anti feminist, homophobic war-mongering person is the complete opposite of inspiring and brave to me.This reminding me of The Iron Lady, which was much too sympathetic…

  67. sabrina the reader witch says:

    I do agree that Thatcher isn't "inspiring" simply because she's a woman in power, but at the same time there was no reason for the government to own mining companies and I believe the unemployment of the miners would have happened eventually. I mean, England was a total economic mess at the time and she basically fixed it – yes, taking milk from children, and firing miners. I mean, her rule did have positive consequences and it wasn't all awful. Of course, I do disagree completely with her conservative views but I have to admire how the country did a 180 degree economic turn during her rule.

  68. PsYcHoTiCcReAtIoNs says:

    Thank you for making this video and having this discussion because I've been wondering about this very thing! I understand that the women in history can be problematic and we have to recognize that some of these women paved the way for others but do we simply gloss over all the negative things they've done? I feel like we need to teach young girls about women in history but show them that they were also problematic and develop discussions on that. They were wrong on certain views and we most likely have some views that will be seen as backwards in the future but we are trying to get better in each generation. I kind of went in a different direction in this rant but we need to stop giving our kids a glossed over lesson of not only people but history in general. If you did end up reading this thanks! Lol

  69. ChallengeThyShelf says:

    Thank you for also including inspiring men in the conversation. It’s important to acknowledge the PEOPLE who encourage us to be better versions of ourselves. ✨

  70. Lara McKenzie says:

    absolutely loved this video, you explained everything so well! I would love if you could continue the discussion and make more videos on this topic, especially recommending more books and other media about inspirational women, groups and movements

  71. Ashley L says:

    I’m not a fan of Thatcher at all. However she was the first female PM in England. To get to that level she had to push through a lot of bullish!t created by the patriarchy. You don’t have to agree with her politics and decisions to acknowledge that she could be considered inspiring to girls looking to get into politics. If anything books like this are an excellent opportunity to have these complex discussions with children.

  72. dorkabrain says:

    If you haven't already read it, I think you might enjoy the book We Were Feminists Once by Andi Zeisler. It's mostly about the commercialisation of feminism, but it does also look at multiple angles about blindly holding up individuals and companies for doing the bare minimum, or nothing at all. The video made me think to mention it because there's a very small part that references the kind of seemingly emptiness of The Spice Girls "Girl Power" catch phrase, and how they included the championing of Thatcher within that idea, simply for being a woman.

  73. Amy G says:

    I love angry jean
    I agree wholeheartedly
    Power for the sake of power is why my dear country is stuck with our current leader (I’ll give you one guess lol)

  74. Amy G says:

    My favorite inspirational woman is Amy Poehler and everyone involved with her Smart Girls initiative. But, god, there are so many kickass women. It’s early morning for me so she’s all I can think of but I interact with women who inspires me daily. Women are amazing!

  75. Just Flynn says:

    "When in doubt, remember you are right" ummm… ?! No? You're in doubt? Therefore you're possibly wrong? Don't teach kids that they're always right?

  76. Anette Becker says:

    Hi Jean, I'm not British, but I'm old enough (42) to remember the Thatcher years and I visited Britain shortly after she stepped down as PM. I talked to some people who loathed her as well as to some who liked her. I think she was included because the editors wanted to have a balanced book with representatives of Conservatism, which would be a valid reason, but I still agree with you, they shouldn't have chosen her. She harmed the lives of too many people and to them, it must be a slap in the face to find her in such a book. I'm sure there would have been other women they could have included. Unfortunate choice.

  77. Phoenix Grimm says:

    Objectively, I can understand why they put Margaret Thatcher to show girls they can become politicians and leaders with that being said she is not a good role model. I mean they could have used Victoria Woodhull. She was the first woman to run for president against Ulysses Grant-50 years before woman gained the right to vote. She was an inspiring business woman who was so far ahead of her time. I mean there are a number of woman politicians across the world that could be used as an example. Victoria Woodhull was just the first to come to mind.

  78. Kathryn says:

    such a brilliant conversation, Jean. All your points are so valid. I also think that putting individuals on pedestals often means they can't make any mistakes or can't learn, which seems unrealistic and unfair to expect women to be perfect when even movements such as feminism are always going to be too changing and evolving to be perfect.

  79. Wenke Lindert says:

    I think it's hard to put a whole person's bibliography into a short story, so maybe that's why the Thatcher one was a bit problematic? I did not read the book, so I don't know, but I think the message they wanted to get across is that you can become the number one in the country? It's the same where I'm from, Germany, with chancellor Merkel. She says herself that she does not see herself as a feminist, she voted against gay marriage in the last autmn when it was up for vote in the Parliament and still, some people see her as role model. I sort of do too, but just because we are from the same small, former GDR town (funny coincidence) and thus she is the proof that former GDR people, who are even 28 years after the unification still seen as less intelligent, lazy and are often made fun of, can become someone important and break these stereotypes. Nevertheless, I see the Thatcher text as problematic too. Let's not forget that she and Ronald Regean implemented neoliberalistic policies like no one else before and thus contributed to an increased inequality and self-responsibility…

    For the second part of your discussion, I think an inspiring women is simply someone who has to power to make you want to develop as a person. For me, a woman that always inspires me, is my friend M. She has a similar background (family with low income, former GDR, low self-esteem and body issues) but she always fought. She went to University as the person in her family, she did her Bachelor, Master and PhD and is currently teaching in Japan. During all of this, there were always people who did not believe in her, called her incapable, but she never stopped fighting, she never gave up. And that's what inspires me. I am also the first one to go to University in my family, I did my Bachelor and Master, got rejected for PhD but found a job instead. And when I met her around the time when I was doing my Bachelor (she was already doing her PhD) I finally found someone who understood these struggles of someone who is not coming from an academic family, like most of my classmates. And with her encouragement, I dared to do my Master, I dared to apply for PhD even though I failed, I dared to apply for jobs I would not have applied for otherwise. And I will always feel so grateful for her support. She showed me that I am worth of something, that I am smart and that I can become stronger. I don't need celebreties, world leaders or rich women to be my rolemodel, I need rolemodels that are close to my own life. And I found one.

    Sorry for the long rant.

  80. Diana Dupre' says:

    Such an interesting video, thank you for that. As an American who hasn't studied much of European political history to any great level (embarassingly) I found your views so interesting. I always thought Thatcher was revered by the UK. I had no idea there was a large amount of people who hated her policies. So, thank you for opening my eyes to that.

    I've been discussing this topic with my husband and he has brought up an opposing view to yours. His argument is that she rose to power and implemented the laws and such according to her views (and those of others obviously) then stuck to her convictions. To many (sadly) at the time and even now anti-homosexuality is right. Unfortunately, there are people on the side against rights of lgbtq who feel they are right. She fought the labor unions which was a tough call but she stuck with it rather than taking an easier route. The miners suffered (and I sympathize) because she was fighting the union and privatizing a government run industry (if I understand it correctly) which was not a popular decision with the working class. She had reasons for her actions and laws that not everyone agreed with but many did. So, to many, she is inspirational in that she made hard decisions and stuck with it. Whether you agree with her politically or not she did big things while in office, she didn't sit back and do nothing (as some think a woman should do). You could also argue, if considering both genders, that Hitler to a large amount people was inspirational and still is. I'm not comparing her to Hitler, just siting him as another controversial figure who would fit the description. The definition I suppose is what is controversial here, inspiration isn't the same to every person. What is a hero to one person can be a monster to another. To the author of the book apparently they saw the hero, or at least the legendary status perhaps, in Thatcher.

    Is it true Hilary Clinton is also in that book? If so, that's a reason for me to avoid it. Scumbag.

  81. katie a says:

    Great video! When I saw the thumbnail i wondered if you would be talking about the bizarre inclusion of Margaret Thatcher and others, and I'm glad you have as I don't think it's been discussed enough on Booktube. Her inclusion reminds me of those awful Tory lines of 'what have the Conservatives done for women? Well we keep making them PM' which makes me want to roll my eyes out my head. Congrats to the Tories for helping 2 women. I really like the idea of the book and I'm glad others have gotten enjoyment from it but I defo think a more critical lens should be applied and you've done this brilliantly. Love your political videos!

  82. Hannah Jacobs says:

    This video just really made me want to meet you and chat about politics! You put your points across really well and I agree with all of them! I think there is a big misconception that Margaret Thatcher and other female political leaders are immediately feminists and activists just because they are female, but in my view, they are not an activist for feminism if they have not done something important and influential to women. Thank you for making this video! xx

  83. Holly Dunn Design says:

    Absolutely. I was shocked to see Thatcher included in this book. This reminds me of what Ollivander says about Voldemort in Philosopher's Stone – that he did great things, terrible, but great. I also think it's an attempt by the publisher to pitch this to a broader audience, which is ironic considering that the idea of rebelling is almost always against conservatism.

  84. chboskyy says:

    This was a really excellent discussion video Jean. I automatically went to the 'it's because she was the first female prime minister' on this one, but you are completely right, power is not admirable (at least not all of the time)! And it does really call into question how much you can believe in how the other, more unknown women in this book are portrayed. It feels like something you couldn't really take at face value if you know what I mean? Very misleading. Thank you again for making this, I won't be reading it!

  85. Jerry Althea says:

    I have so much respect for you for making this video! People tend to avoid discussing politics on YouTube but it’s an incredibly important part of our society as is the awful impact Margaret had. I look forward to your next discussion video like this! Really enjoyed it 💘💘

  86. caolila181 says:

    That paragraph you quoted is not even in the Swedish translation. It says “she did what she felt was right. Some appreciated her for her honesty, others found her harsh and cold. Margaret just shrugged it off and continued doing her thing”. I assume this is the translated version of your paragraph. This makes me see red

  87. Laura Simmons says:

    Honestly? I think the only reason they included Thatcher is because she was the first female prime minister of the /UK/ – a white, western country. I don't think we can deny that there is this general attitude that unless X has happened first in the US/UK it doesn't count if it happens elsewhere… regardless that in terms of first female elected-heads of state Sri Lanka elected a woman 19 years before Thatcher came along.

    I think there could have been a useful warning in featuring Thatcher. Yes, Thatcher is an example of against the odds from humble beginnings as a shop keeper's daughter, through a mire of masculine obstacles to become the first British PM but that's where the lauding should stop. Instead there is an opportunity to highlight the abuse of power – "yes, she smashed the glass ceiling on her way in to office, but she quickly double glazed it behind her to prevent other women following her up." If it were presented like that I could entirely understand; it would be a reminder that feminism isn't just a personal opinion, it's a whole system of fighting as a group for the rights of yourselves and others.

    Admittedly I haven't read the book but I would love to see Sophia Duleep Singh featured. She was a suffragette along with the Pankhursts, but she was also the daughter of a Maharajah and used her ties within the aristocracy to further the suffragette cause – even helping secure the release of some of the women arrested during Black Friday. She's so overlooked as a suffragette figure (Pankhursts more famous… History/Hollywood conveniently looking away from POC suffragettes…) and such a good example of someone using their privilege to help.

  88. Noelle Matteson says:

    Margaret Thatcher was in this?! Lol! Also Coco "Nazi" Chanel–wow. Honestly, this "fairy tale" aspect comes across as propaganda. Even simplifying the genuinely groundbreaking women, like Rosa Parks, does a disservice to them and their work, and gives the children reading about them the wrong idea. Anyway, THANK YOU for making this video. I hadn't read it, so I didn't want to comment on it. Seems as though this confirmed my impression.

    As for who inspires me: a lot of female characters, my friends, and a number of folks on YouTube (amongst many others)!

  89. Earth to Sav says:

    I really appreciated and loved this !

  90. Kaye Spivey says:

    Did they include her JUST because she was the first female Prime Minister then? I'm with you, I feel like they must have missed out on some far more inspiring rebel women who were lesser known by choosing to stick in people like Thatcher.

  91. Jackie teaspoons says:

    I don't live in the UK and don't know a lot of about Thatcher and this was so informative and made so much sense to me. Thank you! It's also a really interesting topic to discuss who we look up to. Very well done!

  92. A Little British Girl says:

    Just because she was a conservative doesn't mean she wasn't inspiring. She must have fought hard to become prime minster. Put politics aside and look at what a woman achieved.

  93. Liz Janet says:

    The simple inclusion of Thatcher has already negated my desire to even look at the cover of this book.

  94. Amy Clarke says:

    I suppose we should add in Angela Davies, friend and supporter of murderous Eastern Bloc tyrants, or maybe Rosa Luxemburg, supporter of the most murderous ideology in modern history. But no, we must criticise women YOU personally find objectionable for your own personal ideological reasons. Margaret Thatcher's policies are controversial, but her policies are complicated and nuanced and their impacts are as well. Losing a small bottle of milk is in no way comparable to the suffering of people under communists regimes. Even now, Venezuela has outlawed the diagnosis of malnutrition. And can we admit Margaret Thatcher was the self made woman of a working class background who didn't sit and moan about womens state in the work but took it upon herself to act it out. Why do you just assume proponents of the free market are evil in intent? And why do you assume that schools should PROMOTE any form of sexuality? And why are women gaining fame and financial success in any way negative? Intellectual honesty and being well informed inspires me.

  95. Fabulous Book Fiend says:

    Thanks for this in depth discussion. I'm going to upload a video soon as a kind of response to this because I have some thoughts on these books too.

  96. Pearl Joslyn says:

    Yes yes yes love this video! Here in the US, achievements of women in politics are often treated as feminist victories regardless of their political positions. Feminists who are on the left are often criticized for speaking out against women in politics out of concerns that it will take longer to reach parity. I however, would much rather vote for a qualified candidate who will further equality for all women (and people in general) than a candidate who happens to be a woman. That said, there are plenty of qualified women who should run! Also, thank you for giving an in-depth look at Margaret Thatcher and her policies. My only experience of her policies in the UK comes from the month I spent in Derry, where she is despised by nationalists for a variety of reasons, but mostly because of her stance toward dissidents and the hunger strikers. Great to hear a detailed perspective from another region!

  97. Liz86000 says:

    Great video. I won't buy that book.

  98. allbooksnoheart says:

    In nursery we used to draw stick figures in ink on our hand and sing a song in which we squashed Thatcher the milk snatcher I totally agree I don't feel she belongs in any sort of inspirational book. There has been other female politicians far more inspiring who could be in there instead.

  99. Valentina Gastaldello says:

    Thank you for the video, I agree with everything you said here, especially about shifting our focus on movements.
    Now onto the book. I was excited when I first saw it (I was working in a public library back when it was published, and it had been requested so much by the public that it took a few months for the librarians themselves to be able to read it 😂), but then I was disappointed, for a few reasons: number one the title unnerves me, I hate that it is a book “FOR rebel GIRLS” – because to me this implies somehow that women can only inspire women and men can only inspire man, which entirely defeats any feminist purpose. Had it been stories “ABOUT rebel girls” I would have not been so angry at it, because boys can benefit from these stories too, can’t they? I see that girls deserve to hear more stories about girls, but why can’t we teach feminism and the importance of it to EVERYONE from a young age? Don’t we want boys – who will eventually become men – to understand feminism and understand that women are as important as men? Don’t we want them to realise that you can draw inspiration from someone who is different from you? I mean, at the end of the day do we look up to certain people because of the inspiring things they do or because they are the same race/nationality/gender/age as us? Second reason: the texts. I get that this book is targeted to children and so it has to be easy to read, but reading a few of these stories made me feel like the “greatness” of these women was not even captured because of the vagueness of the story that was told: I get the “once upon a time there was a girl who was so courageous…” idea, but the lack of context and the vague descriptions of these girls’ lives fail them, because in my opinion it makes it harder to understand what was so great about their lives at all. (A pet peeve of mine is that neither in this issue nor in the second one there is Murasaki Shikibu: she was the Japanese woman who wrote the first ever novel in history around the 11th century, and if Buzzfeed managed to include her in one if their videos the authors of this book have no excuse 😂 )
    Now I see you criticism on Margaret Thatcher, but I wonder if maybe she could be “admired” (very loosely) for becoming the first woman Prime Minister in the UK – now don’t get me wrong, I’m not defending her, or the authors’ choice of describing her by that matter, but she did do something groundbreaking, even if she did it all wrong in the end…which is unfortunate. I do agree with you that determination alone cannot be the sole reason for admiration, but my question is: wouldn’t it be a little unfair to history to “forget” about her? I mean she did it all wrong, which is upsetting because that makes it impossible for people to look up to the first woman who became prime minister in the UK, but couldn’t she be the first woman to persevere in a career that was (and still kind of is, in most parts if the world) exclusive to men? Without sugarcoating the story that follows, of course: but teaching both sides of her story (her determination and her failures) wouldn’t be a good occasion for discussion? I don’t want people to admire her for her determination alone, but isn’t her determination a little bit admirable? (She will always be a hard topic to cover, won’t she?) (There are so many tangents to this topic I would like to discuss, but I’d better stop here 😅)
    Sorry for the long rambling post, and thank you to anyone who will ever read it 🙂

  100. holly c says:

    What a terrific discussion. Well said. Some of our so-called leaders are not at all inspiring in my opinion, like many in the current US administration. They constantly lie and are not pro-women, despite proclaiming that they are. They are only there are window dressing for the Donald. Ugh. Hopefully, on a brighter note, we have a more inspirational woman leader whose recent book was just released, Michelle Obama’s Becoming. She can finally open up and tell more of her private life that she was not able to share before as First Lady. She remains a truly inspiring and classy woman. And as the US faces our political upheaval, we have seen an awesome inspirational surge in women’s leadership in rallies, activism and running for political offices. And with an incredible amount of diversity as well. Maybe the best thing to happen from our elections is the robust involvement in the political system that wasn’t there before.

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