The 5 Women Who Inspired Me to be Me

8th of March is International Women’s Day.  It is a day when we celebrate the achievements of women politically, culturally, socially and economically.  As with LGBT rights and pride events, that become my focus during the summer months, this day allows for reflection as to how far we, as women, have come and how far we still need to go to become equal members of society.

Although women are very far from being equal to men globally, we cannot deny that there have been significant improvements and advancements, especially in the Western world.  Women continue to struggle on a daily basis around the world for a variety of reasons, sometimes they can be a matter of life and death, and at other times they can be a matter of right and wrong and of justice.

On this International Women’s Day, as a business woman and CEO of a lesbian centric company, Pink Lobster Dating and Pink Lobster Matchmaking, I wanted to focus on women who have made a difference to the lives of others and who have been and continue to remain role models to our gender, gay or straight.

1. Hillary Clinton

Women have often lived in the shadow of men or “a” man.  Hillary Clinton is the epitome of a woman who has always stood with immense impact as an independent woman and one who will rival many a man politically. Women who have used men to climb to the top, such as Monica Lewinsky, will always remain a side show and far from an inspiration to women with genuine passion, desire and a right to be successful in their own right.  On the other hand, resilient, intelligent women who have their own goals and beliefs in themselves, such as Clinton, have been able to rise above petty and insubstantial rocks that get in their way in order to become a fierce candidate, in this case, for Presidency of the United States.  It is sad, yet true that many strong women, such as Clinton, are still “accused” of being a lesbian, because independent successful women are still a threat to men and they must therefore be gay!  Fortunately Clinton’s personality once again has enabled her to remain true to herself and become a professional and viable candidate. Her significance lies in her being a serious rival candidate and the fact that she is a woman makes her success and rise to the top all the more important.

2. Jeanette Winterson

 

I grew up reading Winterson‘s books and basking in her poignant and beautiful words.  Her books took me to a world where her words became my ideal and her stories offered novel concepts and exciting ideas.  Knowing that Winterson was a lesbian and that her sexuality did not affect her success, and in fact her being a lesbian was never an issue in the business and cultural world, made her the perfect role model for me. Furthermore, Winterson is not simply a shy novelist scared to stand up for her beliefs, and speaks with as much passion and vitality as she writes.  She had an upbringing to rival any childhood and endured terrible torment for being gay.  Her wit and humour coupled with her talent for writing, in part, as a way of understanding her past, are without a doubt an inspiration to millions.  It was Winterson’s words and continued writing that drive me to be whoever I know I can be.

3. Miss Piggy

 

She is now an enduring symbol of female independence and perseverance.  Most characters for young people and adults in turn have been sideline stories or only existed for their man.  Miss Piggy, however, has shown that you don’t need a man to be successful.  In fact in the latest Muppet series she runs the show! Miss Piggy, although she can be cut throat and horrible to others around her, deep down feels love, but does not need love from a man (or a frog) in order to be Miss Piggy.  Her character, which has existed for nearly 40 years and is endlessly youthful (no jealousy intended), is the perfect example of how our society has changed in how women are viewed.  The Miss Piggy of now could never have been Miss Piggy then…  She is only now able to feature as the main presenter of the Muppets because a female lead is reasonable and her personality and endurance allow for this realism.

4. Annie Lennox

Lennox is the ideal female role model.  Her approach to her career in the music industry was powerful and significant.  She was able to create a persona that surpassed gender roles and took the questioning of her sexuality with a pinch of salt.  Her attitude inspired many women to open their closets to themselves and to create their own solid identities. Lennox has become an honest celebrity who genuinely cares for those in need in our world.  Her numerous campaigns such as SING for HIV through to her work specifically for International Women’s Day, have been run with such vigour and a real desire to help, showing that success can breed influence in the right positive way.

And number 5 is all the women who have inspired me, all the women to whom I have had the fortune to meet.  From the women who have created their own businesses single handedly; to the women who have had to deal with prejudice, but have not allowed this to quash their dreams; to those who were told they would never amount to anything, but have become successful and worthy of self-pride; to those who constantly think outside the box and fail to use their gender as an excuse for non-achievement.

This day of celebrations for me is a day when we are reminded of our achievements and continue to strive to be equal, because after all we are more than worth it.

by Juliette Prais, founder of Pink Lobster Dating and Matchmaking