Why I signed my daughter up to the Fawcett Society on Trump’s inauguration day

Brexit

I signed my daughter up to the Fawcett Society on the 20 January 2017: inauguration day in the USA. I was terribly disappointed when Donald Trump won the US presidential election in November 2016: I felt Hilary Clinton to be so much more suitable and experienced a candidate.

This is a deeply personal issue to my whole family, since we’re Anglo-American (my partner is from the US and our daughter has dual citizenship): we know people who voted for both candidates in the election. On inauguration day I felt, like so many people around the world, both scared and disempowered. I was at a loss as to how to respond to the new world order of the Trump presidency.

I’d considered joining the Fawcett Society myself for some time, but decided on that day that the gift of membership for my daughter would be a more useful and more powerful thing to do – to give her a sense of the global community fighting for women’s rights in the past, present and the future, to be able to talk to her about this work and its importance.

 As a cis-gender, heterosexual man, it’s vital that I join the fight for equity

Women’s rights are human rights: to me it is as simple as that. Even the briefest consideration of the history of women’s rights demonstrates that the victories made by organisations like the Fawcett Society in history have improved overall human rights. The best summation of this larger principle comes in a quote from a great personal hero of mine, Dr Martin Luther King: ‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice’.

On a personal note, I’m actively involved in trying to apply lessons from organisations like the Fawcett Society in my daily life. In 2016 I became involved in the Equality and Diversity Group of the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (CIfA), the professional sector body of which I’m a member. I was keen to be involved in that group to help champion equality and diversity across the heritage sector.

As a middle-aged, cis-gender, heterosexual man – with all of the advantages that these identities bring – I feel it important to stand up in public as an ally of those who are less advantaged than me. As another hero of mine, Sir Patrick Stewart, says: ‘people won’t listen to you or take you seriously unless you’re an old white man, and since I’m an old white man I’m going to use that to help the people who need it’.

What I hope for my daughter as a Fawcett member

As the parent of a young child I have immersed myself in a variety of resources to help them as they grow up and explore the world. This journey of personal discovery has coincided with a growing awareness of my professional responsibility to learn more about equality issues.  I became aware of the Fawcett Society and began following it on social media. The more I observed and read, the more the name kept cropping up in many different situations, and so my on-going journey of discovery accelerated and continues.

My daughter’s favourite movie (at least right now) is Mary Poppins: there are strong female role models in that film, and a positive representation of the suffragette movement in Edwardian London. My daughter is excited by the opportunities for activist engagement with the Fawcett Society, so long as it involves sashes, songs and dressing up!

Follow in the footsteps of Joe and his daughter by giving the gift of Fawcett membership today, from as little as £1.50 per month!

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Joe Flatman
Joe Flatman works for Historic England, the public body that looks after England’s historic environment. He tweets in a personal capacity as @joeflatman, including on issues related to equality and diversity.

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