08.07.14

Jean Sutton

Social Entrepreneur

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” …  bookshelves, a balcony, a bakery below, and a tidy inbox. …”

Jean Sutton used to scoff at the term social entrepreneur but then had to find a way to describe herself. She is one of the team behind the Women’s Museum of Ireland, the founder and co-editor of award-winning feminist magazine Siren, a Wave Change participant, an alumnus of Women for Election, a law graduate, a soon-to-be former employee of a tech start-up, a private writer an indiscriminate reader. She grew up on a farm in Tipperary, lives with her sister in Drumcrondra and can be readily found on Twitter.

Because I am a Girl I ask … that you bear with me.

Because I am a Girl I believe … in equality, and the Metro Herald horoscope when it suits.

Because I am a Girl I hope … that the girls who come after us don’t feel limited by this economic mess, that they dream big and don’t feel constrained by their gender. That they grow up respected, with choices, and are able to freely exercise their right to education. I also hope that we look after our men while we try to change the world for women. The message that feminism helps all genders – men, women, other – is one which needs to be constantly iterated.

Because I am a Girl I wonder … will my generation see a gender balanced Oireachtas.

Because I am a Girl I dream … about living in a movie version of Paris with bookshelves, a balcony, a bakery below, and a tidy inbox.

Because I am a Girl I remember … a waitress in Budapest refusing to acknowledge my order of a large portion of potatoes because it was ‘too much for girls’. She said no such thing to my male friend Éanna when he asked for the same thing immediately after. I stole his spuds.

Because I am a Girl I like … women’s magazines. People complain about stereotyping and capitalism and all that but I like reading Elle, Vogue, Marie Claire and Grazia. They’ve got incredible writers and tend to be underestimated and misunderstood by a lot of feminists online.

Because I am a Girl I dislike … being tired a lot of the time. In late 2011 I was diagnosed with endometriosis, a condition which some experts estimate affects one in ten women. It was, in a way, a freedom and a relief to finally ‘justify’ my chronic fatigue with a lot of syllables. However, the road to diagnosis was paved with too many dismissive Irish doctors. It wasn’t until I was in Canada for six months and presented at a clinic post collapse I finally felt I wasn’t over-reacting. A man who looked like Stanley Tucci walked in, looked at my charts and said “Yeah, you’ve got mechanical problems.” The morale of the story is 1) Canadian healthcare is the best, and 2) sometimes people have a genuine excuse other than plain rudeness for yawning mid-conversation during lunch.

Because I am a Girl I feel … self-concious in certain clothes. When I was in secondary school a teacher bemoaned girls showing up to the debs with untoned upper arms. That comment has stayed with and affected me more than any fashion editorial ever will.

Because I am a Girl I celebrate… other women. Every day I read Women Under Seige – “a journalism project that investigates how rape and other forms of sexualized violence are used as tools in genocide and conflict throughout the 20th century and into the 21st”. And every day I come away angry and upset, but convinced that despite the mainstream media’s occasional coverage and various governments ignoring the onging horror in Syria, projects like Women Under Seige are going to serve an important and pivotal role when justice is sought in the aftermath. Lauren Wolfe, the director of the project, and her mission deserve so much more attention. Her name and what she is doing is the watchword for what international feminism can become.

The views expressed in all blogs, are those of the authors only and do not necessarily represent the views or policies of of Plan Ireland  

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