Leap of Faith: what a week for women
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Leap of Faith: what a week for women

It has finally come home thanks to England’s Lionesses, who played impeccable football and went unbeaten throughout the whole of Euro 2022. The scenes of celebration at Wembley, the overflowing stadium and the glittering trophy symbolise a change in the attitude and respect that is given to women’s football.

The FA only launched the Women’s Super League in 2011 and it was just four years ago that the England team became professional, with the FA recognising (only a few decades too late) that it would be worthwhile to invest in women’s football and stimulate growth.

While this week women are heroes in the English public sphere, so often it can feel like three steps forward and two steps back when it comes to the perception of women in society, especially in the media.

This is a tale as old as time, as Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah and Tirzah, the daughters of Zelophehad, know too well. In the book of Numbers, we learn how they won the case to be able to inherit their father’s estate and had it changed in law so that any daughter could inherit from their father after death, in a case where there were no sons. What a win for the women of antiquity! Of course, this ruling does not come without a catch, and the daughters must marry within their father’s tribe so that the inheritance doesn’t get into the wrong hands.

Then, just a few parashiot later, still in the book of Numbers, we learn that a woman does not have autonomy over her own words, as her husband or father can annul a vow on her behalf. Three steps forward, two steps back.

The same papers and channels that have been celebrating the Lionesses’ success will return to support scenes of misogyny in Love Island in the name of fun, will gaslight and hurl abuse at people like Amber Heard for accusing their partner of domestic abuse and give platforms to people who sprout inflammatory and transphobic rhetoric that can make it feel like we’re reading papers from the 1980s, not 2022.

No doubt the daughters of Zelophehad would be blown away by how far society has come in the fight for equality, but maybe also disappointed that after all this time, we’ve still not come far enough.

I feel like they’d be there front and centre, speaking truth to power and finding the next cause to win. In their absence, let that be our job, and keep things moving forwards rather than allowing those steps back.

 

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