Benazir Bhutto is the face of sexism against women around the globe. Benazir is a woman who stood up for women in her country, and faced the misogynistic consequences. She was the 11th Prime Minister of Pakistan, serving two times (one from 1988-90, the other from 1993-96). She was the oldest daughter of a former Prime Minister, who founded the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). Bhutto was the absolute first woman to be democratically elected to be the leader of any Muslim country in the world. Three years following her father’s execution in 1979, Benazir rose in the ranks of the PPP and became chairperson of the party. She remains the only woman to have ever headed Pakistan’s government.
Bhutto was known for her charismatic authority, and she drove for Pakistan’s national and economic security. She implemented capitalistic tendencies that promoted industrial growth and development. Other policies favored deregulation, flexible labor markets, the denationalisation of state-owned corporations, and the withdrawal of subsidies to others. Her reign was admit high levels of corruption in organizations, as well as high unemployment, so the woman’s hard work was constantly dismissed in favor of men’s accomplishments. Since she was unforgiving of her values in her work, she was known as the “Iron Lady” in India. She was unfairly accused of corruption in 1996, so-exiled-she fled to Dubai. In 2007, she returned to Pakistan, having come to an agreement with the president. At a PPP rally on December 27, 2007, she was assassinated by a bombing. She was the leading candidate at the time for the polls for Prime Minister, and it seems as if someone was not too fond of the idea.
Her entire time in office, Benazir promised and promoted to repeal controversial laws that curtailed women’s rights in Pakistan. She was the founder of the Council of Women World Leaders. It must have been hard in a place like Pakistan to speak outright about the rights of women, and be under so much scrutinization. But Bhutto took it in stride, and despite all the threats and disgust thrown towards her from men and misogynists, she prevailed twice. Benazir Bhutto was an iconic figure for little Muslim girls who constantly face oppression from boys and men, and for women all over the world.
Title from “Femme Fatale” by The Velvet Underground.
This week’s influential woman is someone who was involved greatly in the fashion industry. Mary Quant was born February 11, 1934. She was one of the main designers of the invention of the miniskirt and hot pants. She married her husband Alexander Plunket Greene in 1957, who became her partner in working fashion. Her first shop was open on King’s Road in London, called the Bazaar. It was right above her husband’s restaurant, called Alexander’s. Quant opened up a second branch of her shop later on. Some of her successful designs included white plastic collars to keep sweaters and collared shirts up, bright stockings, dress-length men’s cardigans, and a pair of lounging pajamas. She eventually started to design the clothes herself, instead of buying stock from other suppliers.
Quant designed the miniskirt in the 60s. The idea was challenged by others, probably because it wasn’t matronly enough and showed too much leg for young females. Many people and magazines credited men with creating the style, but it was Quant who really put in the work. She said the miniskirt would now allow women to run to the bus. She named the skirt after her favorite car, the Mini. She said of the people that wore it: “They are curiously feminine, but their femininity lies in their attitude rather than in their appearance … She enjoys being noticed, but wittily. She is lively—positive—opinionated.” Later in the 60s, Quant made the hot pants popular as well. She quickly became a British fashion icon because of her outrageous ideas and amazing designs.
Mary was the first winner of the “Dress of the Year” award, and was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire. Later she was upgraded to be Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire. In 1990 she won the Hall of Fame Award of the British Fashion Council. I find Mary Quant so inspiring because even today, and especially in the 20th century, women were and are still ridiculed for what clothing they wear (no matter how matronly, expressive, or revealing). Quant expressed her love for fashion and said that all girls should get to wear what they like without being judged. This applies to Muslim women who wear hijabs that are called terrorists, and women who get told that “they were asking for it” if they get raped while wearing revealing clothing.
Title from “Danny’s Song” by Kenny Loggins.
My sister is in awe of this week’s influential woman. Jane Austen, born in 1775 and died in 1817, was a fantastic author of her time and still amazes readers today. She’s most famous for her novel “Pride and Prejudice” which was adapted into multiple famous movies, one including Keira Knightley. She’s also written “Sense and Sensibility,” “Mansfield Park,” “Northanger Abbey,” and “Persuasion.” She started writing a final book in her lifetime, titled “Sandition” but she never completed it because she passed away after she started writing it. Austen’s novels are often used to inspire cultural arts. She wrote in a notebook that is now considered the “Juvenilia.” It was written in between the years 1787 and 1793. It was in this notebook that she compiled stories essentially mocking popular novels of sensibility, as well as historical texts. Jane wrote rather humorously at some points in her books. In one novel, she mocks the name Richard, saying the man amounted to nothing other than the abbreviation of his name.
Jane was a feminist in her time as well. She proposed many lessons that had female equality within them; such as the fact that you can’t judge women for their choices, to never accept less than you deserve, it’s up to you to chase your own happiness, to have confidence, and to accept that it’s okay to be a work in progress. She also promotes the idea that women should always support other women, and those who take down others emotionally are following the wrong path. She constantly wrote about strong women in her books, and gave young girls in her time the impression that they were just as equal to men. She was similar to Mary Wollstonecraft in that regard, who was the mother of modern feminism. Both ladies promoted self-love for women, and sent the message that girls can do whatever men can do.
Jane Austen is an incredibly talented writer. My sister has all of her books in her room, and constantly urges me to read the author’s craft. The way she writes and the messages she sends alone would cause me to open a book of hers. I admire her courage, because it couldn’t have been easy to be a successful woman in the 18th and 19th centuries. I consider her an incredible influential woman, and so should girls worldwide.
Title from “Dream a Little Dream of Me” by The Mamas and the Papas.
I have always loved photography, and all of the ways it can portray one thing. I admire many photographers, but recently I have started to look at Petra Collins’ work. She’s young to be as famous as she is (23), but she’s been taking pictures since high school. She grew up in Toronto, Ontario, and attended Rosedale Heights School of the Arts. She’s now attending Ontario College of Art and Design. When she was shooting in high school, she met Richard Kern, and he soon became her mentor. She uses mostly 35mm film, adding an antique and beautiful quality to her photos. Collins has shot for many famous brands, such as Vogue Italia, Urban Outfitters, and Rookie Magazine (plus many more side projects and just for herself).
What I love about Petra is that she’s an avid feminist, contributing to global controversies through photography. For example, she designed a number of graphic tee-shirts for the clothing store American Apparel. These shirts were controversial because they showed a woman’s body parts that aren’t normally on display, and sending the message that women shouldn’t be censored. She’s very interested in what’s hidden in our culture, saying that “We’re taught to hate our menstrual cycle and even to hide masturbation.” She takes all the controversy with stride, not caring what people have to say about her views. She celebrates girlhood, and the feminine side of girls’ lives. She also understands that gender roles are applied pretty heavily in our society, and breaks them constantly.
Petra Collins has had a huge impact on my life, and discovering how society has taught me to censor myself. I now know that I shouldn’t apologize for my body or who I am, and that women’s bodies aren’t some sacred or taboo thing. I hope to be a photographer one day, and to have a role model like Petra is so nice. I want other people to realize gender roles, and how they can corrupt society just has misogyny and sexism has. Many people disregard feminism as man-hating and unfair, but what they don’t realize is that it’s striving for equality in all aspects of life. Petra shows that in her beautiful photos, and that’s why she’s my inspiration.
Title from “The Modern Age” by the Strokes.