This is a tribute page. A tribute to all the feminists that came before us, to all the amazing women who have struggled for a better life for us all. And have been largely forgotten or pushed out by our collective memory. It is an attempt to reclaim a rightful space that they deserve in history books.
The initial plan for Herstory Diary was that I’d have a Facebook page, and that is it! I mean, I was not planning anything else at first. But so many ideas started coming my way that within a week I had a Twitter profile for it too (@HerstoryDiary), and now this blog! And it suddenly became my main project, taking over my life. But nothing ever felt so right to me before. As soon as I started the Facebook page, I just thought ‘why have I never thought of this before?!’
Now that it is started, there is no going back! I mean, I’m not complaining: this is what I really want to do! I want to explore and share women’s history, as widely as possible. Eventually, the dream is for it reach schools everywhere. I mean, not for my project specifically – for women’s history.
When I say that in conversations, some people say: ‘but it is already in schools, everybody knows about the Suffragettes!’ But that is exactly the point! Women’s history does not start or end with the Suffragettes!
It did not occur to me that I should start the blog until yesterday when I was writing a post about Andrea Dworkin on the Facebook page, and it ended up being so long that it took me a good 15 minutes to finish it! And I still had much more to say, but I was trying to keep it brief… But it never seems to work when it comes to this topic! And so a blog suddenly became the obvious answer.
The inspiration for the project came in stages… It took me ages to actually realise that I should be doing it properly. And for a couple of years before I did, I was just ‘littering’ my own Facebook wall with posts on the topic, probably overdoing it a bit for the liking of many of my friends.
First, I watched Gerda Lerner speak about the origins of patriarchy. Gerda Lerner is the godmother of this page. She is my ultimate inspiration, and I will be forever thankful to her for being my number one teacher. And, as I was listening to her, it struck me: how can so many feminists (including me until then) not know about the woman who introduced the discipline of women’s history into academia? How can so many of us think that the Suffragettes were the first feminists, when the history goes back hundreds of years? Why is it that Gerda Lerner has done so much to explain where patriarchy originates and why it thrives, but she’s been pretty much wiped out of our collective consciousness?
Then I took part in organising one of the biggest feminist events in the UK, Feminism in London 2015 (now FiLiA). And as part of that, I brought together a panel of specialists on women’s history. One of my panelists was Jennifer Lee Hall, a filmmaker from the US, who’s made an incredible film about The Women’s Liberation movement in her country. Seeing that Jennifer came over all the way from the US for the conference, we organised a number of screenings of the film for her to be able to meet a range of local feminists and activists and make the most of the trip. So I ended up watching the film about 5 times by the end of the trip! And the question that led her to make the film in the first place – ‘why didn’t I know about these women?’ – rang so much truth in my ears every time, that I started thinking about making my own, UK, version of the film!
I also watched the film a few months before the conference – to know who I was inviting and what I was signing up to promote! And as one of my first reactions, I started the #foremothers project, which was basically just me posting a tribute to a famous or not-so-famous feminist from history every day. But that did not really last long, because it should have been a separate project, and a page in its own right! But at that stage, it did not occur to me.
And this is where the Herstory Diary comes in: I have finally decided that I have to run this as separate project if I am to do this properly!
And then a few days after I started the Facebook page, a friend of mine said that I should start a blog – I was writing so much on each topic I was adding a post on! At first I thought – when am I going to do that?! But then, as I was writing my post on Andrea Dworkin, I realised, she’s right! Why am I producing so much content on the Facebook page where most people just read one or two sentences of each post before moving on?!
And so now I can share my content on Facebook and write my essays on the blog. Everything makes sense 😉