Not a girl. Not a woman. Just appreciative at a social distance | David Wilson
When one of the founding members of this site asked me to contribute a submission, I of course said yes. Partly because there is no saying no to Emma Auld, but chiefly because I whole heartily support the site’s core aim; empowering women through sharing their stories straight from their own voices.
However, I was at a loss about what to write. While I’m not wholly comfortable using the term “man” to describe my gender, I wouldn’t say that I am a woman either. I prefer he/him as my pronouns - and my gran often calls me “hen” – but to paraphrase RuPaul, you can call me he, she or Regis and Kathy Lee; I don’t care so long as you call me.
Gender identification, and the fight to have your gender recognised, is for many a serious issue and I am in no way trying to be flippant about it. I just use humour as a coping mechanism. Being friends with Emma Auld and travelling Australia with her, you’ll need it. But in agreeing to write for the site, am I going against its mission statement that I wholeheartedly support? Am I taking away space for women to share their experiences? I couldn’t help feeling a little torn.
So instead of trying to speak for women, I thought I would speak about the women that have made and influenced me.
I was primarily brought with and raised by strong women. None have been stronger than my mum. At one point she held down four different jobs while my dad was seriously ill and couldn’t work. She did this while maintaining a house and taking us to all our after-school activities. It’s true that not all heroes wear capes, some of them wear cosy jumpers because they don’t like the cold.
Then there is the force of nature that is my little sister. How can I sum up the brilliance and annoyance of someone like her in a paragraph? We call her “wee snooks”, which it turns out is a boxing term for a surprise punch. And she is just that! At just barely making five feet, my sister packs the biggest body blow. Being the youngest, she struggled to have her voice heard, so maybe that’s why she’s the loudest now. She dances to the beat of her own drum and was the first one of us to properly argue back with our parents, something I now do because of her.
Continuing on this path of bravery, I’ve also had the good privilege to watch two of my best friends come into their own over the past decade. Both of them have had their share of trials and tribulations. The past ten years I have seen them come into their own, finding their voices and themselves through their vocations, sexuality and doing what scares them. While I’ve been stuck in a quasi-arrested development since the early 2010s – without the multicoloured chinos, thankfully – they have forged ahead. Assertive, inquisitive and tightly bonded by their shared past and momentum to move forward, I hope I’m like them when I grow up.
My boss started her own company from her room shortly after New Year’s Day in 2000. She was 29 and was about to embark on probably the wildest ride of her life. I’m only a short and small part of her history as an employer. She’s helped launch the public affairs careers of countless individuals over the past twenty years and is still helping cultivate the talents of my current colleagues and myself.
The accomplishments of my female colleagues are numerous. One of their biggest successes to date has been the founding of Women in Public Affairs (WIPA) Scotland. Go to any political or public affairs event and you’ll notice the majority of questions asked during Q&As come from older men. I’m not qualified to go into the psychology of why this might be, but WIPA is providing a space for women in politics and public affairs to come together, share ideas and participate in events. It’s perhaps one of the few spaces in public affairs where you won’t find men asking the questions.
Before I finish, it would be remiss of me not to say something about one of the founders of this site and the person who asked me to write something. She’s always had her own opinions and has never been afraid of expressing them. While we might not always agree on everything and share different views on Taylor Swift, she’ll tell me the truth whether I want to hear it or not. She’s passionate about women and this site is just another example of passion to make sure women are being heard.
No one here on this list is perfect. All of them have flaws, but that shouldn’t matter. I don’t know a single man that is perfect. Although I’ve yet to see any in Harry Styles, but I’m sure cancel culture will get him eventually.
Most of what I’ve here is one big long ramble, but that’s what happens when you aren’t sure what to write and left to your own devices. All I know is that I would be nothing without the women in my life supporting and challenging me to be better and do better. When thinking about the men in my life who have done the same, few names come to mind.
Over the weekend, Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande released a monster of a dance tune and while I wrap this piece up to go and watch the video again for another hour or so, I want to talk about its final shot. It sees both Gaga and Ariana embracing with ear-to-ear smiles after being pelted with rain. It’s a metaphor for women holding each other up through tough times and without sounding too much like I’m drinking the Kool-Aid here, I think this site is another example of women holding each other up through the rain.
‘David is a Beyonce enthusiast, pantsuit aficionado and Bush Turkey fighter. When he isn’t bringing companies their latest political news, he’s on a mission to empower his female friends and fight the patriarchy alongside us. #StreamChromatica’