WI mag couple say women risk being 'part of the problem' by not speaking out
PUBLISHED: 15:03 13 March 2019 | UPDATED: 15:15 13 March 2019
It is up to every woman to stand up to gender inequality or else risk being "part of the problem" - according to the first lesbian couple to feature on the front page of the WI magazine.
Becky Townsend, 42, who married Cathy Townsend in August last year, said women had a responsibility to refuse to accept sexist remarks and gender stereotypes.
Becky, who lives in Felmingham, near Aylsham, said: “Anyone suffering them in silence is doing the rest of the population and the protagonist a disservice by not educating them in the truth of equality.
“Every time a woman bows down to male pressure when they have a valid point to make, they are part of the problem.”
Becky and Cathy were chosen to grace the front of WI Life’s March edition as part of a special about the Wi ‘playing cupid’ to couples.
As part of a wide-ranging interview about equality and gender issues, they said they have been fortunate not to have faced the same discrimination or obstacles many same-sex couples still do.
However, Cathy, 39, said they once changed their holiday plans out of a fear of ending up in jail.
She said: “We were excited about a possible trip to Egypt until we saw a world map with countries were its still illegal to be gay with or without jail time attached.”
Cathy she said that experience was the exception rather than the rule: “I think LGBT people must be gradually feeling more comfortable in society as I notice increasingly more same sex couples holding hands out and about now.”
Becky added: “Probably the media are the only group who maybe need to catch up to this being normal now. We have not had an adverse reaction anywhere in this country that we have visited, hotels, National Trust attractions, restaurants, shops, generally nobody seems bothered.”
They first met in 2009 at their dance school, Sutton School of Dancing, and got together four years later.
Cathy works at Aylsham High School and Becky is a tutor at Turnstone House children’s home in Bungay.
Both working in education, they said they had noticed younger people’s attitudes towards LGBT relationships were evolving, but it would still take some years before gender equality was balanced.
Becky said: “I personally like the ‘Some people are gay, get over it’ style posters found in schools and colleges now.
“In fact, it is quite cool to be experimenting with your sexuality as a teenager now, certainly teenagers I know have many friends who would state that they are gay, bi, or not sure yet, and feel that these are views to be proud of, not worries to be hidden away and fretted over.
“For young people, to have the freedom to take their time establishing their own personalities, would seem much healthier than those in the past coping with forbidden feelings and having to keep them a secret, live a lie, often for their whole lives, how awful that must have been.”
She added: “I believe there are many support groups for equality out there these days but I don’t think it will be entirely the norm until the current generation of young people are in the government.”
Cathy said that although some parts of society could be less welcoming towards the LGBT community, everyone needed to understand that it took longer to changer attitudes than it did to change laws.
She said: “Sometimes public perception of LGBT individuals can be quite extreme and it will take time for society to accept these individuals are not representational of the group as a whole.
“Be patient, it’s heading in the right direction.”
They both said they wanted men to treat women based on how they knew them as people rather than on gender stereotypes.
Becky said: “There are still some amazingly chauvinistic guys out there, across the age groups, sometimes when a bloke talks down to me, for instance saying they will carry something because it would be too heavy for me. I am rather tempted to resort to the old cliché, “OK mate, when you have given birth three times, then you can call me weak.”