Why memorialise women?

I had a great evening giving a talk about inspiring women at Lyndhurst WI in Mansfield last week. The chatting afterwards was a real pleasure. One woman mentioned she was a nurse. I asked her if she’d known Nurse Hilda Tagg. “Yes,” she replied, “she was my best friend”. So she is already connected to our quilt of lives.

Nurse Tagg’s story was given to us last summer. She was a talented and dedicated nurse, working at King’s Mill Hospital for many years,  climbing her way up to seniority. I’ve never forgotten the admiration in the voice of the contributor who gave us her story. She was a frail, beautifully dressed woman, and clearly highly respected by everyone there. Together, we put Nurse Tagg’s name on the quilt, and now months later, I’ve met another friend, who remembers her with no less admiration. But importantly, many others I’ve spoken to, who’ve also looked at the quilt, now know about her too. The numbers of people remembering this remarkable woman are growing, not diminishing.

I’ve been corresponding with an undergraduate at the University of Nottingham about the memorialisation of women. She contacted our company because of our new production, Swan Canaries. She wanted to discuss issues around the subject of memorialisation as part of her groups’ course, and I’ve been thinking about it as a result.

So why remember “great women”, or “humble women”, for that matter, who do great things? Because, in an age when more than ever, young people are conditioned to think that all that really matters is whether men find a woman physically attractive, remembering what women are capable of doing is vital.

Take a look: many of the greatest researchers in science and medicine for example, are women. Now, and back then. But we seem to collectively “miss” or forget them as a society. Its time to remember. And while you’re at it, remember a woman named Mary Wollstonecraft, and a little treatise called “A Vindication of the Rights of Woman”, which is frighteningly relevant, over 200 years later… Otherwise our most memorable female achievements in the 21st century will consist of morphing our physiques beyond all natural possibility, and using enough mascara to refill Lake Titicaca.


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