I think most women would agree that being a feminist is exhausting. Every day, there’s a new horrible story in the news reminding us just how far we have to go before we reach equality; every week, there’s a new celebrity saying something stupid and hurtful; every hour, someone pops up to call us "feminazis" or send us a rape/death threat. It’s relentless and I don’t know anyone who doesn’t want to occasionally give up and go to bed with the covers pulled up over their head.
But you know what will inspire you to keep fighting? Eva, the tiny blonde badass from The Secret Lives of 5 Year Olds.
It’s clear to me that Eva is our new national hero. Her face needs to be put on £10 notes immediately. She is the kind of child who is going to be elected prime minister at 25 in a landslide victory and I, for one, can’t wait for her to appear on Good Morning Britain and put Piers Morgan in a headlock. My friend Lauren, the kind of woman who argues with builders when they catcall her, has already declared that she will definitely have a child as long as she can be exactly like Eva, and can you blame her? She’s wonderful. Utterly wonderful.
Eva has a very strong sense of why feminism is important to her, despite possibly not even knowing what feminism is. She thinks it’s important for girls to vote because “there were these girls who fighted to vote. They were very silly women because they got killed. So it’s very important for girls to vote, otherwise that will happen again". I realise that calling suffragettes “silly women” isn’t ideal in a feminist icon, but hey, she’s five; I think we can let her off.
I especially love how keen she is to share her feminism with others, and how she's unafraid to call people out. Anyone who finds it awkward to have a conversation with their parents about the casual slurs they use should be emboldened by Eva’s response to her friend Jude saying that girls can’t be scientists because they “make silly potions”. Emulate her cool tone when she snaps back that she “extracted the DNA from a banana once” and you’ll find your opponents suddenly lost for words.
Sod power posing – the next time I have to go into a situation with a man who will be inclined to disrespect me because of my gender, I’m going to channel Eva
Mostly, though, I love how Eva is taking the “show, don’t tell” technique of writers and applying it to schooling people on gender equality. When Eva sees that Jude thinks girls are lesser than boys, she puts on her gi and takes him out to the lawn for an impromptu karate lesson, kicking her way around the lawn and screaming “Gei” like the (social justice) warrior that she is. By the end of it, Jude is listening to her and watching her and treating her with respect, because he’s seen how skilled and strong she is. Sod power posing – the next time I have to go into a situation with a man who will be inclined to disrespect me because of my gender, I’m going to channel Eva’s calm determination to show her worth and make them respect me.
Look, feminism is hard and scary, and sometimes it can feel like there’s no hope for us. But there is hope and it’s in the form of the tiny boys and girls all over the world talking to each other, proving each other wrong and doing karate together. It’s in a generation that is being raised by parents to be fair and fierce and unafraid. It’s in the form of Eva, of a tiny, bespectacled girl looking into a camera and saying, “Boys aren’t better than girls. They’re exactly the same,” like it’s the most obvious thing in the world.