By Sophie Radcliffe – This is not a question I have ever asked myself. Until today.
Until I received an email from the BBC rejecting my application for a TV show entitled ‘World’s Toughest Army’, because I’m female.
Wow! Really? In 2015?
Shouldn’t this be something they heavily avoid, especially after all the criticism Bear Gryll’s received for his men-only survival show?
After excitedly finding this show online, I took care whilst filling in the application form. I began to imagine how much fun it would be to take part in a TV show like this and let myself dream that perhaps this could be a great entry point for me into TV.
Of course I felt a little nervous submitting my application, but when I read the words “only the fittest, strongest, bravest and toughest need apply” on the website, I felt inspired and thought, go for it!!
I read the terms and conditions and all the information on the website more than once. No-where did it stipulate that women aren’t eligible to apply.
It’s not about whether men are tougher than women or whether the BBC has been sexist or about what would make a more popular TV show. This is about equal opportunities.
I wish I didn’t feel this pang of sadness I feel right now.
Sadness that with all the incredible movements, campaigns (like This Girl Can), achievements and talk of change in the world, an organisation like the BBC is promoting the image that men are stronger than women.
Here’s the email I received from them:
Are the fittest, strongest, bravest and toughest people in the world men?
A huge part of my mission with the choices I make in life and my blog is to encourage people, and especially women, to live fearlessly, live without limits and believe in themselves.
I am not writing this blog to enter into any kind of debate about whether men are stronger than women. I am standing up for what I believe is right.
- I believe women deserve equal opportunities to men
- I believe women are just as strong and capable as men
- I believe in challenging stereotypes
- I believe that leading by example is the crux to change
- Finally, I believe that if women are to be excluded from opportunities, there should be a much better reason explaining why than “because that’s the way things are”. What a load of BS!!
I support any campaign, organization or person who shares these beliefs and is actively working towards driving change.
I want to be a change maker in this world, you will not find me rolling over and accepting the way things are just because that’s the way they have been in the past.
As a woman who believes in standing up for what she thinks is right, Sophie published the very powerful piece above, which she graciously allowed us to republish here, on her blog last Thursday evening. But she wasn’t quite prepared for what happened next.
She was caught up in a 12 hour social media storm, fielding comments and shares on Twitter, along with interview requests from four different UK news outlets (she accepted only two)… and us.
Raising what she experienced as an issue on her blog took courage, but being interviewed by national newspapers wasn’t a quick decision. It opened her up to criticism, which she says has not been easy. But she believes it’s worth it because it started a conversation surrounding a far bigger and more important issue than her being rejected from a TV show.
To add to that ongoing conversation, Sophie wrote an equally brilliant follow-up piece for her blog that focuses on having the courage to speak up, prove the naysayers wrong, and be unapologetically you.
I love physical adventure challenges and I applied for a TV show that I thought looked fun. They declined my application on the grounds that I’m a woman and I shared my story. I will not stay quiet in fear of the people who will tell me I’m wrong. I will not change because of stereotypes, I am me and you are you.
My whole life I’ve tried to fit in. I was bullied at school. I was told I was an idiot and I’d never be able to play music by my teacher. I always had to watch my weight and I’ve worked damn hard at my fitness because it sure hasn’t come naturally to me.
In the past 5 years, I’ve found something that enables me to be unapologetically me. I started to challenge myself. I found that if I could complete Ironman races and climb mountains, I didn’t feel the need to conform elsewhere; to be a certain person or look a certain way. Through these challenges I developed the confidence to be myself and to be proud of who I am.
And her advice to other women…
Go out and tell your story. Be unapologetically you, be courageous and don’t let other people’s opinions, voices or stereotypes stand in your way. If something is affecting us and it doesn’t feel right, speak out about it.
It simply does not get WYSKier than this. Brava Sophie! Thank you for inspiring us.
About This Contributor:
Sophie Radcliffe, 29 from London, is an athlete and content producer. Among her favorite challenges, she’s cycled from London to Paris in 24 hours, climbed Mont Blanc, is a two times Ironman finisher, has run from London to Brighton and recently completed the world’s first Alpine Coast to Coast by cycling the Alps and climbing their highest mountains in 32 days.
She believes that through challenging ourselves we develop the confidence, resilience and drive to achieve extraordinary things across all areas of life. Sophie lives in Chamonix, France and London.