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Period Story Podcast, Episode 4: Deborah Campbell, We Have To Talk About Menopause

On the fourth episode of the Period Story podcast, I had a wonderful wide-ranging conversation with Deborah Campbell, the founder of Future Fe+Male and the Deborah Campbell Atelier.

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We talked about Deborah’s feelings about her first period and not being quite emotionally ready to cope with it, being forced to grow up quite quickly, fibroids, educating boys about periods and navigating her way through early menopause.

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Deborah Campbell is the founder of Future Fe+Male, an organisation which promotes everyday equality for empowering humans to reframe thinking around habitual sexism in order to promote social change. This is done through awareness and action through education, a podcast and an interactive platform. Deborah also works in sustainable fashion through her brand Deborah Campbell Atelier and lectures Fashion Marketing with management at Winchester School of Art, specializing in sustainable and ethical best practice, and blockchain. 

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Find Deborah on Instagram, the Future Fe+Male website or on Facebook

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Show Notes

The Menopause Doctor

Born Equal Podcast

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Show Transcript

Le’Nise: On today’s episode, we have Deborah Campbell, Deborah is the founder of Future Female, which promotes everyday quality to empower humans to reframe thinking around habitual sexism to promote social change. This is done through awareness and action with education, a podcast and an interactive platform. Deborah also works in sustainable fashion through her brand, Deborah Campbell Atelier and lectures in fashion marketing with management at the Winchester School of Art, specialising in sustainable and ethical best practice and block chain. Welcome to the show.

Deborah: Hello.

Le’Nise: So let’s start off by getting into the story of your first period. Can you share with us what you remember?

Deborah: Yes. So my first period, I was aged 11 and I do remember it being quite painful. I definitely had some education about it at school, but I think it came as a bit of a ‘oh, what’s this all about’, especially age 11, because I don’t think I’d really appreciated that I could be that young. It was all quite relaxed, my mum was great. I don’t remember any sort of strange sort of not really understanding what was going on. 

But what was really embarrassing was she obviously mentioned it to my dad so that my dad marched in and announced, “oh, I hear you’ve become a young woman”. I was mortified. I was like 11 years ago going what? What’s he talking about? What does that mean? And so, yeah, I think being 11, I wasn’t able to cope with it, had I been seen fully emotionally because I was. Yeah, still really young. I mean, I look at my son now and see he’s not going to have a period, but I think emotionally he’s pretty strong. But it’s quite a big thing, I think when you are 11 or any younger; I mean some girls start younger than that even. So, yeah, that was my first and that stayed with me. That’s quite vivid you know, if somebody asked me the question, as you’ve done, that’s a vivid sort of memory of my dad announcing I’d become a young woman.

Le’Nise: Your family was quite relaxed and quite helpful about it.

Deborah: Yeah, I think my mum was. She tried to sort of navigate me through all of the, you know, the tampons and sanitary towels. But I didn’t jump straight into tampons because obviously being 11, it was all a bit like, oh, that doesn’t look so user friendly. So, yeah, she was good with all that, but I’d always had quite a lot of pain with my period. I definitely remember quite early on suffering with really bad cramping and just feeling really rubbish actually. So yeah, I wished I’d been older so I didn’t have to put up with it that young.

Le’Nise: And how was it at school? Were you the first of your friends to have your period?

Deborah: Yeah, that’s interesting. You know, I’m not sure if I was. The thing was I’d moved schools. We had moved from Manchester to Devon. So I had some friends but I don’t remember talking to, as in obviously I’d made friends, but I’m not sure we talked about periods, I honestly can’t remember. There were a few of us, but I don’t have a specific memory of, oh yeah I was really close to a certain person and we discussed. I think I was probably one of the first. Yeah.

Le’Nise: And how did you learn about periods and what was happening in your body? You mentioned education at school. Was it very in depth?

Deborah: I don’t think it was but I definitely knew what was happening. I just don’t think I was emotionally able to cope with it that well. I definitely engaged with what they told us at school. But I don’t remember it being that in depth. I mean, for example, you know, some of the body parts, you know, I still think, oh, my goodness, I don’t remember learning that I had that part in my vagina area or vulva or all the different types of names that you get. I’ve been learning them as an adult. 

I think it’s quite surprising how the women’s, you know, sexual kind of area was just not, it was a bit less discussed I think, or just not very detailed. So, yeah, I definitely had some education at school, I just don’t think it felt very clear, I mean, clear for the time maybe but just when you start looking and delving further into what does each part do? There was certainly no discussion about pleasure. And I think I’ve come to that later in life in terms of what boys are told, because I have a son, obviously, as I mentioned, and what was discussed about their genitalia so to speak, and what’s discussed about the girls genitalia, it still remains more about older boys, talk about wet dreams but the girls talk about the physicality of periods and all of that and you think hmm that needs change.

Le’Nise: So there was no discussion about the like girls can have, not a wet dream per se, but something quite similar and the nature of female pleasure and masturbation.

Deborah: Exactly. I’m not saying that they talk about masturbation at school to the boys specifically using that term but obviously wet dreams has a connotation to that and this whole pleasure side and I don’t think that has been really focused on yet, it certainly wasn’t going to be focused on when I was growing up. 

I grew up in the seventies but I suppose it isn’t surprising, really, that it isn’t discussed for females, you know, the female pleasure, because I think why shouldn’t it be? But I suppose the challenge they’ve got in schools is age, I think they touch on it in year five and then year six, they are quite young.

Le’Nise: Going back to what you said about being emotionally ready. Can you take us through a little bit why you felt like you weren’t emotionally ready?

Deborah: Yeah, I think it’s something that is physically happening to your body that you don’t fully understand or I didn’t really feel I was ready to address why I had to have a period, i.e. obviously for reproduction purposes. And it takes away your childhood really and in many areas it forces you to become quite grown up quite quickly. And I was always that sort of kid like that anyway; I was the oldest child in the family, so I had to get on with certain things as a young person that a second child wouldn’t have to maybe, you know, get on with anyway. So I was fairly grown up but I think that probably defined my sense of, you know, adulthood quicker and age 11 is no sort of place to kind of consider being an adult, I suppose and that’s how it felt. 

I felt like this transition into womanhood, so to speak, was too quick and too early and I don’t think I was ready. And actually, that’s just looking back. Maybe at the time I didn’t realise that as much because I just got swept up in that emotion.

Le’Nise: And you said that your periods had always been very painful. What did you do about it? And was it something that went all the way through into adulthood?

Deborah: Yeah, I did have to do something about it. My mum and I went to the doctors and we ended up getting the pill to try and ease the cramping and the distress, I suppose. And I’m trying to think back as to what age I was. I think I was well, definitely between maybe 14 and 17. I just can’t remember exactly when it was. So that did help a bit. So in terms of going into adulthood, they were less aggressive, the crampings and such like, but I still suffered to some degree. And then in my late 20s, early 30s, I came off the pill because I suddenly started looking at it or going, hang on; I’m putting drugs into my body. I started to become more aware of, you know, actually this doesn’t quite feel right and I’ve been on it for quite a long time and hence, I just had a rethink about it. 

So when I came off the pill, did they come back? Yes, they came back quite severely but not as they’d been in my teenage years, and some months worse than others. So I think I’d had some pain throughout even when I was on the pill, but just less intense and a bit more intense when I got into my 30s.

Le’Nise: What was your thinking around the pain? Did you think it was something that you had to just put up with or you had to deal with? Or did you have a sense that it wasn’t supposed to be like that?

Deborah: Yeah, I mean, that’s the challenge, I think. I absolutely thought I had to put up with it. I think as I got wiser into my early 30s, I thought, hang on, why am I putting up with this? If you ask me that question now, I think it’s complete nonsense women have to put up with this type of pain. 

I mean, I’ve been on a very long journey in my 40s because I’ve had early menopause but I’ve certainly done a lot of reading and a lot of research and a lot of kind of soul searching as to what was going on with me. I won’t go into that just yet but I think, really, what I’ve come to believe is there shouldn’t be this attitude of putting up. I think medicine and sort of more holistic approaches has got, you know, broader and more widely available and accepted. So also having this idea of understanding your cycle, you know, really really well, it just wasn’t around, I mean, it was in my 30s, I mean, I’m now 48, in case anybody’s thinking why does she keep going on about her 30s. 

So, you know, it’s become more important to consider our own bodies and understand our own bodies and it’s become more, well, there’s more education out there, there’s more understanding of how to understand our own bodies. When I was growing up, men, you know, into adulthood, there was there was an acceptance of, we just put up with it, so I think there are sort of two answers to that question, but certainly a lot of people, I believe, still feel it’s just accepted. And no, it shouldn’t be like that, I don’t think.

Le’Nise: And going back to what you said about coming off the pill, you said you came off in your early 30s. What made you decide to come off the pill?

Deborah: I thought that if any sort of chemical reaction was happening that I’d put in my body, it would take a number of years to get rid of it. And if we wanted to have children and at the time, we didn’t, like myself and my husband have been together for years, well, nearly 30 years coming up, and, you know, we hadn’t decided to have kids, but for some reason there was a sixth sense saying to me, but what if we did decide, actually to not be on the pill would probably be better rather than just coming off and going, oh, let’s have a child, because things don’t work like that. 

So there was that background thinking and there was also this other just sixth sense saying, you know, intuition. This is still a chemical we don’t really know enough about, so I’d perhaps get rid of it, too. That was sort of what my body was telling me to do. So that that’s kind of why really.

Le’Nise: And your journey with the pill. So you went on it anywhere between 14 to 17, what would you describe your journey? Was it smooth? Was it trial and error?

Deborah: It was a bit trial and error. I think I probably went through two or three different types of pill, mostly tablet form, not an injection form from my memory. I don’t think I ever did an injection. But then why have I mentioned that? You know, I might have had an injection at some stage later in my adulthood thinking about it. So yeah, there were a few different options, but I’m afraid I’m a bit woolly on my memory.

Le’Nise: Coming off the pill, you knew there were chemical reactions. You weren’t sure how it was affecting your body. How was the transition coming off of the pill and going back to natural menstrual cycles?

Deborah: It felt like it was fairly easy. I don’t remember having a particular thought of, oh my God, I’ve got to go back on because there’s some difference. And it felt more accepting, I sort of felt like I can accept it this cycle. It is what it is. It didn’t feel difficult. There was a bit of pain around, you know, and some months worse than others. Mood swings and all of that. I mean, I was still getting some of those on the pill anyway. So, yeah, I didn’t feel like it was a drastic sort of oh, I’m off it now. It just felt quite good, I suppose, to be off it. Just trying to think of anything other, no I think yeah, I think it was okay. I’m just trying to think whether I started taking any supplements at that time, I might have done, around, you know, I can’t think of the supplement. Is it evening primrose oil? I think I tried that for a bit. Yeah. So I think I then started looking towards other sorts of means to try and ease some of the discomfort that comes around at certain stages of your cycle.

Le’Nise: And so that was about maybe five or six years off of the pill. How did you learn about what was happening with your body and learn about the different stages of the menstrual cycle?

Deborah: So my cycle was always really regular and to be honest now it’s a bit different, but I won’t go into that. So I started paying attention to the four week cycle and what, 28 days was usually mine give or take a day and I would be very mindful about, the week before would be the most intense, and then the week of the period was quite short actually, I think after the pill, now this is something that is coming back to me, my cycle was very quick. 

So I would have a sort of a heavy section, well, it would be about four or five days maximum, but my heavy part would be just literally one maybe nearly two days. So I felt almost actually what had happened after the pill was they, well it was always the case with the pill, but after the pill, I didn’t get into a cycle of very heavy periods or anything and I hadn’t really even in my teenage years, had very heavy periods, I just had very painful periods. So my heavy periods came after, but that’s another discussion because I then ended up with fibroids, but actually paying attention to the whole cycle, I became more aware of how I felt. I was watching my feelings. I think the week where you are sort of in euphoria is that week of when you just come off your period and you suddenly feel brilliant for about seven days and then slowly declining. I suppose, one week out of the month I felt great and then the other three weeks were challenging for a variety of reasons, whether it’s mood swings or just general sluggishness, I suppose.

Le’Nise: Can you talk a bit more about your fibroids? So fibroids are a condition, they’re very common, but not a lot of women have a proper understanding of them. So can you talk a bit about how you learned about fibroids and that you had them and what you did about them?

Deborah: Yeah, I ended up going to the doctors for something not quite related to, well, nothing to do with fibroids because we didn’t know I had them then. I think it might well have just been some discomfort in the stomach area, sort of pelvic area and I went and had a scan for something relating to that, I believe. Or I may well have had an infection, a bladder infection. They might have been checking it further or not bladder infection, but maybe, no it would have been, yeah, urine infection. Yeah, that was what it was, it was a urine infection and they decided to have a bit more of a closer look. So fibroids were discovered after I had my child. I think I was probably in my early forties. Yeah, I reckon around 42, 43 time. 

So that was something of a surprise because I’d never, well I had heard of them, I’m lying there because my sister has them and she’d had very painful, I think she’s got 3 and really painful for her and has since ended up having some procedure to sort those out because they’re much worse than my situation. But even with my sister, I did not quite grasp exactly what they were and how they can manifest and to be honest, I don’t I still don’t probably have enough knowledge in that area. 

So mine were growing because I was still having a period and apparently they grow through production of oestrogen and that fuels them. So I was, you know, fine, not fine, but thought, right, okay, what does that mean? And, you know, and I wasn’t really given much more information about it. I did feel like I had to just sort of go off and check and see, well, what’s the implication? So there is some discomfort still with the fibroids. I have had a bit of discomfort, but I wouldn’t say it was debilitating in any way, really, because there’s been plenty of other discomforts I’ve had to endure with early menopause. I don’t think there’s enough information about fibroids at all out there, even now, and, you know, things have moved on apace, but no, I would say there could be more detail for women.

Le’Nise: And just for any listeners who don’t know what fibroids are, they’re benign growths that can be in the uterus within the lining, the muscular lining of the uterus and outside the uterus and they grow through the production of oestrogen and they can be anywhere from the size of a walnut to the size of a watermelon. So, for some women they can cause a lot of pain, very heavy periods, anaemia, they can press on the bladder and the bowel. There are many women who have them and have no symptoms at all. But equally, a lot of other women have them and they are experiencing some of the symptoms that I mentioned.

Deborah: Yeah. And actually now you’ve said that. So yeah, I that’s what would happen to me, I would get pressing and still do get pressing on certain areas of the bladder, which is discomfort and then the heavy periods were and have been a nightmare. So that’s linked I think to the fibroids, because I’ve never had heavy periods until around, I think from age 43, really, it might be a bit earlier, because the heavy periods obviously started after I’d had my child age 37, they probably started to kick in around 39 and onwards or maybe even earlier and I put it down, oh I’ve had a baby, everything’s changed. But actually what was happening was there were some fibroids there growing and I didn’t know. So yeah absolutely correct. I think that’s the area that people need to understand a lot more around because they are common. My fibroid is, well I think I’ve got two, but one is particularly bigger than the other, its 4 centimetres, if that gives anybody an inkling of, you know, the size. They can be removed, but there’s all sorts of reasons why not to remove them, which, you know, I’m not necessarily going to go into but yeah.

Le’Nise: We’ve talked about fibroids and how you discovered that you had them. Can you talk about your journey through early menopause?

Deborah: That’s quite complicated; I will try and keep it brief. So I got to aged 43 when my regular period stopped and it didn’t arrive and I was like, this is a bit odd, I’m sure I’m not pregnant. So I got hold of the doctor and said, this is really strange, I’m very regular. She said, Oh, right, sounds to me like perimenopause, when did your mum start her menopause? And I was quite floored actually, I thought, sorry, what are you talking about? What’s perimenopause? I had never heard that term ever. 

It took me a while, well, I phoned my mum straight away, I was like, “when did you start your menopause again? I can’t remember, I don’t think you told me.” “Oh, yeah, I was about 40”, “Oh, right”. So it got to the point where I started getting quite cross with myself because I thought, well, actually, we did fancy a second child and up to that point we hadn’t really properly tried because I’d felt so dreadful between the ages of 40 to 43 and the dreadfulness was around perimenopause, of course, it doesn’t manifest into a period suddenly stopping, it manifests in all sorts of ways, which I haven’t got hours and hours to go into but all of the symptoms I had very briefly from age 40 to about 43 were low confidence, sort of mood swings, quite aggressive mood swings, feeling like you can’t control the mood swing and somebody else is there doing something and then suddenly you come back to yourself and think, who was that? That was just shouting. And then it deteriorated into sort of really low mood and all those sort of early symptoms, age 40 to 43, I just thought I’d, I don’t know why I thought I’d got. 

So I was on a mission to find what I’d got, which in the end was perimenopause. So my doctor was very good, actually, she sent me for a blood test and immediately suggested going on HRT. Now, then at that point, I was into real holistic and had been for a while, holistic approaches to medicine and I was on the defensive then thinking, well, and I was probably in denial, no, no, no, I’m not doing HRT, I’m not doing HRT. I went on a mission to have acupuncture and all sorts of different things, taking supplements. It wasn’t till about age 44 to 45 when the symptoms got so debilitating with a low mood particularly, but also the hot flashes occurred, pain occurred in my legs and all sorts of things, honestly the list is endless. So I went on HRT, which wasn’t very successful. I had two different types before I decided to not take it because I just couldn’t get on with it and I just thought I’ll battle on. 

So this is where I think it’s really bad, I think, women, so this goes right back to my period when I first started my period and my younger years of ‘I just got on with it’. And I think that’s what women shouldn’t say and shouldn’t do. No, we shouldn’t just get on with it. Stop and go no, this doesn’t have to be this way and that’s what I started to think in my mid-40s. Well, this isn’t right. Why am I feeling this bad? So I battled on, which I shouldn’t have done, but I did. I had 18 months of no period because of HRT brings your period back. So at that point, I thought, yeah, I’m pretty much almost into menopause, but I then just couldn’t cope. So I went back on HRT on a mission to find the right type and I’ve only just got the right type aged 48 and it happened in August where I started taking an oestrogen gel and I had a Mirena coil fitted in June. So that’s kind of my, I’m trying to be brief, my brief journey of early menopause. But yeah, I probably could tell you a lot more, but I’m trying to be mindful of not going on too much.

Le’Nise: Okay. Well, it’s really interesting hearing about your journey through HRT because what you’ve described is something that I hear a lot where HRT is sold as something that’s inevitable and what you’ve said is that you’ve been on a journey to find the right type for you. Can you talk a bit about the research that you did for yourself to figure out which type was the best for you?

Deborah: Yeah. I mean, my doctor was quite useful and I say the word quite, because she’s a good doctor but it was very much initially, oh, I’ll put you on patches, because I think that’s the best way. I think for most people that might work but they kept falling off so I wasn’t getting the dosage. So the other research in the background I was doing was trying to find information out there and at the time, aged about 44, there were no people, well obviously there were people talking about it, but there wasn’t a lot out there, so it is really difficult to find other information from relevant sources, particularly medical sources. So I think that’s when I got lost if I’m honest, I got really lost in the mix of what’s right and what’s wrong and I’m very into holistic approaches and homeopathy and all that and I also did acupuncture, I’m still doing acupuncture now actually, just gone back to it because I do believe in all of that. However, it wasn’t helping enough, you know. 

So I’d say it’s only really been in the last two years that I’ve connected in with the Menopause Doctor who’s actually on Instagram. She’s got some brilliant information via her own website and on her Instagram and she’s obviously a medical doctor and I’ve probably learnt the most, if I’m honest from her. I do have a book, but it’s a very thick book and I didn’t manage to read lots of it and I’ve now forgotten the name of that book, but it will come back to me. But yeah, online through the Menopause Doctor [whom] I highly recommend, most of the details she’s got and that’s what’s led me to the gel because she talked about that as an option and my own doctor hadn’t mentioned gel, my doctor hadn’t even mentioned the Mirena coil and I do believe a few people started talking to me about that.

And I then started doing a bit of research and my own doctor was a bit like, hmm not sure if that should be or could be an option and again, I didn’t quite understand why. I mean, the reason I needed to go on the Mirena coil was I needed just to get without these really heavy, debilitating periods, because when you are in the menopause, you know, you can’t, well obviously your period should stop but mine wasn’t stopping because obviously I then went on HRT, which then brings them back. 

And actually, I don’t want to heavy periods because obviously I have fibroids, so it’s a bit of a complicated situation, which is why then I thought, no, I have to get without these periods because they are debilitating. So in some ways I’ve gone against my sort of natural approach but I’ve felt the best I’ve ever felt in the last two months. So I have to accept that this is the root. The Mirena coil hasn’t been as brilliant, let’s say the first six months with the coil, you have to accept you might get a period. So unfortunately for me, I ended up with a period for 14 weeks, not heavy, but 14 weeks of a period with this Mirena coil that stopped in end of August, middle of September it stopped. So I haven’t had a period up until actually last week. I’ve just got another short one going on now. So it’s not been, you know, straightforward but I do feel like my hormones are in the right place now. I feel like I’ve got the right dose of oestrogen. I think oestrogen for me is the biggest challenge but that’s again where medicine is not geared up for individuals. And that is what the challenge is, I think, and I’m not a medic, but that’s my own feeling.

Le’Nise: What would you say to a woman who feels like she’s on a similar journey to you?

Deborah: Based on how I feel now? I would 100 percent recommend HRT and the Mirena coil. Yes, I’ve gone through a lot of challenges during the summer in particular, to get here. But I do feel that it’s, you know, based on the last two months, now, that’s you know, that’s not a long time, based on the last two months, how I’ve been feeling is better than I’ve ever felt. So, you know, that’s what I recommend. It won’t work for everyone. And there’s also some fear about Mirena coil, it’s actually very painful to be inserted, but I must be honest, if you’ve had a baby, its fine. That’s my feeling. 

I had a C-section, so, you know, I had dreadful labour, but I had a C-section and actually, I think you can cope with having a Mirena coil fitted, that’s my personal opinion but not everybody’s threshold is, you know, that’s not for everyone, I’m going to say that, for sure. And I do think, you know, I’m not through my six months yet, so, you know; watch that space in some ways. I do think it’s right for me now, but I could get beyond six months and if still periods are happening, then obviously there’s something wrong and I’ll have to go back and rethink that one but let’s hope they do stop and that’s the end of that.

Le’Nise: So the journey that you’ve been on and the kind of cultural expectation for women and their 40s and 50s and you have an organisation, Future Female, which, as we heard in the intro, is about promoting everyday equality. How do you think that applies to women who are going through this transition in life?

Deborah: I think the stereotype is being eroded as in the stereotype of women and menopause, which is excellent, meaning, I think there’s a lot more conversation out there now about menopause and I talk about it quite often in circles that I would never have considered talking about it before, because it was like, oh, something to shush about a bit like periods to be honest, I think they all go together. 

The more open we are about what is happening with our bodies that are our natural processes, that are part of how we all can reproduce and bring humans into the world, the better and there’s more talk to be done, there’s more books to be written, there’s more openness to occur, there’s certainly more education because, you know, women in their 20s and 30s, I want them to know that if you end up in early menopause, if you don’t know that it’s going to come, literally, you think you’re going mad and there’s a whole heap of women I’ve heard that from, including myself. 

You know, you go into this very strange zone of just otherness, you kind of go, well, where’s me gone? Am I still here? And unfortunately for me, that lasted quite a few years because I wasn’t given the education. So I think from an equality perspective, it has to be talked about; it has to be right on the agenda for a normal conversation.

For instance, slightly aside, but I talked to my son about periods, quite recently because I said, you’ve had the chat at school, how do you feel about it? Were you shown any tampon or sanitary towel and he said no, in real life, we weren’t, but we did see something on a tablet and I thought, well, if he’s accepted, I’ll show him, so we had a brief conversation. We got all the paraphernalia out, we were looking at what is best and what isn’t and he was like, what do you use? And I just think that’s exactly what we have to do, it’s a human thing, it’s not something tucked under the, you know, the carpet or whatever and that’s the same for menopause and more discussion and the less stereotypical, oh, my God, she’s on a period or oh, my God, she’s in the menopause or she’s a nutter and all these derogatory terms that are used for women to describe women. They have to be ousted. And certainly with Future Female, I’m doing what I can there to talk about, you know, menopause. And I talk less about periods because I’m not in that zone anymore but for me, it’s a combination of things. It’s women’s health, basically.

Le’Nise: So talk a little bit more about Future Female and the work that you’ve been doing through this organisation.

Deborah: Yes. So that is really looking at every day equality through this language, through every day habitual sexism that occurs through everyday language. So this kind of idea of derogatory terms used for female, mainly females that come from males. We rebranded recently to have the plus sign to be more inclusive to males because when I started Future Female, I did have the vision that this is a human story, it isn’t, oh, women, you know, telling men they must be a certain way because that is something I think is a barrier. I think if we join up as a team and are equally responsible to look at equality, then it becomes a very different discussion and it becomes a very different, hopefully, action based discussion so that men and women own it. 

And, you know, you don’t see the word feminism in my sort of discussion and my detail and in any language we use, it doesn’t mean I’m not a feminist, it just means that that term is, I feel quite barrier focused and people get stuck in that cul de sac, I call it because, you know, feminism is brilliant and it’s empowering but in order for us all to move forward, I think it’s you know, it’s a wider discussion around equality that everyone needs to take responsibility for and as humans, it’s in our power to sort of shift. 

So what we also look at is education and I’m involved with a number of schools where we just recently did a podcast last week actually at a school. So that Born Equal podcast is inclusive of all voices but looking into the secondary school sector to bring, you know, young voices into the mix, because that’s where it all starts, as in that’s where these derogatory terms occur and that’s where stereotypes occur and that’s what is most interesting to me in education is, so how can we reframe how we speak to each other and how can we, you know, get the action and get the change? And that has to come from both, as I say, male and female. So last week’s podcast was just with females but I’m looking to go in and talk to a group of males as well or female and males together and then I’m also looking because I teach a higher education level so B.A. level, I’m looking at podcasts through that level of student, you know, teenage up into the 20s to see what their take is on equality and every day habitual sexism. 

And then obviously, we’ve just launched a podcast earlier this year called Born Equal and other work where we’re doing is potentially linking up with a number of education organisations to create a toolkit or maybe isn’t a tool kit because the challenges, well, are we giving people something to use to mask the problem or are we going to actually see the whole kind of change in action? You know, it’s a difficult one because we want to help shift the change, but you know, I don’t want a mask it, I do want to give people tools to cope with it. It’s almost like, well, hang on, why are we coping? It’s back to that same conversation again. Why are we coping? Let’s try and think about it a different way. So, yeah, hopefully that gives you an insight as to what work we’re doing.

Le’Nise: Yeah, I think it’s a really important organisation and really important work that you’re doing. If listeners take one thing away from our conversation, what would you want that one thing to be?

Deborah: Don’t put up and don’t cope and don’t think, okay, this is how it has to be, that’s it, because it doesn’t have to be this way.

Le’Nise: Thank you so much for coming onto the show, Deborah. So, all of the work that you’ve mentioned through Future Female, where we can listeners find out more about it? Where can they hear the podcast?

Deborah: The Born Equal podcast is on iTunes, it is on Spotify and Podbean as the host. If you go to our Instagram, which is @WeAreFutureFemale, you can find all the links in there. You can also go on our website, which is www.futurefemale.com and yes, the links should be also on there as well.

Le’Nise: And all these links will be in the show notes as well. Thank you so much.

Deborah: It’s been brilliant. Thank you Le’Nise for inviting me on, it’s been a privilege.

Le’Nise: Thank you.

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