On International Women's Day on Portobello Beach, men showed they can be feminists too – Hayley Matthews

Several hundred swimmers went for a swim in the North Sea at Portobello Beach for the International Women's Day (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)Several hundred swimmers went for a swim in the North Sea at Portobello Beach for the International Women's Day (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Several hundred swimmers went for a swim in the North Sea at Portobello Beach for the International Women's Day (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
If you saw Portobello Beach on Tuesday, then you might have wondered why so many people were there or what on Earth was going on.

There were hundreds of women and men all running for a splash in the sea, having fun, larking about and it was all to raise funds for women’s charities to celebrate International Woman’s Day.

Yes, men were there too, because the majority of men actually support women.

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I remember working with a guy once who told me he was a feminist. Confused, I asked what he meant. He told me just because he was male didn’t mean he couldn’t support the independence, equal rights, equal pay or equal treatment of women.

He actually went out his way to champion it. Shouldn’t we all be like that? He acknowledged society still treated women differently from men and as a result, many men treat women in their own lives very differently to men.

It was refreshing to get a genuine male perspective on women’s rights. With some still living in the dark ages, believing women shouldn’t be firefighters, police officers or construction workers, the views of my ex-colleague are a reminder for me to pass on such values to my sons.

I’m adamant they won’t grow up with the archaic views the men in my family have had. They’ll grow to champion and support the women in their lives, be it their wives, friends or daughters.

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But to be honest, the majority of men thankfully do support the important women in their lives, helping them to flourish into the beautiful strong people they desire to be.

I’ve not always found myself to be surrounded by such positive opinions towards women. However, I am grateful to have one of the strongest, most loving, supportive and caring men in my life, my partner Kenny.

His gentle, quietly confident, loving nature has passed down to our sons. Our eldest came home on Wednesday telling me he was asked to draw the most important, strong and inspirational female in his life. “I drew you Mum,” he said. I’d never been called “strong” or “inspirational” and it made me smile.

Back to the swimmers on Porty Beach and those wonderful, inspirational souls out braving the sea to take part in the IWD SwimRise. Lots of love and support was filling up my timeline but one post stood out: Porty People Facebook page mentioned a massive £5500 was raised on the day for Edinburgh Women's Aid, Edinburgh RapeCrisis, Held In Our Hearts Babyloss Charity and Wonder Foundation, raising money for Ukrainian refugees.

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What a phenomenal amount of help will be given to all those women, it’s really amazing to see so many inspirational people out there.

It made me think of a short film I made with Women’s Aid whilst working at STV. There was a small, brown, leather handbag sat in a glass cabinet. When I asked about it, I was told it was there as a reminder that women living in abusive relationships sometimes just leave with a handbag to avoid alerting their partner they’re about to flee for safety. So never underestimate the help and support the charities above can provide.

Hats off to those who organised the International Women’s Day SwimRise, it looks like it was a great success.

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