09/03/2016

How Yorkshire Rows have become even more inspiring this International Women's Day

Earlier this month two ladies from my hometown of Selby were part of a record-breaking quartet who became the oldest women to ever row the Atlantic. Helen Butters and Janette Benaddi were half of the Yorkshire Rows team who sailed into the record books for the second time in 12 months as part of the oarsome foursome.

Since returning from their epic challenge their feet haven't touched the ground. The ladies have been everywhere - local news, national news, press conferences, This Morning, Saturday Night Takeaway... And rightly so. Their achievement shows that not only is age no barrier when pursuing your dreams, but that girl power is still going strong.

Their return, and subsequent press tour, timed ever so perfectly with International Women's Day and saw these women propelled even further onto a national platform as some of the most inspirational British women of today.



But, in the true style of the British media, their incredible, record-breaking successes were overlooked after an unfortunate mishap on BBC Breakfast which saw a clip of Helen in the nude shown in full.

It was part of a segment with the ladies where they discussed how they ended up rowing naked much of the time due to their clothes taking too long to dry - something they touched upon regularly in their updates on Facebook.

True to form, the tabloids picked up on this truly unfortunate and, I imagine for Helen, highly embarrassing incident and dedicated more colum inches and space on their website to this, rather than the fact these supermums had just rowed 3,000 nautical miles across the bloody Atlantic Ocean!!! Because, of course, having your bits out on breakfast television is far more newsworthy than their actual world record.

Even something as extraordinary, special and unique as Yorkshire Rows' achievement has been belittled by some corners of the press who have completely glossed over the fact that these four women just completed a challenge so rare that more people have been into space than taken part.

It's billed as the toughest rowing race on the planet for a reason - it's no walk in the park. And it wasn't plain sailing for the team as they faced adversity and difficulty but overcame it all.

It does sadden me that their achievements were a footnote in the national press coverage of the BBC Breakfast incident this week. Had that not happened, would the tabloids have picked up on the story at all? Most probably not. Which I find even more sad. In what is a truly magnificent display of professionalism and decorum the ladies have remained dignified and have not risen to the ridiculous coverage about, what is quite honestly, a shameful news angle.

Helen, Janette, Niki and Frances are the people who should be filling newspaper pages both in print and online and inspiring young girls and women to pursue their dreams and to aim higher. Great, Kim Kardashian posted yet another naked selfie, but who really gives a damn?! Is Kim Kardashian really the example we want to set young girls?

No.

I hope Yorkshire Rows continue to ride this wave of success and their achievements continue to be recognised for their magnitude in all the right ways. They're the kind of women young girls should aspire to be like - brave, courageous, determined, strong and defiant.

I suspect, though, it's going to take some time for women's achievements to stop taking a backseat to commentary on our appearance, image, bodies etc first. Hopefully Yorkshire Rows have inspired more women to tackle their dreams and realise that nothing is impossible if you want it hard enough.

Well done ladies!! You're oarsome!

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