Happy New Year to you all and I am sure like me you are glad to say adios to 2017 – a year of political uncertainty and upheaval, scandals and far too many human fatalities from terrorist attacks and institutional negligence – good riddance.
2018 is welcomed in by the media as the Year of the Woman? I thought that was a permanent state of affairs, however I have decided to embrace this with positivity and grace as opposed to feeling patronised and somewhat bemused!
In my opinion, there is no question of the need for us all to come together in collaboration to fight the ongoing inequality, violence against women, sexual harassment and rape, under representation and lack of parity in our society, so, if this is the agenda then I am in!
And I am pretty sure the 2 women who dominated my Christmas reading would agree. Mary Beard’s Women & Power, A Manifesto, an intellectual assessment on how history has treated women in power and what we need to rethink if we are ever to gain parity at the top and Hillary Rodham Clinton’s What Happened, her assessment of the 2016 presidential election and beyond.
Both these women are smart, courageous game-changers who highlight just what women have to endure if they want to reach the top of their chosen profession. The abuse, public flogging, death threats and blatant misogyny is truly an indictment on what we still have to do to achieve equality across the board. For me the most profound statement made by Mary Beard mirrors my own view ‘You can’t easily fit women into a structure that is already coded as male; you have to change the structure.’ I so agree with this, we need to raise our game and stop messing about around the edges and accepting small wins as victories. The very core of our societal norms has to change to allow women to engage and succeed with authenticity. This is the only way we will effect institutional sexism, global war mongering and female exploitation.
If there is one thing I wish for in 2018 it is that all this media hype and talking about female empowerment translates into action and solidarity and puts sisterhood back where it belongs front and centre. We must stand together, harness our universal power, raise our female voice and support and champion each other as opposed to competing, belittling and/or abandoning each at the first sign of discomfort. If one of us experiences sexism in the workplace, sexual harassment, discrimination, domestic violence, date rape, mansplaining or a myriad of other female disempowerment acts then this impacts us all. Our power is in our collaborative nature and as a unified energy we will be undefeated. Bystanders do not effect change, the ‘I’m alright Jack or Jill’ mentality will not create a more female friendly world for the next generation.
In the words of Emmeline Pankhurst ‘Deeds not Words.’
We need to step out of the darkness of denial and rise. We need to be bold and brave and refuse to be silenced, we need to stand up and be more strategic and focus on the end game. You do not need me to tell you what we still have to do, but we need to make sure our young girls know we are working on it and encourage them to join the party. What we are seeing in our classrooms and on University campuses is girls disengaging from careers, uncomfortable with the concept of power (that’s for boys Miss) and turning their anger and confusion around their female identity against each other as toxic friendships intensify and relational aggression becomes the next classroom epidemic. Believe me sisterhood is most certainly not on the curriculum.
I wish you an awesome 2018 and remember to invest in you – become a role model, read better stuff, watch better stuff, surround yourself with positive people, find your voice, learn to silence your internal critic and make a decision to believe in you EVERY DAY? Then watch the magic happen.
Here’s to a Diva rocking year!