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THINGS I’VE LEARNT AS A WOMAN IN 2016: ARE WE STAGNANT OR TRANSITIONING?


For starters we're not anywhere near where we should be. I’d say I’m a feminist although I openly dislike the actual word. I hate that there is a description for something that seems so obvious, a description for something that shouldn’t have to be an ‘issue’ in the first place. Equal rights, equal pay, equal value and equal understanding for men and women… why does it have to be that complicated? Part of me also dislikes the word equal. On one side it seems so obvious to myself (as a woman) that we should be able to have all the same things men get but I also look at it in the way that we aren’t equal - no two people in the world are equal, no two women, no two men, that’s just how we are biologically programmed. Equality is a word that humans created to describe two things as the same. So I put it this way, we aren’t striving to be equal in the sense that every single person gets the same thing at the same time, that’s next to impossible. We want to be individuals and proud of it, but we also want wages that reflect our work and our value, not our gender. Rights based on principles, not gender, and recognition that would be given to a man in a similar situation, not based on the fact we have boobs and he doesn't.

I’m not a politician, a lawyer, a business leader nor a United Nations human rights activist. I’m a regular citizen, a 25 year old female, who's looking at what’s taking shape in world with as much amazement and bewilderment as the person next to me. I’ve watched the movements of 2016 and as a woman, as a human, I’ve learnt a lot about how far backwards we still are and how far we have yet to come to be anywhere near where we should be. I wonder if we are moving forward at all or if we are stuck in the same place, destined for history to keep repeating itself?

This year, jaws dropped rapidly in June as BREXIT unfolded and we saw the majority (made up of an older generation of people) vote for Britain to leave the EU. We’ve watched this year as a drug hating extremist got elected in the Philippines and mass executions spread across the country for anyone involved in drug taking/selling parties. A month ago we sat on the edge of our seats, fear starting to sink in, as we watched Donald Trump get elected as the next POTUS - with no prior political experience I’ll add. The same week closer to home in Hong Kong, we witnessed Beijing exercising its “power” over the Hong Kong judicial system - one country two systems seems to have failed and HK saw the beginning of what will sure to be a more hands on influence of China over this region. If these events have taught me anything it’s that A. predictions aren’t always right, B. The media has more power these days than it has ever seemed to have and C. there are always people wanting to be heard, people feeling undervalued and underestimated and people that want change. Who’s to say what change is right and wrong but I wonder if the change that’s happening globally is helping us or hindering our progress?

What’s it saying when we are pretending the growing refugee crisis globally doesn’t exist and ignoring the daily struggle of Syria. What’s there got to be said about the Black Lives Matter movement and the fact these issues are still being fought? Innocent people are dying, police are instilling fear in communities and acting as the enemy not the protector. Yes 2016 bought some positive steps forward, the UK got its first female prime minister for example but what’s that got to show for when you look at a country like America who expressed clearly their disdain for a woman to lead them even in today's world. They would prefer a lying, racist misogynist who openly discussed women as ‘lesser’ people and has claims of sexual assault than a woman who has worked every day of her life in the public sector and politics. She had flaws sure, but news flash, so does everyone.

In light of Carrie Fisher and George Michael's passing, I look at what they taught us about being spirited and strong. Both Fisher and Michael’s stood up for things they believed in, womens rights, mens rights, gay rights, the right to love, how to love, how to respect. Despite not wanting to be part of the spotlight Fisher used it to spread positive messages about being a woman, being a human being. Her iconic portrayal of Princess Leia, a fearless princess, in a galaxy (supposedly) far far away, who didn’t even bat an eyelid at gender stereotypes, gave the world a female role model whose values are as relevant today as they were then. Leia put up a fight, knocked down anyone in her way and showed the world there’s more to a woman than a great body and a gold bikini. In her life too, Fisher fought numerous stereotypes as a female - she was open about mental health and un-phased by the public obsession with women, age and beauty, “Please stop debating whether or not I aged well. Youth and beauty are not accomplishments, they’re the temporary happy byproducts of time and/or DNA. Don’t hold your breath for either.” George Michael, like Prince and Bowie, fought male stereotypes and what it means to be a ‘man’, then and now. He was generous without trying to get recognized for it, he wasn't looking for a pat on the back, he did it because he wanted to. They were all leaders in their own way showing that nothing is ‘normal’ nothing is ‘equal’ but there is room to love and respect in everything we do.

As one door closes on the year that was, and we step into 2017, one thing’s for certain, nothing is predictable. I’m not going to say go out and be different, go out and make a difference, because we should be doing that every damn day anyway. Yes somedays are harder than others but that doesn't mean we give up. Just because the clock ticks over at midnight and suddenly it’s a new year doesn't mean anything has necessarily changed unless we do go make the changes ourselves. There will still be setbacks and things won’t go our way but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t give it a good go. Push to move forward, keep our fingers on the pulse. Leader’s should not be given as much power as they seem to have in this day and age and it’s our job to make sure that the right people are given the power to improve the way we live and breath. Quoting Elbow here “Leaders of the free world are just little boys throwing stones/ And it's easy to ignore till they're knocking on the door of your homes”. They’re knocking and we need to knock back if we want to instil positive and humane values for both men and women of our generation, and future generations to live by.

#ThingsIveLearnt