I can hear you scoffing into your great mugs of coffee and until a couple of days ago I might have scoffed along with you. How can I even ask if 2016 is the year of the feminist? On the one hand 2016 has been one hell of a depressing year for women. We have the male chauvinist running for American presidency, and the reporting of the Brock Turner rape case. Finally, the Ched Evans’ case where we learnt about men booking out a Premier Inn room so that they can share a drunk woman. A woman who was then said to have felt “completely violated again” after having to endure 3 hours of grilling about her sex life in court. Yes, hardly material that shouts 2016 is the year of the feminist.
We should feel positive
However, after reading an article by Hadley Freeman I am feeling more positive. Hadley points out that things are getting better for women, slowly yet surely. We may have had these terrible examples of male privilege but, as Hadley points out, our response to these examples is now changing. We are now no longer normalising this type of sexual predatory behaviour. We have made progress of sorts. In the 80s we had Jimmy Saville. A sexual predator of terrifying proportions. A man who was able to sexually assault women live on T.V, a man who assaulted children. The fact that so many people knew about his abuse is problematic and extremely worrying. However, perhaps it was just reflective of the society that we were living in because as a society we had been conditioned to turn a blind-eye, to ignore what has happening in right in front of us. Now we are shouting from the roof-tops about Trump’s behaviour. We are seeing women like Michelle Obama standing up to him with her brilliant speech.
Has Trump unleashed the dam?
If anything the Trump case has highlighted just how far we have come as a society. A society that now refuses to accept that it is normal for a man to say “grab ’em by the pussy”. A society that at one time turned a blind eye to Saville is now shouting down Trump. Trump and his words mean that we are now talking about sexism, women everywhere are sharing their stories of sexual assault. Sadly, stories that are very common. However, we have to be heartened by this sharing of stories because now we are talking about it. As Hadley says, perhaps we finally are turning a corner. Maybe now we are going to be able to power forward. We are now seeing a real shift in attitudes when it comes to the understanding of sexual violence. We should almost (I said almost) be thankful to Trump, because thanks to his appalling sexism, the dam of voices has been unblocked. We now have people sharing their stories: unafraid. To have these voices in the mainstream media shows progress. It shows that women are no longer afraid of a witch hunt of not being believed or of being belittled. Sexism is no longer ignored, it is now taken seriously.
Women are now coming together from all walks of life to share their stories. We should feel heartened that so many women are now empowered to talk. However, there is still so much more work to do. We must not forget the many women hidden from society. The ones that are afraid to speak up. For them we have to show that 2016 is the year of the feminist. For them we have to create a world where every woman can have her voice heard. Let’s make 2017 the year for every woman. We still have work to do.