Image: People at the Women's March in Auckland / Ben Mack
It’s been a big year for feminism. We’ve had a series of triumphs – but we also know we have a long way to go in the fight for equality and a freer world for all. Sometimes, however, it’s important to take stock; to look back and reflect. So we thought we’d take a backward glance at the enormous year that was 2017.
The year started bleakly after the election of a man who had bragged about pussy grabbing to the White House, but in January, the day after the Orange One’s inauguration, millions of people gathered all over the world to take a stand for equal rights as part of the global Women’s March. Over a thousand people took part in several marches here in Aotearoa, too. We at Villainesse covered the Auckland march live – an event our editor also spoke at. The Women’s March marked the beginning of a new chapter in the feminist fight.
The battle will rage on for a long time, but 2017 brought important victories. In Saudi Arabia, women at long last won the right to drive – the last country in the world where women were forbidden by law from operating a motor vehicle. More countries, such as Germany and Australia, finally legalised same-sex marriage – despite fierce opposition by less tolerant members of society. In the US, Trump’s ban on allowing transgender people to serve in the military was overturned. In November elections, women, people of colour, trans people, and others were elected in record numbers.
Entertainment-wise, we had heaps of kickass women doing kickass things, not the least of which was the Patty Jenkins-directed, Gal Gadot-starring Wonder Woman (the highest-rated superhero movie ever) that told girls and boys everywhere that there’s no shame in looking up to a woman, and that women can be strong, too.
And let’s not forget the #MeToo movement – a pushback against decades of sexual harassment and systematic oppression that has already brought down incredibly powerful men (and prevented others like Roy Moore from taking power). It’s not just the watershed moment of the year – it’s the watershed moment of our generation, without a doubt.
Feminism won victories in 2017 here in New Zealand, too. The most obvious, of course, was Jacinda Ardern becoming prime minister. In short, to use a homegrown Villainesse microcosm, a woman who has written for us before about why she’s a feminist (and who also spoke at the Women’s March in Auckland) replaced a man who literally told us he hadn’t looked up what “feminism” means.
And that’s not all. During this year’s parliamentary election campaign, we also saw the campaign of a minor-party candidate go down in flames after his gendered description of Jacinda Ardern. Coincidence? We couldn’t possibly say. The new Minister for Women proudly declared to us that she’s a feminist 24/7 (as opposed to her predecessor, who said she was only a feminist “most days”). And let us always remember how incredibly awesome the Black Ferns are (who seriously deserve wayyyyyy more attention – and money – than they currently get).
Yes, we still have a long way to go. This is no time to become complacent and rest on our laurels. But when “feminism” is Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year, the #MeToo silence-breakers are Time’s People of the Year and more women (and allies) than ever are saying that we need to do away with the old patriarchal system of oppression that favoured only a select few, we know the tide has turned in our favour.
The battle continues in 2018. Let’s not rest until we’ve won – for everyone.Support Villainesse