Trump-shaped storm clouds fill the sky, making the world seem pretty apocalyptic.
As a woman, the news can be quite disheartening. Claims of sexual misconduct flood my newsfeed, as the #metoo movement offers a platform for the previously unheard. The stories are horrific, as victims come forward, only to have their credibility called into question.
People love to throw around blame, as though there is anything a woman could do, that would justify the resulting abuse.
What was she wearing?
Why was she there?
How could she be so stupid?
Our focus, rarely on the perpetrator.
I have a son and a daughter. I won’t be teaching one to fear the other. I will be instilling them both with respect. Respect for themselves and each other. It seems straightforward, but somehow, respect seems to be at the heart of this.
I deserve respect.
I am not an object.
I am not lesser.
I am equal.
Unless I am in labour – then I’m a goddamn superhero!!
Last week, Australian women cheered, as the government finally lifted GST on tampons and other period-related items. Praise the lord! Someone decided that perhaps my menstruation wasn’t as ‘luxurious’ as initially thought!
We are expected to be grateful for this. Silver linings....
Feminists are often referred to as angry man-haters – an oversimplification, designed to undermine. I love men. I am surrounded by exceptional role models for my son. I am fortunate in this way, because I do know misogynists. I know abusers. I know bullies. I have chosen to remove these people from my life. I don’t have time or tolerance for that kind of behaviour.
‘Not all men’ is a phrase that gets bandied about often. Another oversimplification, designed to soften the blow to male egos everywhere. If you feel the urge to state the obvious, then do what you must – it doesn’t change a thing. Change will only come, when we are able to stand side-by-side – male and female alike - to acknowledge that our daughters and sisters and mothers deserve better.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics:
1 in 4 women have experienced emotional abuse.
1 in 5 have experienced sexual violence.
1 in 2 have been sexually harassed.
1 woman on average a week, is killed by her current or former partner.
1 in 6 women have been stalked.
These statistics relate to women, but include girls as young as 15.
The truth is, we are right to feel angry. Despair also has a part to play. It's easy to feel hopeless.
So, I look for silver linings....
I find them close to home.
I find them in my friends, who have gone back to school deep into motherhood, to alter the course of their lives.
I find them in the mentors I have surrounded myself with – strong female figures, leading the way in my community.
I find them in my sister, wearing herself out, in an attempt to be all things to all people.
I find them in my daughter – as she ploughs through the countless things she wants to be when she grows up, determined that nothing is beyond her grasp.
Silver linings keep me from negativity, because ultimately, negativity won’t win the day. It won’t pave the way for future generations. We need ground breakers, innovators and motivators. We need to start with ourselves and inspire with our actions.
Surround yourself with strong women, because strong, fabulous, fierce women are everywhere! And give yourself a round of applause, because chances are, you are doing a brilliant job! Chances are, you are the kind of woman that others admire. Be bold and brave and defy gender stereotypes, or lean into them – do whatever makes you happy! Find your silver linings.
As a sidenote, I was encouraged to write this piece by my partner - an incredible man, who understands, supports and respects the women in his life x