Most days, being a feminist makes me feel immensely proud. Some days, it drives me to despair for the state of humanity. Other days, it makes me want dance around the house to Beyoncé with wild, braless abandon.
On all days, however, I am a feminist. In my humble opinion, one doesn’t simply choose to believe in the equality of the genders on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, but not Tuesdays, Thursdays and weekends. You cannot be more of a feminist on some days than on others. Feminism is constant. You are either a feminist, or you’re not.
It may seem like a strange distinction to make, but 2016 has been full of odd occurrences. We’ve gone from having a Minister for Women who was resolutely not a feminist, to one who is a feminist “most days”. We’ve seen Hillary Clinton become the first woman to win the nomination of a major party to become the President of the United States, only to be beaten by a man who bragged about grabbing women “by the pussy”. We’ve laughed, we’ve cried, we’ve celebrated and we’ve raged, but most of all, we’ve been reminded, somewhat forcefully, that the fight is far from over.
It’s hard to know where to begin, or how to make sense of it all. So first, let’s take a look at the highlights (and the lowlights) of 2016:
March 7: Season two of The Bachelor premieres.
March 30: Stanford student Brock Turner is found guilty of three felonies.
April 10: Henderson High School finds itself in the national news as students speak to the media about comments made by Deputy Principal Cherith Telford about the length of students’ skirts. Telford allegedly told female students that their skirts needed to be lowered to knee length to, “stop boys from getting ideas and create a good work environment for male staff.”
May 11: George FM makes headlines again when Thane Kirby asks Naz from The Bachelor a series of disgusting questions while the camera person filming the interview zooms in on her breasts.
June 3: Buzzfeed publishes the powerful letter of ‘Emily Doe’, the survivor of a sexual assault case involving Stanford student Brock Turner after Turner is sentenced to a mere 6-months in county jail.
July 25: The Scott Kuggeleijn trial begins in Hamilton. During the case the defence will question the meaning of the word “no”.
July 26: Hillary Clinton is nominated by the Democratic Party to be its nominee for President of the United States.
August 1: The Chiefs rugby team holds an end-of-season celebration in Ōkoroire, and hires a stripper, Scarlette, to entertain them.
August 3: A hung jury is announced in the rape trial of Scott Kuggeleijn. “It's an unfortunate conclusion of these things for you today,” the judge tells Kuggeleijn.
August 4: Scarlette speaks out to tell the media that during her performance for the Chiefs, players groped her, threw gravel at her and swore at her. An inquiry is launched by NZ Rugby soon after the news breaks.
August 22: The Real Housewives of Auckland premieres. The season will be mostly remembered for the now infamous slur, “boat-n*****”.
September 7: NZ Rugby announces the findings of its inquiry.
September 8: NZ Rugby is slammed by politicians and advocates when it emerges that its inquiry into the Chiefs scandal was conducted by its in-house lawyer. A group of well-known women sign an open letter to NZ Rugby asking for a significant culture change.
September 13: Pressure mounts for then Minister for Women Louise Upston, with opposition MPs and media commentators calling for her resignation over her response to the Chiefs scandal.
September 19: Suffrage day is celebrated in New Zealand.
On the same day, the Act Party issues a press release suggesting that New Zealand should have a “Minister for Men”.
September 29: Anika Moa’s talk show premieres on Māori TV.
October 6: Helen Clark finishes 5th overall in the run to become the next Secretary-General of the United Nations. The role goes to yet another man.
October 20: Gable Tostee is found not guilty of the murder or manslaughter of Warriena Wright.
October 29: The NZ Herald publishes an interview with Paul Henry, in which he talks at length about the “titties” of a woman dining a few tables away from him.
November 8: Donald Trump beats Hillary Clinton to become the next President of the United States.
November 9: NZ Rugby announces the panellists who will form a committee to report on rugby culture in New Zealand. The group includes Lisa Carrington, Michael Jones, Keven Mealamu, and Dr Deb Robinson among others.
November 23: The New Zealand Government accepts the recommendations of a working group, establishing a process for women in female-dominated jobs to fight for pay equity.
December 12: Paula Bennett becomes the first Māori female Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand.
December 15: Former Black Fern Dr Farah Palmer becomes the first woman appointed to the board of NZ Rugby.
December 19: Chorus names Kate McKenzie as its new CEO.
December 20: Newly sworn in Prime Minister Bill English tells reporters that he wouldn’t describe himself as a feminist and that he doesn’t know what feminism means.
On the same day, Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett tells Radio NZ that she is a feminist “most days”.
On the same day, triple Olympic medallist Lisa Carrington wins the Lonsdale Cup.
How far we’ve come, and how far we still have to go. The pay gap sits at 12 per cent and there is currently just one female CEO in the entire field of NZX50 companies; but everywhere I look I see incredible women doing amazing things. I see women raising families alone in trying circumstances, women fighting their employers to be paid what they’re worth, women collecting awards and accolades; women supporting each other in all walks of life.
Today, just like any other day, in any other year, I am grateful for feminism. Grateful for a sisterhood that fought earlier battles so that I can enjoy the freedoms I have today, and grateful for the opportunity to join that fight to improve the lives of others.
The revolution started long before we were born, and each year will be but another stepping stone along a treacherous and winding, but ultimately victorious path. Let’s join hands with our sisters, open our shouty mouths wide, raise our shrill voices, and feminist the fuck out of 2017.