Ah, women’s rights. Is anyone else feeling appalled and deflated by how women are being treated in various crappy ways right now? Have we really come that far?
Man, it’s been a shit couple of weeks to be a woman.
Being a woman is exhausting at the best of times – the ‘you-can-have-it-all’ myth that exhausts us, the period cramps and bloating, the fluctuating hormones, the gender pay gap, the ‘mental load’ – but events from this last week or two have made us a little sad, and more than a little mad.
We were told we can’t be businesswomen if we’re female, pretty and of a non-white ethnicity (also, shoutout to Madeleine Chapman at The Spinoff for breaking that story). We can’t be bigger than Marilyn Monroe was and if we are, we’d better lose almost 10 kilos in three weeks. We can’t talk about periods without a male in the vicinity recoiling. We can’t keep sovereignty of our own bodies and reproductive rights.
Despite women’s rights and female equality coming so very far in the last 100 years or so, there are weeks when what’s happening in society just makes you want to scream or cry, then go to bed and wake up in an alternate world that has no traces of patriarchy and misogyny.
First up, beloved national treasure (we don’t say that lightly, make her sugar-free banana cake and then come back to us) Nadia Lim had to deal with one of the nastiest and stupidest comments that a white, rich, middle-aged man has made lately (and that’s a HIGH bar). This random businessman no one has heard of nor cares about (and who we don’t even care to name) called her ‘Eurasian Fluff’ and attacked the ONE photo of her in a 66-page prospectus for My Food Bag: that’s right, HER OWN COMPANY THAT SHE STARTED. Not okay.
In his own idiotic words, “when you’ve got Nadia Lim, when you’ve got a little bit of Eurasian fluff in the middle of your prospectus with a blouse unbuttoned showing some cleavage, and that’s what it takes to sell your scrip [stock], then you know you’re in trouble.” It’s almost beneath us to point out that a) there is barely any cleavage showing, if any at all, b) there are no buttons, and c) if she wanted to wear a plunging neckline anywhere, anytime, more power to her. Saddeningly, professional director Rob Campbell says such “stupid and offensive” comments aren’t uncommon in business. So women should just duck their heads beneath that glass ceiling?
Meanwhile golfer Lydia Ko somehow, inexplicably, made global headlines for talking in a live TV interview about how her period, and the resulting back pain, affected her last-round performance at an international tournament – much to the shock of the male reporter who, while not on screen, sounded about as comfortable as Brian Tamaki at a Gay Pride March. When, after quite the silence, he just said ‘uh, thanks’, Ko said: “I know you’re lost for words, Jerry.” Incredibly, an online article about this by ABC News included a box about what menstruation is. Seriously?
Meanwhile, at the privilege-soaked Met Gala, one of the world’s most famous women, Kim Kardashian, proudly proclaimed she’d lost almost eight kilos in just three weeks to fit a dress that had once been worn by Marilyn Monroe (Kardashian also crash dieted before the 2019 Met Gala) to the chagrin of women wondering why and how we should be starving ourselves and fitting in twice-daily workouts without the help of a personal chef and trainer.
Actress Lili Reinhart was all of us when she tweeted: “To walk on a red carpet and do an interview where you say how starving you are… because you haven’t eaten carbs in the last month…all to fit in a f–king dress? So wrong. So f**ked on 100s of levels.” Not okay, Kim.
And whoever we believe to be telling the truth in the Johnny Depp and Amber Heard trial, it’s not okay to call her words like ‘evil’, ‘witch’, or for her to receive death threats.
Closer to home, the ACT Party revealed a budget that would abolish the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, the Ministry of Pacific Peoples Affairs, and the Ministry of Maori Development. Way to alienate voters who don’t look like you, David Seymour.
We stand with Nadia Lim, who can damn well show some cleavage if she wants to.
Then there’s Holly Walker’s report for the Helen Clark Foundation, which shows the New Zealand system is failing women who experience mental-health issues during the perinatal period (from conception to the baby’s first birthday.) Meanwhile, the wider mental-health system is failing us, and people are waiting up to three years for endometriosis surgery and there’s a backlog of 50,000 of us waiting for overdue mammograms. Not okay.
Most shockingly, the rights of millions of women in the United States look set to be trampled on as a leaked document indicates the Supreme Court (stacked with conservative judges thanks to Trump) will overturn the nearly 50-year-old case of Roe vs Wade, and deny those who require a legal abortion the right to do so in many states. Horrifyingly, some states will go further. Louisiana legislators are advancing a bill that would classify abortion as homicide. If the Supreme Court topples Roe vs Wade as he hopes, Brent Crane (Assistant Majority Leader for Idaho’s House of Representatives) said his caucus would consider prohibiting the certain forms of birth control including the morning-after pill and IUDs. Seriously. OMG NO PLEASE IS THIS REALLY HAPPENING. These are NOT women’s rights.
How have we gone so backwards? It’s easy to point the finger at Trump’s America where the majority of the West has been influenced from, and sure, that could definitely be a factor. But while women are no longer restricted to the four ‘approved’ roles of being nurses, teachers, secretaries and homemakers, why can we not discuss a perfectly natural process that happens every month with members of the male gender? Or be left in peace to run wildly successful companies? Or walk down the street without being scared of what might happen? When do the women’s rights our brave sisters from the 60s fought so hard for arrive?
And what can we do as we contemplate the weeks and months to come? Well, we can call things out when they’re just not okay. We can have conversations about these things with women and men and, when appropriate, girls and boys. We stand with the women of America protesting for their rights to access abortions. We stand with women who refuse to accept dramatic weight loss as a major achievement. We stand with a woman’s right to discuss menstruation, in front of men who are lucky not to have to bleed for five to seven days every month. And we stand with Nadia Lim, who can damn well show some cleavage if she wants to and Lydia Ko who can bloody well say what she likes.
Women’s rights? Yeah right.