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Aysha Taryam: 2017, The Year of Female Reckoning
December 26, 2017
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This year saw great names fall and a lifetime of careers extinguished. Power, the one aspiration such men dream of, no longer legitimised their bullying and unwelcome advances. 2017 is the year that redefined what it means to be a ‘man of power’ 

AS a year comes to a close we tend to look back in reflection at its most memorable moments and although this year had many it remains distinguishable from the rest, for it is not often that we witness a tangible shift in perspective happen in the span of 12 months. 2017 has been the year of female reckoning whose path was paved by the electing of a man with sexual harassment cases filed against him and who was filmed speaking abhorrently about what ‘powerful men’ are allowed to do to women. The election of the 45th President to the land of the free ignited all kinds of protests but none as massive as the Women’s March that took place on January 21st, a day after the presidential oath was sworn, it was the largest single-day protest recorded in US history.

Like it or not, Trump was the best thing to happen to women’s solidarity since the Suffragettes.

From that moment onwards the world got a sense of something stirring within the female community, suddenly more women began identifying with feminism a word that until recently was viewed as derogatory, and more men were finally recognising that gender-equality is not a demand to be made solely by women, it was a human right everyone should be advocating. The news during 2017 was peppered with issues such as gender-pay gap, violence against women, and sex discrimination in the workplace, terminology that has been deemed unfashionable and lost its potency in the US since the explosion of feminism in the 1970s. We saw the year end with two words and a hashtag placed in front of them that have been retweeted, shared and worn as a badge of honour by women around the world, the hashtag #MeToo, used by women to indicate their exposure to sexual harassment, was in the millions only a few days after the actress Alyssa Milano used it as a call for action against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. No one could predict the number of personal stories from all around the world that came pouring in via this hashtag and all of a sudden it was clear that sexual harassment is a worldwide pandemic that no woman or girl is immune to. The sheer magnitude of the #MeToo hashtag did not allow for any more excuses to be made, no longer was shaming the victim a possibility and brushing off sexual harassment as anything other than the predatory behaviour that it really is, was not a viable option anymore.

This year saw great names fall and a lifetime of careers extinguished. Power, the one aspiration such men dream of, no longer legitimised their bullying and unwelcome advances. 2017 is the year that redefined what it means to be a ‘man of power’. Time magazine has chosen its person of the year for 2017 to be the ‘Silence Breakers’, the women who spoke out about their abusers, it listed women from different races, professions and age-groups whose voices helped push a stagnant female movement to a point of no return.

The age-old patriarchy that has enforced its power on women since the dawn of time never changed, it had just assimilated into the new age and camouflaged its way into civil society creeping through the alleyways all the way up to the boardrooms of international conglomerates. It wears many masks and hides behind so many reasons but women recognise it wherever it appears. Girls feel it when they walk to school every day; women are haunted by it in places that are meant to be safe havens. For years women believed that because a man can never truly understand that icky feeling one gets as she is paid an unsolicited compliment or told a sexist joke or worse, that there was no use of trying to explain, that this was just how the world went. But even if it did, it shouldn’t, and there is no better time to change it. The shaming culture that has kept women’s mouths shut for so long is on its way towards extinction for the door to proclamation has been kicked open with the force of a thousand years of restraint and the injustices have been shouted out with the shrill of a thousand years of shamed silence.

2017 was the year of female reckoning and women have everything to look forward to.
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