New Internationalist

Declaring the year of sisterhood

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Reflecting on a dismal year for women, Kate Smurthwaite proposes a New Year’s resolution.

Statement of the blindingly obvious number one: 2016 was a bloody awful year. I mean here’s hoping you had some good personal news, a new job, a new baby, a lot of great sex (assuming you wanted those things, some days I’d rather have a cup of tea and a biscuit and just a reasonable amount of great sex!) but the big picture was pretty awful however you measure it.

Looking forward there doesn’t seem to be much cause for optimism. It’s perfectly possible that by the middle of 2017 Aleppo will be debating whether it should take any more American refugees.

Statement of the blindingly obvious number two: when things are shit for people, they’re usually extra shit for women. Trump’s election and Brexit in the UK seemed to give strength to the haters and when there’s hate going on you can be pretty sure women will suddenly be at the front of the queue. I speak as someone who was recently described on Twitter as a ‘waste of tits’. I don’t even know what that means.

Statement of the possibly less blindingly obvious: when women are under pressure we’re often left feeling like we have to compete against each other. I am not suggesting that women are biologically programmed to cat-fight at the first opportunity. Quite the opposite, society teaches us we have to.

We see it in every field of achievement, corporate boards with one woman, Hollywood action movies with six tough guys and that one feisty chick (the one who starts out fighting against her own side due to a misunderstanding but eventually realises her mistake and…long stare…deep breathing… intense kiss… roll credits. Seriously I watched too many predictable films over Christmas!). In my world – comedy – so few stage or TV stand-up shows manage to put more than one woman on at a time. Even in six or seven act line-ups. So I know I literally am competing with other female acts for that one spot.

If aliens are observing us from afar (greeting overlords, if you’re not too busy I have a couple of favours to ask…) via the medium of the mainstream media they undoubtedly believe that all the women-folk of earth are engaged in a massive-scale competition to be the world’s greatest girlfriend. How to dress, style, make-up, work-out for maximum appeal, the disconcerting sex tips, lose weight fast, ideally within a fortnight of having a baby. The endless critiques of any female sleb who dares to stray from the toned-and-tucked endlessly available sex symbol ideal.

Statement of the blindingly obvious number four: we’re not going to get very far until we chuck this narrative away with great force.

So here’s my plan. I’m declaring 2017 The Year Of The Sisterhood. I’m going to sign up to be a part of promoting and celebrating brilliant women at home and around the world every single week this year. And I invite you to join me – men too, why not?

Retweet mine or add your own. Hashtag #Sisterhood2017 from my account @Cruella1.

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