Today marks International Women’s Day; a day to be proud of being female and to recognise the women of the past, the present, and the future. It’s easy to forget how far we have progressed as a society. We see women every day making an impact. Whether it’s fighting for our rights to equality or seeking change in the workforce, it’s incredible to see how millions of voices around the world have maintained the integrity and pride women all have. This year, we had the opportunity to attend the All About Women festival and we learned so many things from incredible women. Whether it’s looking at an insightful debate, hearing an empowering talk or engaging in crowd participation, there were three important things we took from the festival.
Women have made progression in society but it’s not enough
This year, the All About Women festival had a special guest making an impact within the entertainment industry. Known for her roles in Thelma and Louise and Tootsie, Geena Davis gave a powerful speech in her session titled ‘Women and Media’. She mentioned how stagnating the film industry was for females, even in children’s media. It was shocking to think that the same sexualised outfits used in animated films were the same ones used in R-rated movies for female characters.
Though women have progressed in society, it’s evident that people still overlook females in the entertainment industry and are not taken seriously. We need more positive female role models our children can look up to and we need to be taken into consideration the same way males are treated. As more female protagonists exist in movies and TV, our daughters can see that it is possible to be a confident role model on-screen.
We have the right to stand up for ourselves and not be brought down by our peers
Jessa Crispin, author of Not A Feminist, brought on some insightful comments surrounding her thought-provoking novel while she was being interviewed by Danielle Harvey. She mentioned that the idea of being labeled as a feminist was not her cup of tea because of the negative connotations associated with the term. The fact that feminism has a whole negative side to it has been emphasised on television, the internet, and various other media platforms. Someone from the audience shared her story of being part of the corporate world and how a male colleague of hers made a snarky remark that the only reason why she got promoted in the first place was because “she was a woman”.
Crispin told her immediately that a helpful phrase that has gotten her by is, “go fuck yourself.” It’s sad to see how one comment in terms of our gender can bring us down. As women, we should understand that not only do we have the right to stand up for ourselves but we also shouldn’t let other people bring us down just because we’re associated with the female identity. What makes us so different from males? Unfortunately, most men can get away with a lot of things. Let’s change that because we have as much power as men do, we just choose not to use it most of the time.
We are capable of doing anything
Entering 2017, Donald Trump is president of the United States and we’re all wondering how could this be. During the ‘Nasty Women’ panel, it really made me think about the women in today’s society and how we still get given shit if we pursue a career that is “male-dominated”. We should be encouraging women to pursue whatever they want because you know what? We are capable of literally anything as long as we work extremely hard to get to where we want to be.
The panel included Yassmin Abdel-Magied, Van Badham, and Lindy West. All women spoke about the horrors of politics and the emotional scarring that can come from someone simply following their beliefs. Despite our opportunities of holding an all-women protest, things aren’t progressing as fast as they should be. We should have our own voice by being part of the appropriate political parties, we should consistently chase after our dream jobs whatever it may be. We are not made to stick to particular professions just because they “nurture our motherly qualities”. We’re better than that and we can show society that as females, the possibilities are endless for us.
As you can see, the All About Women festival is an event that opens the eyes of women, and it definitely opened up mine. All these things that I’ve learnt, I knew all along. Yes, we have struggled but that doesn’t mean we should stop fighting. The future for females is brighter than ever and we should hold on to that fact. No matter where we are in this world, we need to stand in solidarity and believe that many of us are destined for great things – beyond the societal norms and the conventional beliefs everybody seems to impose on us.
All About Women Festival was held on March 5, 2017 at the Sydney Opera House. For more information on the festival, go here: http://aaw.sydneyoperahouse.com/