With the end of the year looming, it’s likely you’re feeling pretty exhausted. But have you noticed that the usual slump in the lead up to the holidays has a slightly different tone this year? Maybe the tiredness is tinged with a bit of existential dread? Perhaps your reflections on the past 12 months have an element of frustration, even anger?
Well, you’re not alone. This year has been an absolute marathon of ugly reminders that we have a long way to go before we achieve gender equality. Here are five reasons why you might be feeling worn down at the end of 2018 (and a little bit of inspiration to reenergise for the year ahead).
1. We were reminded once again that powerful white men will never pay for their actions
Even after the incredible courage of Christine Blasey Ford and the other women who came forward with their allegations of sexual misconduct against Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the privileged man was still elected to the Supreme Court.
This man now has even more power, and is expected to preside over major decisions with sound moral judgement of right versus wrong – when there’s evidence that he has abused his power and sexually harassed women, with absolutely no consequences.
If you’re feeling a bit ragey remembering this, maybe consider signing up to boxing classes in the new year to vent that frustration, because apparently the established systems of justice aren’t going to offer any resolutions.
2. 66 women have been killed this year, the vast majority by men
Already, 2018 has surpassed 2017 with the number of women suffering violent deaths. 66 women have been killed in Australia, according to Destroy the Joint, and the vast majority have died at the hands of men.
Despite the growing evidence to show that this toxic culture of violence against women is actually killing us, very little is being done to address gender inequality, and men in power (see above) who suffer no consequences for their actions just reinforce the message that women’s lives are worth less than men’s.
It’s enough to make anyone want to hibernate for the next year.
3. Even the progressive political parties have a gender problem
In August, the ABC uncovered the fact that the Australian Greens have mismanaged and covered up multiple reported cases of sexual assault and harassment of volunteers and party members. Even the core values of Australia’s progressive political party can’t save the organisation from falling into the same trap that many institutions have before them – victim-blaming and a failure in their duty of care to the women who support them.
4. It didn’t take long before the Me Too movement was weaponised by men
Yep, even the spaces that women have painstakingly carved out for ourselves, to speak truth to power about the trauma experienced by women across the world at the hands of powerful men, have been turned against us.
In October, Liberal MP David Elliot accused Luke Foley, then leader of NSW Labor of sexual misconduct against journalist Ashleigh Raper – despite Ms Raper’s decision not to disclose the incident or to take it any further.
The political point-scoring resulted in Ms Raper being forced to make a public statement regarding the incident, and being dragged through the media – exactly what she had been trying to avoid.
The fact that the discourse generated by the Me Too movement, a movement started by women for women, and that has resulted in incredible awareness of the systemic issue of sexual harassment and assault in institutions across the world, is now being used by men to bring down other men regardless of the impact this has on survivors, is just the cherry on top of the shit sundae that has been 2018.
5. The crisis for older women and secure housing is only getting bigger
In case you were hoping things would get better as we get older, there’s not much good news on that front either. A report released by the Mercy Foundation this year has shown a 31 per cent rise in the number of older women experiencing homelessness since 2011.
Why? It’s a culmination of the many instances of gender inequality we experience throughout our lives – the gender pay gap, the lower wages in female-dominated industries, the caring responsibilities that keep women out of full-time work and reduce their superannuation, the domestic violence many women experience that leads to a breakdown in marriage, and the unaffordability of housing, all mean that you could end up homeless even after working hard all your life.
After a year of slogging away against this onslaught of inequality, you would be forgiven for wanting to spend the holiday break slumped on the couch, binging feminist TV and pretending the real world doesn’t exist.
But before you give up, remember that there are millions of feminists right there with you – with solidarity, and self-care, we’ll be re-energised and ready to continue the fight next year. Bring on 2019 – we can only go up from here!
Zoya Patel founded Feminartsy in 2014, following four years as Editor-In-Chief of Lip Magazine. Zoya was Highly Commended in the Scribe Publishing Non-Fiction Prize 2015, was the 2014 recipient of the Anne Edgeworth Young Writers’ Fellowship, and was named the 2015 ACT Young Woman of the Year. Her debut book, No Country Woman, a memoir of not belonging, is out now through Hachette Australia. @zoyajpatel