On November 9th, Caitlyn Jenner won the Glamour Magazine ‘Woman of the Year’ Award, and made her way up to the stage with an acceptance speech that I was sure would blow everyone away. I was disappointed. Instead of talking about the struggles she was overcoming that are part and parcel of being a woman, or the many positive changes she made during the year, she spoke about how much fun she was having being a woman, and how she could now read Glamour Magazine without being afraid of what people might think.
But what Caitlyn failed to mention during her acceptance speech is that there is so much more to being a woman than having fun. I really thought she knew that, and I believe she is an undeserving recipient of the ‘Woman of the Year’ Award. And I don’t care that she has “only been a woman” for 6 months and not a full year, as some people have ignorantly argued.
She is undeserving of the ‘Woman of the Year’ Award because when asked what the hardest part about being a woman was, she responded with “the hardest part about being a woman is figuring out what to wear”.
As a woman myself, I can assure you that the hardest part about being a woman is most definitely not figuring out what to wear.
But unfortunately, this comment resembles a common attitude in this day and age.
The term ‘feminism’ originated when women fought for basic human rights such as the right to vote, and endured imprisonment in order to achieve this not only for themselves, but for the generations to follow them.
However, statements such as that made by Caitlyn completely undermine the persecution women went through to give us the rights that we now take for granted, and the women across the globe today who are still facing these struggles.
Caitlyn is not the only person to undermine this. In the first world, feminists are considered to be those who spend their time protesting for the right to show their nipples on social media. They are those who contributed to the ‘Piss for Equality’ hashtag, which involved women literally urinating in their pants and documenting it, in order to protest against the fact that women cannot easily urinate in public, unlike men.
To all those who put so much time and effort into fighting 21st century ‘struggles’ facing women, it is important to remember that there are still women in Ireland and across the world who are being undermined to a much more severe extent because of their gender.
For example, on average in Ireland, women only make 86c for every €1 a man makes. It’s even worse in the United States, with women only making 70c for every $1 a man makes.
In Saudi Arabia, women are banned from driving, according to their laws. Women are also deprived of the right to mix with men publicly and are seen as a possession of their husband or male relative. Sounds a little bit harder than picking out an outfit to me.
The hardest part about being a woman in some cultures is the very real danger of rape. From September 2011 to September 2012, a staggering 64,514 rapes were reported to the South African Police Services. That equates to over 176 rapes in South Africa a day, and those are only the offences that were reported to the police.
And it is important not to forget the Kumari sisters. The Indian sisters, aged 23 and 15, have been told by their unelected village council that they will be repeatedly gang-raped as punishment for their brother eloping with a married woman. That’s correct, two innocent females will be punished for their brother’s crime.
These are the kind of feminist issues women need to put their energy into fighting against. If we took half the amount of time we invested in getting #freethenipple trending, and used it to discuss the above issues instead, just imagine the amount of awareness we could raise.
Hearing someone uttering the words “the hardest part about being a woman is figuring out what to wear” while holding a ‘Woman of the Year’ Award is, in my opinion, a spit in the face of all of these women who are still fighting to be given their basic human rights.
There are many difficult things about being a woman. But the hardest part about being a woman has never been, and unfortunately never will be, figuring out what to wear.
Cliona Nic Dhomhnaill
Image Credit: Glamour