January 05, 2015

2015: The Year of Online Positivity?

Screen Shot 2015-01-05 at 22.20.59

2014 was a great year for many reasons. Malala won the Nobel Peace prize. Laverne Cox was on the cover of TIME magazine; Emma Watson smashed it at the UN conference where she delivered her ‘He For She’ speech about gender equality. We also fought for the equal pay bill to be passed! The earth didn’t blow up! It was also the year of bad-ass feminist books that left a lot of young women feeling incredibly empowered: Sophia Amoruso’s #GIRLBOSS, Lena’s Not That Kind Of Girl, Caitlin Moran’s rude and sweary How To Build A Girl, Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist, Amy Poehler’s Yes Please. I could go on. And on. In terms of feminist books, 2014 was the year I felt truly inundated with brilliant, powerful ladies. I felt spoilt; like a birthday girl at a birthday party I had too many people to choose from and too many pieces of good advice to quote.

However. It was also a year that a lot of silly shitty stuff happened. Because you know: the world’s not perfect.

Namely, there has been a vicious online movement that highlighted some serious misogyny and sexism towards female video gamers. There was also a hateful Internet response to Lena Dunham’s book which unfortunately showed the scary, vitriolic side to the ‘sisterhood’. It reminded me of the petty yet horrific Twitter trolling of Caroline Criado-Perez in 2013 because she’d campaigned for Jane Austen’s face to be on a £10 bank note leaving CCP scared for her safety except this time it was feminists berating other feminists. There has been email leaks, phone hacks and exposing of nude photos of some our most treasured actresses, without their permission.

Not as heavy perhaps, but there’s also been a trend of ‘feminist-shaming’, making celebrities feel deep media-shame for not answering the “Are you a feminist?” question in interviews, or not answering it correctly. PEOPLE ARE SCARED TO GET IT WRONG. It’s the slippery banana skin beneath people’s feet, hoping they’ll trip up on it for their next front page scoop. Feminism isn’t about attacking other women as soon as you possibly can. It’s not about attacking men either. Because if we’re still trying to reach the equality nirvana we’re not going to get very far if we’re all bullying each other.

This excerpt from a TIME article summed up these scary moments of the sisterhood turning sour:

“Feminism has a long history of what Ms. Magazine, in a 1976 piece by Jo Freeman, called “trashing.” That is, taking jabs at women who suddenly rise up, helping elevate them, but then tearing them down when they become too successful.”

This isn’t meant to be a downer blog post, quite the opposite. Every year my new year’s resolution is to be more positive, and think “if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say it” (AND MY GOD THAT’S DIFFICULT). I’m not perfect, and like any other human many things irk me and I argue and snap. But I reflected: do I really want to be one of those sour old lemons who wake up each day and find something to bitch, moan about, or complain about? No. No I definitely don’t. That’s never been my vibe. Ever.

Quite simply because there are too many amazing things in the world. Too much I am grateful for.

We definitely need to fight things, change things, petition against things and make waves together.

But I think this starts with positivity, with collaboration and feeling “together” not against each other.

Below is a video that Megan, Laura and I recorded about positivity within the sisterhood.

Women are not the competition. The race is only with yourself. Set yourself to a good start, and you’ll win.

Kill it with kindness, and just see, just see what happens.

 

 If you liked this post, you’ll also like this from Megan, the blog post that accompanies the above YouTube video.

My Book

“In love with Emma Gannon’s Ctrl Alt Delete. So funny & smart, and reminding me of some of my own cringe teen Internet exploits!”

– Anna James, former literary editor of ELLE

"Funny, honest, and nostalgic!"

– The Debrief

“Emma Gannon is a bright spark of light in the world. I seriously dig everything she makes”

– Elizabeth Gilbert, bestselling author of Big Magic