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This editorial wasn’t easy for me to write. It certainly wasn’t for lack of ideas. I had plenty to say; my problem was producing something I could publish.
I’ll admit, readers, I was a bit anxious about it. I had ghastly visions of some demented Vic Deals meathead posting a link to my editorial, accompanied by some snide comment about periods. I had premonitions of some arse nudging another in the line at Vic Books and sniggering at me, calling me a “Tumblr Feminist”.
It shouldn’t be hard; I’ve written plenty in these pages this year. I’ve written and edited the news since February. I must be capable enough or Sam would have fired me by now. Hell, in just 18-odd sleeps I will have handed in 40,000 words of gleaming thesis and the University will have no choice but to award me an MA. I can write, okay. And yet, here I am, pondering how “not to appear aggressive”.
Being familiar with current events, both serious and celebrity, I know that when women put themselves out there, men react. Just this week I’ve seen reporter Rachel Smalley called “self-promoting” and “bitter”, Serena Williams labelled “a man”, and journalist Megyn Kelly told she only questioned a GOP candidate because she was menstruating. The things I see every day in the news show it’s scary to be a woman with a voice.
There’s also a good chance that, had I used the nom de plume “Nick” and given readers the impression I was male, you would have been more inclined to read this editorial (eight and a half times more inclined actually, according to author Catherine Nichols, who sent her manuscripts to publishers under a male name). Like George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans), J. K. Rowling/Robert Galbraith (Joanne Rowling), Currer Bell (Charlotte Bronte), and George Sand (Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin), I could have adopted a male name and been read and respected.
This is also a hard editorial because it’s one I shouldn’t need to write. I shouldn’t need to remind you that we live in an unequal world, right? Surely, our loyal readers (those who haven’t skipped determinedly to the sudoku section already) are aware of the litany of issues facing women. I’m not going to give you the stats (page 9 can do that for you), but I’m also not going to tell you why you should be a feminist, because we should be past that shit by now. I’m tired of having to prove quotas are a good thing or that women are subjected to scrutiny men aren’t. I’ve had the same discussions with my father, my friends, people on the internet, and my classmates—all under the pretence that I should have to “prove” why women deserve equality. Women shouldn’t have to feel like this.
Really, I think the difficulty I’ve had writing this editorial demonstrates just why this editorial (and the Women’s issue) is necessary. We need to protect women’s voices because it is hard for them to speak and even harder for them to find an audience. For as long as women’s issues remain, editorials like this will be both difficult and necessary.
This issue tackles discussions that should be mainstream and demonstrates the value in having conversations about women’s issues. We should all be thinking and talking about abortion as a medical issue, like Jayne Mulligan has in her interview with Dame Margaret Sparrow. We all struggle with how to be allies to women and others who are disadvantaged, as described Philip McSweeney in his article. We’re also allowed to have questions. We’re allowed to discuss what women want as well as men. Sharon Lam and Charlotte Cudmore ask Victoria University women what they want on page 20 of this edition.
Most importantly, it’s okay to acknowledge that we’re different, and to recognise intersectionality. I’m a straight, Pākehā, cis-female and I can’t speak on behalf of all women (nor should anyone, really). We’ve been very lucky in this issue to have Kahu Kutia and Kayla Ngatai Polamalu discuss Te mana o te wāhine, and you shouldn’t finish this magazine without having read them.
Despite my concerns writing this editorial, I’m very proud to present 2015’s Salient Women’s issue. It has been lovingly filled with people’s views, words, art and experiences; I hope you enjoy it.