It's been a comment worthy year, and our writers haven't disappointed us. With topics ranging from women, politics, languages, and relationships we're sure there's an article in here to tempt you with. Have a gander and find out what our most-read Comment pieces of 2017 have been.
When does it become obvious you are part of the problem? With the extensive and ongoing revelations surrounding Weinstein, and other men in positions of power, we’ve had countless commentary pieces and even a viral social media campaign, #MeToo. But what’s become most obvious to me is not these horrendous acts of sexual abuse, it’s the middle men: the ones who either don’t stand up to oppression or – even worse – don’t realise they are part of the problem.
If you’re finding yourself about to exit this article, or are just kind of bored of the seemingly endless stream of women writing articles or posts on social media about their abuse then, yes, you are part of the problem. This isn’t directed at Hollywood media moguls, or even men in positions of professional power: this is directed at the average Joe. The one who rolls his eyes when he hears the word feminist, the one who makes the sly jokes about women, the one who – worst of all – would say the words “I love women! All my best friends are girls” while they continue to knock them down at every available turn. They are completely ignorant of the reality women live in, and how their tepid in-between perpetuates this misogynistic culture, and it’s damaging. Ultimately, isn’t it the sign of true privilege when you can be bored of another person’s suffering?
In the 20th century, English became the most commonly spoken language (including both native speakers and non-native speakers). This has recently been overtaken by the surge in the number of native speakers of Chinese and Spanish, which in turn begs the question – is the rise in multilingualism something to be welcomed, or rebuked?
Well, some pros to having English as the sole language spoken across the globe are that firstly, it makes trade and communication between countries much simpler. Every person on the planet would understand what another is saying, which could bring about massive social changes. It could affect politics as well (for better or for worse), as nations could be more involved in the inner-state affairs of other countries with ease (and without the help of translators). That sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? But what exactly do we lose from this so-called “bargain”? Entire cultures, as it turns out.
My first experience with feminism was when I was fifteen, and one of my teachers gave a brief outline of what it meant and what it stood for. I didn’t really care for it much back then – the fact that I went to an all girls’ school should have served as some kind of incentive, but I never once gave it a second thought. In my mind, feminists were women who hated having the door opened for them, didn’t shave their armpits, and burned bras. I had inadvertently reduced their efforts for equal rights to something trivial and petty-sounding.
It wasn’t until I came across Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s highly acclaimed essay, ‘We Should All Be Feminists’ (adapted from her TEDx talk of the same name), that I actually began to read further into the movement. For her, a feminist is “a man or a woman who says, yes, there’s a problem with gender as it is today and we must fix it, we must do better. All of us, women and men, must do better.” What struck me in particular was her bold and confident demeanour: “I have chosen to no longer be apologetic for my femaleness and my femininity. And I want to be respected in all of my femaleness, because I deserve to be.”
I remember the first time someone pointed out the hair on my face – I was 6 years old, living in Pakistan and playing a game of tag with some of my friends. The boy who tagged me called me muchard, an Urdu word which essentially means ‘someone with a moustache’ and ran away laughing. I went home thoroughly upset. When I told my aunt, she told me to ignore him and said everyone had hair on their upper lip, even women.
Soon after that day, I began to notice my body hair more and more. It was on my arms, legs, neck, back, chest, and even on my knuckles! Everywhere. I was covered in it, fine and light in some places, thick and dark in others. When I moved to London, I became envious of the fair-skinned girls and boys with barely anything on their faces, arms and legs. Even if they did have some peach fuzz, it appeared to be a lovely golden colour which complimented their skin tone, whereas mine seemed ugly, coarse and extremely noticeable.
Not only are we conditioned from childhood to make ourselves smaller and less defiant, the pervasive culture of sexual harassment means that we are hyper aware of our bodies in public. The recent revelations of the Weinstein scandal and the #MeToo social media trend have thrown what women already knew into a sharp light. The simple fact of our bodies existing in public spaces means the we’re in danger of harassment and assault. Women just don’t have the same right to physically exist at a concert or on the tube as men do. Nor it seems, do we have the right to complain about it without being written off as being too sensitive, or making a fuss out of nothing.
With Jeremy Corbyn at the helm, the Labour Party are sleepwalking through this general election. Corbyn does not represent change, he represents continuity. Corbyn represents the inability of the left to reinvent itself, its inability to capture the hearts and minds of the British people and ultimately, its lack of ambition.The left daren’t present an idealistic alternative to capitalism. Instead of alternatives the left offers up retro-futurism: the yearning for a future that never was. We get all of the flaccidity and impotence that a 67 year old man can offer. We get a farce. We get a supposedly socialist Labour Party attempting to battle the Tories on well-trodden ground, promising to prop up the NHS by taxing the richest 5%. Of course, this is much less than the fundamental structural change that is really needed to maintain a system of universal health care. No, the Labour party daren’t strive for this.
Ghosting feels awful. It’s a feeling of complete and total rejection on so many levels. Not only do they not want to be with you, they will actively go to lengths to completely cut you out of their lives. You go from in a relationship to singlein the blink of the eye, without any input from you. You get zero agency in this breakup; you are a mere appendage in your own relationship.
I will doubt others when they tell me they are not feminists. I will doubt whether I want to be friends with them, I will doubt whether they are good people with good intentions and I admit to this doubt with no shame. However, recently I have noticed that not only some of the men in my life, but the women are increasingly hesitant to call themselves feminists. It doesn’t come as a surprise to me that some people don’t, but I assumed that I had surrounded myself with the type of people that do. As a feminist I am used to constantly defending the movement, but instead of shutting them down, telling them they were wrong, or condemning them for doing so, I decided to ask them why and really listen to what they had to say (without presuming that they were wrong from the get go). The reason for this is because these are people who believe in the definition wholeheartedly, but who do not want to associate themselves with its relative term. The question this article asks, is why the term feminism is so increasingly unappealing to feminists?
However much we might wish it we do not live in vacuums occupied only by our own thoughts, fears and feelings. We are locked in constant interaction with the things and people around us. It is doubtless that the cause of our mental ill health is more complex than the biochemical narrative will have us believe. We owe ourselves a more collective comprehension of depression.
Trump has become notorious for his Twitter fingers, flying into a rage with everyone from the press, his previous opponent Hillary Clinton, and foreign leaders Kim Jong-un and more. He has transformed the role of Twitter for an American President, making it more important than the press office itself. While immediacy in this day and age should be heralded and supported, this still carries with it an obligation to think things through first. The rise of Twitter diplomacy means that longer press releases are reduced to the length of sound bites, that the point is no longer nuanced but must be clear and forthright. While diplomacy provides responses that constructively try to emphasise your thoughts in a tactful and convincing way, Twiplomacy does not. The structure of Twitter impairs the ability of the diplomat, and if it is the active mouthpiece for leaders of the free world, it marks the Death of the Diplomat.