Helen Robertson Column: Floats the raven banner o’er us …
“Donald Trump can grab my pussy any day.”
What kind of experiences and education do you need to get to a place where this is an acceptable slogan for you to wear across your chest?
Maybe the women who wore it at an American election rally had been raised and educated that their needs were second to the needs of the men around them.
Maybe they had reason to disbelieve and dismiss other women’s tales of violence against them. Or maybe, given more evidence of corruption, they had been paid to wear it.
But wear it they did, thus proclaiming that they denied their own rights while simultaneously mocking the victims of sexual abuse.
And, of course, he got in. I don’t understand the optimism that naturally comes with the turning of the year. The calendar is a manmade thing. As far as nature is concerned we are not in year 2017 at all – it is a manmade construction.
The fight for equality must be stepped up if we are not to slip back and lose the political rights already achieved.
Despite this it does generate a kind of collective optimism that “things” can only get better. However, the changes started in 2016 are only going to be implemented this year and “things” are going to get much worse.
With a blatant bully in power in America the fight for equality must be stepped up if we are not to slip back and lose the political rights already achieved.
If we are not willing to alter an aspect of our culture then why should we expect any other culture to alter theirs? By refusing to change this aspect of our culture we give fuel and validity to other communities across the world that use culture as an excuse for much more serious and dangerous practices.
Up-Helly-A’ is our veil; it is our not being allowed to drive, it is our not being allowed to vote. Culturally, historically and internationally it is the same; it comes from the same place, and has the same effect – sending a message to women and to girls that they are not good enough or important enough to be accorded equal rights.
A recent National Geographic magazine investigates gender and its effect on individuals across the world. One Canadian girl was quoted as saying: “There isn’t anything I can’t do because I’m a girl. Everyone is equal.” If only we could say the same here.
Being in a Junior Up-Helly-A’ squad is great for your education. You can learn group skills and team building. Your creativity can be developed as you explore ideas for squad themes.
Your research skills can be developed as you look to history to find a character to represent. You can learn to design your costume, creating original shields and tunics.
Not only are the girls excluded from taking part in the main event, that their place as not so important as boys is reinforced through the school.
There’s a chance to learn sewing, woodworking and metal working skills. Sounds great! What a great thing for the school to support.
Oh, but wait, that’s only if you’re a boy. The educational opportunities available to girls are somewhat more limited; you can learn to apply make up, you can learn to dress attractively and you can learn sitting at the side of the hall looking pretty. Girls need to be valued for their skills, no their appearance.
Not only are the girls excluded from taking part in the main event, that their place as not so important as boys is reinforced through the school. This is a matter for the education committee.
The Junior Up-Helly-A’ should reform or die. The coming of the new Anderson High School is a perfect opportunity to introduce change to the festival.
No child, male or female should be discriminated against because of their gender. It is so basic that I can’t believe it even has to be said, never mind fought for.
What good do you think it does to girls not allowed to take part? What good to boys to have the privilege of full participation granted purely due to their gender.
The lead-up to Up-Helly-A’, the events afterwards, and the parading of men at every community event just reinforces this message.
If you are a female reading this then you, me, we are second class, not good enough to take part either because of historical, cultural or (get this) economic reasons.
According to the written guidelines for the Up-Helly-A’ committee it has a duty to continue upholding the traditions of the festival.
At the risk of coming over all James Stewart – what has been written by man can be altered
by man. Fly the flag, be the change.
We need to teach our girls that they are equally important to boys and that Donald Trump cannot grab their pussy any day.