One of the most interesting things that happened at the Sundance Film Festival (at least in my opinion) was the Serious Women panel where New Yorker TV critic Emily Nussbaum spoke to comedic heavyweights Mindy Kaling, Lena Dunham, Jenji Kohan and Kristen Wiig about writing, sexism in the industry among other things.
I have been covering news about Nigeria for a year and a half and through all the turmoil that I have seen, today was the first time that I broke down in tears. This vast, beautiful country filled with fascinating cultures and even more interesting people has become a constant source of bad news – from corruption to fraud to infectious diseases to kidnappings to child marriages to intolerance towards homosexuals – one does not need to look far to discover something which is currently plaguing the population of this West African country.
A lot of time, your dream cast for a well known role rarely works in your favor, but there are those special moments when it seems like the moon and stars collide and one inspirational human gets cast as one inspirational female character, and such was it with the announcement that Emma Watson will be playing Belle in Disney’s new live action Beauty and the Beast.
We’re still on the high from Miss South Africa winning Miss World and while it’s good exposure and a well deserved achievement for a beautiful, smart woman like Rolene Strauss, the news about the town of Chilvilcoy, Argentina who decided to ban beauty pageants enticed me much more.
It’s what many of us would see as a nightmare, that at 14-years-old to be married off to an older man who your parents have chosen for you but for Wasila Tasi’u and other girls from areas like Kano State in Nigeria this is very much a part of their reality.
You don’t have to look far to find the criticism against female heroines such as Bella Swan or Anastasia Steele, and I find myself agreeing with a lot of the arguments. Even though books and films such as Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey are entertaining to the masses, they are still influencing young women that indulge in them.
Taylor Swift is all the talk of this week as her fifth album 1989 was released on Monday. I’ve been a huge fan of Taylor Swift for a very long time and naturally I pre-bought and fangirled like a beaver on crack when I got that notification that 1989 was ready to be downloaded, I felt like I was waiting all my life for this album, and was not disappointed. Perhaps it’s because TSwizzle and I are the same age, but her albums usually seem to be exactly what I want to hear at the given time. Fearless and Red are two albums that I felt spoke to me at the point I was at in my life when they were released and now with 1989, I truly have an album which I could see as the current soundtrack of my life.
Could there be any other receipient of this honor this week, than Emma Watson? Nope I don’t think so.
By now you must have seen the video of her U.N. speech, but if not, check it out here:
The tragedy of the mass shooting in California and the #YesAllWomen campaign has brought the misogynistic culture of Americans to the forefront. But this is not just an affliction that is germane only to American culture, but to all cultures and especially here in South Africa. A country where rape is the order of the day, where young women are constantly judged by the way they dress, where a women being beaten into a pulp by her husband is responded by the question, “What did she do to deserve it?” This is a culture which should be listening to what all these women in the world are saying and need to start shifting their mindsets instead of just placating the monster.
Women’s rights are becoming a priority in Africa. No matter how many chiefs, presidents, patriarchs refuse it’s existence, try and burn it to the ground or use the old excuse of it being against their culture, it keeps rearing it’s head, and will not be silenced. The past couple of weeks a tradition of ‘wife swapping’ which is more like ‘wife offering’ within two tribes in Namibia has been brought into questioning.