Happy 2016, Jar Belles!

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So another year is over and 2016 has been plucked, shiny and new (or bloody and screaming, depending on your outlook), from the beautiful vagina of 2015. Whether you had a traumatic 72 hour labour of a year or a wondrous water birth of a year, we come to the same end point together – a fresh, new year. Ready for us to try again.

While the usual new years resolutions tend to be a pile of steaming horse crap (I can tell you for a start that the only weight you have to lose are the shackles of your oppression), there are feminist resolutions that we can all make. Like, we must strive for intersectionality, considering race, sexuality, class, religion, caste and ability in all that we discuss and thinking about the ways these can overlap. We need to consume more books, film and television by women, particularly women of colour, and we should connect to our foremothers (whether they’re our actual familial ancestors or the waves of feminists who came before us, and who can offer much in terms of experience and guidance). We need to practice self-love and body positivity, doing our best to ignore the media’s attempts to capitalise on our insecurities and, if possible in our personal situations,  we need to engage in activism as well as theoretical discussion.

One resolution that I hope we all take up in particular, however, is to remember that we are a sisterhood. All political movements and groups have internal conflict (just look at the Labour party) but ours is constantly seized upon by the media and presented in the same sexist way anything to do with women always is – it’s declared “cat-fighting”, “squabbling” and “bitching”.  These terms are ridiculous, but sometimes the conflict is spiteful, cruel and vicious. I’ve witnessed some horrific trolling from all sides of the feminist camp towards each other, with women being compared to faeces, being told to fuck off or to shut up, being mocked over their past trauma or having their mental illness held up as a reason they should be silenced. This is from feminists to other feminists. What is going on? It’s so important that we respect one another because we’re being completely shat on by enough other people – we don’t need to do it to each other. The topics we discuss are sensitive; they cover things like sexual violence, human trafficking, genital mutilation, and abortion. Of course, things get heated. However, we need to remember that if someone identifies as a feminist then the chances are that they’re trying to do their best for women. So if we want to critique something they’re saying, can we please do so constructively? In the words of Tina Fey, “You all have got to stop calling each other sluts and whores. It just makes it ok for guys to call you sluts and whores.” We’ve all got to stop calling each other stupid, ignorant and hysterical. We need to do away with terms like ‘Tumblr feminist’,  ‘TERF’ and ‘liberal scum’ (I told you it’s been a bad year), because they’re used in the same sneering tones that ‘feminazi’ is used by MRAs and the Daily Mail. They’re making feminism a war zone. And patriarchy is war zone enough.

As a blog, we will try to bear all of these resolutions in mind. We also have another resolution – we will aim to be louder and braver than we have been before, because it’s 2016 and gender inequality is still nowhere close to being resolved. While feminism has grown in strength over the last year, we’ve seen (in December alone), the female lead in the  third-biggest global movie of all time cut out of most of the merchandise. We’ve seen a man get away with raping a teenager using the claim that he fell and accidentally penetrated her. We’ve seen over 1,000 men sexually harass and assault women on New Year’s Eve in Cologne, because sexual violence is a commonly used method of attack around the globe, and somehow 1,000 men thought this was okay. We’ve always been angry, but this year, the Jar Belles will stand to be that much angrier.

Apart from feminist rage, we’ve also got more great content for you this year, including activist interviews, more spotlights on amazing women, news that the mainstream media continues to ignore, and much more. We’ll also be re-launching with a brand new look – so watch this space! It should be happening this month, and we hope that it does justice to the excellent contributors we’ve had and will have in the future. We’ll be getting more interactive post-makeover, and we really want to emphasise the collaborative nature of the site – new voices are always welcome, so please get in touch if there’s something you want to publish with us. We’re also looking to hear what you think of our stuff so far. Want more reviews? Let us know. Want fewer politicians in the Boob-Free Page 3? We feel you.

Finally, we’ll keep on keeping on. Feminism – you’ve come a long way, baby (don’t call us baby) but there’s still a long way to go, so we’ve all got continue the fight. We’re looking forward to it!

Happy new year everyone – to smashing the patriarchy in 2016!

 

–  Jade Slaughter is editor of The Jar Belles and has written for The F Word, Parallel and Litro magazines. Follow her on Twitter: @msjadeslaughter.