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Friday, 30 December 2011

My women of the year 2011

by Georgia Coles-Riley

Miranda Hart
Okay, so we have all (probably) heard by now that a Panda, 'Sweetie', has been picked as one of the women of the year by the BBC Magazine. As overweight insults to democracy go, Sweetie is pretty cute, but could she really be named a woman of the year? The other women the BEEB Magazine chose ranged from women who had got married, women whose sisters had got married, women who had been raped, and women who may or may not have been raped. I thought I'd write a more optimistic list...

DECEMBER Miranda Hart
Miranda Hart. Where to start? My DAD thinks she is funny- this is a man who is, quite simply, more interested in rare mushroom types, placating his overwrought wife and tending to his allotment than having fun. Miranda Hart brought bickering couples together again, chuckling together in a tender embrace, bathed in the warm glow of the iPlayer and the ever hilarious image of a 6ft 1in woman falling over. Better than all her slapstick moments, however, was the very well written and played 'Just Act Normal' episode, which captured the unique relationship between mother, daughter and psychologist quite excellently. 

NOVEMBER Yvette Cooper 
I wasn't sure what to think of Cooper until, one sad night sat scrolling through The Guardian website, plastered in my own sickly sweat and disappointment, I stumbled across an article titled 'Yvette Cooper: Coalition putting women's lives at risk'. I nodded at my laptop screen. Yes, Yvette. Go on... I may not agree with every action she takes (namely marrying Ed Balls, voting very strongly for the Iraq War and very strongly against an investigation into it) but she is certainly taking over from Theresa May in being a female politician making headlines, though Yvette is making them for the right reason. She also has a super haircut.

OCTOBER Tawakel Karman
Yemeni journalist and politician, Karman is the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize to date. She co-founded the human rights group 'Women Journalists Without Chains', an organisation that advocates press freedom. In an interview with the Yemen Times, Karman said "Women should stop being or feeling that they are part of the problem and become part of the solution. We have been marginalised for a long time, and now is the time for women to stand up and become active without needing to ask for permission or acceptance." She also famously made the decision to stop wearing the niqab on national television to make the point that full covering is cultural and not dictated by Islam.

SEPTEMBER Camila Vallejo
There is something that makes me slightly uncomfortable about the canonisation of Chilean student activist Camila Vallejo, but she certainly made September 2011 an exciting month for wannabe women leaders everywhere. She is the president of the University of Chile's Student Federation, and, sadly probably largely due to her outstanding attractiveness, made headlines worldwide for being at the forefront of a fighting campaign for free education.

AUGUST Pauline Pierce
After the London Riots, just about everybody had watched the internet sensation video of a West Indian Pensioner, later to be discovered as grandmother Pauline Pierce, shouting at some rioters.
"The shop up there, she's working hard to make her business work and you lot want to burn it up, for what?
"So that you can say you're 'warring' and you're bad man."
"I'm ashamed to be a Hackney person because we're not all gathering together and fighting for a cause we're running down Foot Locker and thieving shoes".I found her not only admirable for making such a feisty speech in the face of danger, but for her poetic deconstruction of the issue at hand. Sadly, many idiotic Daily Mail  types jumped on her bandwagon and used her words as part of their pathetic, classist, racist, hideous diatribe, but such is life.

JULY Amy Winehouse
I got a text telling me that Amy Winehouse had died. It was a cold and callous text, a 'Winehouse dead', and not even so much as a consolatory 'x' afterwards. I was sad for about two minutes, and then remembered that people are dying ALL THE TIME, that life is endless death, and that it would probably mean at the very least that there'd be an entertaining posthumous television documentary in the next few weeks that I could while away an evening watching. Anyway, God Help all the sorry bastards journalists who criticized her for being too fat, then for being too thin, then for being to drunk, then for being in love with 'the wrong person', then for being too 'Brit school', then for being too middle class, then for being a mess. And may she rest in peace.

JUNE Angela Merkel
It was in June that Angela really kick started all her kick ass work on the Euro Zone, and started to get our own wincypot Prime Minister in a tizz. I disagree with her politically on many, many levels, but Angela is exciting to me mainly because she appears to have a lot of power over all the pathetic, cariacaturish, trembling men she shares Europe with. She can pat Sarkozy on the back, wink patronisingly at Berlusconi, and give the cold shoulder to David Cameron, all whilst maintaining a stern German look. Brilliant.

MAY Kristen Wiig
A lot of people may disagree with me on this one, and to them I say,sit back, fast forward to the scene in Bridesmaids where Wiig's character has the most brilliantly over the top sex scene of all time, and try not to jump off the sofa with joy at just how many chords this film strikes. This blockbuster was hilarious, brilliantly written and acted in by Wiigwankery that surrounded it and thus Wiig for months after its release, where it seemed no one could quite believe that a woman had written a successful comedy, and nobody could quite bear it that Wiig was so average looking, and thus put her in ridiculous high heels and Lanvin and asked her gushingly how she could balance being a funny woman with being feminine. Grrr.

APRIL Katie Mitchell
Katie Mitchell really got on my nerves in 2011. Not because I don't like her work (I really, really do) but just because she seemed to be working everywhere. She was directing Simon Stephen's Wastwater for the Royal Court in April, but has done countless work at the National Theatre and the Royal Opera House. She was probably the most talked about theatre director of the year. Lynne Ramsay and Andrea Arnold held up the beacon for lady directors in cinema, but Mitchell was laying the groundwork on the blessed boards for us, and for that, I salute her.

MARCH  Tea Obreht
So, Nobel Laureate VS Naipaul, confirmed my suspicion this year that no cultural men can ever be trusted, men who write will eat your heart and wear it on their sleeve, men who create are also men who destroy, etc, by suggesting that there were no female writers who were his equal. And that Jane Austen was overly sentimental. And other such enraging bollocks.  Here's betting he doesn't ever bother to find out who wins the (prize for Women novelists) Orange Prize. Tea Obreht was this years winner, the youngest ever at just 25 years old. She novel was released in March and received much gushing critical acclaim.

FEBRUARY Johanna Sigurdardottir
Johanna made headlines in February by becoming the first openly lesbian Prime Minister. Iceland's new cabinet under the leader also boasts an equal number of women to men, making it very, very unique, and millions of miles ahead of our own cabinet, where men outnumber women four to one.

JANUARY Lauren Socha
I partly put her on here because I'm in love with her and everything she does, ever. I had to google Lauren Socha January 2011 at the last minute so I could squeeze her in here, but, luckily, she came up trumps, by appearing in a leotard and shorts on her way into the Oh So Posh Dorchester Hotel for the South Bank Sky Arts awards. The tabloids were all like, urgh, what does that horrible chav think she's wearing, but I think it's the best thing I've seen all year. A brilliant, hilarious actress, completely unafraid to just chill out and not pretend to be something she's not. Also, her catchphrase is 'You're a dickhead', which I think is a super, duper catchphrase.  

BBC News Magazine editor? You're a dickhead.

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