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Monday, 31 December 2012

RhulFemSoc's Women of the Year 2012

It has been a year and a day since Rhul Fem Soc first published our first ever blog post, and what a year it has been! Since then we've had just over 80 blog posts and over 25,000 hits which is amazing and we've decided to mark the end of this year by naming our favourite Women of 2012.

January - Emma Stone
As a result of being hilarious and awesome, Emma Stone received awards for being Favourite Movie Actress and Favourite Comedic Movie Actress during the People's Choice Awards earlier this year.  However, being a talented actress is not just what Stone is about.  She has highlighted a number of sexist issues in regards to how actors are treated differently by the media purely on the basis of their gender.  She pointed out that men get asked interesting questions whereas she and other females in the business are constantly questioned about style and what item they can't leave the house without. Yawn!

February - Sandra Fluke
Sandra Fluke is a law student from Georgetown who stood up in front of the Congressional Committee and requested that birth control, which is hugely expensive and can force women into financial crisis, be given out for free by her University even though it essentially went against the University's Catholic beliefs. With the financial burden it places on students, she highlighted that this could lead to its lack of use.  Her requests were met with a lot of opposition including a foul response from Rush Limbaugh who accused Fluke of being a slut and declared that her request for free contraception meant that tax payers would be paying her to have sex thus, making her a prostitute.  Fluke remained strong in this and refused to back down.  Limbaugh eventually apologised and Fluke was named Time's Person of the Year.

March - Hana Shalabi
Hana Shalabi was a Palestinian woman arrested and detained in Israel without charge. In protest she began a hunger strike, which ended in March after 43 days. She has now been released and ‘exiled’ to Gaza but is unable to return to her home in Jenin, North Palestine. Whilst enduring the extreme physical and psychological impact of the strike, she also brought the issue of Palestinian justice to the international platform. Her strike brought attention to the frequent use of detention without charge by Israel, and the injustices of the occupation more generally.

April - Michelle Bachelet
In a statement made to the 12th International Association of Women in Development Forum on Women's Rights and Developments, Michelle Bachelet highlighted the extent of economical development that women need in order to gain equality.  She spoke of the ongoing need to overcome gender-stereotypes, sexism and patriarchal power structures.  She is not just an amazing woman of 2012 however, she was the first female President of Chile and was in power from 2006 until 2010.  She focused on increasing social benefits in order to weaken the inequalities between the rich and the poor as well as focusing on women's rights.  In 2010, she became the head of United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women).

May - Jessica Ennis
In May 2012 this incredible heptathelete won gold this summer at the 2012 London Olympics; but in May, she was criticised for being fat by UK Athletics. FAT. Did you hear anyone criticise the male athletes? No, you didn't. She hit back with: “Everyone has their hang-ups, but I see my body as a training tool and I feel good about it.” ...then she won gold. While most of us might not have a body like hers, good on her for standing up for common sense and the importance of your own feelings on your body - nobody else's opinion matters.

June - Anita Sarkeesian
In June this year, feminist media critic and founder of the online feminist video Feminist Frequency, Anita Sarkeesian, launched and advertised her research project which looks at sexism in the gaming industry. Ironically she received lots of cyber abuse from misogynistic gamers which she dealt with and used as a platform to highlight the issue of sexism in game culture beyond a national level.

July - Julia Bluhm
When I was 14, I was too trapped in my own angst and love triangles to be particularly aware of the world around me. Whilst I was no doubt affected by unrealistic portrayals of women by the media, it would be years before the feminist in me was developed enough to be aware of the problem, or that something needed to be done about it. Julia Bluhm, however, had an awful lot more wherewithal, and used it to lead a successful campaign (including an 86,000 signature petition) resulting in Seventeen magazine promising to include photographs only of genuine women of a healthy weight. Not bad for 14!

August - Gabby Douglas
At the age of 16 this amazing young woman broke records becoming the first female gymnast of colour and to win gold in individual all-around champion in Olympic history, and the first American gymnast to win gold in both the individual all-around and team competitions at the same Olympics. Although the media wanted to highlight her hair rather than her talent at times she stood up and defend herself and her hard work. She should be very proud of herself. She turned 17 today so Happy Birthday Gabby!

September - Aung San Suu Kyi
For her remarkable work in fighting as a campaigner for Democracy in Burma, Aung San Suu Kyi was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honour.  After a 15 year struggle under house arrest, in which she was often subjected to solitary confinement and forbidden to see her two sons and her husband, she was finally released and awarded for her peaceful fight against the militaristic rule of Burma.  Aung San Suu Kyi is therefore an amazing woman of 2012, her struggle and bravery make her a prominent figure in the world today.

October - Malala Yousafzai
On October the 9th Taliban gunmen stormed onto a bus occupied by school children with the intention of killing eleven year old Malala Yousafzai.  She was shot in the head and neck but survived. The Taliban have made it clear that they are against the aspirations of the brave Yousafzai who, at the age of nine, spoke out declaring her love of education and her aspirations to become a Doctor.  Her struggle for the right of education has made her a prominent child activist and in 2011, she was nominated for the International Children's Peace Prize and was then awarded Pakistan's first National Youth Peace Prize.

November - Jennifer Lawrence
Actress Jennifer Lawrence recently spoke out about Hollywood body ideals and the fact that "In Hollywood (she's) a Fat Actress" and stated that she was asked to lose weight for the Hunger Games and refused saying that she "never wanted a little girl to say, 'I want to look like Katniss. I'm going to skip dinner.'" She's working to create a new industry standard despite criticism potentially damaging her career and we think that's awesome.

December - Sonali Mukherjee 
27-year-old Sonali Mukherjee, who was blinded and disfigured by an acid attack aged 18 after turning down a marriage proposal, won 2.5 million rupees on the Indian show "Kaun Banega Crorepati". She will use the money she won to pay for treatment. Her attackers were sentenced to 9 years but later released on bail. She said: "It's very easy for victims of acid attacks to swallow poison but I made the choice to stand up and scream and shout against the violence".

Happy New Year!!

Love Rhul FemSoc

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