I love the award season. The Oscars, The Grammys, The Golden Globes, The Brits. I love to predict the winners, look at the acceptance speeches and judge the fashion choices. I love to chat about the scandals with my friends (thanks Kanye), and replay the performances and mishaps over and over again (thanks Madonna). There is one thing, however, which I do not understand.
In 2015, I do not understand why there are separate categories for men and women. In my opinion, talent does not have a gender. Yet, men and women receive different awards. I have tried to understand why this happens, but answers fail me. Instead of “Best Actor” and “Best Actress” categories, why don’t we have a “Best Performance” category? Are the men of The Academy scared that Meryl Streep will win this accolade every year? Instead of “British Male Solo Artist” and “British Female Solo Artist”, why don’t The Brits make “Best Solo Artist”? A person’s gender has no effect on how they write or perform a song.
In 2012, The Grammys restructured their awards scheme. They exterminated all gender based award categories. Three years on, men are winning awards. Women are winning are awards. Why? The awards are presented based on talent. The other organisations need to follow suit. They are practising sexism subtly, and in 2015, this needs to stop.
The same goes for the sporting industry. Women’s sports is no less demanding and taxing than men’s. Yet, the female sport industry is underfunded and under supported. The fact that there are two separate sport industries based on gender is ridiculous. I don’t buy the notion that women are not as “physically capable” as men. Success, in any field, is down to mindset and determination. I am sure there are female sports stars who could run rings around their male counterparts. Stephanie Roche, the Irish soccer player, proved this in 2014 when she became a finalist for the prestigious FIFA Puskás Award. Think about it – would you really want to get into a ring and fight Katie Taylor? I didn’t think so.
Gender inequality is alive and well today. Not only is it visible in the aforementioned areas, but we can also see it in politics, business and schools. Today in Ireland, women are paid nearly 20% less than men for the exact same work. Only 16% of seats in An Dáil (the Irish Parliament) are occupied by women. Out of 166 seats, women hold a mere 27. I can’t believe I’m even typing these statistics.
Female empowerment has come a long way in recent years, but it is clear we still have to make more progress. This is down to great feminist visionaries such as Mary Robinson, Emma Watson and Oprah Winfrey. The unfortunate truth is, however, when the same group of people promote the same ideas and movements, they can become “martyrs for the cause”. People begin to find the cause trivial, and the message gets lost. I find it happens to me when I talk about topics which are close to my heart. “Oh here comes Liam with his nonsense again!”. This cannot happen to women’s rights. It is too important.
I don’t think a single man can say that he has achieved anything without the support of women in his life. I know I can’t. Some of the most influential people in my life are women, and I would not be the person I am today without these women. This is why I am standing up for women’s rights, and why men everywhere should stand up for women’s rights. We are all equal. We all support each other to be the best we can be. Men need to support women’s rights. It is not patronising for men to support women. It is empowering. The same way women supporting men is empowering.
When we all support each other to be the best we can be, the possibility for every single person to reach their full potential is created. With this, the world can, and will, change for the better. Men and women will be equal.
Check out http://www.heforshe.org to see how you can start making a difference in this area. I’m going to start by making sure Meryl will take home The Oscar for “Best Performance” this time next year.