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The year of protest

​​This year marked 100 years since women were given the right to vote. In 100 years, a lot has changed, but the sad fact is that women are still not receiving equal treatment. Our pay, the respect we receive and the way we are discussed as objects is still very much an issue in today’s society; but there is hope that it’s changing.

Protest has been one of the biggest trends of 2018. #TIMESUP, The Women’s March, #METOO, have all opened the door for the important discussions of what women are subjected to, just because they are women. Lower salaries than men for the same jobs, sexual harassment, slut shaming, and discrimination are all things we’re still facing and dealing with.

However, there have been events this year that shone a light of hope onto the situation. Saudi Arabia lifting the ban that stops women being able to drive legally; Ireland holding the referendum for abortion laws, ending up in a 66.4% vote to overturn the abortion ban; and British companies like the BBC publishing their gender pay gap statistics. These were all historical moments, showing how far we have come, and can continue to progress, on the road of having women be equal to men in society, around the world.

This generation have rediscovered the power of voting with your feet. Protests have become something for everyone to be a part of, whether that’s an individual or collective protest. The women’s march is a prime example of people’s anger and frustration being moulded into something that sparked conversation and movement around the world. That anger was collectively taken, by women and men around the world, and made into something pure and powerful.

Moving forward and bringing each other up as a group is the biggest way progress has been made among women. We became united, a community, made to create change from the roots up. Parity and equality in our day to day lives is all we want, not this false representation of feminism where we burn our bras because we hate men, and we hate that they have power, so we want to be better than them. All we’re saying is, why can’t we share the power? Why can’t we all be equally successful, equally paid, equally treated and equally loved and respected? It’s not rocket science, it’s extremely basic.

Some believe that protesting is aggressive or being angry will get us nowhere. But how can you not be angry? All of us moving forward together, being supportive and collaborative, for the same basic things we want to come into fruition, is surely what everyone wants. It’s the best way to protect ourselves, and protect each other. What is refreshing is areas of society choosing to actively get involved and making very subtle statements to the movements happening in the world today.

Protective, armour style fashion is something that has made a big impact on the runways recently. The concept of protection, armour, strong, bold, empowering hues, prints and cuts playing such an obvious and strong role in this season’s collections is the work of the people. These movements have forced a lot of people to stand up and admit they have to change or admit they have been ignoring the problem and not speaking up for those who cannot speak for themselves. This fear can be plaguing for some, making them keep their mouths shut and their fists down; but they need to shout out what needs to change, and raise their first triumphantly to show we cannot be stopped.

The runways reflected a changing world, a more empowered and vocal world that’s open and ready for discussion. Women’s and men’s lines were presented together, garments were a nod to the concept of gender neutral and unisex clothing, and it was refreshing to see.

Gender neutral fashion is something I have touched on before, and since then I have seen a huge increase in it making appearances both on and off the runway. For example, the use of leather in recent shows is an expression of taking a heavy, musky, worked material, that can be described as masculine, and using it to make what would be described as feminine pieces such as dresses, skirts and jackets.

Some may say that’s a farfetched idea. But if you look at recent designs and collections, you’ll see suits, capes, leather and power dressing styles. Think the 80s blunt cut suits, the wall street worker sharp design; it’s all there, but on the women’s runways. Girls want the same thing as boys. They want comfort, structure, sleek unique style. Capes, trench coats, sportswear, athleisure, and they’re finally getting it.

The idea of neutral dressing and over layering is another nod to the movement of women being women however they see fit. We are moving away from the thought that to be a woman, you must wear a dress and red lipstick and pose prettily. Now, women dress like men, men dress like women, we over lay our items, shop in the men’s section, and do whatever we want; and designers have picked up on that.

This equality movement is here and it’s sticking. It’s seeping its way into every aspect of society, and for fashion to be a part of that movement is so incredibly important. It’s a way for the fashion community, the moguls and the legends to silently say ‘we’re with you’. Small steps can have the greatest impact, and the small nods to these issues in fashion have the potential to make a big impact in the world.

This fight is no longer a solo one. It’s a group effort, it’s making its move and it’s not doing it quietly. The fact of the matter is, it no longer matters how old you are or how much life experience you have; we are living in a time where possibilities and opportunities to effect and make change are all around us, and if you are choosing to ignore it and not be a part of it, then you cannot complain about it. There’s simply no excuse to not utilise the voice and rights you have been given.

Hard times are faced in order to reach good times. Difficult situations are presented to you so you can overcome them, and create a good situation out of them. That is what happened to our ancestors who fought for our rights. They stood up and demanded there be a change, and they got it. They struggled, and they doubted it, but eventually they got the justice and rights they deserved.

If we want to be treated equally, be given the same opportunities, pay, rights and respect as men; then we must use our voice. We have to take a stand, in our place of privilege where we have the rights to take a stand, and demand there be a change. We are living in the day and age where little girls are no longer told ‘you’re just a girl, you can’t do that’. They are no longer told ‘you’re a girl, you cannot wear that’. We can do and say what we want to do and achieve what we want to achieve. But we need to help each other and protect each other; because we’re in this together.

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