The Reeducation of Andrea Donovan

{clockwise from top left ~ Rupaul~Rupaul’s drag race, She’s gotta have it, Reni Eddo~ Lodge, Sasha Velour~Rupaul’s drag race. Dear White people, Orange is the new black, Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche, Underground}

 

The one good thing that came out of President T**** being elected is that we are all now WOKE.

It pains me greatly to type that sentence, not least because it appears to be in praise of a racist, sexual harasser, but more so because it’s grammatically incorrect. It is the truth however. Should Brexit have not happened and Hilary had been elected the 45th president of the United States we would have all been sleeping soundly. Literally and metaphorically. We would have gone to bed each night safe in the knowledge that we were still happily a part of Europe and that a woman who knew more than a reality TV host, with a matted foxes tail on his head, was running one of the most powerful countries in the world.

As it happens these things did happen and we are now all wide awake and angry. We are asking ourselves what the fuck is going on? How on earth could this have happened? And we seem to be reeducating ourselves on the differences between what is legally and ethically right from what’s just plain wrong.

2017 was the year of the woman. There’s no doubt about it. For good and bad reasons. We finally became a staring role in the history of our world starting with the epic and extremely powerful women’s march in January, through Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman film, which became the highest grossing superhero origin movie of all time, and ending with the emergence of the #metoo and #timesup campaigns advocating no more silencing of women. The conversations I had in 2017 were enlightening, collaborative and empowering. I really want them to continue but I also want to do more.

My 2018 goal is to support and listen more to women of colour, the LGBTQ community and to disadvantaged women because however hard my struggles have been it has been harder for these women. In January 2017, as I scrolled through the thousands of women’s march photos on Instagram, The one that sticks in my mind is of a black woman holding a large sign above her head saying ‘So, we’re going to see all you white girls at our next ‘Black lives matter’ rally, right?’ I’m paraphrasing the placard but the sentiment was the same. It was saying that this enormous, outcry and support of women was amazing BUT the same support needs to be shown to everyone.

Last year I was introduced to the brilliantly camp, highly creative and extremely educational ~YES! educational ~ Rupaul’s Drag Race. I also devoured all four seasons of Jill Solloway’s Transparent about a family who’s father transitions into a woman in his 70’s. While I loved these series’ so much I was sad that I was learning about gay and trans issues at the age of 39. I should have been exposed to these things when I was a teenager. At school I should have been taught that to understand and acknowledge the struggles and realities of being anything other than my priviledged white, cisgender and heterosexual being is what inclusivity and equality is all about.

For years now my eye has been trained to watch a TV show or a film and question why there aren’t more women in better roles. Why the parts on screen are not accurately portraying the women that I know and aspire to be. I want to see myself represented. I want to see career women who aren’t mothers. Mothers who aren’t housewives. Female friendships that are complicated. I want to see women who fight, funny women, women in westerns, fixing cars, making art, failing, succeeding. I want to see women who don’t look, talk or sound like me. I want to see all the many varied representations of women that this world has to offer.  While I slowly start to see these roles appearing more and more I realise that for women of colour, gay women, disabled women, muslim women, trans women the representation is still so limited. And this needs to change.

‘You can’t be what you can’t see’ * Well, Let’s see more, right? It’s that simple.

Thankfully I am no longer a teenager {my teeth were awful}  and am not in compulsory education {didn’t agree with me}. The majority of my friends are white, middle class and straight so my reeducation, acknowledgement and support of women who are not like me and my friends starts right here with me. Like a global women’s march of 4,814,000 people** it starts with a just few saying ‘I’ll join you’.

Wanna join me?

Wanna be one of the few? It’s so much more fun when there’s more people involved, right? Please tell me, how are you reeducating yourself? What’s been inspiring you? Who are you reading, watching, listening to? Where are you turning up to in order to show support and create change?

I’ve bought a new pencil case, my notebook is ready and I’m here before the start of class. I’m awake and I’m ready to learn.

 

*Marie Wilson

**Charlotte Krol. The Telegraph. 23rd January 2017.

 

Here’s my current list of consumed {lately} and to be consumed {soon}. Would love to add more?

Reading ~

Anything by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche

Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race by Reni Eddo-Lodge ~ On my list to read.

The Underground railroad by Colson Whitehead ~ On my list to read

Watching ~

She’s gotta have it ~ Spike Lee’s 1986 film made into a series for Netflix.

Underground ~ Netflix series about the history of the Underground railroad system transporting slaves from Southern America to freedom.

Rupaul’s Drag Race ~ Just watch it and thank me later

Transparent ~ The story of Maura Pfefferman and her family on Amazon prime.

Orange is the new black ~ ‘Complicated ladies in a complicated place’

Dear White People ~ A Netflix series of interlinked racial stories set in a college. Only watched two episodes so far.

Star Wars ~ Race, gender and age don’t appear to limit you in space and It’s SO inspiring to see.

Listening ~

An Author special with Reni Eddo-Lodge on The High Low

 

 

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