Visible Women

From Dolly Parton to abortion campaigners: the women making waves this week

Posted by
Moya Crockett
backgroundLayer 1
Add this article to your list of favourites
Dolly Parton

Dropping every Friday, Women Making Waves is a series highlighting the women who rocked the boat, pushed for change and made history around the world this week.  

Dolly Parton pays tribute to women’s suffrage movement with new song  

As if we didn’t have reason enough to love Dolly Parton, the singer-songwriter, actor and education activist released a song celebrating women’s suffrage on Monday (17 September). The country anthem tells the story of the women who campaigned for the vote in the US, beginning with a spoken-word introduction outlining the history of the movement.

American women had been “fighting for the legal right to vote since the 1840s” when they finally got the vote in 1920, Parton says.

“In 1890, the National American Women’s Suffrage Association (NAWSA) was established with Susan B Anthony its leading force. But women have been fighting for their rights since the very beginning of time.”

The song appears on new compilation record 27: The Most Perfect Album, each track of which is dedicated to a different amendment of the United States Constitution. Parton’s number is titled 19th Amendment, after the legislation that made it illegal to deny someone the right to vote on the basis of their sex.

“We carried signs, we cursed the times, marched up and down the streets,” Parton sings. “We had to fight for women’s rights with blisters on our feet.”

You can listen to the song (and watch the stylish accompanying video) above. Never change, Dolly. 

Women in Ireland rejoice as eighth amendment is officially repealed

Celebrations in Dublin on the day the abortion referendum result was announced 

Pro-choice activists in Ireland had cause for celebration on Tuesday (18 September), as President Michael D Higgins signed a bill formally repealing the eighth amendment.

Abortion was effectively illegal in Ireland under the eighth amendment, which gave an unborn child the same right to life as a pregnant woman. The Irish public voted overwhelmingly to overturn the amendment in a landslide referendum in May, but it has taken almost four months for it to be officially scrapped.

The Irish government says that under new laws, women will be able to access elective terminations within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy – and abortion services will be free. The new legislation has yet to be introduced, but Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has said he expects it to be implemented in early 2019.

“It’s done, it’s really done and while we wait for legislation that so urgently needs to be passed, what a moment this is,” the Irish pro-choice organisation Abortion Rights IE wrote on Twitter after the eighth amendment was repealed. “And you, all of you that gave so, so much and worked so, so hard to make this happen, this moment is for you.”

Activists are still pushing for abortion to be legalised in Northern Ireland. MPs are set to vote on the issue in the Commons next month; find out more here.

US senator tells men to “shut up and step up” over sexual assault claims

Senator Mazie Hirono (left) speaks out against Brett Kavanaugh 

Politicians’ language is often full of spin, euphemism and diversion – which makes it all the more refreshing when an elected representative says exactly what she thinks. This week, Hawaiian Senator Mazie Hirono told men to “step up” and “do the right thing” over the issue of sexual assault.

Senator Hirono’s comments were sparked by the controversy currently unfolding around Judge Brett Kavanaugh, Donald Trump’s nominee for the US Supreme Court. On Sunday (16 September), a university professor named Christine Blasey Ford came forward to say that Kavanaugh physically and sexually assaulted her when they were at high school in the Eighties.

“Not only do women like Dr Ford, who bravely comes forward, need to be heard, but they need to be believed,” said Hirono on Tuesday.

Senator Hirono is one of just four women on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which oversees the election of judges to the Supreme Court. When asked how that may affect Kavanaugh’s nomination, she replied: “Of course it helps that there are women on that committee … But really, guess who’s perpetuating all these kinds of actions? It’s the men in this country.

“And I just want to say to the men in this country: just shut up and step up,” she continued. “Do the right thing for a change.”

Brie Larson shuts down trolls who want her to play Captain Marvel with a smile 

Brie Larson at New York Fashion Week earlier this month 

The first full trailer for upcoming blockbuster Captain Marvel was released earlier this week. Starring Brie Larson in the title role, the film is the first movie within the Marvel Universe to be helmed by a female superhero - and so it is entirely unsurprising that not everyone is happy about it.

One Twitter user took particular umbrage at the fact that Larson looked serious in the trailer and promotional shots for Captain Marvel (because women have to beam constantly in order to be seen as likeable, obviously). This charming individual ran the images through a photo app to make Larson look like she was smiling, and posted the doctored pictures online with the caption: “I fixed #CaptainMarvel!”

In response, Larson posted a story on Instagram in which she challenged the idea that women should always have to smile. “Breaking news: You can be you,” she wrote.

“That means you can smile or not. You can be strong in the ways you want to be. You can own who you are. If anyone tells you different don’t trust them.”

Larson then shared hilarious images of well-known male superheroes, including Iron Man, Doctor Strange and Captain America, which she had run through the same app. Proving once and for all that a goofy grin looks ridiculous on all superheroes, regardless of gender.

Women Making Waves is part of Stylist’s Visible Women campaign to raise awareness of women who’ve made a difference to society. See more Visible Women stories here.  

Images: Getty Images