Visible Women

From female directors to Sally Rooney: the women making waves this week

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Hannah-Rose Yee
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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.  

Female directors comprise nearly half of Sundance’s 2019 lineup

There are 112 movies premiering at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival next year, a celebration of independent cinema founded by Robert Redford in 1978. And of those films, 45, or 40%, have female directors. Some 36% were directed by women of colour and 13% by women who identify as LGBTQIA. Within the US film category the numbers are even more exciting, with nine of the 16 films in competition directed by a woman. 

This includes Animals, the adaptation of Emma Jane Unsworth’s award-winning novel about female friendship, directed by Sophie Hyde and starring Holliday Grainger and Alia Shawkat. There’s also Gurinder Chadha’s Blinded by the Light, an ode to Bruce Springsteen starring Hayley Atwell and Late Night, a comedy starring Emma Thompson as a talk show host and Mindy Kaling as the woman hired to add a female voice to the writer’s room. Kaling wrote the script and Nisha Ganatra, a director on Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Dear White People, is directing. 

Sally Rooney’s Normal People named Waterstones’ Book of the Year 

Sally Rooney

Ever since it was released in August, Sally Rooney’s sophomore novel Normal People has dominated the literary conversation. It felt like the book was everywhere: in the hands of every woman on the bus, in the windows of every bookshop, and glowingly reviewed in every newspaper and magazine, which all celebrated the book’s story of a young couple, Connell and Marianne, and the ways they circle each other in and out of love from high school through university.

“I’d like to thank the booksellers at Waterstones for supporting this novel so wholeheartedly,” said Rooney. “In the production of books, the work of booksellers – as well as delivery drivers, paper-mill workers, typesetters, proof readers, and many more – is just as important, really, as the work of writers. So I would like to extend my thanks, if I can, to everyone whose hard work has been so vital to the writing and publication of this novel. I am very touched by the honour.”

Alongside the Waterstones accolade, Rooney has also been longlisted for the Man Booker prize and shortlisted for the Costa novel of the year.

Jameela Jamil calls out celebrities who advertise diet tea products

No A-lister or influencer accepting sponsored content from a diet product is safe from Jameela Jamil. The Good Place star has spent the week calling out everyone from Cardi B to Kim Kardashian and Iggy Azalea for using their face and reputation to advertise what Jamil terms “laxative nonsense ‘detox’ tea.”

“GOD I hope all these celebrities all sh*t their pants in public, the way the poor women who buy this nonsense upon their recommendation do.” 

Jamil went on to add that she “was the teenager who starved herself for years, who spent all her money on these miracle cures and laxatives and tips from celebrities on how to maintain a weight that was lower than what my body wanted it to be.”

“I was sick, I have had digestion and metabolism problems for life,” she wrote on Twitter. “I am not going to stop coming after all the people, men and women, who perpetuate this gross culture of forcing women to remain small and doll-like in order to be accepted by society… I know I’m being a bit extra over this whole thing, but the war against women’s bodies/general image is ongoing and out of control.”

“So it’s going to involve a big noise to fight back,” she wrote. “Don’t like it? Mute me.” 

Maria Meza flees teargas at US the border with her two daughters

On Sunday, tear gas canisters were fired by Border Patrol agents at the Tijuana border between America and Mexico at those living in caravans along the national divide. In one image, taken by Reuters, a woman wearing a Frozen T-shirt was seen clasping the hands of her two young children and running away from an open tear gas canister. 

The image shocked social media, with John Legend denouncing the act as “evil”, Rihanna calling it “terrorism” and Kathy Griffin saying that “these asylum seekers should be welcome to our country and President Trump should be sent to prison.”

Buzzfeed tracked down the woman in the picture, 39-year-old Maria Meza, who spoke about the terrifying ordeal her and her family had been put through. “I was scared,” she said. “I wanted to cry. That’s when I grabbed my daughters and ran. I thought my kids were going to die with me because of the gas we inhaled.”

The first female detective in 19th century London to get her own TV show

It might be a little way off, but we’re already excited for Miss Scarlet and the Duke, the forthcoming television series from the creators of Grantchester. Starring Kate Phillips of Peaky Blinders and The Crown fame, the series will follow the first female detective in 19th century London as she solves crimes and takes names.

Production is set to begin in spring next year with a female writing team and a female producer. We wouldn’t be surprised if this show was one of our favourites of next year.

The fearless girl statue gets a new home in New York

The Fearless Girl statue in New York

Feet astride, hands planted on her hips, pony tail swinging: the Fearless Girl statue by Kristen Visbal became a symbol of empowerment when it was first installed facing down the iconic bronze Charging Bull in March, 2017.

The statue was only intended to be temporary, but its powerful statement – and its popularity among young women and girls who posed for selfies with the figure when visiting New York – encouraged the city’s mayor Bill de Blasio to extend Fearless Girl’s tenure. Of the artwork, de Blasio said: “[It] fuelled powerful conversations about women in leadership… [and is] a fitting path for a girl who refused to quit.”

This week, the statue was moved to its new home on Wall Street right near the New York Stock Exchange where it will be a permanent fixture, the Guardian reports.

Women fight for their right to play Santa Claus

The annual Christmas parade in Newton Aycliffe in County Durham is a celebration of the festive season, and no festive season is complete without a Santa Claus.

But this year controversy reigns, as two women who want to step into Santa Claus’ red robes and play the role of Father Christmas on the float are having their ambitions blocked by a councillor who says that women should only play the jolly spirit of Christmas as a last resort.

Speaking to The Independent, councillor Arun Chandran said: “My understanding is that Santa Claus… is a male role.” He added that children would be looking for a male Father Christmas and choosing a woman “as a form of political correctness” – despite the fact that the committee voted unanimously to allow the women to perform as Santa Claus – would be frowned upon.

But not everyone is against the idea of a female Father Christmas at the Newton Aycliffe Christmas parade. “We voted unanimously, there’s nothing wrong with the lady Santa,” councillor Bill Blekinsopp told The Times. “Does it matter who Santa is?”

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


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Hannah-Rose Yee

Hannah-Rose Yee is a writer based in London. You can find her on the internet talking about movies, television and Chris Pine.

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