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22.01.2017

Lizzie's Speech for the Auckland Women's March

On January the 21st, 2017, Lizzie gave the following speech to a crowd of over a thousand at the Auckland Women's March:

E ngā mana, e ngā reo, e ngā wāhine toa, aku māreikura

Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tatou katoa.

Before I begin I would like to acknowledge the mana whenua of Tāmaki Makaurau – Ngāti Whātua – I’d like to acknowledge the organisers, and all of you, who have turned out here today to support wāhine all over the globe.

I have to say, I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many smart, intelligent, bold, fierce, bossy, mouthy, stroppy women in one place, and I freaking love it.

Because, and I speak from experience here, if there is one thing more challenging than simply being a woman, it is being a woman with something to say. And in my humble opinion – because I have many things to say – I think that the world will be a much better place when – not if – people of all genders are treated as equals.

We’ve come a long way in this fight, we have, but we still have a long way to go, and when a giant orange troll dolls manages to somehow miraculously (or maybe by the power of the KGB) find himself in the Oval Office it does very little to propel us forward. So really, it is our challenge to overcome that.

Now I’m not here today to speak about the past. I’m not here to speak about the campaigns or like Tracey said, ‘what could’ve been’, I’m not here to talk about President Chump, but I am here to talk about the future.   

I am extraordinarily lucky that every day I get to interact with the future. Whether it be through my work with Villainesse, through creating projects like #MyBodyMyTerms, through simply communicating online, I get to witness first hand just how exciting the future is going to be. The future that I’m talking about is not the one that President Trump envisages, it is the one that will be created by young feminists, and their allies. And I want to speak to young feminists, because it is their determination and dedication that keeps me going – it is truly inspirational.

The sad truth for me is that I’m getting a little bit old-ish now, to really be considered a true young person. I’m 27, and this year it will mark 10 years since I was at school but what I’ve learnt during the last 10 years is that young women have so very much to offer – if they are supported.

Because, and I will be frank here, young women also have to put up with a lot of shit. Young women today are living in a world in which expressing an opinion can bring about abuse, rape threats and even death threats. They’re living in a world where a naked photograph can be used to blackmail and to publicly humiliate. They are living in a world where in our very country, in our home grown justice system, a lawyer can stand in our courts and ask a young woman what she meant when she said “no”. It’s pretty damn clear to me what she meant. They’re living in a world where a young girl can be shot in the head for committing the heinous crime of wanting an education.

We are living, in short, in a world in which the patriarchy is fighting back. And the battle between feminism and toxic masculinity is fierce, it is nasty and it will be ongoing. As the traditional binary system is crumbling – which it is, it is crumbling – those who would adhere to it are doing whatever they can to try and silence those who stand up against them.

So our challenge as a movement is to stand up against them together, Māori, Pākehā, Pasifika, Muslim, Hindu, Christian, young, old, gay, straight, bi, cis, male, female, queer, trans and all of the other beautiful people in this country. We must stand together.

The stakes are incredibly high, when a man who boasts about sexual assault can go on to become President of the United States, but the young are fierce, and we are ready to inject feminism with new energy and momentum, to work together and learn from our older sisters and allies to fight to the bitter end for equity and equality.

The future will be hard won, but it is bright.

The future is feminist.

Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tatou katoa.