home Commentary On the verge of 2018, what do we want to leave behind? Let’s start with Brexit, transphobia and the Croydon Cat Killer

On the verge of 2018, what do we want to leave behind? Let’s start with Brexit, transphobia and the Croydon Cat Killer

When I asked my friends what they would be glad to leave behind in 2017, rather than take forward with them into the upcoming new year, everything from toxic ex-partners to former homes, past jobs and “being pregnant” came up. The fashion for skinny jeans was nominated by one person, physical pain by another, and unwell parents by others in my circle.

As well as personal circumstances, others chose political or social issues that they would rather leave behind in 2017, too. So, as we usher in the start of 2018, there are still a motley list of people and situations that deserve to back off out of our lives and stay put in 2017, while we move on.

These include:

The Croydon cat poisoner

The ‘Croydon cat killer’ is an as-yet-unknown criminal who has been killing cats and other animals in “crimes designed to horrify”. Police are concerned that his crimes may escalate to humans, such is the brutality of the way he kills animals and displays their bodies. But whether or not that is his intention, the killing of cats, swans, foxes and rabbits is bad enough as it is.

Donald Trump

The man who thinks he made up the word ‘fake’ is still in power, having completed his first full year in office. Taking a break (hopefully) from grabbing people by the pussy, the man continues to tweet nonsense and govern based on his embarrassingly fragile ego.

If he was to stand down or be forced to do so, I wouldn’t be the only person who would sleep easier at night.

Sexual assault

While 2016 seemed to be the year of celebrity deaths, 2017 was when seeing the name of your favourite celebrity trending on social media gave you a different sense of dread: have they been accused of something monstrous by people they have worked with?

It was the year when we confirmed what we had probably always suspected, which was that nearly all the women and a not insignificant proportion of the men we know have had some experience of sexual harassment, sexual assault, abuse or rape. The #MeToo hashtag took over the media and abusers were exposed in every direction.

In 2018, we don’t want to see the end of people speaking out. But we do need the assaults, harassment and abuse to stop.

Grenfell Tower

In 2017, the block of flats known as Grenfell Tower in London burned through the night, to an astonishing degree. Firefighters had never seen a fire spread so quickly and so viciously up a residential building and it was soon revealed that the cladding that had been used to decorate the outside of the building was actively hazardous and had helped the fire to spread.

As the six-month anniversary has just passed, we note with interest that the promises the government made, about installing fire sprinklers in every suitable social housing tower block in the country, have not been achieved and there are indications that they will never materialise.

Austerity and cuts

Cuts to healthcare, social services and benefits are killing the most vulnerable people in the country, as the rich celebrate the new year without financial concerns. Austerity measures have always been an ideological move rather than an economic one, and punishing the hardest hit even further is cruel and heartless.

2018 is the time to review these policies, vote against further cuts and support – and fund – the welfare state and the NHS so they can continue to do what they do best and save lives.

Transphobic hate

The barely disguised hatred that trans people have been the target of this year has been nothing short of astounding. Be it national newspapers, the aforementioned President of the US or individuals on social media, attacks on trans people have come from every direction.

For people whose only crime is identifying with a gender they were not assigned at birth, you would think trans people were solely responsible for the downfall of the Western world, given the criticism and abuse they receive. It is callous and cruel to target trans people in this way and 2018 must see an end to the tolerance of transphobic abuse in any form.

Brexit

The unmitigated disaster that is Britain leaving the European Union is progressing, if that is what we can call it. Stirred up by childish xenophobia and outright nationalism and racism, the desire for the UK to be out of Europe has become associated with nonsense like the colour of our passports rather than the important stuff that has somehow escaped people’s notice.

This regressive move has been reduced to a joke, and a way for racists to stop people from coming into our country to work hard, create jobs, save lives and contribute to our melting pot of cultures, foods and languages. It is time to cancel Brexit altogether and stop this move that will be disastrous to our economy, as well as on a humanitarian level.

Photo: Ross Fowler/Creative Commons

Philippa Willitts

Philippa Willitts is a British freelance writer who specialises in writing about disability, women's issues, social media and tech. She also enjoys covering politics and LGBT-related topics. She has written for the Guardian, the Independent, New Statesman, Channel 4 News, Access Magazine, xoJane and many more publications. She can be found on Twitter @PhilippaWrites.