March 8: International Women’s Day.
I always feel strange when writing about feminism and gender equality on the Internet. There are so many opinions and clashing points of view on the subject, and I feel like what I feel has already been said, so why say it?
But… here’s why. Until it’s normalized and a part of everyday life, gender equality needs to be discussed. Even though the term “feminism” has been apart of media recently, it still has a sort of negative connotation that people who aren’t as educated on the subject as others might deem it as a bad thing to be associated with.
My journey into feminism truly began during my AP U.S. History (APUSH) class. I was raised in a household in which I was treated like a human being – my gender didn’t matter. I could watch baseball and play with my dolls; my parents didn’t give me any judgment for what I wanted to do, so in that way I was very lucky. There weren’t any gender norms in my home.
During APUSH, I wrote two research papers. The first was on Anita Hill and her struggle with the discrimination she faced when she came out against Clarence Thomas, before he got appointed to the Supreme Court, because he sexually harassed her when they worked together. In the paper, I discussed how Hill was one of the first people who brought awareness to sexual harassment in the work place and how it is still overlooked and not taken seriously in our society. Her experience inspired others to tell their stories as well. My second paper was on the failure of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), and how it shaped the nation afterwards. I still believe that a bill like the ERA needs to be passed because, without it clearly written out, the people of America will always find loopholes to allow inequality.
The beginning of junior year was around the same time Emma Watson introduced her U.N. program called HeForShe. Two quotes from her speech stood out to me:
“Apparently I am among the ranks of women whose expressions are seen as too strong, too aggressive, isolating, and anti-men, unattractive, even.”
“The more I have spoken about feminism, the more I have realized that fighting for women’s rights has too often been synonymous with man hating.”
Now, it being International Women’s Day, I have come to realize something. On a day like today, people still ask — well what about International Men’s Day? Why do only women get a day? And it makes me sad to hear that because, being a woman, it feels like everyday is International Men’s Day (even though it truly is on November 19).
But maybe there’s a reason for the publicity for International Women’s Day. Maybe it’s because we are still not equal to men. And that’s a big deal.
It’s also a big deal to be around people, around girls, who do not think feminism is a good thing. As Emma Watson stated in her speech from 2014, it literally is gender equality. There is no footnote or asterisk in the definition of feminism that says “and also hatred of men.” It’s a very big deal that women are seen as too strong and even unattractive when calling themselves a feminist..because why should their beliefs determine their attractiveness? Why is being a strong woman a bad thing?
It makes me sad to hear this kind of negativity in today’s society still, but I’m also hopeful of the future. We are actually having the conversation about gender equality now. People understand it and advocate to get rid of the wage gap (that is even worse for women of color). Women should have the right to choose whats best for their bodies.
Women should have their equal human rights.