What is Feminism and Why the Women’s March Matters
Greetings to you today, dear reader. Today, I feel an urgent need to discuss a topic that has been dominating the media for a while now. I will be discussing feminism. Did you just have a knee-jerk reaction? There are a lot of people who believe feminism to be a bad, nasty thing. These people would be lacking in information. Simply put, feminism is the belief in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes. Equality for people, no matter their gender, no matter what sexual organs they posses.
Notice the lack of man-bashing here. There are plenty of misconceptions about feminism. Primarily, being a feminist does not mean that you hate men. I think we feminists can all say that we have plenty of men in our lives that we absolutely love! It is true that we are critical of the tradition of patriarchal power simply because it has left women and gender minorities in the dust, without equal power. Just as people of color (and many white people too) are critical of white supremacy, they reject the ideas that claim they are less than others based on their genes. Feminism is about equality, not about hating men.
Another misconception is that feminism is only for women. If you are a child, man, or gender minority, you have autonomy of thought. Imagine if someone was sexually harassing your mother, sister, or daughter, right in front of your eyes. You would try to stop it, of course! Because no one wants their loved ones treated poorly. It’s hard for some people, especially men, to see sexism because it doesn’t happen right in front of their eyes, so they don’t realize it’s a problem. This is not to say that sexual harassment is the only form of sexist behavior women often suffer, it is simply one example. If the #MeToo and similar recent movements have shown us anything, it’s that there’s a lot of sexism still in the world. Believe women when they tell you, and if you think discrimination (even if its invisible to you) is wrong, consider calling yourself a feminist. I promise, it’s not a dirty word.
Men Are Crucial
Men can be lovely people. They can also be horrible. The same could be said about women. I’m sure we could all picture in our minds at least three women who have treated us poorly in our lives. I know I can! I’ll say it again: believing in feminism is not anti-man. We can’t afford to reject men because 1) it’s illogical and crazy, and 2) we need them on our side. No one can deny that men are privileged, which means they hold the majority of power. This is a fact, not an opinion. We need more men to join the pro-equality train because we all must take action in order for change to happen. Not just half of the population. By taking no action on matters that are hurting others, it is saying discrimination is completely acceptable.
One example of men taking a stand is the recent Gillette ad that rejects traditional ideas of toxic masculinity. In the ad, the question is posed “Is this the best a man can get?” Clips from news stories about the #MeToo movement play at the beginning, followed by scenes of men and boys acting in ways that hurt others. Then as the scenes play on, men decide to step in to stop others from harassing and bullying, showing that good men use their voices to protect those with less power than them. A great example for all of us to reject outdated views of gender that only serve to hurt.
Change must happen in order to achieve a more equal society. People don’t like change because it makes us uncomfortable. It comes with fears of the unknown, just as any other time we leave our comfort zone. But to stay with the status quo is more than uncomfortable for those of us who are being treated unfairly, it is harmful.
The Women’s March
A major proponent of change, the Women’s March is a global call for change that is now in its third year. Originally planned as a protest against the inauguration of President Trump and his racist and sexist values, it has grown into something much larger. The Women’s March organization states that women’s rights are human rights, though their unity principles are not solely related to gender. The organization and it’s followers believe in equality for all, which include rights for workers, immigrants, the disabled, and LGBTQIA+ people. They also support access to healthcare, environmental justice, and civil rights. You may be thinking, that’s a lot! But simply put, they believe that everyone is equal, no matter what.
Why It Matters
Do you remember learning about the Civil Rights movement in your high school history books? Or maybe you were alive during that time, and saw it happening with your own eyes! That is considered a radical era of America’s history. It is the same now. The Women’s March and #MeToo movement will one day be in history books for our future generations to learn about. Feminism is not going away. Just as the Civil Rights movement eventually led to lasting change that improved the lives of millions of Americans, so will the Women’s March and this new feminist wave of activism. We are watching history being made in front of our very eyes.
We must decide if we want to live in a society infected with strict parameters, disrespect, and outdated ideals; or rather a society that treats people fairly and kindly. Doing nothing is accepting discrimination. By taking action, no matter how small, you are positively impacting the wellbeing of others who need your help. On January 19th, consider joining a Women’s March near you. If that’s not possible, choose a nonprofit that benefits women and donate $10. Encourage your friends to do the same. When you draw your friends and loved ones into your action, it becomes more fun and strengthens the cause.