It’s National Women’s Equality Day and I am feeling all of the feels. I am excited, empowered, and honored to have been passed down the torch of badass-ery from the women who struck the match and lit the flame for equality. Forty five years ago today, women were on strike. Ninety five years ago today, women won the right to vote (Can I get a ‘HELL YEAH’). It was one of the most peaceful, powerful, and successful movements in history with the victory of the nineteenth amendment.
It blows my mind to think women were part of a suffrage movement at this time. It blows my mind to imagine that we are still pushing this fight for equality forward, that in (almost) a century’s time, we still are not fully equal.
This brings a great conversation to the table with an abundance of educational resources, and certainly gives me an even better reason to talk about it. I was asked last week, “what do you think is the main obstacle or reason for a lack of gender equality?” and my response was simply– a lack of understanding, communication, and listening ears to receive what is being said. Gender equality of course has an entire realm of issues that I could go on about for days, but for the basis of this particular piece, I feel as though there aren’t enough people receptive to listen, and furthermore understand. This of course can be argued by saying there are people listening and changes are being made, but the problem here is that there aren’t enough people listening. There aren’t enough people who are okay with calling themselves a “feminist” because they’re not able to explain themselves long enough for people to listen. I think that is the biggest fault in the system. The word is used, but the meaning is uttered under whispers.
During many conversations, feminism always makes its way into discussion and I very quickly disclaim with, “I am a raging feminist,” which usually elicits the response of, “well… I don’t identify as a feminist… I believe in equal rights but I wouldn’t say I’m a feminist,” and I always ask why. Nobody has ever had an answer that disregards them as feminists. Most people haven’t actually had the opportunity to articulate their opinions on feminism without the fear of not having a radical enough opinion or knowledge on feminism itself, so I ask more questions.
“How many women work in your office?”
“How many times have you felt discredited?”
“How often do you sit at a bar and feel threatened?”
“Don’t you want to be paid the same amount as those next to you?”
“Do you have a girlfriend? Don’t you want her to be paid the same amount as you?”
And I listen. Most times, those who are a bit uncertain about proclaiming themselves as feminists realize that feminism is not what they were conditioned to believe it was. Feminism is not one dimensional. Feminism is not about hating men. Feminism isn’t about stripping naked to declare your womanhood. Feminism doesn’t mean you had to have been a victim of misogyny. Feminism doesn’t mean you have to be a woman. Or maybe for you it does. Maybe you fell into feminism recently, maybe you found yourself in a blog, in a person, in a role model (mine being Erin Bagwell– hey, girl!), or maybe you found feminism within yourself in your room trying to make a change. Feminism is not looking for a qualified resume to apply; feminism is looking for humanitarian values and for you to express them however you feel suites you, as long as we are on the path to equality, and as long as we are willing to hear each other out and offer our best understanding. Maybe it’s by starting conversations after a few glasses of wine with, “I’m a raging feminist!” or maybe it’s by reading about feminism on social media and the evolution of women’s rights.
Whichever way you choose, it doesn’t mean you deserve any less than another human being on this Earth, and that is why I am a feminist. Feminism encompasses the basic meaning of human rights. That is why we need to continue pushing for changes and equality– to move forward, to bring a positive vision to girls who we will be passing the torch of badass-ery down to. That is why our voices count. Feminism isn’t a quiet mutter because feminism is equality, and equality is a roar.