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Yesterday was International Women's Day 2019! It is a day to reflect back on all the empowering women we know, we listen to, we inspire, and we applaud.
I'm currently in my second year of university pursuing a degree in gender studies. This discipline has really opened my eyes how not only women, but how all people, are treated in society. I'm more interested in studying the way that the media portrays women, men, and the LGBTQ+ community. Let's just say... we have a lot of work to do to create a more inclusive society.
This article is going to educate you on some of the words and terms that should be known in society.
ALRIGHT... this is a word that needs to be discussed.
Feminist: "a person who supports feminism."
Feminism: "the advocacy of women's rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes."
These definitions are from Oxford and are pretty straight forward and correct. Although, Oxford doesn't go over the negative connotations that are associated with this word.
If I'm ever in a conversation with someone and the topic of my undergrad major is brought up, this is usually how the conversation goes down...
"Are you one of those feminists?"
"Yeah, you could say that."
"Oh, so you hate men?"
" ... "
This has never made sense to me. Why is being a feminist a bad thing? Why is it assumed that feminists hate men? The only other supporters of feminists are other feminists.
In my studies, there was a book I read called Doing Feminist Theory by Susan Archer Mann that explained the "I'm-Not-a-Feminist-but Syndrome." This syndrome applies to the people who agree with all the ideas and terms that feminists fight for BUT they themselves do not identify as a "feminist."
This is totally understandable because of the stigma attached to the word "feminist;" I get it. It is just so sad to see so many people not identify as a feminist because of the stigma; because it should be a positive word. Feminist are just fighting for equal rights for ALL! Nothing wrong with that in my opinion.
Having a perspective not only means your opinion, but giving respect to other people's perspectives.
The way that I study perspective isn't about an opinion, but more of how someone experiences an experience differently. Let me explain...
In gender studies, we are taught to use an intersectional lens which requires us to look at different cultures, genders, and sexualities. My job is to hear, listen, and educate myself on how different cultures view different topics and live their day to day lives.
As cheesy as this sounds, using perspective has taught me how to be a better person. Having the understanding that you never know what someone is going through is a lesson that everyone should learn. It has made me treat people with more respect and I automatically can appreciate how they choose to live their life.
I'll admit, this concept kind of flew over my head the first time I was learning about it. After researching I have come to understand it like this...
Imagine that you are a woman standing on a concrete ground and you're looking up. When you look up you can see the life that you want and your hopes and dreams. These dreams might be the job you always wanted, the school you want your kids to attend, or equality for all. You go to reach for them, but you're stopped by an invisible glass ceiling. You try smashing it to get to your dreams, but there's a problem. This glass ceiling just keeps getting thicker and thicker the more you fit into minority categories, like your race, class, gender, marital status, heritability, disability, religion, etc.
The idea of the glass ceiling is that women don't get equal opportunity compared to men, so women are constantly trying to "break the glass" to get there. Women have been fighting for decades for equal rights, and while equality has gotten significantly better in the past 100 years, we still have SUCH a long way to go for the glass ceiling to shatter.
The takeaway from this article isn't to bash men or to people that don't support the equality of women, but rather to educate you on some of the ways that feminism is seen in society. If you get anything out of this article, I hope that your brains are more open to changing the way that women are treated in society. Educate yourself and find a way to change something that isn't right.
To all the women out there, biological, transgender, non-binary, mothers, daughters, sisters, friends, etc. YOU ARE LOVED AND CELEBRATED! Happy (belated) International Women's Day! Let’s keep the conversation of feminism and girl power going!
Now, if you want to find me, I'll be listening to Spotify's "Girl Power Karaoke!" playlist for the rest of the day.