Today, as I hope many of you are already aware, is a well-needed day to recognize the power, the immeasurable hardships, and the incredible feat of being a woman. Today is International Women’s Day. This day is an unequivocally well-needed one. Unfortunately, regardless of one’s age, intelligence, or situation, sexism is significantly prevalent throughout the entire world. Sexism, not solely being reserved for repressing women, but men, of course, as well. But today we celebrate women. Today we embrace the empowerment that is necessary for equality, today is a day for feminism to be recognized and appreciated by every person out there. I can only hope that this day serves as what it is meant to symbolize- a unifier. Not a unifier simply among all women, but among all human beings. A unifier of those who demand equality and demand it now.
Feminism seems to be a word that is commonly met with a strange controversial ambivalence in our society. This hesitation to accept feminism as a cultural and human value is what bothers me tremendously, and is why I feel this celebratory day is so desperately needed. I myself do not ever find any hesitation to identify immediately as a feminist. I’ve noticed, rather prominently, and quite surprisingly to me, that many of my female friends are tentative to identify themselves as feminists. The association with the word is usually regarding the ridiculous stereotype of man-hating, overly aggressive and impetuous, screaming, protesting rioters. And this could not be farther from the truth. Feminism, by definition, is “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.” If the dictionary is not proof enough, then I do not know what is. Identifying as a feminist simply means believing in gender equality. That is all. Advocating for gender equality does take bravery, though, it takes courage and strength. And at the same time, it should not be so foreign to raise your voice about this subject. It’s crucial to us, as humans, not just as different genders. We all have a heartbeat, we all have a brain. Why do we not see that underneath the external layers of ourselves, we have so much to offer the world, all of us, equally? What matters is not how we are seen, but how we are heard. We all have a voice. Our own voices, which are all beautifully expressed in many differing forms, are our most powerful tools. And so, today, we raise our voices. For the women out there who have sacrificed their dignity due to misogynistic stereotypes, who have been harassed by horrible acts of ignorance, who have fought and won and who have raised their voice.
It is a difficult and terrifying thing to do, to speak up. But once you do, you refuse to be silenced. You refuse to conform to oppression. And that is change. That is progress. That is feminism.
International Women’s Day celebrates what women have achieved, individually and as a whole. This day empowers us, reminding us of our accomplishments, and urging us to make more. This is the description that I found on the official website:
Annually on 8 March, thousands of events are held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate achievements. A global web of rich and diverse local activity connects women from all around the world ranging from political rallies, business conferences, government activities and networking events through to local women’s craft markets, theatric performances, fashion parades and more.
I urge you all to contribute to the critical and powerful movement for gender equality. It is, and I promise you, not very difficult at all. Emma Watson (who is one of my favorite humans in the world) said something very thought-provoking today, hitting the issue of gender inequality right on the mark. “Gloria Steinem gave a speech last week at a HeForShe event in New York, and she used this really beautiful metaphor. She said that the human race is like a bird. and it needs both of its wings to be able to fly. And at the moment, one of its wings is clipped. And we’re never going to be able to fly as high unless we’re both in support of each other.”
That, my friends, is the absolute and undeniable truth. We, of all genders, despite and because of them, need to help each other out. We have to support each other- fully and completely- without stereotype, without implicit bias, without judgment. We have to accept each other and empower one another. We can win this fight for gender equality- maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but if we educate each other and refuse to disregard ignorance, we will win, one day. And the fight is what matters now. The fight is what counts. Brushing over seemingly harmless statements, treating one another with disrespect, continual ignorance, and of course, blatant misogyny, are what we must work to end and end them now.
I am so incredibly proud of what we, as women, have accomplished, and I congratulate every single one of you who has overcome and had to live with sexism affecting your lives. It’s unacceptable, and remember that. Remember why there is a day like today- to remind you to be strong, to fight for yourselves and for others. I know how ridiculously frivolous and cheesy I may sound, but this issue is anything but. The fact is, 1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime. Equal pay is still being debated about (seriously?) and not accepted as a, I don’t know, human right. And if you want to look at a whole abundance of other horrifying, and sadly unsurprising, examples of the inequality that exists everywhere today, please, simply search the word “women’s rights” in your browser and I am certain that you will find some sources that prove my words right. It’s inarguable, no matter how much you don’t see it, it is very much still there. Sexism can be insidious, but it exists, without a doubt. And we can combat it.
Here are some links to help you all out:
Emma Watson on gender equality (facebook Q&A)
Emma’s incredibly powerful speech
And, some closing words for everyone out there to keep in mind every single day of your lives:
“Freedom is what you do with what’s been done to you.” -Jean-Paul Sartre