It is International Women's Day today, and also Women's History Month throughout March. For quite sometime, I wouldn't identify myself as a feminist, despite finding sexism extremely offensive and believing in all the root elements of feminism. The radical notion that women are equal to men. That gender or sex should have no bearing on your self worth, rights and opportunities.
It is no hidden fact that feminism has been demonized and feminists portrayed as man-hating lesbian feminazis (thank you Rush Limbaugh), and this is something that I believed to be true until I looked into it further. There are many women who have hugely influenced my thinking, and I plan to write about them to celebrate the rest of this month.
I think many people believe that feminism is no longer relevant. I mean, we have the vote, we can attend school all the way up until college or university. We have women doctors, lawyers and even an almost president of the United States.
Along with all of these achievements, we also have women experiencing extreme violence on a day to day basis all over the world. We have yet to have achieved pay parity between men and women. In many, many places, women still do not have full reproductive rights or control over their own bodies.
I have recently discovered Womanist Musings, a blog written by a Canadian woman who writes predominantly about feminism/womanism and race. You should definitely all go check her out, she is excellent and I am constantly challenged and educated by reading what she has to write. Recently she has had a series of interviews of various feminist and womanist bloggers, writers and activists which I highly recommend.
One of those interviews was with Cara Kulwicki of The Curvature and Feministe (also excellent blogs), who had such an amazing answer to one of the questions I wanted to post it here. It completely sums up both my dreams for women (and society in general) and also why I feel so passionately about continuing the feminist fight.
10) If you had to set goals for feminist advancement what would they be?
Since this is for International Women’s Day, I’ve decided that I’m just going to be incredibly outlandish and ostentatious by not saying “I want this bill passed,” but instead saying what it really is that we ought to all want.
I want an end to rape culture. No more victim-blaming, no more excuses for rapists, just real prevention efforts, and fair, efficient trials. I want economic justice for women all over the world, and that means not only equal pay but also creating a path to economic prosperity and sustainability in those places where men live on extremely little, too. I want reproductive justice – not just a right to abortion and birth control, but a right to have a child, a right to parental leave, day care, and health care. I want a world where no one is “illegal,” where, sex is not seen as bad, where physical and emotional abuse is not tolerated, and where no one is murdered because her genitals didn’t meet someone else’s expectations for what makes a woman. I want a world where police don’t go around killing people of color, where job discrimination is not tolerated, and where children and adults alike don’t go hungry under the banner of “personal responsibility.”
These are really not outlandish wishes. I look at this list, and I see things that we should already have, that in a just world would be givens. But they are also far off goals. They will require a whole lot of those small bills being passed, alongside lots of big ones, a lot of education, community building and minds changed. And though I’m young, I doubt I’ll see most of them in my lifetime. I hope that I’ll see more than I expect, but it’s going to take work, and it’s going to take a bigger and stronger movement. But those things above, along with the many things I certainly forgot, should sure as hell be our goals. If they’re not, I’m not sure what we’re in this for.