International Women’s Day is almost here, and many of us are looking forward to it. It’s a great day to celebrate women and to promote the cause of women and girls, all over the world. It’s important to recognize women on this one day but it’s not enough. I think that we need to recognize and support women’s value and women’s accomplishments every day of the year.
As International Women’s Day approaches, I’ve been thinking about why feminism is good for women, even when they’re oblivious to it. Whether we know it or not, feminists have been fighting on our behalf for many decades, giving women the right to vote, to own property, to be seen and heard, to have an education, to be paid a living wage and to have control over their bodies, among other things.
We’re all set to go and watch Captain Marvel, a movie which celebrates a strong and empowered woman; in fact, she’s a super-hero. It’s fantastic to have such a depiction of a female character in the movies but I’d also like to see everyone celebrating empowered women in real life and not just in the movies.
A lot of women take for granted the idea of women being fully empowered and fully acknowledged, but these women don’t realize how much of their day-to-day life is positively affected by all the feminist advances of the past. We certainly still have a ways to go in terms of being treated as equals and afforded equal rights, freedoms and opportunities, but we can also appreciate how much feminism has already done for us.
Feminism has led to women being listened to and taken more seriously.
I think that the majority of young North American and Western European women, and even many middle-aged woman have very little idea of how important feminism has been in how women live their lives today. One huge advancement is that we’re taken more seriously and our opinions and ideas are listened to. This means that we get to make a meaningful contribution to the conversations about how we run our homes, our communities, our countries and our planet.
We’ve made great strides in the workplace and in politics; in gaining respect and personal autonomy, but there’s so much more to accomplish. We still make up a tiny proportion of corporate boards and we still aren’t paid equally to men. We’re still being harassed and assaulted at home, at school and in the workplace and we still do the vast majority of the domestic work. Feminism is the vehicle through which we continue to work on these issues.
Another reason why women being empowered is good for men as well as women is that when women own their power, they’re more authentic and they take much better care of themselves. Instead of putting up with everything that they’ve been putting up with on an hourly, daily and life-long basis, they’ll start to stand up for themselves and show men just exactly how they need to behave around women.
Feminism has empowered women to stop settling for less.
When women are fully empowered they stop accepting second-class status. They demand to be represented on the boards that steer companies and in the political parties that make decisions about our society. They insist on being paid the same wage as equally-skilled men in equal positions and they refuse to tolerate being condescended to, controlled or harassed.
Too many of us live our lives unaware of how much work the people who came before us have put in our own behalf. We take all of our freedom, safety, rights and opportunities for granted. On International Women’s Day, we need to be reminded of how the feminists in the past and in the present have worked so hard on our behalf to give us better lives.
It’s a testament to all the hard work the feminists have been doing for us over all these years that we’re able to be so oblivious about the many strides they’ve made on our behalf. We take it for granted that we don’t need a man’s signature if we want to get a mortgage or take out a loan; we take it for granted that we get to dress the way we want to, write the things we want to and elect the officials that we choose.
We shouldn’t take it for granted that we have so many rights, freedoms and opportunities today.
Sadly, there are a lot of women who insist that they’re not a feminist. They make a point of insulting feminists and accusing us of all sorts of awfulness; especially that of hating men and wanting to take all the power away from them.
I get so frustrated with the women who reject feminism. I think that they do so, in part because they misunderstand it (without examining what it actually is), and in part because they’re terrified that men will reject them if they own their power.
Feminists have made it so that we women can have our own power; we don’t need to take it away from men.
These anti-feminist women think that the only way to have what they want in life is to negate their own power and have a vicarious experience of it by associating with men who have the power, but because of feminism, we can have our own power without hating anyone else or oppressing anyone else.
Throughout history there have always been members of marginalized groups who were self-hating and who’d align themselves with those in positions of greater power; not realizing that 1: they’re 100% equal to those who hold the power; 2: that they deserve to be equally empowered and 3: that they’re capable of taking on their own power.
Women who reject feminism are rejecting themselves.
Women who reject feminism are in essence, rejecting themselves, because feminism is an affirmation of every woman’s right to be seen, acknowledged, respected and treated as beings who are fully equal to men.
When we watch a movie written or directed by a woman or starring a strong female protagonist like Captain Marvel, we have feminists to thank for pushing equal representation in the film industry. Of course, we still have a long way to go in this area.
When we read about a female executive being promoted to a high position in her company or earning a substantial income, we need to recognize that it’s feminists who smashed through the glass ceiling. When we see women elected to public office, we need to remember that it was less than a century ago that women got the right to vote. And of course, feminists were responsible for this.
We’ve made so many strides and yet there are still so many advancements we need to make on behalf of women. Too many women from marginalized communities don’t have nearly the same rights, freedoms and privileges that women in more affluent Western countries enjoy. All women need to embrace feminism and to work together to gain equality for themselves and for their sisters.
As we get ready to watch the Captain Marvel movie, we should all be asking ourselves why we don’t make the connection between the depiction of a powerful woman in the media with the achievements of the feminists whose work paved the way for such a depiction.
Feminism has never been about wanting to take anything away from men; it’s always been about loving, celebrating and advancing the cause of women. On this International Women’s Day let’s be clear about how important, necessary and good it is to celebrate not only women but the notion of feminism. Celebrating feminism enables us to continue working to improve the lives of women and girls everywhere.