On March 8th, people all over the world celebrate women and what they have accomplished in honor of International Women’s Day. The holiday focuses on the attainment of women’s rights and is the perfect opportunity for all of us to remember how far we’ve come. However, we also need to recognize, perhaps more now than ever before, how far we still have left to go.
International Women’s Day is more than just a worldwide party––in fact, in many places, it’s a day of protest, and in others it’s actually ignored. For many, it only serves as a reminder of the painstaking work that still lies ahead. In a world where white nationalism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and violence against women is ever-increasing , it can feel discouraging to commemorate something such as International Women’s Day. We recognize that there is still so much hatred that exists, and hidden behind it, so much yet to accomplish.
We’ve been observing this historic and consequential day for over a century, yet there are still large numbers of people who refuse to understand the necessity of women’s rights. Contrary to popular belief, the feminist population is not just a collection of angry lesbians who are desperate to defeat the patriarchy. The fact that we are still working to fight that stereotype alone is enough to conclude that we’re not quite finished. The media continues to sensationalize our movement for equality, and when this happens, the negative stigma only grows.
Most––if not all–– who call themselves feminists in the first place simply advocate for the social, political and economic equality of the sexes. Nothing more, and nothing less. Every human on this earth deserves the exact same rights, and this ideal on its own is what has been driving this movement to act for decades. The feminist movement simply will not cease until every woman on earth is afforded equal rights to men.
In this world, many women do believe that they have been granted equal rights to men, and this is awesome. However, we still need feminism, and will continue to need it, until every other woman in the world feels this way as well. And when I say “feminism” here, I mean real, genuine, inclusive feminism––intersectional feminism. Without it, the entire movement has no relevance. In order to move forward as a population, we need to push for the policies and values that represent and include every woman on earth, regardless of her race, religion, sexual orientation or social class.
So when you think of International Women’s Day, yes, definitely celebrate the strides that the multitudes of women who have come before us have already made. We’ve had several females become Secretary of State, join the Supreme Court, win seats in Congress, join the military, fly airplanes and hold marches and rallies. But our accomplishments shouldn’t slow us down. We’ve proven that women are capable of many different things, but that doesn’t mean that we’re near the end. We’re right in the thick of it, and the finish line is nowhere in sight.
We’ve been living in a world where we teach women to not be raped, rather than raising our boys not to become rapists. Little girls, college women and grown women are consistently the targets of the empowered and privileged, and still feel ashamed when they are assaulted. We teach our girls to never walk alone at night, to carry pepper spray, to never dress provocatively in front of men (even if they’re family members!) and to be quiet.
We teach our girls that their sisters are their competitors. We belittle them until they feel that they cannot be scientists or engineers. We demean them for their sexuality in real life but then we sexualize them on TV. We deny them quality education too. We misinform them and then we take away their healthcare. They work incredible hours, many times with children waiting at home, and still earn on average 78 cents for every dollar men make.
And in 2019, there are still some girls who criticize feminism and believe that it ignores the issues of men. But while the women’s rights movement is empowering, it in no way, shape or form neglects the presence or importance of men or strays from its original intention: equality.
There are also many women who try to utilize the feminist movement to advance their hatred towards men. When we realize that gender equality is not a feminine issue, but rather a humanitarian issue, maybe we will finally begin to achieve the goals that our ancestors set so many years ago. Yes, women should be treated the same as men; not because we’re better, but because we’re human. The better we treat ourselves, and each other, the better our society can be. When we treat each other fairly and can come together as a whole, we can begin to move forward.