7 Ways to Empower Women (*Especially Women of Color)

1. Compliment her intelligence/personality: Yes, women are fantastic to look, at and its okay to let us know how good we look, but to be honest, our bodies are already constantly being sexualized in television, movies, music etc. This is especially true for Brown and Black women, who are constantly hypersexualized. So when we hear how good our butt or boobs look, chances are that we have heard it 10 times before already. But what we don’t hear is how smart or funny we are. So the next time you see a woman being fabulous, let her know by talking about more than her looks and her body.  

2. Defend women who deviate from social norms: Let’s say you see a bad-ass woman walking around with her unshaven legs and armpits and you hear someone talking shit. Don’t let that slide. She doesn’t have to adhere to binding gender norms. So don’t be afraid to call someone out, especially if it’s hatred against a woman of color. Because more often than not, we’ve had to endure much more hatred-- for example, being called "monkey" or dirty for showing off our hairiness in comparison to our white counterparts. Even if the queen you’re defending doesn’t know you’re defending her, you’re still contributing to the empowerment of women.  

3. Protect Trans women at all costs: Trans women are women so don’t EVER let people get away with being trans-misogynistic. Trans women are ethereal beings walking among us and they must always be protected, especially trans women of color. Trans women of color started the movement for rights for the LGBTQ community, but they are hardly ever recognized for that. Even more devastating is the fact that trans women of color are also more likely to be homeless, murdered, and discriminated against in the work force because of their intersecting identities. Fighting ignorance against trans women is empowering our sisters! 

4. Actively challenge internalized misogyny: Have you ever heard women say things like “I only have guy friends because girls are too much drama” or “I’m not like other girls” or “I’m not a slut, I respect myself?” All of these are examples of internalized misogyny. Not only are they disrespectful and harmful to women as a whole, they also reinforce patriarchal values. So always challenge this ideology, especially when it is directed at women of color, since we are constantly being subjected to various forms of respectability politics. 

5. Support sex workers: People are often quick to judge women who participate in sex work without taking into consideration that one, there is a demand for sex work, and two, we live in a capitalistic society that created the circumstance for sex work to be necessary. Sex work is real work. It’s a job just like any other, and sex workers do it because they need to make money to live in capitalistic America. This is especially true for women of color. As a result of systemic racism, women of color have the most difficulty securing work, so when they enter the field of sex work it’s out of necessity. We should not condemn women for surviving.  

6. Be (actually) body positive: Don’t succumb to the BS Megan Trainor “I’m fat in the right places” fake-ass body positive movement. Being body positive means supporting skinny girls with no butt or boobs, fat girls with no butts or boobs, skinny girls with butts and no boobs, fat girls with butts and boobs, fat girls with fat rolls, fat girls with flat tummies, literally EVERY body type is perfect and body positivity means recognizing that. None of this selective, only fat in some places crap. This is especially important to recognize when it comes to women of color, because let’s be real, Black and Brown women are constantly criticized for having big butts and boobs, but white women with the same things are praised. And that’s only one example. Body positivity also means putting an end to exclusively white standards of beauty.

7. Share Wisdom: Women are rarely given any legitimate, non-shaming guidance when it comes to navigating the world. Women who have periods (this information can also be shared with men who have periods) aren’t told that period cravings mean that the body is trying to regain the good stuff it lost during menstruation, so you should eat what you crave! Trans women often struggle with finding safe places to live, but there are ways of figuring out where to find safe trans-inclusive living spaces by and for trans people: http://translistings.tumblr.com/. Sharing information that is useful to your sisters is important, especially when they face multiple discriminations like racism, classicism, homophobia, etc. 

Women are everything, and there’s no reason for us to feel like we are anything less than perfect!