Ways We Can Support Other Women Every Day

Ways We Can Support Women Every Day

March is my favorite month because it contains my favorite day of the year:  International Women’s Day.  It’s a chance to really celebrate the empowered women in our own lives and the historical heroes who fought tooth and nail for some of the rights we might take for granted.  This day is so special to me because it brings to light exactly how far we have come, and how far we have to go.  As excited as I was for an opportunity and a platform to discuss the issues that are so close to my heart, it was hard to resume “normal” life—until I remembered that I shouldn’t be afraid to call attention to women’s rights issues just because it’s not International Women’s Day.

Here are three things I’m resolving to do to fight for women’s rights today and every day.

1. Don’t be afraid of the F-word.

I see it all the time, especially on social media.  Women that I admire and who believe in equal rights for women and men will often say, “Of course I believe that men and women are equal, but I wouldn’t say I’m a feminist.”  Or even better, “What you are describing is egalitarianism or humanism.”  Though I’m sure we have all heard it before, it bears repeating:  feminism, by definition, is “the advocacy of women's rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes.”  Gender equality and feminism, then, are inseparable ideas.       

When we refuse to use the word “feminism,” we undercut the movement.  Feminism is the term we use because it is women who hold a lower place in society.  Egalitarianism and humanism are separate and distinct philosophies.  So if you believe that men and women are equal, you are a feminist—plain and simple.  Don’t be afraid to use this title proudly.

2. Recognize that feminism that excludes any woman isn’t really feminism.

For people who identify as feminist, it might seem obvious that feminism is here for all women, regardless of race, creed, sexuality, or identity.  However, there are groups of women who are often excluded by other feminists.  For example, there is an oft-cited fact that women make roughly 77 cents to the man’s dollar in the United States.  However, that number is actually much lower for women of color—black women make roughly 63 cents on the white man’s dollar.  Transwomen also face unique and distinct challenges—transgender people were 7x as likely as cisgender people to experience violence in interactions with the police in 2013.  It’s so important to recognize these injustices because doing so allows us to recognize areas where we might have more privilege than other women and use our platform to affect change.  When we as women fight for our rights, it’s important to recognize that other women have very different struggles than we do. 

3. Raise other women up, in word and deed.

Over the past few years, it seems that there’s been a newfound focus on women supporting other women, and I am so here for it.  This is at the core of what being a feminist is all about, and it seems easy to do at first.  We have to recognize, however, that there are actions that almost all of us make frequently that are inherently anti-woman.  For example, I often catch myself using anti-woman slurs like b-tch and p-ssy.  If you are reclaiming these words by using them in a positive context, great!  However, when we use these words to describe women we don’t like or other people who are behaving in a manner we see as feminine (and therefore negative), then we are failing to support women.

I am grateful for International Women’s Day because it gives us a chance to bring to light these issues, and I am excited us to continue the fight and to march forward every day as empowered women.