“Be bold for change” is the theme of 2017’s International Women’s Day campaign, meaning that everyone is being called upon to forge a better future for all women. I say: ‘all women’ rather than simply ‘women’ because intersectionality is often over-looked as an aspect of feminism/egalitarianism (in my opinion these words can be used interchangeably). Whilst many people don’t see the need for feminism in western society as, yes, women’s statuses have progressed massively in recent history within our culture, it is rarely thought about that non-white women, gay women, disabled women, or transgender women are perhaps facing a double battle. Their battle is that they are already disadvantaged by their sex, but are then disadvantaged further by another uncontrollable factor. Although I am a woman, and have faced some disadvantages because of this, I want to take today to focus on those women that struggle more, because if we aren’t fighting for all women, then we aren’t really fighting for women at all.
Ways to make a change:
Call people the fuck out. If someone you’re with says something sexist, whether or not they mean to, call them out on it. Yes, it might be a bit awkward, they may try to shrug it off or cover it up with a joke, but call it out. I recently did this with one of my housemates and whilst they didn’t like being told that they were wrong, they were in the wrong and needed to know. We can’t expect people to change if they don’t know what they need to change.
Challenge stereotypes, as a female rugby player and percussionist I often wonder how good do I need to be before I stop being a ‘girl rugby player’ or a ‘female drummer’ and just be ‘a rugby player’ or ‘a drummer’. Really my sex has nothing to do with either of these hobbies, so just keep doing you. I’m not suggesting you pick up a hobby just to defy your gender-norm, but don’t stop yourself from starting something new because it is viewed as a girl’s/boy’s hobby.
If you are at university, for example, try to make sure SUs appoint reps regardless of gender/sexuality/disability, etc. Whilst there are obvious societies that may have a heavy weighting of certain characteristics, for example an LGBT+ society is likely to have more gay reps than other societies, the vast majority should be open to having a diverse board.
If you are in a position where you spend time with young people, educate them. This could be achieved in so many different settings: younger siblings, kids you babysit, or if you volunteer with children for placements. Women need to be talked about more, a disproportionate number of male scientists or medical marvels can named compared to women, and whilst this is largely due to school syllabuses it can also be improved upon in the home. Another way to educate kids on women is just to teach both boys and girls that they are equal to each other and that they can do whatever they want regardless of their sex, this is one thing I feel that my parents did particularly well.
Not standing for victim blaming is another massive thing! It doesn’t matter what she was wearing, where she was going, the time, who she was with, if she looked at him, if she said yes but then changed her mind but he didn’t want to stop: it’s not her fault if he rapes her. How can women be expected to go forward with information about dangerous men if they are worried that they are going to be told that they deserved it? This is also true in reverse, how can men be expected to talk about abuse and violence if they are scared of being told men can’t be raped? I think a good rule for how you are acting or what you are saying is: if you wouldn’t be happy with your parents knowing this is happening, don’t do it.
If you have the means you can also financially aid the advancement of women, for example I sponsor two girls through school in Uganda. You can also choose to support companies that support women, and boycott those who are less socially progressive *cough*urban outfitters*cough*.
I’m leaving a link to the IWD website in case anyone reading this would like to have a look at it, I would recommend it personally as I enjoyed scrolling through and realising what I was agreeing to support.