Saturday, March 9, 2013

One Day? My Introspection on Being 'Woman'

So yesterday was International Women's Day. The fact that there has to be a day to mark how far we think women's right have come is enough to make you cry. (Yes, I'm a woman, I'm dramatic). Despite the accomplishments of the past, I can't help but wonder, why do we still need to fight? Have we really made any headway when advertising and media still oversexualize and objectify women, when we're still told from a very young age to conform to gender normatives and see ourselves as not only biologically female, but as the fairer, more nurturing sex? Yes, there are more avenues for activism through social media, and more and more articles on popular culture are focusing on the importance of recognizing gender inequality and dismantling the socially constructed world we still live in. But is it enough?

I am proud of what women who fight for our basic human rights do every day. I'm proud when women support themselves, support others, and recognize that even though we are not all sisters, we are all human beings and we deserve to be treated as such. It's not just an issue of gender, otherwise wouldn't you think, by sheer numbers alone, women would hold more power? There are more women on the planet than men. But it's about more than that. More than having women "empowered" or "respected", because society trains us to see and use these words in certain ways, and there are many ways this is enforced or negated (sexual, physical or emotional empowerment). It's not just about tolerating women in unconventionally feminine occupations. 

My point, and my two cents are, that until there are commercials for children that show little girls playing with cars, or boys "learning the role of fatherhood" through dolls or "domestic" toys, until they stop making pens just for women, or telling women how to protect themselves from rape instead of teaching men to NOT rape, until the word feminism is known to not only women, but to men who can understand that it doesn't mean the downfall of their gender or female superiority, until these and so many other things can not only be tolerated, but accepted into society will there be real change. Until women don't have to fight for the right to choose what happens to their body, or told by men how to dress, act or speak. 

I hope one day we don't even need a Women's Day. Every day should be women's, men's children's, the elderly, and basic humanity day. Where we don't have to question and fight for the right to the same quality of life.

Yes, I digress and I'm being an idealist. But change never happens by accepting things the way they are. I hope some of you take the time to read articles on women, by women, for women and for men. I hope you get to share it with someone, enlighten someone and continue to educate yourself on advocating for equality. Start recognizing what you see on TV, who's doing what, who's watching, and who's doing, who's working and who's not. Who's fighting and who's being fought against. Recognizing oppression and inequality starts with individuals. Recognition often takes us out of our comfort zone, if you start to realize how controversial, and often counter intuitive some things are. I talk about media as a big influence on how we see the world, and I believe it's true. Start seeing who's selling vacuums and cleaning products, cars (trucks versus minivans), what couples sell and what kinds of families are portrayed. Recognizing these seemingly subtle aspects of popular culture will help make you see who's trying to sell "normal", and who that includes, and who it excludes. 

My own introspection has been a work in progress. I no longer want to see myself as a young woman, studying women's studies and being told it's a "hobby degree", that I'm privileged enough to study something so trivial. If human rights were trivial we wouldn't need a women's day. Or Black History MONTH. By creating linear and constrained moments of recognition for marginalized peoples we further instill that they are not the majority. That difference will continue to separate us and create borders between genders, race, class, and faith. The acknowledgement is coming from those in power, recognizing those other than themselves, for one day, or one month. What about women's year? Decade? Imagine the recognition of what women have and have yet to accomplish, if we feel the need to define recognition to a definitive amount of time.

I would love to see a blockbuster film where women weren't the victim, the sex object, the arm candy, the housewife, or the femme fatale needing to be rescued. But let's be honest, who wants to see women successfully supporting themselves without the help or support of a man? Okay, I can admit this is dramatically feminist and a very vague statement. But consider the way women, even who appear strong, are portrayed? Just some food for thought.

I would love to hear any insights, stories, comments or debates :) keeping the discussion open about equality is part of making change happen! I would love to continue posts about anything mentioned above, or if anyone has topics they'd like to discuss, please let me know!