2017: Now It’s Okay to be a Feminist?
It’s hard to speak for everyone, we’re all so different. Women, I mean.
Throughout history, our voices have been spoken over and ignored. The journey of feminism has been arduous; it’s very definition mired in controversy to this day.
But when over 5 million of us (women, and the likeminded) peacefully marched and demonstrated worldwide, the message was clear:
Women’s rights are human rights. But that doesn’t mean excluding anyone. Just the opposite. It means that we recognize “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” as the Reverend said.
It was a day of inclusion, as women embraced Black Lives Matter, LGBQT, mental health, immigrant, and Muslim’s rights, to name a few.
While it was defending the same ideals, it was a far cry from the violent escalation of so many other movements in civil rights history.
It was a day I wish I could have seen as a little girl, angry that I had to play the damsel in distress or the sidekick in my (all boy) friend group. A day I could have used during my troubled adolescence while I was grasping desperately to understand what being a woman meant.
Seeing it as an adult caused me to explore some age old ideas about women and gender again. It got me thinking about how differently society expects girls and boys to handle tough situations, like conflict resolution.
Girls talk, gossip, or cry. Boys rough-house, play sports, or fight. At least that’s what each group is told is an acceptable responses to stressors beyond our perceived capacity.
Listening to the men at the march, and their comments afterwords showed me untapped emotional turmoil. Boys are so often told that in order to become men they must stop expressing and connecting deeply with those around them by masking their feelings.
As Pat Conroy eloquently wrote it in his book Beach Music:
“American men are allotted just as many tears as American women. But because we are forbidden to shed them, we die long before women do, with our hearts exploding or our blood pressure rising or our livers eaten away by alcohol because that lake of grief inside us has no outlet. We, men, die because our faces were not watered enough.”
While it may be more acceptable for us to show our emotions, it’s long been portrayed as a sign of weakness. Society allows women to be emotional but we become highly susceptible to Gaslighting.
“Hysteria is undoubtedly the first mental disorder attributable to women, accurately described in the second millennium BC, and until Freud considered an exclusively female disease.”
But the message is shifting. The economy that built the patriachary realizes that women, now more than ever, are moving into positions of power. The media, so often populated with damaging stereotypes and unchecked marginalization, has shifted it’s focus to an untapped goldmine.
And it’s spawned record breaking financial success for movies like Rogue One advertising like this:
While it is about a millennia too late, the sentiment is still valid.
We may not have cracked the glass ceilings, but with the help of our deeply empathetic partners from across the spectrum, we are closer to breaking through than ever.