On International Women’s day, I find myself reflecting upon how far we have come in the fight for equality. What I find the most frustrating about identifying as a feminist is that some people still equate it with being a “man-hating feminazi” Just the fact that misandry and feminism seem to interchangeable to many people is a giant inhibitor to progress towards equality. Today, more so than any other day, it is our job as feminists and women who have suffered from violence and discrimination to speak out against the culture that alienates us and remind those around us of the difficulties that are still being faced.
1 in 4 women will experience sexual violence in her lifetime. The enormity of that number is stifling. Women and girls should be able to walk home at night and not have to fear cat-calling or even physical violence. Similarly, women and girls should never have to be told that the way that they dress caused them to be assaulted. This outdated mentality shifts the blame from the rapist and onto the victim. Rape culture is ever-present and it is entirely preventable. Because of the enormity of the population who has been touched by sexual violence, today is an excellent opportunity to examine your own attitude towards sexual violence. Are you an ally to victims? How have you supported the survivors you know? How much do you know about respecting triggers? How much to you understand about sexual consent? These are all important questions to ask, not only to ourselves, but to those around us. Today we have the opportunity to start a dialogue about sexual violence and help make it a thing of the past!
Here are some ways that you can put your feminism to work in the community:
1. Recognize the many different forms of sexism and gender-based discrimination and call them out when you see them!
2. Don’t make rape jokes, and make sure everyone around you doesn’t either. Chances are there is a rape victim nearby who could be extremely uncomfortable or experiencing a flashback.
3. Remind men that they can be feminists too! Bell Hooks once said, “Feminism is for Everybody!” and she was right, everyone can support the fight for equality, without men we will never truly achieve equality!
4. Remember that a “real” woman identifies as a woman. Transphobic feminism isn’t really feminism.
5. Support body positivism! Women come in all different shapes and colours, all of which are equally beautiful! Fat-shaming is hurtful and unproductive.
6. Read up! Authors like Jessica Valenti and Bell Hooks have excellent books that give an accessible introduction to feminism!
7. Get Involved! Women’s shelters always need volunteers, and if you can’t volunteer try raising money for them through your school or church!
8. Get Active! Take Back the Night, 1 Billion Rising and Slutwalk always need people to join in their cause!
Youth Advisory Committee Leader