by Lisa Bernier
Texas State Sen. Wendy Davis’ inspiring filibuster against the state’s restrictive abortion bill, although only a temporary victory (the bill later passed in a special session earlier this month) was an inspiring example of feminism to women everywhere. In a world where women journalists are assaulted for covering political upheaval (Tahrir Square), jailed for criticizing powerful figures (Pussy Riot in Russia), and featured dancing around topless while men are fully clothed (like in the latest annoyingly sexist yet eminently singable music videos of Robin Thicke and Justin Timberlake), it doesn’t always seem like women have made progress towards parity with men. Maybe the days of bra burning are over--or maybe it’s time to do something else equally fierce in declaring women empowerment.
1. Get Involved with the Feminist Majority Foundation
This foundation not only supports women’s rights everywhere, it also has a page that features specific initiatives to help women around the world.
2. Write to your local political leader about the importance of women’s health
Whether you are pro-life or pro-choice, every women deserves the right to basic healthcare. With many states like North Dakota and Montana attempting--and then succeeding--in passing laws against women’s health in the name of “family life,” it’s a problem for women everywhere. Every person, whether male or female, should be able to have access to basic sexual and reproductive care. Leaders need to know that half of their constituency is a very vocal, very important half. After all, you don’t see prostate exams being outlawed.
3. Become a Mentor for Young Women
Although it is 2013, according to an article by The Daily Beast, only about 16% of women hold positions in major leadership roles in various sectors. Women won’t take initiative unless they are taught from early on they have a right to sit at the table instead of off to the side. No one puts Baby in the corner--and let’s stop encouraging infantilizing nicknames like “Baby,” eh?
4. Start Owning Being A Feminist
Since when did it become an embarrassing term? Feminists are strong, awesome women and men who just want equal opportunities for everyone. They just don’t like it when anyone tries to keep the XX chromosome down. Let’s start owning the word “feminist.” You can be a feminist who loves wearing denim overalls, or, like Zooey Deschanel, a Peter Pan collar. All are equally valid ways of showing feminine awesomeness. Being the ultimate superwoman is not the point. You don’t have to do it all, or even want to. Whether you are a career gal, a stay at home mother, or multi-tasker galore, all are great roles to fill in society. We shouldn’t judge each other for making choices. The ability to have that choice--and the equality that comes with it--is what the women’s rights movement. Letting our femininity be what WE want it to be, and having the strength, freedom, and courage to bring it to actualization is what a feminist means. Which, in essence, is what it means to be a fully realized human being.
5. Let’s All Connect
This is literally the age of connectivity. With the Internet and social media, no one has the excuse of hiding in a cave anymore (and I bet you even that cave would have wifi). Why not support the organization of women in Egypt by reaching out and giving support, give advice to a young girl in Africa who dreams of becoming a doctor, starting a blog where all women can work towards bettering their economic and social position? If we all talk to each other and band together, there’s nothing we can’t accomplish. Check out groups like The International Women’s Connection, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the good old YWCA for ways to let out a collective female roar.
Have any ideas on being a good girl? Leave 'em in the comments!