WEAR WHAT YOU WANT
Liberation is about choice. Whether you want to cover up or show some skin, feminism isn’t a ‘look’, this is especially important when it comes to other cultures or religions, just because a woman is covered up, doesn’t mean she’s oppressed. Similarly, if a woman is baring it all, it doesn’t mean she’s a ‘slut’. Feminism is about having the freedom to make a choice and expresses yourself as an individual.
how to help? Unless someone is specifically asking you as an individual what you think of their clothing, push those judgements out and save your brainpower for something more useful and inspiring.
UNDERSTAND YOUR PRIVILEGE
Most people reading this blog, whether it be through class, religion, sexuality, gender, or race sits in some sort of place of privilege. It is important to use that privilege wisely. So rather than speaking FOR those who are oppressed, SUPPORT those who are oppressed by speaking WITH them.
how to help? Ask that personally experiencing oppression how you can help. I have no idea what it feels like to be a Muslim American, but as a Muslim American, Hoda Katebi does. Read her blog. I have never experienced what it is like to be an Indigenous woman, but these 15 Indigenous Female Writers have, read their work. I don’t know what the experience of a Black woman is, but these 13 Books By Black Feminist Females might help me to understand. We have to listen to the stories and struggles of people who live a different reality than we do to begin to understand their reality, and offer our help, rather than pretend we have the answer to their problem …
Empowerment is held under a web of oppression, and each spoke of that oppression is connected. Yes, women as a whole are oppressed, but that oppression is multilayered for many. The struggles of women of colour, transgender women, lgbtq+ women, women from other religions, women from different countries, different cultures, disabled women, ect … need to be listened to be elevated into mainstream discourse and be both considered and acknowledged in conversations about oppression and equality.
If your empathy is not extending beyond your own struggle, it becomes as harmful – and though unintended, in many ways takes the side of the oppressor.
Intersectional feminism is inclusive of all people who identify as female, regardless of their background and where they are in the world. Yes, intersectionality fights against sexism but also fights against racism, classism, ableism, sizeism, injustice, and bigotry.
how to help? This simple guide to Intersectional Feminism is a great starting point.
RAISE EQUALITY ACTIVISTS
Your daughter may be pretty and your son may be handsome, but every compliment on their external aesthetics should be accompanied by another compliment that has nothing to do with their looks. For example, should “you’re pretty/handsome” come out of your mouth, follow it up with “… and smart/great and counting / good at reading /creative/funny ect…”. Encourage your child regardless of their sex to embrace their interests and passions. Emphasize empath, explaining to your children the pains of the world will only inspire them, while they’re still filled with that burning love they’re born with, to care.
how to help? Though I’m not a parent, my mum raised some overly empathetic children so I’ll share with you what she did for starters. Read books to your child about children who have other skin colours, different family dynamics, who come from different countries, practice different religions ect … talk to your children about the struggles of others, bring them to public cultural experiences shared by other cultures. Check out this article in the New York Times on ‘How To Raise a Feminist Son‘, or this one on how to ‘Raise Woke Children‘, this Buzzfeed article on ‘How To Raise Race-Conscious Children‘ , or these ‘14 Books To Teach Intersectional Feminism to Kids‘.
Voting for politicians who advocate for equality will ensure equality is supported in policy and legislation. According to the United Nations, As of June 2017, the representation of women in politics were (single, lower and upper houses combined): Nordic countries, 41.7 per cent; Americas, 28.1 per cent; sub-Saharan Africa, 23.6 per cent; Asia, 19.4 per cent; Arab States, 17.4 per cent; and the Pacific, 17.4 per cent. Only 2 countries have 50 per cent or more women in parliament in single or lower houses, Rwanda with 61.3 per cent and Bolivia with 53.1 per cent (are you still the ‘land of the free’ USA?)
how to help? Get informed for each election, no matter how big or small, and vote. Understand the policies the person you’re voting for is pushing for. Find out how many women the candidate you’re voting for has worked on his or her campaign staff. If it’s not voting season, get involved in other ways by lobbying the person currently in a position of power to create positive change.
USE YOUR VOICE
Go to rallies that promote women’s equality, join organizations that fight for the equality of women in your area as well as other countries, share the work of women writing about equality, have conversations about Intersectional Feminism with family and friends, … it’s only when we’ve planted the seeds of information through discussion that those seeds are watered and grow.
how to help? You can find some great resources for feminist activism here.
Self-education is a key part of any movement, invest yourself into learning about intersectional feminism by reading, listening to, or watching the stories of women from all walks of life will enhance your empathy and understanding of experiences your place of privilege shades you from. This will not only make you a better feminist, but also a more well-rounded human being.
how to help? I’m not an expert in much of anything, so this is a completely incomplete list, but for starters, subscribe to or peruse: Bitch Media, Femsplain, Feministing, Everyday Feminism. Each of these sites also have great reading lists for fiction and non-fiction feminist authors.
** I am not, nor am I pretending to be, an expert in Feminism. If I have misspoken in some way, please do let me know in the comments!
Photos: Annie S Pratt via Unsplash
Sources: The Sunday Times, Clean Clothes, The Guardian, NY Times, The Guardian 2, The Guardian 3, British Fashion Council, Business 2 Community, The Sun, The Guardian 4, Orourke Group Partners, Clean Clothes, Climate Investment Fund, Global Moms Challenge, United Nations FCCC, Euro Parl, The Guardian 5, FAO, The Guardian 6, Princeton University, Joojoo Azad 1, Joojoo Azad 2, American Edu.