If you didn't know, it was International Women's Day a few days ago. The day is meant to celebrate and commemorate progress for women's rights and was started way back in 1909. Although the day has come and passed, that doesn't mean that we should stop talking about it. As an advocate for women's rights and a feminist, I think that we should take a moment and talk about this, to talk about the successes that Women's Rights has had, but also to remember that there's still a lot more work to be done. 

Let's Hear It For the Girls - Sunny Rebecca

Isn't it just sad to think that we have been fighting for gender equality for as far back as the 1800s. The first gathering for women's rights was the famous Seneca Falls Convention, which took place in 1848. Except the thing is, the first for women's rights preceded that well-known event. Although we say that the Women's Rights Movement began in 1848, there is evidence that the strides towards gender equality date back to before then. American Women in early 1800s formed female associations which consisted of "charity schools and refuges for women in need."1 Furthermore, there was the female seminary movement, beginning in 18152 , in which leaders worked towards improving the quality of women's education. This struggle for gender equality is not a new concept. Women have been working towards it for over 200 years. That's about the same about of time that America has been a country, as it was founded in 1776. However, just because women's rights did not rise up until that moment, doesn't mean that it hasn't been around before. And likewise, just because the Women's Rights movement did not exist until the 1800s, doesn't mean that gender inequality did not exist. In fact, gender inequality dates back to more than 2,500 years ago during the Bronze Age in the example of China, according to a study by Queens College in New York City.3

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It's been over 200 years of progress. And yes, we have made plenty of strides towards equality. The right to vote in 1920 thanks to the 19th Amendment, the presence of women in work when in the past it was considered social taboo, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which prohibits sex-based wage discrimination, have all helped with women's progress. Except the thing is, the fight is not over. Noted in 2015, women working full time in the United States were typically paid about 80 percent of what men were paid. That means that women are paid 20 percent less than men.4 Despite the progress that we've made, whether with the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, or other efforts, it is still evident that women are at a disadvantage. Additionally, according to Adam Grant, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, the odds of advancement in careers for women is 15 percent lower than for men.5 
The inequality also exists beyond the pay gap, as women are affected by it in the social sphere. Sexism is real. From the day-to-day sexism that might be muttered under someone's breath, insinuated in the form of "slut-shaming", or a sexist joke that's supplemented with a falsely sincere "no offense", to more serious instances, such as sexual harassment, sexism present and constantly affects women.

But moving onto more positive notes, International Women's Day is about celebrating women's rights progress. We have made great strides within the past 200 years. In 1921, the American Birth Control League was founded by Margaret Sanger, the beginning of Planned Parenthood, while also allowing women that were sex-positive (a social taboo during the time period) to enjoy themselves without risking unwanted pregnancies. In 1925, Nellie Tayloe Ross of Wyoming was inaugurated as the first woman governor in the United States, a stride in politics. The Equal Pay Act was passed in 1963, which was aimed towards improving the rights of women in the workplace. Likewise, the 1964 Civil Rights Act outlawed sex-based discrimination. In 1993, the Supreme Court ruled that sexual harassment in the workplace is illegal, when in the past, sexual harassment was not recognized. Just a few months ago, in January 2017, The Women's Marches in Washington were absolutely incredible. I was amazed to see not only the huge masses of people joining together in order to support women's rights, but also the variety of supporters, of all ages and genders.






See more: Key events in Women's History (timeline)


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During this time period, it seems like some of those strides are less significant than they are. It feels a little like history is being undone. What would Susan B. Anthony think about the sexist comments blatantly being thrown around? However, I have to say that this wide-spread reemergence of sexism has actually bonded feminists even more. Look at the way that feminists are claiming the title of "Nasty Woman" or fighting that "women's rights are not up for grabs". Regardless of gender, I've been seeing positive feminist comments and actions all over. From the incredible Women's Marches that took place in January to the little Tweets out there supporting International Women's Day, the community of feminists has actually been strengthened.

Related: We Are Not Damsels in Distress


A common misconception regarding feminism is that it refers to feminine superiority. As a result for that, many people, males and females, have opposed feminism. However, that is not true at all. The official definition of feminism is that it is the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.6  According to G.D. Anderson, "Feminism isn't about making women stronger. Women are already strong. It's about changing the way the world perceives that strength." Although sometimes misunderstood as a result of the root word being "female", feminism is not limited to bettering the treatment of women, but also includes bettering the treatment on men. The point is that it is about being equals. Feminism does focus on rights for females and breaking the social boundaries that are imposed on women, however, feminism also supports breaking the social boundaries imposed on men, such as the ideology that men have to be masculine and must avoid feminine things. This may include being a stay-at-home dad, wearing pink, caring about fashion and beauty, or even young boys playing with dolls instead of traditionally masculine things, such as cars. Feminism is centered around equality in all aspects, so it's not limited to superiority, whether it means female superiority or male superiority. A great example of how feminism includes the treatment of men (breaking gender stereotypes) and how it expands beyond females is this video made by high school boys in Sydney, Australia. They outline the various reasons why feminism is important to them.

Video: Feminism is Important to Us.


In the past, I did consider myself to be a feminist, but as a result of recent events, I have become more invested in it. I previously identified as a feminist, but I did not have strong feelings regarding feminism, I merely supported the idea that women should be treated as equals. Recently, I have become not only more aware about the presence of sexism and the extent that it reaches, but I have also become more passionate about getting involved in it. The thing is, anyone can get involved in the progress towards gender equality, regardless of age, gender, race, etc. There are things that you can do as little as wearing red on International Women's Day in support, or simply sharing that article about the inequality. You don't have to be the next Susan B. Anthony or Elizabeth Cady Stanton in order to make a difference regarding gender equality. 

Notes

1    Woloch, Nancy. Women and the American Experience. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2011.
2    Melder, Keith E. Beginnings of Sisterhood: The American Woman's Rights Movement, 1800-    
      1850. New York: Schocken Books, 1977.
3    Kasulis, Kelly. "The 2,500-year-old Roots of Gender Inequality." The Boston Globe. March 04,
      2017. Accessed March 10, 2017.
4    Miller, Kevin. "The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap (Spring 2017)." The American
      Association of University Women. September 15, 2016. Accessed March 10, 2017.
5    Lang, Kylie. "Workplace Gender Inequality Is Real. Why Do Men Deny That?" The Daily
      Telegraph. February 25, 2016. Accessed March 10, 2017.
6    "Feminism." Merriam-Webster.com. Accessed March 10, 2017.

2 comments:

  1. I love love love this post. It highlights everything that needs to be said: the strides we've made, the need to advance further, and talking about what feminism means (and doesn't mean). This made my little feminist heart smile; I'll definitely be sharing this everywhere.

    Happy belated International Women's Day!

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    1. Thanks so much Joanne! This post was definitely a little different than my usual content, but let me say, I'm liking it too!
      Rebecca xo

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