There was a time in my life I did not consider myself a feminist. Before torches are lit and pitchforks are gathered, know it was because I did not know I needed to. It was not a word in my everyday vocabulary. Feminists belonged in history, and the world around me seemed to reflect a society that respected and revered women.
Know that this context revolved around one woman in particular: my mother. She was the primary breadwinner in our household, while my father seemed super okay with being secondary in this regard.
He did more laundry. She cooked. He came to school functions during the day more readily. She often worked from home over the weekends managing to still fit in time with her children. My sister and I were loved, fed and overall happy. It was fine.
On top of this, my mother worked with women’s health as a nurse practitioner. Everything in her office was female-centric. Her employers were women. Her co-workers were women. All of them were intelligent and kind, while at the same time diverse in race, age, familial background, and sexual orientation. Meeting a male in her world was a rare treat.
My father’s world was not that different. He worked in social services, and his office had a female majority. Even today, among my father’s coworkers there is only one other male, and neither of them have a problem with that. Sure, they have their own little work bromance, but love their long-time female peers.
This was my world from a young age, and I believed the world beyond was not that much different. However, as I grew up I came to realize this reality was an outlier situation. I was a rare instance in this vast world. Setting aside my rose-colored glasses, I began to see the world of gender inequality for what it was.
I searched for the answers and despised the misogyny I found, and in this quest I ultimately found the label I was destined to be branded with: feminist.
Rather quickly, I learned the intersectionality of celebrating and empowering women across the globe. The dynamics of race, religion, sexuality, and cultural background all came into play as I sought to uplift all women in my life. The stories of womankind each have their own unique components, and recognizing those aspects became the largest part of understanding how to best uplift my fellow lady.
The truth is that there is no one-size-fits-all form of female empowerment. Feminism is not as simple as a pair of socks. It must be tailored to fit the curves and qualities of women, to make them really shine, like excellent suits or a set of body armor as she takes on the world.
This means my experience as a white young woman from a privileged and well-educated background can be vastly different from another woman’s, regardless of proximity. From a woman of color in this very city that can cross paths with me, to an older woman raising her children in a completely different culture across the globe. They each have their own stories to tell and convictions driving them.
Those female-identified individuals who do not always get the validity they deserve have a distinctive narrative from other women as well, bringing forth their own dynamic to the vast landscape that defines women.
Each story is valid, worthwhile, and important to fighting against those who deny us the equal footing in life we all deserve. Each story fits into it’s own space, expanding the power of the feminist movement beyond the liminality stories which societal privilege will allow.
This is why March 8 was International Women’s Day. Not just White Girls’ Day, Rich Ladies’ Day, or Females Born Females Day. That day of celebration and this month of celebration is intended to celebrate every faction of womankind.
The intention of Women’s History Month was to revel in the majesty of all women, such as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, all the way down to women like my mother, all of whom dedicated their lives to making this world a better place for females.
After all, Intuit (the people who brings you TurboTax) just recently released a report that women will be the “real powerhouses” for businesses in regards to finances by 2020. The National Center for Education Statistics reported in 2016 Black women in the US are the largest group enrolling in college.
Even when the world has a so-close-they-could-almost-taste-it moment with having the first female U.S President and lost, feminists on every continent did not let that stop them. Long after the last ballot rolled in for the 2016 election, those fighting for gender equality remain vigilant in their passion for social justice.
It is really something to behold. There are fights to be won, and only time will tell what history books will write about these current affairs. No matter what, I know I will be among the masses working to uplift women from all walks of life. I will do so as I hope that one day future generations can grow up as I did, without needing to worry about gender inequality and misogyny, and fully knowing the beauty and power of all womankind.