By Alexandra Cochran
Blog Content Contributor
Over time, I have begun to recognize more clearly what being a women means to me and how to continuously break the stigma of scrutiny and oppression all women face. On International Women’s Day, we honor all self-identifying women, women of color, single mothers, women all over the world, and we cherish the women who fight for us to be heard.
Although, the world is imbalanced enough as it is numerically between men and women, our society has continued to support a patriarchy that allows men to hold primary power and predominate roles of political leadership, moral authority, social privilege and is primarily responsible for establishing gender roles. Not only is it highly important to recognize this imbalance but women should also be questioning it and fighting against the system to create a new, balance for everyone. As long as women are kept out of leadership positions, men will continue to make the choices for things like accessible contraceptives, safe abortions, and maternity leave.
Why do more men get more promotions than women? According to fortune.com, most Americans say it is easier for men to get into top positions in business as well as politics. Statistics show that more people believe that men would be better at leading jobs in the technology, oil/gas, finance companies and that women would be best at controlling industries like retail and food production. Gender roles at it’s finest!
So, how do we get empowering women in these top positions? We would have to almost demolish these two stigmas: women against women and men against women. One of the many things I struggled to understand as a teenager was the acceptance and celebration of other women. Why do we spite each other? I’m guilty of once being jealous of other women’s success, but I eventually learned that together we feel more powerful, beautiful, and successful. We shouldn’t be competing against each other, but rather congratulating each other.
Some women in power who heavily influence me are, Wendy Davis, a Texas senator who performed a filibuster to deny the bill passage through the Texas legislature by talking nonstop for 13 hours to prevent a vote (abortions to be banned after 20 weeks, clinics to upgrade their facilities to be classed as surgical centers, and doctors to be within 30 miles to a hospital which would have forced 37 of the states 42 clinics to close and making it extremely difficult to obtain a safe abortion) until she was silenced by the Republicans for violating regulations and having a colleague help her with a back brace.
Another amazing woman in a leadership position is Loretta E. Lynch, an attorney general who speaks openly about how women are at risk for not being seen, heard and taken seriously and how gender has affected her life and career. “That’s why I always tell young women, make yourself seen, and make yourself heard — this is your idea, this is your thought,” Lynch said. “Own it, express it, be the voice that people hear-women still face that glass ceiling.”
With the negativity of this new presidency in 2017, positivity has grown in a direction towards celebrating more women – the yin and the yang. I guess you could say gender equality has been more of a national focus than usual in the United States over the past few months. For example, Donald Trump recently reinstated an executive order barring U.S. foreign aid from going to any non-governmental organization that either provides abortion services, or even discusses with its patients.The amount of togetherness that has been encouraged and promoted initiated big things like the Women’s March in January. The march wasn’t set out to destroy the idea of Donald Trump as president, but to alert the world that the importance of women will not be flushed away; more to say that we will not be overruled by the patriarchy and accept the laws attempting to be passed in order to keep women oppressed. Not one country has successfully eliminated its gender gap. There are countries that still do not allow women to vote, simply drive a car, and even fail to offer the same access to educational opportunities.
Intersectional feminism understands how women’s identities overlap into ethnicity, race, religion, and sexual orientation. I am a Cuban-American intersectional feminist woman living a privileged life in this country and it’s important that I recognize and use my voice to shine a light on not only the people who are less represented in our society, but also the women who are even less represented in other countries.
Featured image by Madison Tyson.