Four girls lined up all smiling and laughing as the picture is taken.

International Women’s Day: Changing the Discourse

By Andronica Owens
Web Content Contributor 

Since 1909, the United States has celebrated International Women’s Day. It is a day dedicated to recognizing women for achievements in various fields and has spread to countries around the world.

Recognizing the work of women in various fields is important because the strides women have made regarding the workforce are crucial to our nation’s history. There were times as recent as 60 years ago where women were not able to be successful on their own or were not given the same regard as men, even for equal work. There have been many breakthroughs in society allowing women of all races and ethnicities to not only reach the same esteem as men, but to surpass them and make a name for themselves in more ways than one.

But while women have been making strides, there are still some beliefs and stigmas surrounding the role of women in society. It’s time for a change. Due to my minor being communication studies, I have taken a lot of courses focusing on… well, communication. The material is always straight-forward and borderline repetitive, but something that always has me floored is the way women’s communication is talked about. In every textbook and study the words used to describe the “feminine” way of communicating are always“emotional,” “compassionate,” and “detail-oriented.” On the other hand, men are described as communicating in a way that is “dominant,” “task-oriented,” and are seen as natural leaders when they walk into the room.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with being compassionate and caring towards those around you, but why are those the only ways people can ever see women acting? Why is being “assertive” and “straight-forward” something people immediately associate with men? Why is it that when you see a leader, or a CEO, or even a lawyer they are always portrayed as an alpha, Type A character–even if they’re women? The fact that there is no overlap in communication styles is jarring. It is always a “Men vs. Women” standpoint. There are not many resources connecting women with leadership, or women with taking control and it’s something I’ve noticed in many of my classes.

The worst part about these generalizations about communication styles is that when you see a woman being assertive and taking on the role of a leader, there is an overwhelmingly negative reaction. Many will see her as being too bossy, or controlling, or going as far as to say women aren’t fit for these positions and that kind of responsibility.

These stigmas will hinder the growth of women in society and leave people with the wrong impressions and expectations of them, which is why International Women’s Day is so important to our society and culture. There are many brands and women going against the stigma and breaking social constructs that normalize these negative depictions of women–brands like Nike with the “Dream Crazier” ad; Fenty Beauty, a brand that celebrates women of all skin colors, shapes and sizes; and Always, a brand that destroys the meaning of the saying “like a girl.”

Along with the brands, we live in a time of so many powerful women leading the way to a brighter future. Figures such as Zendaya, Beyoncé, Rihanna, Michelle Obama, Lupita Nyong’o, and Jemele Hill are making history and paving the way for women everywhere to become inspired and take control of their narrative in a way we never imagined.

Even with those names showing up on my Twitter feed every other day, it is uplifting to know there are women making history right here at home. Every day I am surrounded by women working to become the next journalists, doctors, lawyers, engineers, scientists, social workers, and teachers of the world. Even KTSW has many female executives, DJs, social media specialists, artists, and writers scattered around the office, working hard to contribute their work and ideas to the station.

Recognizing women for the work they’ve done is important because there are many things we wouldn’t have if it weren’t for the minds of women. While we are caring and compassionate to those around us, there is more than one can ever imagine happening in the minds and hearts women. We are creators, visionaries, and innovators. Each person brings something different to the table, which is what this day and this month celebrates.

So enough with the sexism and misogyny. No more saying feminists are “anti-men.” No more down-playing and sexualizing women instead of focusing on the real problems at hand. It’s 2019, which means it’s time to get rid of these outdated ways of thinking.

Photo by Jailene Polanco.

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