March is Women’s History Month. March 8 was International Women’s Day.A month and a day celebrated by many, many of whom identify as feminists.
I think it’s important noting that while I identify as a feminist, I have not always agreed with those who share this identity.
When angry slurs were used to describe our president and dehumanizing signs depicting his face were held up high at the Women’s March I attended in January 2017, I was uncomfortable.
To me, they undermined what I believed we were marching for.
I was marching for the humanization and empowerment of all people, especially women and other minority groups in our country.
For me, marching was about putting my words and beliefs about gender equality and the equality of all people into action. A metaphorical step towards a future where I hope gender inequity is gone.
I did, however, feel very comfortable at Chocolate House, an event where female and non-binary voices were given space on this campus.
These voices shared holy anger that came in the form of vulnerability and validation.
None of the words shared were bashing on any one person or group of people. Rather they were words that directly sought to elevate the women in the room. By elevating the women in the room, I believe also it gave space for the men to feel like they too could be apart of the elevating instead of being called out as haters.
As one of my female mentors, Kendra Burkey wrote, “We can use ‘feminist’ as a badge of identity and even argue about the meaning of feminism, or we can spend our time looking for way to elevate the women around us, we can point out gender inequity, we can do real and effective work, daily. We can persist. In the end, perhaps ‘feminist’ will be synonymous with the work. Perhaps it will lose its baggage and its misconceptions, but maybe that’s not the point.”
Lupito Nyong’o writes, “what my mother meant when she said you can’t eat beauty was that you can’t rely on how you look to sustain you. What does sustain us…what is fundamentally beautiful is compassion for yourself and for those around you. That kind of beauty enflames the heart and enchants the soul.”
Maybe that’s the point.
Let’s choose a sustaining approach that humanizes each and every person. Let us hold compassion for ourselves and for those around us while also holding our own passion. Through doing this we will create safe spaces. Spaces that elevate anger that seeks change not further mistreatment and vulnerability that connects us at our core. May we take steps as a campus community this month to continue to elevate the women in the spaces we are present in.