Not Just Women.
We are roughly three weeks into this new year and already seeing headlines, big ones, that all revolve around that tender topic of feminism. Not tender because it's sweet and cute, but tender like a bruise...visible to the naked eye, yet still dismissed by some as a non-issue, or worse a "wound" we bring upon ourselves.
Last weekend marked the second annual Women's March that saw PEOPLE, not just women, from across the country coming together in solidarity. We witnessed the talented Halsey's poignant words, a poem that we all can identify with a little too well. Not long before that, Oprah stressed that "TIME IS UP" during an award speech for which she was the first black female recipient. Before that, we heard about a young woman, a decorated Olympian, who was abused for years and then silenced from sharing her story with the world.
As our heroes of the stage and screen, the courtroom, the boardroom, and even the arena come forward to say #metoo, they offer evidence of an unjust world. More than that, these women, these BRAVE AND INSPIRING women are offering empathy.
We applaud these words, we may like/comment/share, but how does that affect our behavior? How does that gesture of empathy manifest itself in our lives?
When a woman shares her truth, despite its ugliness and controversy, she inspires others to discover their truth. She grows more powerful by saying "this is what happened" and she empowers others, not just women, to stand up for themselves. The fact that she STANDS BEFORE YOU means that she LIVES TO TELL her truth. This is the accomplishment: it is not the content of her story, but the fact she CAN share it with you. Some women have not been so lucky, some women have died trying.
The above "quote of the day" from yesterday has a powerful message, but it begs a question also. If one of our success is ALL of our success, does the pain of one become the pain of all? The answer is a resounding YES. We share directly AND indirectly the collective pain of gender inequality. With this in mind, we must provide support for those who suffer. We have a responsibility to educate those who don't understand. We have a duty to make examples of ourselves.
If you see something that inspires you, don't just "like it", REACH OUT to the author and say THANK YOU FOR SHARING! You might feel a little vulnerable putting yourself out there like that, but it's a small price to pay when you consider how the author felt about sharing it with you. Empathy takes courage.
During these emotional times, it is important to acknowledge the struggle people, NOT JUST WOMEN, face. Regardless of race or gender, whether old or young; sick or healthy; poor, or wealthy; we are ALL going through something. We deserve a little appreciation for those battles we face and every day . A simple "thank you" message in our inbox may be all the affirmation we need to keep moving forward.
WE the PEOPLE must take our power back. NOT JUST WOMEN, everyone. We must collectively choose NOT to support systems/institutions/individuals that do not support gender equality. We must NOT TOLERATE disparaging rhetoric that widens the gap of inequality. We must recognize that feminism is NOT about women being better, it is about PEOPLE BEING EQUAL! Everyone can be a feminist...and should be for that matter.
We can rewrite the rules of this patriarchal society, but it is a task for EACH AND EVERY ONE OF US, not just women. It's not a vote, a march, or a t-shirt. It's not doing the right thing because people are watching. It's not just applauding the good things, but speaking out against the bad things. It is consistent effort applied every minute of every day. It will not be easy, and there will be ups and downs along the way, but isn't it worth it?