In honor of International Women’s Day – held each year on March 8 – women from around the world gather to celebrate feminism and the achievements of women. White women such as Emma Watson and Gloria Steinem were vastly recognized as epitomes of empowered women. Only a few colored, queer, non-cisgender, or disabled women, however,were represented in this celebration.
SheKnows, a feminist media company, surveyed 1622 people, most of whom were white, regarding which women they thought represented feminism. Out of the top 14 women selected, 11 were white, while only three were those of color.
While women in general have gained more rights since the end of the Women’s Rights Movement in 1920, we must recognize that discrimination exists even amongst women. Women face prejudice based not only on their sex but also on other aspects of their identity, including race, class, and gender. For example, I, a black woman, will face both racism and sexism just as a low-income white woman will face both classism and sexism. Many know that white women earn an average of 78 cents for every dollar white men make, but few realize that Hispanic women make even less – a mere 54 cents for every dollar a white man makes, according to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center. Bisexual women are also more likely to experience sexual violence than are straight women, according to statistics from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.
We can no longer continue to claim to advocate for women when we do not fully support all women equally. As Andover students, we thus have a great role to play in acknowledging the experiences of all women within our own community. For instance, English and History classes must strive to incorporate more discussion and acknowledgement of women who are not just white or straight when talking about women’s rights and feminism. Clubs on campus such as Women’s Forum (WoFo) must also work toward hosting more events and having more discussions about women from minority groups of race, class, and sexuality. Furthermore, the school itself should invite more speakers who can raise awareness of the struggles faced by women and feminists who are oppressed because of other facets of their identities, as it rightly did by inviting Janet Mock.
While striving to eradicate discrimination against colored, queer, non-cisgender, and disabled women in the United States may seem impossible, Andover students can still work towards changing this bias against women of minority groups by recognizing the struggles of all women.