International Women’s Day: Redefining Feminism For The Modern Day

by Lily Caruso

Today is International Women’s Day, and it's important to take a moment to remember why we observe this day.

Women, along with many male allies, have taken enormous strides in the past century to even out the playing field for both genders.

The new century has brought countless exciting new developments, but despite equal access to Facebook and Instagram, women still have to fight to get as many opportunities as men. Feminism, although a old term, is still very much relevant in 2015.

When I find myself in a conversation about feminism, it, generally, is not because another feminist and I felt like happily discussing a fun gender stereotype we’ve encountered or a funny story about inequality.

Rather, it's because someone either a) believes he or she is not a feminist, or b) believes women no longer need feminism.

Unfortunately, so many women (and men) don’t consider themselves feminists because they don’t understand what the word means.

The definition of feminism (from the ever helpful Merriam-Webster) is, “The belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.”

When you alter the question and ask, “Do you believe men and women should have equal rights?” or “Do you believe women should be allowed to vote?” instead of “Are you a feminist?” a much larger proportion of people are likely to answer with "yes."

The word “feminism” has taken on an ugly connotation throughout its history. When people picture feminists, images of bra-burning, man-hating women come to mind.

Although, in the past, women might have burned a few bras to make a point (We can’t let the bras hold us back, right?), modern feminism has moved on from those days.

Now that we’ve established the authentic definition of feminism, we can address those who believe women no longer need feminism.

In the past, the women’s rights movement has ensured women are allowed the right to vote, the right to work outside of the house and the right to have abortions.

We’ve achieved many tangible things in the fight for gender equality, but there are still injustices women face on a daily basis.

Modern feminism is about equal representation in politics, eliminating the gender pay gap, ensuring women have access to equal opportunities as their male counterparts and much more.

This International Women’s Day, I challenge all people to redefine what feminism means to them.

If you’re already participating in the effort, keep up the good work! It’s people like you who make changes in the world. Make sure your friends and family know what you’re up to, and see if you can get them to join in.

To those who previously considered themselves not to be feminists, examine what you tolerate.

If you are a woman, find out if you have the same salary as your male counterparts. Research your job or your university and check if either has any gender policies.

Read this article about how male chief executives named John outnumber all female chief executives in big companies. Talk to your friends and learn about their experiences with gender inequality.

If you are a man, ask your female friends and family members if they have ever been disregarded in favor of a male option at work or at school. Ask (politely) if they make as much money as the men who hold similar jobs.

Observe the way you or your colleagues treat women in your workplace, and reflect on whether you treat men the same way.

If you discover you, or the women in your life, are being treated differently or negatively, join the movement! Feminism is for everyone, not just for those who attend the rallies and write the passionate articles.

The belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities is a belief we should all share, and only when everyone is united will we be able to make a lasting change.

Join the millions who already support women and take part in #MakingItHappen.