Happy International Women’s Day!

So far, I’ve celebrated by getting up early, going to my favorite Chicago coffeehouse (The Wormhole) and put my “gurl power” playlist on shuffle in Spotify. Right now, I’m scrolling through my Facebook and Twitter feeds to see how many people are mentioning International Women’s Day.

My Twitter feed is, of course, full of #SheInspiresMe, #MakeItHappen and #IWD2015 hashtags. I love seeing all the tweets, whether it’s statistic infographics about the lack of women leaders or the International Women’s Day march in London. And I know I’ll be following along with the #HeforShe Q&A Emma Watson is doing later today.

I don’t know if there was ever a period in my life where I didn’t consider myself a feminist. But there were periods where I kept it on the downlow, so to speak. A lot of it, I think, was due to not truly understanding what feminism was. Plus, the word has been in contention the past year or so in the media (a can of worms I don’t really want to get into).

Feminist: A person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes.

—Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I’ve been slowly realizing that I cannot not just stay in the background when it comes to feminism like I’ve been doing. I remember a conversation I had with a guy a few years ago where he joked that the pay gap wasn’t even real. He reassured me he was joking, but I was incredulous that he would joke about it.

But feminism is more than solely working to get rid of the pay gap. In the past couple years, I’ve been unsubscribing to “white feminism.” Is there such a thing? Yes, there is.

White feminism is a set of beliefs that allows for the exclusion of issues that specifically affect women of colour. It is “one size-fits all” feminism, where middle class white women are the mould that others must fit.  It is a method of practicing feminism, not an indictment of every individual white feminist, everywhere, always.

— Cate Young, BattyMamzelle

My former view of feminism wasn’t intersectional. It was, as Young puts it, “the feminism obsessed with body hair, and high heels and makeup, and changing your married name.” Every day, I work to correct my thinking to fit the following:

Intersectionality is a framework that must be applied to all social justice work, a frame that recognizes the multiple aspects of identity that enrich our lives and experiences and that compound and complicate oppressions and marginalizations.

“Why Our Feminism Must Be Intersectional,” Everyday Feminism

Starting today, I’m going to be more proactive when it comes to women’s issues. It’s one thing to post articles about the pay gap, lack of women leaders, violence against women, sexism, etc. It’s another to support all women in any way, such as volunteer at a women’s shelter or join an organization that supports women. I’ll be looking at places in Chicago where I can volunteer, bring donations, etc.

If you have any suggestions, comment below or tweet at me, @thebitter20s.

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