Two years ago, life was very different. I was in the midst of a cross-country move and a big job change and at the same time I was so impressed with all of the social justice/art/expression blogs that I came across on a daily basis. My life grew more hectic, with less time for blogging, and I became convinced that the small corner of the internet that was Parading Around wasn’t really needed. There were other voices addressing the issues I brought up. Was I really contributing to anything? I let my blog go, and chose instead to focus on my career in the education nonprofit sector, a few other side projects, and political actions.
Fast forward to November 8, 2016. We all know how that went. To me, that night watching the numbers roll in…it felt like hate won. It still does. We have seen a frightening rise in discriminatory language and actions across the country and the past month has been one of uncertainty and fear for minority groups. The oppressive actions taken by the president towards Muslims, refugees, and transgender youth, to name a few, is unacceptable and un-American. The approval of cabinet members with no prior experience, and a few who would like to see the end of the very departments they are now leading, is despicable. In a little over a month, America has transformed back into a country of exclusion and discrimination that is likely to continue for the next fours years to come.
But we have also seen resistance.
Four years is a long time. In deciding to reactivate this blog, I asked myself one thing–would I really be contributing to anything? Well, at this point, every voice matters. YOURS and mine included. The more we hear from each other, the more we can bridge understandings to cultivate much-needed compassion.
Make no mistake–the marches we have seen in the past month are their own parades of solidarity, identity, and patriotism. Upcoming posts will highlight stories of unity and resistance in Greater Boston and showcase forms of art dedicated to uplifting and embracing the multitudes of human identity.
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As I discussed in my previous post, gender discrimination is still alive and well pretty much every where you look in today’s world. It rears its ugly head in politics, in magazines, on television, in the office, on the street, even at your local bar. But what can we do about it? This is by no means a comprehensive list, but I hope you come away with a few concrete ways to take action on this issue.
Stand up for women in your everyday life: We all have moments when gender bias comes out amongst friends, at work, or when we are going about our daily errands. Consciously acknowledge and push back against these instances.
- Support women in your workplace. If you are a woman in a higher position at your company, reach out to them with kindness and offer encouragement or mentorship. We need to fight to change the idea that the other women in the office are competition–instead, let them be colleagues. Just the other day, I overheard three women gossiping about a co-worker. Two of the women were really digging in, insulting her actions and even accusing her of lying to get the job. This all stopped when the third woman spoke up and provided positive examples of how hard the woman in question in worked. Be the third woman.
- Find your voice at work. Even though studies show that women’s ideas get shut down more than men’s in the workplace, fight to get your points across. The study also shows examples of companies who started a “no-interruption” policy during meetings. The result? More satisfied employees and better collaboration between all staff members. If you are a man, support female co-workers by listening to and collaborating with them just as much as you would a male coworker.
- According to Missrepresentation, women hold 86% of purchasing power in America. How you spend your money matters. Boycott products (including movies) that objectify women and share your choices on social media with the hashtag #notbuyingit.
- Don’t put up with stereotypes or negative talk towards women. If you are a man, step up when you hear other men talk or treat women badly. If you are a woman–same thing. We need to stop judging and treating each other so harshly regardless of gender. You have the power to walk away from negative conversations.
- Be a model for the children or young adults in your life. As someone who works in schools, too many times I have heard kids make gendered statements. For example: “Girls can’t be pilots, they are the people who give out the drinks” (YES, this is something I actually overheard between a group of 6 year olds, so I stepped in). Step in where you can and model healthy interactions in your own relationships so that children can learn through observation.
- Consider donating to or getting involved in organizations who work towards gender equality. Here are a few to check out: Women in Film, Sisters of Hope, Black Girls Rock!, Women Sports Foundation, Girls Who Code, Girls for a Change. Share in the comments more organizations you love!
Support more female representation in the media: This is hugely important because of the power media has over perception.
- Support female-driven movies by seeing them in theaters on opening weekend. The big studios still don’t believe that big numbers will turn out to see stories about women on screen. Prove them wrong by giving these movies your support. Opening weekend is important because studios base on lot of their decisions on how well a movie is received when it first come out. Showing up for a movie early in its release shows that it was highly anticipated. Big studio movies that star women this year? Insurgent, Jupiter Rising, Tomorrowland, and Mockingjay: Part Two.
Stockholm, Pennsylvania. Directed by Nikole Beckwith. Photo by Aaron Epstein – © 2014 by Aaron Epstein
- It is also important to support female directors and writers, which means being a smarter film consumer. Look into movie credits before the movie and seek out those with women behind the camera. Unfortunately only 4.4% of big studio movies are directed by women, so this feat might take a trip to an independent theater. Check out the this year’s Sundance favorites and get out there!
- Have you noticed that in news articles, female politicians are twice as likely than their male counterparts to be described in emotional terms? This has to stop. Call out biased journalism when you see it by commenting on the article or writing to the news source it came from. Most news websites have a ‘Contact Us’ section. Use it.
- Only 20% of news stories focus on women. Share your appreciation for positive media that empowers women via social media by using hashtag #MediaILike or #MediaWeLike. Hashtags hold power.They are tracked and analyzed by industries and the media. Use them wisely.
- Share your story. We need more quality narratives about women, by women.
In case you need some proof that one voice can change the world, here is Emma Watson’s latest speech supporting UN Women’s HeForShe campaign.