With thousands of women marching in over 600 cities across the globe from New York to London and Miami to Paris to voice their concerns about persistent inequalities, it seems like the perfect time to throw a party!
WomanScape is all about celebrating, especially when it comes to our collective entity — woman. Raise a glass to our powerful history and future, the women leaders shaping our discourse, and the discussions fostering change for each other and as a gender.
The women’s movement comes at a pivotal time, with America’s new President and uncertainty about the political landscape for women. As political movements go, we’ve had some big bumps despite waves of marches in each decade over the twentieth century. We’ve see the creation of the Women’s National Party to secure the vote, and subsequent parties like the Women’s Liberation Movement and the National Organization of Women to fight against discrimination and secure gender equality. But fundamental human rights like equal pay and equal representation in virtually every field of industry and politics are still lacking.
I wasn’t old enough to know anything about the women’s movements in the 60’s, but as a high school student in the 70’s I remember this circa 1979 Feminist Party badge. It piqued my interest in gender issues and our status in the workplace. Fortunately, my fellow women made some real legal progress with protections under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982.
But through the years something disturbing happened. The word “feminist” changed, despite compelling arguments by Betty Friedan in her book, The Feminine Mystique. Feminists argued for simple things like expanding our limited roles in society and asking historians to recognize our contributions and struggle for equality. But a negative undercurrent to protect prevailing social norms turned feminism into a radical notion.
Yet there is nothing radical about feminism. It is about equal rights but the famous bra-burning myth fueled the notion that feminist protestors were wild and reckless. Filmmaker Jennifer Lee addresses this insidious media weapon in her documentary movie, Feminist: Stories From Women’s Liberation. Lee explains how bras were one of several props dumped into a “freedom trash can” to demonstrate the trivial way that society defined women. But the press changed the story, knocking the proverbial wind from our feminist sails.
In fact, I’m still unaware of any bra bra-burning rallies that support the myth, and I’d argue women’s bras have become so colorful, body shaping and expensive over the years that I can’t imagine any women wanting to burn these wonderful lifts!
Instead, I’d like to take back our history — rewrite it. The thousands of women who marched on Washington and throughout the world came to build a bridge, united across geography, age, culture and ideology. It was as powerful as the way I feel when I look at our four female Supreme Court justices: Sandra Day O’Connor, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Elana Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor.
They remind us of what we are capable of, and to stay focused on what we’re fighting for — equality. Let’s not derail the fight and keep women from succeeding by drawing party lines. Let’s get back to the business of equality and I say we invite Sandi Tokvig, a highly successful BBC television personality, comic and co-creator of The Women’s Equality Party (WEP) in the U.K., to our digital table.
Tune in to Sandi’s TedTalk and her joke about the bra-burning myth; how sparks fly from her highly flammable bra every time she walks down the street! Sandi’s approach to getting us back on track is a good one and embodied in the newly formed British women’s party, “The Women’s Equality Party (WEP).”
Sandi argues gender equality isn’t a women’s issue at all: “When women fulfill their potential, everyone benefits. Equality means better politics, a more vibrant economy, a workforce that draws on the talents of the whole population and a society at ease with itself.” Looking at our recent women’s march, I’d agree seeing the vast number of men who walked with us in solidarity.
I like this WEP idea. It smashes through party lines and embraces collaboration. Technology is a powerful, twenty-first century, game-changing tool for mobilizing this effort and working together. We can collaborate and win, despite bickering governments unwilling to compromise. Because anyone is welcome to join WEP, equality goals are “party-blind” but they do require support on these seven simple policies:
- Equal representation in politics and business;
- Equal representation in education;
- Equal pay;
- Equal treatment of women by and in the media;
- Equal parenting rights;
- Equal health care; and,
- An end to violence against women.
How about we march for these goals, and I think we’ll quicken the pace to the finish line with some well-crafted metrics and benchmarks to guide our progress. The WEP model is free for the taking, according to Sandi. She says it can be replicated in democracies around the world and used to cultivate female political candidates. There will be female WEP candidates by 2020 in Britain, but for now, WEP is a mobilized voice for equality.It’s time to get this party started if equality is a fundamental democratic value and human right. Until we truly embrace these beliefs, our power as a gender and as a nation is limited.
It’s time to get this party started if equality is a fundamental democratic value and human right. Until we truly embrace these beliefs, our power as a gender and as a nation is limited.