The current political climate has revived many forms of activism. Movements like Extinction Rebellion and Black Lives Matter are two examples of on-going battles for justice that are re-merging with renewed energy. From worldwide initiatives to street protests, activists from all walks of life have put their own goals on hold to stand up for causes they care about.
The struggle for gender equality is no exception, as women—and some men—all around the globe have brought sexual assault into the spotlight via the #MeToo movement.
If you’d like to build feminism into your daily life, here are some powerful feminist practices that contribute to building a more feminist world.
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Not Everybody Has to Be a Vocal Activist
Are you engaged in the struggle? While some people are out there doing truly incredible work, it’s important to recognize that not everybody has the time, or the energy, to get fully involved. Don’t worry if you’re don’t feel extroverted enough to join a street march, or if your budget is too tight every month to donate to social justice groups. Even tiny day-to-day actions can add up to positive change.
What matters is how you exercise your choice on a day-to-day basis. In many ways, the individual decisions we make every day have the power to reshape the cultural assumptions that dominate our experience in terms of gender and sexuality.
Push Back on Gendered Dress Codes
Women have lots of different roles, from Mom to worker and friend. Each different role has a set of expectations when it comes to what you’re supposed to wear. If you decide to push back on those expectations, it can be easy to feel ashamed, as if failing to dress right means you’ve failed to embody what you’re supposed to be. Want to be a feminist? Dress however you like, whenever you like. You’re the boss of your image and your body. Don’t let others dictate how you dress.
Go Out Solo
Men are encouraged to be independent and go out on their own. Whether they have company or not, many men feel confident in their right to go out and enjoy themselves. Unfortunately, some women don’t feel confident about going out on their own. They fear being seen as lonely or even as promiscuous. As a feminist, you can push back against this stereotype by going wherever you feel like going, whenever the mood takes you. Who cares if you have a date, or a friend to accompany you? Take a feminist stance by heading out all on your lonesome. By stepping out on your own, you’re advertising to other ladies out there that you’re sad, slutty or desperate. You’re just a woman who takes pleasure in her own company.
Throughout history, women have not been encouraged to have opinions on the serious matters facing the world. ‘Women’s issues’ were confined to household subjects, like housework and chores, rearing kids, and entertaining. Getting the best education you possibly can is a brilliant way to challenge those generations of poor or inferior educational opportunities and exclusion from salaried jobs.
Getting educated doesn’t have to mean university. Who says a degree is the most meaningful form of learning? Your library card is the key to vast areas of knowledge, right there at your finger-tips. Read a wide range of subjects, and sta up to date on current affairs. More importantly, have an opinion. Whether you read the newspaper online, listen to educational podcasts on your way to work, it’s important to expand your educational horizons for the sake of feminism.
Support Girls Education
If you’re passionate about education for girls as a major issue within feminism, you may be inspired to investigate different ways to support education for girls on a global scale. Monthly donations to organizations doing good work, or even spreading the word, promoting awareness and educating folks via social media can make a difference and help girls out there who have been excluded from educational opportunities.
Ask For a Raise
Even after decades of feminism, the gender pay gap remains an unfortunate fact of life. Many people—especially women—are scared of raising this issue in the workplace, as it is often met with push-back. But we all know that on average, men get paid more than women for the same level of work. As a feminist, it’s important to know your worth and point out to your boss when you are not being paid enough for the value you contribute to the company.
Fight For That Raise
For a long time, the standard line on the gender pay gap issue was that women get paid less than men on average because women are less likely than men to ask for a raise. Don’t ask, don’t get, right? However, this has since been disproved by numerous studies and focus-groups. Women ask their bosses for more pay as frequently as men. The difference comes in the response from the employers. On average, men are more likely to be granted a raise in response to the request than women are. And, women are more likely to experience negative repercussions in the workplace if they ask for a raise, being viewed as pushy and grasping. This is not a great situation.
As a feminist, one of the most powerful things you can do is ask for a raise when you deserve one. And don’t stop there: once you have asked, follow up. Fighting for that raise is a powerful way to help to bring about change for yourself and all women, as asking seems not to be enough.
Take Charge of Your Reproductive Health
The battle for equality in terms of sexual and reproductive rights for women has been at the forefront of the global feminist agenda for decades. The feminist struggle is once again fighting to protect and promote women’s rights in terms of promoting awareness, educating women about their choices, and supporting access to effective and safe contraception. As a feminist, one of the most powerful ways that you can show up for women is to educate yourself on contraception methods, and take control of your own reproductive health. Like eating well and exercising, reproductive health should be seen as an essential part of your healthy lifestyle.
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Girls are often brought up to be “nice” rather than say what they believe. The result of this is that even when women don’t think something is right, they may be hesitant to speak up because they are scared of offending someone, seeming unpleasant, or going against the grain. In contrast, men are raised to say what they think, however unpopular the opinion they have, and may even be rewarded for rocking the boat. Any lady who’s ever been called “opinionated” or “difficult” (or even more unpleasant labels) will understand what it’s like to try to speak up when your ideas aren’t what other people think.
Next time you realize that you’re holding back on saying what you really think about something, remember that you’d be taking a stand for feminism is you can be assertive on behalf of all the other women out there. While it is never easy to rock the boat, you may find it energizing and inspiring to see your bravery as a powerful feminist act.
Apologize No More!
Women tend to apologize far more than men. Fact. If you don’t believe it, rather than searching the web for some research on the subject, consider doing a little research of your own. Grab a friend of the opposite sex and agree to both count how many times you each say “sorry” or “apologies” every day. After one week, add up how many apologies you’ve uttered. You’ll be shocked by the difference in your totals. If you find this interesting, take your research to the next step and work out what exactly saying sorry for. It’s crazy many times a day women tend to say sorry for things they have every right to do, like eating a sandwich or saying “No” when someone asks them a favor, or even for showing completely reasonable emotion.
Why do women say sorry all the time? It’s definitely not because women are always in the wrong, and men are in the right. The reason is that women are far more likely than men to think that they are in the wrong. When women interpret a difficult situation, they tend to blame themselves, rather than the other person involved, especially if that other person is a man. One of the most subtle but effective feminist tactics you can employ in your daily life is to take note of your “I’m sorry” habit. Once you’re aware of it, you’ll be more likely to be able to effectively stop doing it. That doesn’t mean you should go around doing as you please and not saying sorry when you are wrong. Just save your apology for when it counts.
Whether or not you have the energy, the resources or the time to roll up your sleeves, you can still be an activist. These tips will help you show your feminist colors in our day-to-day life.