Happy Women’s History Month! Today marks the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, as women around the world celebrate the progress we have made and continue to fight for new ground.
I stumbled into feminism through the back door. And honestly, I am still finding my footing. Growing up in a black neighborhood in Atlanta’s suburbs, I went to black schools, had black ballet teachers and dentists and was always exposed to women in powerful positions, while being educated on the historical struggles of my people. So the thought that I could still be denied things for my gender in this day was a slow one.
It was a big eye-opener to begin to network with powerful women journalists out of college through the Journalism & Women Symposium (JAWS). I was schooled on how recent many breakthroughs for women are and how far we still have to go.
Instead of being so tuned in to the lack of black people in power at a company, network or editorial page, I was also counting the few women too. I left my black bubble and came back to Earth, where women were only in bigger numbers when it came to births. Where it wasn’t just my color that got less pay, but my gender. The feminist switch was flipped on – and has stayed there.
I had a new word to describe why my blood boiled when a male professor called me “sweetie.” I had an explanation for telling my kindergarten charges that boys could help with the dishes during playtime, while volunteering with Heads Up.
And I had a new underdog that I was looking at in the mirror and in millions of faces around the globe.
Over the last four years I have had great opportunities to meet and connect with amazing women who share the same passion to work for the empowerment, enlightenment and equality for women, the world’s greatest underused resource. Thanks to my feminist mentor Marcia Gillespie, I had the opportunity to be a speaker at the 2009 Women + Power Conference, headlined by Gloria Steinem. The feminist leader reminded us there is still much to be done – with love.
Seeing the response to the attack of Lara Logan and the astounding numbers of sexual assault and harassment from the Middle East to my own neighborhood keeps me pushing for change and for women of all walks to have our humanity. Watching young girls blame Rihanna for being attacked by her boyfriend keeps me hosting chats with young ladies in the making. Witnessing Facebook pick up where Craig’s List left off for sex trafficking keeps me rolling up my sleeves.
Oh wait, I’m not wearing any, just like our fierce First Lady Michelle Obama.
The truth is we all can do something big or small to elevate women. In honor of Women’s Day, I vow to work on not referring to grown women as “girls.” And ladies, it’s already been a struggle.
What prompted my goal was a meeting with the owner of my building. He called the property manager and said, “The girls are here. Come join us.” Once he hung up, we reminded him we were professional women, not preschoolers. Along with feeling disrespected, I also wondered if I had contributed to this problem.
I call my female friends my girls and when passionately telling them stories, I may preface an answer with a “girrrrl.” But it seems “my girls” may not have been the only ones listening as the colloquial term has been co-opted to now treat us child-like. There are so many words to describe my amazing, intelligent and empowered sister friends, and I am working for “girl” not to be one.
I wish a Happy International Women’s Day to all women![custom_field field=”http://www.charreah.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/black-feminism.jpg” this_post=”1″ limit=”1″ between=”, ” /][custom_field field=”http://www.charreah.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/black-feminism.jpg” this_post=”1″ limit=”1″ between=”, ” /][custom_field field=”slide” this_post=”1″ limit=”1″ before=”http://www.charreah.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/black-feminism.jpg” after=”http://www.charreah.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/black-feminism.jpg” none=”http://www.charreah.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/black-feminism.jpg” between=”, ” /]