From North Africa to the Middle East to Latin America, women all over the world are taking to the streets to speak out against everything from violence against women to abortion and murders of outspoken journalists who criticize authoritarian regimes. This is without a doubt a female resistance to a system that has suppressed freedom of speech, human rights and the rights of women and children. Never before in history have we seen record numbers of women coming out into the streets and demanding justice from governments that refuse to listen to the issues they face. This is a movement that will remembered throughout history.
The first women’s rights movement in the United States started in 1848 in Seneca Falls, NY. Sixty-eight women were accompanied by thirty-two men as they signed a Declaration of Sentiments that included a set of twelve resolutions that called for the equal treatment of women and men under the law as well as voting rights for women. In 1869 Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton formed the National Woman Suffrage Association that focused on voting rights for women. Fast forward to 2018 and the women’s movement has expanded to issues like rape, sexual harassment, violence against women, sex trafficking, unequal pay, inequality and racism. These same women are also fighting for the freedom of our country and those that come here. All of this begs the question: “If we are such a free and democratic country, why is women’s human rights an issue?” Probably because it was hidden and manipulated into the idea that women are happy just the way they are and enjoying the freedom of a democratic utopia. This mindset quickly fell apart when the feminist movement started to take shape.
The 60’s and 70’s showed women burning their bras calling for autonomy, abortion rights and reproductive rights. What’s more is women speaking out against domestic violence, sexual harassment in the workplace, misogyny and gender discrimination all things that have really exploded in the present day. The Civil Rights movement in the 1960’s gave way to the collapse of European colonialism in Africa, the Caribbean and parts of Latin America and Southeast Asia. Women from these countries proposed a “Post-Colonial” and “Third World” feminism, something that iconic feminists like Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Angela Davis and Alice Walker agree with. This view challenged western feminism as being ethnocentric and not including women of other cultures and colors. We see this problem coming to light again when we hear the phrase “White Women’s Feminism”. Women of color feel they are being given certain freedoms because of their white counterparts who they feel are being listened to and respected more than they are. The thinking that if all women want something to change white women need to lead the charge and speak out. Because of this we see culturally specific women’s movements that target women from a certain, country, religion or ethnicity. Women are no longer fighting together but in solidarity for others who are not from the same background. If you are white you can’t fight with African American women but you can be in solidarity with them. If you are European you can’t fight with Arabic women but you can be in solidarity with them. So even though it may look like all women are fighting together in fact, they are divided by country, culture, ethnicity and religion.
Western feminism can be credited with starting a women’s human rights movement but it failed to support all women. Social media being the conduit it is for connections all over the world, can be the connector to understanding one another and the issues we face in our respective homelands. When we go on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram uploading pictures of ourselves with other women marching or protesting we use the word sisters quite often and that’s a good thing but we’re still marching in our own movement created specifically for us. Almost every news media report or tweet we see involves women resisting, creating a revolution and we feel proud and encouraged, it fuels our fire and reminds us that we too can cause a revolution. But, do we just want to stand in solidarity or do we want to fight together. The revolution cannot continue if we are not speaking as one. #BeSisters
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