April News Round-up

Trending topics

Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Did you know April was Sexual Assault Awareness Month? President Donald Trump declared April 2017 as the official month this year. Sexual assault was a topic that came up in the news many times over the past year and there are many resources that survivors might find helpful, but still 1 in 6 women will be the victim of rape or attempted rape.  While people now know more about sexual assault and its frequency, the behavior has not changed to match the level of awareness that there is.

Takeaway: As a society we are all about raising awareness as if that’s a solution to problems. When the awareness is there, but the behavior has not changed, we need to look to taking the next steps. What more can we all do to make change happen?

Sexual Harassment

Over the past few years, it seems like many high-profile figures have been accused of sexual harassment in the workplace. The most recent among these have been members of Fox News, Bill O’Reilly and previously, Roger Ailes. Fox news had stood by O’Reilly and reached five settlements before the most recent allegations came to light. When the public found out, advertisers withdrew from his show times and people protested how everything was being handled.  The social stigma associated with O’Reilly from these allegations led to an agreed leaving from the Fox News Channel. He left with a settlement of $25 million.

So what is sexual harassment? Sexual harassment comes in many forms and it can be hard to pin down where the line is. It doesn’t just happen to women. And it doesn’t just happen at Fox. It happens in school and in the newest campaign with David Schwimmer, it looks like a lewd photographer, a handsy doctor, a smooth-talking politician and it happens every day. The campaign is hoping to push the conversation further and encourage people to speak out more against it.

Takeaway: While many of these accused men deny sexually harassing women and many people accuse the women of lying about it for a variety of reasons, it may be impossible to know the truth. The disbelief in the victims’ testimonies can be disheartening to any victims of sexual harassment who don’t report because they don’t think they will be believed. By having women bring these cases forward, we are starting to shape our culture in a way where harassment is not just “men being men” and still getting away with disrespecting women, and perhaps people are beginning to know what harassment is and truly believing that it needs to be stopped. The next step is speaking out every time that sexual harassment happens.

Women in the News

Women in the Workplace

When applying for jobs and working, there has long been a process for the way things work. There are certain questions that every place of employment seems to ask, such as the salary history, but that might be about to change. At least nine states are considering banning employers from asking what previous salaries are in order to fight the gender pay gap. The idea is that just because a woman has been paid less than men in a previous job, that underpaid amount should not be taken into account and continued just because of that previous job. It is unclear whether this will actually make difference and businesses argue that transparency would be more effective in fighting the gender wage gap.

Takeaway: As legal action is being taken to try to give specific directions businesses must take to stop the gender wage gap, it’s important to analyze the impact this makes. Is banning the salary history question effective and are there other ways to prevent people from being underpaid?

Women in Entertainment

Despite the majority of the cast claiming The Handmaid’s Tale is a “humanist” television adaptation, Samira Wiley spoke out about the show’s relevance and what feminism means in 2017.

The industry as a whole has become more vocal, as yet another actress has opened up about her experience with rape, sparking conversations about why many women don’t report sexual assault. And in other steps towards progress, Franchesca Ramsey became Comedy Central’s first black female host.

Takeaway: Because entertainment has such an influence on how we see the world, it’s important that the celebrities in the industry use their positions wisely. Instead of shying away from certain terminology, figures in the spotlight should continue to encourage open conversation and celebrate diversity.

Women in History

Journalist Claudia Kalb looked into the science of what makes a genius, researching what elevates someone from being intelligent to transforming history. But is there a reason why the majority of “geniuses” throughout history are men?

That’s not to say women don’t make history, as Peggy Whitson broke her record even further – by the end of the month, she had spent more cumulative hours in space than any other US astronaut and will be spending even more time on the ISS than originally planned.

Takeaway: It’s important to remember the strides women have taken in the past and continue to take today. One small step for an individual can mean a world of difference for woman-kind.

In Other News

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March News Roundup

Trending Topics

Women’s Day In Review

The day without women was met with mixed reviews. Some people stood behind the message and the way it was delivered, some hoped for more, and others simply shot it down as pointless. If you weren’t clear on what the purpose of the day was the first time around, it was not just a day where some women felt like taking off of work because they could. Many places could not run without women, and some even closed during the day. While it’s easy to spot the problems in any movement, that doesn’t mean it accomplished nothing it set out to do. It showed what respect looks like and what it means to represent people who have different ideas and life experiences than you. The women who organized the protest were not afraid to take responsibility for what they started.

Attention was paid yet again to the fact that women make up a nearly equal part of the workforce, own nearly the same number of businesses, and they even control 70% of the consumer spending in the U.S. Despite this representation in the workforce, women are still not equally represented, especially in spaces where they should be. President Trump named only 4 women to his cabinet and bills on women’s health, among other things, have been seen with little to no input from any women. Still, the protests organized in this movement have not been intersectional and inclusive enough to the many shades of being a woman. Minority women have different experiences from white women. There was a #MuslimWomensDay set up as one way to call attention to a minority group that is fighting without the privileges that many others in the movement have.

Takeaway: Did the Day Without Women get you to talk about what was going on and question why so many women found this to be a big deal? It was supposed to. While the representation of minority women in feminist movements has not been ideal, this day was trying to highlight the vital role women play in their workplace, within their homes, and in every aspect of society. 

Sexual Assault

President Trump declared April to be National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention month, despite the fact that it was first nationally observed as such in 2001. He emphasized that the country has a shared responsibility in trying to end sexual violence. This received mixed reviews ranging from criticism of Trump, who has been publicly accused 15 times for sexually assaulting women.

Meanwhile, around the nation, there has ongoing backlog on rape test kits, sometimes stretching as far back as nearly 10 years. Detroit found 555 test kits, Wisconson has 6,000 kits it has been slow to address. Recently, Georgia’s politicians were able to come together to solve their major problem with rape test kit backlog. Representative Scott Holcomb created the bill, the Pursuing Justice for Rape Victims Act, and it required law enforcement to test each and every rape kit collected.

Despite all of the action taken to improve this issue, there is still some misunderstanding on the way assault victims are treated is a problem. Tim K. Lynn, a senior executive in charge of Interior’s Office of Law Enforcement and Security, acted inappropriately toward six women, touching, hugging, text-messaging and flirting with them at the office and discussing “inappropriate” subjects. His explanation was that it was just in his nature and that he didn’t mean any harm. This is not only an issue in the U.S. In Canada, a judge told a rape victim, “why couldn’t you just keep your knees together?” Victims are still blamed for their assaults to this day. In a funny parody video recently aired on an episode of the Tracey Ullman’s Show, the victim of a mugging gets asked the same type of questions that assault victims face. Joe Biden also released a recent viral PSA about pervasive rape culture and how #ItsOnUs to intervene.

Takeaway: Whether or not you believe President Trump made this declaration with genuine intentions, or for public relations, the month itself can be used to try to make a difference on this issue. At a state and individual level, people can rally behind a cause and it does make a difference. 

Healthcare

This month, a reoccurring theme of how men benefit from women having good healthcare coverage came up on several occasions. In a survey, 52% of men said that they don’t benefit from birth control.  One lawmaker also questioned why under healthcare law, men should pay for prenatal coverage. The way health insurance works is by pooling all risks. Even though an individual may not be at risk for all things covered, any kind of care a person might need from birth to death — prenatal care through hospice, all individuals will need some of the coverage eventually.

This month President Donald Trump met with the arch-conservative House Freedom Caucus at the White House to try to hammer out a deal on Obamacare repeal. One major point they were discussing was whether or not maternity care and mammograms should be considered “essential” treatments covered by all health insurance policies under the Republican proposal. There were few, if any women at this discussion. Part of the repeal and replace plan if the Affordable Healthcare Act included defunding Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood does not use any of its federal funds for abortions, but about 40 percent of its revenue for other services come from the government. With Pence casting the tie breaking vote (for the second time), the senate also passed an anti-Planned Parenthood bill.

Takeaway: The ability to see beyond your own individual experiences is something everyone should aspire to be able to do, but especially those who have chosen to represent other individuals. We need to both be able to speak up when issues affect us, and also listen to others who are affected. Just because something does not affect you does not mean you don’t need to fight for it to. No one is less deserving of being able to live without fear of illness and pain.

News About Women

In Entertainment

In her recent spread in Vanity Fair, Emma Watson was pictured wearing a “risqué” top. Social media exploded into a heated argument over whether she should still be considered a feminist icon, inadvertently making it very clear why feminism is still necessary. Watson spoke up about the incident, saying, “feminism is about giving women choice, feminism is not a stick with which to beat other women with. It’s about freedom, it’s about liberation, it’s about equality.”

On the other side of the spectrum, Tomi Lahren was suspended from The Blaze after an appearance on The View, in which she claimed to be “pro-choice.” This statement came as quite a shock to most, as Tomi has made past comments about pro-choicers being “baby killers.”

Takeaway: The feminist theme in entertainment this month revolves around women’s ability to make their own choices. One action does not invalidate a woman’s whole experience, nor is she barred from changing her mind.

In Politics and Law

Feel like you don’t know how to get involved in politics after all the momentum of the women’s marches died down? No excuse! Now you can even text a fax to your elected officials. ResistBot will even help you through the process if you’re not sure how to get your message across. It’s not just technology companies trying to keep people involved, but journalists and Girl Scouts too. Teen Vogue has made a name for itself by moving past celebrity gossip and style advice and into politics instead, proving that young girls are interested in more than just looking good and attracting boys. The movement reaches younger generations too, as a young Girl Scout worked to create legislation to change the legal age for marriage to 18 in an effort to end child marriage in the US.

And in case you missed it, Nevada is catching up with the times by ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment – 35 years after a deadline imposed by Congress. The ERA guarantees that “equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex,” among other things.

Takeaway: Younger generations are getting involved and stepping up to the challenge of fighting political sexism, but so much of the field is still far behind.

In The Workplace

The US Marines are under investigation thanks to a group that photographed and shared photos of female recruits and veterans alongside salacious commentary. Hundreds of Marines are being investigated for using social media to solicit and share thousands of naked photographs of their fellow service members. This comes just months after three women made history by becoming the first female combat Marines.

Meanwhile, Fox News continues to struggle with discrimination in the workplace as two women have sued claiming racial discrimination. In related news, after a set of tense exchanges between high-profile black women and white men in the political spotlight, the hashtag #BlackWomenAtWork started trending. The hashtag validated the experiences of thousands of professional black women who deal with such slights on a daily basis.

And add Thinx to the list of organizations who don’t live up to modern standards of equal workspaces. Despite promising a feminist utopia to their audiences, Thinx’s employees have come out to talk about a gap between the company’s message and the reality of their work culture.

Takeaway: Sexism and other forms of discrimination are deeply ingrained in many organizations, making it a slow and frustrating process to fight for a better, more equal work experience. It seems like every week there is a new company or organization investigating claims of sexism, but we have to continue speaking up about each incident if we ever want to incite change.

Around the World

Women around the world are fighting for equal treatment in all aspects of life. This month Icelandic to Afghan and Kurdish women have been standing tall and demanding respect. Iceland will be the first country in the world to require employers to offer proof of equal pay to their employees.

Women’s health has been a big topic of discussion in the U.S. when it comes to healthcare coverage. While we’re still discussing whether mammograms are essential or not, Italy is discussing if women who suffer from severe menstrual cramps every month should get a few days of “menstrual leave” for their medically certified painful menstruation.

Still, in other places, the right to wear certain styles of clothes is part of the fight for rights. Afghan girls in school may have had to wear long dresses that limit their ability to exercise and run. In India, women cannot even dream of equal justice, but one women, among many others, is fighting for those who do not have voices and are not. Indira Jaising took on the cases of countless people who would not have had a chance at getting justice before her. She drafted India’s first domestic violence act, allowing thousands of women to bring civil and criminal suits against attackers for the first time ever.

Takeaway: Every country is at a different place in achieving and fighting for equal rights. Some we can look up to and work towards, while others need our help and support in making sure that its people are treated fairly. We are all connected and the way we treat each other affects everyone.

In Other News

International Women’s Day

March is Women’s History Month and this year’s theme is “Honoring Trailblazing Women in Labor and Business.” The annual event highlights the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society. It also takes place around the International Women’s Day on March 8th, which calls on the masses to forge a better working world that is more inclusive and gender equal.

This year, following the Women’s Marches that took place around the world in January, a new event was established. A Day Without Women (or the International Women’s Strike) takes after similar movements, by focusing on a marginalized group (in this instance women) who will act together for equity, justice and the human rights through a one-day demonstration of economic solidarity.

To recognize the value that women add to socio-economic systems, women and allies are being encouraged to participate in one of the following ways:

  • Take the day off from paid and unpaid labor
  • Avoid shopping for one day, with exceptions for small, women- and minority-owned businesses
  • Wear red in solidarity

Organizers say this event is an opportunity for activists to raise their voices and say that “women’s rights are human rights, regardless of a woman’s race, ethnicity, religion, immigration status, sexual identity, gender expression, economic status, age or disability.”

As with the Women’s Marches, this sort of movement isn’t new. In 1975, an estimated 90% of Iceland’s women refused to work inside or outside the home to protest wage inequity. The event is largely credited with elevating Vigdis Finnbogadottir, the first woman to be elected head of state in a national election to Iceland’s presidency in 1980. Last fall, Polish women went on strike to protest a proposed ban on all abortions, causing widespread disruption to businesses, traffic and government offices, and gaining international media coverage. In fact, the idea itself can be traced as far back as 411 BCE with Aristophanes’ comedy Lysistrata, an account of a woman’s mission to end the Peloponnesian War by denying all the men of the land any sex.

Following some of the backlash seen after the Women’s March, one would hope that the next event of this movement would strive for true inclusivity. However, one journalist has already written, “make no mistake, March 8 will mostly be a day without women who can afford to skip work and shuffle childcare and household duties to someone else, and shop at stores that are likely to open at 10 and close at 5.”

The movement may stem from good intentions and a successful history of similar events, a movement that actively boasts inclusivity is nothing without actions to match their words. In North Carolina, the debate flared when a school superintendent planned to cancel classes on March 8th because so many staff members planned to participate. While some applauded the decision and praised it as a gesture of support for the female staff, others criticized it for forcing many parents to stay home to care for their children or find and pay for back-up care. One day-care provider summed it up by saying, “If I don’t work, [parents] don’t work, and if they can’t work, they don’t get paid.” Similar debates have broken out over multiple states in the days leading up to International Women’s Day.

While the organizers do try to address the issue of privilege in taking a day off of work, the chasm between the privileged and the less-so is creating tension not just across the country, but within the feminist movement. While a large group of privileged feminists will certainly make their presence, or lack thereof, well known, it will be business as usual for millions of other women who have no other choice. Other ways to show support today include wearing the color red and and refraining from buying goods from any stores not owned by women or minorities.


Are you participating in A Day Without Women? Share your story and let us know what the movement means to you.

February Roundup

In Politics

In what could have been a landmark year for women in politics, it seems there is still a gender imbalance across the U.S. political offices. Women candidates didn’t even win 25% of the nation’s 7,383 legislative seats and the percentage of women legislators is stuck at 24.8 — with almost no change for the last decade.

A recent poll conducted even shows that an unnamed Democrat would beat Trump in the 2020 elections, but that a named woman wouldn’t.

The lack of women in politics isn’t just an American issue. Women in Russia and Asia are fighting a parallel struggle to make their voices heard. Despite the progress for women being made around the world, in some places it seems feminism is taking two steps back for every one forward. How the U.S. moves forward now also has an impact across the globe, with women as far as China joining the fight for equal rights.

This isn’t to say there are no women in politics, in fact female politicians have been a hot topic for a while now, but their role and representation as feminists is constantly up for debate. Even so, aspiring female politicians have a couple good examples to follow in the year ahead.

Takeaway: Feminism and politics have a love hate relationship, but it’s important to recognize the inspiring women who make it possible for future generations to follow in their footsteps despite the current political climate. 

In Business

Equal Pay

The website In Her Sight, which collects information and ratings on women’s work environments, released a study on workplace issues and equal pay was the biggest concern.  Equal pay surpassed flexible hours (28%) and promoting more women to senior leadership (14%) with 31.5%. This was a study of 5,000 working professionals.

Globally, the gender wage gap has been widening. It has now been estimated that it will take 170 years to close, which is 52 years longer than it’s estimated it would have taken only a year ago.

Politicians and others all over the world are fighting against equal pay and their arguments in many cases have been very dated, despite being made in the year of 2017. If equal pay happens, one vice chairman of the GOP in Utah said, “then men will have an even more difficult time earning enough to support their families, which will mean more mothers will be forced to leave the home (where they may prefer to be) to join the workforce to make up the difference.” While that is true that some women may prefer to work at home, which is perfectly valid, that is not a realistic reason not to pay everyone equally. Families come in all forms, including single moms, same-sex couples, different races, etc. Men are not the main breadwinners in many cases. Women and other genders’ work is of no less value than men’s. Women are not less intelligent and too weak for equal pay, as one Polish lawmaker at the European Parliament argued. Women and any human being in general are not lesser beings then men.

While continued misogynistic views like this are disheartening, progress is still being made. Intel released a report saying that it has achieved 100% equal pay for all women and underrepresented minorities. When companies aren’t achieving equal pay themselves, in some cases the employees are stepping up. The leads of the Big Bang Theory are taking pay cuts so that their female co-stars can get raises.

Takeaway: Progress is uneven and that’s typical. Seeing equal pay identified as the biggest issue to many women, men, and other genders means that more time and energy will likely be allocated to fixing the problems.

In Science

Encouraging Women in Science

Two laws proposed by women in Congress to encourage women to pursue science and technology careers were signed into law by President Donald Trump. These laws are the “Inspiring the Next Space Pioneers, Innovators, Researchers and Explorers (INSPIRE) Women Act” and “Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act.”

The INSPIRE Women Act authorizes the head of NASA to support initiatives that will “encourage women and girls to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics and to pursue careers that will further advance America’s space science and exploration efforts,” according to a White House statement.

Just as the first Latina in space, Ellen Ochoa is to be inducted into the astronaut hall of fame, girls now will also have LEGO characters of woman who played important roles in the U.S. space program. Among the women portrayed are astronaut Sally Ride, pioneering computer scientist Margaret Hamilton, and the first African American in space Mae Jemison.

Takeaway: Having representation and being able to identify with women in powerful positions and fields that have long been dominated by men is vital to encouraging more diversity and equality in science. Laws requiring that women be encouraged in fields and stopping the discrimination they are likely to face in those fields are important right now to get the way things are to change.

In Entertainment

The Oscars dominated the news cycles toward the end of February, so that even if you weren’t watching you were made aware of particularly important stories.

In another example of a man absolutely not having his career ruined by sexual assault allegations, Casey Affleck won the Oscar for Best Actor. As the icing on the cake for this particularly tense story, Brie Larson, known for speaking out against sexual assault, was the one to present him with the award…for the second time this award season.

Earlier in the month at the Maker’s conference, female celebrities expressed their frustration for the lack of change and equality in the entertainment industry. From type casting to racism, unequal pay to workplace harassment, the message was clear: there’s something wrong with Hollywood.

But it’s not all bad! After her Oscars win for her role in Fences, Viola Davis became the first black actor to achieve the entertainment hat trick: wining an Oscar, Emmy, and Tony for acting.

Takeaway: There may be something wrong with Hollywood, but there are more women speaking up about issues in the entertainment industry than ever. Hopefully these strong, unwavering women use their voices and actions to create real change. 

In Other News

(I)nauguration (U) (D)ay

Note: This post is a contribution in response to the Boston Women’s March.

On Friday, January 20, 2017, I arrived at my gynecologist’s office to get my first intrauterine device (IUD). After sitting on the idea of getting an IUD for years, the inauguration of Donald J. Trump inspired me to act. Though I could have chosen the previous week to have the procedure, the options were not optimal: Friday the 13th or Inauguration Day. Though I am not superstitious, one felt like a bad idea, while the other felt like an act of personal protest. So I chose Inauguration Day. I acted out of fear, out of love, and out of protest: fear that my health care could soon deny me affordable access to birth control; love for my body and its safety; and protest to the tyranny of a man and his followers telling me what I could and couldn’t do with my body.

I know my privilege – I could still access birth control even if it weren’t covered by my insurance plan. While I do not take that for granted, this is not solely about me. So many of my friends and acquaintances who need birth control – to prevent pregnancies, painful periods, acne, life threatening ovarian cysts, et cetera – cannot pay out of pocket for the pill. And so even if I can pay for it, without healthcare coverage, those I care about may not.

So I arrived at my gynecologist’s office, ready and nervous and exhilarated to get my IUD. I embraced my womanhood, and I embraced the cause of speaking up for women who want nothing more than to protect themselves from not only unwanted pregnancies, but an array of health problems. On January 20, 2017, after hearing Donald Trump’s swearing in, I participated in my own form of personal protest and felt my conviction, and my protection, fastened to me, body and spirit. Then I protested publicly.

On Saturday, January 21, I joined my fellow Bostonians in peaceful protest for a woman’s right to be heard and respected. The movement became so many things to so many people. I saw signs protesting everything from Standing Rock to LGBTQIA oppression, from Trump’s pussy grabbing statements to the Alt Right (a personal favorite of mine, the sign reading Alt + Right + Delete). Carrie Fisher’s eyes gazing out over the top of a poster reading “history has its eyes on you” unintentionally merged the power of Star Wars and Hamilton, giving a chilling yet awe-inspiring pop-culture twist to the proceedings. The common theme of these signs was not hate or prejudice. It was strength, optimism, and a demand for autonomy. It was a plea to the powerful to listen to those they serve—the men and women and everyone in between who comprise the People of the United States.

Listening to NPR that day (a journalistic organization now under threat of losing valuable and necessary federal funding), I heard a Trump supporter talking about the Women’s Marches. He made a cutting, misguided, but thought-provoking remark: if we as protesters had put this much effort behind Hillary Clinton, she could have been sworn in on Inauguration Day. It is my belief, based on Clinton’s winning the popular vote by approximately three million votes more than Trump, and on the role of the electoral college, that the people’s will was ignored, and Clinton should have taken her place as president as the most experienced politician in US history.

But that is past. This is present. The Women’s Marches around the world, from Washington, D.C. to Antarctica, show the positive thinking and strength of coming together as a powerful force for change. Though some may call the Marches one grand gesture for the Millennials to post on their Facebook profiles, the sheer magnitude of the crowds and the range of ages, ethnicities, and orientations make it more than a trend, a blip on someone’s timeline. The original march, organized by Tamika D Mallory, Carmen Perez, and Linda Sarsour, three courageous women of color, was not focused on a one-time hit. The Women’s March website has already published a list of 10 Actions for the First 100 Days, a continuation of the movement to keep the momentum going (see also Non-Fiction Feminism’s post about our Next Steps). Publicly, the size and diversity of the crowds convinced me of the people’s commitment. Personally, the knowledge that my mother and stepfather marched in Chicago that day, spiritually walking alongside me to protest the new president, convinced me even further.

On Sunday, January 22, the 44th anniversary of Roe v. Wade reminded the nation of how relatively recent it is for a woman to legally access abortion in the US. The ruling has been a source of debate for decades, but is taking on an even larger role in discussions of national policy since the Trump-Pence administration took power. So in these three days, from January 20 to 22, I showed personal, public, and historic pride in my gender and its significance in our society. I proved to myself that my voice is strong and loud, and as I roared my worth, I heard the roar of others joining me, from my parents, my relatives, my friends, and fellow feminists of all genders. Amazing things happen when we support each other, and the marches that took place over all seven continents show that.

But On Monday, January 23, 2017, while reading the news after work, I discovered that President Trump has already laid out an executive order to ban government funding for international organizations that provide abortions or information pertaining to them, whether those monies are directly funneled to abortion procedures or not. The surrounding politicians in the Oval Office were white and male, demonstrating that a small subset of our population is making choices that do not affect them, not having female reproductive organs or enough melanin to have experienced what non-female and/or non-white citizens struggle through daily. Following the trend, the CNN panel set up to discuss the significance of the Women’s March was comprised of one woman and eight men, a ratio that would be more logical and meaningful if reversed.

So, on Monday, January 23, 2017, I grew angry, fearful, and determined. I donated to Planned Parenthood and made a promise to myself that I will continue to fight for equal treatment. The work did not stop when I got my IUD, when I marched with the feminists of Boston, when I celebrated Roe v. Wade. And as my mother pointed out, this is unfortunately nothing new. The work was there for her decades ago, and now it is here for me, too. And just like her, I will not back down.

Laying on the exam table that Friday, my legs in stirrups, my doctor preparing her instruments, she asked if I was going to the Women’s March in Boston the following day. I gave a resounding ‘yes,’ and told her my parents were marching too, my mom having knitted her own pussy hat. She smiled in approval and told me, proudly, that she and her husband were taking their young daughter to march and participate in the protest. “I want her to know how important this time is, how important the work is,” she told me. I could not agree more.

-Emma Ryan


This is a contributed post submitted to Non-Fiction Feminism by the author and represents the author’s opinion. If you are interested in sharing your own stories or perspectives, please contact us

The Super Bowl LI

Congratulations to the New England Patriots for their impressive comeback and win! Many of you likely enjoyed watching the game and commercials last night with your family and friends. There were probably some disagreements about which team was better and should win. There might have even been some disgust about the possible political messages that some of the ads were sending. Tensions are particularly high when it comes to politics these days and when party lines are already divided between teams, we hope that you took a moment to think about what the ads and actions of the NFL might be saying to younger viewers and even to think about what the messages meant to you. We’ve written before on various instances of sexism and domestic violence in the college football and the NFL in general, but with the 51st Super Bowl having taken place this past weekend we wanted to dive a little deeper. Issues that have raised concern in past games that you might want to discuss have included a player protesting by kneeling during the national anthem, cheerleaders’ outfits and their treatment, and controversial halftime shows.

Advertising

The Super Bowl’s commercial breaks are nearly as anticipated as the big game itself, with advertisers spending an average of $5 million to secure a 30-second slot. While the advertising industry itself continues to struggle with sexism, the top ads at the Super Bowl are put under a stronger spotlight that illuminates the deeper issues within this particular sport.

This year, however it seems some advertisers are getting it. It’s no longer just men watching the Super Bowl and the commercials during breaks, but women now make up almost half of the audience and are being targeted as such. Lisa Granatstein, editor at Adweek spoke about the trend, saying “It’s an amazing platform for a brand to message that they support women, that they take it seriously. It’s also been the zeitgeist. This is something that’s been brewing for some time, so a lot of brands are taking on that message, which gets translated into social media and has an even wider audience.”

Because of women’s purchasing power, more brands are rejecting sexist and hypersexualized portrayals of women, opting for more respectful portrayals that appeal to the female viewers. Check out the American Association of University Women’s list of best feminist Super Bowl ads, which is updated each year.

Women in the Industry

It’s no secret that the sport of football has faced a gender inequality problem for some time, at all levels and in various ways. The problem is rampant in coaching, scouting, and executive positions, but also within the media and fan base. Women with ties to popular players are frequently subjected to unwarranted sexist abuse for game losses and other failures, just for being a “distraction.”

Additionally, with a pending lawsuit by NFL cheerleaders on the horizon, top executives are scrambling to call out the league for ensuring women are treated properly within the industry. This lawsuit alleges that not only are the female cheerleaders barely paid minimum wage, but they often aren’t paid for appearances and practices like the male football players are.

Sex Trafficking

Some may ask if the sex trafficking uptick around the Super Bowl is legitimate, but they miss the point that it’s a problem that should be addressed year-round, regardless of large sporting events that draw mainly wealthy, mainly male crowds to one city for an adrenaline-based experience.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested 2,000 human traffickers and identified 400 victims last year alone, prompting flight attendant training to spot sex trafficking victims being transported by plane. On top of this training, over 25 groups organizations have joined the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) to conduct a nation-wide social media awareness campaign to #TackleDemand for sex trafficking at the Super Bowl and beyond.

Looking Ahead

As the advertising industry works to address sexist portrayals of women in the media, and the service industry trains employees to notice and respond to attempted sex trafficking, this year’s Super Bowl may be one step closer to achieving equality for the sporting world. Many celebrated Lady Gaga, who has been very outspoken on sexual assault and sexism, as the half-time performer and the Schuyler Sisters for their modification to “America the Beautiful.” While these strides should be celebrated, we must remember to look beyond one sporting event and seek to change not just the industry, but society as a whole.


What did you think of the Super Bowl and its ads this year? Check in and consider contributing by leaving a comment or emailing nonfictionfeminism@gmail.com!

January: News Roundup

Obviously the Women’s March was a huge part of the news in January. Check out our coverage of it in our series of posts (Attending the MarchMarcher ContributionsCriticism and Questions, and Next Steps), otherwise, find out everything else you might have missed here.

IN POLITICS

Abortion

Anti-abortion groups in Oklahoma are working to pass a bill that requires all public restrooms, including in restaurants, hospitals, public schools, hotels and nursing homes, to post signs with anti-abortion statements on them to discourage anyone from getting the procedure. Enacting this bill would cost an estimated $2.3 million, but there’s no proof that it would create the abortion-free society the group is hoping for. At the same time, Kentucky has only one abortion provider left in the state after the EMW Women’s Clinic in Lexington was closed. Women from Kentucky commented, saying that this will have a huge impact on low-income women who would be unable to get to the one clinic that offers abortions.

An international reaching executive order was put into place this month that has worldwide consequences to women’s reproductive health. The Mexico City policy, known as the global gag rule, prohibits government funding of any international nongovernmental organizations that offer or advise on issues including abortion, even if the U.S. dollars would not be spent on abortion-related services. None of that money was spend on abortions even before President Trump signed this executive order. Furthermore, while he signed this order, he was surrounded by all men, even though this order could have a serious affect on women.  In an act of defiance against Trump’s executive order, the Netherlands plans to create its own international fund to support birth control, reproductive health and abortion access in the developing world.

While these two very opposing sides are fighting, the abortion rate has fallen to the lowest it has been since Roe v. Wade. Both anti-abortion groups and pro-choice groups argue that this decline is due to their own efforts. Pro-choice groups like Planned Parenthood credit the lower rate to better access to contraception. Anti-abortion groups argue that the report shows new state restrictions on abortion are working. Principal research scientist Rachel Jones said, “Abortion is going down, and births aren’t going up,” indicating improved access to birth control seems to be largely responsible for the declining rate.

“If there are women in these highly restrictive states who want abortions but can’t get them because there aren’t any clinics that they can get to, and that’s why abortion’s going down, that’s not a good thing,” Jones said. “But we think the story that’s going on in a lot of situations, in a lot of states, is that fewer women are having unintended pregnancies and in turn fewer abortions, and that is actually a good story.”

Takeaway: Whichever side of the abortion argument you are on, the decline in abortion rates can be seen as a good thing. The important thing is continuing to provide healthcare, especially reproductive healthcare, to all women. 

Healthcare

In this past election season, there was constant discussion of Planned Parenthood (PP) and what it uses its fund for. Many people don’t want any federal funds to go to an organization that offers abortion services, even if those funds do not go to abortions at all. PP uses its funds for services including pap smears, UTI and STI treatment, and contraception counseling. In a report done on PP clinics in Texas, it was found that when women lost access to PP, there was a 27 percent increase in births likely unplanned as the increase was only seen in counties where women had more difficulty getting access to contraceptions.

Beyond just the defunding of PP that provides low income passed plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act. This would remove contraception coverage, which will likely result into an increase in unplanned births. The ACA made a huge difference in the lives of women specifically, such as preventing women from being charged more on the basis of their gender, ensuring women can access birth control and mammograms without a copay, and preventing pregnancy from being treated as a preexisting condition to raise women’s premiums or deny them coverage. Women’s healthcare may not be completely at a loss as some individual states, including New York, are working to put in place legislation to protect free access to contraception. It is still not certain what women’s healthcare will look like during the Trump administration, but based on what his politicians have been saying, it looks like women will face many more challenges.

Takeaway:  Without having access to healthcare, a good quality of life for thousands of women will become difficult to acquire, or worse. Opinions about abortions should not limit the healthcare coverage available to women. 

IN ENTERTAINMENT

Women in Film

We’re in the middle of awards season, and more attention than ever is being paid to representation and equality in the entertainment industry. The #OscarsSoWhite campaign drew attention to race diversity, while the gender bias led to an investigation by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) last year. Unfortunately, studies are showing that not only is the industry not improving, it may be getting worse. 

A report titled “The Celluloid Ceiling” found that in 2016, women made up just 17% of all directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors and cinematographers in the top 250 domestic-grossing films, a decline of 2% from 2015. When the nominations were announced for the 89th annual Academy Awards, not a single woman was nominated for Best Director, which is an award only four female directors have ever been nominated for and only one has won. All of this comes about in a time when it seems the careers of straight white actors are not only unaffected, but prioritized over their sexual assault accusations. The world isn’t all bad, though, as Viola Davis became the first black actress to earn three Oscar nominations for her performance in Fences.

Takeaway: While the world of entertainment takes an occasional few steps forward toward diversity, there is still a pronounced lack of equality in the industry. The importance of representation in film has been highlighted with recent box office successes, but we need changes behind the screen as well.

Hidden Figures

Speaking of representation, Hidden Figures made over $22.8 million during the first weekend in Januaryhttp://fusion.net/story/379520/hidden-figures-box-office/, even surpassing Rogue One despite playing on nearly 2,000 fewer screens. Across the country, women raised funds to send young girls and boys to see the movie and learn more about the history of women of color and be inspired to dream bigger themselves.

Despite an embarrassing mix-up that combined Hidden Figures and Fences, the two movies have already been nominated for and won critical industry awards. The success of Hidden Figures shows that not only can movies about women pass the Bechdel test, but also draw huge crowds and achieve massive box office successes while doing so.

Takeaway: With more big movies featuring female leads, the industry is finally realizing that movies about women or minorities actually have market viability and will draw in viewers in droves. Hopefully the successes of Hidden Figures will serve as a catalyst for other stories waiting to be told.

IN SCIENCE

First Black Female Astronaut on ISS

With all the excitement surrounding Hidden Figures, it’s only fitting that NASA has announced the first black female astronaut to call the International Space Station home. Jeannette J. Epps is also the 13th woman on the ISS since the space station was founded in 1998. Epps is a member of NASA’s 2009 astronaut class and worked as a technical intelligence officer for the CIA for seven years. She will launch her first spaceflight in May of this year.

Takeaway: While it’s important for young girls to see themselves represented in media, it’s even more meaningful when those role models exist in real life and are involved in current events. 

6-Year-Old Girls Already Have Gendered Beliefs About Intelligence

A recent study revealed that girls as young as six have already learned gendered beliefs about intelligence, which may hold them back from future successes. Perhaps most striking is the fact that among five-year-olds, both boys and girls associated brilliance with their own gender; but among those aged six or seven, only the boys still held to that view. As part of the study, six-year-old girls were also less likely to play a game when they were told it was for “really, really smart” children.

Takeaway: It’s saddening to realize that young girls learn so quickly how society views intelligence based on gender. We must continue to encourage young girls to embrace their intellectual passions.

AROUND THE WORLD

U.S. Ranks 23rd Out of 30 Developed Countries for Inequality

The annual summit for the World Economic Forum took place in Davos recently, and a report was released that shows, the U.S. ranks 23 out of 30 developed nations in a measure known as the “inclusive development index,” which includes data on income, health, poverty, and sustainability. The report argues that the U.S.’s inequality likely influences a variety of other disparities, including political and social polarization. However, it also suggests that the current problem can be improved through policies that promote parity in wages regardless of gender, race or ethnicity; educational opportunities; and access to jobs.

Takeaway: In today’s political climate in the United States, this may come as no surprise to some. This report shows how closely the world is watching us at such a critical time as well as how far we have to go to achieve equality.

 

Russian Parliament to Decriminalize Domestic Violence

Russia has voted, making battery, the unlawful physical acting upon a threat, against family members as long as it does not cause bodily harm, like a broken limb, legal. Russia is one of three countries in Europe and Central Asia that do not have laws against domestic violence. This is dangerous because it promotes the thought that violence towards anyone is not wrong and not punishable. “According to Russian government statistics, 40% of all violent crimes are committed within the family. The figures correlate to 36,000 women being beaten by their partners every day and 26,000 children being assaulted by their parents every year.” Two women were among the group that created the bill, stating that they believed it would protect Russian families and make them stronger. Domestic violence has deep cultural roots in Russia, as shown through an old proverb, “If he beats you it means he loves you.”

Takeaway: While countries do have different cultures and customs, to make domestic violence in any form acceptable is a huge problem. Statistically this affects women and children of families more than men. Laws should be made to empower and protect people. Just because something is a law, it does not make it right and we must keep working to achieve equality and safety for everyone. 

No Means No Worldwide

In a campaign to end violence against women and children, the global No Means No Worldwide organization has released a video showcasing how their training teaches girls to fight back and boys to understand consent. The organization trains and certifies instructors for violence prevention, intervention and recovery programs at schools and clubs to conduct classes for children ages 10-20. Their program already dramatically reduces sexual assault and pregnancy related dropouts wherever their instructors teach.

Takeaway: The issue of self-defense against sexual assault is relevant worldwide, but thankfully organizations like this continue to help spread the knowledge and empower younger generations to protect themselves and know what’s right. 

IN OTHER NEWS


Did we miss something huge? Let us know! Submissions are always welcome and comments are highly encouraged and will be approved to further discussion as long as they follow our guidelines. Please keep an open mind and respect your fellow humans. 

Women’s March: Next Steps

Where do we go from here?

How do we realistically implement the rights contained in the published march principles?

“Without a clear path from march to power, the protest is destined to be an ineffective feel good spectacle adorned with pink pussy hats.” – Micah White, The Guardian

Maybe it’s not what you want to hear while you’re riding the high of being part of “herstory” or sharing stories of the loving energy you experienced during one of the marches last weekend, but it’s a necessary thought to address. With a successful march for solidarity behind us, it would be easy for many feel they’ve paid their dues, done their part, and wipe their hands of the cause before returning to their normal lives. Unfortunately, that would defeat everything the marches accomplished.

At the same time, others may feel they are not doing enough to contribute to the movement and must remember that every little bit counts. Even the smallest change in your daily actions could have a butterfly effect. One of the easiest ways to continue the momentum is to continue the conversation. This movement has sparked conversations and opened up space for people to speak who normally aren’t heard. Share resources, ask questions, learn from others, and address your weaknesses as an advocate.

Stay Hopeful, Stay Motivated

When everything seems overwhelming and like your actions don’t matter, listen to the women who have come before you and those who stand with you today. You are not alone. Things are changing, even if you can’t see it because change happens slowly. It’s easy to feel emotionally drained with all the conversations happening in the world right now, so remember to take time for yourself and be aware of your emotional and mental wellbeing. Disengage from social media for a while, step away from the political conversations, don’t respond to ignorant remarks – don’t burn out because that won’t do anyone any good.

When you feel like diving back in, stay hopeful and stay motivated. Find pictures from the march that remind you why you participated or if you didn’t why this movement may mean something to you. Talk with friends about how their lives are effected by what’s going on in the world and support them by swapping stories of strength and courage. Follow badass feminists on social media so that every time you scroll through your feed there’s something to make you feel empowered or encouraged.

And above all else, remember the words of Martin Luther King, Jr.:

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”

Stay Educated

If you are privileged enough to feel like you don’t have much you need to fight for, or that there is only one issue that really affects you, then you haven’t been listening. Fighting as a feminist means fighting for all people, even if you don’t feel like you are a part of a group or it makes you uncomfortable. So yes, you should turn out at Black Lives Matter protests, marches for science, and many of the other events that are getting organized now.

Read everything, especially if it talks about life experiences you’ve been lucky to never have faced. Read things by people who think differently than you and believe in things that you might not. There are many shades of being human, and that doesn’t make a person evil or wrong.

A part of staying informed about what is happening in the world and around the country is listening to other views. This isn’t just a matter of waiting for other views to come to you. As we saw in the 2016 election, listening to only the opinions that are readily available to you can give you a very distorted view of the world. Check out the Washington Post’s Red Feed, Blue Feed article from before the 2016 election if you don’t believe us.

Stay Involved

Immediately following the marches that took place around the world, the Women’s March on Washington released the first action from their 10 Actions for the First 100 Days plan: Write a postcard to your Senators about what matters most to you – and how you’re going to continue to fight for it in the days, weeks and months ahead. Every ten days, they will release a new action and encourage those who participated in the march along with those who did not to continue the momentum and take part in these actions.

Our readers in the Boston area are encouraged to check out the organizations below.

Look up what other marches and organizations are involved in your area and see what they need help with. Text “Daily” to 228466 to receive daily actions if you’re in need of direction.

Run for office yourself or contact your local legislators to let them know what you think. There are many ways for you to contact your legislators without having to speak to them directly, if that is easier for you. The app Countable is one of many options to make it easy to communicate with your representatives.

Don’t stop voting, even if you feel like it won’t make a difference. The midterm elections are two years away in 2018, and historically, voting for the people you want in office at that time can make political favor swing away from the President.

Finally, if marching is not for you and you aren’t sure what you can do to make a difference, don’t feel discouraged. There are many ways to get involved, whether it’s online or by doing little things in your every day life.

Do you have other plans for staying involved? Share it with us in the comments!


This is the final post in a series about the Women’s March – why individuals attended and how they plan on continuing the movement, answering questions the inclusive women’s march raised, and next steps to keep the momentum going. Check them all out and consider contributing by emailing nonfictionfeminism@gmail.com with why you marched and how you plan to keep the momentum going!

 

Criticism and Questions About the Women’s Marches

In the days following the worldwide women’s marches, many have spoken out with criticisms or questions regarding the true intentions of the marches and how they were organized. This post seeks to address a couple of the questions we have received thus far, but we encourage everyone to ask their own questions, provide their own answers, and engage in a legitimate discussion to ensure this movement remains a productive one.

Aren’t American women the most privileged women in the world?

Many would agree that the majority of women in the United States are comparatively more privileged than in other parts of the world. That does not negate the fact that not all are equal and it does not eliminate the struggle that women across the United States continue to face. Just because someone else has it “worse” than you, are you not allowed to speak up for your own troubles?

Studies have been done year after year that rank countries around the world on a variety of topics, including “Best Countries for Women.” While some have the United States ranked in the bottom part of the top 15, others have our country ranked all the way down in the 40s. These studies are each based off their own wide range of criteria, yet consistently do not place the United States as #1.

In addition, even though white women are often some of the most privileged in the world, that does not mean that they did not need to march. As some of the people we talked to at the march said, worded by marcher Nancy Nee Hannifan, “we should all be sticking together because we have to raise up the least of us to protect the greater of us.” Inequality affects all of us, even if you aren’t personally discriminated against.

Was the march really inclusive?

The short answer: unfortunately, no. The women’s march inspired people representing a variety of issues. Knowing that, of course not everyone was going to agree on everything. The purpose of the march was to have your voice be heard, no matter what your motivational cause was. Despite the good intentions of organizers, sponsors, community partners, and participants, many of the women’s marches left other oppressed minority communities feeling ignored or over-written, or simply like they didn’t belong. In a movement meant to express solidarity, this is one of its greatest failings.

“Intersectional feminism is the future of feminism and of this movement,” said Bob Bland, one of the event’s co-chairs. “We must not just talk about feminism as one issue, like access to reproductive care.”

We must also not talk about feminism as it pertains only to one group. White feminism ran rampant throughout the marches, sparking a trend in critical articles written after the event. The march became not just an act of solidarity, but for many a chance to be humbled and address their privilege with respect to others. Brooklyn-based activist ShiShi Rose addressed “white allies” planning to attend the march, saying “For some people, their outlook of this country deeply changed on November 9th. For the rest of us, this is how it has always looked.” Her post continues as she says, “I want to remind you that no ally ever got very far, in any movement, without acknowledgement of their own privilege daily. … You don’t just get to join because now you’re scared, too. I was born scared.”

One of the women we spoke to at the Boston march, Sukriti, had a friend who made one of the most impactful speeches worldwide while at the Philadelphia march. Ericka Hart, a Black femme, breast cancer survivor and sex educator spoke about who this march was for and how we can all learn to create more intersectionality in our feminist movements. “If you don’t like what I’m saying, you might consider you are not here for all women,” she said. “Have you noticed who is NOT here? I ask that you notice moving forward and get intentional about inclusivity.  Start asking in all of the spaces you occupy and take up: Who is this for? And then make it for them.”

Meant to be a unifying aspect of the march, the pussy hats and related signage also highlighted the isolation of the transgender and non-binary communities from this movement. They sent a “clear and oppressive message: having a vagina is essential to womanhood.” While many marchers pulled together and created their own hats and signs, others still withdrew from the activity because it was no longer a welcome space. Jade Lejeck was one of many who decided not to participate for this reason, but said “”It’s better to fix any problems now before [Trump and his administration] use them against us — not to mention that fixing them will mean even more people fighting for the same cause.”

At the Washington March, transgender activist and author Janet Mock addressed intersectionality with particular regard to trans women of color and sex workers. “Our approach to freedom need not be identical but it must be intersectional and inclusive. It must extend beyond ourselves,” said Mock. “Our liberation depends on all of us, all of us returning to our homes and using this experience and all the experiences that have shaped us to act, to organize, to resist.”

Activist and comedienne, Franchesca “Chescaleigh” Ramsey summed it up, saying “good intentions don’t absolve negative impact…performative activism isn’t going to cut it. If your allyship is reliant on never being held accountable for your screw ups, you’re doing it wrong.”

Does it matter if other people’s rights to their beliefs and free expression of them are counter to the outlined goals?

For further context, the examples provided for this question were the goal of migration as a basic right and there being no such thing as an “illegal immigrant” or gender being completely fluid and without any recognizable norm.

This particular topic has been a sensitive one for years, with individuals, companies, political organizations, and religious communities taking stances on dividing issues and debating the balance of non-discrimination with freedom of speech. The trouble with this question is that the answer depends on the circumstance. The laws in place that draw the line between freedom of expression and ability to discriminate will depend on the state and the context of the situation in question.

Of course it matters if the outlined goals infringe on the rights of others who disagree. However, when it is simply a question of challenging someone’s beliefs, not their constitutional rights, there needs to be some perspective. One person’s beliefs do not outweigh another’s livelihood.

None of these principles are new, what’s going to change this time?

While these principles may not be new, where would we be if the activists before us gave up because it had all been done before? If oppressed groups stop talking, stop marching, stop acting, nothing would ever change. We may only see a little change at a time and it may take an entire lifetime, but every little bit of change should be celebrated.

In today’s connected world, it’s easier than ever to communicate with larger communities, to mobilize, to act together and move towards change. Like with any large project, getting something done takes a lot of time and persistence. If people gave up, nothing would ever change. That’s why we keep fighting.


Non-Fiction Feminism is posting a series of articles with contributions from marchers on why they attended and how they plan on continuing the movement, answering questions the inclusive women’s march raised, and next steps to keep the momentum going. Check in and consider contributing by emailing nonfictionfeminism@gmail.com with why you marched and how you plan to keep the momentum going!

The Women’s Marches Around the World

With over 670 marches world-wide, The Women’s March has made history. While we couldn’t travel everywhere ourselves, we did manage to get a few stories from marches other than the one that took place in Boston.

Kevin Adato – New York

Why did you participate?

I didn’t expect it to be as big as it was. I live next to the UN and the Trump world tower so hearing the crowd, the chants and seeing the people was inevitable. I put on my pink t-shirt and decided to check it out and it was absolutely beautiful. As someone who’s been part of a peaceful protest (in Istanbul), I knew what the overall vibe was going to be. The major difference between this one and that of Istanbul is that this protest and movement in this country could and will actually have an effect.

How do you plan to continue the momentum?

My way of contributing is to ideally talk to those who are ignorant and against this movement in a non aggressive, empathetic way.

Do you think it is important to have men involved and if so, why?

Of course. No matter the cause, it’s important to have the support of those more relatively privileged to acknowledge the issues and fight for equal rights and human rights.

Jessica Lopes – D.C.

Why did you participate?

I marched for various reasons, including support for my black brothers and sisters, my LGBTQI brothers and sisters, for climate change and science, for Planned Parenthood…but especially for immigration reform and against the racism and xenophobia rampant in this country. I am a child of immigrants, but I’m privileged to be of white Christian European descent. My family never struggled to become citizens or to enter this country. My mother faced one incident of discrimination in her youth but otherwise no one has questioned if they belong here. Why is it that one race is welcomed while another is cast violently away? Why is it that one religion is celebrated while another is threatened with a registry? I marched as a white privileged woman in solidarity with my non-white and non-Christian brothers and sisters.

How do you plan to continue the momentum?

This march is only the beginning of our fight against Trump’s hateful administration. It’s only Day 1 of 1460. We have made our voices known, and we need to be sure they stay known. It’s time to call and write to our senators and representatives in Congress to let them know where we stand on the issues. We need to organize and support the efforts of organizations fighting for the rights of all. We need to work together by being intersectional and inclusive in our discussions and in our demonstrations. We need to be vigilant and fight any new bills in Congress that threaten these rights. And in two years, we need to educate the undecided voter on the issues, and campaign for new senators and representatives that will uphold their promises and support every American citizen regardless of race, religion, gender identity, and sexual orientation.

Kate Tessmann – D.C.

Why did you participate?

As a future social worker, woman, and ally, I march for those I love and the people they love. And you and the people you love. I will stand in solidarity with those fighting for human rights. I will make my voice heard, and listen to the voices of those around me. Let’s march forward, not backward. And this time, we include everyone.

I truly believe that my humanity is tied to yours. Any battles for human rights and social justice are my battles to fight, even if they do not pertain to me as an individual. I am who I am because of who we all are.

How do you plan to continue the momentum?

We must fight, every day, for the rights of all. This means that we have to turn awareness into conversations and actions. I will follow the advice from several speakers at the rally yesterday to remain engaged, and share action items I come across to support the work of equity.

As someone who works in the healthcare field, my mom highly suggests watching the documentary Sicko, which investigates the unjust, inadequate, for-profit health insurance and pharmaceutical industry prior to Obama’s election. We cannot move backwards, access to affordable health care is a human right.


Non-Fiction Feminism will be posting a series of articles this week with contributions from marchers on why they attended and how they plan on continuing the movement, answering questions the inclusive women’s march raised, and next steps to keep the momentum going. Check in and consider contributing by emailing nonfictionfeminism@gmail.com with why you marched and how you plan to keep the momentum going!