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.
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.
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 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.”
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
- An NYC pharmacy charges a 7% “Man Tax” to combat unfair prices against women.
- UK lawmakers debated whether corporate dress codes that included rules around high heels were sexist.
- Seven women of color your history books didn’t include.
- Nike released an ad that redefines what “Girls Are Made Of.“
- Warren Buffet says “When a woman says no, she means maybe.”
- Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie warns against “Feminism Lite.”
- Acid attack survivors redefine beauty in Bangladesh fashion show.
- Texas Senate passed a “wrongful-birth” bill that allows medical providers to withhold information from pregnant women.
- Uber President Jeff Jones quits amidst issues of sexism.
- Trans people share messages of love and support for Trans Day of Visibility.
- 15 percent of female undergraduates at the University of Texas at Austin report being raped.
- The women’s national hockey team threatened to boycott the world championships after 14 months of fighting for a living wage.
- Maxine Waters and Hillary Clinton speak out against Bill O’Reilly’s prime example of everyday sexism
- Man humping the fearless girl statue provides another example why we need feminism.