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From the monthly archives: March 2012
GROUP 5/WEEK 3: Rosemary, Gilbert, Roxsana & Ulices
The thing that really shocked me and interested me the most in learning about the women’s rights movement is the persistence of sexism. I expected there to be sexism in traditional society, but I did not expect it to even be present in the counter-culture movements. Learning that a lot of women who joined the movement during the 1960’s, did so as a reaction to what they saw while involved in the civil rights movement really put things in perspective. I think that if more people were exposed to information like this, they would start to see how deep sexism is embedded in the patriarchal society we live in. Sexism being so accepted really made me sick to my stomach. I feel like there has to be a way to change this and make our society good for everyone that lives in it. I can’t believe I never saw it in front of me before, but now I see it everywhere I go. This is why I really like being involved in this ERA Education Project. I feel that I am helping, even in a small way.
FROM A MAN’S PERSPECTIVE, what interests me most about the women’s rights movement, is how obscure it feels. Not to say it’s small, but I think as a guy in a patriarchal society it is very downplayed, although ironically it’s been around for a good while now and probably has more supporters than ever before. That to me is a big indicator of how suppressed the idea of equal rights for women is. Oppressed by society as a whole as if in a sort of blissful ignorance that most people care not to be shaken out of.
I am almost certain men are not aware of it, or at least young men of my generation don’t know the slightest thing about it. I know I didn’t. Flip side of the coin is that just as many women may not be aware of what’s going on and that they don’t have constitutional equal rights. When it comes to civil rights, worker’s rights, gay rights, these ideas are covered day to day. Women’s rights on the other hand are given this side note worth, which to me, says a lot about the day and age we live in.
When it comes down to it I’m very uneducated on the topic, or at least was more so before taking this class. The truth is that’s the key word of the topic – education. People aren’t educated on these topics. They don’t know and we can’t get angry with anyone for not knowing something. But the fact that people simply aren’t taught is frustrating. Therein lies the issue and also the current cause. The ERA Education Project is crucial because so many don’t know the underlying truth.You can’t introduce an amendment to the constitution without knowing what it’s for. Though I will admit in my own personal opinion, that there is less room for debate when it comes to gender equality, but it’s just a matter of fact just as racial discrimination.
In the past couple of weeks this whole new world with women leading the way has been revealed to me. We’ve been getting to know the giants like Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth and Alice Paul, and the “girls next door” like Amy Richards and Jennifer Baumgarden who started the first girls soccer team, or first girl to run for class President in her high school and later went on to write books.
It has also lead me to recognize that feminism, despite the boundaries that still exist today, prevails in almost every woman: from my mother who makes the decision to work and go to school, to my girl friends who pursue careers before marriage. I know feminist men as well, starting with my father who supports my mother in her decisions as well as mine, to my guy friends who have encouraged me to go to school or cheer me on when I snowboard.
The problem here is not the lack of feminism; the problem is the lack of activism.
While women and many men embrace the feminist ideology in their everyday, most are not aware of many of the boundaries and gender discrimination that still exist today. Many people don’t know that the United States Constitution does not guarantee civil and human rights to women that are equal to men. Because I didn’t know who Alice Paul was I also didn’t know that she wrote and proposed the original Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in 1923. The ERA states “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”
It has been nearly 100 years that women have been fighting for civil and human rights and for the last couple of years this brutal battle has been quiet and under the radar! With the 2012 elections at play we have been hearing a lot of talk about women’s issues, but all coming from men! Where are all the women?! Where are all the men and women that are living feminist ideologies? Well they are all around, they are you and me, the problem is that we aren’t politically active. This is supposed to be a democratic government, a system that is governed and run by the whole population under the principle of social equality. That further underlines our problem, the lack of democracy.
WEEK 2: Brenda, Rochelle, Rayven, Valeria, Breania
At the beginning of this course, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I thought it was just a normal women’s studies class that would teach about all the women in history, but it wasn’t so. When I attended the first class it was completely different, but still interesting. Now that I have become more familiar with the whole idea of feminism, it comes to my attention that women aren’t recognized as I thought they were. This whole project that’s going on is for a purpose, not just a class that I am taking, but so much more.
I am extremely ecstatic about taking part in this ERA project. I’m sure there are women in this country who don’t know that women do not have the same rights as men. The ERA Education Project is making people (not just women) aware of this injustice. This class is also teaching us how to develop skills and become a leader. Being able to utilize these skills from a women’s study course is amazing and I believe that a women’s studies class like this should be mandatory around the world. It not only gives one the knowledge of the inequality, but the knowledge that we can do something about it.
Earlier this week, our group researched about the NoH8 campaign. The NoH8 is successful and has reached so many people. It promotes Marriage, Gender, and Human equality through education, advocacy, social media and visual protest. The Noh8 campaign came about thanks to the passing of Prop 8, which banned same sex marriages in California. The brilliant photojournalists Adam Bouska and Jeff Parshely are the founding fathers. Their visually compelling, silent messages are what sets them apart and raises the bar in their quest for human equality. I personally think that people should be allowed to do as they please, as long as they are not hurting themselves or the society in which they dwell.
GROUP 3/WEEK 1: Zury, Molly, Nico & Mercedes
Like anything foreign to us, Feminism and Activism can be scary, overwhelming, even something entirely unheard of, but as with many new things come change, eye-opening experiences, and even lifelong journeys. This is why, although a bit scared and confused, we embark on this journey to learn and to share women’s history- our history- with those who are willing to listen (and maybe those who aren’t).
Yes, we are currently students and are learning about Feminism and the ERA, but aren’t we all students in one way or another? Aren’t we all constantly learning something new, whether at school, at home, or in life? And believe it when we tell you that there is still much to be learned. It’s much more than the fact that women are not considered equal under the constitution, or the realization that we too perpetuate sexism (the effects of our socialized culture), but most importantly it’s about learning how to move forward towards a more egalitarian society- because that, in a few words, is what feminism is about. It is not about women hating men or men hating women, it’s not about who’s a bitch and who’s angry, it’s about being equal to one another and our actions reflecting that.
Like most things, in order to move forward we must look at and analyze our past, which in the case of feminism can be rather difficult; whether it be lack of interest, knowledge, history, or a patriarchal society that purposely debunks the movement for its benefit. Lucky for us there are many women like Zoe Nicholson, who continue to enlighten, encourage and educate us on the movement and the many ways in which to be a part of it.
Before listening to Zoe, we (like many others) believed that being a feminist, activist, or both, was not only difficult but also out of reach. Listening to her and reading books like Manifesta has taught us that change and commitment can come about in small ways, but should never be seen as anything less than activism.
One of the most important aspects of modern activism is that one doesn’t have to go into it turning your life upside down. In Grassroots, Baumgardener and Richards address this issue that many young activists have today. In their prologue they say, “We are advocating, quite simply, that if you wait until you’re perfect and free of conflicts, you will never change anything in the world” and to quote Zoe Nicholson, “You have to start with what is right in front of you.” This rings incredibly true, for the majority of people don’t know where to start or even how, forgetting that we have the freedom to choose what being an activist and a feminist is to us and that part of our journey still is to figure that out.