There are over 3 billion women in the world. All of those people, with their different minds, bodies, and experiences, all fall under the identity of “woman.” We here at Vibrant know that there is no one way to be a woman (it’s why we talk about gender with care and inclusivity in mind). But no matter what other identities you hold that further define your womanhood, one thing always remains true: to be a strong woman, we must be stronger together.
The universality of being a woman is special and can connect us, but it’s important to recognize that every woman has a different story. As we celebrate our unity, we can also recognize and respect our differences. On International Women’s Day in this crazy year of 2017, we’re sharing a few ways to be an ally and friend to all the women around us.
- Say hello. You never know what kind of day the person standing on line at the grocery store is having. Share a smile, ask if they like the song that’s playing on the loudspeaker, compliment their shoes. Small moments of connection can go a long way.
- Speak up. Raise your hand if you’ve been interrupted right when you were about to share a big idea. OK, now stop raising your hand and say what you feel. Women have been told too often to be quiet and to stand on the sidelines. Let’s correct the misconception that “being polite” means “don’t say anything.” Use your voice, unapologetically.
- Be a good listener… When you’re done shouting your feelings and ideas from the mountaintops, take a seat and listen to what other brilliant women have to say. Be patient; speaking up can be hard. And don’t just hear them; listen.
- …and believe what they say. This is especially important for sexual assault survivors, who are so often accused of lying or exaggerating their stories. Believe what the women around you have to say, and work towards building a community of trust.
- Raise them up. Give your co-worker a shout-out for their awesome project idea. Tell your sister how much you admire her. Tweet at your feminist superhero and let them know how much you mean to them. Let’s give each other snaps to help us keep fighting the good fight.
- Don’t assume. You can’t tell much about a person just by looking at them, except maybe that you want to know where they got that awesome t-shirt. Let people tell you about themselves before you assume anything about their background or their identity.
- Step back to move forward. Make room for women whose voices are marginalized–even in a group of women. Use your platform to make room for others to share their stories, especially the ones you don’t hear as often. On your blog, in a meeting, in your event program, there are lots of opportunities to bring other women to the table.
- Take care of yourself. We are no help to each other if we cannot help ourselves. Be kind to your physical body and mental well-being. Eat a good meal, breathe deeply, masturbate (!), drink tea, go for a run–whatever it is that makes you feel like a superhero. Then go back to being just that.
- Eliminate “right” (unless you’re talking about “rights.”) There is no right way to be a woman. Take everything you think about the “right” way for a woman to dress, to speak, to do her hair, to wear makeup (or not), to go out at night, to eat, to have sex. Now crumple it up and throw it away forever. There’s no time for that when we’re still fighting for equality.
Old women, young women, women of color, white women, queer women, straight women, trans women, cis women: we here at Vibrant see you, hear you, and are with you. We hope that Vibrant is a place where you can be unapologetically yourself today and every day.