“The cynicism of the situation was not left unnoticed and gradually came to be called the result of the “Soviet-ness” of the holiday. The widespread flower-present tradition came to be derided by both the left, who demanded it be stripped of its feminine innuendo, and the right, who insisted it was a Communist legacy Ukraine must discard after [the Revolution of Dignity].”
It makes sense that once the Soviet Union fell apart the people of Ukraine began their journey of decommunization; boycotting any holidays, traditions, and practices established within and during the time of the Soviet Union (1922-1991).
Now, I’d like to introduce my Canadian side—the side that today is trying to redefine International Women’s Day for myself, my peers, and, most of all, for my culture. The North American (specifically Torontonian) side of me has grown to truly value this day, just as I have grown to value the incredible women, men and allies in my life. For me, this day is no longer about 24 hours of flowers, congratulations, and drunken cheering. For me, this day is now about celebrating the achievements and continuing accomplishments of the amazing women in my family and around the world, who continue to fight for us to have the opportunity to choose what we will do.
Just as my view of this holiday has changed over the years, my personal definition of what stands behind this day has also changed as it is continuing to change on the spectrum of radicalism with every year for every culture, country, and family. This forces the question: What do I want out of feminism?
So, here’s my humble breakdown of what I want out of feminism:
So many women are silenced and ignored every day—their stories hushed, not believed, blamed as self-induced. There are also many women who are privileged to voice and express themselves every day, on any topic, within any group, on any platform. From this second perspective, needing to “provide a voice” seems a little outdated. Metaphorically speaking, everyone has a voice—whether it’s through sound, sign language, writing, or other. It’s still a voice. Every woman (every human) has a voice and a lot of the times, we hold a story, an experience and/or an opinion within. But, it’s only when our voices are provided with a platform that our stories, experiences, and opinions can emerge. We must admit that some of us have an advantage (whether that’s through our race, physical ability, sexuality, age, financial status, etc.) and we must utilize this advantage to build platforms for others, instead of admitting that others are underprivileged and then engage in work that essentially makes us feel good about being “the hero that saved them all.” So, let’s change the discussion from providing women with a voice to providing women with platforms where they can express their voices in all their loudness.
Intersectionality is the overlap of all categories that come together to form who we are, as well as the acknowledgement of all those factors without any identity erasure. Intersectional feminism per-say started with Black Women in the U.S., who noticed a gap in the feminist movements of the 19th and 20th centuries. Feminism at the time was what is now known as “white feminism”AKA, exclusionary of all women of colour and the issues that concerned them in addition to being women. Instead, today we have the idea of intersectionality, with which we acknowledge our differences in religious and spiritual beliefs, family values, career goals, culture, race, gender-identity, sexuality, fashion style, hair style (the list goes on) without marginalizing them. We remove the microaggressions rooted within the many definitions of feminism and replace them with micro-affirmations. If a woman wants to have five children or no children at all, let them be. If a movement wants to focus on the rights of women of colour alone, let them be. If a family puts their religion (the true meaning of it) first and then other concerns next, let them be. If a couple wants to break gender norms, let them be. If a little girl wants to help clean the kitchen while her sister helps fix up the car, let them be… As long as we move away from having our discussions rooted in hate, we’ll be able to recognize the multiple rows of train tracks that carry the trains of women initiatives, pleas, and achievements to that central intersection. The key is to stay aware of what’s going on around us and responsible for what we put out there. Today, we have no excuse for being ignorant and for acting on that ignorance.
If you haven’t caught the message yet, let me restate it: feminism, whether it’s the definition alone or the movement itself, is a flexible term that has one root. That root of it is simple: women empowerment. No one’s definition of what makes them a feminist or what feminism is, is better than another’s. How each woman chooses to be empowered (being liberal, being conservative or other) is up to her, including the right to not be persecuted, as long as she is not persecuting others. That said, constructive and respectful feedback is always welcome, without it we’ll become stagnant. We’re all in a transition phase that will never end. Certain topics make us feel exhausted and may even sometimes feel overtalked, or maybe sometimes we just want to roll our eyes and not say anything. But, it is important to take a deep breath and continue the conversation. And let it be a conversation, not a lecture.
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