Perpetual, Imperfect, Intersectional Feminism: Carrying Feminism in our Daily Lives

Musings

People wearing red, walking out/striking/protesting, changing their Facebook profile picture to the Women’s March rectangle: all of these actions have been taken for today, March 8th, A Day Without Woman (aka International Woman’s Day).

But what does this all mean? 

Today we have come together to celebrate feminism. Specifically, today we voice what feminism means to us and why we need it.

A year ago, however, this day meant something a little different for me: it was a day to be proud of being a woman. While I still believe 100% in the beauty of all women, I also have come to realize that “feminist” is not just a title, but a constant state of being. A movement that has life and breath. 

Feminism is a call to change. It is something we must carry in our lives not just today, but every single day. We have to voice our belief in equal rights. We must practice intersectionality. And we must be willing to make mistakes AND LEARN from them.

I guess a good way to put it is “perpetual, imperfect feminist.”

Perpetual: continuously, not stopping

Imperfect: not perfect, never perfect, yet always striving for improvement. 

Feminist: the belief in equitability, the practice of equitability, and a part of a movement bigger than myself.

Here are some everyday ways that can help us carry the Feminist force beyond today:

Be kind. Celebrate fellow women and their accomplishments. Gossip is poisonous and a cheap way to make conversation. If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say it. Giving kindness is a small gift that leaves a big impact. 

Eliminate derogatory terms from your vocabulary: Slut. B*tch. Whore. Many people use this word as a “joke” with friends, but is it really funny to call your friend something that has historically been used by men to degrade women? 

Know when to speak up- and when to listen. We are all born under varying circumstances and have different experiences, from race to gender to sexuality to mental/physical disability to economic status (etc.) check your privilege and be active on causes that not only affect you, but others as well (see point #4)

Follow organizations such as ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union), change.org, and Women’s March on social media to stay informed about current events. A personal favorite website of mine is called http://everydayfeminism.com, which features so many amazing articles, videos, and comics on social issues. 
Of course, there are so many more things we can do to help one another, but these are just a few ways that helped get me started on my personal journey with feminism- maybe they will help you too! 

I vow to speak up more and be a better listener for issues that don’t directly affect me, but largely impact marginalized groups.

I vow to not apologize/humble myself for my accomplishments, my opinions, and my rights as a woman.

I vow to learn more about my Chinese-Puerto Rican heritage and love being biracial.

We will never be perfect, but that doesn’t mean we can’t strive to become a more accepting, empowered, and equitable human race. ❤ 

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When We Generalize

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Kelly Osbourne recently made headlines when she made a racial slur about Donald Trump wanting to deport all illegal immigrants, saying, “If you kick every Latino out of this country, then who is going to be cleaning your toilets, Donald Trump?” This really was upsetting to hear, especially as a Latina myself.

I, personally, have never been embarrassed by my China-Latina background. I am very proud of it, in fact. But what really bothers me is the fact that people generalize my Latina side as being Mexican. And to those people, I have a few things to say:
1. I am not Mexican, I am Puerto Rican
2. They are not the same thing. Puerto Rico once was a Spanish colony and the Taino were the native group of the island. Mexico was also colonized by Spanish people, but their indigenous group were the Mayans and Aztecs. So no, you cannot tell me that I am “technically Mexican”. Period.

Generalizations like these start to slip into regular conversations and even become jokes. Take the following map, for example:

Image from Yanko Tsetkov’s Atlas of Prejudice

The author of this illustration uses these stereotypes to show how many of us young (and even adult!) Americans universalize the world around us. Take Mexico, for example (in the above image): “Housekeeping”. It’s incredibly insulting. You know, not all Latinos are housekeepers. Many are doctors, lawyers, politicians, and business owners. The point is that these generalizations are becoming much more common in conversation, and that we, especially teens, need to speak up when we hear them. Because Hispanics aren’t all Mexican, housekeepers, and aren’t born to clean America’s toilets.