Reason to Believe

Image by Christoffer Borg Mattisson from Pixabay

Feminism is not about making women strong. We already are. It’s about believing in our strength and changing how the world perceives it. I’m not going out on a limb when I say that most US women friends in my age group are so indoctrinated in patriarchy that they are blind to the inequalities. However, our belief system will shift if we focus on what women have accomplished and what it took to get here. 

Millions of girls and women today are deprived of equality and autonomy, sometimes even life. Recently, hundreds of thousands of Iranian women took to the streets to protest a young woman’s death and their right to an education. These young people know that their society can’t progress without the active participation of women. With social media connecting us, Iranian patriarchy will eventually cave to reality; peaceful coexistence means men and women see each other as equals.  

The United States, the world’s most dominant economic and military power, is #17 in gender equality. That is changing. Our optimism and confidence are growing. Men are not the enemy of feminism; it’s the patriarchal system and the men and women supporting it. 

Small wins add up and create momentum that accelerates the speed of change. It’s not pie-in-sky wishful thinking. Change is happening.

The gender pay gap in soccer was never about performance. If so, women on the US National Women’s soccer team would have made twice what the players on the men’s team made. The US National Women’s sued the US Soccer Federation for pay discrimination and won. 

In the 1970s, orchestras around the country adopted “blind” auditions, a screen hides the musician trying out from the jury. By 1993, the percentage of female musicians in the highest-ranked orchestras in the US increased from 6 percent to 21 percent. Today, women in the New York Philharmonic Orchestra outnumber men.  

Women prioritize people’s needs and seek to protect social safety nets. Goodwill Ambassador Anne Hathaway emphasized how the world’s future progress depended on women’s participation and leadership. Women leaders are just as ambitious as men but face harsher headwinds for advancement. It makes us stronger. 

Heather Cox Richardson, a historian, writes, “The reelections of Peltola and Murkowski illustrate that we are, in many different ways, at a sea change moment in American history.” Mary Peltola’s election is a new record for the number of women in the US House of Representatives.

Richardson continues, “But the place women’s representation really changed in 2022 was in the number of women elected to govern their states. In 2018, just 16 female candidates ran for governorships. In 2022, there were 36 governor’s contests, and 25 women ran in them. Until now there have been only 45 women governors in our history, …” Twelve women will serve as governors in 2023, breaking the 2004 record when nine were in office. Twelve is more than nine, and nine is more than zero. We are moving in the right direction.

The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn a constitutional right guaranteed in Dobbs, was a line most women refused to accept. The government or the church does not make decisions about our bodies. We looked to women leaders like Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Even when she became a target of a kidnapping and murder plot, she remained steadfast in her commitment to protecting women’s rights.

Maya Angelou said, “Each time a woman stands up for herself, she stands up for all women.” Women’s status in society is an accurate measure of progress toward civility and peace. There is reason to believe.

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