As you scrolled through social media Thursday, you probably noticed a post here and there about someone’s mother, sister or best friend. The post likely acknowledged their strength, beauty or any of their characteristics.
That's because March 8 marked International Women’s Day. Although many discovered this holiday the day of, the celebration dates back to 1908 with the Women’s Labour Movement. Back then, 15,000 women marched through the streets of New York City demanding shorter working hours, higher wages and the right to vote. One year later, the day was established as a national holiday and declared an international holiday a few years after.
International Women’s Day is rooted in a movement for women’s rights. Although the title declares itself to be all-inclusive, women of color continuously accuse feminist movements of leaving them out. When women try to rectify the situation and ask how to be better inclusive of women of color in feminist movements, they fail to realize they are asking the wrong question.
Feminism for women of color is more complex because there are more intersections and they face different situations of gender oppression due to their race. Rather than focusing on inclusivity, women should be focusing on centering the movements on all types of women. Women of color should not be included as an afterthought but integrated into the conversation from the very beginning.
In addition to International Women’s Day, the recent #MeToo movement has allowed women all across the spectrum to unite. The #MeToo movement started in an effort to create solidarity among young women against sexual assault. Despite the increased unity, women of color are still being blindsided.
Women of color must fight twice as hard for their rights because of the extra obstacles they face due to race and can be left behind. Time magazine published an issue on the #MeToo movement and displayed some of its “silence breakers” on the cover but left out their black founder, Tarana Burke. Burke founded the campaign 10 years ago, but it did not go viral until Alyssa Milano tweeted about it recently.
Women of color have been facing exclusion from feminism for years. It is not a new issue. The earliest feminist movements acknowledged by society did not include women of color in the slightest. The Suffrage Movement fought for women’s right to vote but did not try to include women of color; this led to Sojourner Truth to take the podium and give her famous “Ain’t I a Woman” speech. Truth’s speech reminded the women of the Suffrage Movement to save her a seat at the table and to not exclude black women from their fight for equal rights. Her words still resonate today and inspire women of color to remain steadfast in their fight for gender equality. Women of color are fundamental to feminism and have been fighting for women’s values before society even conceptualized feminism.
Many women are still wary to declare themselves feminists and hold back in fear of a loaded word. They fear being associated with radical actions such as burning your bra or being labeled a “man hater.” Regardless of race, to declare yourself a feminist takes courage and perseverance. Many people still believe in traditional gender roles, and see nothing wrong with gender dynamics as they now are. Yet feminist movements have made great strides and have started the conversation for gender equality. But, there is still more work to be done. Feminism is a movement started by women, for women, and all women should feel equally included.
Madisyn Jones is a UF accounting sophomore. Her column focuses on black culture.