International Women’s Day means a lot to me. It is a reminder that we have a day to celebrate the amazing women who have given their lives to making our world a better place. I have had some great women in my life that without them I don’t know where I would be today. At the same time I may be a very different individual if I had not been exposed to domestic violence for the formative years of my life. Either way here I sit, drinking coffee and wondering how the women who had fought for their right to vote, the freedom of their countries, for the right to an education and equality would think about our progress and back steps. I wonder what drove them, what propelled them forward. I wonder what hard ships they endured that may have driven them to be determined and resilient.
I am who I am today because of the love and encouragement I received from the women and few men in my life. I am who I am in-spite of the violence I endured…it actually led me to go into working with domestic violence survivors. I have dedicated my life to learning more about women’s issues and feminism as a result of my youth. I have also come to appreciate the little victories in my life. I remember what I have overcome and where I have come from but I also look at it all and say…we still have a long ways to go.
There is this one point in time that I remember being called a femi-nazi and I laughed then as I do now at the ignorance of people to mistake women’s progress as a fascist act. I don’t want to overload anyone with facts but I do want to point out that women are still waiting for equality, education and access to healthcare around the world. Women are bought and sold and victimized more often than men, this is a fact. At night when I walk anywhere I am hyper aware of any male that approaches me, it is a survival instinct because I know the stats for rape and sexual assault on women. As a bartender I am reminded of my sexuality when men tell me to smile or limit me based on my gender, talk down to me because they think I am simple minded. So I guess if these things make me a femi-nazi then label me.
I think it makes me a more empathetic person and more aware of the challenges that people face. I know that we all come from different places, experiences and that our struggles are not easily defined because sometimes they can not be measured. If you want to understand the struggles of women, walk in their shoes. What defines us though is how we react in the face of adversity and how we reach out to help those around us up. When women and men are on equal ground, we all win.
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