Story by Opinion Editor Grace VanHaitsma
As many people know, March is Women’s History Month, with International Women’s Day falling on the 8th. Every year, I hear some kind of criticism from men, or even women, saying “We don’t need a Women’s History Month anymore,” or “How come men don’t get a history month?” These questions can get exhausting, especially as a woman. I believe that this month is incredibly necessary, and here is why.
Misogyny unfortunately still exists, and it always will. I experience forms of sexism and misogyny almost every day, even if it’s not directed towards me personally. In high school, I got dress-coded for wearing leggings with a top that didn’t completely cover my butt. I was told by a female teacher that it was “inappropriate,” that my body was inherently sexual by just existing. I have been cat called, multiple times. I have heard men talking at Wege about women in a disparaging way. I have seen my women peers be slut-shamed, fat-shamed, called a prude or “innocent” for just simply existing as women in society.
There are large scale, systemic issues that women face today, such as the pay gap, domestic violence and sexual assault, workplace harassment, etc. Part of Women’s History Month is addressing these struggles that women have historically faced and had to overcome time and time again. However, a part of Women’s History Month that is often overlooked is the joy of being a woman. I love being a woman, in the stereotypical ways of looking at gender and the non-stereotypical. While gender is a social construct, there can still be power in this construction and things that are culturally considered “feminine.” I love the joy of getting ready for a dance with my friends, spending hours on hair and makeup and the perfect outfit. I love shopping, more than almost anything. Part of feminism, to me, is reclaiming these parts of femininity that we have been taught are shallow or vapid. There is nothing wrong with loving clothes and the color pink, just like there’s nothing wrong with playing sports and not caring about your outfit. Often, these things can exist simultaneously as well.
Women are multi-dimensional beings who are not one thing; they are everything and anything they want to be. We need Women’s History Month to celebrate the women and women-aligned people that came before us, and the ones that will come after us. We need Women’s History Month to celebrate the women we are. To spread the message that femininity is inclusive, and joyful, and powerful. I am a woman. That is worth celebrating, all year round.