Welcome to Friday! And welcome to feminism, if that's new for you. Not that I'm the voice or authority on feminism, but, you know, I am a lady, and I'm a feminist because I believe women should have the same rights as men, should be paid the same as men, should have the right to not have our bodies legislated, should be free to live healthy, robust lives free of sexual discrimination and should be free to define ourselves and make basic choices on our own terms. Sounds pretty simple, except that it's really not (as just about any woman can tell you.)
Also, I shaved my legs this morning and have about seven lipsticks in my bag at all times, so let's cross those tired old stereotypes off the feminist misconceptions list right now.
I'm also a pop music and pop culture writer, so I'm happy to be bringing you both Friday (well, I wasn't responsible for Friday) and feminism in a new little feature I'm calling Feminist Fridays, in which we look back at the week in feminism. Here are six feminist moments to celebrate and keep talking about.
1.) Emma Watson's UN Speech
First of all, HEY GURL, Emma Watson. On Sunday, September 21, Emma Watson stood up in front of the entire UN (she's a Goodwill Ambassador) and made an earnest, eloquent appeal to the international conclave and YouTube-viewing public to take responsibility to end gender-based discrimination and inequality. The actress also used the platform to launch HeForShe, a campaign that seeks to involve men in the fight for women's rights.
Of course, cue the think pieces and knee-jerk backlashes. Was it perfect? Well, you're certainly entitled to think it wasn't (but, like, if you could've invented Facebook, you would've invented Facebook), though I find it difficult to find fault in an articulate young woman attempting to raise awareness about gender inequality at a time when young girls are still disappearing from their schools in Nigeria, and, here in the United States, the federal government is investigating close to 80 college campuses for mishandling sexual assault complaints -- now feels like a pretty legitimate time to have this conversation. (Also, what is perfect?) We're quick to criticize celebrities for not making a social impact and instead using their platform and reach to, say, hawk fake eyelashes.
So, let's celebrate Emma Watson: It's a massively important dialogue to begin having on an international level and the logical extension of and long-read complement to Beyonce's heroic, albeit brief, feminist declaration at the VMAs. But moreover, let's celebrate the beginning (or continuation, in many of your cases) of an honest, positive discussion about ending gender bias in our lives.
Oh, and Harry Styles? We see you.
2.) New York Magazine's Coverage Of Emma Sulkowicz And The College Campus Rape Crisis Activists
Please take the time to read New York magazine's cover story on Columbia University's Emma Sulkowicz who has refused to have her school administration's mishandling of the complaint she filed after being raped by a student stop her from speaking out on behalf of the other women who filed similar reports, as well as women across the country who attend (and pay) universities where they've been assaulted and have seen their university administrators react with an utter lack of concern.
Sulkowicz filed a Title IX complaint against Columbia and is carrying a mattress around with her at all times on campus. In doing so, she sends a clear message to the school community that allowing her attacker to remain on school grounds is dangerous and unacceptable -- and that she refuses to stay silent.
You'll also learn about Annie Clark and Andrea Pino, two activists who were raped at universities in North Carolina and turned UNC's indifference into their life's work -- helping and empowering female students across the country speak out about safety and hold schools accountable for protecting their female students. Check out EndRapeOnCampus.org to find out more about their work.
3.) Women In Sports
NPR had an interesting report on ESPN raising the profile and visibility of female sportswriters -- Jane MacManus and Katie Nolan, specifically. It's rather sad that female sports experts are getting their due on a national level only after NFL commissioner Roger Goodell's come under fire in the wake of the Ray Rice assault case and the child abuse charges against Adrian Peterson, but the lack of gender and ethnic diversity in those investigations is part of the reason we're having these discussions in the first place.
4.) Lena Dunham's #AskLena Series
Lena Dunham released a series of YouTube videos to promote her upcoming book, "Not That Kind Of Girl." In the videos, she answers fan questions in her whimsical fake office, with her real dog, and the topics themselves reflect the diversity of feminist dialogue, feminist humor (yes, you guys -- many feminists are FUNNY!) and a refreshing lack of judgement, three things I love about feminism. I've been quoting "I don't care if you think I'm fat" all week.
5.) Roxane Gay's "Bad Feminist"
I had the absolute pleasure of attending author Roxane Gay's "Bad Feminist" book reading and Q&A with Anna Holmes at Book Court in Brooklyn. Her book made The New York Times Best Seller list, and when I met her, I nerded out like Mary Catherine Gallagher because she's one of the smartest, funniest, most insightful and fair writers writing about women's issues today. (There are many, and many are excellent, but they broke the mold when they made Roxane.) It's only due to some miracle I'll only understand at a later date that I didn't stick my hands into my pits and sniff them right then and there in public.
6.) Joseph Gordon-Levitt's Feminism Video
Joseph Gordon-Levitt made a video discussing feminism, and it was a little 101 and rudimentary, and yes, you can definitely say, "why should I care about a rich white guy talking about feminism." Well, maybe you shouldn't, BUT, the alternative is a rich white guy giving no f--ks about feminism at all, so I, for one, applaud him for attempting to open his mind and join the conversation.
Oh, while I have you here (are you still there? Awesome!), please check out "It's On Us" -- the movement to end sexual assault on campus.