Feminism Means Equality and Is For Everyone: 3 Lessons On Feminism

Entering the 4th annual She’s the First Leadership Summit on July 31st, I believed that I strongly identified as a feminist. In fact, I considered myself a rather active one, especially considering that I am leading the charge with Camions of Care, a global initiative being taken to empower women and girls through tackling an uncomfortable topic, and clubs like Equality Enforcers pushing down boundaries with gender equality. However, before the speakers I heard talk today at the STF Summit, I realized I had not examined the feminist movement as a whole just yet. 

The first panel of the day covered the topic of diversity in the feminist movement, and engaged three amazing speakers: Michelle Tan (editor in chief of Seventeen Magazine), Jonathan Kalin (Founder of Party with Consent), and Renée Joslyn (Director of Girls and Women Integration at the Clinton Global Initiative). I immediately connected with the three speakers with their first round of answers as they proceeded to describe how each of their mothers were their main inspiration when it came to their work promoting gender equality. As each of them elaborated on their own personal relationships with their mothers, for one of the first times in my life, I felt homesick and missed my own mom currently hiking on the other side of the country in Portland, Oregon. My mother, who has sacrificed so much to always insure that my sisters and I have access to quality education and healthy eating habits, and reflects the perfect example of a strong and independent individual for me, has and will always be one of my greatest role models. 

As an avid lover of dialogue, instead of taking bullet-pointed notes today, I instead wrote down my favorite quotes from the speaker panels today and have organized them below into subsections on important takeaways from today’s Summit activities: 

1. Feminism is really just a simple synonym for GENDER EQUALITY

“Anything that happens in the world should occur surrounding the frame of equality.” -Renée

“Men are promoted for potential. Women are promoted after proving their merit. Women have to prove that we can do it, and we have done it. We have to get to a place where women are recognized for their potential too, because there is limitless potential.” -Renée

“Paternity leave is a perfectly tangible result of this movement. Everyone should play an equal role at home and in the work place.” -Michelle

“Feminism is basically equality. But how we get to that equality is really just a bout a mindset.” -Jonathan

2. Making the movement more inclusive, turning it global

“Feminism for me was always about being a strong woman, but also about being inclusive.” -Michelle

“The idea of feminism is a privilege that we have in America. Many girls around the world don’t even have the choice on when or if they will get married. We have to be the voice of our government to push their government to improve human rights.” -Renée

“The most exciting thing about the feminist movement is that it is not just for women, but it is about everyone.” -Michelle

3. Men in the movement

“When people said ‘be tough,’ everything about ‘toughness’ came back to my mom. So, the aspects of hyper masculinity of telling stories of objectifying women and all, really just stood as a weakness to me.” -Jonathan

“As a man, it is never my role to enforce what a woman’s experience is for them. For me, it has always been about simply presenting the information…I see men’s role as engaging conversations with their male peers. It is about the conversations internally, ‘what is it about myself and what am I thinking in doing to allow this to happen?’” -Jonathan

“Liberation is not about being the pinnacle man, liberation is about recognizing that masculinity is a social construct.” -Jonathan

Overall, my experience at the STF Summit was truly empowering, and I am going to leave you with two more quotes to empower you as you join the fight towards gender equality: 

“This (gender equality) will not happen by itself, we have to work towards that change” -John Wanda, Founder of the Arlington Academy of Hope in Uganda

“We share what we are striving for and our goals and vision, but ultimately how it happens is all up to all of you.” -Tammy Tibbetts, Founder and President of She’s The Firs