By Pauline Francez Gordula
New York City is hailed as a melting pot: a city full of people from all walks of life congregate to visit its glory or to embark on a new journey. Despite being one of the most diverse cities in the United States, the Big Apple still falls prey to school segregation. Why is that?
In 1951, Linda Brown, a third grader from Topeka, Kansas, was denied admissions by an all-white elementary school due to racial segregation. She had to cross railroad tracks and take a bus to get to her school, despite living only blocks away. As a result, her father Oliver Brown brought this case to the Supreme Court, challenging the racial segregation that pervaded the education system. By 1954, the Supreme Court ruled that school segregation in public schools violated the fourteenth amendment, and is therefore unconstitutional. This case is famously known as Brown v. Board of Education.
The New York City Department of Education is the nation’s largest public school system. It is home to more than 1,800 schools and 1 million students. According to The Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools report titled Separate and Unequal: A Comparison of Student Outcomes in New York City’s Most and Least Diverse Schools, only 100 of those schools are categorized as most diverse while almost 850 schools are the least diverse. The same study reports, “Over 200 of the city’s least diverse schools were in Brooklyn, 68 were in Queens, 164 were in Manhattan, 332 in the Bronx, and 51 were in Staten Island. Queens had the highest number of the most diverse schools (55), followed by Brooklyn (24).” If Brown v. Board deemed school segregation as illegal, then why are most NYC public schools labeled as least diverse?
New York City neighborhoods are segregated. White families are no stranger to the “white flight”, a process of moving away from diversifying neighborhoods. Some bankers also practice “redlining” wherein bankers deny loans and mortgages to minority families who live in at-risk neighborhoods. Since schools are funded by property taxes, students who live in low-income neighborhoods will be jeopardized.
Prior to coming to the United States, I was under the impression that the American school system is the sole definition of perfection. Two months before I started freshman year, I was zoned to my current school. I wish I was able to choose what school I wanted to go to, but seats were very limited at that time. A few months into my freshman year, I got accepted into a college preparatory program. My program debunked my presumption: the American school system, specifically the New York City public school system, is far from perfect. Minorities have to work twice as hard as their white peers to get into a good school. The achievement gap is still as pronounced as ever.
The pandemic adversely impacted the fate of New York City public schools. Schools have experienced budget cuts, leading to loss of classes and opportunities for students. Given the fact that the New York City education system still has a long way to go, how will the future look like for students learning virtually, especially the ones from low-income backgrounds?
By: Kiana Maria
Is a Zoom call really the new curtain call? COVID-19 came as a huge shock to all of us both in this country and around the world. Many people lost their jobs, family members, and a lot of graduates lost out on key moments in their lives. One group of people that tend to get overlooked, and have definitely been affected by the pandemic at the highest level are performers and those who work behind the scenes of events. For instance, in early March, Broadway shut down due to the virus’s beginning steps in this country. It has been seven months, and Broadway doesn’t plan on reopening until next year. Amy Elizabeth Bravo, a woman in the wardrobe department for a Tony Award-winning Musical, shed light on how the pandemic will affect her career moving forward. Developing Artists gives spaces for young artists to speak their truth, however, due to the pandemic, many of their shows have been put on hold. Young performers have been affected by closures and halts on many productions of both other people and their own. The pandemic may have taken the audience away from theatres, but it could never take away the theatre from an audience.
Written and composed by Matt Stone, Trey Parker, and Robert Lopez, two of which are creators of South Park, The Book Of Mormon has become a Broadway icon. The musical has gone to win 9 Tony Awards, and so many more prestigious awards. Not only are the actors bringing this story to life, but the people behind the scenes bring the flair to the outfits and makeup. Amy Elizabeth Bravo works in the wardrobe department of The Book Of Mormon and truly admires her job. COVID-19 not only changed her way of life but the way she will continue her career in the future. She is a part of the wardrobe union, called IATSE Local 764, and has been for about five years. She stated what her job requires her to do such as doing repairs on costumes and steaming outfits. She stated, “I am a day worker from Wednesday through Friday, which means I come into work at noon to make sure the costumes are ready for the show at 7 or 8 pm depending on the night.” … “and check them over for repairs. If the repair is small, like a button popped off, I'm responsible for fixing it.” … “On Saturday and Sunday, I work as the evening stitcher.” She has a very high responsibility of making sure that the actors look their best on stage. She mentioned how her job somewhat exemplifies one of an ‘understudy.’ She further explained by stating, “Since I'm there for part of the night show, I take care of any emergency repairs that may come in. Most importantly though, I'm a swing. It's like an understudy.” … “When a dresser takes a vacation or calls out sick, I get the call to come to fill in for them...” Without the work of people like Amy, the audience may realize if a button is missing, or a stitch has come undone. The behind the scenes members kind of represent a Jenga stack, without the base, (being the wardrobe department), there really is no story.
Having worked for Broadway is no easy task, to begin with, but finding out that you are not allowed to work, and the return to work date hasn’t been figured out is even more challenging. For Amy Elizabeth Bravo, it is evident that working behind the scenes wasn’t just about work, her job made her feel like she was working with family. She stated, “...I spend the majority of my time at work with my coworkers, so I miss them a lot. The Book of Mormon is a satire, so all of the actors I work with are brilliantly funny. I miss laughing with them. One of my fellow dressers is my best friend, so I miss seeing her every day. I am friends with so many of my coworkers: we've broken bread together, met each other's families, vacationed together - losing that is just as bad as me losing my paycheck.” Due to COVID-19, about 22 million jobs were lost. Many people are still recovering from the loss, and it has been super hard for people to get back on their feet.
One of the hardest pills to swallow is that theatre, including Broadway, was the first to close, and will most likely be the last to reopen. When putting it into her perspective Amy Elizabeth Bravo explained what she believed work would be like once Broadway reopened. She stated that Broadway probably won’t reopen until mask mandates aren’t necessary, and a vaccine is widely available because socially distancing in theatres will be difficult. She also spoke about the need for a ventilation upgrade. In all honesty, it is understandable why the league doesn’t want to reopen. Safety is a huge concern, but it’s mind-boggling how challenging the return will be. When asked about some challenges for her department in general, she stated, “Bite lights will probably go the way of the dinosaur. (Bite lights are little flashlights that dressers operate with our mouths by biting down so that we can have both hands free and see what we're doing in the wings.)” She also described that pre-pandemic she saw this as a gross tool, so she decided to use a reading light that clipped to the side of her glasses. Speaking with Amy Elizabeth Bravo brought forth a lot of valuable information and even some heartfelt truth which is necessary in these times. The Book Of Mormon plans to return in November of 2021.
Developing Artists is a non-profit organization that was founded in 1999. Their mission includes providing a safe space for artists or, ARTivists, to both perform, and take part in classes. The young artists have shown so many people that teenagers are more than what the media displays them as. Due to the ongoing pandemic, the organization has put performances on hold, however, it has not stopped its teaching and trying to keep students together. Jill DeArmon is the Artistic Director of Developing Artists, and in speaking with her, she made sure to state that the answers she was giving were coming from her, and her alone. She has done so much for those amazing young adults and knew the Coronavirus would not stop her mission of helping these ARTivists grow. When asked about how teaching classes has gone, she stated, “There has been an incredible learning curve. Zoom fatigue is real. Watching people try to connect through the screen and not through their breath has been incredibly challenging. Once we got in the groove, we can’t do what we always do and put it on zoom, but we can make a new curriculum and only a curriculum that can only be done on zoom.” They have their groove going on. Including little segments that are called HISTORY TIME, where a performer teaches others about the history of playwrights/and or other famous performers. Another alternative that they have done is, “We sent all our students ring lights and they can all record sound better.”
She stated that teaching in person, the vibe is different because everyone has their phones and computers away, and when students are on a Zoom call, they’re bound to be on their phones and they require their computer to even do the work. She even mentioned how the energy of just in-person teaching disappears once you’re on a Zoom call. She did however say that there are some lessons you can’t do in the classroom, that you can only do on Zoom, as mentioned previously. She described one lesson to be one where students are asked to grab an item from their room that has a special meaning to them, and then display it to the class. After they establish the feeling the object gives them, they have to use those feelings when they go back to performing.
To keep students united, she has continued, with the help of others, to assign music videos for the students. One recent collaboration they did was with NYC Votes, and they tried to come up with a solution to the low youth voter registration percent. Developing Artists will also be giving their students instruments that don’t play along with music lessons, so that when they do return to performing they can play that instrument, in the new semester. As a class, they have also started viewing parties, since they make art out of things that happen around the world, most recently, they watched the debate together through Zoom.
Rebel Verses is a show held by Developing Artists every year at the Vineyard Theatre. This year, it was supposed to happen, and after they were supposed to get on a bus and travel to Pennsylvania to continue performing the show. However, due to the pandemic that has been on hold. Ms. DeArmon stated her personal experience helping coordinate the show, and how it feels like home to her. She stated, “It’s like the only place I feel hopeful. My favorite time of year is Rebel Verses because it’s like no matter what is going, no matter how sick someone is, or who our president is, all of it gets washed away and these incredible, energetic teenagers come into a space together. I think it’s like getting a B-12 shot for adults.” She described the idea of seeing amazing teen artists as, “light, hope, and powerful.” She also stated, “If I could paint a picture of what I’d like for teenagers to be with each other, and everyone else, it would be Rebel Verses.” Rebel Verses is an amazing show with performances from young artists from New Jersey, New York, and even Pennsylvania.
Jill DeArmon is dedicated to the arts, so it is evident that the closure of performing affected the way she lives and works. Despite the setbacks of this year, she is very much looking forward to the future of theatre. She explained that she feels that theatre should not be a necessity, but a desire. She believes that in the far future, there should come a time where theatre isn’t political, and it has to have a lesson. She explained that in her childhood it felt like an escape, and she hopes one day it can return to the whimsical Disney movie-like vibe it once had. Jill DeArmon still teaches classes, and a new semester is beginning soon. To check out more on Developing Artists, visit their website: https://www.developingartists.org/
Amaya Montanez and Layla Ferreiro have been friends for many years. Both are amazing poets and performers. Amaya attends the Mason Gross School of the Arts for Acting at Rutgers University. Layla goes to The New School in New York. Both are a part of Developing Artists and have participated in Rebel Verses. Layla has been a part of Developing Artists for about two years. When hearing that Rebel Verses would be canceled, Amaya stated, “ It was heartbreaking in so many ways. Thankfully we worked on other projects that you can check out on Developing Artists’ website. But once again, there was this longing to be with my company, to move in the same space as them, to feel the air of Vineyard Theater and the energy left behind by every person who had left part of their souls on that stage. Part of my soul is already on that stage and I have so much left to leave behind...” Rebel Verses means a lot to Developing Artists and the audience. Rebel Verses has been put off for a while due to the pandemic. Layla stated that their favorite part of being a part of Developing Artists is being able to work with such creative people. Layla said that Developing Artists is always a great place to focus on making new work and just being creative.
As a performer, it is no secret that things aren’t how they used to be. Amaya described the wait of performing again as ‘torturous’ further stating, “I’ve been having this massive feeling of longing every since March. There are so many things happening in the world that make me want to create and of course, I still can but there is still this disconnect I feel through videos, posting poems, or zoom shows. There is a special connection and energy felt when being in the same room that cannot exist right now…” Not being able to do what you love is hard, it’s unimaginable how performers are feeling. Layla misses “being around cast members and maintaining those relationships... I love being around creative people and making stuff together and obviously, it’s great to show an audience, but the development is always my favorite.” When you’re working with such talented people, who wouldn’t miss it.
Performing arts is crucial to any culture. Without dance, music, and spoken word, there is no doubt that the environment would be different. One remarkable performer is sixteen-year-old Katrina Rada. She is a talented singer and actress. Her favorite part about performing with others is, “...being able to form bonds and friendship with them. We’re all doing the thing we love and the energy we have when we are with each other is immaculate.” Along with many other performers, Katrina and her peers have been working both virtually and a few with a hybrid schedule. Katrina is not only a performer herself, but she is also a huge fan of Broadway. The closure of Broadway hit home for Katrina. She stated, “The closing of Broadway had been heartbreaking. I just love watching the show and being able to meet the cast at the stage door afterward. It’s crazy that I haven’t watched a musical in months which is so sad.” Katrina along with millions of people who miss Broadway dearly can’t wait for its comeback.
Broadway and performances, in general, will truly be missed. Despite the agonizing pain of waiting, and the hardships of people who do work for the league, the comeback will undoubtedly be one to see. Our world is in desperate need of art, music, dance, and creativity. 2020 may have been unruly, however, things will hopefully be better next year when many shows plan on coming back. After all, the Earth without art is just eh.
The interviews in the article were conducted via email and Zoom by Kiana Maria.
By: Danielle Dungca
November 3. On this day, the people of the United States voted in an effort to make a change to the country. With Joe Biden winning the election and becoming the Presidential-Elect, the talk is circulating around the US. However, there is more to the story.
Accompanying the presidential race are propositions, which are legislations that appear on the ballot for voters to either approve or disapprove of. Each state has their own list of propositions placed on the ballot. This article will give a breakdown of those proposed by the California government, as well as the outcomes of voting yes. This year, there are a total of 12:
Proposition 14 deals with money. By voting yes, $5.5 billion state bonds will be authorized to fund stem and medical research. The money given will be able to be put into training, construction, administrative costs, and more. The legislation will help to develop further treatments for life threatening diseases such as Cancer, Alziehmer’s, Heart Disease, Parkinson’s, Kidney Disease, and more. In addition, voting yes on the law will increase patient access and affordability.
Proposition 15 also deals with money. To give a synopsis of this legislation, it increases public school, community college, and local government service funding. Voting yes on Prop. 15 will raise taxes on commercial properties worth $3 million and more. The increased amount of money will help to provide for the spaces promised in the law. Proposition 15 will result in a more fair and balanced tax reform, in which small business taxes are cut, protection for homeowners and renters is provided, and nurses and teachers are supported more.
To change subjects, this is a legislation dedicated to affirmative action. The affirmation of Prop. 16 will directly repeal Proposition 209 passed in 1996. To put into simpler terms, Prop 16 will allow diversity to be a factor in public employment, education, and contracting decisions. Diversity can be classified as race, sex, color, ethnicity, national origin, and more. It is believed that voting yes on this legislation will result in an expansion of equal opportunity for all Californians. This will then increase the people’s exposure to fair wages and better jobs.
Prop. 17 can be associated with suffrage. By voting yes, those who have convicted of felonies that are on parole will be restored their right to vote. Of course, the people in question would have to meet the voting requirements, such as being at least 18, a resident of California, and a citizen of the U.S. An argument that can be made by those fighting for the legislation is based off of a recent study which states that citizens who have completed their prison term and have regained the right to vote were less likely to commit crimes in the future.
Just like Proposition 17, Proposition 18 relates to suffrage. Ironically, this legislation is based on the voting age, 18. By voting yes, people who are 17 that are turning 18 by the time of the general election will be able to vote in the primary election. This proposition is meant to boost youth engagement and promote long lasting participants in political activities.
Going back to the beginning, Proposition 19 relates to money. More specifically, this is dedicated to taxes. Voting yes on Prop. 19 will allow residents who are over the age of 55, disabled, or natural disaster victims to be able to inherit property tax savings when they move. This legislation is only applicable to spaces that are used as primary living homes or farms.
To introduce a new category, Proposition 20 is based on law enforcement. This proposition will restrict parole for offenses that have been considered to be non-violent and authorizes felony sentences for certain offenses that are more classifiable as misdemeanors. By voting yes, specific people’s access to parole programs will be limited depending on the offense they have been accounted for.
Housing is the topic of Proposition 21. In summary, Prop. 21 gives local governments more power to use rent control on residential property that is 15 years or older. Though it is quite clear at this point, voting yes on this legislation will make it state law to allow cities and counties to apply more rent restrictions.
Shifting the topic even more, Prop. 22 is related to business. Specifically, the business of app-based drivers such as those belonging to Uber and Lyft. By voting yes, these drivers will be recognized as independent contractors rather than employees. They will be able to work when, where, and how ever much they want to. However, they will not be given the standard benefits and protections that employees would be given.
Proposition 23 is associated with healthcare. Specifically, Prop. 23 is dedicated to Kidney Dialysis clinics. By voting yes, you are agreeing to the requirement of a physician at the facility of Dialysis clinics as well as consent from the government for them to close. It is believed that this legislation will combat poor hygiene associated with the clinics by requiring reports of infections.
Going back to the topic of Prop. 22, Proposition 24 is about business and their dealings with personal information. Voting yes on Prop. 24 will allow people to do several things. For example, they will be able to prevent businesses from sharing personal information, correct false information, and limit their use of “sensitive personal information”. Personal information includes, geolocation, race, ethnicity, health information, and much more.
Lastly, Proposition 25 is about trials. Voting yes will approve of the replacement of money bail with a system based on public safety and flight risk. Now, this may be a little confusing. Basically, people in question would not be allowed to pay bail to be released from prior to their trial. Instead, they would either be released automatically or evaluated based on their risk of committing another crime.
Whether you agree or disagree with the listed propositions, it is important to go out and vote! Every single vote matters. It is important to remember that each state has their own list of propositions on the ballot. These specific ones belong to the state of California, if you are not a resident of the state, look up the ones valid to you!
By: Bonne Leung
Every year on November 19th, men from all around the world get out of bed, throw the curtains open wide, and find that the air is crisper and life is rosier. The birds sing and even the sun smiles, all for International Men’s Day.
While you may find that description hyperbolic to say the least, you would be surprised how many truly do feel that strongly towards the international celebration. Founded by Dr. Jerome Teelucksingh, a history lecturer at University of West Indies, the demand for an ‘IMD’ has existed since its equivalent of International Women’s Day (IWD) was inaugurated in 1909. So in 1992, the male equivalent was inaugurated by Thomas Oaster, though it was Jerome Teelucksingh who revitalised the event.
According to Teelucksingh, his promotion of IMD is not only a celebration of a gendered day, but to bring awareness to issues affecting men and boys and to address and ‘remove the negative images and the stigma associated with men in our society’. Supposedly, International Men’s Day’s grassroots activism strives for gender equality whilst also acknowledging men and their contributions to society.
However, some see it as a slap in the face and a mockery of the IWD inauguration given the fact that men’s contributions to society are already acknowledged and celebrated on a regular basis. Since men already benefit from society’s advantages, many pose the question of why this celebration exists at all.
International Women’s Day was founded to support and continue the fight for the rights and equality for all women around the world, and although there are issues that men face too, they were often the ones sitting at the negotiating tables, so in truth, men have a significant advantage over women in terms of actually being autonomous.
One could write about the disparities between men and women and find that filling up all the paper in the world couldn’t account for all the imbalances, but that is a task for another day. But a simple example exists in the abortion law. A woman’s right to choose what to do with a cluster of cells used to be arbitrated by men, leering with their judgement. Ironically, a man’s choice of whether or not to get a vasectomy is a completely autonomous choice, and when they are suggested to do so to relieve their partners of the sole burden of making sure they are on contraception, suddenly not having a say in what they do with their bodies is entirely unethical. So, as you can see, some people around the world would disagree with this event, to say the least.
But like two sides of the same coin, some argue that perhaps International Men’s Day was long overdue, or at least, the current message that addresses toxic masculinity, encouraging involved fatherhood as well as shining a light on men’s mental health was.
By: Sophia Deen
We all know that COVID-19 has deprived our ability to socialise (as well as we used to) or high-five and touch hands, but some people have made greater losses through this pandemic.
A recent study by Columbia University found that 8 million Americans have fallen into poverty since May 2020.
The federal poverty level of a family of four earns $26,200 (or less) in a year.
The federal CARES act gave Americans a one-time cheque of $1,200 and unemployed workers $600 a week, which was successful for a while until poverty rose after the aid diminished. Negotiations for new aid packages are still being discussed, but many Americans—predominantly among minorities and children—are not expecting relief for the near future.
Low-income college students, who many already had financial and time management issues above their studies, have also taken a hit. Online learning is nowhere near the same experience as in-class learning, and although schools have been trying their best to maintain a safe substitute, it doesn't work the same way. Many students have noted that ‘Online school feels optional- though it isn’t’--which isn’t completely their fault. Many students who resorted to going back to their family’s houses have been given burdens above education, as many parents believe that their presence allows them to help around the house more. Some university students travel abroad for schooling, and going back home means a change in time-zones, causing them to take classes in the middle of the night where they aren’t in the correct state of mind to study.
Many college students struggle to find housing at all, and if rent was an issue before, it just got harder. There are many obstacles they are forced to face, from trying to find a steady internet connection to dropping out because tuition costs aren't affordable (especially after many students lost their jobs). In response to the pandemic, some colleges and universities have increased financial aid for students who have taken hard hits through the pandemic. A federal stimulus package was made to provide $7 billion for student expenses, but that has been depleted.
Mental health is often not prioritised, but through the pandemic, many people have been reluctant to focus on themselves. Whether you're an essential worker facing the virus head-on, someone who has been forced to change your routine as a student or employee, or just feeling the weight of isolation at home, everyone is experiencing different day-to-day challenges. Though some people have taken initiative and begun
to use this time to be productive, being locked at home can have a large effect on anyone, especially those with existing mental and physical health conditions. Though it may not seem like much, movement through the day has been restricted and exercise (or any movement in general) can help clear your mind or even improve your mood by mimicking productivity. Anxiety and distress are often increasing when hearing news about current events, so finding a hobby or getting into a routine can help with the adjusting period—though keeping up with the news is a good way of knowing and understanding what happens around us. Many of us have lost our breaks and moments where you treat yourself, which are essential to keep yourself functioning. Reminders to take care of your mind and checking up on yourself can benefit everyone during this time. Joining clubs, support groups, or even finding new friends online could improve your mood and your health.
November 3rd is a special day for many Americans, and due to social distancing voting will be difficult for many. Mail-in ballots have strict rules to make sure they are valid: voters must use blue or black ink, avoid any damage to the paper, ensure the writing is readable and hand it in on time. Above that, some states make it harder to vote during the pandemic. Republican officials in Texas have refused to allow voting using mail-in ballots to all except people 65 years (or older), sick or disabled, out of the country on election day, or confined in jail. This limits most voters to voting in person, risking exposure to Covid-19.
Though the ups and downs of the pandemic have taken a toll on our lives and emotions, we should count our blessings and make sure we focus on our well-being and health.
By: Kirti Moteka
Some Indian Americans, who historically tend to vote Democratic, are slowly shifting to become Trump supporters. Especially the older generation, the Indian Americans who migrated to the US in search for jobs or higher education, or those who are still involved in Indian politics.
Indian Americans are a minority, but their population is growing rapidly in many parts of the United States. After Latinos, Indian Americnas are the second largest group to gain American citizenship. Indian American votes are growing in numbers - which means that they carry a significant power to turn the tide. While many of the younger generations of Indian Americans stay loyal to the Democratic party, it seems that many of the older Indian Americans are not. According to The Print, 77% percent of Indian American voters in 2016 voted for Hillary Clinton. But many changes over the past three years have changed the mindset of Indian Americans.
The most important reason that Indian Americans are voting Republican is because of India itself. President Trump and Prime Minister Modi’s friendship is one that many Indian Americans find pleasing. Furthermore, Trump did many other things that satisfied Indian Americans - cut off aid to Pakistan (India’s most popular enemy), offered to give weapons to India, supported Modi’s events in the United States, helped release an Indian pilot from Pakistan, and strengthened India in its current border conflict with China.
During his campaign, Trump worked towards increasing his Indian American voter population by visiting Indian grocery stores and hosting events in multiple Indian languages, as well as celebrating Diwali (India’s largest holiday) and hiring Indian Americans for some high level positions. In fact, there is also a new political group, called “Hindus Trump,” which seeks to raise votes for President Trump. Biden does not present as strong of an agenda for Indian Americans, and his support for Muslims is angering many Hindu Americans.
Democrats have historically criticized India, especially Modi’s management of the Kashmir conflict. However, Biden’s Vice Presidential nominee - Kamala Harris - might change some votes. Harris is from Indian-Jamaican descent, and is working hard to recruit Indian voters throughout the campaign. Yet according to Politico, 28% of Indian American voters are still supporting Trump (as of September 2020).
Sources: https://theprint.in/opinion/democrats-have-a-loyal-base-in-indian-americans-but-tru mp-is-fast-pulling-them-to-his-side/480219/ https://www.politico.com/news/2020/09/16/trump-indian-americans-biden-kamala-h arris-414504
By: Bonne Leung
Feminism. As defined by Oxford Languages, feminism is “the advocacy of women's rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes”. But, what comes to mind when you hear this term? Perhaps all the “Girl Power!” stickers you’ve ever seen decorating a girl’s belongings, or the explosion of hashtags beneath a group of skinny, golden-haired girls’ Instagram posts? It should be noted that the definition provided by a simple Google search was written by two men. It should also be noted that the original term-- “féminisme”-- was coined by yet another man, Charles Fourier, in 1837. So you could say, as with most things, even a movement intended to empower women, is crawling with the musings and speculations of men. So, perhaps when you think of a feminist, your mind conjures up an image of a bra-burning woman, advocating the “Free the Nipple! ” prerogative, with unshaved arms raised above her head, and holding up a sign with ‘Down with the Patriarchy’ painted on it in pink. Or perhaps your mind conjures up a man with supple lips and soft features, obediently following behind his significant other in her crusade for female domination.
There’s a sort of negative stigma surrounding the whole ordeal, where saying no when posed with the question “Are you a feminist?” can mean immediate scrutiny for being a woman-hater, but saying yes can mean you either hate all men or, if you’re a man, it means that you’re making some attempt to impress women. So really, it isn’t so much a war of genders as opposed to a war of ideologies.
Some claim that the term has been twisted. It has never been about women taking over the world but about equality for everyone. As stated by Gloria Steinem, perhaps one of the most famous feminists in the world, stated, “a feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men”. The only problem with the statement is the exclusion for those who identify with an identity that is outside the two binary genders, however, most feminists agree that the movement is striving not for a female-dominated society, but a society in which everyone has equal rights, regardless of race, age, gender identity, ethnicity, class or religion, or as it’s now called: intersectional feminism.
What is Intersectional Feminism?
As written by Medium, “Perhaps we should take a leaf out of feminism’s own book, and consider that an updated, gender-neutral term would reflect the inclusivity and true intentions of the movement — to banish gender inequalities of all forms, affecting all people.” It is not a war of genders, it’s a war for equal rights, for all.
It’s essentially the idea that while all women are disadvantaged on account of on their sex, a black woman has both her race and gender against her, and a lesbian Latina woman has her sexuality, race, and gender against her.
Intersectional Feminism is not a newly coined term that’s being thrown around because it’s trendy right now. It was first brought into the limelight by American law professor and activist Kimberle Crenshaw. But, it’s been a word used by feminists for decades, dating back to the 19th century, where activists like Anna J. Cooper used it to explain how the movement could be more inclusive and diverse. It’s the willingness to listen to different types of feminists, and first and foremost, understanding that there is not just one type of feminism.
Why is it important right now?
Just as intersectionality has risen to prominence, so has its diametrically opposed adversary: white feminism. No, it doesn’t mean that you’re a white feminist simply by virtue of being white. White feminism is the focus on the struggles of white women whilst ignoring or failing to address the other forms of oppression that women of ethnic minorities or other marginalized women face. To reiterate, just because you are white does not mean you are a white feminist. It’s only the acknowledgment that feminism can be white-washed and it very much exists as one of the main forms of the movement seen particularly in the media. It’s impossible to move any sort of activism forward if we don’t understand the very people we intend to empower and uplift. White feminism fails to do exactly what intersectional feminism strives to do. It selects a very specific and privileged group of women and romanticizes their struggles. This embellished, pumpkin spice latte-sipping movement is unfortunately more common than intersectionality.
Intersectionality is important because it’s a movement that aims to involve everyone. It’s inclusive in its empowering of all female-identifying persons regardless of their circumstances and is a movement that people can identify with more solely because of its overarching theme of diversity. Of course, according to who you ask, you may receive a different definition of what feminism is, but at its core, it’s a push for a society with ameliorated equality.
And no, it doesn’t only benefit women. There’s some weird misconception that women's rights are gained at the expense of men’s rights, but it’s honestly the opposite of the truth. It’s not just women who benefit from a more gender-equal society. Evidence shows that policies promoting gender equality improve the quality of life of everyone. From better sleep in Nordic countries where there are more gender-equal societies, to men saying they’re more satisfied with life when the sexes are more equal, there are plenty of studies to read that show that equal rights do not mean that one sex will be at a disadvantage when the other gains more rights. A more gender-equal society would also be beneficial as gender-roles would be less common, and the culture of toxic masculinity would also likely die away
Hopefully, if anything, you’ve read until here and have become just a little more educated on the whole topic of feminism. By some miracle, maybe my writing has moved you to want to help. Now, I want to say I’m a feminist, and I do feel that I am, but there’s still a lot I don’t know that I still need to learn, but here are some resources for you, the very same ones that I used that resulted in hours of stalking and lurking.
1. Follow @feminism on Instagram
One of the first accounts I followed, I love seeing their posts on my feed and they post pretty frequently. They don’t just post about feminism related topics but on a lot of different activism subjects too, so this account is a good one to stalk. There are plenty of other accounts that are pretty helpful on Twitter too. @EverydaySexism is an enraging and somewhat hilarious account where users tweet stupid or outright dumbfounding sexist things that have happened to them and tag the account.
You can also type in the tag “feminism” or “activism” into Instagram and follow the hashtag, so relevant posts will show up on your feed.
Yes, the book nerd is showing, but it’s true. Classics may not always be the easiest reads but books like Jane Eyre, Little Women, and The Handmaid’s Tale are all great ways to understand what exactly feminism fights for. If you’re a fan of books, consider picking some of them up. Personally, I loved The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter which are basically just a bunch of fairy tales with feminist twists. So, if you like a homicidal Little Red Riding Hood or a Sleeping Beauty that runs with the same crowd as the Cullens from Twilight, you’ll love this book.
3. Be ready to be educated.
Maybe the most important of all, just be ready to learn. Just because you’re a woman doesn’t necessarily mean that you know all that there is to know. Recognize your privilege, if you have it, and learn from others. And just because you’re a man doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t be a feminist too, just listen to the women around you and be ready to relearn things that maybe you didn’t know before.
So, to my guys, gals, and non-binary pals, just do your own research. Fall down rabbit holes! I’ve done that plenty, and it brings you to a lot of cool places where you can read about different peoples’ unique stories, hear and rage about stupid misogynous things people have actually said, and above all else, just be supportive. The future is intersectional