I was scrolling through the Internet when I came across the International women’s day. Prior to this event, I had already developed a sense of belonging to the feminism movement through the prominent author Chimmanda Ngozie Adichie and the inspiration to write this post came, in part, from her. Simply, I grew up with females and while trying to act, in accordance with what the society has programmed me with, I realized the danger of not just mine, but each and every one of us’ unconscious bias towards females.
Unconscious bias are learned stereotypes or pretty say acquired that are automatic, unintentional, deeply ingrained and universal within our thoughts, beliefs and perceptions. When we exhibit those biases, we, at the moment, feel unremorseful since it is both unintentional and automatic. These biases are everywhere- from our community to our relationships.
A Google image search “thinks” that more than 90% of professors are white men. This isn’t only inaccurate, it also shows the extent to which unconscious biases exist. Another study shows that AI Algorithm learned to associate women with images of a kitchen, learning from and reviewing more than 100,000 images from around the internet. Yet another survey of a university website revealed that all recruitment committee were white. It is therefore likely that they were choosing people who they “think” are like them without being explicitly prejudiced against other colors.
Feminists are in a fight against the biases that the society has placed on women which are majorly shown by men. They are unintentional and may span across a wide variety of subjects. Things like… an active 2-year old is too loud for a girl. If a boy was doing the same thing, would he be seen the same way or he would be regarded as “just a child” or “ just active like every other boy” or “a little leader”? … But how do you deal with a deaf person who is indifferent to your orders? Or how do you react to a blind person that touches your white robe with stains?
My point is how do you engage in a fight against the unconscious biases from men to women or from the society to women? The way you destroy such a stereotype is simply by being the opposite of the stereotype. Remember that these stereotypes are not just in them. They are in US, developed by US and have become by products of US. Neuroscientists have uncovered brain regions involved in racial and gender stereotyping and showed that such thing as stereotyping begin to develop early in childhood.
So during course the celebration of the International Women’s Day, how about we start to expose children to the facts behind these unconscious biases and make them aware of such biases so that they wouldn’t fall prey of being “unconscious” about it.?
Lasana Harris, a neuroscientist at the University College London, said “We all have the ability to control that (unconscious bias).” When we teach girls to be careful of boys, we should also teach boys not to rape. When we enlighten girls about sex education, we should also involve boys because this is part of the many ways we could deal with the unintended reality of unconscious biases.
Now, it goes without saying that “Be The Change You Want To See”. And this is the message I want to pass across to every female. The founding pioneers of feminism, I mean the first and second wave feminists, in order to achieve political and economic equality, became part of the change they wanted. They attended schools because they wanted females to attend schools. They took the jobs simply because they wanted other females to have a place in the economy. They fought to have a place in the elections because they wanted other females to have the opportunity to vote. The way you can change minds is by demonstrating, through your actions, how that school of thought is wrong and unconventional.
Data from the UNESCO Institute of Statistics suggests that women make up 60% of college graduates yet they make up less than 30% of STEM professions. If you want more women in politics, be a woman that is known for political activism. If you want more women in the STEM field, be a woman that pursues math and science and if you want more women as CEO’s of businesses, start a business. And if you want female fire fighters please be one.
That makes you a real activist and that is where the real action takes place. Not by enforcing the thoughts, beliefs and conspiracy theories of others from the corner of a room. While feminists may anchor their fights through social media, they should actually be there because the first and second wave feminists, in order to see a change, became the change they wanted. The real heroes were those that were there in the loop. These people I see as feminists are the ones who are there. Not the ones who pick on a political administration on Twitter. When we mention feminists, it should be those that are making a change and not the ones who sit back in sofas and post angry comments on Facebook. We should be the primary driver of the movement while social media and all should be a tool in advancing the movement.
Now, I have two pivotal advice to give to modern day feminists. One is a “One-kobo advice and the other, a one-million dollar advice”
Now, let me give a one kobo advice for the success of the feminism movement. Women, in the process of fighting shame and oppression, should not shame and oppress those who are contradictory to their beliefs. Engaging in such acts will erase the line between the oppressed and the oppressors. The foundation of the founding ideals of the first and second waves feminists will be shaken and if care is not taken, will be a thing of the past and only the reminisce will linger in our memory.
Now to the one million dollar advice: A HOUSE DIVIDED AGAISNT ITSELF CANNOT STAND.
The first wave feminists began in 1848 with the Senea Falls Convention where attendees met in a church upstate in NY to discuss the right of women. The leaders were all abolitionists and Federick Douglass argued for women’s suffrage. My point is, women of color like Maria Stewart and Fauces Harper were major forces in the movement, working for women and universal suffrage. Now despite the immense work of the women of color, the abolitionists who led the movement established it specifically for white women. So in 1920 when congress passed the 19th Amendment, the bill in theory granted women of all races the right to vote but in reality, it was an uphill task for black women to vote. They were barred from some demonstrations or forced to walk behind white women in others. While the 19th amendment was supposed to be a grand legislative achievement of the pioneers, the movement as a whole began to splinter and it no longer had unified goals with the strong cultural momentum with which it started.
An African proverb says “If there is no enemy within, the enemy outside can do us no harm” To fight against all forms of discrimination against women, I believe women should launch a fight against discrimination within their circle.
Hence, it is important that in order for women to build on the founding ideals of their pioneers, they should seek to correct the errors made by those pioneers. It goes without saying that an error does not become a mistake until you refuse to correct it. And in my opinion, the consequences of the inactions of present day feminist towards the errors of the first and second wave feminists are that the philosophy of the feminism will be inverted upon itself and what was once progressive will be regressive. The whole fight for equality would eventually lead to inequality and everyone will be concerned about people’s thoughts and opinions that they will lose track of what actually matters.
Finally, whether the fight against the world will be successful depends on the success within.
Ladies and gentlemen, join me in celebrating the 20th International Women’s Day in the 21st Century.
Happy International Women’s Day to all women in the world.