Women’s History Month wrapped up yesterday. Associated Students President and Student Ambassador Angel Garcia, who contributes to @Cypress and the College Twitter feed, here shares her personal reflections on women’s issues, feminism, and social justice.
While I usually have my #AskAngel hour on Twitter and my Top 10 lists, I am grateful that I am able to contribute to the college discussion in another way – By writing about a passion of mine. As Women’s History Month comes to an end, my liberation as a woman and dedication for social justice remains strong and alive.
On March 6, 2016, the transnational feminist organization AF3IRM held an International Women’s Day March on the streets of Los Angeles. With cloudy skies and rain that whole week, Mother Nature kindly blessed the beautiful day with the sunshine that reflected our attitudes (however, also with harsh winds that easily represented our frustration as well). Hundreds of individuals with different backgrounds, cultures, and stories united in solidarity by walking alongside together for miles.
This march and rally was a celebration of women-Identifying our individual strength. However, it was also a harsh reality check for onlookers watching from the LA streets: Violence and injustice towards women is very real and must end. The different forms of expression included chants (“One, we are the women! Two, a little bit louder! Three, we want justice for our sisters!”), posters, instruments, and raised fists. The beautiful diversity shined within the hundreds and hundreds of participants, and this collective effort made it clear that the struggle goes beyond just gender.
One side of the sign I had made throughout the march said, “It’s not feminism if it’s not intersectional.” The term intersectionality was coined by American professor Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989, which is defined as, “The view that women experience oppression in varying configurations and in varying degrees of intensity. Cultural patterns of oppression are not only interrelated, but are bound together and influenced by the intersectional systems of society. Examples of this include race, gender, class, ability, and ethnicity.” Simply acknowledging the double standards between women and men, the gender wage gap, or the male dominated Hollywood industry is not feminism, although women like Jennifer Lawrence and Taylor Swift seem to think so. In contrast, intersectionality addresses the entire struggle with various other factors that further oppress women compared to others. Of course, not all of us fit certain marginalized groups, but it is imperative that we stand together as allies for one another.
The other side of my poster displayed, “If you are not angry, you are not paying attention.” I strongly advocate for staying informed, and if one does not understand as to why we are so angry… Well, ignorance is bliss. Although my arms began to ache after consistently raising this sign, the pain did not compare to my struggle as a woman of color. It can range from everyday microaggressions, to others’ prejudices based on my race and gender, and to my people still facing injustice today in this country and in the Philippines.
While this experience was phenomenal, especially since I had the opportunity to share space with feminists and feminists allies with similar ideals, the fight does not stop on International Women’s Day or Women’s History Month. Cultural changes within our country and the whole world are necessary, but it can all start with you. Open your mind, learn history, listen to others, stay informed.
I am very grateful to have been able to attend on behalf of the Associated Students and Club L.E.A.D. (Ladies Empowered and Determined), as well as the KmB (Kabataang maka-Bayan/Pro-People Youth) Organization.
Stay tuned for Angel’s coverage on the Associated Students’ annual Women’s Recognition Awards, which closed Women’s History Month by recognizing the wonderful women on our campus – staff, faculty, administration, and students.
Check out #AskAngel every Tuesday from 2-3 PM on Twitter!