In my great-grandmother’s time, the women’s movement was based on our collective voice and our political will to change society. During the early 1900s, women such as Emmeline Pankhurst of Britain risked their own comfort and liberty so that other women might have the right to vote. Through the sacrifice and perseverance of many, American women were officially granted voting rights in1920. We were blessed with this privilege not even 100 years ago, and already the right to vote seems like a small thing. It is now taken for granted that it is our basic right to choose who governs us. Our political strength and unity in the face of a common injustice has gradually dispersed.
Today our fight is even more urgent as there are so many important issues that we must speak out about and rally behind. However, this very diversity and abundance of women’s issues has fragmented our shared voice and made it difficult to gain momentum.
Such seemingly separate issues as the global trafficking of girls and women; the injustice of the wage gap; gender discrimination in the workplace; the alarming rate of sexual assault against women; and the poverty and abuse that women and children face daily are all part of our women’s movement. Today more than ever we must all come together as a unified whole and fight for our right to peace, freedom, and the health of our world.
What is the women’s movement really about? This is a very difficult question because if we look at all of the issues that affect women, it seems to include all of the issues that affect the world. However, we have a different perspective than our male counterparts in many areas. Although at our current time, motherhood for many of us is a choice and no longer a necessity, our very ability to create life and the special understanding of the world that comes along with this gift sets us apart. In fact, now that motherhood is not a necessity, the women’s movement has the potential to be even stronger. In the United States, we no longer have to do what we are told, we no longer have to have babies because we don’t have a choice, and fewer of us have the misfortune to be uneducated. Even so, women are more likely to live under the poverty level, even in these great United States. Women have health issues that are not given the proper funding. Women make less money than men, are more likely to be abused, and they are also the largest part of human trafficking in the world. So what is our movement about?
Our movement is about nurturing and demanding empowerment, freedom, education, and opportunity for women throughout the world. It is about rectifying the current imbalance between the sexes and ensuring that women’s important perspectives are heard. It is time for every woman to acknowledge that the poverty, disparity, abuse, and disregard for any woman has an affect on every human on this planet. Girls must be educated and women must demand their equal rights, not solely for the benefit of women, but for the benefit of everyone, including men. Together we must build a world that thrives.
The women’s movement is for everyone, not just women! There is every reason for our male counterparts to join and support this movement. Our movement is about the equal empowerment of women, not the dis-empowerment of men. More accurately, regardless of gender, we are fighting for the equal rights of all humans. In fact, over the last century, we have come to understand that gender is not truly a dichotomy, but is more fluid. We have seen many examples of this in humans as well as in the animal kingdom. For example, to clearly illustrate the transgender phenomenon and the fluidity of gender identity, we have now even seen the first male pregnancy! Thomas Beatie, who lives in Arizona with his wife Nancy and their three children, garnered international attention when he became the first legally transgender man to become pregnant. This, among other examples of gender fluidity, shows us that our movement is not a matter of men vs. women, but is instead a critical imbalance of traditionally “male” vs. traditionally “female” values and perspectives. According to psychologists, gender is a social construct; femininity and masculinity are both spectrums that overlap. The roles we place men and women in are not biological, but are rather shaped by societies.
The definition of feminism is to support women’s equal rights. Therefore, it makes as much sense for men to be feminists as it does for women. Just as there were those who fought for African American rights during the civil war, despite not being African American themselves, there are many men who are connected on a deep level with the women’s movement and who are willing to take a stand for the rights of women. They understand that fighting for the rights of one marginalized group is the same as fighting for the rights of everyone. Fighting for the rights of all humans is really what the women’s movement is about.
So how can we achieve this unity that is so desperately needed? To answer this, we can learn a great deal from the LGBTQ+ movement. Similar to the women’s movement, this community was fragmented into multiple, smaller groups, none of which had sufficient political influence to execute change or make progress on their agendas. Separately, these groups struggled to gain acceptance and fair treatment. However, once they identified the commonality of their goals and adopted the rainbow flag as their symbol of unity, they were able to gain significant political traction. Since then, they have achieved remarkable things, including the legalization of gay marriage. A key feature of this group’s continued success has been in actively branding themselves and uniting under a common emblem.
Symbols have always been and will always be one of the most important ways to communicate a belief, movement, nationality, or religion. They serve as immediately recognizable means of communicating values, beliefs and affiliations. When a person wears a cross around their neck, it is obvious to all that they identify with Christian ideologies. When someone raises their nation’s flag outside their home, they are immediately identifiable as a patriot. All of the most powerful, effective movements in human history have been pushed forward under a common “brand.” Such symbols are powerful, and now, more than ever, we need a symbol to speak for the needs of women around the world and lend recognition and visibility to our cause. In the case of women, thus far we have used the obligatory symbol of our gender, which is the circle with the plus sign at the bottom, but this is not a symbol for our movement. Instead our movement needs to adopt a symbol that better speaks to the purpose of our cause.
We need to see our symbol as our logo – the branding of women! We need to brand ourselves and not be branded by others. I have seen this very symbol. It has taken me all these years to understand the meaning of the object that I first saw at the 2002 Global Women’s Peace Initiative in Geneva. I saw in a vision an egg with the earth emerging from it and it’s meaning has turned out to be deeper than I ever imagined. It is an apt symbol for the women’s movement, the earth and the egg. The egg expresses women’s power of creation and nurturing, not just of children, but also of meaningful thoughts and ideas. The earth emerging represents the vast power of women to influence and mold the world that we live in – the ability to give life to a new Earth as we know it. This symbol speaks to the unification that needs to be accomplished before the women’s movement can truly take hold. It has the power to guide us into global stabilization and a balance of the sexes, as opposed to the historical tilt towards all that is masculine.
I have started Birth of Reason in order to act as a catalyst for the adoption of this symbol – a symbol that embodies the heart of our movement and can represent us all. Women are needed to make peace between children, tribes, communities, and nations. The women’s movement is here now, ready to create a balanced world for us all to live in, thrive in, and grow in. Join the cry for oneness and kindness on our small fragile planet Earth.