Women's March

Why the Women’s March is Historic, for Millennials and All Ages

Author: Mary Grace Donaldson, Current Events/Politics

If you turn on any news station or open up any social media platform, it’s pretty hard to miss the Women’s March on Washington, happening today not just only in Washington but in several sister cities hosting spin-off marches — including cities as close to home as New York and Boston, and as far away as in countries including Nigeria and Saudi Arabia.

It’s not entirely difficult to figure out the initial reason for the march. Throughout now President Trump’s entire campaign process, it came to pass that he made a series of distasteful, misogynist, upsetting….you get the picture, comments.

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Trafalgar Square in London, photo courtesy of Lucy Sheriff (via Twitter: @sherifflucy)

But the March — while it is expected to be the largest inauguration-related demonstration in U.S. history — has become, for many, much more than just about protesting President Trump. In Nigeria, citizens are seizing the opportunity to protest a controversial gender equality bill. Marches in South America will demand action for violence against women.

According to its website, the mission of the Women’s March on Washington (and its sister Marches) is as follows:

“This election cycle has insulted, demonized and threatened many of us – immigrants of all statuses, Muslims and those of diverse religious faiths, people who identify as LGBTQIA, Native people, Black and Brown people, people with disabilities, survivors of sexual assault – and our communities are hurting and scared. We are confronted with the question of how to move forward in the face of national and international concern and fear.”

Of course, this mission is important –- not just for millennials, but for world citizens of all ages. A few quick facts:

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Photo courtesy of CNN (via Twitter: @CNN)

I’m proud to say that millennials –- women and men alike –- are very much enthusiastic about attending Marches. While I’m not able to attend a March myself, I swell with pride thinking about my fellow millennials raising their voices in favor of several causes that are near and dear to my heart –- including the dire need for equal pay for women, LGBT rights and, as some of my fellow women’s rights advocates like to say, “the radical notion that women are people.”

The true significance of the March…is that so many people can come together to show what truly makes America great.

My best wishes to all those attending Marches this weekend. Please be peaceful. Please be respectful. And please let the world know you’re not going anywhere. With your united voice, you will change the world.

Disclaimer: The political views presented in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Not Another Millennial Blog.

A Few Favorite Fictional #GirlBoss Heroes: The TV Edition

Author: Mary Grace Donaldson, Entertainment

I don’t know about you, but I’m in serious need of some girl power – not just this week, but all the time. There are a number of real-life boss ladies who I look up to, both in the public sector and in my private life, but since we’re keeping this light-hearted, I give you…my three favorite fictional (say that three times fast!) #girlbosses from the small screen (the big screen and the pages of good ol’ books may follow, you never know…).

Millennials (girls and guys too!), you’ll probably know of or at least have heard of the TV shows that these characters are from. They’re all relatively recent and part of our pop culture.

Warning: the below contains some spoilers!

Leslie Knope

LESLIE-KNOPE.jpgYou go, Ms. Knope…you lover of all things that smash the patriarchy…and of course, waffles. This Parks and Recreation leading goddess shows us that there is nothing wrong with local politics, excessive enthusiasm and always, always, always putting others before yourself.

Oh, and let’s not forget, she’s an all-star gift giver, and she started the Pawnee Goddesses to encourage young girls in her community.

A fan favorite Leslie quote reads as follows: “Waffles, friends, work. Or Friends, waffles, work. Doesn’t matter, but work is third.” That’s not to say, however, that Leslie wasn’t an inspiringly hard worker. She cleaned parks, she presented plans to higher officials for parks that no one ever thought could come to fruition, she planned one heck of a harvest festival…the list of her accomplishments goes on.

My cousin got me hooked on Parks and Rec a while back, because he claimed that I am “basically Leslie Knope.” And after watching, that’s a comparison I can be proud of. This week, I can be especially proud of the “letter to America” she wrote — well, her writers wrote, but is a big deal considering the fact that Parks and Rec has been off the air since earlier this year — that encourages all girls to continue working toward being #girlbosses.

Hildy Mulligan
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I watched the first season of TNT’s Murder in the First for a grad school class on television blogging, and I’ll be honest, I haven’t watched the series since. But, one aspect of the show that stood out to me was Hildy Mulligan, a sexy single mom who moonlighted as a homicide detective.

Hildy solved cases –- many of which could have ended her up in life-threatening situations. She got her daughter up and dressed for school every single day that she was home. She dealt with men breaking her heart, but got right back up and continued living her life. And while I firmly believe that by no means do you have to dress stylishly to be a boss lady, I can’t help but point out that Hildy rocked every outfit she wore.

 

Veronica Mars

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I’ve already spoken a bit about Veronica Mars, in terms of dating advice. Regardless of her love life or lack thereof, she’s still a badass. I mean, find me another character of any gender who decided to pursue the life of a private investigator after school at age 17.

Her reason for becoming a P.I.? Her best friend was murdered. As if that wasn’t enough, her father, who was the sheriff at the time, tried to implicate her best friend’s father for said murder – and all of her other friends turned on her as a result. Plus, she found out that her ex-boyfriend may be her brother (but he wasn’t, so yay!).

On top of all this, her mom abandoned her, came back, went to alcohol rehab on her college money, and then ran away again with $50,000 of her dad’s money. I’d probably pursue private investigation too…once I spent several weeks on the couch in the fetal position. Not Veronica Mars though. Together with her father, she solved the case of her best friend’s murder.

Veronica certainly had her demons, but she worked hard every single day to fight them. She took all of her rage and used that to fuel the cases she worked.

To my fellow boss ladies, there is inspiration for you everywhere – in real life and in fiction. Remember what you’re capable of. Believe.

We Are Allowed: How Women’s Roles in Dating Have Changed

Author: Mary Grace Donaldson, The Dating Game

When I was in middle school, my mom used to enforce the idea that “girls are not supposed to chase guys.”

No disrespect, Mom (I would never!), but it is absolutely a different dating world for millennials than it was for you. Especially for women.

As a champion for the equal rights of women in all aspects of life – from work, to social circumstances, to dating – I think it’s only fair to say that the roles of women in the dating world have changed, and should have changed since the days of courtship that I’ve only seen in movies that took place in the 1950s.

So, how have dating roles changed for women?   

Women can (gasp) ask men on dates.
We don’t have to just stand back and wait for a guy to come to us with a dozen roses to invite us to dinner. No…we can be bold. If we are interested in a man, it’s more socially acceptable for us to say it. We don’t have to make the first move, but there’s no unwritten rule saying not to. It’s all about the circumstance — and about what a woman is comfortable with.

Women have different lives and goals than the previous generation’s women.
Today, it’s the norm for a woman to go to work – and it’s not as unusual as it once was for a woman to not want children. We want to focus on our careers. We’re getting married later in life. We’re priding ourselves on our collective education. Dating, with the chance of later “settling down,” is just not as important to women as it once was.

Women can be themselves.
Back in the day (and by that I mean when my mom was dating) women had to act a certain way. That’s not to say that we don’t still have to be nice, respectful, attentive, engaged…I could think of many other “nice” adjectives. But we don’t have to be that way just as a result of the sole fact that we’re women. We have to be that way because we are decent human beings, and men are now held to similar standards because they, too, are human beings.

Women are, overall, more empowered.
Yes, we can speak our minds, or not speak them, if that’s what we choose to do. Dates between men and women were undoubtedly different before it was socially acceptable for women to speak their minds (and, of course, if you find yourself on a date with a man who doesn’t feel this way, you show him the door).

While dating for millennials in general has changed, for women specifically, what’s socially acceptable on a date has changed – some would say for the better. However…that’s not to say some women don’t still subscribe to the notion that men are the superior gender – a notion that manifests itself in their respective dating lives.

In sum, ladies, you are allowed. You are allowed to ask for a date. You can ask why the man you’re sitting awkwardly across the table from feels the way he does. You don’t have to get married, you don’t have to have kids…and if you do want both, that’s also more than okay. You control your own destiny.

And Mom, while you may still disagree with me on the “asking for a date” front, don’t think you can argue with that last point.

The Security of Women in India

Author: Gauri Bhatia, Real Life Stories

This article has been excerpted from the author’s graduate thesis titled, “Human Security and the Developing World: the Case of India’s Women.” If you wish to know more, please contact the author via info@notanothermillennial.com.

The status of women in India has undergone significant changes in the six decades since India gained independence. Factors such as sexual violence, traditional gender roles, the class divide and the caste system, economic development, rapid modernization and globalization have had immeasurable effects on women’s security in India.

According to the book Empower Women: An Awakening, “the following crimes were committed against women in 2007: one woman was sexually harassed every 48 minutes; one woman or minor girl was abducted every 26 minutes; one woman was raped every 25 minutes; and one woman was molested every 14 minutes.” The author goes on to indicate that “these numbers are based on reported crimes” and “the vast majority of crimes against women in our country go unreported.” Most cities in India are fairly cosmopolitan, where many foreigners live and work. However, women frequently encounter the problems referenced in the above stats, and are also leered at, catcalled and even propositioned by men of all ages.

Many women have chosen to stop venturing outside alone until the situation improves. In addition, the Indian print and television media encourages women not to leave their homes after dusk unaccompanied, as the danger is too great.

I traveled to India in the Winter of 2014 to study these issues and develop a thesis for my Master’s program. I found, firsthand, that the threat of sexual violence hangs over women’s daily lives in India and tempers all of the decisions they make, both professionally and personally. Traditional gender roles, enforced by familial and tribal ties, make it difficult for Indian women to assert themselves in all aspects of their lives.

The class divide and the caste system are most cogent for the women in India, as they experience its effects more often than their male counterparts. Economic development, while positive for the country as a whole, has made it both easier and more difficult for women to assert themselves professionally and has deepened the divide between upper-class, well-educated women and their disadvantaged counterparts. Modernization has empowered women in a way that clashes with their traditional gender roles.

Globalization has allowed Indian women to see how women in other countries (especially Western countries, like the United States and United Kingdom) live, and through this glimpse, has caused them to question why they do not experience the same freedoms they see on television and in movies. The increased exposure to Western television has led young Indian men and women to act in ways that are contradictory to the traditional roles to which they are accustomed.

This divide between Eastern ideas and Westernization has led to a crisis of identity in the young Indian population. The women wish to exercise the freedom they see on Western television and the men do not know how to reconcile the docile, feminine girl (or wife) they had imagined with the independent woman they are faced with on a daily basis.

According to a Reuters global poll, India is ranked the “fourth most dangerous country” in the world for women. A TrustWorld poll reveals that India is the worst country for women among the G20 countries. In addition, the World Economic Forum’s 2013 Global Gender Gap Report ranked India 101st out of 134 countries in terms of gender parity.

If there is not major institutional and social change pertaining to women’s rights and security in India in the next five years, India’s rise to power will be marred by human rights violations and the stigma of appearing to be an intolerant country.

The articles referenced here detail the crisis that Indian women face. I have included some of my recommendations on how to move past these issues and into the future.

Recommendations:

In order to alleviate the crisis of human security faced by women in India, the government of India must renew its focus on women’s education, health and empowerment. In addition, it must focus some of its lawmaking efforts in prevention, rather than punishment, of the crimes by integrating the role of men in the attacks into the consciousness and social dialogue of the country.

In general, well-educated, healthy and empowered women tend to face fewer threats to their daily security than their illiterate, impoverished and disadvantaged counterparts. Women in these upper echelons of society are granted political positions and freedoms that were historically held only by men, while impoverished women’s lives are regularly under attack by (frequently) uneducated men with traditional mindsets.

This statement is not to say that women in all sectors of society do not suffer from harassment and sexual violence. Rape (Especially marital rape, which is not illegal in India – Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code considers the forced sex in marriages as a crime only when the wife is below 15.), spousal abuse and other indicators of violence occur in all classes and castes, but women in lower classes are subjected to harassment, attacks and sexual violence outside of the home and on a more regular basis than their advantaged counterparts.

In addition, police corruption in India makes it more difficult for lower class and uneducated women to receive retribution after they have been attacked. Upper-class victims tend to see justice for the crimes committed against them, with the perpetrators arrested and convicted, while lower-class (and frequently uneducated) victims are subjected to police brutality and social stigma after they have been attacked and frequently do not see their attackers punished.

To remedy the crisis of human security, there needs to be increased education at the elementary, middle and high school levels concerning women’s roles in society and their importance to daily life. There also must be a renewed focus on women’s (and men’s) health issues in India.

Currently, health classes are not offered in most schools across India, due to prudish values and outdated lesson plans. The educational system in India has not changed much with modernity, and sex and sexual health are not openly discussed within Indian society. As a result, aside from the obvious prevalence of unplanned pregnancies and problems during childbirth, there are many general health implications.

Because young men and women are not taught how to avoid disease through good hygiene, there is a societal stigma attached to curable diseases. An example of this phenomenon is the stigma attached to the varicella zoster virus (VZV), or chicken pox. VZV in India is widely believed to emanate from the goddess of destruction, or “Mataa,” taking residence in one’s body for 10-15 days. As a result, an illness such as chicken pox, which can be alleviated (although not cured) by modern medicine, is seen as a sign that one has done something to anger the goddess and should suffer in silence (without medication) for the duration of the illness.

Although health education in schools is the best method to ensure that these values are passed onto future generations, several innovative methods have been utilized to ensure that the presently affected population learns the importance of good health. One interesting example of this type of education was the “Indian Condom Ad” that imparted the values of condoms to a small village in India through a flash mob.

Another example of innovative health education involves polio in India. On February 11, 2014, India was certified “polio-free” by the World Health Organization (WHO) after successfully completing three years without an “endemic” case of polio. Just five years prior to the announcement, India accounted for nearly half of the global polio cases and was considered one of the most difficult places to eradicate the disease, mainly due to sanitation and accessibility issues.

When health workers primarily from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) determined that the children of migrants and those who were growing up in inaccessible areas were not getting access to the polio immunizations, they deployed vaccination efforts to reach the children. The government of India, in conjunction with UNICEF, the WHO and various philanthropic organizations, launched a “massive effort involving a surveillance network and almost 2.3 million vaccine administrators, who identified communities falling through the cracks.” They utilized “social mobilizers,” religious leaders and parents to counter rumors and misunderstandings about the immunizations (polio and others) and included Bollywood celebrities and cricket players in their campaigns to reach a wide audience.

More innovative campaigns that reach the entirety of India need to be utilized by the Government of India to ensure that all of Indian society understands the importance of good health.

There also must be an increased focus on women’s empowerment in order to combat the current crisis of human security faced by women in India. A large portion of the internal conflict Indian women face concerning traditional values and modernity is due to the fact that women were generally expected to do what the men in their lives (whether fathers, brothers or husbands) asked of them. They were rarely expected to make decisions for themselves.

This trend created a dual problem: women living in urban environments were suddenly given the opportunity to think and act as they desired and had the tendency to exercise that freedom in potentially dangerous ways-and men living in these same urban environments still held rural values and expected the women they interacted with to indulge their every whim and command accordingly.

Women staying out late, drinking and acting raucously, clashed in unfortunate and often violent ways with men who were unaccustomed to seeing women behave in this manner. By empowering women to make their own intelligent decisions from a young age, and by showing men that women do indeed have the right to make their own decisions, these violent attacks can be prevented and can ameliorate the current security crisis.

Lastly, the government of India must place some of its focus on men’s roles in the current security crisis. The government has mostly enacted laws trying to protect women and has circulated press releases advising women to avoid dangerous situations, but has not done much to prevent perpetrators from continuing their behaviors.

The actions of the men involved in such attacks on women are frequently dismissed as “boyish” and part of the process of growing up. In fact, according to Indian Express’s piece titled “Boys will be Boys, they make mistakes, will you hang them for rape?” Mulayam Singh Yadav, the chief of Uttar Pradesh’s ruling Samajwadi party, claimed that men who have committed rape should not be hung. He instead blamed the problem on women who level “false accusations” in that “First, girls develop friendships with boys. Then when differences occur, they level rape charges. Boys commit mistakes. Will they be hanged for rape?” Attitudes such as this one dismiss men’s roles in the current crisis and will stunt India’s growth by ensuring that the lack of human security in India continues unabated.

The current security situation in India is untenable and if the Indian government and social institutions do not enact a change, women in India will live in a constant state of insecurity for years to come.


Read more about gender discrimination in India from the Foundation for Sustainable Development.