The 2018 Women’s March: Do Actions Speak Louder Than Signs?

Alice Bolandhemat As you walk down the halls of Latin or the streets of Chicago, you may see clothing that reads “The Future is Female,” or “FEMINIST,” or “Girl Power,” all to show support of gender equality. The Women’s March on January 21st contained a sea of people whose intentions were to do just that. Millions of Americans marched with signs in their feminist apparel. Additionally, here in the Latin Community, many of us chose to wear black the day we returned from the holiday break in light of the Time’s Up movement. While we are most definitely displaying our unwavering support, are we making a change? Is wearing t-shirts and painting signs enough? Or are we beginning to turn feminism into a “fad?” Harvey Weinstein is a prime example that merely calling yourself a feminist doesn’t make you one. Years ago, he claimed to be an advocate, an activist, and a feminist. Since then, decades of sexual misconduct have been uncovered showing his lack of respect for women. Before referring to yourself as a feminist, think about why and how you are one. If you’re male, maybe your answer would be that you want your mother or sister to be treated the same way you are. If you’re a student, you might have donated feminine care products to the period drive hosted by LAW because nobody deserves to suffer through a period without them. On January 7th, on the red carpet of the 75th Golden Globes, viewers at home saw nearly every actor and actress dressed in black in solidarity for the victims of sexual assault and harassment. Seeing all of our favorite stars with black dresses, tuxes, and pins ignited the Time’s Up movement. I, along with many other students, arrived at school two days later wearing black. Senior Anastasiya Varenytsya, said, “on the red carpet, it’s so simple to wear black to not stand out, and I feel like that could also happen at school. Take your guy friends, for example. Telling them to wear black on a certain day isn’t the same as holding them accountable for their actions and the things they say.” While it’s crucial to not stop at wearing black or spending an hour or two each year marching, we must also remember the intention that comes from these events: to start a conversation and a movement within our own community. Senior El Buchanan, a co-head of LAW emphasized this, saying “the aim of LAW’s blackout was to create unity, an essential core value of ours. We acknowledge that the Women’s March or wearing black has become a popular thing to do, more of a trend. However, creating unity is a step towards making a change.” Although apparel and signs are not all you can do to support gender equality, there is no “feminist bible” to follow. There is no “suggested contribution.” Everyone’s idea of feminism is different. Yes, Google may define it as “the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes,” but each individual’s approach to achieving the goals of feminism is unique, just like us. Part of the beauty of feminism is the variety in which it’s reflected into people’s’ lives. Utilizing a social media platform to inform others is an act towards attaining equality, as is using fashion or writing/reading a book on the subject. “I love how fashion is used as an outlet. Protest fashion has been a way for people to resist for so long. But at the same time, if the money used to purchase that protest fashion goes into private companies, you could be becoming part of the problem. I think a solution could be to purchase t-shirts from small businesses who stand for the same things you do,” suggested Varenytsya. The 300,000 Chicagoans who marched for women on January 20th took time out of their day to be among those who share the belief that a woman can be anything and make her own decisions.  “The marches are important. You are making a statement and making yourself public. But what is much more important is how you apply it to your life and to the people around you, starting with the people around you: your friends,” said Varenytsya. “If there is something problematic that makes you feel uncomfortable, let them know. If everyone was persistent and aware, we’d create change,” she continued. Those who march can form a powerful united front, but those who take what they’ve heard at the march and implement it into every aspect of their daily lives are the ones truly making a difference. Marching to be a part of the crowd doesn’t necessarily spark change in your own life, let alone the life of those you surround yourself with. So, without the salary or the following of a Hollywood star, how can you personally transform your community? “Educating yourself is a huge part of being an activist. After that, you can begin to educate and grow with others in your life. There are plenty of books, articles, and videos out there. Currently, I am reading about the history of intersectional feminism and activism. After watching a good video or reading a good article, I make sure to share them in a Facebook group or with my friends… [LAW’s] active Facebook group is great in that people post anything interesting they’ve come across online that could help inform others,” El says. Regardless of gender, or whether you’re an actor and or a student, your actions should speak louder than the words painted on your signs or written on your t-shirts.]]>