5 Ways to Create Equality Now

Last week I posted a quiz to determine whether or not you are a feminist. I may still hold a lot of false optimism, but I bet anyone who actually took the quiz is indeed a feminist. Now the important thing is, what can we feminists do right now to actually create and support equality? Here are 5 things that I'm doing (not counting this blog):

1. Living my life the way I want to live.

This might seem a little weird, but I think it's the biggest and most important thing I could do. I've had a lot of people over the years tell me that I couldn't do something--like the high school English teacher who accused me of plagiarizing because I couldn't possibly "write that good." Or the firefighter who said I couldn't pack the chainsaw because it was too big for me. I wrote anyway because I love it. I carried the chainsaw up the hill because I wanted to run it, and, at the end of the season, my boss told me that I always pulled more than my own weight on the crew.

2. Seek out professional women for the services I need. 

When my mom told me she wanted help finding a lawyer to draw up a trust for her, I suggested we find a female attorney. The best way to support women is to literally support them--give them our business and help them succeed in their professions. Need a new dentist? Physician? Gynecologist (I have no idea why a woman would ever go to a man for this!)? Real estate agent? Attorney? Contractor? Plumber? Why not seek out a woman in these professions and utilize their excellent skills? I bet you most women in a more male-dominated field have worked much harder to succeed than their male counter-parts and they're probably better at their job because of it.

3. Refuse to use "he" for an unknown gender for people or animals or characters in books. 

I recently went to a writing workshop with my mom where some professional women writers/agents were giving critiques on the first page of several manuscripts. When they spoke about the main character in some of the pages, referring to them as female, my mom leaned over and asked me how they knew the main character was a girl because there was no indicator in the manuscript as far as we saw. I leaned back and whispered that these professional women were feminists and so used "she" for what was unknown where most other people would have used "he." I have many friends who would advocate for dropping "he" and "she" altogether for a more appropriate "they," and I also support this. Let's just stop giving the male gender to everything as a default.

4. Read books by women and about women. 

There are so many amazing books out there by very talented women. I would give you a list here, but I feel like it might be a little too long and extensive. If you're interested in a list of fabulous books, please visit my author website www.tademings.com and check out the "Favorite Books" tab.

5. Challenge the stupid, thoughtless things men (and women) say. 

Last summer there was a girl on my crew who all the boys teased relentlessly. It seemed all fun and games, and may have been a little innocent. They called her a nickname she demanded not to be called, and just teased her about anything and everything to elicit a reaction out of her. One night when we were all camped out on a fire assignment and eating our dinner they were teasing her about something and she said told them to stop. I suggested to her that she tell them shut the F up. She said she didn't like to swear and asked why they wouldn't just stop when she asked them to stop. One boy jumped in with an answer: "You say stop, but your tone of voice makes it sound like you want us to keep doing it." This boy was one of the nicer, more respectable of the group, but I told him this: "That is exactly what rapists say." It made everyone quiet for a while, which I hope means they thought about the things they do and say. I admit that I struggled with deciding whether or not she liked the attention or truly wanted their behavior to stop, but in my world, "no" means "no" and "stop" means "stop." What kinds of things do you hear people say that isn't quite right? Do you speak up about it or just laugh awkwardly? I've personally done a lot more awkward laughing than I want to admit to. And I am done doing that. If you say something that is degrading to women, I'm not going to let it slide past me. If you say something is "gay" when what you really mean is "unfair," "not fun," or "lame," then I will correct you.


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