Last Tuesday night, my dad called me on my drive home from work. He was watching the news and wanted to let me know that there was a strike going on the next day in Washington D.C., and did I know anything about it. I told him yes, and explained what I knew about “A Day Without a Woman” and that it was also International Women’s Day. He was incredibly curious about what I was doing to be a part of it all. I told him that I thought it was a privilege to be able to not go into work, so I would be in my office, wearing red, and not be spending money. Then, he asked me, with complete sincerity, “Well what can I do to be a part of the women’s movement?” I took a deep breath and thought about it. I suggested he could wear red as well to show his support (which he did), and told him I would be emailing him other ideas later.
My dad has always been an ally and advocate for social justice. I think I get a lot of my inspiration to make change from watching him as I grew up. The past few years, specifically, he has been a huge part of the Alzheimer’s Association. Last month, he and my mom went up to Sacramento on State Advocacy Day to speak with legislatures regarding funding and raising more awareness for Alzheimer’s. That’s just the kind of people they are. They speak out and get involved.
When my dad asked me what he could do for the women’s movement, he was so genuine in wanting to do something, but was at a loss of how to go forward. I've noticed this in the movements I partake in (which are mostly centered around gender issues), and how the construction of feminism has left a lot of people behind. The first and second wave feminist movements did a poor job including women of color, and currently I’m seeing it happen with men, trans women, and queer people. I keep reading more about intersectional feminism, and am trying not to beat myself up too much for my naïve feminist views I held onto in the past. Yes, I have a coffee mug that says “Male Tears” on it, which I found funny because of its ironic misandry, but now it just kind of makes me cringe.
I heard the earnestness in my dad’s voice the other night, and it was then when everything hit me. He was asking if he could have a seat at the table I was setting, but wasn’t sure if he belonged there. He wanted to know if there was anything he could do to help, because that’s just the kind of person he is. Which got me thinking that maybe a lot of people in our lives are observing this movement happening, but don’t have a clear understanding of what is going on (especially if you’re not on social media or tons of email lists). So many people want to be a part of the greater good, but it helps to invite them to do so – not just wait for them to figure it out. We have left too many individuals behind in the past, and I think we all need to be better on sharing various ways we can get involved. That’s what I’m vowing to myself right now: I’m going to be more inclusive and live up to what it means to be an intersectional feminist. And I urge you to reach out to someone and invite someone to join you in whatever social justice movement you’re involved with as well.