What It Means to Be a Woman

Illustration by Diana Garcia

Illustration by Diana Garcia

What comes to mind when you think of what it means to be a woman? That seemed to be the question on many minds on International Women’s Day (IWD) on Thursday, March 8. The modern woman, and even the modern man is beginning to look at the idea of womanhood, and even feminism, in a different light more than ever before.

Historically, the first recognized Women’s Day was celebrated in the US in 1901, and the United Nations did not officially recognize IWD until 1975 when they celebrated International Women’s Year. The narrative around the 2018 IWD, themed #PressForProgress, seemed to be different than those usually regarding womanhood.

Instagram timelines everywhere were flooded with millions of posts from celebrities, influencers, and even just your average social media user, promoting and celebrating IWD. This year, the day came with an increased sense of urgency, since campaigns like #MeToo and Time’s Up remain at the forefront of many people’s minds.

Singer/Songwriter Rachel Platten took to Instagram to say this about IWD: “Happy International WOMEN’s day. Has this day ever felt so powerful before? I don’t think so. At least not to me. It feels like we are finally understanding and recognizing that we have a right to own our light.” It was shocking to see not one negative post in regards to International Women’s Day and to see traditionally non-feminist peers embracing and celebrating the day with other women.

Santa Monica College did not miss out on International Women’s Day Festivities. There were several celebrations held including a march, a documentary screening, a banquet, and many other individual club and organization events. SMC President Kathryn E. Jeffery posted to her Facebook saying: “Happy International Women’s Day from Santa Monica College! I applaud strong women at SMC and everywhere in the world working to empower themselves and their fellow human beings.”

The feminist movement and International Women’s Day often go hand in hand, as feminists typically embrace any opportunity they receive to celebrate being a woman and demonstrate for their cause. Although unlike the women and feminists who marched, protested, campaigned, and celebrated before this generation, many “Third Wave Feminists” see the movement as forging your own path as a woman, not so much burning bras and breaking all societal expectations of womanhood.

Modern feminism seems to understand, at least more so than previous waves of feminism, that women can be whatever they want to be, and they do not have to be anything. If you want to reject all gender norms and burn bras, then that is an acceptable expression of womanhood, but if you want to fully embrace the “traditional” role of a woman, you can do that too. Modern day feminism is often focused on knowing that women have their own choice in their role and who they want to be.

Although many women do not use the term feminist to describe themselves, even they were participating in the International Women’s Day celebration and discussion. At the end of the day, that is what International Women’s Day is about. It is about women and men coming together, despite how they label themselves or view the idea of feminism or any other ideology, to celebrate women and engage in a discussion that is beneficial to women on a global scale.

Award-winning American screenwriter, producer and director, Diane English, puts it best when she says: “Whether you realize it or not, the Women's Movement is the biggest social movement the world has seen.”