Feminism has always been a complex movement. When women first fought for the right to vote in the UK and the U.S., it was noble, but it wasn’t all inclusive. This right to vote was intended for a specific demographic, namely white women. It didn’t include women of color, or any person of color for that matter. That’s not to say that what these women did wasn’t admirable, because even as a woman of color, I look up to the suffragettes. I don’t think people necessarily mean to forget about marginalized populations, but it happens none the less, even in the 21rst century.
Even in our culture that is probably more accepting than it has ever been, our feminism tends to lack inclusion. We can’t have a feminism that only pays attention to the needs of white, cisgender women. Women of color, trans women, gender nonconforming individuals, people who are differently abled, people with learning differences, and LGBTQ women face challenges that are unique to them. But when marginalized groups are not actively represented in feminist movements, their challenges and needs are not being addressed. They are not being given a voice for the discrimination they face.
I think that we have the potential to undergo an amazing cultural shift. Inclusion and acceptance of people of all genders, giving everyone the opportunities they need to be safe and productive in society, this can only lead to a more open-minded and compassionate world. Compassion seems like a simple concept, but our society makes it complicated. This virtue needs to be at the heart of what we do. Words matter. Ideas matter. The way we treat each other matters. Striving for a gender equality that is inclusive, while acknowledging the needs of specific demographics, can be one of the most important things our society does as a whole.