At noon on January 21, 2018, as hundreds of other women’s marches and rallies occurred across the United States to protest the one year inauguration of President Trump, a crowd estimated by the Sonoma Independent to number more than 1,000 women and men of all ages turned out in Sebastopol’s Town Square. The event, which drew the largest number of people ever to fill the public commons of “Peacetown, USA,” featured the legendary California singing duo known as MaMuse. Sebastopol City Council member and recent mayor Una Glass spoke of the common struggle for womens’ rights, justice and immigrant rights and 17-year old Mikaiya Gude later spoke on behalf of the many young activists in the crowd. Mikaiya’s short talk is reprinted in its entirety below. -Editor
Speech to Sebastopol Women’s Rally by Mikaiya Gude
Why has “feminist” become a dirty word? Perhaps it is the outdated notion we are all men-hating, bra-burning rebels. But why is it we have trapped outspoken young women to this confining stereotype? Today, A feminist comes dressed in jeans and a t-shirt and she’s labeled as unladylike, or lipstick and heels and her very speech becomes undermined by the way she chooses to dress. In truth, feminism is advocacy, not a certain aesthetic or bold attitude.
While society was preoccupied deciding how a true feminist should look and act, we have forgotten the very definition of the movement. This is the reason we continually use the word feminist to hinder audacious women. Considering current political heat surrounding the term, I believe it necessary we redefine feminism.
As Merriam Webster Dictionary states, feminism is the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes. Furthermore, I would like to point out that nowhere in this definition does it say the feminist movement is reserved for women. Gender equality is an issue for which we all hold responsibility; Every individual across the gender spectrum, across all political party affiliations, has a part in the movement towards equality.
History has shown that one fight for equality inherently lights the spark for other movements towards justice. View this not as a fight for feminism, but a movement towards unity. Feminism has to be a shift in antiquated tradition. Feminism means revamping our economy, politics, and everyday society in regards to the way we treat gender. This will take the efforts of a very wide spectrum of individuals. This is a movement of solidarity–the reason why we march. So I urge you to proudly don your feminist title, no matter your appearance, politics, religion, or gender.