Forget About the Glass Ceiling

JULIA SERRA | OPINION EDITOR

Lately I’ve been baffled with the general public’s misunderstanding of feminism. There is a mantra I’ve repeated a thousand times: “feminism isn’t about women being better than men, it is about gender equality.” But no matter how many times I’ve repeated myself, I continue to be misunderstood. I’ve consoled myself by remembering that this patriarchal society is simply too defensive of male superiority to let women rise to the top. I take on a “haters gonna hate” sort of attitude, but then I just let the bubble around me get more opaque. I cannot be content with misunderstanding. The feminist movement needs to redefine itself, it needs to shake off the connotation that empowering women is a struggle for power over men.

The Hillary Clinton Campaign hosted its election night banquet in a building with a glass ceiling. It was symbolic of the progress she had made during her campaign and would have made as the victor. The glass ceiling has become an iconic feminist symbol, but perhaps there has been too much focus on “breaking the glass ceiling,” a pursuit that is admirable but not when it becomes attached solely to the idea of women in the workplace. If the term glass ceiling is going to be used, it needs to be further defined. Feminism should not be about empowering corporate women, but about fighting for the success of all.

Being an empowered woman is about more than succes. That’s why the women’s movement must refuse to feel defeated in the light of the Trump administration. If Hillary Clinton had won, an oppressive system would still have been in place. We can put more women in power, and that is good, but if this society wants true justice we need to do more than that. We need to dramatically alter the system in which those power figures exist. We need to define power in a way that includes equality. The feminist motivation must extend beyond the needs of women and recognize the reality of intersectionality. Focusing on “breaking the glass ceiling” will not disassemble the system and will only miscommunicate the admirable intentions of a true feminist.

Classifying a woman as empowered does not mean that she has the guts to beat out the men in a capitalist rat race. It means that she has the guts to take the hand of her sisters, regardless of their race, sexual orientation or class. It means that she has the guts to take part in their fight, to involve herself in the pursuit of justice for all. Feminism is not only about gender equality. It’s about empowering women and fighting for social justice in its largest sense Now more than ever, it is time for women to empower each other. We are a powerful force in this society, whether the patriarchy wants us to be or not. Women and allies need to join to fight for our own rights, fight for standing rock, fight for racial equality, fight the fights of those around us. Feminism does not exist to bring us more female CEOs, it exists for the sake of love and justice.

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