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Feminist Manifesto

by Susan Lee about a year ago in activism
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Thoughts on gender progress in the U.S. in recent weeks

yours truly

When I graduated from Stanford University, I was equipped with feminist theories from renowned feminists and allies such as Audre Lorde, Belle Hooks and Adrienne Rich. Never was I prepared for the real world - the real world where women's rights issues and deeply entrenched structural injustices clash, targeting vulnerable women like myself because of our identities.

Because of my intersectional identity - as an Asian American, immigrant, Korean-American woman (also a daughter and sister) - despite all my theoretical underpinnings, I was and became a vulnerable person in the real world to some people and in certain situations.

I learned that because of deeply entrenched structural injustices in the U.S. - a nation supposedly based on principles of liberty and freedom - I had to fight harder and put up defenses despite my innate naivete because the world is full of ignorant people who will try to tear me down or take advantage of me or just exploit me because I am a woman.

Because of my gender, I suffer every day while my male counterparts don't and when I'm not complaining audibly or speaking out, my reluctant silence speaks volumes - my reluctant silence says EVERYTHING.

Despite my education and my innate strength and years of readings and theoretical preparation, I have to FIGHT to assert myself and to be true to myself and to just be who I am and come to the table AS I AM because of the structural injustices that threaten to undermine who I am and my innate and fundamental sense of integrity and dignity.

Look at the women's rights issues and debates that are raging at the U.S. Supreme Court even as recently as October 2020. Look at the Amy Barrett hearings or the subsequent protests that engulfed the news because of the fact that women's critical rights to access abortion and healthcare are being threatened and attacked every day. Or let us pause to celebrate and laud the election of Kamala Harris - the first woman who is African-American and of Southeast Asian descent to be elected to the second-highest office in the land. Consider the recent victories of first Korean-American women elected to office in November. The hiring of Kimberly Ng, the first female to become General Manager in the Major Leagues (Florida Marlins) exemplifies how much progress women have made just in the past month alone. As one Instagram account aptly put it after the elections, "Watch Out because you can hear the glass shattering!" Although these steps may not bring about the instant overnight change the U.S. needs to ensure gender equality in the 21st century and serve as a example to the rest of the world as a beacon of democracy and equality and equity, these changes may usher in progress and open the door for millions of young women and girls to identify mentors and shatter the glass in these traditionally-male fields and realms.

My moral duty is NOT whether or not I can persuade or dissuade someone to share my views or adhere to a certain ideological perspective based on religion or my personal convictions. My moral duty is to make this world - a world in the throes of transition and birth pains - a better and safer place for younger generations of women and girls. My moral duty is to do something and to struggle against and combat the innate structural injustices and to leave a legacy for the younger generation which they will be proud of - that they will consider myself and others allies and revolutionary social justice fighters and advocates for women's rights and progress in this chaotic and turbulent world.

activism

About the author

Susan Lee

I graduated from Stanford University in 2002 with a BA in International Relations and a minor in Psychology and have a Masters in International Affairs from Georgetown University.

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