Women’s History Month dawns upon us as we greet the month of March. We honor women’s history by looking back and commemorating women who have come before us and accomplished awesome achievements in order to move forward and build upon their work. In a society that seems to call into question the validity and strength of the modern woman, we may find ourselves questioning what makes a woman a woman. What attributes does a woman posses and how are they valued in her society?
Actress and LGBTQ activist, Laverne Cox spoke to students at California State University, Northridge on March 1, about her experience as a transgender woman, the challenges of having her womanhood questioned, and what makes a woman.
She mentioned being inspired by women’s right activist and abolitionist – Sojourner Truth’s speech “Ain’t I A Woman?” She goes on to explain that being a woman is not about the sex assigned to you at birth, it is about the uncompromisable strength and pride we carry as woman that cannot be replicated. And how as women, we are intersectional beings that cannot be identified as singular beings. It is about the boundaries that we have broken and continue to break. As a member of the LGBTQ community, she enlightened her audience of the realities her community faces and how they stem from lack of cultural and social understanding.
Our society values the notion of distinctness and categories. We like to consider men and women as separate. We like to consider ethnicity, race, class and socioeconomic status, as things that do not affect each other.
As women we are not just one thing – we are mothers. We are daughters. We are sisters. We are friends. We are leaders. We are pioneers. The intersectionality of our identities makes us strong. Our strength should not be a threat, but rather an asset to be valued.
Being that women are beings with multiple roles and assets, we as a community must recognize the beauty in our diversity as women. Regardless of sexual orientation, class, race, ethnicity, or transgender identity.
As we march on through Women’s History Month, we must recognize the hard work of the women before us as they have broken countless cultural and social barriers in regards to race, class and social status. As a way to honor their hard work, we must continue their work to change our society’s perception of the power of the woman as well as who the modern woman is. The modern woman is a leader. The modern woman is educated. The modern woman is strong. The modern woman is capable. The modern woman is strong. You are the modern woman.