6 News Stories From The Past Week Every Feminist Should Know About
As long as the feminist movement keeps going — which it will, undaunted — there will always be those who oppose and hinder it. That's why it's important for those in the movement to focus on the small victories that happen on an equally regular basis. Just this week alone saw numerous events from around the world that reflect the power of women, from one woman tweeting very visual details of her period in protest of abortion laws to another woman's political victory that could change the course of an entire nation. Here are the most inspirational feminist news stories of the week to remind you that the fight is never in vain.
1. A Tribute To One Of The Toughest Female Politicians In U.S. History
On Friday, gun violence awareness site The Trace published an exclusive interview with Jackie Speier, a Congresswoman who was shot five times in the Jonestown massacre in 1978.
At the time, 28-year-old Speier was a legal aid to California Representative Leo Ryan and had accompanied him and a team of American legislators and journalists to research the People’s Temple Agricultural Project, also known as Jonestown, a so-called religious cult led by American Jim Jones. As Ryan and his team were helping defectors board a plane back to the U.S., Jones' security guards ambushed them and shot five Americans dead, including Ryan. Speier was wounded and left to die on the tarmac, not found until the next day.
As a survivor of such a horrendous attack, Representative Speier has spent much of her 35 years in politics pushing for gun reform. Speier has called for safety locks on all guns, the ban of certain firearms, as well as stricter background checks and restrictions for gun purchasers.
2. Irish Comedian Gráinne Maguire Is Tweeting About Her Period In Protest Of Ireland's Abortion Laws
Sometimes the fight gets messy, as Irish comedian Gráinne Maguire is proving. In protest of Ireland's extremely restrictive abortion laws, which only legally permit an abortion if the woman's health is in immediate danger (emphasis on "immediate"), Maguire has been tweeting all the bloody details of her heaviest flows at Irish Taoiseach, or Prime Minister, Enda Kenny. Her reasoning? Maguire told Vice:
Since the government feels so comfortable passing laws that impose on my body, they should know all the facts.
While she's encouraging other Irish women to do the same, I'm sure Maguire would not object to women from elsewhere joining in the sharing. If you want to help the women of Ireland get Kenny's attention over this very important feminist matter, you can tweet at him too, using the hashtag #repealthe8th. Remember: the messier the details, the better.
3. Hillary Clinton Reveals She Tried To Join The Marines
Even though this story has been widely challenged and has a decidedly sexist ending, the fact that it exists is a testament to Hillary Clinton's badassery. On Tuesday, Clinton retold at a breakfast in New Hampshire an old story about how she once tried to join the Marines in 1975.
He looks at me and goes, ‘Um, how old are you. And I said, ‘Well I am 26, I will be 27.’ And he goes, ‘Well, that is kind of old for us.’ And then he says to me, and this is what gets me, ‘Maybe the dogs will take you,’ meaning the Army.
According to The Washington Post, Clinton first told the story in 1994, when she told the crowd at a lunch honoring military women:
You’re too old, you can’t see and you’re a woman. Maybe the dogs would take you.
Her first account was disputed by The New York Times' Maureen Dowd, and now her latest version is being disputed by the Post, who speculates that Clinton wasn't genuinely trying to join, only test the Marines' inclusiveness of women. Either way, no matter the details, Clinton's story reflects her desire to serve her country, proving that patriotism sees no gender.
4. A Personal Look At The Women Of The Syrian Refugee Crisis
This week, Refinery29 published an in-depth feature on the Syrian refugee crisis through the eyes of three individual women. Titled "Behind the Headlines: Daughters of Paradise," the story profiles Reem, Noor, and Najlaa. Reem is a 29-year-old former schoolteacher in her hometown of Jableh, Syria. Forced to flee, she and her husband now live in Turkey, where she volunteers at a school for Syrian refugee children. Noor, 27, spent 50 days in jail and was psychologically tortured and interrogated for volunteering at a school supported by pro-democracy activists. Najlaa, a mother of two, was one of the first women to protest in her hometown of Daraya. After her husband was arrested by the Assad regime, she was forced to flee and now runs the Honorable Women's Center, which helps refugee women learn job skills, in Turkey.
5. Meryl Streep Joins A Feminist Protest In Dublin
Academy Award-winning actress, feminist, and all-around class act Meryl Streep has proven once again that she is a true role model for women everywhere. For its 100th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising, Ireland's most famous theater, the Abbey, is celebrating with a series of male-written plays and only one female-written play. Since its opening in 1904, female playwrights, actresses, and producers have accused the theater of exhibiting a gender bias in its productions, and the choices for its commemorative celebration is yet another example.
In response to the Abbey's selection, Streep joined other protesters on social media in the #wakingthefeminists movement. Streep appears in a photo, along with actress Christine Baranski and two other women, holding a sign that reads, "I support Irish women in Irish theatre."
6. Political Activist And Party Founder Aung San Suu Kyi Brings Democracy To Myanmar
After more than 50 years of military dictatorship, Myanmar is finally embracing a new period of democracy, thanks to Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy party. On Friday, it was announced that the NLD had won the election in a landslide victory, which means Suu Kyi will be able to elect the country's next president. Suu Kyi has dedicated much of her life to bringing democracy to Myanmar through peaceful demonstration and nonviolent resistance. She spent 15 of the last 21 years under house arrest, but has never faltered in her mission. It's no wonder that Suu Kyi, affectionately known as "The Lady," is a national hero in her country.