Happy International Women’s Day, y’all! Ladies have accomplished a lot since last year’s International Women’s Day—fostering the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements and organizing a second Women’s March, for example—and those accomplishments are definitely worth celebrating.
But there’s still a ton of work to do. Both the little things (constantly being told to smile more) and the big things (unequal pay and sexual harassment in the workplace) indicate that women still (still!) don’t get treated with the same level of respect as men. And now that bigger, better, and more diverse initiatives supporting women are being put into place, it’s becoming increasingly clear that we’re willing to do whatever it takes to get that respect.
Which is why we put together a list of changes we want to see implemented by the time the next International Women’s Day rolls around. We tried to keep it fairly realistic—we’d be hyped if the wage gap closed a year from now, but we (tragically) don’t think it’ll happen that quickly. So we stuck to slightly smaller movements that have already gained some traction and will hopefully gain even more by this time next year.
NO MORE: PINK TAX
In case you don’t know, people often use the term ‘Pink Tax’ to refer to the fact that products tailored to women often cost more (around 7% more, to be exact) than similar products tailored to men. While that includes everything from clothes to toys, many use the term to address the price disparity between women’s and men’s personal hygiene products (like shampoo, deodorant, and razors).
Unfortunately the Pink Tax still haunts many a grocery and drug store, but recent action suggests that it could soon become a thing of the past. In 2017, UK grocery chain Tesco deliberately changed the price of women’s razors to match that of men’s razors. Billie, a new subscription razor service, offers cheap razors made specifically for women. And Billie’s ‘Pink Tax Rebate’ actually gives users credit (aka lets women earn back the money they used to spend on overpriced products) when they share referral codes with friends. You don’t have to shave if you don’t want to, but those who do like to keep their legs and underarms silky smooth shouldn’t have to break the bank for it.
MORE: JUSTICE FOR FEMALE ATHLETES
Most female athletes continue to get paid less than their male counterparts, but many of them are finally starting to get the kudos they deserve. Despite U.S. Soccer’s insistence that the U.S. men’s national soccer team brings in more fans and more money, last year the U.S. women’s national soccer team successfully banded together to protest the fact that some of their players were getting paid up to 40 percent less than certain members of the men’s team. The result? U.S. Soccer agreed to give the team better pay and better travel accommodations through 2021.
The U.S. Women’s National Hockey Team recently locked down a similar deal with USA Hockey. Plus, a women’s cross-country skiing event and the women’s curling final both took place on the last day of the 2018 Winter Olympics—a huge deal, as final-day events usually attract more viewers and typically feature male athletes only. From Eugenie Bouchard and Hayley Wickenhesier to Hope Solo and Serena Williams, women consistently slay in their respective sports and should be treated (and paid) like the queens they are.
NO MORE: UNNECESSARILY GENDERED PRODUCTS
Mercifully, Lady Doritos aren’t actually becoming a thing. But the fact that someone thought making a quieter and cleaner ‘women’s chip’ was a good idea still blows our minds. Suggesting that women somehow can’t handle plain pens, grey hammers and super loud, super crunchy, super orange Doritos because they’re too ‘manly’ is, frankly, insulting. Because let’s be honest—we’re all capable of scarfing down an entire bag of potato chips within minutes, crumbs and all. Guys, admittedly, experience something similar on the opposite end of the retail spectrum (sadly, a ‘man yogurt’ called ‘Brogurt’ actually exists). So consider this a call to end all pointlessly gendered products, not just the ones marketed to women.
MORE: BODY POSITIVITY
Feminism has no room nor patience for any kind of exclusivity. That, of course, includes racism, homophobia, xenophobia, and transphobia. But it also includes dismissing or taking down women for what they look like or what size they wear. Last month, Glamour Magazine put together a video featuring a number of women ranging from sizes from 0 to 28. Each woman put on a pair of jeans and talked what jeans shopping means to them—and they all had a lot to say. Women in the larger size range admitted that buying clothes, much less jeans, in brick and mortar stores is nearly impossible and almost always stress-inducing. And one woman confessed to feeling forgotten and dismissed when stores don’t carry clothes in her size.
Many stores don’t carry plus-size clothing despite the fact that a large percentage of the population wears a size 14 or higher. And some companies, like Lulu Lemon, outright discourage plus-size customers to shop in its stores by piling the few plus-size pieces they do carry under tables or in corners. Some retailers and independent designers (like Jeff Cafone) have fortunately made it their mission to provide clothes that are comfortable, fashionable, and fit women of all shapes and sizes, and hopefully more people follow suit.
NO MORE: RIDICULOUS DRESS CODES
Many restaurants, including a few right here in Canada, still require female servers to wear heels, tight skirts, and low-cut shirts while male servers get away with wearing jeans and t-shirts. Not only is this sexist, but it doesn’t make any sense—how the hell are you supposed to focus on work if you’re worried about standing upright while carrying a billion trays of food?
More and more women in Canada, the U.S., and even the U.K are speaking out and trying to hold companies accountable for their dress-related double standards. And it’s actually making a difference—last year, B.C. passed a law banning mandatory high heels in the workplace, and a similar ‘Putting Your Best Foot Forward’ act is currently in review in Ontario. We desperately hope it’ll pass because, as good as they might make us look, heels hurt like hell. And we’ll never be able to rock them as flawlessly and gracefully as Beyoncé.
Most of the room stayed seated when Frances McDormand encouraged her fellow female nominees to stand up at the Oscars this past Sunday, making it painfully clear that men still dominate the film industry. Men still dominate a lot of industries, actually. But it won’t stay that way for long.
Despite the fact that men were (again) nominated for more Oscars than women in 2018, 64% of this year’s Oscars presenters were women (29% were women of colour) compared to 51% last year and 36% in 2016. Visibility matters, and seeing more and more talented, accomplished women take the stage to present some of Hollywood’s most prestigious awards could very well inspire other women to follow in their footsteps. Even Barbie is finding ways to inspire young girls to pursue their dreams, as it recently launched a new series of ‘Inspiring Women’ dolls (based on historical figures like Frida Kahlo and Katherine Johnson) and a series of ‘Shero’ dolls (based on contemporary figures like Patty Jenkins and Olympic snowboarder Chloe Kim). Most of us can’t make grand, sweeping statements on national television. But doing things as simple as lifting up women in politics and STEM-related fields, watching more female-led films, and advocating for other female professionals in person or on social media can help ensure more adequate female representation in all industries and walks of life moving forward.
By: Sara Cristiano