Let’s face it ladies (and gentlemen, and everyone in between) — we live in a society that doesn’t always treat women the best. Between fighting for maternity leave and equal pay, to always being asked the dreaded “How do you balance work and kids?” question, we could all use a little empowerment. Here are six feminist icons that challenged the system, and how you can do the same:
Yes, she was the First Lady, but did you also know that she was one of the first First Lady’s to have her own activism and legacy in the White House alongside her husband? She worked with the Women’s Trade Union and International Congress of Working Women to promote equality, especially for working mothers. She also was the first First Lady to have her own press conferences, newspaper column, andand open disagreements with her presidential spouse’s policies! Her role as First Lady had room to stretch, and regardless of your current position, you can do the same. Volunteer for an organization you’re passionate about or start your own.
The moment Emma Watson stepped into our lives as the bossy, intelligent, and outspoken Hermione Granger we should have known she would transform modern feminism as we know it. Founder of UN Women’s Campaign HeForShe, Emma reminded us that feminism is not only empowering women, but also creating equal opportunities for men and women. Consider having a conversation with the men in your life about how you can work together to promote gender equality in both your career and professional life.
A Black woman who once was accused of murder (and spent a year in jail before they dropped the charges!), Angela Davis certainly knows what it’s like to have the metaphorical glass ceiling trapping her—but that hasn’t ever stopped her activism. Due to her long career of standing up for equal rights, she was invited to speak at the Women’s March in 2017 in Washington D.C. The Rolling Stones and John Lennon have even written songs inspired by her. Despite her unpopular opinions she has stayed fiercely firm to her beliefs over the past decades. Her photo is already on John Lennon’s album cover, so why not have it pinned in your cubicle?
One of the most famous women in the world originally started out being paid less than her male co-anchor. She went from growing up with a single mother in poverty to becoming the highest-paid African American in history. Oprah has also donated over $400 million to support female education. With every obstacle stacked in front of her, she still managed to drop-kick every single one out of the way, a trail of women following her (like the “Dancing Queen” scene in Mamma Mia). Don’t settle for less, ladies, and challenge the inequality you’re seeing!
Marlene is the most underrated feminist icon on the Internet. She was almost arrested in the 1930’s for wearing pants in public! This daring fashion move is a flawless example of not allowing yourself to be boxed into a gender norm. Next time you dress for work, why not skip the pencil skirt and opt for a blazer? After all, “Dress for the image … not for men.”
Where were you when Kamala Harris reminded then-Vice President Mike Pence that he interrupted her while she was speaking? For a basic common courtesy, it was certainly seen as a bold move. Now the first female and the first person of color to be Vice President of the United States, Kamala is the 2021 feminist icon we desperately need. She is the highest-ranking female official in the country. Next time you think you’re qualified for the promotion (or even if you don’t think you are!) go for it. Kamala didn’t get to where she is today by letting golden opportunities be handed to men.
With so many examples of powerful, iconic, feminist women, what can you do to feel their energy? Hang their photos in your office, read a biography or memoir by them, find ways to support and uplift other females, and don’t be afraid to stand up, speak out, or wear the slacks.
Some professions are also perfect for creative and outspoken women to thrive in, such as digital marketing. Learn more about the field here.