"Lest we forget" is a line taken from the famous poem Recessional by Rudyard Kipling. It has come to be used in remembrance of war and veterans, and carries with it the admonishment to never forget the soldiers lost and the grave lessons learned. As I watched Iron Jawed Angels for the first time yesterday, the powerful story of suffragettes in America struck a chord with me and those words, lest we forget, have been echoing in my brain.
In moments like this, I truly understand why history is a required course in high school and in many colleges - to pass on the stories of hard fought battles and everyday heroes, lest we forget. But I think that we all have a responsibility to carry on stories. It is up to all of us to choose which stories we will help carry, and help keep the memories and lessons alive.
Today, I feel that the term "feminist" carries a largely negative connotation. To say you are a feminist or that you support feminist causes is tantamount to throwing the first punch in a fist fight. Actress Emma Watson said, "I have realized that fighting for women's rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating. If there is one thing I know for certain, it is that this has to stop." And, I couldn't agree more.
There are always radicals and militants in every cause ( I have to give them the benefit of the doubt and hope that their hearts are in the right place at least), but those are rarely representative of the cause as a whole. Feminism is really about equality. To quote Watson again, "Feminism is equality: politically, culturally, socially, and economically. That's it, that simple".
So many female pioneers have dedicated their lives to the cause of equality: Mary Wollstonecraft, Sojourner Truth, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Emmeline Pankhurst, Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinman, and countless others. It is up to us to share their stories, to remember their fight, lest we forget.
There is no doubt that equality for women has come so very far, but the fight is not over. Until women are represented equally in positions of power, until men are not stigmatized for expressing feelings or taking on traditionally feminine roles, until we have stopped assigning value and ability for a given task on gender - the fight is not over.
Let's put our differences aside and raise our collective voices in remembrance of all those who have fought the good fight. Let's pick up their banner and be good and honorable human beings pushing forward to a new day. The future is up to us, and the lessons of the past are our burden to carry - lest we forget.
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