Inspired By Patricia Arquette? Here Are Things You Can Do Right Now

Photo: Jim Smeal/BEImages.
By now, you’ve probably heard Patricia Arquette’s fiery Oscar acceptance speech for her supporting role in Richard Linklater’s Boyhood. “It’s high time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America,” she said as Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lopez fist-pumped from their seats.

It was a spectacular moment but — without women across the country making it their own business to push for change and equality — it was only that: a mere moment. So, how can we keep it from fading? Here are four things you can do now to get involved.

1. Educate Yourself: Despite the praise Arquette received for her onstage speech, she made a couple of faux pas during her backstage remarks. “It's time for all the women in America and all the men that love women, and all the gay people, and all the people of color that we've all fought for to fight for us now,” she said. That might be true — but it also created a divide between women’s issues and minority issues that’s causing some serious waves. “The idea that queers and POC have had their time in the struggle spotlight long enough. Eek,” tweeted writer Roxane Gay. The lesson? Context, context, context.

If you're looking for somewhere to start, read up on women in the civil rights movement, or pick up Gay's Bad Feminist.

2. Be the change:
You've heard the stats before: Women make less money than men, have fewer fruitful mentoring relationships, get promoted to positions of power less often, and lean back before they even realize what they’re doing.

On an individual level, that means you should ask for the raise you deserve (here's a primer!), seek out the mentorship of female leaders (and become one yourself when a mentee presents herself), and go for the intimidating job you’re qualified for when you want it. And, seek the right balance in your personal life; your biggest goal may not be a career-focused one at all, but it deserves your time and attention. 

3. Stay involved: Register to vote; research and help to elect candidates who are focused on empowering women in their communities and across the country. Volunteer for the causes you care about. Be part of the solution by giving your time and money to organizations you believe in. Participate. Social media isn’t activism until it is integrated into our real life actions. 

4. Support other women: It’s easy to think that just because you don’t experience sexual discrimination in your everyday life that other women are not being marginalized in theirs. Victim shaming often comes from within the female community, and ignoring other women’s experiences because they fall outside your own diminishes what they’re going through. Pay attention to their stories, and take them seriously: They are the fuel we need to power our way toward lasting change and — someday, finally — gender equality. 
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