Dee Rees had the best answer for CNN about gender equality.

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On International Women’s Day, CNN asked a handful of women from around the world, “What single thing would you change to improve gender equality where you are?”

All of the women made good points, but Dee Rees stood out, and her response is the one we should be paying attention to in 2018. The director and screenwriter recently made history as the first black woman and lesbian to be nominated for an Oscar for an adapted screenplay. She had this to say in response to CNN’s question:

“I think it would be that men get asked these same questions on the carpet. As women, we’re constantly asked to interrogate our gender and men aren’t. So, we are constantly talking about what it means to be a woman, but men need to really interrogate and talk about what it means to be a man, because it’s that self-reflection that will lead to a broader conversation.”

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“I think it would be that men get asked these same questions on the carpet. As women, we’re constantly asked to interrogate our gender and men aren’t. So, we are constantly talking about what it means to be a woman, but men need to really interrogate and talk about what it means to be a man, because it’s that self-reflection that will lead to a broader conversation.”

This is something that I have thought about a lot, and I couldn’t agree with Rees more. When exactly did it become up to women to shoulder the burden of explaining how we are oppressed as women? It is no more the responsibility of women to take this on than it is for black people to constantly explain to white people why and how they are an oppressed group. Read some history!

Simultaneously, being asked to constantly interrogate our gender, and what it means to be a woman, has taken an increasingly misogynic turn of late. I don’t see long think pieces being published with titles like “What is a Man?” But a woman? That seems like it’s constantly up for debate. And yet, it clearly doesn’t serve women. It would be useless for me to talk about what it means to be a woman because it’s something I have no control over. It is simply a reality of being, not an identity issue. I don’t say that I “identify” as a lesbian either because I don’t. I just am one. I couldn’t change it even if I wanted to, so naturally, like race or my birth, I don’t want to have to explain it all the time. And I certainly don’t want to continually explain womanhood or gender equality.

Maybe it is time for men to be interrogated about manhood, as Rees points out. And while we’re at it, they should be asked more about who they’re wearing on the red carpet. Women have more important things to discuss. #TheFutureisFemale

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