It’s difficult to do anything right now. It seems like we’ve been pushed down into the mud, and every time we look up, our faces get stepped on and shoved back in. I don’t mean this for any particular group of people; it’s been a tough year for everyone. Just waiting there for the next punishment, blaming a year because it’s the only thing we have to blame for the mass existential crisis the world has been going through. The whole world is a mess right now. Human rights violations, deaths, suicides, homicides, politics, divisions between family and friends and country… it keeps going.
I don’t know what’s going to happen in 2017, but it isn’t going to instantly fix what we’re going through. New years aren’t magical, and anyone who made a resolution can attest to that. We have to get back up and fight just as we always have, because our rights are just being tossed to the side and will be destroyed if we don’t keep speaking up. We’ve already made plans, we’re ready to march, we’re ready to save what we have, but I don’t know if we’re going to make any progress. But at least we can stand in place. We can push back. Coming from Indiana, I know what Mike Pence is ready and willing to do, and we fought him tooth and nail every step of the way until he somehow disappeared and became vice president.
Research. Pick your fights. Make sure you know what’s coming and what will be most dangerous to the world. If you’re good at organizing, get people together. If you’re good at writing, make sure others know what’s happening and write hope into your messages. If you’re good at standing strong and screaming for your rights, for fuck’s sake do it because sometimes one person standing alone is enough. Vote. Demand. Protest. Stay focused. And at the end of the day, be good to yourself, because there’s a very good chance of burnout in the coming year. Always know that you did what you could, whether it was joining a rally or giving money to a cause that you know needs it. Always give where you can. We deserve our rights, and we are going to keep them. People deserve to live, and they need help doing that. 2017 will be about survival. But let’s never forget what we learned from 2016. We will keep rising up.
Here’s some good news from 2016; feel free to add to the list if you like.
What I’m about to share with you through several posts is my work through the past year. It has been a struggle to contain myself from flipping out and screaming on my blog during the duration of my project. I’ve hated the world, I’ve cried, I’ve rejoiced, and I’ve gone outside several times just to remind myself the world was still okay.
This started out as a research project to determine how human trafficking has effected the Midwest of the United States, where I live. What ended up happening was a concerted effort to understand the darkest parts of humanity, to understand how people could do what they’ve done to others they didn’t even consider humans. I wanted to call them monsters, but I couldn’t. They aren’t monsters. They don’t crawl out in the night and capture people. They don’t hide under beds and in closets. They don’t suck blood or eat brains. They are just humans. Humans who have come to the extreme conclusion that other humans don’t matter.
This paper explicitly shows what happens when we don’t have equality. Lines begin to be drawn for who matters and who doesn’t, who gets to be happy and who is used for fodder.
And I spend most of my time with this project trying to dim down the actual horror behind the crime, because this was an academic paper for anthropology. This is about the United States and its issue with human trafficking, and how anthropology studies it. This paper is so watered down that it actually makes me cry to think of what hasn’t been said. But the information is still valid and important. And I just want you to know that all the stories are true. All the information has been thoroughly researched. And my heart and tears are on every page.
Karma isn’t coming.
I know, for all of us, there is a sense of security that comes from believing that a problem is going to be taken care of. And I don’t mean our personal problems. I mean the global ones that are often out of our hands, come out of left field and take a swipe at our sanity. Where an Indian girl is gang-raped and forced to drop the case, leaving her the option of killing herself or marrying one of her rapists. Or when new legislation comes forward that makes it possible for others to make medical choices for your body that are none of their concern. We want to believe that some larger force is going to come down and help with the situation, and if that doesn’t happen, then clearly it was an oversight.
We want revenge, and we don’t want to do it ourselves.
But revenge shouldn’t be our goal. Change should be our goal. If you want revenge, then you’re going into the situation thinking only of that scenario, of those particular people. And karma isn’t coming after those people.
Karma is meant to be balance in nature and life, and we don’t know what that balance is.
So be your own karma. If it pisses you off that people are getting away with beating their significant others, then do something. Call in that domestic abuse report, and then refuse to back down until they do something about it. You can’t just hope that a truck is going to hit the perpetrator, or that they will be beaten. It solves nothing except giving you a vicious thrill, a taste of violence, when what you should really be doing is fighting against violence.
We are too far out of balance when our solution to violent crimes is to wish violence on others.
It certainly wasn’t karma that put six gang rapists into jail on murder charges. It was a huge crowd, protesting for justice.
Karma isn’t going to stop these doctors from imprisoning new mothers.
And karma isn’t going to come down on the legislators who refuse to pass VAWA.
We are. We’re going to come down on them, and we’re going to keep bringing change into the world.
But we have to be more loving and compassionate than our enemies. Far from being vengeful, we have to be thoughtful and creative with our solutions. We have to face the evils of the world without standing behind a shield of supernatural interference.
“Compassion hurts. When you feel connected to everything, you also feel responsible for everything. And you cannot turn away. Your destiny is bound with the destinies of others. You must either learn to carry the Universe or be crushed by it. You must grow strong enough to love the world, yet empty enough to sit down at the same table with its worst horrors.” – Andrew Boyd
It occurs to me that part of the problem that people find with feminism is the absolute overhaul that feminism wants. Equality for everyone, responsibility for everyone, choice for everyone! There is a lot of fear in change, and it’s becoming very apparent.
For instance, despite our rousing success in making women and people of different ethnicity a bigger part of the political system, there are still other invasive problems that people do not want to address. Heterosexual people want the man to propose, and not the woman. How could we break away from such a cherished tradition, such a romantic ideal?
And why would we want to deny a woman her moment to feel beautiful or sexy? Not every comment is harassment! And why shouldn’t we worship a woman for bringing life into the world? She’s amazing for doing so!
These arguments are sound, but the idea behind feminism isn’t breaking the traditions that people want, but to deal with the underlying problems that come from those situations. Like the woman being considered property, or street harassment, or staring at a woman for nine months and denying her her very identity as anything but a breeder.
It’s also dealing with the denial of other types of lifestyles, like being gay, transgender, single, childfree, childless, or being considered less because you don’t fit into the beauty ideal, or being older, or having the wrong fashion. When women deny that they are feminist despite believing in the strength of women and the need for equality, they are trying to brush off the uncomfortable need for change that underlies all of our traditions. They are trying to break down the conversation of us needing to be inclusive of all people. It’s too much change, too much responsibility, too much freedom for them to handle, and they refuse to be a part of it.
People who deny being feminist might also have the false idea that feminists are not inclusive, or believe that they want to make inequality work for them, such as making men less a part of society or denying them their rights. Which might be true for some people who call themselves feminists and hide behind the label (another discussion for another time). But it isn’t the core of feminism. Feminism requires change for the better.
Change is uncomfortable and slow. But it might just be slow because no one wants to be uncomfortable.
But people should start being uncomfortable with the way that they live, and the exclusion and violence that happens in the world. They damn well had better be uncomfortable, because it isn’t right. It isn’t right for people to be raped as a weapon of war or as a sign of power, it isn’t right for people to be objectified and made less because of their lifestyle, and it isn’t right for people to be constantly told that they have to fit into a tiny square of acceptability or the world will hurt them.
Be responsible with your life. Don’t ignore what’s wrong with the world because you’re too uncomfortable to admit that it’s there. That denial will sit with you. You have to take action. And feminism is action.
First and foremost, I love you. Even if I never see you grow up, you’re always in my thoughts. When I fight for women’s rights, I fight for you. And I want you to know, that you are on the cusp of a new world. A world with more rights for women than we have every seen. Hold tight to those rights. Don’t let anyone take them away from you or tell you that you don’t deserve them.
You have the right to be yourself.
You have the right to say no. Or yes. Or maybe.
You have the right to your body.
You have the right to speak your mind.
Your accomplishments are your own, and although you may need help (and I encourage you to take help when you need it), remember that you had the strength to accomplish whatever you wanted. Don’t let people belittle you. They’ll never know you like you do, and they’ll never understand what it took for you to get where you’re going.
Love yourself. You’re beautiful. I know, because I’ve looked into your eyes at some point and seen a future full of hope. I’ve seen your smile, free of worry. And although you may go through life worrying, remember that at some point… you were totally zen. And going back to that point takes good food, a loving hug, and a long nap.
Love others. People go through life with no self esteem because they’ve been brought down. Love especially your sisters, every woman who crosses your path. Just like you, no one knows her like she knows herself, and she deserves to be appreciated for her struggle.
Fight for a better world. There’s enough to do to last you a lifetime. Someone out there needs your help, and I know you can help them, because you’re made of love.
Don’t fall into gender roles if you don’t want to. Leave the pink life behind and go to the blue side if your passion is there. No one can stop you, and give them hell if they try to. It’s your life, your mind, your goal.
I wish I could help you fight your battles. I wish I could be there to tell you that you are loved and that you can do anything. But I can’t do that all the time. For two of you, I can’t be there at all. But you’re in my heart, and this message is to let you know: You are loved. You can do anything. And I hope you can hear my prayers for you.
It’s time to be thankful. And I am. I’m thankful for my internship with Planned Parenthood, I’m thankful that I was able to be a full part of the election experience, I’m thankful that we’re finally getting to be a diverse government, and I’m especially thankful for everyone who’s put up with me these last few months.
And as the rush of the election slowly drains away into a mild fear of backlash, I’ve made my way to more positive places in my usual social media.
Who Needs Feminism? is a facebook page that updates everyday with pictures of people who are celebrating their lives as feminists. Anyone can contribute to the page and let them know why they need feminism!
Everyday Feminism is a facebook page and a website that talks about all the little ways that you can be a feminist. They have quotes, pictures, articles, and questions that stimulate your everyday feminist!
“You don’t have to be pretty. You don’t owe prettiness to anyone. Not to your boyfriend/spouse/partner, not to your co-workers, especially not to random men on the street. You don’t owe it to your mother, you don’t owe it to your children, you don’t owe it to civilization in general. Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked ‘female.'” — Diana Vreeland
Gossip is a form of emotional and verbal bullying that many people minimize. While you may not be pushing someone into a locker or stealing their milk money, it’s extremely hurtful to the target’s self esteem, mental health and friendships. Learn some tips on how to speak out against it.
I’ll get back to my usual blogs soon enough! But for right now, I hope everyone is enjoying their weeks! Happy Thanksgiving!
Hello, and congratulations. We finally gained a victory, and it was all because of the steps that we took, whether it was posting a picture, signing a petition, or not giving up on the idea of the voting process. Women took a huge stand in this election, finally bringing their voices together and saying that the way things were was wrong. And soon, it will change.
And if it doesn’t change… we’ll just keep pushing. Because that’s what we do. We take steps each day to make change happen. We are never passive.
So, for those who are just joining us in the fight, or for those who have been here since the dawn of wrongness, I welcome you.
Take the first step.
1. Don’t ignore the problem
If something bothers you, say something about it! Sign that petition, write that blog, repost that picture, speak out! Every step counts, and as we’ve learned, the only way to change a problem is through educating the community around us.
We should be enraged if someone commits a crime, moral or otherwise, and there is no good reason to ignore it.
2. Start the movement in your community
Chances are, there aren’t a lot of feminists gathering around and discussing issues in your community. But there is a lot better chance that someone is out there, waiting for the opportunity to be with others that think like they do. So give them that chance! Find a place for safe discussion, and let people know about it. Let them know they aren’t alone, and that there is something they can do.
The strength of feminism comes from having a community to gather with, to plan and to motivate. We need each other, and there is a place for us in your town.
3. Volunteer with a feminist organization
There are a lot of organizations that need volunteers to help with the cause, and they have a lot to do! Even if you only have a small amount of time, there is something for you to get involved in. You have the choice of what to do with your free time, and what better investment than to make sure the world has a better chance at equality.
4. Change your mind
Feminism isn’t just about women’s rights. It’s about equality on all levels, and if you have an issue with a group of people, it’s time to change your mind. Oppressing others is no way to make the world a better place. Individuals are not their group, and everyone deserves to have the same choices about the way they live their lives.
If feminism is a straight white female group, then feminism is wrong. Just as Bell Hooks says, feminism is for everyone, and we have no chance to bring equality to the world if we spend our time excluding others from our own group!
Every moment in your life is an opportunity to help the world. The problem is overwhelming, but hopefully this victory is the encouragement you need to understand that each problem just needs to be taken in little steps.
Many people are disenchanted with the idea of voting or involving themselves in politics. It’s been a hard year, and as always with presidential election years, the media has nothing else it wants to talk about. Unfortunately, people are more likely not to vote when they are bombarded with information.
We’re also dealing with very left and right candidates, which makes sense because usually only the hard core supporters vote during the primaries, picking the person the rest of us are left with. I would say vote in the primaries, but we are way past that.
With all the social and economical issues at stake, we really need to get in gear and make sure that people we know vote, and know why they are voting. Many people don’t see the point. They think their vote doesn’t count, or that the outcome won’t effect them, and if it does, well, they can just live with it until the next election because it can’t possibly be that bad.
My wordpress community knows better, and I think we can all agree that a vote is always important.
So what’s at stake?
I could keep going, but I think you get the point. The stakes are too high, and we have to be informed, and we have to care.
I have until October 8th to make sure that people are registered to vote. Check to see when your cutoff date is, and let people know how dangerous it is not to vote.
Voting registration information:
This link will ask you about most of the issues and how you feel about them: http://www.isidewith.com/presidential-election-quiz
And this video is from 2008 (and Myspace, my God!), but it’s still relevant: http://www.myspace.com/video/vid/43877316
This election, something you care about is being voted on. And if you don’t register or vote, someone else is going to decide for you. Do you really want to give away your power, your voice? Are you really that confident that you’ll come out okay on the other side?
I’m not taking that chance. And neither should you, or your friends.
Help someone register. It’s an act of love.
“Now, we must all fear evil men. But there is another kind of evil which we must fear most, and that is the indifference of good men.” -Boondock Saints
This could probably be my favorite quote ever. It rings so true, no matter the time period. There may be evil in the world, but there is no way for us to defeat evil if people keep turning blind eyes to the trouble.
What do people say about rapists and pedophiles, traffickers and murders? That they’re rare, that they aren’t in my neighborhood, that their crimes couldn’t effect me. And yet we hear about it everyday. The victim is blamed. Surely they did something, because there is no way that just happens to the average person! No way that could happen to me!
And so, crime goes on because the general public is too afraid to even admit that evil is there. We become apathetic to the troubles of others, fearing the world outside of our volunteered ignorance.
But I’ll tell you something. If we all admitted that things were wrong, the majority of us would be in the fight against these evil people. We would quickly take charge of situations where someone was in danger. No longer would people stand by and watch, but they would get involved and save the victim.
If evil can’t hide behind our apathy, then evil has no where to hide. So call the cops when you see a crime being committed, defend people who are being hurt, and be aware of the cruelty in your world. We can stop it if we stop denying it.
Prosecute Human Trafficking as a Crime Against Humanity
A closer look at gender and online news
Fabulous feminism for all!
Voices of women and girls around the world!