Dear 100 Hour Board,
How can I be better being a feminist/supporting feminism in 2019?
I hope I didn't go overboard with this (I definitely did), but there are so many ways that you can greater support causes of feminism, depending on which parts inspire you the most, your desired level of involvement, which aspect of your life you'd like to focus on, if you would like to donate money, etc. etc. Any small victory is still a victory, and just being a kind and loving person is the best support of all. Also, I just wanna say that I may be totally off about something on this list. Like most people, I'm a 'feminist-in-progress', meaning that I don't know exactly what I'm doing, but I want to help and I'm trying my best and learning as I go. If anyone sees a mistake that I made, please drop a correction. Anyway, because I'm a little crazy and study this stuff too often, here's a (pretty long) list of ideas you may be interested in:
- Talk about important issues. Sure, you'll probably get treated like I do (ugh, that sociology degree is making her absolutely insufferable to talk to. So many social issues! Why do we care about the poor and starving and marginalized?) but it's important to end the ignorance. People with privilege are the ones with more power and control, and often don't realize that fact. People need to be confronted with the reality of how horribly some people are treated. The reality of homicide statistics and domestic violence statistics needs to be addressed. So talk to people about it.
- Support charities/nonprofits dedicated to fighting for women - not just in the U.S. either. Child marriage, gendercide, and period-shaming exist in a disappointing number of countries, and even though the U.S. has its fair share of problems, we need to stand up for the women who are still lacking basic human rights. At the end of this list, I'll link to some really great nonprofits and other organizations that can put your resources to work in ways that you may be unable to.
- Don't treat men like menaces. We need everyone on the same team. Sure, statistics definitely don't make things look peachy, but the fact of the matter is, many of the problems women face today are so deeply historically rooted that it's pretty unfair to blame the men of today right and left for things they probably don't like either. Sure, it was men of the past that made the stupid laws and institutional problems in the first place... but we're moving past that now. Not everyone is like that. Most of us want the world to be a better place for everyone. Don't go crazy on men just for being men, that defeats the whole point of feminism. We are not trying to flip the tables or take revenge/get even. We want to be on the same level, not by tearing down, but by lifting up.
- Get educated about strong and powerful women who have made a difference in the world. Watch Hidden Figures or On the Basis of Sex or Loving or He Named Me Malala or The Help. The mindset of the masses is set when we have good educated discussions about this kind of thing.... but you have to actually know what you're talking about. It helps if you know some good examples in popular media. Again, a list of examples is at the end of this list.
- Take a Sociology of Gender class or a Women's Studies class! Too many folks kind of turn a cold shoulder to these classes, but the kind of new insight and information you can gain from taking them is incredible.
- Volunteer at a women's shelter, or give some of your additional resources to them.
- Support women-owned businesses. There are TONS, especially in Utah. Also... Etsy shops are a good place to go.
- Call out inequality. Don't tolerate men OR other women making sexist comments or jokes around you. Call it what it is. This goes for anything that degrades other people.
- Vote! Vote for egalitarian policies and for people you believe support your interests.
- Write letters/emails or call up your representatives. Tell them that you're concerned about the rights of women, the pink tax, sexual assault and harrassment, access to birth control, whatever. Make your voice heard.
- Be educated about the significance of policies not only in the United States but worldwide. What ideas do others have that we could work off of?
- If/when Hillary tries to revamp her political campaign this year, remember that voting for women just because they're women isn't real feminism. The point here is that we're just as good as men, so if you think you have to vote for someone based on their gender, that doesn't mean they're actually the right person. Feminism, in its truest sense, is egalitarianism. That means you should vote based on actual merit. Also... she did some shady stuff too.
- Don't support politicians who are obviously and openly sexist. You know exactly who I'm talking about.
- Support young girls around you. They're the future. Teach them to be strong and confident and powerful, and try to avoid using any degrading sorts of language. Don't tell them they can't do something or one of their dreams is silly just because they're a girl.
- Especially if you're a dude, try to minimize any jokes about PMS and periods. Comments like 'it must be that time of the month again!' are basically just rude. If it really does have anything to do with hormones, we probably already know and will apologize for it. But you don't need to start making lame comments about a part of life that we already hate.
- Check your privilege. The first step in all of this process is acknowledging what kinds of things in your life you have an advantage in just because you're a dude. Silly things like not being afraid to walk alone at night (because even here in Provo, I'm terrified to walk home alone in the dark) and less judgment for picking certain majors or life paths may seem insignificant, but they're real to many women.
- Engage in discussion about Church culture aspects that need to be fixed. Things change over time, but when I was in Activity Days, I specifically remember being told (and I quote) "Now girls, we need to make sure we wear modest clothing so that the boys don't have dirty thoughts about our bodies! Boys think naughty things, and we need to keep them safe." Okay, so not only does that totally degrade men and their incredible ability to take care of themselves, it is super awful to expect a bunch of 10-year-old girls to think they should be ashamed of themselves. It's definitely caused me plenty of body-image problems that I have to deal with now. Anyway, we have lots of recent Board questions about this, so I won't go into it. But the decades-old rape-culture has been spread around for long enough. It's getting way better, but if you see it, say something about it.
- If you're a single BYU student who's in the dating game, watch your comments. Please please PLEASE do not be like the people on the provoguys/provogirls amiright pages.
- Don't be afraid of the word feminist! You should be proud of a movement that envisions a world where everyone has empowerment and opportunity.
- Listen to and support women if they come to you with deep and personal stories. Help them out when and if you can.
- Don't support anything that body shames women.
- Call your mom and grandma and sisters and aunts and nieces and female friends and tell them you love them and think they are amazing and strong.
- Be an intersectional feminist. It takes a while to be really good at this, and it takes a lot of correction and learning from others, but there are different struggles of different groups of women, and we should be in favor of helping them as well.
NONPROFITS/ORGANIZATIONS FOR WOMEN:
Girls Not Brides, Girls on the Run, The Malala Fund, Women of the World, The Kula Project, Women's Refugee Commission, Feminist Apparel, American Association of University Women, Women's Global Empowerment Fund, American Civil Liberties Union, She Should Run, (and like a hundred more.) *note, you may disagree with some of the platforms and approaches of some of these organizations. I just wanted to give a pretty broad variety of options.
One source I really love is GlobalCitizen.org, where you can find out about different issues around the world, AS WELL AS seeing great work being done by groups internationally that you can read about and support. In general, Global Citizen does a great job of addressing social and environmental issues while also raising awareness for some of the amazing things that human beings are doing... so it doesn't make you cynical to read their news feeds.
AMAZING WOMEN YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT
Emilie Du Chatelet, Rosa Parks, Michelle Obama, Malala Yousafzai, Katherine Johnson, Jameela Jamil, Mildred Loving, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Harriet Powers, Edmonia Lewis, Jeanne Baret, Triệu Thị Trinh, Sarah and Angelina Grimke, Qiu Jin, Caroline Herschel... and lots more. These are just some of my personal favorites... And again, you may not agree with everything these women do/did, but it's hard to disagree that they are strong, beautiful, and empowering examples of feminism and the significance of women in the world.
I hope this gave you at least a few ideas...
Be more aware of situations you find yourself. Keep an open mind, and listen to what people have to say, without immediately dismissing them.