The news this week has just left me in a stupor.
Every time I open my laptop, get on Facebook or Twitter, turn on NPR, or watch TV, my blood starts to boil or I feel a little nauseous. As much as I try to filter the media I consume, it’s just everywhere.
But there is hope. There is so much hope.
As hundreds of thousands of people marched last weekend in cities all around the country in support of women and women’s rights, what’s the next step? The pussy beanies have been put away, the media attention is dying down. So now what?
I’ll tell you what. If you believe in feminism, it’s time to start thinking about practicing #DailyFeminism. It’s time to be stronger, louder, but more loving than ever before. Here’s how you do it:
- Donate or volunteer to causes you care about. Whether it’s the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, a political party, or any organization that serves women, put your money or your time where your heart is. Don’t think you make a difference? Think about helping one person. Then think about what your time or financial support means to one person. It’s a game-changer for them, and it makes a world of difference to them. You can’t save the entire planet, but you have influence in your town, in your neighborhood, and in your own family. Use it. Wield your power to do good!
- Get political. Write. Email. Tweet. No matter what your political affiliation is, if you don’t act or speak, nothing will ever change. A local politician here in Nebraska was caught retweeting a disgusting, misogynistic caption of women marching last weekend. I was sick of it. I called his office to (civilly) voice my disgust and called on him to step down. I then called my state senator to encourage her opposition. He resigned the next day. Not because of my two phone calls, but I hold my head high knowing hundreds of women in my state called for this politician to resign, and he did. There is power in numbers.
- Be respectful of other women. There are memes floating around Facebook “In a world of Kardashians, be an Audrey Hepburn/Lucille Ball/insert name of old-timey actress.” While I am certainly not a Kim’s fan, I don’t see the need to tear other women down based on their persona, brand, or how they choose to live their lives. It doesn’t move the feminist dialogue any further. And when our friends and relatives see us trashing other women – even really famous ones – they will think that woman-bashing is OK. But it’s not.
- Read books by feminist authors. From Mary Wollstonecraft to Erica Jong, there are hundreds of excellent writers to choose from. I will be the first to admit this is not my strong suit. But I do love Simone de Beauvoir, Virginia Woolf, and Kate Chopin. Find one book – even a short one (there are many free ones in the public domain you can download). Read it. Ask yourself what it means to you as a woman. Is there a lesson you can carry into your everyday life? Then celebrate. Because you just expanded your horizons, and no one can take that from you!
- Speak up. You have an opinion that matters. Don’t be afraid to share it, and don’t apologize for it. If your friends or family are unfairly criticizing a woman, speak up in her defense. If your co-workers are having a political discussion in the lunchroom, respectfully say what’s on your mind. If you want to attend a march, make a sign and go! The only thing I ask is to remember people have feelings, so getting up in someone’s face or belligerently arguing will not advance the dialogue.
- Consider the source. “Alternative facts” is now a thing. It’s up to us to question everything. Check the sources of your news, and consumer it wisely. I know the bias out in the conservative and liberal media, and I take all of it with a huge grain of salt. Don’t assume that article you read online is true or that interview you saw was unbiased. Be smart, but do be informed. An informed woman is a powerful woman.
- Call it out. When you see someone doing something good for other women – giving a seat up on a bus, defending a woman from verbal harassment, participating in a march – give some love. Post a thoughtful comment. Say a quiet “thank you.” Acknowledge the action that you just witnessed. Put some positivity out in the world – we need so much more of it!
- Love yourself. I really should have put this first. Because your ability to love, empower, and support other women stems from how you love, empower, and support yourself. I know it’s so much easier said than done, but be gentle with yourself. Do what makes you happy: a bubble bath, a walk, a manicure, a piece of cheesecake. Don’t spend all your time dwelling on the news if it makes you anxious (it makes me pretty queasy!). Read something that will make you happy. Whatever makes you the strongest and most content…do that, and be that.
Is there anything I left off the list? What do you do to practice daily feminism?