You're Not an Activist? [Originally posted 17 March 2009]
I've been reading around the feminist blogosphere for a number of years now, and I've seen a rather large, bothersome number of statements from commenters that go something like this: ...Well, not everyone is an activist.“ or
...Not all of us are cut out to be activists.“
ORLY? The definition of activist varies, but if I pull out my Tenth Edition Webster's, I see that ...activist“ is related to active, adj. 1: characterized by action rather than by contemplation or speculation. At its base, an activist is one who acts on behalf of a given cause.
That doesn't have to mean that your day job is working for Planned Parenthood. (But if it is: thank you, from the bottom of my heart.) That doesn't have to mean that you spent hundreds of hours volunteering for a women's shelter. (But if you did: thank you, your work is so valuable.) That doesn't mean that you donate hundreds or thousands of dollars to NOW. (But if you can:
thank you, your generosity helps our sisters.)
Here's my not-so-secret agenda: I want you to think of yourself as an activist. I also want to expand the definition of activism. Not to get all slippery-slope, though, to the point that ...anything a woman does is feminist activism,“ cause it ain't, but if you:
- Donate your money or time to a political action committee, charity or NGO that helps women anywhere in the world;
- Vote for candidates who support woman-friendly policies (equal pay legislation, family leave, subsidized family planning, etc.) and/or write letters to your elected officials asking them to support policies that effect women's lives for the better;
- Teach — formally or informally -“other women and/or girls that their value is in their words and actions, and not in their looks, or sexual or marital status, and give them the tools to name the Patriarchy and claim what power they can from that recognition;
- Support mothers (and, yes, fathers), whether they work in or out of the house, and help them raise their children to be free of gender-coding;
- Call Yourself a Feminist, and do the endless, tiresome work of explaining to your friends and family what that means (you believe in the political, social, economic an social equality of women and men) and why it matters;
Then You Are a Feminist Activist. Really. These are just a few ways, there are literally thousands of others. You are an activist. Tell me how in comments. And thank you. What you do matters.