Five Feminist Resolutions for 2017

2017 has already proven to be a tough year for feminists. And we can expect to be tried and tested for the many months to come. As we look to the coming battles, here are five feminist New Year’s resolutions:

1. Show up

After more than four million feminists showed up for the Women’s March on Washington and the 300+ sister marches globally, it is safe to say we are getting good at this one. But, it is crucial we continue to show up for what we believe in. Whether that be to continue marching, or to meet other feminists in your city, or to support feminist films, books, and concerts. While social media is an incredibly powerful tool to link the global community, cultivating a physical community is equally important and special. In 2017, let’s make sure we are there for our fellow females, and remember that together we are stronger.

2. Volunteer

Alongside showing up for events, protests, and meet-ups, we must continue to support the incredible work of Planned Parenthood, ACLU, National Organization for Women, and even Girls’ Globe. You can make a difference with your money, time, or simply advocating for an organization in your own network. Many of these organizations will come under threat over the course of the Trump Administration and we cannot let that happen. Whatever level of participation you can commit to helps, and a little empathy and altruism never hurt anybody.

3. Speak up

Silence is acceptance. And if there was ever a time we needed to elevate women’s voices, it’s now. Contrary to what some have said, words do matter. And words have impact. If we collectively speak up about what we believe in, what we value, and what is not okay to us, we will be heard. It is so easy to accept and internalize the patriarchy that surrounds us, but we cannot let it get us down. We can be empowered by our collective experiences and rather than commiserate, we can rise up. With every social media post, face-to-face conversation, video on Million Women’s Voices, and blog post written we will slowly, but surely dismantle the patriarchy.

4. Educate

I do not know everything. You do not know everything. No one knows everything. But to be an effective ally we must know the facts. In the spirit of intersectionality, we must remember that women’s rights, our legal system, our criminal justice system, our environment, and our public policies are all connected. While you certainly do not have to fight for every issue, knowing the facts is a solid step to continuing effective advocacy.   While certain pieces of the media have simply disregarded the truth as “alternative facts,” it is important to know why we fight, how we fight, and the statistics behind it. With the advent of fake news and spun falsehoods in our social media sphere, it can be easy to end up in a Facebook feud over what is true.

5. Self care

Being a wild feminist in 2017 will not be easy and in fighting all our fights, remember to take care of yourself. Fighting the patriarchy is a lifelong battle, and it does the movement no good for you to burn out. So when you’re feeling down, take a bubble bath, cuddle with your kitten, pop on a feminist film on Netflix. Staying motivated, passionate, and driven is exhausting, so after a long day subverting patriarchal paradigms, treat yourself.

Standing Up for Girls in the Time of Trump

Trump is threatening the rights and well-being of adolescent girls domestically and globally, especially those whose skin color, religion and country of origin do not meet his approval. The person holding the most powerful and prestigious office in one of the most influential global nations is a sex offender who fetishes his daughter, believes “putting a wife to work is a very dangerous thing” and views girls and women as a sum of their sexual parts. He is now turning this disgusting misogyny and racism, xenophobia and many other forms of hate, into policy.

My work as an advocate for girls just got a lot harder.

My work, like all work, begins at home. I visibly resist hate for and with my own daughters, two immigrants of color who are growing up in a time when integral parts of their identity are being challenged. They, and all girls in my life, must see me modeling contested truths: black lives matter, native lives matter and refugee lives matter; women’s rights are human rights; no human being is illegal and love is love is love is love.

This work extends to the community and involves protests and phone calls, letter writing and teach-ins. It means knowing when to call-out folks who don’t want to understand and when to call-in folks who do. It means spending less so I can donate more. It entails applying my talents while listening to women of color, native women, refugee women, single mothers and all those who have known all along what many of us (especially us white women) struggle to see: we do not have equal rights or social standing. We are still the second sex.

In my professional realm, I resist the trends that bring us farther away from a time “in which there will be no roles other than those chosen or those earned.” Ivanka Trump’s brand of privileged empowerment won’t work for girls in Flint who don’t have clean water or girls living on Pine Ridge where teenage suicide rates are 150% higher than the national average.

And Ivanka’s work hosting the Miss Teen USA pageant couldn’t be farther from my work advocating for the rights and wellbeing of refugee girls in the Middle East, those same girls who were just banned from the United States by her father.  I turn away from this elite distraction and focus on issues like ending child marriage, access to quality education and stopping sexual violence. Over the next four years, I will do more with less funding. I will work unpaid hours and volunteer for organizations with less resources. I will connect more directly with girls because ultimately I work for them.

I commit to standing between the misogyny of the most powerful man in the world and the most marginalized and vulnerable girls in the world.

This is my work today. In the future, my work might be deciphering just laws from unjust laws and following my conscience. Trump has asked for the names of those working on gender programs. If my name is on his list, I invite him to call me with questions so that I have the opportunity to tell him that I stand for girls, for adolescents like the ones he violated with his gaze in a dressing room. I’ll keep standing for girls. If he and his supporters try to stop me, I will continue to resist, I will continue to take direct action and I will not be silenced.

What can you do for girls?

Volunteer: Girls, Inc., Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America, Girl Scouts, YWCA all provide opportunities to connect adults with girls in their community. The Malala Fund has resources for community organizing on the rights of girls globally.

Donate: Find an organization that you believe in and give what you can. As we learned from Bernie Sanders, who broke a fundraising record via small donations, every little bit truly counts.

Educate yourself: See films like He Named Me Malala, read books like Half the Sky and talk to the girls in your community.

Connect with other resisters: We are indeed stronger together.