Feminist New Year | Vol. 5 / No. 10.1

Happy New Year! | Photo: Morgan, CC BY 2.0 

You may have noticed that I didn’t have a post last week. In my defense, just as Clark Kent sometimes has to stop saving the world in order to take out the recycling and pay his bills, I sometimes have to stop screaming into the void because I’m visiting friends and family and taking part in actually joyful activities. Feminists need eggnog sometimes too, you know.

I also have been trying not to watch the news this week, so instead of yelling at something in the cultural zeitgeist, I decided to make this a Feminist New Year.

Traditionally, I’m not really one for New Year’s Resolutions. Or even New Year’s celebrations. For many years, I was equally likely to either surf the internet all night and not even realize that the new year had arrived, or would quietly watch the ball drop by myself. I never made resolutions, as that always seemed like a practice prone to disappointment (not to mention one that made going to the gym an absolute pain for two months of the year) and I rarely partied.

I’ve changed both of those things in the past couple of years. I’ve started to enjoy New Year’s Eve with friends and loved ones, and I’ve started to make resolutions, quietly, to myself. This year, however, I’m going to share my resolutions with all of you. Because we could all use a Feminist New Year.

1. Believe women, support women, and amplify their voices.

More than ever, women are coming forward with stories of their experiences of discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual assault. I am hoping that as this year progresses, even more women will feel safe enough to share their story. There are many women who are in marginalized positions who do not or cannot feel safe enough coming forward, and I would like to see the culture change to the point that these women feel they are able to come forward, and that others will amplify their voices when they do.

2. Support women.

Support can come in a lot of different ways. This can be financial support, for female political candidates or women-led businesses. This can be emotional support for the women in your life and your community. This can mean ensuring that your workplace has policies that benefit women. This can mean being a good ally for feminist causes, educating yourself on feminist issues, or writing to your legislators about issues that affect women. Whatever form of support you can provide, make sure you do so.

3. Read books by women, watch movies made by women, etc.

Women authors were responsible for about 48% of the New York Times bestsellers in 2015, yet only 20-30% of book reviews in top literary magazine went to books written by women, and major publishers only dedicated about 30% of their catalogs to books by female authors.

While 2017 seemed in many ways to be the year of the lady-led movie, from Wonder Woman to Lady Bird, this success is the exception rather than the rule; in 2016 women made up about 32% of speaking roles in movies, and 29% of protagonists. Things were much worse behind the scenes, with women making up only about 17% of all behind-the-camera roles on the 250 top grossing films, from director to writer, producer, and editor. The only way that this will change is if we continue to show support for media created by women, and demand more equity from publishers and studios.

4. Educate yourself.

I often say that feminism is a process as well as an ideology. I’m nowhere near the same feminist I was when I was in my late teens. That doesn’t mean that I was a “bad” feminist when I was younger, merely that I’ve had years since then to grow, change, and educate myself. And I have years from now to continue the same process. It’s important to keep working and keep growing.

5. Be Intersectional.

I can’t stress this enough. Feminism isn’t feminism if it isn’t intersectional. We need to be concerned with the needs and desires of people of color, of people with disabilities, of people in poverty, and of the LGBT community if we want to call ourselves feminists. Focusing only on the concerns of white, middle-class women doesn’t cut it anymore.

6. Do the work that you can, but pace yourself.

It’s important to keep calling our representatives, holding companies to task, educating one another, supporting our fellow women, etc. But it is also important to take care of ourselves. Again, we’re in this for the long haul. Unless we happen to get into a war with North Korea (which, let’s admit, is seeming increasingly likely) then we have to make sure we are taking care of ourselves. Self-care isn’t just bubble baths and manicures. It’s also knowing your limits and knowing when you need to set boundaries.

 

So these are my resolutions, but you’re free to steal them. Both 2016 and 2017 have been shit shows. I’m going to hope that with these resolutions, 2018 will be slightly less…. that.

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Elle Irise is a regular contributor to This Week In Tomorrow. When she’s not making feminist new year’s resolutions to share, she studies gender in popular culture.

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