I think we can all agree that, on the whole, 2017 was not great. Very not great. Extremely not great. Ok, it sucked and I’m glad it’s over. I mean, do you remember when 2016 was the worst year most of us had lived through? Remember this time last year when we were all glad that it was over and looking forward to a better year in 2017? Anyone else getting a sense of de-ja-shit-not-again? Well, there is a lot we can’t control about what will happen in 2018. We can’t control Brexit. We can’t control Trump. We can’t control extreme weather. We can’t control the fact nobody has cracked the design for a bra that doesn’t make you want to die while wearing it. But there are things we can do to make the world – or at least our immediate worlds – a little bit better. Here are my suggestions for a more feminist 2018.
Seek out female created and led material.
There’s a lot of media out there these days between films, television and podcasts, which means there’s a hell of a lot of white men out there making money. But recent years has seen a rise in female led projects – from Hidden Figures and Girls Trip, to Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and GameFace, to the Guilty Feminist and 2 Dope Queens. Find it, love it, share it.
Read only books written by women and/or POC
I admit, this one is daunting to me. Some of my favourite authors are white men (though all my favourite poets are women, I’m not sure what they says about me really) and frankly if they drop a new book during the year I don’t know if I’d be able to wait to read it. As my waist and bank account will attest, self control is not my strong point. There are ways to make it work for you (and me) though; if you buy books every month then make every other month a woman/POC only month or only buy new books from women/POC but do buy second hand or charity shop copies from your favourite white males or only read white male books if you borrow them or someone gives you them as a present. Or, if you aren’t obsessed with certain white male authors (*cough*Ian Rankin*cough*) then do this on hard mode and only buy books from WOC.
Challenge the casual misogyny of the men in your life
A quick caveat for this one: it is OK not to do this if doing so would endanger you physically, financially or emotionally.
Many of us will have men in our lives that we know mean well. We know they’re not dangerous. We know they aren’t *really* misogynistic. They just sometimes get things a little wrong. They use the wrong language. They make an assumption. They misunderstand an issue. And you let it slide because to follow it up means an awkward conversation with someone you like who you know is a nice person really. This year don’t do that. Pull them up, explain calmly to them why what they just said isn’t cool and explain how microaggressions build up and feed into the psychology of people who perform microaggressions. You may be worried that they won’t take it well, that they won’t like you as much afterwards but I’m here to tell you something; if they take offensive, you don’t need that dickhead in your life.
Take ownership of your own intersectionality
We all live in and around both oppression and privilege. I’m a gay, demisexual, mentally ill, physically disabled, gender queer, low paid woman. I am also white, cis-presenting, middle class and from a financially and emotionally stable family. It is my responsibility not just to recognise those privileges but to accept that due to being raised with those privileges I have unconscious biases. We must all be aware that no matter how much we call our selves intersectional feminists we are only truly so when we recognise the limitations of our feminists or activism. I cannot talk for WOC, for trans people, for religious people, for poor people. So I won’t try. I will demonstrate my intersectionality by listening to and learning from people with different oppressing factors to my own and so should you.
Donate to feminist charities
You don’t have to have a lot of money to make a little difference. If you want to kill two birds with one stone (maybe not the best phrase for a feminist discussion) and donate to charity at the same time as performing a feminist act, you could send some money to charities that deal with issues directly affecting women. You could look at charities tackling FGM, reproductive rights, or period poverty. On that note, dropping off a pack or two (or three or four or five) of sanitary towels to your local homeless shelter would go a long way to help as they’re usually crying out for period supplies. If anything costing money isn’t an option, then look out for rallies you can attend, campaigns you can share on social media or maybe, just maybe, write a blog.