Latest posts by Kate Earley (see all)
- Restorative Justice & Rape Culture - October 30, 2017
- Ring Theory: How To Be An Effective Ally to Sexual Assault Survivors - August 28, 2017
- When Trigger Warnings Aren’t Enough: Accountability And Action - August 27, 2017
As 2016 rolls to an end, it’s not exactly a secret that there have been some hardships for the feminist collective this year. Between the election of Donald Trump, historic rollbacks of access to family planning services, and infuriating moments such as the lack of jail time for Brock Turner, there have been devastating moments — but there have also moments of inspiration, like the organizing, protesting, and ever-changing views about racism, sexual assault, and ableism in America and across the world.
It’s our job to use the lessons of 2016 — both good and bad — to go forward into the new year. Some of us are lost and confused, wondering where we are to go or what we are to do in the new year in light of such gigantic opposition. Others are determined. No matter how you’re feeling, here are some feminist New Year’s Resolutions for you to put on your list.
1. Listen more
Feminism should be intersectional — period, end of story. But we’ve faced an enormous amount of whitewashing, whitesplaining, mansplaining, and other kinds of patronizing forms of “talking down to” those who are less privileged than ourselves this past year.
In 2017, we should listen more — and stop speaking over our counterparts. Part of being a good “ally” is knowing your role. Our role is to make our spaces more black, more female, more trans, and more diverse — rather than inserting ourselves into those communities to which we individually do not belong. We must amplify the voices of our friends and comrades rather than attempting to explain their lived experiences or earn “ally cookies.” You don’t get points for doing the right thing: you should do it simply because it is empowering and uplifting.
2. Organize at every level
We are facing entirely new challenges heading into 2017. The inauguration of a president who has been accused of rape and has admitted to sexual assault is on the horizon.
This means we must organize at every possible chance, at every possible level. For some, this might mean increasing their attendance of protests. For others, this will mean community organizing online and in-person. We must organize marches, collectives, and safe spaces for our tired selves — places to grow, regroup, and strategize. We must work both inside of, and outside of, the system to accomplish change. We have to fight for every right — rights that are suddenly up for grabs.
Organizing is exhausting. But it’s hard, important work. That brings me to the third resolution.
There’s a term used by trained advocates to describe the emotional, physical, and psychological exhaustion that we feel when we get so discouraged and work non-stop: compassion fatigue. We care too hard and work too much. Put simply, this is called “burnout.”
To help alleviate this, and to ensure we protect not only our causes, but ourselves, we must practice better self-care during the new year. Self-care is a revolutionary act during times of strife and conflict. Knowing when to draw back or disengage doesn’t make you a bad person or a bad feminist; on the contrary, it makes you a person who knows the value of your spirit and soul. Valuing yourself is, at its core, a feminist principle.
Self-care can take many forms, and there are many excellent resources to get started if you’re unsure of what approach to take. Meditation, journaling, or just plain old taking mental health days if you’re able to. Whatever resource you have available to you, you should take it — and not feel bad.
Burnout makes us worse feminists. We get snappy, judgmental, and are all-around poor allies when we’re too exhausted to see beyond ourselves. Personally, I’ve had instances of burnout where I’ve pushed through too many triggers and end up responding poorly to callouts simply because I can’t understand the perspective due to exhaustion.
Self-care is not only good for us individually, but good for us collectively.
4. Call out and call in – and know the difference between the two.
On the note of callouts: this is more important than ever.
White women voted in record numbers for Donald Trump. This indicates that white people — white women in particular — have failed at both calling in and calling out our non-feminist-minded counterparts. We’ve left the burden of work to people of color — at an unacceptably high price — and have deserted the cause in its process.
It can be exhausting to engage with people or call them out, but we must persist.
We can call in — a process in which we have discussions that are non-accusatory and non-judgmental — to help people understand our perspective. When people in our own collective fail and aren’t held accountable, we can call out for the sake of visibility. Knowing the difference between these terms, and practicing them actively, is a key part of the next step in feminism.
The year ahead may be full of hardships, but if we adopt the right resolutions, we can be stronger together — and wiser. Here’s to a happy new year and a year of hard-earned progress ahead.