Are you prepared to be uncomfortable?
I can’t believe it’s been a year already and complacency still holds its ground over resistance. People talk about being on the right or wrong side of history, but we continue to see behaviors that put many of us on the wrong side. Remember when all those accusations about Trump harassing and assaulting women came to light before he was elected? And 53% of white women voters still voted for him? We marched against that. So why in late 2017 did we see another known sex offender nearly get voted into the Senate? Why did white women voters yet again choose the sex offender over the more progressive option? What the fuck are you doing white women? I see you marching in the Women’s March, holding signs up, loud and proud, but were you at the Black Lives Matter march last week? Are you calling your representatives, writing to them, voting for a more diverse government body from the ground up? Are you fighting for immigrants too when you march?
Are you prepared to be uncomfortable yet?
Do you know how many women of color are running for office this year? Are you prepared to stand up for them and talk about them and really push for change? Are you prepared to really fight for change rather than just talk about it? These are the questions we MUST ask ourselves every single day.
Look I know talking about race and religion is uncomfortable. I know people want to think they live in some kind of post-racial fantasyland, where color has ceased to exist, but we don’t. If out of millions and millions of women even only ONE woman says she feels excluded from the Women’s March then something is wrong. (Not wanting to participate because they don’t agree that women should stand up for their rights is different than feeling excluded, the former is a whole different kettle of fish).
If your form of Feminism excludes people who don’t look or think like you then you need to stand down and let the more inclusive take a stand. If your form of Feminism starts with “but white women...” or with “don’t be so angry” then it’s time for you to stand down and listen. If your form of Feminism doesn’t include everyone who identifies as a woman, you need to stand down. If your form of Feminism includes questioning the person’s motives when they reveal their assault or abuse, you need to stand down. If your form of Feminism is bordered by your comfort level and privilege it’s time to stand down.
Women’s rights are human rights and human rights are equal for all humans. This means you have to be prepared to hear some uncomfortable truths sometimes, and also be prepared to listen. Everyone’s experience is different and the only way we can rise up is if we accept these differences and attempt to understand them.
We have to do the work and stop letting others do it for us.
It’s important to preach love and equality to our kids, hopefully they then won’t have as much to learn as we do. But we can’t use it as a way to skirt our own responsibilities right NOW. Preaching love but not doing MORE just makes us hypocrites. Equality and equal love for all don’t exist currently, and won’t until we take the proper steps to eradicate not only hate, but the underlying prejudices that plague us all. You know the ones I mean, they affect all of us whether we are ready to accept them or not.
You know what? I felt uncomfortable the first time someone mentioned they felt excluded from the Women’s March last year. “What do you mean?! It’s for everyone!” My first reaction was to react, immediately. It’s often my first reaction when I feel uncomfortable, as if I have to protect or promote something. And then I took a step back. Nope, if someone is trying to explain how they are feeling I need to shut up and listen. There is a ton of discomfort in owning our privilege. There are tons of things I have never had to worry about, and a ton of things that I will always worry about, but I’m good at listening so that’s what I need to do right now. We say that education is key right? Learning about the experiences of others, listening to others is education too. Dismissing someone else’s experience because it’s never happened to you before is just being ignorant, and a pure refusal to change.
The sign the woman is holding in the picture above may make you balk. But she’s right. Feminism should include all women, but if someone is made to feel excluded from it then the inclusive aspect is but a lie. Now comes the time to stop praising others for doing the work for us, to stop relying on peace and love as an anthem rather than a fight, and to stop sitting back and allowing the people who started the movements in the first place feel excluded from them.
I get it, I still have to take a deep breathe every time I open my mouth out of fear of saying something stupid or disrespectful. But if I don’t speak up I join the ranks of complacency. For me that is a much bigger fear.
We all fuck up now and again, but admitting to and learning from it is the only way forward. Be true. Be true to yourself, be true to those around you. Be inclusive in words, actions, and thoughts.
We marched in greater numbers this year than last year, we are fighting harder for our rights, but we still need to take a good hard look at ourselves and do the necessary work that to not only be more inclusive, but to also step down and let other women lead with their voices. How can we call ourselves Feminists if we only consider our Feminism to be valid?
If you want to read more on the problematics of imperial and colonial Feminism here are some great articles (be prepared to feel uncomfortable):
And here are some informative articles on Intersectional Feminism:
I have included some photos from the Reclaim MLK 2018 March organized by Black Lives Matter Sacramento, the Women’s March 2018 here in Sacramento, and the Planned Parenthood Roe vs Wade anniversary event here at the Capitol in Sacramento below. For full albums of the Reclaim MLK and Women’s March click here and here.