Whether you welcomed in the new year by lamenting the recent loss of Hillary Clinton or by watching in horror as Mariah Carey became the first epic fail meme of 2017, you may find yourself more apprehensive than optimistic for what the future holds AND THAT’S VALID.
When you take a good hard look at the gaining momentum of the war on women’s bodies, the MO of a lack of justice concerning sexual assault crimes, the attack on transgender rights and bodies, the lack of education and pay equality at home and in other countries, asshole internet trolls invading the privacy of women, the overwhelming onslaught of online harassment in general and the re-normalization of overt sexism brought on by a sexist presidential race platform, it’s OK to be jaded this ‘new year, new you’ season.
It’s also OK to be excited about all of THIS in 2016: Hillary goddamn Rodham Clinton changed the name of the game and the course of history. Beyonce created a beautiful ode to the plight and strength of the black woman. Samantha Bee got her own damn show and does it better than the rest. Lady Gaga passionately brought awareness to sexual assault survivors. Simone Biles, Simone Manuel, Katie Ledecky, Ibtihaj Muhammad, Laurie Hernandez and just women altogether slayed the 2016 Olympics. Avery Jackson graced the cover of National Geographic. Leslie Jones royally shut down the haters and really did it all this year TBH. Hijab-wearing Muslim women were featured in mainstream beauty and fashion brands. There was the birth of Nasty Women, Topple the Patriarchy and Pantsuit Nation. Michelle Obama delivered a powerfully moving speech on the epidemic of rape culture and women of color altogether really continued to bring it. Then there’s Rupi Kaur, Ashley Graham, Sarah McBride, Amy Schumer, Elizabeth Warren, Ellen DeGeneres, notorious RBG and many, many more wondrous women.
If one thing can be said about 2016 it’s that it demanded we women get in formation. Looking to 2017, it’s important that we stay that way and so here are five resolutions for the revolution.
- Celebrate and support each other. This one is first for a reason. It’s such an easy and fulfilling way to practice your feminism. Be as happy for a fellow female’s accomplishments and amazing-ness as you would your own. Love your girlfriends so freaking much that when they text you that they got a promotion a voice in your head that sounds like Elle Woods goes, “WE DID IT!” And then start a group thread about where y’all are going for dinner to celebrate. When your famous female role models succeed while fighting the good fight, celebrate by posting about it online. Share those accomplishments with everyone because you can trust that that shit isn’t shared hardly enough.
- Keep your female allies and IRL feminist role models close. Life spoiler alert: strong, loving, woke women are the foundation of everything and the more you surround yourself with them the better your life will be. Always be open and looking for female role models because you can never have too many. Let them know that they are north stars to you in this crazy scary universe, because it’s true and because they certainly don’t hear it enough. From your mom, to your sister, to your bestie(s), to your kick-ass boss, to your old high school girlfriends from back home, to that girl on Instagram who you’re sure is pretty much your soulmate: reach out, call them, love them, support them and make the time in your schedule to meet them for coffee even if it seems inconvenient. Everything else just sort of falls into place.
- Be kind to your body. Because, historically, societally and, for many of us, personally, kindness has not been something we grant the female body. It can be and experience many things, but the one thing the body universally remains for women is her own. Do with it what you will. Love it. Decorate it. Share it. Protect it. Make it pretty. Or don’t. Treat it as your home, your vehicle, your art, your career, your activism, your tool, your playground, your safe space, your church, your gym, your best friend, your alter-ego, your conduit for expressing your ever-evolving personalit(ies) and then some. P.S. Kindness and love towards your body also includes the not-always-fun general upkeep; eating relatively right, going for an outdoor walk or two, doing whatever endorphin-inducing exercise does it for you, replacing your loofah regularly and monitoring your period for weird smells, etc.
- Read women. For pretty much all of history men were primarily viewed as the literary voices of their countries and their generations and so our literary educations have been seriously lacking in female authors. In order to give yourself a more inclusive education, experience more female-driven narratives and increase the amount of times in your life you have that magical “she gets it” feeling, make sure your bookcase is more balanced. Personal suggestions: Rupi Kaur, Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche, Joan Didion, Miranda July, Margaret Atwood and Nora Ephron.
- Give back. This is probably the one that requires the most rosie-the-riveter-roll-up-your-sleeves effort, but it’s also the one that makes a world of difference in the actual world. Easy: buy movie tickets for female-driven films and shop at establishments with SHE-E-O’s. A little less easy: do a little research and find products you already consume that donate proceeds to women’s rights organizations, women in need charities and women entrepreneurship scholarships. Hard, but worth it: if you can afford to do so, save some of your hard-earned, working-woman salary and donate directly. If this is not within your means, because the pay gap is very real y’all, donating your time is just as valuable. Hardest, but oh-so-necessary: do even more digging and learn about the female, feminist legislators you want to support in local, state and national elections. Who knows, one of them may run for President some day soon.