Last year, our Director Madeline hosted 'The Weekly' - a weekly blog post pertaining to feminist issues. This year, it is the 'Director's Cut'. Stay tuned for more blogs from our National Director and Founder, Madeline Price.
I regularly get emails from young people who are passionate about feminism, or have questions about feminism and gender equality, or who want to start their own movement towards equality in their local community. These emails and messages are my favourite part* of being the National Director of the One Woman Project and, every time I receive one, it inspires me to keep going in this growing movement.
A few weeks ago, I received one of these emails from Kelly, from San Francisco in the United States of America.
Kelly had only just entered high school, but had been educated in and knowledgeable about gender equality (and other forms of structural oppression) her entire life. Kelly emphasised:
"I know that throughout the history of human life, women have been worse than men, and treated as less than men. I understand that there are serious hate crimes against women, and that in some places today women are given no voice. I know that in our society today, women are given an unreasonable stereotypical body image to fit into. I also understand that there is a wage gap, throughout my mom’s career working as a lawyer several times she has encountered this. I know women’s bodies are sexualized, that through media they are misrepresented, and through common phrases such as “boys will be boys” women are constantly put down."
Kelly knew intricately every aspect of the feminist movement and the issues in the fight for equality.
But she was disillusioned. She was no longer passionate about feminism - she knew it was important and that she should care about it, but could not bring herself to protest its cause, or engage in arguments over everyday sexism with her friends, or "feel anything" about feminism.
She acknowledged her privilege may be a factor in feeling disillusioned towards the feminist movement:
"Maybe I feel this way because as a woman living in San Francisco in a high socioeconomic status I never will experience the worst effects of sexism. I know why I should be enraged about this issue, but I’m not anymore... I'm tired."
Kelly was tired. She was tired and disillusioned - she felt that this fight was getting to the point of being unwinnable and, to some extent, the movement towards equality appeared to be going backwards. She was feeling sexism fatigue and a lack of power in creating actual change.
And, as a I read through Kelly's email, I knew exactly how she felt.
Because I have also felt exactly the same way.
Social justice and social movement building can be hard. Sometimes it can be feel like all your hard work in educating young people about sexual harassment and consent is completely undone when you leave the workshop and an individual on the street catcalls you.
Sometimes, when you reflect on the state of the world, it can seem like the feminist movement of old and today's activists have been completely erased from history.
Sometimes, moving forward and changing the world can feel impossible.
When I wrote back to Kelly, I told her all of this. I told her that sometimes, I feel exactly the same way.
And then I told her the most important thing that someone once told me - sometimes the most feminist thing you can do is simply to live.
Because the most powerful thing an oppressed and marginalised group can do is to simply survive.
*You should send me an email! I love hearing and connecting with other feminists and individuals passionate about global gender equality. Also, I love all memes ever. Hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org!