What will be the legacy of modern feminism? On Election night, the universe gave us an opportunity to find out. The qualified women who have a shot at breaking that glass ceiling can again be counted on one hand, and that is depressing as fuck. Maybe Kamala! Maybe Michelle! Maybe…uh wait, that’s it I guess. Maybe some girl who’s currently in the third grade. Hopefully she learns how to color inside the lines, avoids the glorious slut phase, and doesn’t realize she’s gay. Bear with me, I’m still trying to cope.
Even for feminists, who know all too well that our society was ripe for this outcome, our new circumstances are jarring. After allowing myself appropriate time to grieve, I recalled the strategies and ideas of history’s visionary feminists and questioned my role as a proclaimed feminist today. Watered-down empowerment rhetoric is littered in pop culture and it’s not difficult to see why that’s not a good thing. In the face of this new threat, how will these inherited and wildly-unappreciated values, and the people who dissect and regurgitate them, begin to fight back?
THE WOMAN IN THE MIRROR
It’s impossible to fully grasp our society’s complexities and disparities if we are unable to confront them in ourselves. Life feels devastatingly binary after months of staring at red or blue, left or right, win or lose. But we are not that simple, and the structures and ideologies that shape our lives are even less so. When we learned Beyonce’s Ivy Park/everything at Top Shop is manufactured in sweatshops, most of us were quick to call her out for not monitoring her supply chains. But who’s calling us out? When I stroll into Top Shop or any of these fast fashion retailers, the one person deciding whether I purchase that $19 sweater made in Bangladesh is me. And that goes for everything. How we treat our loved ones, children, the homeless, immigrants, people we like and people we don’t like. This is undoubtedly a huge hurdle for all of us because many of our everyday, seemingly-insignificant actions feed into the systems we’re fighting against.
MONEY IS POWER
For being the historically oppressed sex, U.S women do have an indisputable power: Money. From deciding which brands are regularly purchased in our households to being the most important consumer demographic across multiple billion-dollar industries, it’s in women’s money we can trust.
We must make budgeting and fiscal literacy a priority, especially if we factor in the wage gap and a relentless beauty industry clawing at our every dime. We must modernize the idea of boycotting into a platform of viral support for ethical brands, and continuous repudiation of companies who exploit laborers nationally and abroad. We must take it upon ourselves to educate our communities on smarter alternatives, especially in areas with sub-standard education and access. This doesn’t have to mean buying bougie organic brands. It means evolving from passive consumerism to educated, deliberate spending and saving. We are yielding this power whether we’re being intentional about it or not. Now is a vital time to focus our aim.
PROTECT YOUR KITTY
If the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, President Trump (pause) said the decision would go back to the states. For those of us in places likely to tell the Supreme Court to suck a bag of dicks, we can not sit this one out. We must participate in all acts of civil discourse with our vote and our voices. We must mobilize fundraising for Planned Parenthood and other independent organizations that provide low-cost or free services for women and men stripped of their access. We need to stay up on local and state elections and ensure our neighbors are aware of any measures threatening to further police women’s bodies. Also, going back to my first point, stop policing women’s bodies – including your own.
The future is scary and uncertain, but I refuse to allow the violent swing of politics to erase the history of women’s liberation. Our goal as present-day feminists is not to convert this orange-haired senior citizen and his cohorts to feminism. Our responsibility is to progress true feminist politics in the face of a newly-elected conservative backlash.