“Be as you wish to seem.” – Socrates
The world is fucked up and the internet has given us a front row seat to the destruction. These days I try to remember that fear propaganda is a powerful force, and that keeping up with the news and social networks is not the same as doing something.
We have to be more than viewers. If that’s an overwhelming concept, consider these five actions that can elevate your frequency and impact. These suggestions were written to me, as well as by me. The update on my attempt at hitting the five points will be live on Friday, November 24th!
1. Spend time with a woman in your community who could use a friend.
Whether it’s a new mom or someone who could use a shoulder, reach out and schedule a time to swing by. If no one specific comes to mind, host an intimate brunch or dinner with your girlfriends. Break bread with your sisters and nurture the tribe. Define the modern manifestation of sisterhood for yourself. It’s possible everywhere, even in sprawling Los Angeles. Make the effort. It might really help someone’s heart. (Like maybe yours.)
If you identify as the person who needs a friend, call a friend! Challenge yourself to make the first move and reach out. People will surprise you.
2. Learn how to do your own hair and makeup.
No shade to MUAs and hair stylists. I honestly believe you all are the High Priests and Priestesses of our modern culture. There is magic in hair and makeup, so learn how to do your own. Learn what diet and lifestyle choices make your hair bounce and skin glow. Do a YouTube dive on your skin and hair type, and believe in yourself.
The truth is the majority of us cannot afford to outsource hair and makeup on a regular basis, even if we convince ourselves we can. And it’s no secret how disproportionately a woman’s appearance is valued. The challenge is to cultivate a routine that serves you emotionally and financially.
Mastering a neat hairstyle that works even when your hormones are throwing everything out of whack is a skill you want. Believe me. Practice makes perfect, and your girlfriends can offer a trove of information and experience. Save the appointments for special occasions, and build confidence (and your disposable income) by commanding your day-to-day beat.
Speaking of money…
3. Take a step in financial literacy. (even if it’s a small one!)
If you have your head in the sand, begin to gently pull it out. It’s never going to be better than as bad as it is now unless you do something. Does that make sense? Whatever girl, get on it. YNAB is a great tool for app-savvy millennials, and the company offers tons of free online courses and tutorials. Spend more time learning about your money than you do memorizing rap verses about money, how ‘bout that? I’m talking to myself here…
If you’re more advanced in this area, keep doing you! And maybe find time to help one of your sisters. This one is a struggle.
4. Volunteer in your community.
So in high school we were all required to do some odd hours of community service in order to graduate, and all of us got around to clocking them. Then we went out into the world and more or less shifted the volunteer community service responsibility to low level criminals and the next generation of graduating high school seniors.
Get to know your city. Is there a local homeless shelter, women’s shelter, halfway house, recycling center, city park, animal shelter, old folks’ home, library, food bank, city council, neighborhood watch, or old lady who lives in a shoe? The answer is undoubtedly yes. If it’s too overwhelming to watch the news, turn the TV off and step outside your door. It’s your immediate community who needs you the most. Make contact.
5. Speak up at work.
Call out everyday sexism, especially in the workplace. Sexism isn’t going to be swept away by government legislation. It’s the culture wave we’re riding, and women play a vital role in creating it. It’s time we get super comfortable with being direct. It’s ok to make an honest statement without flowering it with “lol,” fake smiles, or embellishments meant to comfort the offender. This doesn’t mean you should cut people. Just be direct. You can endure a couple seconds of awkwardness for the cause.
“That’s not funny.”
“That joke is sexist.”
Is that awkwardness, or is that someone snapping the conversation out of its sluggish, devilish delirium? No, it’s not funny when you make careless comments that reinforce oppressive ideas about women while women are being systemically and violently oppressed all over the world. It’s not ok for you to disregard the women in earshot who have to pretend they’re not regularly harassed, assaulted, objectified and dehumanized so they can fake a laugh and keep you comfortable and non-violent.
There is a large responsibility on us, the community, to identify the tentacles of rape culture, and to act as the first line of educated defense, at work, at home, and especially around young people.
Strengthening our core understanding and practice of feminism isn’t about converting others. Remember that the next time you’re roped into a circular argument with the “I’m just playing Devil’s advocate” guy. It’s about finding your voice. For most of history, women were written off before uttering a single word. Today, one of our most contentious fights is contained in a woman’s right to say “No.” That’s not a coincidence. Your voice is already a beacon of feminist victory. It seems like a perfectly reasonable place to start.