A New Era of Feminist Activism

Donald Trump made Kelly Campbell an activist. “Before January 21 I had never participated in a political protest, never worked on a political campaign and never been active in any way civically,” she says. “So for me to have flown out to Washington, D.C. for the Women’s March—that was completely out of character, but what it started helped to enable me to channel all that rage since the election into action.”

Since returning back to Minnesota, Campbell has not only joined a Women’s March huddle—she is hosting next month’s meeting—but has also donated to a number of causes, made phone calls to her state and federal representatives and has volunteered to do research for SwingLeft on Minnesota’s second district. She is even considering running for state or federal office. “With Trump being elected what is funny is that any reservations—things like not having a law degree, no experience in politics, digging up dirt in my personal life—obviously none of that matters because he had those same limitations and he was elected president,” she tells Ms. “So it freed up my own thinking in, ‘well, why not me?’”

Campbell is just one example of the millions of women who have, since the election, become activists in their communities. There have, of course, been large organized and publicized events—like the Women’s March, which spread to over 600 marches across the globe; the Pussyhat Project and grabyourwallet.org, run by San Francisco-based Shannon Coulter. But there are also a large number of women who are doing things–from huddles to book clubs, salons, blogs and letter-writing meetings—who are not only making a difference locally but helping to reignite civil society across the country.

“It is like we have been complacent to some degree and I think there are some gaps and challenges in our civil society but I think we do have these strong traditions that we can draw on,” says Carrie Booth Walling, a political science professor who formed Wo(men) of Action in Flint, Michigan after the Women’s March. “I am finding a sense of reawakening to the rights and the powers that we do have over our government and it is much more of an empowered action. And while it may have been motivated by some negativity and outrage, it has actually turned into something positive and inspiring.”

One of those inspiring events was Baltimore’s Sing for Justice concert, where a group of people in the community got together, held a choir concert with just an hour’s practice and raised over $1,000 for both Baltimore Racial Justice Action and the Southern Poverty Law Center. “We have only had one event so far, but we had a great response,” says Allison McElheny, one of the group’s organizers. “[We] hope to grow and hold similar events every few months for a wider variety of social justice organizations.” Halfway across the country in Denver, on March 25, there will be a Women’s Day of Service event engaging women in volunteer opportunities ranging from working in a community garden to helping in a local domestic violence shelter.

Kendra Komp, who works for a start-up in suburban Detroit, hosted a “Pints and Postcards” event earlier in February where over 200 people wrote over 1,200 postcards to politicians with statements like “global warming is real; it is not an alternative fact” and “I am a woman, and I vote.” “I realized the focus of the event was bringing people together to have real conversations and not feel so isolated,” says Ms. Komp, who next month will host her first women’s salon—with one planned afterward to happen every eight weeks. “A few older women who protested against Vietnam and for women’s equality in the 1970s came up and thanked me for carrying the torch.”

Meanwhile, Vermont-based artist and teacher Alyssa Goss DeLaBruere started mendamerica.org—a website selling t-shirts, jewelry and art prints with inspirational messages and designs. For the first 100 days that Trump is in office, 100 percent of their profits will be donated to organizations including the Sierra Club and Vermont Rights and Democracy. “I would never have called myself a feminist prior to November 2016,” says DeLaBruere. “Do I see myself as a feminist today—damn straight. I am a badass feminist that will stand up against injustice for my own gender and anyone else that is under attack.”

And it’s not just Americans who are getting active. In London, Sam Roddick—an artist and founder of lingerie company Coco de Mer—was frustrated not only over Trump’s misogynist statements but also concerned about Brexit. Since December, she has hosted two political salons. Next month, she will start holding letter-writing events. “We are getting a writer in to do a workshop on how to write the most profound, witty, concise letter and graphic designer to give insight on how to make a letter visually captivating without looking like a nutter,” joked Roddick, who is the daughter of the late activist and Body Shop founder Anita Roddick. “We will then walk to the end of the road to put them into letterbox, so that they are signed, sealed and delivered.”

Ginanne Brownell Mitic is a London-based freelance journalist who writes about arts, culture and education. She and her Denver-based friend Kristin Kirsch Feldkamp launched she-files.com on January 21, a webzine focused on covering stories about women and profiling inspiring women that is written exclusively by women. 

ms. blog digest banner

Comments

  1. Ginanne Brownell Mitic’s view on how this election has jump started a movement that has been years in the making is a valid one. As women, we are now seeing how the indignities displayed in the public sphere have been going unchecked and we must persist and get involved to make sure our voices are heard in response. Men who have been accused of sexual harassment, assault, and misogyny are being given critical acclaim and awards of all types like Casey Affleck ; they are being put into office where their actions directly affect all American citizens like Trump, but if we are united then we can stop those sordid examples in their tracks before they become an abhorrent norm.
    I can also agree with Ginanne that there has been some sort of complacency with the way politics was heading in the last decade or so, there has been a need for an event or something that sparks inspiration in the hearts of all feminists who want things to get done. An event that unites all women of every walk of life to join forces. In the early 1900’s it was voting rights, in the 60’s it was the sexual revolution and the Vietnam war, in the 80’s and 90’s it was the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, but people in their 20’s and 30’s were too young to be a part of those movements and have any opinion on those events. In a way millennials are the ‘lost generation’, a generation without a cause. This new era of feminism can be our cause and we must use the momentum that the Women’s March has started to stay active, to not be complacent any longer and to make sure this is only one small set back to our democracy and our rights as women, all women. This new era, while not mentioned in the article can become an era of inter-sectional feminist activism.

Speak Your Mind

*

Error, no Ad ID set! Check your syntax!