Last Saturday, between 3.3 million and 4.6 million people around the world participated in the Women’s Marches. This is possibly the largest day of demonstration in US history.
Honestly, the sheer number of people willing to demonstrate their commitment to women’s rights astounds me. I feel incredibly encouraged by the success of last weekend. I didn’t march for unimportant reasons, but I’m proud of all my friends and family members who did so.
Whether or not you marched, whether or not you support the Women’s March, if you support women’s rights, I have one question for you.
What is your next course of action?
Will you start calling your senators and representatives every week?
Will you donate to nonprofit organizations that do feminist work?
Are you going to show up at the next #BlackLivesMatter protest? What about a LGBTQ+ protest?
Joining the Women’s March is an awesome jump into feminist activism. But we cannot stop there.
I know how overwhelming it feels to navigate all your options. I’ve read many reactions on Facebook to the Women’s March, and I’ve sorted those reactions accordingly into action steps. Find the group that best matches your description. Pick from the suggested action steps.
I’m a white woman who marched. I’m new to feminism.
Welcome to feminism! The journey to gender equality is long and messy, and you can choose from many paths to work your way there. Here are a few ideas to stay involved:
What do you know? What do you still need to learn? Here are a few suggestions on how to start learning about feminism.
- Read through my Feminism 101 posts, all of which include links to additional resources.
- Prepare to feel uncomfortable. Learn how to navigate intersectional conversations.
- Join an online feminist community. I recommend the subreddit FemmeThoughts.
- Listen to women of color (WOC). Accept their experiences as valid. Acknowledge they face both racism and sexism, which also means their experiences with sexism will look differently than your own. Flight & Scarlet is a great blog to start.
Donate to feminist nonprofits:
What’s your main feminist concern? Find a nonprofit for it. Look it up on Charity Watch or Charity Navigator, although those websites might not rate all small nonprofits or global nonprofits. Here are a few ideas to get started.
- Planned Parenthood
- Your local rape crisis center or women’s shelter
- Black Women’s Blueprint
Get involved locally:
- Sign up for a weekly action list of ways to contact your politicians and topics to share with them.
- Attend a town hall meeting, especially if your US senator or representative will be there.
- Volunteer. Check out Volunteer Match to find a suitable nonprofit in your area.
Yes, online activism still matters. I called my senator the other day. Then I posted about it to Facebook. Multiple people then called their senators/representatives and posted about it to Facebook.
Fact-check what you post before tweeting or sharing to Facebook. Yes, liberals fall for fake news too. Don’t become part of the problem. I like to verify a story with three separate sources before I share the link with the most detailed (and best-cited) information.
I post almost everything publicly. You have my blanket permission to share my words with credit. However, if your Facebook friend writes something particularly striking, ask for permission before you share it. If she only shares it with friends, you will need permission to copy and paste the text into a new post if you want your friends to see it.
Whenever possible, amplify the voices of marginalized people over privileged people. A woman’s article on feminism has more merit than a man’s article. A black queer person’s article on hate crimes has more merit than a straight white person’s article.
Learn why other feminists criticized the Women’s March:
Look, I totally get why you’re so excited about the Women’s March. Over 3 million people! Demonstrating for gender equality! Woo!
But there were some real problems worthy of criticism. Don’t take the criticism personally. Use it as an opportunity to learn and to grow.
Also, remember that feminists are not a monolith. That includes groups within feminism. The following links are helpful perspectives, but not all intersectional feminists agree with all criticisms of the Women’s March.
I’m a pro-life feminist offended by the Women’s March.
So… let’s discuss whether or not you’re actually a feminist. I wrote the following as a comment on Sarah Bessey’s Facebook page.
I’m fine with pro-life feminists who channel their beliefs into better access to contraception, better sex education, more support for single and/or low-income mothers, more support for children with disabilities, etc.
I’m fine with pro-life feminists who morally oppose abortion without wanting to make it illegal.
But a pro-life feminist who just wants to make abortion illegal is not a feminist. Reproductive choice is possibly the greatest right women need in order to control our own lives. And if that’s not something a woman considers necessary, she has a lot of unchecked privilege.
Do you agree with me? Great, keep calling yourself a pro-life feminist and skip ahead to your action steps.
Do you disagree with me? Do you think it’s fine and dandy to identify as a feminist while trying to make abortion illegal? Then I have some reading assignments for you.
Pro-life feminists were welcome to attend the Women’s March. Anti-choice groups were not allowed to be sponsors of the Women’s March. These are two very different things.
Furthermore, take a look at the website for New Wave Feminists. Do you see any calls for comprehensive sexual education? Where’s the information on contraception? I skimmed through their blog as well, and the posts I read didn’t contribute anything positive to feminism. The one good thing I found is the idea for an app to help women find free and low-cost health services. That’s a great idea, and I hope it comes to fruition.
The Women’s March initially included New Wave Feminists as sponsors, but understandably removed them. Reproductive rights are critical to feminism. Anti-choice women should not sponsor a movement with legitimate concerns about reproductive rights.
President Donald Trump and Congress have already started to attack reproductive rights.
- Trump Didn’t Just Reinstate the Global Gag Rule. He Massively Expanded It.
- This rule will affect $9.5 billion in U.S. foreign aid. Any foreign NGO that mentions abortion will not receive any global health funding.
- The House Just Handed a Big Win to the Anti-Abortion Movement
- This would prevent health insurance companies from offering abortion coverage. That means that women cannot use their own money to buy a private health insurance plan with abortion coverage.
Donate to feminist resources:
I’ve put together a short list of organizations teaching comprehensive sexual education. Knowledge can reduce unwanted pregnancies. Reducing unwanted pregnancies reduces abortion.
Or you could donate to any program in your community helping single/low-income mothers.
I didn’t march. American women are whining. Women in other countries have real problems.
Privilege means not recognizing a problem exists because it doesn’t affect you personally.
I highly encourage you to keep reading.
- Medical gender bias continues to be a problem in the United States. Ten years ago, I learned that heart attacks can present different symptoms for women than for men. Why don’t all doctors know this too? From a 2013 article on women’s heart disease, “Women under 50 years old who have a heart attack related to heart disease are twice as likely as men to die.” Women receive lifesaving medications and therapies less often than men do. Women also wait longer to receive treatment. Medical gender bias poses a greater problem than just treatment for heart disease. Gender bias exists in the ER. Doctors also routinely dismiss women’s physical pain as mental illness.
- Convicted child molester Joseph Presley received a suspended sentence of only 30 days in a local jail. The prosecuting attorney recommended 7-8 years. This is rape culture.
- Rapist Brock Turner only received a six-month sentence for raping an unconscious woman. Brock Turner was convicted of rape, with a recommended sentence of six years, but the judge only gave him six months. Again, rape culture.
- More than 1 in 3 women (35.6%) and more than 1 in 4 men (28.5%) in the United States have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime. Source
- About 1 in 4 women (24.3%) and 1 in 7 men (13.8%) have experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime.
- Nearly 1 in 5 women (18.3%) and 1 in 71 men (1.4%) in the United States have been raped at some time in their lives, and approximately 1 in 21 men (4.8%) reported that they were made to penetrate someone else during their lifetime.
But please. Tell me again that American women have zero problems.
Donate to international organizations:
So. You genuinely opposed the Women’s March because women in other countries face real misogyny. Let’s pretend I believe you.
Do something about it.
Educate yourself some more:
Feminists already exist in other countries. They don’t necessarily need a bunch of white women swooping in to save them. Take the time to read what they have to say.
Feminism in China (multi-media project by journalist Vera Penêda)
I’m offended by the pussy hats.
Were you offended by Donald Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women? “Grab them by the pussy,” he said.
Also, you know the pussy hats were a play on words… right? They were pussy cat hats. The pink hats were not vaginas. They were cats.
Regardless of whether or not I marched, I’ve been involved in feminism for awhile now.
Great! Then you already know how much work we still need to do.
The resources above should help you with conversations with other people new to feminism or critical of feminism.
When you are in a privileged space with other people of your privilege, speak up for the marginalized. As a white woman, this means I need to call out racism from other white people. As a middle-class woman, this means I need to call out classism.
Believe it or not, this is actually a short list of resources and action steps. Not to belittle my hours of research, my 2,000ish words, and my 40ish links to additional sources.
However, I wanted to provide easy choices to stay involved with feminism. We are all at different places in our feminist journeys. We all have the capacity to learn and to grow. I hope this blog post inspires you to take action in your own community, even if that community is online.
Did you march? Why or why not?
P.S. I tried to vet all nonprofits/organizations that I recommended for donations. However, I couldn’t independently verify each of them for effectiveness. I encourage you to look into their programs before donating.