The new year marks a time for change and optimism, so what better way to start it off than by making feminist New Year's resolutions? Pledging to eat healthier or promising to travel to a new place are great New Year's resolution ideas, but a feminist one benefits not only you, but the world as a whole. No, really.
By making a feminist-friendly New Year's resolution, you're promising to work towards a better future for women world-wide. Your resolution celebrates your beliefs, but it also acknowledges that your work as a feminist is never over. It's the kind of resolution that is empowering to yourself and others, and with so many superficial resolutions out there (eat better, purge your closet), it's refreshing to have one that goes deeper.
Whether your feminist resolution is one grand gesture or new daily behaviors you promise to adapt, rest assured it will make a difference — and not just for you. And although many people break their New Year's resolutions by the first week of February, a feminist New Year's resolution will inspire you to stick to it all year long, and isn't that better than expensive personal training sessions you're sure to cancel anyways?
It doesn't matter if you're a die-hard feminist or someone just starting to dip your toe in the pool of girl power, here are 11 feminist New Year's resolutions that will make your 2016 a year of radical change.
1. Only say sorry when you mean it
It's no secret that many women over apologize. At work, at home, and in personal relationships, women are prone to apologizing when they don't mean it, and when it doesn't need to be said. Instead of responding to an email to your boss with a routine apology, or saying sorry to that person who brushed by you, ask yourself: What am I saying sorry for? Do I mean it, and is it even necessary? It's time to stop being sorry so much, and to start being bold.
2. Read more books by women
This one is simple: instead of reading books by the men who dominate the best sellers list, concentrate on reading female authors. Fiction, biography, poetry, or academic feminist texts — whatever your reading preferences are, be sure you're giving yourself the chance to hear women's stories told in their own voices. There's no limit to what you can learn from your fellow ladies.
3. Educate yourself on current women's issues
It's not enough to want equal rights for all women. You have to be aware of what feminist issues we face, both at home and abroad. You probably know that women, on average, earn a lower salary than men for doing the same job, but how much do you really know about reproduction rights? Read the news, subscribe to activist newsletters, and pay attention to what happens around you in every day life. The more you know about the issues, the more effectively you can actually change them.
4. Become an ally
Speaking of educating yourself, how much do you know about feminism outside of the scope of your own needs? Broaden your idea of womanhood, and spend 2016 not only examining intersectionality and what it means, but becoming an ally to every kind of feminist, no matter their sexual identity, race, class, or gender identity. The time to talk about the unique circumstances each kind of woman faces, and to stand up for all of their needs, is now.
5. Vote in the elections
Do I even need to explain this one? Putting aside the fact that so many political issues, from abortion to the ERA, shape the future of women's rights, women in this country fought long and hard for the right to vote, so you better use it.
6. Start a conversation
Whether it's on the phone, over email, or at the dinner table, chances are you talk to your friends and family all day long. Instead of keeping it safe and simple with recaps of your day and celebrity gossip, make your New Year's resolution to talk about feminism and women's rights on a daily basis. Not all of your talks have to be serious and intense debates over body image or reproduction rights, but you should spend as much time addressing your thoughts on feminism as you do Kylie Jenner's new hair style. You never know who you'll educate and influence — and who will educate and influence you— along the way.
7. Go after that promotion
It's time to take charge of your professional life, and go after that raise or promotion you want and probably deserve. The fact is, women in the workplace earn over 25 percent less than their male counterparts, and if you feel like you're in that boat, it's time to stand up and say "No more!" I'm not suggesting you ask your boss at the job you've only had a few months to give you a pay raise, but I am saying you should take a look at your self worth and your value as an employee, and make sure your job is compensating you correctly for it. If it isn't, 2016 is the year it finally starts to.
8. Mentor a younger woman
When it comes to creating a better future for women, there's no better place to start than with the youth. Whether it's through a Big Sister program or a writing driven program like Girls Write Now, use this next year to mentor a young woman and show her what it really means to be a woman, and to be a feminist. It will be life-changing for the both of you.
9. Call out anti-feminist behavior
When children misbehave, we can put them in a time-out. Unfortunately, that doesn't work for rude cat-callers and misogynistic bar patrons, but just because you can't send these people to their rooms doesn't mean you can't address their inappropriate behavior. When someone behaves in an anti-feminist way, whether it's towards you or someone else, don't be afraid to tell them how their words or actions are wrong and how they affect you.
10. Celebrate the achievements of other women
While you might feel that rush of jealousy of another woman's promotion, big move, or even engagement, don't let the green monster get the best of you in the new year. Promise to be happy for other women and their achievements, because we all know that strong women hold each other up, not tear each other down.
11. Practice self-care
Loving your body (well, all bodies, really) is a huge part of being a feminist. Forget about the airbrushed magazines and those tips for losing weight in the new year, and instead embrace the skin you're in, and love it. Treat your body and your mind right and take care of yourself, because you can't help or love anyone else until you can help and love yourself.
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