23 New Year's Resolutions To Help Amazing Feminist Causes
Well. It's been a year. A truly apocalyptic, devastating, nightmare of a year, and because there's really no historical precedent for this, there's no saying what exactly is on the horizon. But as is true with everything difficult in life, the only way through it is through it. If you're craving guidance, here are some New Year's resolutions to help amazing feminist causes. Because as much as it felt like the world ended on Nov. 8, 2017 is still on its way.
While there are definitely resources dedicated to fighting for reproductive freedom and access to healthcare on this list, that's just one facet. You can't divorce women's rights from institutionalized racism and xenophobia, from the right to religious freedom, from the American prison industrial complex, or from issues of poverty; in doing so, you're perpetuating a form of activism that benefits exclusively upper-middle and upper-class white women, and let's be clear — that's not actually activism. Within the feminist movement there's an often-undiscussed history of silencing and excluding other marginalized groups, and it has to be acknowledged. The best way to fight back? Take action.
Self-care is more important than ever in a culture that loves turning women's bodies into battlegrounds, but it's important to acknowledge, too, the privileges you've been afforded. Use! Them! To! Help! If you're educated, if you're white, if you're a documented citizen, if you have the financial means to donate, if you have the time to volunteer - use it. Let the anxiety of this cultural clusterfuck push you out the door. In 2017, resolve to show the hell up.
Psst! Check out the "You IRL" stream in the Bustle App for daily tips on how to have an empowering 2017 starting Jan. 1. Right now, tweet @bustle about how you plan to make 2017 the best year yet. Use the hashtag #2017IRL, and your tweet could be featured on our app.
1. Set up an automatic monthly donation for one organization (or several!). If reproductive rights are important to you, NARAL Pro-Choice America is a non-profit political advocacy group that fights for reproductive freedom. If you're worried about the Earth (and, uh, you should be), The Sierra Club is the largest grassroots organization in the country, and advocates for environmental protections. If you're passionate about LGBTQ rights, The Trevor Project provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ youth. They could all use your help.
2. Ask for donations in your name for in lieu of birthday and holiday presents this year. Provide friends and family a list of organizations you feel passionately about, and resolve to discuss what these organizations do and why you consider them important. Need some suggestions? Try these:
The Southern Poverty Law Center fights bigotry and hate through litigation, education and advocacy, and they track hate crimes throughout the United States.
The ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) works to defend individual rights and liberties, and is currently matching all donations. They support several initiatives that focus on prisoners' rights.
The National Immigration Law Center supports the rights of low-income immigrant populations.
For a more comprehensive list of organizations, check out Jezebel's "Pro-women, pro-immigrant, pro-earth, anti-bigotry" list of organizations, or TIME's list of organizations that need help post-election, or any of Bustle's lists of organizations geared towards specific causes that will be more essential than ever in the coming years.
3. Organize your own fundraiser. Bake bread, make bracelets, paint posters, engage in something that will bring comfort to you and joy to others. Donate the proceeds.
4. Offer your skills to organizations that could use the help. Non-profits rely on donations to keep their doors open, but people willing to donate their time are also crucial. It's important to take stock of all your talents. Are you great at graphic design? Can you build websites or write newsletters? Are you a fundraising queen? All of these are extremely valuable skills that many charities are in need of. Pick one day a week, or one day a month, or one weekend a season to volunteer for a local organization.
5. Resolve to bring at least one friend. If we all did this, the numbers of those fighting the good fight would grow exponentially.
6. Fight for children's rights. Under the reproductive rights umbrella sits an often-overlooked issue: Childcare and children's rights. If you're good with kids, The Boys and Girls Club is always looking for Big Brothers and Sisters, who help provide guidance and support for their students. The Young Center for Immigrant Children's Rights, which fights for the rights of unaccompanied immigrant minors, is currently looking for children's advocates in Chicago, New York, Washington, D.C. and Houston and Harlingen, Tex.
7. Volunteer at a homeless shelter. Homeless populations are often forgotten or ignored, despite their blatant need for help. Your local shelter is almost certainly in need of volunteers, especially in the winter months when sleeping outside becomes life-threatening.
8. If you're willing to put your body on the line, abortion clinics will need an increased number of clinic escorts in the coming years. Volunteer to be one. It will be your responsibility to walk women seeking reproductive care past protesters. Is it insane that this is an actual job? Yeah, dudes, it really is.
9. Create a call sheet for the local, state and national-level politicians involved in decision-making. They tally every issue about which their office is contacted. It does, really, make a difference. A reminder: The government works for you.
10. Want to run for office? RUN! We need you! EMILY's List, which works to support Democratic, pro-choice women running for office, runs a Political Opportunity Program that provides resources for first-time candidates.
11. Encourage and support your friends who want to run. If you personally don't feel call of politics, She Should Run is a national network that strives to inspire more female-identifying people to run for political offices. It allows you to nominate people in your life you think would succeed as candidates.
12. Become a member of a non-profit. Many non-profits offer membership opportunities, which combine monetary and time donations. The Sylvia Rivera Law Project, for example, which advocates for trans rights, provides meetings and community organizing resources for their members.
13. Take a page from our women's lib foremamas and begin hosting a recurring consciousness raising meeting. Make signs and organize carpools for protests. Become first aid certified. Participate in a self-defense workshop. Discuss and support local political elections. Raise money. Engage in community.
14. Take care of yourself by creating. Putting forth beauty into the world is therapeutic. If you're a storyteller, hold yourself to an actual writing schedule. If you're an artist, commit to creating a certain number of pieces per month. While showing up for others is important, you need to show up for yourself as well.
15. Team up with friends and hold each other accountable for creating. As someone who struggles with self-motivating, writing groups have proven the most effective when it comes to productivity. Link up with friends (or friends of friends) who have similar goals. Meet once a week and set a specific page count.
16. Commit to performing. If you're a playwright, stage one of your pieces. If you're a singer or a poet, show up to an open mic (or organize your own). Diverse representation in the media is more important than ever.
17. Learn to knit. Knitting and sewing have long been considered "feminine crafts," and thus uncool and unworthy of artistic acclaim and "un-feminist." Fam, dig deeper into that. Please. If you know how to knit or sew already, start a knitting circle. Or a quilting circle. Something that cultivates community and results in a tangible, comforting product.
18. Read as much as you can, by as many voices as possible. Hold yourself to finishing at least one extracurricular book a month.
19. Make a concerted effort to read stories by women of color, translated works, pieces by the LGBTQ community, by immigrants or undocumented writers. Read up, too, on the history of this country. I guarantee there's a lot more outside of your high school textbooks, and it's important to understand that nothing happens in a vacuum — there's a deep interconnectedness throughout the major problems of the world.
20. Organize a book swap. Share your knowledge!
21. Or a monthly book club with a focus on diverse voices. Talk about things that matter!
22. Or a master Google doc with resources, organizations, tips, and contact information. Share with friends! Ask that they share! Ask that they add their knowledge!
23. Become a teacher. I think we've all realized by now that it will fall to the younger generations to fix this mess. If you've ever considered teaching as a career, now is the time.
Check out the "You IRL" stream in the Bustle App starting on January 1 for daily tips on how to have an empowering 2017.
Images: Hannah Burton/Bustle; Bustle (6)