Picking Your Battle
Social justice, according to the National Association of Social Workers, “is the view that everyone deserves equal economic, political and social rights and opportunities.” Feminists focus their efforts on issues of gender equity, which include many different goals such as defeating rape culture. While these efforts include a great deal of work, this process can provide positive results.
In my Environmental Literature course we discussed how every generation has a tipping point, it is just a matter of what can be done and when. Although the media and society as a whole often make us feel like isolated and powerless individuals, you are not just one person. But it does start with you and what you personally believe in. Learning about historical feminist efforts and current intellectual or academic work is important, but for change to occur, this must pair with activism. Although each small event may not seem impactful, by doing something, you are making small changes that can make a large change a possibility. When you pick an issue and give it time and energy, you are working toward a change. And by connecting with other people who feel the same way, we can work to fix systemic issues together.
When ISU invites speakers like Katie Pavlich to campus (Tuesday, March 10) you have some options. You could support her conservative view that hook-up culture and lack of firearms is to blame for sexual violence, rather than believing that sexual assault and rape statistics through the CDC (facts at a glance) and UN (fact sheet, brochure) are accurate and that rape culture is a systemic problem we must fix as a society. Or, if possible, you can join students from organizations on campus to wear purple as a sign of respect toward those who are victims of violence and participate in the question/answer portion of the event. The aim of this type of protest is the exercise of respectful freedom of speech, thus making a statement that will raise awareness of this important issue.
You may miss out on some chances to speak out against such problematic beliefs because you have prior commitments, in which case you can continue to seek out future opportunities to make a difference. Consider joining the women’s studies program and their honorary organization tri lota or the gender equity club, SAGE. Other clubs and organizations may be represented at fairs during the school year as well. The Women’s Center has events throughout the school year, and the Catt Center brings in frequent speakers that may be of positive interest. Remember you are not alone in your beliefs, and there are those at ISU who support your feminist efforts.
Beyond ISU, there are numerous small ways to be involved. Your involvement could include anything from seeking out and supporting feminist projects on Kickstarter, signing petitions on Change.org or through Takepart.com, sharing your knowledge through social media outlets, participating in campus events, or joining Eve Ensler’s One Billion Rising: http://www.onebillionrising.org/my-revolution/. It doesn’t matter how old you are, your gender, or your area of study; taking part starts with your commitment to help, your involvement in an event, your efforts to raise awareness, your everyday choices that support your beliefs. Progress continues with you, and you can start today.