You’re busy. You’re broke. How do you make positive social change without having to dole out big bucks and loads of energy? Here are 15 feminist activities you can incorporate into your daily life to solve that dilemma.
1. Leave copies of feminist publications everywhere. Leave behind old issues of Ms., Girlistic and local women’s papers in ObGYN waiting rooms and dental offices. “Forget” articles in the copy machine at work. Latent feminists are everywhere – you never know who might find your little treasures and feel a sense of anonymous camaraderie and support.
2. Use feminine pronouns as generic pronouns, especially when talking about male-dominated professions or industries. It’s surprising how noticeable it is when you use “she” or “her” as a generic. People hear it and take note.
3 & 4. Patronize women-owned businesses, especially when they’re local. Women own 48% of all businesses nation-wide, and that number is growing. Yet in the largest companies, women fill only 10% of the positions of power. So, support us where it counts - when we’re in a position to give ourselves equal pay. Avoid businesses that don’t support women. Wal-Mart has a horrendous record of treating female employees badly. Carl’s Jr. has incredibly sexist and degrading commercials. Businesses that clearly don’t have your interests at heart don’t need your money.
5. Attend events like Take Back The Night, Vagina Monologue showings, women’s sporting events, and women’s music festivals. Events like these are empowering and exciting, and adding your body to the crowd not only helps boost feminist moral but also reenergizes your activist batteries.
6. Visit feminist websites and blogs. The more you visit feminist websites, the more hits they have under their belts. The more hits they have, the more advertisers are willing to pay to be placed on the site. The more advertisers are willing to pay, the more funds those websites have at their disposal to put to work towards feminist goals. Plus, you learn a thing or two while you’re surfing.
7. Sign up for action alerts from websites like Feminist Majority Foundation, NOW, and Amnesty International. They email you alerts for new actions and in about 30 seconds you can send a letter to political leaders on pertinent issues.
8. Check out feminist books from local libraries. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have time to read them. Just checking them out shows an interest in the subject and the library will continue to shelve the books, and may grow their feminist resources if they see enough demand. Also, request books they don’t carry. They might be able to stock them later on.
9 & 10. Buy gender-neutral toys and clothes for baby showers and birthdays. If you have to buy something, this is an easy way to slow the perpetuation of gender stereotypes, especially when it comes to educational toys.
Buy stamps. When you choose your stamps, choose the breast cancer stamps, the stop family violence stamps, or stamps that feature females. Not only do your dollars make a difference but when you send out your mail, those stamps pass through a lot of hands and are noticed by a surprisingly large number of people.
11. Pass along feminist books. It’s tough to let go of a good book, but someone else may be aching to read it and not even know it yet. If you come across someone who can use your copy of Women Who Run With Wolves, don’t be afraid to lend it, or even give it, to someone who will appreciate it and who can then spread along the good word as well.
12. Add information to forms. When filling out a form that asks “M” or “F”, add in other options such as “Intersex,” reminding people that sex is not black and white. If the form is asking about your sex, but it states “gender,” cross out “M” and “F” and put “masculine,” “feminine,” and “androgynous” to illustrate that gender is how we perform our sex and sexuality, and not sex itself. If it asks marital status, add in “Domestic Partners.” Even if you don’t need the extra options, others do.
13. Write positive letters to the editor. It’s surprising how fast you can whip out a 200 word letter to your local paper thanking them for featuring a female columnist or journalist, covering women’s activities positively, or showing an advertisement that supports or empowers women. Editors listen, and this encourages them to continue or increase the positive things they’re doing.
14. Ask questions. Ask your employer, or a company with whom you’re interviewing, their policy on prescription birth control, same-sex partner benefits, coverage of mammograms and annual wellness exams, and childcare support systems. Even if the issues don’t directly affect you, your asking reminds others there is a concern about these things.
15. Say what you actually think. Yes, this is a tough one sometimes, but highly effective. Add to the conversation what you think, not what you feel others want to hear. It will increase the richness of the conversation, as well as impact other people because more than likely, someone else in the room will agree with you and feel empowered to speak their mind too.
Jaymi Heimbuch is the founder and editor of Girlistic.com and Girlistic Magazine, a free online quarterly feminist magazine and resource website