My last days at school were nothing if not thoughtful. It had been a rough ‘n tumble semester, but I found time once again for my feminism. I began at the American Democracy Institute’s Pathways to Power Conference.
Women at the conference were frustrated with workplaces in which their work was seen as unimportant. Women wanted resources, support, and purpose: on their terms. And only when they were respected and trusted by their colleagues and superiors did they feel truly valued.
I hopped from that conference to a Day of Action against the Stupak Amendment, where I was volunteering with the Feminist Majority Foundation. The amendment, which would strip women across the country of the ability to control their own bodies, caused young people from all over the country to congregate in a building where I slapped stickers on their chests and pointed them to free food and signs. They were speaking loudly, and they were harmonizing with the women I had met earlier that week, demanding the trust and respect of their government.
In the spirit of the week, I skipped out on studying one night to sit in on Cleve Jones, the founder of the AIDS Quilt, while he was speaking on campus. His words, provoking, moving, and dripping with strength, culminated in a question nobody in the room could answer: where is the anger? He said young people today seem to lack the urgency and fervor that formed the various movements he organized for, and continues to passionately work on behalf of.
Angry may be the wrong word, but to deny this generation the labels of passion and ambition would be crass. I know that young people today are ready to make waves and wreak havoc- and watching adult and young women alike work for trust and respect resonated with me as proof that the goals of the feminist movement are not always generationally fractured.
So the keywords, then, are trust, respect, and worth. (And if they don’t sound familiar after perusing this very blog, something is wrong.) I walked away from the semester assured that I am worth respect and worth listening to, and that my voice is important, whether it’s expressed in the bedroom or the boardroom. The best part of this knowledge, of course, is that it is true for you, too.
And so, I have drafted a New Year’s Resolution fit for every person, for everyone who demands respect, craves to be trusted and works to earn trust, and wants the ability to control their direction– to be louder, to be braver, and to continue to stand tall. And to stop allowing others to overlook our voices.
To truly speak out, and to make sure our voices are heard.