Get your change on: challenging patriarchy in our daily lives

HAPPY FRIDAY EVERYONE! Yes, the title of this blog post is a play on ‘Get your freak on’ by Missy Elliot. It felt like a go-getterish song option. But I digress. Last week I was having a look at some of the ways in which we can challenge patriarchy in our daily lives. This was based on the Clare Dalton quote about what feminism is and what its purpose is. Go on and give yourself a bit of a refresher. This week we’re going to take a loot at what feminists are ultimately dedicated to – change. Consider this the official pep talk!

We’re now in April, the month after everyone is supposed to be concerned with women. Now ordinarily the concern would that we would all promptly move on with our lives until the next commemoration. Not so! There is a still a lot of momentum surrounding women’s rights, feeding off of this year’s theme which was Inspiring Change. Now we have an online exhibition on Women Leading Change being run by the International Museum of Women, symposiums trending with #womenleading, exhibitions on different projects that women are undertaking AND a photo series called Because of them we can, involving photographs of some of our favourite feminists from throughout history as represented by girls.

I have to say that I have been filled with a sense of well-being because we are accomplishing so much, calling out patriarchy, smashing glass ceilings and asking a lot of difficult questions. What has made interacting with these various forms of media, reading up on different projects and seeing what women are accomplishing even more interesting is seeing the first two dedications of feminism at work. Women are describing their hardships and their oppression, they’re looking at how and why this subordination is occurring and they’re using that information to cause waves, start ripples and challenge patriarchal society head on. That is, women aren’t denying feminist methods but are using them to suit their purposes and life experiences in order to create meaningful change in their communities in the fight against gender disparity.

A common question that is often thrown at feminists is whether or not we are still relevant? In fact there are many articles that say that we aren’t. As opposed to shying away from this question, and meeting it with scoffing and/or a moment where we face-palm at humanity for so readily forgetting everything that feminism has done, I think that we need to be constantly asking ourselves that, but in a re-phrased form. We need to continuously ask ourselves: how am I helping to ameliorate the lives of women? How we am I contributing to the building of a just and equitable society? Really, to bring up an old cliché we need to see if we are being the change that we want to see in the world – are we doing everything we possibly can to disrupt patriarchy and make clear how untenable it is? In the same way we critically assess and scrutinise the world in which we live in, we must continually assess and scrutinise ourselves and our activities.

Part of this process of change is introspection – looking to our own lives, and seeing what we can change in terms of how we interact with others, and the way in which we utilise our various forms of privilege. As feminists we cannot be afraid to change, as we learn and assimilate new information into our psyches that will hopefully make us better people. I think many of us have heard slogan ‘The personal is political’? I finally grasped the full significance of this phrase, in a quote by Judith Butler, who said: ‘…the feminist assertion that “the personal is political” underlines the importance that was accorded to the collective examination of women’s shared but privatised experiences, and to the personal change that feminists effect within their own lives.’ (Emphasis added). It is not enough that we share our experiences, we must also be open to changing how we live our lives and how we impact the lives of others, as a means of following through an any insight we may have gained.

There will be many barriers to change, and I will be writing posts looking at how some of them operate, but how exciting is it to see women continue to excel, to push boundaries and to agitate all in the hopes of ending gender disparity? Please have a look at some of the links in this post, have a look at #womenleading and generally go forth and be inspired!

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