Feminism | Posted by Julie Z on 09/8/2010

Do It Anyway

what does activism look like?

what does activism look like?

In my opinion, Courtney Martin is one of the coolest people ever. I appreciate nothing more than honesty – especially when backed up by intelligence and clear hard work – and nobody is more emblematic of such qualities than Courtney. So, when I heard that she has a new book out called Do It Anyway – a book profiling 8 activists – you can imagine my excitement. The goal of writing this book, Courtney says, was to, find, “examples of ordinary young people who were making change and feeling hopeful about it.”  

Personally, I’ve been thinking about activism a lot lately. I’m taking an elective at school called Gender, Culture, Power (taught, of course, by the same teacher that handed me Full Frontal Feminism in 9th grade) and the summer reading for that course was Half the Sky. All who have read that book know it is an incredibly powerful tribute to the plight of women across the world. And I was no exception. I was moved and felt the need to do something and help women who face sex trafficking, violence and so many other hardships across the world. Yet the entire time I couldn’t help but think, “What about America?”

Yes, as a country we are incredibly privileged. But we definitely have our own problems, too. Obviously they’re not all technically feminist in nature, but I believe feminism is about making life better for both genders, so that we reach a level of equality we’re both satisifed with. We keep talking about how negative the “Western Savior” image is, and while I think it’s necessary to overlook that downside in certain situations to HELP women, the fact remains that maybe we should try to save ourselves before we work on anybody else.

Courtney Martin explores what makes an effective activist by looking to the experts: activists themselves. Here is Courtney speaking about her project:

And here are a few activists that are profiled in the book…

Marciela Guzman

Rosario Dawson

I know our generation, though it is often identified as lazy or unmotivated, actually cares a great deal about making a difference, and I think this book – though it profiles activists who are definitely older than us – could still be inspirational for us. This leads me to pose the question(s): what does activism mean to you? Who are some successful activists that you know?

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  • Tessa @ at 4:14 pm, September 10th, 2010

    “the fact remains that maybe we should try to save ourselves before we work on anybody else.”

    Seriously? Only an incredibly privileged white person would say this. As an Indian-American girl, it is so hard for me to see white girls talk about how bad life is for women in the U.S. Yes, I live in the U.S and I know that violence against women is frequent, women still earn less than men for the same job, and abortion rights are threatened by crazy conservatives. We do need to work to fix this. But not at the point where we only fix our own problems and not help women in other countries. Women in other countries are OPRESSED for heaven’s sake! Girls in some Middle-Eastern provinces aren’t allowed to go to school. In Saudi Arabia, women are forced to wear veils so as not to “tempt men”. It’s so offensive to basically say that the rights of other women should come after your rights. This is why so many white feminists irritate. You all don’t check your privilege as compared to women of color, especially women of color in other countries.

  • Heather Aurelia @ at 1:01 pm, September 12th, 2010

    I think this a very inspirational book and blog post (about the book) I will definitely check it out, I am still waiting on my bell hooks’ books to get here!!!

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