A little while ago, I wrote a few posts about teaching everyday activism to my sophomores. (here and here) For that lesson, I used an article from Gender Across Borders about Miep Gies. The second-to-last paragraph in this article reads:
I wonder how the world would respond to Gies’ actions today. Much has changed in the way social justice advocates promote their causes. Today, activism is loud and intentional. Often, activism is misguided and misses the point. And though there are countless activists engaging in critical social justice work — work that they truly care about — activism today isn’t necessarily challenging. One can organize marches, distribute petitions, facilitate dialogues, and even blog about justice and oppression — all of these things are valuable to activism. But all of these things can also be put away at the end of the day, or forgotten about during a week when other life stresses take priority. Hiding families in one’s attic can never be ignored. If Miep Gies had set aside her activist efforts for even a moment, the people she was protecting would have been placed in immediate danger. (emphasis mine)
I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately, and about how there have been times that I’ve taken a break from blogging or gone on a much-needed vacation or shifted my focus to something that needs to get done right away. I sometimes think about myself and my needs before those of others (For example, I am not waiting to get married until everyone has the right, although I’m unconvinced that waiting to get married until everyone has the right would be activism; more on that later). But does that mean I can just turn off my activism?
If there has been anything that I’ve learned from the participants in my feminist blogging interview, it has been that you cannot turn off the feminism. It permeates everything you do and see, and even if your posts are not overtly feminist or political in nature, they are still a part of feminist activism because the lens does not go away. And just writing using that lens as a way to critique the world is activism.
So, isn’t just living my life as a feminist and as a feminist role-model activism? I can’t turn it off! Being a feminist is in my being, in my soul. I can’t even watch shows or listen to music anymore without thinking about the feminist implications of it, and I usually can’t even stop the comments about it from coming out of my mouth anymore. Sure, it isn’t Miep Gies style activism, but it is still activism every day that is, it seems, impossible to walk away from. Maybe I’m walking away from my blogging for a few days at a time, but I don’t walk away from the way I live my life. I can’t. And I bet you can’t either. (Shoot. I can’t even get my picture taken without analyzing the situation.)
I’m not trying to say that what we’re doing is as grand a gesture as Miep Gies. It isn’t. But how many of us have been called upon to do something that huge? And who is to say we wouldn’t if we could? The point is that, like Miep Gies, we are also not walking away from our activism, ever. Just in a different way.