Today is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. It’s officially recognized by the UN to raise awareness of the crimes perpetrated against women, including rape and domestic violence.
Today also begins 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, preceding December 10’s International Human Rights Day.
That means from now until then, you have sixteen days packed full of choices. When I got started, I was entirely lost. So I made a list of 16 things you can do over the next 16 days that could go a short way towards eliminating crimes perpetrated against women, or a long way towards changing you.
1) You can read a book about the harms of pornography. I recommend you get started with Pornland by Gail Dines or Big Porn Inc by Melinda T Reist and Abigail Bray.
2) You can donate to a charity that supports women. I highly recommend Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW). (http://www.catwinternational.org/)
3) You can check out the ENTIRETY of Andrea Dworkin’s essays online for FREE. (http://radfem.org/dworkin/) I recommend starting with Pornography: Men Possessing Women.
4) You can abstain from pornography. I suggest you do it for forever. Trust me – it’ll change the way you look at everything.
5) You can dive in and absorb some amazing feminist articles online. I suggest http://www.feministcurrent.com/ for the honest and brilliant articles.
6) You can volunteer with or donate to a local shelter that promotes women’s safety.
7) You can interrupt any sexist or misogynistic language being used in your vicinity. I know how super hard that can be, but trust me when I say that true strength lies in those who challenge those in power. Only misogynists punch downwards (which is what you’re doing when you make rape jokes or sexualize women unwanted).
8) You can be critical of the media you consume. Don’t know how to start? Stop watching and start listening when women tell you something is offensive (i.e. Game of Thrones and unnecessary nudity – it’s okay to be critical of the things you love, people).
9) You can listen to a podcast. Again, have to recommend the dense selection at @Feminist Current (http://www.feministcurrent.com/category/podcasts/).
10) You can seek out organizations that are feminist, pro-feminist, pro-women and get to know more about their cause.
11) You can open up communication with a woman you know who’s been harmed by domestic or sexualized violence. I heartily recommend you start by telling them something along the lines of, “I haven’t truly considered the experiences of other people. I want you to know that any time you need an ear, I would be happy to listen. And no, I will not offer you unsolicited advice or offer solutions or pretend I’m an expert at what you’ve gone through.”
12) You can stop using sexist or misogynistic language. This includes using words like “pussy,” “bitch,” “whore,” “ho,” “son of a bitch,” “cunt,” and phrases like “… like a girl,” “be a man,” “… is a man’s job.”
13) You can stop laughing at jokes that generalize and thus reinforce what it means “to be a woman”, such as the way women talk, dress, behave, and so on.
14) You can defend women. Start simple, like with sharing an article on your personal timeline on the condition that you will be active in the comments section that follows. Small potatoes, share an article that’s pro-women. Medium potatoes, share an article that’s anti-porn. Large potatoes, share an article that establishes your position as an anti-porn / pro-women advocate and watch how quickly some men will hiss at you and how others in real life will begin to avoid you like you’re insane (lol you’ll get used to it).
15) You can admit that you don’t actually know much about violence against women, but that you are open to learning more and could use a few suggestions to teach yourself (important: nobody can change you except yourself. The best you can do is be open and allow yourself a huge amount of space to accept how very, very little you know and how very, very disorienting everything becomes once that light bulb has gone off over your head).
16) You can speak up in real life.