Happy New Year! *cue confetti in background, cheering, etc.*
I’m going to admit, I’ve always loved this holiday. I love the significance of a fresh start—a refresh button—and I especially love it this year. Spoiler alert: 2014 has been a big year for feminism, both in and out of Mormonism. There have been awesome things—Sister Mkhabela praying, LGBTQ rights taking over America, literally everything Laverne Cox ever does—and the things that still hurt to think about. At this point, 2014 feels like it’s too full, and I am ready for a fresh start in 2015. So, these are my Feminist New Year’s Resolutions!
- Be a better ally. It’s been said so many times that it’s almost getting old, but not really. I think there is almost nothing more important as a feminist and activist than reaching out to other groups of people who also deal with the results of an unfair society. For me, this issue became real as Ferguson, Mike Brown, and #blacklivesmatter got national attention. I’m going to admit something not-so-good: I wasn’t the greatest ally to this cause when I first heard about it. I posted about it, I went to one demonstration, and then mostly forgot it had happened until Darren Wilson wasn’t indicted. I would like to say I’ve been better the second time around. In my own life, I’ve decided being a good ally is mostly about turning up and shutting up. By turning up, I mean be there for those who are fighting. Going to demonstrations, using hashtags, and defending those who are hurting even if it might make my own life a bit awkward can actually make a huge difference. But I also need to shut up within groups where I am an ally. I need to listen and learn and let other voices be more important than my own. I think it’s a hard balance to strike, and I’m not even close to perfect at it yet, so in 2015, I’m going to try to be better.
- Do something major to make a change. More confessions: for me, I often forget about feminism because I spend so much time on feminism blogs and Facebook groups. Which (good thing) means I’m pretty well read and opinionated on things that are happening in the world of feminism and activism, but (down side) means I don’t always do something about it. One of my first steps for 2015 was writing for YMF, but I also want to join a campaign, go to a protest, and (since I’m going to be 18 this year) follow and vote for people who will make a change in my world. I might be a naïve optimist, but I think 2015 can be an even bigger year for feminism than 2014 was, and I want to be part of that.
- Forgive others for their faults. A huge part of this one is that I have spent a lot of 2014 being angry, and I’m kind of over it. People do dumb things. People are mean. And people make mistakes. But I’m not perfect either. This doesn’t mean I have to let other people walk all over me, but in 2015, I hope to be kinder when correcting people. I hope that when my US Gov. teacher says something sexist, I can correct her with a little bit less snark. I hope that when my friend posts something racist on Facebook, I can let them know without being offended. I hope that when someone says something dumb on the internet, I can assume they meant well (ish?). And I hope that when one of the apostles says something awful in General Conference (because, lets face it, they will), I hope I can remember it isn’t the end of the world.
- However, I also want to focus on self care. This is a big one for me because I’m bad at it. But I want to get better. 2014 was a big year for me because I learned something new about myself: sometimes I need a break. After Kate Kelly was excommunicated in June I took about two months off of church, unfriended people whose Facebook posts I couldn’t handle anymore, and made a promise to myself to not accept any b.s. explanation of why what was happening was okay.
This shouldn’t have been as big a deal as it was, but this was huge for me. I think that—especially as Mormons—we are trained to be 100% dedicated to a cause 100% of the time. However, I don’t always think that’s the best thing to do. Being a stalwart feminist is a really good thing, but I think we become better when we make sure that we’re doing okay first.
And that’s all I have! That, and a sappy message. Because sappy messages belong at the end of New Year’s Resolutions: this has been a good year. *cue testimony tears* I have never been more proud to call myself a Mormon Feminist. We’re awesome and Happy New Year!
Emma is a senior in high school living in Mormonville, Utah. She loves Arabic, art, and activism. Next fall she will be moving to New York for school.