Rocking On in the Digital World

Political activism has been said to be the backbone of feminism. But what counts as political activism? Who counts as activists? And how do we draw the line between the personal and the political? Or do we really have to?

The philosophy major replies: “All acts are political, all bodies are political; in fact, dear… everything is political!” OKAY, OKAY, OKAY! But what does this mean?

Traditionally, when people think of the Women’s Rights Movement, they picture a whole bunch of angry women (white, middle class women, might I add) protesting in the streets about voting, abortion or gay rights. But this is the third wave, people. Get with it! YES, we still need feminism, but it comes in many different shapes and sizes today. Today’s feminism is about the multiplicity of political outlets and voices; it’s about the reclaiming of emotions; it’s about the so-to-speak “messiness” of everyday life. And YES, it’s about the internet.

There is a common opinion within feminist circles that online forms of expression are too personalized, pre-political and childlike. But this belittles the importance of such spaces for people who express themselves through alternative forms of activism. The rejection of these radical communities perpetuate a sort-of “hierarchy of activism” in which certain forms, often more “public” forms, are deemed more “effective” than the others. WAIT! I thought we were feminists, not dictators! This new “information generation” is doing more than the conventional protesters (bless them) of the 20s and 60s, by transcending transnational borders, and by going beyond the streets and into the bedrooms of young activists. You don’t have to like it, you don’t have to adopt it; BUT folks: this is the future of feminism.

IN FACT, aren’t so-called “traditional” forms of feminist activism slightly contradictory by the mere fact that they are working within the confines of the systems in which they wish to abolish? Shouldn’t we be listening more intently to Audre Lorde’s famous words: “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house”? Maybe she was right; maybe these alternative and easily accessible online communities are the proper “tools” to dismantle oppressive systems. Don’t get me wrong I love a good protest, but I think we can admit that these spaces are not always as radical as they may seem. These are spaces of reform within systems that feminism is famous for screaming-at-the-top-of-their-tired-lungs against. Then why do we continue to limit our options to such narrow forms of action? It is rather through blogging, twitter-ing, and pinterest-ing etcetera, that girls and young women of this new, exciting, generation are becoming political agents, forming communities and creating new forms of social change.

Writing is a way to construct an identity, to make “who you are” visible, to make your voice heard. Now tell me, what is this if not political?! Writing has always been an outlet for me ever since I was a child, whether it was writing in my diary or writing fantasy stories for my grade 4 class. Now that I am older, I use writing to make my opinions known. This may be through the use of academic jargon, poetry or angry rants on KickAction. These are spaces of resistance, learning and healing for the feminists of today’s generation.

Finally, believing in these new activist communities is not just about empowering women but is about giving girls around the world the space for political agency. I would like to think that as potential role models, the older generation of feminists would want to give these girls hope rather than pessimistic expectations for the future. I believe that girl blogs, as one form of expression and action, are important sites for the future of feminist political activism.

So rock on girls and women of the internet…#ROCKON

  • Myriam Zaidi

    Bringing up online activity as a form of activitism is a very good point, and I can see many activists who don't have the white privilege that most protesters have use this as an alternative to risking their safety in a more disproportionate way by going to the streets! It makes the "concept" of activism more inclusive!

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