2017 is winding down, but a newly-energized gender revolution is just getting started. As is the case with most things, if you want something done, ask a woman. Artists, actors, CEOs, producers, tech gurus, lawyers, writers, comedians, lawmakers and more are mad as hell and well, we’re not gonna take it anymore. Revolution, thy name is Eve, and leave my ribs alone, thank you very much.
Marianne Williamson, a spiritual teacher, author and lecturer, tells a story about how chickens know when it’s time to hatch. The chicks feel like they’re suffocating inside the shell and frantically peck at it until they can breathe, according to her.
Is it just me, or does the air feel really thin in here?
How fast we can peck our way out of the Trump-as-president shell to a semblance of sanity in the latest iteration of the “Hunger Games,” “1984,” “The Matrix,” “Handmaid’s Tale,” “Idiocracy” mash-up will make or break our future reproductive freedom and equal access to control capital, and thus, our autonomy in everything that flows therefrom.
Thankfully, the revolution wheel has already been invented, and a quick look at what worked in the past is instructive.
In “How Protest Works,” Kenneth T. Andrews wrote there are three avenues by which movements gain power: cultural, disruptive and organizational. Those that successfully combine all three last. It isn’t enough that the timing is right, or that the movement has a tidal wave of enthusiasm or even outrage behind it, for example. We have to work for it.
Step One: Organize.
“Movement building is exhausting, highly skilled work,” Ezra Klein wrote in a piece about Occupy Wall Street in The Washington Post in 2011. “What appears to be ‘spontaneous’ is the result of painstaking organizing and — just like Oscar Wilde never said — constant meetings.” Locally, many groups that formed a year ago are still going, among them Indivisible and Together We Will. Stalwart organizations, including the ACLU, launched grassroots efforts such as #PeoplePower to have more tentacles in the community and build bridges with local officials and police.
Step Two: Keep talking.
Movements exercise cultural power when they change a conversation and provide new ways to look at what’s happening and new words to describe it, Andrews wrote. Think about the #MeToo movement. Pity the fool who fails to recognize physical boundaries at the office or makes sex play (or the enabling of same) a condition of employment. “No means no” and “victim-blaming” are as much a part of the lexicon now as the 1 percent ushered in by Occupy Wall Street. That movement didn’t last, though, Andrews wrote, because it couldn’t leverage cultural power into disruptive power. Which brings us to the next step to smashing the patriarchy.
Step Three: Shake it up, baby.
“Movements have ‘disruptive’ power when they make it more costly for people to support the status quo,” Andrews wrote. Think sit-ins and the fear of economic loss from riots, property damage or displacement. Consider, too, those who may cash in on feminism. Perhaps disruption can be as effective to accomplish real change when it lines some pockets, as it simultaneously empties others (at least so long as it’s not the one percent getting richer). When we can harness cultural power and disruptive power to create organizational power, change is so close we can taste the fruit of the apple tree on our lady tongues. We’re almost there.
Step Four: Commit and show up.
In-person interaction is vital to a movement’s impact. Leave the comfort of your home — or your laptop or handheld. “Ultimately, social media can augment, but cannot replace the tireless work of organizing and attending real-life meetings,” Klein said.
And last, but never least: Be hope’s bitch.
Lucas Jackson wrote in a Reuters story after the Women’s March on Washington in January that promoting hope over fear-mongering was a tactic worth emulating from past social movements. Bjork, that feathered harbinger, agrees. “If optimism ever was like an emergency, it’s now,” Bjork said in an interview about her new album Utopia. To cope with Trump, Bjork envisions a space we gather naked with flutes and flowers and dancing.
She may be onto something. Analog interaction may foster a stronger sense of hope and bond protesters and groups who have popped up in livings rooms across America to stitch and bitch, to host town meetings or potlucks for peace. As the year in which the ground continuously shifted comes to a close, let’s gather with the goal of upending the poisoned apple cart that is this administration and start fresh.
Drink. Be Merry. Dance naked with Bjork. Whether or not you eat the apple is up to you.