As I write, there’s a whomping, scary, glorious summer-afternoon thunderstorm going on around me.The light seeping into the house is dim and eerie, theneighbourhood cats are hiding wherever there’sshelter, plant life is being pummelled with water,filling the view from my window with quivering,dancing, writhing green.
Whether a storm like this strikes you as awesome,as it did me today, or whether you just find yourselfwondering if your bike’s inside or the basement willbe flooded, you can’t help but take notice when thesky puts on this kind of a show, allowing us a smallpeek into its potentially terrible power.
People moveaway from computer screens and work tasks, if onlyfor a moment, to note that something big is going onout there. In this way, through rupturing the numbnessof the everyday, a kind of spontaneous communityis born — we notice the world around us, wenotice the people around us. We’re all gettingdrenched, or worrying about getting drenched; thereare commiserating smiles; we’re all in this together.
Sure, this sense of community dissolves as quicklyas a cloud changes shape, but this foul-weather phenomenongot me thinking about the social/politicalequivalent — that event or issue that makes us dropwhat we’re doing and pay attention, and, for amoment, points us all in the same direction.
What will be the next issue that does that forwomen in this country, or the world? Can we call forit to arrive, or can we just keep preparing the ground,planting seeds while we wait for the rain?
It is a result of feminism’s legal and rights-basedsuccesses that unifying issues are harder to come bythese days. Sexist law after sexist law has fallen, there is the comforting belief that all is well, and that if a fewlittle things here and there aren’t, well, the feministswill take care of it. (Okay, maybe that’s not quite howpeople think about it, but that’s what I imagine.)
It’s not, of course, that women now lack issues orinjustices crying out for change — the deeply persistentphenomenon of violence against womenand girls comes to mind, as do women’s meagreearnings compared to those of men, and all of theways that violence and a lack of equal pay areshaped and sustained by institutionalized racism,able-ism and classism.
No, there’s no lack of issues. It’s the sense of being able to unify activistand not-yet-activist women alike in one winnablestruggle to make things better — that is what feelsout of reach. There is so much to be done, and theways to do it all are so diffuse (providing counsellingand shelters, shoring up girls’ and women’sself-esteem, challenging daily injustices we witness,unlearning, unlearning, unlearning). The path tochange is so long and full of difficulty. How couldthere be one issue that rises above the rest? Shouldthere be one?
And yet, broad social change does seem to happenthat way, a sudden convergence with a single eye, soto speak, working towards a tangible change that weall hope makes everything a little better, a little easier,a little more just. It is amazing to think aboutthat kind of power, when all of those committed tosocial justice focus their energies on the samething — what awesome power and change and growththat can unleash.
… Can I ask you a question?
Do you ever feel that, with everything that’s going on around the world and a million breaking news stories in your face, on your phone, every day, it’s hard to stay on top of the news that actually matters to you?
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