The theme of this year’s Blog Action Day, “The Power of We” is a concept that is crucial to feminist work. All too often we find it necessary to talk about the problems of power over, the abusive usurpation of control which frequently defines and challenges our lives. In addressing Power Over, we utilize multiple forms of empowerment–drawing on the power we have within ourselves and the power we create with community, working together. The power of we.
While I’ve lectured and written about power numerous times, it seemed to me that the most appropriate way to observe and participate in this blog action and to write about the how the power of we informs feminist work was to ask a few of the many wonderful activists who are part of my “we” and who utilize this powerful concept in their work every day to share their thoughts about this topic. Here is what they said:
I turned 50 over the summer and the only way I could conceive of celebrating was first, here in Cleveland, locally, getting together with 10 amazing female friends, and then, just this past weekend, with four girlfriends from college with whom I’ve been friends for over 30 years. Earlier this year, I was able to help celebrate another friend’s milestone birthday and we’ve known each other since we were four years old, and then I was able to spend another long weekend with another childhood female friend who I’ve known since we were in 7th grade. So I’d say that there is organizing and there’s organizing and in a woman’s life and in the scheme of building confidence and confidences, I cannot imagine having the trajectory I’ve had without both types of organizing.
Like square pegs trying to fit into round holes, women today struggle to fit our lives into the societal infrastructure erected by men, for men. We’ve taken on the additional responsibilities of work on top of home, but without protections like guaranteed paid sick days, family leave and equal pay for equal work. It has become impossible. Yet from boardrooms to newsrooms, the voices of authority in public life continue to be male, and they will not speak for us. To achieve the societal changes women need, we must use the channels of social media to tell our stories, express our concerns and, above all, unite our voices into a crescendo that must be heard.
Attica Scott is the District 1 Representative on the Louisville, KY Metro Council and is the former coordinator for Kentucky Jobs With Justice and a former adjunct faculty member at Bellarmine University:
“The Power of We” is using our collective energy and gifts to transform institutions and systems and change public policy that destroys our natural environment and ignores the cries of young people, women, people of color and others who often feel powerless. “The Power of We” means committing ourselves to action that is inclusive and intentional and reflects and respects the whole person be they gay, living in poverty, a former felon, an elder, a person with disabilities or whatever reality they set at our feet. “The Power of We” means doing better than our best in order for everyone to feel part of our global society.
Gloria Feldt is a leadership speaker, the author of several books, most recently “No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power” and is the former President and CEO of Planned Parenthood. In her work, Gloria encourages us to use our power to:
All social movements lose steam once they have won just enough that people find the doors open just enough that they personally can squeeze through. But that’s exactly the time when the power of we is critical to achieving the goals feminists envisioned before getting co-opted by the extraordinary successes we’ve had over the last 50 years. The three movement building principles I learned on the feminist frontlines are simple but not easy. They are necessary to keep on moving forward toward full equality. I call them Sister Courage: Be a sister–reach out to help another woman and ask for help when you need it; have the courage to state the problem or injustice; and put the two together into an organized plan. It’s how women got the right to vote. It’s how we got rid of “Help wanted male” job announcements and discriminatory lending practices. It’s how we got insurance to cover contraception–or legalization of contraception for that matter. It’s how we will rid society of sex trafficking. It’s the collective power that can change the world.
We are indeed powerful and that power becomes all the more empowering when we work together. I invite you to add your own thoughts on the “Power of We” in the comments section.