As a young songwriter, one of my favorite pastimes is sitting with my sisters after they get home from school and writing silly songs about their days. For my pre-teen sister especially, the importance of having a listening ear to validate her concerns and transmute them into something productive and beautiful is ever more important in an environment set on the dismissal of her voice. Feminist spaces, particularly creative ones, are vital in the lives of young women, particularly those who have been victims of violence or harassment.
There is an epidemic in the social media age, where young women feel constantly unappreciated in public spaces, fighting with each other for attention, and always at a disadvantage from their male peers. However, this social gap is closing. The focus on female equality in the workplace and the maelstrom force that is the #metoo movement are changing our society for the better. This next wave of feminism is all about accountability and appreciation. Abusers are being held accountable for their actions. At the same time, women are being uplifted for their achievements, a trend that has been echoed all over social media in many marginalized groups (#blackboyjoy or #blackexcellence anyone?). We are reminded that feminism is not about the degradation of male power, but rather about the appreciation of talented, hard-working women, from single mothers to business executives to politicians.
One way that I encourage this "optimistic feminism," so to speak, in my sisters is to validate their art. Both of my sisters are visual artists. One is an animator, the other a playwright. Myself, I am a songwriter, author, and poet. To my family (of four kick-butt women) art is a way to connect in our all-female space. It is an outlet for emotion, a tool for communication. It is catharsis and intellectual stimulation. A song I recently wrote about the #metoo movement is one of many examples of the collaborative spirit of the women in my life, from my mother who held the camera steady, to my sister who never fails to pause her work to hear a new song, to the texts I get when my best friend is listening to the album I wrote her as a Christmas present.
I encourage all other teenage girls to take advantage of their creativity and to invest in art as a tool for growth and connection with other women. Explicitly feminist art is the way that female-specific problems are fixed. Through art, we inspire change in society. Through social change, we inspire changes in politics. Through politics, we impact the world over, from victims of FGM practices, to child brides, to your daughter, to your sister, to yourself.
Take today to create something that encourages the women around you. If you write another song about the #metoo movement, well, I'd love to hear it, and many of the women in your life would too.
Being Feminist has a comment policy against name-calling and personal attacks. Hate speech of any kind will not be tolerated.