Feminist Resolutions for 2016

By
Role model Sean Penn.
Role model Sean Penn.Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez

I’ve decided that 2016 is the year I learn to play the piano, work fewer hours without taking a pay cut, and call my grandparents more often. You’ve probably made your personal resolutions already, too. But what if we all set some 2016 goals that melded the personal with the political? Here are a few feminist resolutions to consider.

Channel one ounce of Sean Penn’s egotism. There is so much to be learned from the actor’s foray into geopolitically contentious journalism. Next time you find yourself claiming that you can’t try something new because you’d be terrible at it, read Penn’s Rolling Stone interview with Mexican drug lord El Chapo and remind yourself to let your ego soar like an owl that flies among falcons. Feminist bonus points for gratuitously mentioning your genitals in your recounting of the experience.

Stop shaving your legs. Or your armpits. Or grow out your bush to Joy of Sex proportions. Think of it less as a feminist statement and more as an experiment in how you feel about conforming to traditional feminine expectations. For hetero ladies, embracing a little extra hair also functions as a feminist litmus test for your boyfriend. You might hate it, you might love it. Either way, you’ll probably learn a little something about your relationship with your body and your gender.

Hang out with an older feminist who doesn’t believe you care about anything. In a Times interview last week, Democratic leader Debbie Wasserman Schultz said, “Here’s what I see: a complacency among the generation of young women whose entire lives have been lived after Roe v. Wade was decided.” As if. Clearly Wasserman Schultz just doesn’t know what we’ve been up to — so it’s up to younger feminists to clue her in. She also believes marijuana is a gateway drug, so you might pair your cross-generational feminist summit with a casual vaping session.

Call out casual racism. Start practicing your best “who farted?” face in the mirror for the next time you’re at a social event and someone implies that all Asians look the same or tries to engage in a pseudo-intellectual debate about whether blackface is truly offensive. In 2016 there is no time for staying silent in the moment and shaking your head about it later.

Refuse to collaborate with a man. This might sound distinctly uncharitable—  after all, misandry is mostly an internet joke, right? — but if you want to get full credit for all your hard work, research says you shouldn’t partner up with a man. He’ll see greater benefits to your collaboration than you will. Work with women or work alone, whenever you can. See if you come out ahead by 2017.

Actually show up at a Black Lives Matter march. You fave the tweets. You post the articles to Facebook. You discuss the latest incident of police violence with a rage that you genuinely feel. This is the year you start showing up in person, too. Find a local chapter so you know when and where to make your views known.

Start the Guilt Project. Thanks to your holiday binge-watch of Making a Murderer, you’ve heard of the Innocence Project, which opens decades-old cases to overturn wrongful convictions. After 2015’s Bill Cosby revelations, it’s clear that we could use a Guilt Project — a squad of lawyers and investigators to follow up on long-ignored claims that a certain man is a serial rapist. Because you know Cosby isn’t the only one.

Vote. For real, cast a vote. And make sure all of your friends are voting, too. Every election cycle, pollsters claim that young women are crucial to deciding the outcome. And every election we fail to turn out in droves. In the 2012 presidential election, less than half of young women showed up to vote. This is the year that changes.

Occupy federal territory until the Hyde Amendment is repealed. Admittedly, this is a pretty big resolution. But if a mostly male group of incoherent activists can take over federal grounds with the flimsiest of ideological reasons and no backup snacks, there’s no reason we couldn’t use their tactic much more effectively. And what better goal than repealing the Hyde Amendment, which for years has prevented poor women from using federal money to exercise their right to an abortion? Plus, it actually sounds pretty fun to hang out in a compound with a crew of pro-choice women. Let’s make this happen, and invite Debbie Wasserman Schultz. If Sean Penn asks nicely, he can cover it for Rolling Stone.