You don’t need to worry about that.
Well, actually, I don’t think you understand.
Maybe you should stick to your own lane.
I’m sure as you read the words above, you probably thought of the times they were said to you, and if you are like me, you might have read them in the male voice that patronized you with those dismissals.
And let’s be honest for a moment, if you are a young woman, businesswoman, female scholar, single mom, or really a woman in any role, you might have believed it wasn’t your place to speak up in political conversations, especially those predominately composed of men.
That feeling isn’t accidental. It’s institutionally, generationally and historically instilled into the minds of women everywhere by our culture and by those who have been in positions of power since the genesis of the United States of American, and even of modern democracy.
I believe there is a shift happening for women.
Accomplished, and prominently followed female politicians and activists are persevering and thriving in the political world. And it’s contagious, inspiring a thrilling, powerful curiosity in many young women.
This past November, over 100 women were elected to Congress, marking a historic midterm election, while also signaling a call for all women around the nation to speak up, get involved and take action.
As much as we champion female representation in STEM, business leadership, and even entertainment, politics appears to be a league of its own, riddled with convolution and intense adversity.
With the false perception that male dominance in politics derives from an untouchable tradition, the appeal of politics and political awareness can be tragically slim. Many young people aren’t familiar with their local political players or debates. And despite being directly impacted by votes on education and income tax reforms, many young people wait for the larger, more public elections to take an interest in, if at all.
Over 60% of college students are female, along with half of all enrolled law students, so our ambition has strong, evident roots, but does our confidence in that fact at times lack?
It is okay to not only have a well-developed and active voice in social and political affairs, but it is also imperative that we stay vigilantly on top of what is happening.
Mild, passive awareness is almost as bad as no awareness at all.
Surface level comprehension just doesn’t fly. Our education, bodies, and health depend on our abilities to critically analyze and engage with information.
So, I’m here to talk to every woman, especially everyone pushing through college or new adults fighting in other ways, about why it is a necessity for you to remain politically aware and how you can really make a difference.
1. You can vote.
Despite popular opinions from Twitter trolls, discussions about politics are not exclusively reserved for the middle class or wealthy white men. In fact, that stigma of, “well my vote doesn’t really count” is one that has historically only hurt subaltern groups: racial and gender minorities.
It is that mindset that creates an absence of representation from important groups of people, and this is something our system cannot afford to be successful.
One of the best ways you can be a champion for political awareness and equality in this country is to show up at the polls. And get your fellow women, colleagues, friends, family members, and neighbors, to also show up on election day. Remember to show up for the less-popular elections as well, and do your part to influence local government in your community.
You can find more information about registering to vote, when to vote and where to vote at the links below.
2. You can engage with current events, and help shape history as it plays out in front of you.
Welcome to the age of the #MeToo, #RedforEd, and #BlackLivesMatter. You may have certain beliefs when it comes to those movements, and that’s great! Think about them, research, formulate independent thoughts, and feel educated in your analysis. But, please don’t simply sit back and take in news from flash reports projected on the bottom of your tv screen as you watch sitcoms and ignore the larger picture.
I truly believe we will reread about 2016-2024 America in history books years and years from now. Pictures we see on Twitter and live Instagram videos will get immortalized in some way or another. We are living in a modern dystopia (or Utopia, however you would like to see it) and we don’t have to “imagine what it was like.” We are living it. History is a tangible part of our lives now.
As young women, we are unfortunately subjected to some of the most chaotic results of these policies and trials. Whether you acknowledge it or not, young women’s bodies are one of the most highly debated topics in Washington, and also in your own local communities. You are being spoken about and for. Know what is being said.
Want to get your news from your phone and with a little humor? Check out Betches’ SUP podcast or sign up for their daily emails. They will break down daily news in a funny and efficient way.
3. You can make the issues a part of your personal brand.
Raise your hand if you have ever been offered a brand workshop for social media! You can’t see, but if you could, you would see both of my hands frantically waving.
Social media, blogging, influencer, and Youtube branding are HUGE. And how many of these digital media gurus are female? A ton.
An overwhelming majority of digital media brands are female-driven and owned, which is a win for us, and also a great example of the platforms we have for creating positive change in the world.
Beauty moguls, female musicians like Taylor Swift, and various female entrepreneurs are incredibly hesitant to speak out on their political views. Why? Likely fear, and extreme worry about the backlash they might receive for speaking up. Maybe it’s because of the trolls relentlessly refreshing their internet tabs, waiting for the perfect moment to use the line, “stick to music and shaking your ass.” I mean, those guys are real gems, am I right?
But in all seriousness, successful female artists, designers, actresses, and bloggers are careful not to expose their education and awareness for political issues, seemingly out of fear of losing followers. But that self-imposed ignorance only perpetuates the idea that women just don’t care, or simple don’t know enough to speak up.
This stereotype is wrong, damaging, and quite honestly dull at this point.
Young women are developing and working tirelessly to brand themselves. Social media aesthetics are a business. If you work in this sphere, you are a part of the #GirlBoss world, and you have every right to have a say in how tax reform will affect you. You should have knowledge on your healthcare systems. You deserve and are entitled to intelligence. Please do not devalue your own right to being a badass, vocal woman.
4. You can run for office.
After the 2016 inauguration, site FiveThirtyEight reported more than three million women marched for the “Women’s March” and consequently, there was a massive surge in young women running for office, whether on a local or national scale. It’s just as Beyonce had imaged, ladies getting in formation.
Okay, but really, it’s impressive that so many women felt a surge of community and activism that hadn’t been present for a while. So, if you are interested, take a look at ways you could potentially get active with these organizations who fund women running for office. Finances will always be a stressor, but there are resources to help.
–Emily’s List hosts candidate training for democratic women interested in office and offers fundraising opportunities.
—She Should Run aims to help support women of all political parties to run, specifically setting the goal to get 250,00 women in office by 2030.
—National Women’s Political Caucus trains women in their time management skills, fundraising abilities, and confidence in the political field.
—Women’s Campaign Fund endorses women of all ethnic and political ideologies and has some pretty famous alumni like Elizabeth Warren and Maxine Waters.
—National Federation of Republican Women offers scholarships, leadership training, and internships for young women interested in running for office.
I want you to know that you have a voice, and that alone makes your role in the future of this country (and the world) incredibly important.
You’re a force to be reckoned with, and should never, ever, have to remain silent.