How can you bring up the f-word at a time like this?
(Cover Image by bluehouseskis)
To be specific, the “f-word” I’m referring to in this post is feminism. I was reluctant to write this post because I heard a voice inside my head saying “people do NOT want to hear about social justice at a time like this – everyone is focused on just getting through the pandemic.”
I listened to that voice for about a half-second before I realized:
NOW is a more important time than ever to address and challenge the oppressive systems in our world actively harming various groups of people – often also the people being harmed the most by COVID-19.
This horrible pandemic has forced the world to basically... pause. I would like to use this pause as an opportunity to re-evaluate and critically think about what we would like our “new normal” to look like and what we will (and will NOT) continue to tolerate in our communities.
As a therapist, I witness how oppressive systems often disproportionately impact the mental and physical health of real people (including myself). Advocating for societal change that improves the mental health of everyone in our community is actually part of our job.
Which is why we practice from an intersectional feminist lens at Peak Resilience.
First, let’s remember what intersectional feminism is all about:
“Intersectionality encompasses more than just the intersections of race and gender. It’s now widely used to illustrate the interplay between any kinds of discrimination, whether it’s based on gender, race, age, class, socioeconomic status, physical or mental ability, gender or sexual identity, religion, or ethnicity.” (from https://iwda.org.au/what-does-intersectional-feminism-actually-mean/)
Women specifically but anyone dealing with racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, poverty, and other forms of marginalization are disproportionately affected by the pandemic. During a time when everything is farther from reach, these forces of harm can be even more exhausting/difficult/hopeless to navigate during COVID-19 than usual.
Now that we’re getting closer to “re-opening”, it’s more important than ever to recognize that capitalism, patriarchy, colonialism and all other oppressive systems are going to try to get us to get back to “normal”. Marketers will try to satiate our need for comfort after this trauma by telling us that we just need to buy “this product” or have “this car” to feel better. This great article articulates how to recognize and resist the wave of gaslighting that will be coming at us in the re-opening process:
“From one citizen to another, I beg of you: take a deep breath, ignore the deafening noise, and think deeply about what you want to put back into your life. This is our chance to define a new version of normal, a rare and truly sacred (yes, sacred) opportunity to get rid of the bullshit and to only bring back what works for us, what makes our lives richer, what makes our kids happier, what makes us truly proud.”
- Julio Vincent Gambuto
Social justice and a society that is structured to take care of everyone is more important now than it has ever been. Our world is ready for change. In fact, it’s demanding it. If you believe you have the resources/time/energy to do more, here are some starting ideas:
- Five (feminism informed) ways to reimagine our world after COVID-19
- Help all workers in Canada get paid sick days so they don’t have to choose to work while sick- an issue that now impacts the greater society so people seem to care more
- Learn more about how feminist leadership in a crisis can benefit everyone involved
- Check out this tool by the YWCA It allows you to enter your name and email address, and will automatically send a letter on your behalf to the MLAs in your area demanding a feminist approach to COVID-19 response.
- Easy tool to write a letter to Minister Monsef urging her to create a National Action Plan on Violence against women and girls.
- Donate to or promote the Centre for Feminist Foreign Policy
- A Feminist’s Response to COVID-19
This is not an exhaustive list to effect change. We encourage you to get curious to find local initiatives that fight oppression- and even better- let us know so we can share it! We aim to continue the discussion of social justice + mental health in future blog posts.
Experiencing or witnessing suffering and inequality throughout our world contributes to mental health struggles for everyone involved. If you’re thinking “change of this magnitude is too hard” or “sounds like too much work”, I agree.
One thing we’ve all learned in the last few months: we can do hard things.
See you out there:-)