This past Saturday, I attended the Women’s Rally in Lake Eola, showing solidarity with millions around the globe to give voice to a variety of issues and concerns facing the American public in the midst of the recent political election. Nearly half a million people gathered at the main rally in Washington D.C. alone while an estimated 6,000 community members crowded our downtown park. These numbers were hard to wrap my head around, but to actually see the volume of the crowd in person was absolutely awe-inspiring. As I witnessed the nearly mile-length perimeter of Lake Eola fill up with joy, love, song and dance, I saw a powerful hope and an enthusiastic livelihood that proved to me that feminism is not dead. In this day and age, many want to argue that the era and need for feminism is dying out. As an active member of the feminist community, this can often make me feel discouraged and hopeless. However, it is moments and events like the Women’s Rally that remind me that despite what negativity or rejection I face as an activist, there is a diverse group of people standing with me and winning small but essential victories for our community and all around the world.
I had several moments like this at Feminist Camp as well. Many of the leaders we met had been fighting for the feminist cause long before I even knew what feminism was. Though they have fought a difficult and endless battle, they still show so much passion and enthusiasm for the work they do and the people that they serve. Much like the fellow marchers at the Women’s Rally, these feminist leaders confirmed the validity and strength of the movement and made me proud to be a part of it. One of the wonderful feminist leaders I met at Feminist Camp was Merle Hoffman. Merle opened the Choices Medical Center in Queens, New York and has been fighting for and maintaining reproductive justice in the area for over forty years. Her and her team of doctors, nurses, secretaries, social workers and counselors welcomed all visitors and patients with open arms. Each person that was there performed their duties with pride, building genuine relationships with patients and providing services to any and all who walked through the door. Though faced with bomb threats, protestors and lack of funding, they continue to empower women and families in the area. They give women and families the full knowledge and support they need in order to make the informed decisions that they are most comfortable with. Choices puts the knowledge, choice and consequently, the power, back in the hands of the patient and reminds patients that they are capable and responsible of making their own reproductive choices.
My experiences at both Choices Medical Center and the Women’s Rally gave me the hopeful view of feminism that I have been yearning for lately. Though I am a relatively young activist, I already realize that the work can be tiring and seem to be at a constant standstill. As I develop my skills as an activist and ally, these kinds of experiences will be the ones that keep me going. These small but strong glimpses of hope motivate me and keep me sane through the emotional labor of social activism. I look forward to participating in more moments of solidarity and leading such moments for and with other young activists.