by Eva Dunsky, Writing Fellow ’17
Today at the Athena Film Festival, a bunch of powerful woman sat together on stage as an all-female Acapella group performed the rallying cry that was sung earlier this month at women’s marches all over the world. When the singing died down, these powerful woman clapped enthusiastically, adjusted their blouses, and proceeded to absolutely slay. The audience sat enraptured, and left inspired. In other words, a typical Athena panel.
But this Town Hall was somehow different from previous Athena Festival programing. Instead of being solely an unabashed celebration of womanhood in its myriad forms, it was laden with references to #45, or Voldemort, or the despot in office. His name was never spoken out loud, and yet his his presence was heavily felt.
Towards the end of the session, a Barnard student took the mic and stood to ask a question: something along the lines of “How do we organize? How do we sustain a resistance movement when we don’t have the economic means or even the time to be out protesting every day? How can we be sure that the frenzy surrounding Voldemort’s first month in office doesn’t die down and leave a wake of world-weary young people in its path?”
Dolores Huerta (will link to her wikipedia page) was having none of this. She scoffed a bit, covered it up as a cough, and posited the following question: “When do you think organizing will be easy? When you have a full time job? When you have children to care for?”
I thought about this all night. Tacit in Huerta’s response is a question about priorities—what will we fight for? And what will we give up? I worry sometimes that as college students trying to fend for ourselves in a highly competitive and stringently focused environment, it is easy to lose track of our priorities. How important is it to keep our nose in the books, versus put our bodies on the line? How much will that ‘A’ in Social Psychology matter years down the line when our rights have been eroded away?
Gloria Steinem ended the event by explaining that “What should I do?” is a passive question—and now is no time for passivity. Instead, we need to wake up each morning and decide that we will do everything in our power to fight alongside the resistance. Each of us holds a unique compendium of knowledge, and each of us has a power to resist in ways that no one else can. Every day, from here on out, it is up to us to stay vigilant, loud, and informed.
“This is just the beginning,” said Steinem knowingly. “I have a feeling we’ll be seeing a lot of each other.”