November 6th, 2016 will go down in history as the night that many women lost faith in American politics, when a man who unabashedly disrespects women. I went out that night thinking I would be celebrating the dawn of our first female presidency, heading to the same bar where I watched Obama win four years before for good luck. Not that I thought we needed it. But as the hours passed and more votes trickled in, I realized the unthinkable had occurred. Walking home that night, the streets of SoHo were silent, a mournful stillness that I felt the next morning on the subway to work. Such silence in New York City was jarring, adding to the sensation that the entire election had been a waking nightmare.
But it was real, and this silence heralded the end of women self-silencing, of private Facebook groups, of keeping our politics to ourselves. It is imperative we maintain this heightened activism (on display at the triumphant Woman’s March) over the upcoming months and years, especially regarding reproductive rights. After the encouraging results from the most recent elections this month, it’s easy to become complacent—but, when we have a president who intends to defund Planned Parenthood, we must take caution never to return to the sidelines.
You voted, you marched, you signed petitions, now what? Here are ten simple ways you can make your voice heard—even when you’re checking your email at your desk, or scrolling Instagram during your commute, or waiting for a friend to meet you for drinks. Although there is the opportunity to expand your involvement, every gesture (large or small) counts. Ultimately, this is about women helping women. After all, the future is female.
Donate to Planned Parenthood:
This is perhaps the most obvious step, and therefore the first on the list. Whether by check, telephone, mail, or PayPal; a monthly donation or one-time: it’s never been easier (or more necessary) to donate to Planned Parenthood, and to show support by privately funding what our government neglects.
Support Planned Parenthood-Endorsed Candidates:
Identify Planned Parenthood-endorsed candidates in your state or local area. Volunteer remotely or in an official capacity—30-minutes of phone-banking is both informative for you (checking the political pulse firsthand, or first ring, rather) and crucial for them. Donate to their campaigns, familiarize yourself with their platforms, tell your friends who live in their districts—they embody the future of protecting reproductive rights. And, of course, make sure your registration is up-to-date for when you do head to the polls. Absentee ballots are due in advance, and can be requested online. Add that to your checklist the next time you move to a different city.
Sign Online Petitions to Affect Change from Your Desk:
Online platform Change.org mobilizes the resistance, supporting reproductive rights both globally and domestically. The goal of keeping abortion safe and legal is pursued via petitions targeting individual institutions to those demanding Constitutional amendments. For the naysayers who don’t believe one click can make a difference: thanks to Amanda Nguyen’s petition, Congress passed the first ever Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights.
Turn your Texts into Letters to Congress:
Text Resistbot to make your opinion known to your representatives in Congress with merely a few taps on your iPhone. You simply text the message you want to send, and within minutes it is typed up into a formal letter and faxed to your elected officials (alongside a copy for your records). It’s ideal if you don’t have the time to wait on the phone, and is a terrific platform to support for reproductive rights—the more often you interact with the platform, the more functionality becomes available. The site is free, with optional monthly donations going to a (very) good cause: every dollar donated funds one more letter to Congress.
Support Pro-Choice Female Candidates
EMILY’s List was established with the singular goal of electing pro-choice Democratic women to national, state, and local office. Learn about their candidates, support the organization, volunteer your time—or charge for it, if you like: they’re hiring. Or, consider running for office yourself. Since the last presidential election, EMILY’s List has seen a dramatic increase in the number of women interested in pursuing elected office—an encouraging sign that not only is the future female, but the present is as well.
Download an Activism Toolkit
The mission of Reproaction is to ensure reproductive justice, and they empower people to stay involved via their activism toolkit. Free on their website, the kit includes a refresher on the harmfulness of CPCs (Crisis Prevention Centers—fake clinics designed to talk women out of abortion) and DIY instructions on how to get involved in the fight to increase access to abortion.
Check Out the App Revolutionizing Birth Control
Birth control is the first step in women having control over their bodies, yet this preventative measure isn’t accessible for so many women who lack the means (and insurance) to afford the co-pays from doctors, gynecologists and pharmacies. Nurx is an app that changes all of that—you simply enter your health information and preferred dosage, which is then reviewed by a doctor, and delivered to your doorstep within a week. The total cost for a 3-month prescription was $45. The intent is to destigmatize birth control: it is not an abused substance, or a mind-altering drug, and for young women whose parents forbid the medication, it is a life-saver.
Money Talks, so Shop with Intent
Support the brands that support you (as in, your right to have control over your body), and prioritize items that donate portions of their proceeds to Planned Parenthood. 10% of each sale of this Nasty Woman pendant, and 25% from this Stand With Planned Parenthood bag is donated to Planned Parenthood—the former with a specific call-out to Pantsuit Nation. This civic-minded approach won’t inhibit your fashion options either. The slogans at the Women’s March—Girls just want to have FUNdamental Rights, Of Course I’m A Feminist What the F*** Else Would I Be?—showed that the revolution would not only be televised, but stylized as well.
Speak up on Social Media to Empower & Support
Skip the selfies, hold off on the #tbts, and resist gramming your salad: opt to support Planned Parenthood on social media instead. Similar to sexual assault, abortion is something that women are reticent to address, and it’s impossible not to think about how much a campaign like #metoo would normalize what is often discussed in whispers, behind closed doors. Abortion isn’t something that happens only in Lifetime movies, or to friends of friends of friends, but to your sister, your aunt, your cousin—and it’s absurd that the half of the population that will never face such a choice feels confident making the decision for the rest of us. Any support via social media is instrumental: advocating issues, applauding and commending other women who do the same, sharing links to donate, and candidates to support—all of this is crucial.
This is the most important rule of all—and it doesn’t require a laptop, or a smartphone, or an Instagram handle. You can affect the most change by speaking to one person directly, truly listening to them if they disagree, presenting your perspective, sharing your experiences, and hopefully influencing their opinion enough to alter even one vote. And it’s important to talk not only with like-minded people (such political tribalism is evident in the fractured country we live in), but to have this potentially uncomfortable discussion with others who have different beliefs.
Discuss how Planned Parenthood also provides access to health care and birth control, to hopefully avoid unwanted pregnancy—but no method is 100% accurate (or accessible). No one wants to have an abortion. What we want is to know that—should we have to make that hard decision—it won’t be made for us, that we will have a choice. That isn’t too much to ask—and, when framed in that context, it shouldn’t even be a question.
Katherine is a weekly columnist for Roar. A freelance writer and editor based in New York City, she writes frequently about culture, political and social issues, literature, and travel. She received her master’s degree from The New School, with honors in nonfiction writing. Follow her work at www.katherineparkermagyar.com.