When Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling published her compassionate and detailed explanation of her interest in protecting women's sex-based rights, she ignited an international firestorm. This was no accident. Rowling knew she would be subjected to abuse, harassment, and widespread denouncement for her thought-crimes.
She published the article anyway, because she knew it would take someone with her level of celebrity, power, and respect to push this issue into the mainstream.
For the past few years, I have studied what made past social movements successful. From the civil rights movement to the AIDS crisis, one thing is consistent: a "minority" issue needs to be made into a national (or international) crisis—a crisis so great that those in power can no longer choose to ignore it.
This is what Black Lives Matter protesters are doing right now. By taking to the streets in absolutely massive numbers in nearly every city in the country for two weeks straight, BLM activists are creating a national crisis that can not be ignored.
Are families talking about your issue around the dinner table?
Good. That's how you know you're breaking through.
Rowling has given the gender critical feminist movement something we have struggled to gain: momentum. The author has thrown herself to the wolves (or The Sun), to create a crisis for us. Now that the crisis is starting to hit the mainstream, this is the moment for feminists to strike—with real action that goes beyond Twitter.
Many women have been asking what they can do now to support the movement. Here is a list of ten actions you can take to support the growth of the movement for women's sex-based rights.
Not all of these actions will be accessible to everyone, depending on your class, family situation, and relative privilege and safety.
If you feel an action is not accessible to you, though, I challenge you to first examine how true that really is. Could you really not afford to take that risk? Or are you preferring to live in comfort while your sisters put themselves on the line? Could a few sacrifices be made that would be inconvenient, but not ultimately jeopardize you or your family's safety? Are there women with less privilege than you who have managed to make it work?
Still, I believe that there is something on this list that everyone can do. All of these actions are important, and together they create a groundswell which can not be ignored.
1. Go public with your support for women's sex-based rights
The single largest thing holding back our movement right now is not that we lack large numbers of those who agree. It is that we do not have enough women willing to stand up for what they believe.
Rowling has temporarily provided some cover for women to come forward. I have already seen many women on Reddit, Twitter, and Spinster who have stated that in honor of Rowling's bravery, they will be taking steps to de-anonymize their accounts.
There are many women who simply could not take the risk of speaking out publicly—I acknowledge this. If that is you, okay. There are things later on this list more relevant to you.
However, there are many who could take the risk.
If you have wealth or savings, if you have tenure at your job, if you are part of a union, if you own your own business, if you do not have to work either due to retirement or other family arrangements, if you would be able to easily get a new job with high-demand skills, if you have health insurance through anything other than your job—I'm talking to you. There are many women who have risked everything with much less than you to stand up for our rights. Now is your moment.
If every single person who believed in the reality of biological sex, who is against the medicalization of gender nonconforming children, who acknowledges same-sex attraction is not bigoted, and who wants to safeguard women and girls came forward—our sheer numbers would provide protection. This is how trans activists operate with impunity and get celebrities, charities, and governments to cater to them, despite being a relatively fringe group of extremists.
2. Support those who have lost their livelihoods for speaking out
If you have chosen not to speak out publicly to protect yourself, your family, or a strategic position in which you feel you can do more good anonymously—show your support for the women who have made sacrifices by speaking out on your behalf.
Support can come in many forms. You can support their work by sharing it across your networks. You can send them private messages of support (these really do mean so much!). You can help them make connections, find new work or opportunities, or even just be a friend who doesn't bail when things get hard (shout out to those women, especially).
If you can, you should also support these women financially.
Women who have been fired, de-platformed, and cancelled for speaking out for women's rights need financial support. Often, these women may have large Twitter followings or platforms producing great content. Many women mistake having a platform for having financial security—this is not true! The feminists whose work you follow may not have a home, health insurance, or the ability to pay even basic bills.
If you are not speaking out publicly so you can remain in a comfortable job, use that position to support your sisters who have made the sacrifice. Here is a thread of women and organizations who need your support, with direct links to donate to each:
3. Donate to organizations on the front lines
Much like donating to individuals, donating to organizations on the front-lines of the gender identity war can be a great way to help grow the movement.
Organizations which publicly acknowledge the reality of biological sex and its impacts on women, girls, and gay and lesbian people struggle to get money from traditional funding sources. Public funding may be completely unavailable to them. Grants from private foundations are often out of reach for organizations like these which have been vilified.
This can sometimes force radical feminist organizations, which are leftist in nature, to accept funding from conservative funders. Then, the same organization will be vilified in the feminist community for accepting conservative money.
It costs money to do this work, though, and that money has to come from somewhere. Support the organizations like Vancouver Rape Relief, Women's Human Rights Campaign, and LGB Alliance (also linked in the thread above) so that they can do the work to support women and build a movement.
4. Volunteer with an organization on the front lines
Can't donate? That's okay! Most of these organizations need volunteers!
Some organizations may require you to be local to volunteer, however there is a lot that can be done remotely online. The Women's Human Rights Campaign (for which I volunteer) is currently seeking volunteers from every country across the globe to build a massive network of feminists working together.
Many organizations allow some degree of anonymity when volunteering.
Skills that are needed by many organizations include:
- Technical skills, web development, security
- Marketing, email, copy writing
- Event planning
- Networking and grassroots connection-building ("organizing")
- Writing letters and making calls
You can sign up to get information on volunteering for WHRC here:
5. Organize something!
Have an idea for an event, organization, or campaign that you don't see happening around you yet? Have an idea of a way to do something better? Want to start building connections and a grassroots network in your local region?
You have the power to launch a local women's group. You have the power to start a new charity or organization. You have the power to create that feminist zine or website.
Don't have the skills, knowledge, or resources to make your idea a reality? Find someone who does and connect with her! Find multiple women who each bring their own skills and experience. Great, now you have a group! Congrats. You organized a thing.
6. Privately discuss your concerns with someone
If you're really not ready to branch out with anything even remotely public, and you don't have the time or resources to donate or volunteer, help us build the movement by talking to those around you.
When the opportunity presents itself, carefully broach the issue with a loved one, close friend, colleague, or someone you trust. Raise your concerns slowly, one by one, without jumping full into the Rad Fem Rant. Have these conversations face-to-face, not online. Use the Socratic method (ask questions). Gauge how far you can bring the conversation by their responses. You will likely face resistance. Push ahead based on your comfort level with this person and the risk you feel they pose to you.
You never know, you may have a fellow "lone" feminist around you! Now, you're not alone. I have made many gender critical friends this way.
7. Write or call politicians and candidates
Right now, many women are feeling politically homeless. In many countries, the liberal or "progressive" parties have abandoned women. They are getting away with it, because women will likely still feel forced to vote for "the lesser evil" over conservatives, especially in countries like the US where abortion is on the line.
No matter how you choose to vote, you can still write to your politicians and candidates to ask them to support women's sex-based rights. You can either do this privately, or through an open-letter format.
Here are some resources for finding your politicians to contact:
8. Write letters to newspapers
Has your paper published something in response to J.K. Rowling's blog? Tell them your opinion on the piece! There's a low chance the letter will actually be published, however these letters (especially when received en masse) tell the media that we are watching and paying attention to how they handle this issue. This lets the papers know that they are alienating certain readers when they attack women, support misogynistic abuse, and lie about feminist positions.
Here is a great example of a Letter to the Editor at the Washington Post which was shared on Reddit:
9. Contact to your kids' schools
If you have a school-aged child right now, you are on the front lines. Schools across the country are implementing policies which put children at risk and end girls' protected opportunities under Title IX (in the US).
As a parent, you have an important voice in this fight. Write or call your school to tell them what you think of their policies or any proposals in the pipelines. Show up to PTA or School Board meetings to voice your support for girls' rights and child safeguarding. Parents often win these fights when they pick them.
10. Participate in non-violent protest
Last, but certainly not least, now is a great time to participate in or organize non-violent protest, disruption, and direct action. This can take many forms, but has always been a necessary part to any successful social movement.
Rowling's actions have started a crisis—an international dialogue on this topic has been opened up like never before. She has given us the spark.
But now it is up to us, the little guys, the grassroots activists, the writers, the organizers, and the parents to pick up the torch and light the fire.
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