Sisterhood as a form of resistance~ Nefertiti Martin
On July 25th I attended HOLLA::Revolution. It’s been a month since the event and I am still filled with inspiration and motivation. HollaRev was Hollaback’s first international conference to end street harassment. It featured Hollaback! site leaders, feminists, activists and academics from around the world. To see a rundown of the amazing speakers, see my last post with my twitter timeline recap. It was not only a day I’ll never forget but a day I needed.
Sometimes being a feminist, especially a feminist of color, can be isolating and exhausting. It’s easy to feel like you’re the only one thinking about these issues or nitpicking at the latest sexist commercial. Having an online community certainly helps. Being able to read my daily feminist blog updates or check twitter is definitely a reminder that I’m not alone in this fight. However, that human contact, that direct sisterhood cannot be matched. The feeling of empowerment I feel when I walk into a room full of women who care about the issues I care about and aren’t afraid to shout about it, is incredible. And this is exactly how I felt walking into HollaRev.
Although each speaker was great and brought something unique and powerful to the table, there are a few I need to highlight. This hilarious video by comedian Sasheer Zamata was shown:
It proved yet again that feminists do have a sense of humor.
I then had the pleasure to hear Jennifer Pozner‘s presentation on Media Representations of Street Harassment. As a long time admirer of Jennifer’s work I was totally geeked out. She did not disappoint. I spend much of my time deconstructing media and pop culture (damn you women’s studies). It is a topic I enjoy delving into. Jennifer’s presentation was not only entertaining but informative. How had I never realized how creepy The Way You Make Me Feel video is?!
Ana ‘Rokafella’ Garcia hip hop dancer/choreographer from NYC took the stage. She talked about the misogyny in hip hop and creating a space for women in the music and dance spheres that she loves so much. She spoke specifically about the sexist language often heard in reggaeton music. As a Puerto Rican woman, I have heard many a disgusting reggaeton track. She then performed a reggaeton song of her own, making her voice heard in the genre. Check out her awesomeness:
I couldn’t leave this post without mentioning the one and only Samhita Mukhopadhyay. Samhita is the executive editor at Feministing and a digital strategist at Purpose. She spoke on the importance of online movement building. As I mentioned, this is an important topic to me because often it feels as though online is where I feel my feminist community the most. She made sure to note, however, that online activism can and should be taken off the web. Her presentation was wonderful and really legitimizes the work I do both on and offline.
Change does not happen overnight. But in the 19 (!) years that I’ve been an activist, I have seen progress. As important, I have made my voice heard. Silence is the goal of the oppressor. As Julie Lalonde from Hollaback! Ottawa said, “To be a feminist is to be surrounded by haters.” This conference was another reminder to keep fighting and that the fight matters. Last week I became the Outreach Coordinator for Hollaback! Boston. Now it is guaranteed that I will continue to HOLLA!!