Today brought us two big feminist news stories: in the latest episode of the Planned Parenthood/Susan G. Komen drama, Senior Vice President of Public Policy Karen Handle resigned, and this morning a federal appeals court ruled Prop 8 unconstitutional.
All of this exciting news has gotten me thinking about feminist activism in general.
Activism, like these two news events, is deeply complicated. Sometimes it involves a huge influx of grassroots organizing and public outrage that – within just a few days – can make an organization change unfair policies. Other times, it takes almost four years and counting of appeals, lobbying, and organizing within and outside of the legal system. And even when it looks like it might be clear-cut, it never is. Yes, Komen reversed its decision and Karen Handle resigned, but has Komen really agreed to give money to Planned Parenthood, or are they just changing the wording on their policy? And what – if any – lasting impact can a federal court of appeals decision have on larger legal change?
It’s hard to imagine what a perfect world would look like, mostly because we are so far away from that at the moment. But what I can say is that individual voices and individual actions are complicated and powerful tools. We have the power to demand and receive higher standards and more accountability from organizations and the government, but our victories never mean our work is done.
Activism is a constantly changing beast. And it is important to celebrate our accomplishments then use that strength to look ahead and work for even more justice.