On the Road to Election Day, Part I: Reframing the concept of "activism"

BlogHer Original Post

Forget everything you know about or have heard about the word "activist" and just think about any time you've taken any step whatsoever to procure a desired outcome.  Any single thing at all - a customer service issue, an environmental issue, a parent-teacher situation, a job negotiation, a roommate problem, maybe when you were a child, it was convincing someone to let you stay up late or have another cookie. 

The truth is, it's nearly impossible to have never done a single act that isn't some kind of advocacy or activism. You can constrain the concept all you want, but it really starts and ends with deciding that you believe in something and then pursuing that something, no matter how big or how small, how earth-shattering, controversial or insignificant.

Of course, there are professional levels of activism that, as adults, we think of far more often: large, well-known groups lobby for or against Sonia Sotomayor, likewise, for or against the Employee Free Choice Act.

And then there's another route to being an activist: working to convince your fellow Americans that you are worthy of their trust and...their vote so that you can be elected or appointed to some political office.  You can spin this to say that you want to be elected to keep others from being activists, but then the fact remains that you are an activist against activists.  Really - it's all just using your voice to get a desired outcome.  That's activism, to me anyway (definitely use the comments to further the discussion of what you define as activism).

After years and years of reading, studying, working, raising kids and raising eyebrows - mine and others, through letters, phone calls, speeches and attending meetings (where I'd also speak up), I've decided to run for a seat on my city's council.  The decision is also the culmination of closely following womens' trajectories in and out of politics for the last three or four years and deciding that it's time for me to walk the walk, win or lose.

With many thanks to the powers that be at BlogHer, I'll be blogging about women and their involvement in a political life every other week through my city's election, November 3, 2009.  I won't be writing much about the specifics of my race but instead, will provide a narrative that we hope will encourage more women to run for office - from everywhere along the political ideological spectrum.

The primary goal being: If I can do it, any woman can do it!  And should.

Additional resources:

South Carolina state legislator, Republican Nikki Haley, runs for governor

The Women's Campaign School at Yale University

And where it starts as, yes, activism (hattip to Suzanne's BlogHer post): Don't Question This Girl's Right 


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