Earlier this week, a friend of mine told me that she was in crisis. She was overwhelmed, exhausted, and angry, and she said she felt her life was falling apart around her. One morning, pushed to her breaking point, she had a nervous breakdown in the middle of a busy street.
Like most other people who find themselves in a similar situation, this woman was experiencing a barrage of emotions, brought on by issues in various facets of her life. Things were tense with her boyfriend – she was exhausted from fighting with him. She didn’t seem to have a solid social network – she was overwhelmed with loneliness. And her job, which requires convincing strangers to care about a cause, wasn’t going so well – she was terrified of getting fired.
But even more upsetting than the thought of getting fired, she explained, was the overwhelming feeling that nobody gave a damn.
“I’m just so passionate about this,” she told me, “and no one wants to listen. I feel like nobody cares.”
Her words have stayed with me for the rest of the week, as I looked forward to the launch of this project, Feminist Current, as a new platform for feminist dialogue.
Let me explain.
After experiencing my own series of devastations and periods of disillusionment as an activist, and watching my friends and fellow feminists reach their respective breaking points in this community, I’ve come to the conclusion that feminism itself – at least in Vancouver –is experiencing a crisis; a nervous breakdown of sorts. Activist friends tell me they’re sick of fighting, sometimes with people they love and respect. Others have been ostracized because of their political views, or, worse, their perceived political views, regardless of the truth, leaving them in a very lonely place. And I think almost all of us have wondered at least once if anyone is really listening to what we have to say. If anyone actually gives a damn.
What I know today is that this isn’t working. What I fear is that this crisis – this perpetual breakdown of feminist understanding – is swallowing us whole. We’re fighting and we’re lonely and we’re pissed that no one is listening, and all we feel we can do is cry on the side of the street. We’re screaming for help, from our friends and our families, but we all know sympathy can only take us so far. We need empathy. We need someone who actually gets it. We need each other.
I’m not going to naively pretend that crying it out is going to solve all of our differences, and I’m not trying to downplay, dismiss, or ignore the fact that there are still serious conversations to be had. A blog post isn’t going to resolve the problems of the feminist community in Vancouver, and none of us who have sought out this new feminist platform online are going to instantly forget the laundry list of our own individualized grievances – names, places, issues, offenses – that we carry around with us in our pockets, to every protest, public talk, collective meeting, and comments section. I get that it’s complicated.
But what we do have today, with the launch of Feminist Current, is a lot like that brief moment after you sob it out and blow your nose: a moment to catch your breath. No, it’s not an entirely new start – the messes that got us to our breaking point in the first place will always be a part of us and our personal histories. But it is a moment to reflect. And trust me, someone is listening.
So let’s talk.