Since it’s the season of New Year’s resolutions, I thought I’d share a few coping strategies I used in 2015 to stay nearly sane as a woman who’s genuinely interested in women’s liberation in a world that uses the term “feminist” to sell you makeup, music videos, and breast implants. I’m sure there are plenty of writers out there as I type, crafting wellness pieces on how to be a better breather, become a morning person, or make your open shelving more Feng Shui in 2016. This is not one of those lists.
About a ten years ago I fell into the right crowd and unthinkingly dropped all literature that wasn’t about rape, pornography, prostitution, and overall violence against women. Don’t get me wrong; I started Moby Dick, Lord of the Rings, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin and countless other fictions that have been collecting dust somewhere in my house for roughly a decade with a bookmark just after the first chapter. (I did manage to get through Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – no surprises there.)
Around this same time I also stopped watching most TV and movies. There’s something about paying attention to terrible shit in real life that made me less excited to watch it in fake life. Doing front-line feminist work, volunteering, educating, being the voice of reason in a classroom of lib-fems, getting raked over the coals on social media, or even just tolerating bros at the bar who want to tell you how to feminism properly is taxing on the body and the mind.
Here are a few escapist activities that got me through 2015 (without any physical altercations) as a feminist.
I personally recommend the fibre arts. There’s something about the monotony of knitting that truly covers a multitude of sins. That being said, I don’t recommend starting knitting for the first time during a particularly stressful time in your feminist journey as all the unraveling holes in your new scarf (which, by the way, is going to cost you a bloody fortune for the supplies) is just going to have you tearing your hair out – like, the one hair you have left after finding a book by Denis Hoff in the “Gender Studies” section at Chapters (I, personally, have been moving them to the spot where they keep books about Hitler).
Patriarchy is a bit like morning glory. It looks really pretty to people who don’t know anything about gardening, but if you turn your back for a second it takes over the whole damn lot and chokes out everything in its path. Luckily, you – dear reader – are no stranger to getting at the root of things and attacking it, so you should probably take up gardening. I’m fairly nurturing yet terrified of children, so this year I stuck to tending Roses, Clematis, Lavender, herbs, cherry tomatoes, and Hostas. Oh, and a vermi-composter. Endless fun for you and NO ONE ELSE. GET AWAY.
So, when you’re finished watching Hot Girls Wanted, Miss Representation, and Tricked, you should probably wind down with something that’s not going to have you huddling in fetal position for several days. I recommend Planet Earth, but be careful about the Blue Planet series. Anyone who’s seen that killer whale ravage a baby seal like it ain’t no thing knows what I’m talking about.
4) Meaningless online quizzes
Have you ever wondered what colour soul is or what Saved By the Bell character you are? Me neither, but it hasn’t stopped me from finding out at 2 a.m. in an attempt to interrupt a grueling political thought stew. Here’s one where you have to differentiate between Kanye West quotes and things written on the label of a Dr. Bronner’s soapbottle. You’re welcome.
5) Cheap wine
This one’s obviously not for everyone. For the rest of us there’s Barefoot Merlot.
Craigslist creeping (antiques section – obviously) is one of my most cherished escape activities. You never know when you’re going to find a reasonably-priced claw-foot tub or a Queen Anne chesterfield that you’ll never have space for in the 40-square-foot apartment you can afford with all the big money you get from fighting capitalism.
7) Hiding in the bathroom
This one is super versatile. It can be done at home, at the pub, or at parties where all the people you’re supposed to be friends with are having a great time. Just turn on the tap, sit on the throne, and don’t talk to anyone or think thoughts. It’s particularly effective for avoiding that guy who just struck up a conversation on “ethical porn.” Take 20 minutes in the house of ease and play a D-Card as you head for the door. No questions asked.
8) Call display
If you play the D-Card too many times at social functions, people are going to start phoning to recommend treatment for Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Here’s another fun reason people may phone you: your name is now a hashtag representing a campaign of activists who want you publicly burnt at the stake. Maybe granny calls for a chin-wag every time you’re about to wrap your head around post-structuralism. Never-you-mind because you’ve got technology to deal with that. It’s name is call display and it’ll help you save those pesky conversations for after a full hour of stress-knitting and a few glasses of Barefoot.
P.S. You should probably remove your voicemail too because ain’t nobody got time for that.
9) Seasonal Affective Disorder products
If I have to face the day before noon, I want to open my eyes to at least a billion blazing Lumens of fake-ass sunrise a la my SAD-lamp alarm clock. For this purpose, I’ve chosen the Philips Wake-up Lamp because it chimes with the sound of woodland birds, and because it was the only thing available at London Drugs.
10) Eating things high in trans fats or drinking coffee on an empty stomach
I hope you’ve enjoyed my ten best coping strategies of 2015. How do you cope with the rollercoaster that is feminist life? Light it up in the comments.