I proudly define myself as a feminist, and have done for as long as I can remember. Even my little tween self was confused when people I knew reacted badly to the word. Feminism means equal rights, representation and opportunities for all women; I stress the word ‘all’ because some “feminist” movements seem to have recently forgotten that a feminism that isn’t intersectional isn’t feminism at all.
I got into Girls That Gig when I was in my second year at university; Megan and Vicky were speaking at a careers event that I went along to, and I had the privilege of interviewing them for the student newspaper. Soon afterwards, I started writing for them, and fairly soon after that, Megan asked me if I would like to take over as blog editor. I was ecstatic. Here was a grassroots collective that was implementing good from the ground up, embodying the very change that they wanted to see in the world, and bringing everyone that they interacted with along with them. It’s been a great honour to work with Girls That Gig over the past year or so, and it’s incredibly fulfilling to be able to be a part of an organisation with similar ideals to my own.
I took over as blog editor around the time of the national election in 2017, when it was more important than ever that small grassroots movements were gathering to support each other. How could we expect our government to make any positive changes, when our Prime Minister made a billion-pound deal with a political party that doesn’t believe in equal marriage rights or abortion rights? When Diane Abbott was receiving horrific amounts of racist and sexist online abuse, and nothing was being done about it? When our Prime Minister held hands with the President of the United States, the very same man who has bragged about sexually assaulting women and who limited the rights of trans women in America? They say that actions speak louder than words, and these actions laughed in the face of women all over the country. How on earth were we expected to have any sort of faith in our government if these were the values our government appeared to uphold?
In my eyes, it was time for action. It was clear that our government wasn’t going to be making any sort of change any time soon, so if we wanted anything done, we were going to have to do it ourselves. Girls That Gig is a prime example of ladies doing it for themselves: the team is made up entirely of women, our regular contributors are all women, and we cover a huge range of topics that interest us. This wasn’t necessarily a case of not seeing ourselves in mainstream media outlets, but of bringing our media outlet closer to our audience and allowing for more interaction, more conversation, and more collaboration.
There is of course that little voice in my head that niggles at me whenever I’m having a bad day. “What’s even the point of this all?” it says. “What sort of difference will this ever make?” Well, probably not much in terms of large-scale change, but it’s worth everything for the thought that someone someday might see what we do here at Girls That Gig and be inspired. We probably won’t ever change government policy or broker a peace deal, but what we do is important in the every day. We help normal women get their voices heard. We run pieces on quotidian worries and pleasures that aren’t considered “news-worthy” enough for larger publications. We provide a platform for women in creative industries to get their work out there and find their voices. We might not be making waves, but as long as we can sow a couple of seeds, that’s alright by me.
Small-scale organisations like Girls That Gig, Girl Gang, gal-dem, Girls Against, and countless others, are also hugely important for creating communities, and provide a friendly face in a world that feels increasingly depersonalised. This sort of contribution is priceless; whilst policy change and official recognition of the changing nature of women’s rights is of course important and necessary to progress, grassroots organisations give women the confidence and the back-up to be able to produce these wider changes.
One year on from the national election, and there are the stirrings of change in the air. But, to paraphrase Isaac Newton, for every positive action of change, there will be an equal and opposite reaction from the detractors. Just because they shout louder doesn’t mean they’re any more worthy of attention. So keep doing what you’re doing, gals, because chances are that you’re doing some good somewhere, even if it doesn’t always feel like it.
By Jemima Skala