Lillie interned at Third Wave Foundation this summer.
I learned so much this summer—about myself, living and working with others, and the non-profit community—it is hard to isolate only a few learning experiences for this blog post! Overall, reading about feminism, the ideals feminists profess, and the ways feminists act on their beliefs, has shown me how to think critically about social movements, activism, and how to create social change. Before The Moxie Project, I did not always think to question activists and non-profits—I guess I always assumed that they were simply trying to “help” people and serve others, so how can this be a negative thing? I have learned that, even when an activist’s motives come from a good place, it is still always important to think critically about the work being done and not take activism and service at face value. Even though it can be hard to come to terms with one’s privilege and recognize the mistakes one might be making in their activism, it is necessary to confront these issues to create a movement built by people in true solidarity. Prior to participating in the Moxie Project, I would have never considered the many layers to social movements and non-profit work.
I have also appreciated the moments where our readings connected with my internship and made my work experience all the more meaningful. I especially enjoyed reading about how feminism influences the way one can structure a non-profit and organize the power dynamics of a group. Seeing firsthand the way the our different organizations dealt with hierarchy, power dynamics, and other structural factors showed me how such decisions can have far reaching implications for how the non-profit functions and contributes to social change. For example, the role of an organization’s board can be especially complex, for its role in an organization often dictates who can be on the board and how they can contribute. The issue of how feminist organizations structure themselves (and how this can change over time) was far more complicated than I had ever imagined, and being able to see the different methods of organizing through our internships helped me understand the implications these decisions have.
Lastly, as an incoming senior, I wish I could say that this summer has set me on a specific path for my future, but unfortunately I’m still pretty undecided about the next phase of my life. However, even though I still don’t have a set career path, my experiences this summer have opened my mind to the many ways one can be involved in the feminist movement. I used to see involvement in social movements as very black and white—either you’re working for a non-profit and supporting social change, or you aren’t at all. Reading about and discussing the many ways we can attack issues has demonstrated to me that feminists who will push the movement forward are needed in every field, from banking to church work to politics. Working solely through non-profits or solely through the government will not create lasting, all-encompassing change. Rather, we need people in all sectors of society to push for gender justice, and I think The Moxie Project has given me the tools to do just that, in whatever field I choose.