Looking back and moving forward

Avery is a rising sophomore and interned at Legal Momentum this summer.
This summer has had a pretty big impact on my life. It’s challenged me, inspired me, irritated me, matured me, and (most importantly) made me question how I look at the world, and what my role in it should be. I feel like this is a natural experience for anyone spending their first extended period of time in a big city, and working full time. But I believe the Moxie Project maximized this effect. Not only did it temporarily throw me out into the real world, but it required me to reflect on my experiences (whether they be related to work, politics, relationships, or life in general) on a regular basis. I think reflection is seriously underrated these days. We’re so focused on what’s next, that we rarely take the time to look back and truly get meaning and value from what we’ve done.

Not only did I reflect on my personal experiences, but I was able to discuss them with the others in the cohort, and hear their experiences as well. I heard an insight from six different feminist organizations, and was able to connect them to the women’s movement as a whole. Independently, they are all generally well-run nonprofits with the best of intentions. But I think we need to take it a step further. We need to get these programs talking to each other, working together, because in the long-run, we all want the same thing. To me, the fact that these programs are not collaborating with one another represents the biggest problem with the feminist movement. We are working hard at our specific goals, but the division is taking away from the greatness that could be achieved as a collective. I believe the work that Lynn and Tracy are doing at the National Judicial Education Program to be extremely necessary. It’s a short term solution to the currently existing gender-bias in our nation’s judicial system. But this can’t be the final answer, because it’s never-ending. The root of the problem is not being addressed.

Meanwhile, there are other organizations out there addressing systemic problems, looking at the long-term effects on our society. I think feminist organizations need to communicate more, because it gives hope to our efforts, and strength to the movement. I was able to work at Legal Momentum with this awareness because I learned and spoke with a group of varying feminist organizations, and was therefore not saddened by the thought of a never-ending approach to a deep-rooted problem. If the entire feminist movement was organized like one giant Moxie Project, maybe this hope could be shared at a greater level, and more importantly, we could advance gender equity at a quicker pace.

But my summer was about more than just the women’s movement. I learned a lot about myself, and about human interaction in general. I credit this to the readings we were assigned and the discussions we had at work. I think the most important lesson I learned was about implicit bias. I had never really given it much thought before, I’ve always been such a logical person. Our brains are designed to categorize our observations and the information we take in, which leads to natural stereotyping and discrimination. This is why I believe so many kids grow up with the gender biases that exist in our society. They’ve been observing it since they were young, and naturally it stays with them until they address the problem at its core, which is exactly what we did at the Moxie Project.

However, requiring every student to go through the Moxie Project is a bit unrealistic. In the short term, I think we should require students to take a general psychology course in elementary or middle school. It’s so important to have a basic understanding of how the mind works, yet we don’t stress this importance in our education system. In the long term, I think we need to alter the way our society is set up, which would in turn prevent future generations from observing a patriarchal structure and formulating gender biases. Again, I bring up addressing the root of the problem. Until we figure out a way to do this, the feminist movement will continue to be like Hercules and the Hydra. Cutting off the heads, or abating the symptoms of gender biases, is an endless and tiresome struggle. They will just continue to grow back. We need to see all these symptoms as a whole, and rather than running around and putting out a thousand different small fires, find a way to stop them from starting in the first place.

1 thought on “Looking back and moving forward

  1. Your insight as to the limitations of effectiveness of small individual organizations, and the greater benefits of collaboration and cohesiveness, is a valuable one to have gained from this internship. Best wishes.

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