Radicalism on the Road
|This is what a feminist looks like. Tessa Sayers-Corcoran turned a road trip into an opportunity to spread empowerment and challenge patriarchy. Photo: Nathan Gold|
March, International Women’s History Month, is inspiring for many reasons. Women have been an instrumental part of every culture’s history. Not only does March give us the opportunity to recognize this, but it also encourages the exploration of other cultures’ histories in order to understand women’s role globally. While in college I worked with the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance to do public projects such as chalking and fliering to inform people that it was Women’s History Month. This year I’m on the road for March as a part of a three-month cross country road trip, and wanted to do something small that I could take with me on my travels. I wanted to raise awareness wherever I went and to collect enough stories from other women to make a small book.
It is inspiring to travel to so many places—we are going to almost every state—and see that there is radical community, no matter how small, working in many different ways to change the direction of our future. As an activist in Philadelphia and growing up in Syracuse, I had felt that the peace and social justice community was a small one, not spanning the entire country. Since being on the road I am beginning to understand that everywhere there are people who are fighting against the stream and making a difference. I wanted my Women’s History Month project to reflect this and to inspire people to realize that they themselves do things everyday to thwart not only patriarchy, but also racism, capitalism, homophobia and all other types of oppression. I wanted to create a reminder, not only for others but also for myself, that each small action is a part of a larger one and therefore contributes to change both as a result of its own existence and also in the context of a greater movement. It is in the best interest of the oppressors for the people oppressed to feel powerless and disenfranchised. I wanted my project to challenge this sense of isolation.
Flowers for Feminism
I started crocheting flowers when we were in the car for long stretches, and it turned out that I could make quite a few in a short amount of time. I attached them to the back of pins that women could stick onto their scarves, coats, shirts, or whatever. I put the pins on little sheets of paper that read:
1. Give this to a woman that you love
2. Wish her a happy Women’s History Month
3. Ask her to tell you a time when she stood up against ANY type of oppression
4. Tell me what you learned: Email firstname.lastname@example.org
I called the project Flowers for Feminism. I loved the idea, and the responses are really inspiring. One of my favorite is from a homeless woman in Portland who I met while eating at Sisters of The Road Café. She wrote me this message:
“Everyday I stand up for myself and for other people in the street. Everyone is down on us, especially the business owners. Sometimes when we are kicked out of an area, I take a minute to remind the person that I am with that we (homeless people) are not the issue, that society is. Experiencing homelessness can be dehumanizing, reminding people of their worth challenges this. "
|A “Krazy” idea: Tessa used Krazy glue to post provacative and clever messages related to women’s history in public places while she was on the road in March (Women’s History Month). Photo: Tessa Sayers-Corcoran|
Flyers for Feminism
I wanted something more. I wanted to do something that was more adventurous and that would be more visible. At first I thought of graffiti, but my road trip buddy, Nathan, had some concerns about how getting arrested would set us back a few days, schedule-wise. So I came up with another idea: stickers. When I was in college I put clever stickers all over everything in the dorms and classrooms, but when I came back they would always be gone. I had to one-up myself this time. I decided to use paper strips with Krazy glue on the back. This turned out to be a great method, if at first a little difficult to get the hang of.
I printed out paper at the library that had a clever saying on it, and then asked the staff there to use the paper cutter to make strips—four flyers per page. My favorite one read: “Women make up half the world’s population. Are they half of your history books?”
In the end I had about 180 quarter sheets of paper that I could use. The tricky part was the actual placement of the fliers, because I wanted to glue many of them in very public places. Nathan would kind of stand in front of me while, as quickly as possible, I ran glue along the edges of the flier and pushed it down on the surface I wanted. This took quite a bit of practice, and a couple times I was nervous I had accidentally crazy glued my fingers to the surface.
Luckily, fanny packs have come back in style, so I put some fliers and my Krazy glue in my fanny pack, and I was set to Krazy glue feminism to everything at a moment’s notice.
The first location I glued in was Las Vegas—that’s where we were on the first day of March. I just about covered an entire block’s worth of little stands advertising call girls. I was so nervous, worrying that when I went back the next day they would all be gone, or worse scribbled all over. I felt like I was leaving a little piece of myself, a piece of what I believed in, behind. I didn’t want that piece to be ruined. Thus far I think I have thwarted all the street cleaning people and custodians across the country because everywhere I put them they are still there when I get back.