Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Volunteer Fair

Before attending the volunteer fair today, I mentally organized my priorities in selecting an organization.

The general issue I am most interested in is oppression as created by power relationships. Among these, I include racism, speciesism, classism, sizeism, ageism, colonialism, sexism and any prejudice of sexuality or identity; any relationship where one group of people is subject to the will of another group of people based on arbitrary differences. I would be proud to be a part of any of these movements, and I have some difficulty separating one out of the list to give special attention to (especially since I believe so fervently that they are all connected). However, recent events in my personal life, and the central role sexism has taken in this presidential election, and the far reaching implications I see in amendment 48 has made me feel that the women's rights movement in the U.S. is in danger of loosing ground, and as a believer in my own worth, and the worth of my mother, sister, grandmother, and all my fellow females, I feel I can give more of myself to these issues that are so close to home.

I want to find an organization that addresses at least some of the issues I feel are essential to women's rights: asserting our worth in our own words and terms (finding our voices, and challenging what others name as our value); claiming our bodies as our own, and combating instances of objectification, commodification, exploitation, and violence (and defining what these terms mean to us); breaking down binary oppositions of gender, both in the power structures they imply and the crude categorization of all people into simply defined, restrictive groups, encouraging women to form our own individual identities without regard to tidy categories and the expectations they carry with them. I believe these are the root issues in all feminist causes, and in combating all forms of oppression. In practice, I believe these issues are addressed through education, legislation, and community building.

I also revisited the last criteria I mentioned in my previous entry: to find a volunteer organization that allows me to use my current strengths while encouraging me to develop new skills and broaden my perspective. I believe my greatest strengths are my sensitivity, compassion, passion, and respect for people. I am also creative, insightful, analytical, and introspective. I believe I am very effective in communicating (especially in writing), and I believe I could be most helpful if given the opportunity to put this skill to use.

My greatest pitfall is my tendency to be paralyzed by anger. At these times, I desperately need another person to help me find my voice and direction again. I am hoping finding an organization with which to volunteer will assist me with this. Movement keeps me motivated. Stagnation makes me loose faith.

I want to find a position as an intern in order to experience the different aspects of an organization working for social change. What is vital to its functioning? What problems threaten it's existence? And how do they combat those problems? How do they interact with the community they serve, as a business, a service, and as partners in social change? And how do they identify the problems of their community? What root causes do they address and how? What symptoms do they address and why and how? How do they challenge themselves to become more effective? How do they implement innovation? How are they successful? How are they not as successful?

At the volunteer fair, out of the 70 or so organization present, the organization that spoke to me the most was Moving to End Sexual Assault . Their mission statement struck me immediately: "We believe that every person has a right to live free of sexual assault. We are moving to end sexual assault and the suffering it causes in our community. We challenge all forms of oppression and recognize their connection to sexual violence" [my emphasis]. I don't think any single sentence could have spoken to me more. Additionally, on the application, they asked not only that the applicant identify the connection between forms of oppression, but also that the applicant identify how they have personally benefited from a form of privilege. I have spoken on this topic many times, and I feel it is of great value to ask because refusal to acknowledge personal privilege is the failure to see the oppression of others.


Anonymous said...

I wish our society was comprised of people that think like you....lazy vegan. :-)

The Lazy Vegan said...

Thank you very much!