I have not been a fan of New Year’s for a while now. New Year’s parties hold little appeal for me. Staying up until midnight with a bunch of loud, drunk strangers or watching Ryan Seacrest do his best human oatmeal impression on TV for a billion hours while you wait for a ball to drop to denote the ever-constant passing of time — it’s just not my idea of fun. But what I despise even more than the forced insomnia and awkward group kissing are the New Year’s resolutions.
Now you may be asking “What’s so bad about setting some goals at the start of a new year?” I know it sounds innocuous, even laudable to set out to improve your life. But that’s not usually how these things work.
First: More often than not, these resolutions reflect little more than the crushing insecurities imposed on us by society. Every year we promise to become thinner, to become more spiritual, to use that gym membership, to make more money. We aren’t doing these things for ourselves, we’re doing them because we read in a magazine that we should.
Second: These goals are rarely fun. It’s just a long list of things you actively avoided doing the year before. Why? Because you didn’t want to. Chances are you don’t want to now. Now you want to try to do them all at once? Why would you do that to yourself?
Third: At best you’re going to complete one, maybe two of these goals. And for the next couple of months you are going to have to do what the rest of us do: lie and say you got like half of them done when people ask and then try to go back through social media and delete any record of ever having made resolutions in the first place. It’s just not worth it.
So as the year was closing, I was bracing for the online onslaught of weight-loss posts, workout updates, and stories of adventures on OkCupid with the same expectations that I have for a night of tequila shots with my gal-pals: It all seems fun at first, everyone “whoohoo’s” themselves into way too much at once, then someone pukes on your shoes. And before you know it, it’s over and we’re all filled with regret and self-loathing.
I started trying to come up with a way in which I could reclaim the New Year’s resolution. Some way to save it from its sad fate of running shoes worn twice, the novel never written, the salads never eaten. Was it even worth trying? New Year’s resolutions are such an ingrained part of our culture it seemed like my only two options were to either boycott the internet for a month, or come up with some positive — truly helpful resolutions that I could stick to. Resolutions that were in line with my values, resolutions that made me stronger and smarter. These were going to be simple yet meaningful feminist goals. I was fired up.
I got on Twitter and posted my first #FeministNewYearResolution: “Stop telling dudes I have a boyfriend when I’m not interested.” My second resolution was “Stop asking ‘how do I look?'” These were true, solid, doable goals that would make my life better and help keep me true to my values. But I’m really only capable of a few minutes of earnestness on Twitter, so I decided if I was going to make feminist New Year’s resolutions I might as well have a little fun. Believe it or not, feminists do have a sense of humor. So I started thinking of real situations that many women face, and giving them fun, if sometimes completely absurd, solutions.
When dudes lament the good old days, cut the electricity & demand they die of Cholera. #FeministNewYearResolutions
— Ijeoma Oluo (@IjeomaOluo) December 28, 2014
When people ask when you are going to get married, look away wistfully while singing Desperado at full volume. #FeministNewYearResolutions
— Ijeoma Oluo (@IjeomaOluo) December 27, 2014
Almost immediately other women (and some men) started adding their own #FeministNewYearResolutions. Some of them were hilarious, some of them were sincere and practical. For some it was a way to reinforce a commitment to gender equality, for others it was a chance to poke a little fun at everyday struggles. Within a few days there over 10,000 tweets with the #FeministNewYearResolutions hashtag.
Looking through all the #FeministNewYearResolutions and seeing this global community of women come together to share hopes, strength and laughter has done more to start my 2015 off right than any of my resolutions of years past ever could.
Follow the hashtag here: