VOTING

Political Dreams for Women

Featured Community Voice: Antigone Magazine

Riding the wave of the "PostSecret" phenomenon, a trend that has individuals exposing their burning secrets anonymously via the Internet or through postal mail, Canada-based feminist magazine Antigone Magazine is encouraging people to put their inner-most feminist thoughts on postcards. The magazine, however, doesn't want to know your secrets; it wants to know your Dreams for Women. The project creators share with us a few of their participants' political dreams.

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Antigone Magazine
Postcard reads: "I dream that women will have the support they need to change the world." View Larger >
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Antigone Magazine
Postcard reads: "G8 Wives. Soon the caption will read leaders, rather than wives." View Larger >
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Antigone Magazine
Postcard reads: "I dream of a day when barriers of race, class, nationality, and ethnicity no longer keep women from getting the help they need." View Larger >
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Antigone Magazine
Postcard reads: "Where nations use gender budgets to ensure just investment in their greatest resources--women." View Larger >
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Antigone Magazine
Postcard reads: "Future leaders." View Larger >
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Antigone Magazine
Postcard reads: "Someday we won't have to protest to get our voices heard." View Larger >
In late 2007, Antigone Magazine launched a feminist version of PostSecret: the Dreams for Women Project. The project asks women to paint, draw, write, sketch or decoupage on a postcard their dreams for themselves, their friends, their sisters or their daughters. In its first year, the Dreams for Women project has been used as a teaching tool in classrooms, a bonding activity between parents and daughters, and an inspiration for women. It was even brought to the United Nations 52nd Commission on the Status of Women where the founder of Antigone Magazine, Amanda Reaume, was invited as a delegate.

What Do Women Dream?

The postcards we have received have been incredibly diverse--as they should be! According to Cornelia Butler, the Chief Curator, Department of Drawing, at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, feminism is a body of shifting criteria that is restless, divergent, and open-ended.

We believe that whether the postcard is about an individual, a group, or a very specific women's issue, what matters is how the postcards show feminism's power in transforming personal identity and social relations. The postcards show how feminist issues still resonate internationally and globally, both for those who identify as feminists and those who don't. It is deeply gratifying and extremely humbling to receive these tangible reminders of overlooked injustices.

Overall, we have found that women want equality. Of course, different women have different strategies and priorities for achieving equality. We have received a lot of postcards that focus on political equality and women's power. But, we have also received a lot of postcards regarding expectations about female beauty. Ultimately, all of the postcards we receive are about changing the way women are seen or see themselves, and creating more opportunities and possibilities for women.

In the postcards on the left, the creators call for more women in political, military and corporate leadership. Women realize that it is crucial to have women involved in decision making because they often bring different perspectives.

Do Dreams Translate Into Votes?

Does this mean that we think there is such a thing as a women's voting block? Yes and no. Yes, women as a voting block have similar interests or, shall we say, goals. At the same time, no; the reality is that those figures do not reflect the fact that many women's votes are missing from the count. There are real factors that keep women from the polls. To make the assumption that all women want the same things--or that those in power know what they want--is erroneous.

Every woman is very different and brings different experiences and perspectives to the voting booth. There are quite a number of women who envision a future of greater equality and freedom for women. They may not see that equality and freedom are the same, but they do hope that their daughters will have more opportunities than they did. Women's dreams and goals will ultimately vary; but the recognition that women as a group yield political clout is a big step forward toward trumping gender lines.

The Postcard-Perfect Future

The Dreams for Women project and Antigone Magazine have their own agendas for the future. We will be organizing an exhibit of the postcards in the Vancouver area. We hope to create a calendar based on postcards voted as favorites by our blog readers. We are also looking to publish a book in order to share the postcards with a broader audience.

Our biggest dream is to generate enough donations from the project to launch the Antigone Foundation, an organization that seeks to encourage young women to become politically and civically engaged. It does this through Antigone Magazine, Antigone for Girls, a magazine written by and for young women, and an outreach program which educates and inspires young girls to become actively involved in political issues that affect them.





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