By the time Steph Guthrie (@amirightfolks), Founder of #WiTOpoli, and I first met, we were already fairly well acquainted over twitter. Steph was the first of my Twitter friends who not only regularly debated issues with me, but also promoted me to her followers, who then followed me. When we did meet in real life, about six weeks ago, we were already on the same page. We were frustrated with the state of affairs for female politicos in Toronto and frustrated with the lack of improvement. We were tired of failed promises and pretending that equality isn’t an issue anymore.
We channeled that frustration-turned-creative-energy into a panel series, the first of which (a huge success in my opinion) kicked off at CSI Annex on Wednesday, May 23, 2012. I have to admit it was pretty inspiring to see a small group of women (including @indeedemma, @godmere, @brige_noel, @ChefWendyB, @erinjamesabra, @laura_and_, and @sarahmckitrick) put together a movement, a panel series, a call to arms in such a short period of time. Working as a community, the impossible fell into place.
The Comment Section panel was more than I could have hoped for. Not only did we have a diverse group of wonderfully intelligent and thoughtful guests, men and women, but we had a group of fearless panelists with such energy that their two hours under the hot lights melted away. They were funny, they were brutally honest, they did not agree on things, they had perspectives I’d never heard before. They were the epitome of women who had successfully fought their way into the discourse.
While it is true that this event would never have happened 30 years ago, it’s not enough. We want #WiTOpoli to be more than a few wonderfully fun and inspiring evenings. We want to be a force of critical advocacy but we also want to actively promote the voices we all need to hear more. Just as Steph sponsored me and as she herself was sponsored by @goldsbie, we want to be the platform that identifies intelligent but ignored voices in #WiTOpoli and be their megaphone.
In line with this goal, as I circulated the room after the panel wrapped up Wednesday evening, matching Twitter handles to faces, I spoke to a number of women about contributing to this blog. After all that was said by the panel about women undervaluing their own efforts, I still heard too many women say, “but I can’t write.” I do not write for a living. I am not a prose master, and by no means an expert in the area. But, I tend to believe that if you can get your point across in 140 characters, you can write.
When I circulate the room next Wednesday, May 30, 2012 after the Front Page panel, I’m not taking “no” for an answer.
Stop telling yourself shit and write for us. Then email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jessica Spence (@jmspence)