At the beginning of this semester when I first started thinking about what I wanted to do for my activist project, I was completely stumped. To me, activism had to be something that changed the world and made people question what they’d been taught to believe. However, I soon realized that this was not something I would be able to accomplish in the scope of one semester. And so I began brainstorming and trying to come up with ideas of something that would be both interesting for me to do, and might engage others as well. I eventually came up with the idea of making flyers that taught people about women in history that, despite the fact that they had made important contributions to their fields, had been forgotten or ignored. When I first set out on this project, I had no idea it would become as big as it did.
I began this project thinking that I would simply make flyers with 4 different women that I found to be interesting. At first I thought I would leave it at that, but as I began to think about it more, I realized that I would need to go further. And so, I created a Tumblr account where I could post the first 4 women that I would be making flyers of, as well as more women in other fields. My goal was always to simply educate people on these amazing women, and open people’s eyes to the fact that, despite the persistent argument that the reason women’s contributions aren’t taught to us in school isn’t because women haven’t done anything, but is instead due to the patriarchal and sexist underpinnings of our culture. And so I made up my flyers, printed them out at my school’s print lab, put them up on campus, and posted them to my Tumblr.
At first, I got only a few notes (on Tumblr, notes are either when people “like” the post, or repost it to their own blog), and I was excited that anyone was even looking at them. I had always said that, even if I only got 10 people to look at my flyers and posts, I would be happy. But then something utterly surprising happened. Almost overnight I began gaining followers and notes at a rapid pace. In less than 24 hours I rose from having maybe 10 notes and a handful of followers to having thousands of notes and hundreds of followers, and it only kept growing! A friend then told me that a feminist Facebook group had posted my flyers and linked to my Tumblr on their page, and I began receiving messages of encouragement, thanks, and suggestions for more women to write about. I was completely shocked. I knew that this was something that I was interested in, but I never imagined that so many other people would be so excited about it as well. I currently have over 4,000 followers and my original post has almost 30,000 notes.
At the beginning of this project, my only hope was that I could get several people to look at what I had created and then I would quickly take down the account (and that I wouldn’t get yelled at for posting flyers around campus). And now, I’m planning on continuing the Tumblr and creating more posts about amazing women for the foreseeable future. My only wish was that I had started this project earlier so that I might have been able to put up more flyers on campus throughout the semester. I can’t wait to see where else this project will take me.