The Pioneer is taking a week to feature pioneering women in Charlottesville and beyond. Each day for the next week, we will post a story that informs, inspires, and empowers. As part of this weeklong event, The Pioneer is collecting clothing donations for the Sexual Assault Resource Agency – you can find the donation boxes in the lobbies of #9 and #17 Elliewood Avenue.
To Future Women is an interactive artwork that marks the year anniversary of the Women’s March. Created by artist Georgia Saxelby, To Future Women invites people from across the globe to write a letter to women in 20 years. Part art and part history, these letters will be archived for 20 years by The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. and re-exhibited on January 21, 2037, in honor of the 20th anniversary of one of the largest protests in American history.
In celebration of the exhibit, HackCville’s Storyboard participants wrote letters of their own to submit. Casey, Elaine and I (we’re the Storyboard leads) gave everyone the option of either writing a letter to the exhibit, or a letter to themselves that we would send them in six months. Everyone opted to write a letter to future women. These are just a couple of our favorites that we hope you enjoy as much as we did.
“To Future Women,
I hope you’re living in a vastly different world than the one I exist in currently. I hope the word you live in is one not restricted by ideas of what you should be. The world I currently inhabit is one filled with the limits that the world, but more often, I myself, have placed before me.
What I hope for you, dear reader, is that you liberate yourself from the expectation to make yourself small (both appearance and presence –wise). From the expectation to be delicate (in your words and your actions). From the expectation to be collected (rage, rage against the dying of the light!).
I hope that at any moment, you will allow yourself to be wild, and too much, and bold. I hope the world allows you to do the same (if not, do it anyway).
Live and let live!”
“To Future Women Leaders,
In the fall of 2016, I felt an incredible wave of devastation when presidential candidate Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump. As a minority woman in the United States, the election of Trump really did a number on me. I remember logging on to a fan-run site called “Pantsuit Nation” that had millions of posts from individuals who were just as equally disheartened by our loss of possibly the first female president of the United States. Some of the messages were just plain sad — depressing even. But other messages, the ones that drove me to silent tears, were those of hope.
They were messages written to women who want to make a change — becoming president, or a senator, or a councilwoman, or any sort of local leader, because in scary times like this, we will be torn down. It is our responsibility to rise up and be the representation that women everywhere need.
So I urge you — be extraordinary, be fierce, be you. Don’t let obstacles or hardships bring you down. Strive to be above the best.”
I hope if I have children someday, let’s say a boy & girl, she won’t be able to tell her brother he is fundamentally over-privileged by a patriarchal system. I won’t be able to tell her she needs to be home by 2, by car but he can stay out all night because the streets are safer for him. Or rather, the risk is fundamentally different for a man than a girl. I hope to send them both alone abroad with equal concern, not a disproportionate concern for her than him.
I hope all this because this reflects how things are with my sisters and I. It hurts me every time it comes up as I know it’s true. What hurts me most is being told by them it can’t be changed. I can’t be changed as part of the system. I’d like to say I have changed, am different, thanks to them and all the women in my life. I can only trust the rest of us will change too.”
“Dear Future Women,
When you are ten years old and you are the only girl on your sports team, know you are more bad-ass than all the boys. When you are twelve and you are the only girl in your group project, know you got this, you are a leader. When you are sixteen, and one of the only girls in the class, know you will learn fast, you’ll pass them. When you’re eighteen and the only girl in the club, don’t drop, represent us. When you are twenty and realize your career field is dominated by men, work to pass them all, don’t give in.
But, hopefully, you won’t be. If it’s 2030 something — girls can play hockey, lead the group, be president of the club and be successful filmmakers. I believe in you because of what I’ve seen this year. The future is female and you are the future.”
“To Future Women:
The world is a scary place, especially for you. You will have to work harder and smarter for your goals than others…and that’s not okay! It’s a shitshow right now… every day we hear about how terrible us men really are. But, things are changing…and I hope they continue to, for the future is female.
To my sister: I push you to try harder, explore further, and dream big because for you I want the world. The same one I grew up in with the same love and opportunities I received.
Go. Go further, higher, faster. Do speak up and do not stop.”
“Dear Future Women;
Here’s a poem:
You have been told that, even
like a chain, you are as weak
as your weakest link.
This is but half true.
You are also as strong as your strongest link.
To measure you by your smallest
deed is to reckon the power of
the ocean by the frailty of its foam.
To judge you by you
failures is to cast blame upon
the seasons for their
Ay, YOU are like an ocean, and
though heavy-ground ships await
the tide upon your shores, yet
even like an ocean, you cannot
hasten your tides. And, like the
seasons you are also, and though
in your winter you deny your spring.
Yet spring reposing within you, smiles in
her drowsiness and is not offended.”
“Dear Future Women,
As a white male in today’s society, I admittedly do not have the experiences to adequately prepare me to write this letter, but I feel that my voice still is worth being heard. Before Trump’s presidential race, I stood idly on the side while women experienced adversity on a scale that I may never know. The comments of President Trump & others have opened my eyes and inspired me to take action.
I went to understand more, and take action upon this understanding. I don’t know where this will take me, but I will follow the path.”
“To Future Women,
People may make you feel ashamed of your body, for taking control, for working on loving yourself, or even for finally accepting the beauty of imperfection.
You may feel alone in your search for what “woman” means. Know you are not alone. The definition cannot and will never be defined. It encompasses more than body parts, chromosomes, clothes, actions.
It almost feels like a breeze. Refreshing can be gentle or harsh, but altogether constant and influencing everything around it. This may be too flowery and my language would be too old when considering it’s 2037. Still, I hope you learn to consider your body a haven, a sacred place of exploration, intellectually, physically, spiritually, choose your path. Or don’t! Let life take you for a ride. All the while, know I’m rooting for you.
A woman okay with not totally figuring ‘it’ out.”
Letters have been edited for clarity.