By Kamilia Manaf, Institut Pelangi Perempuan (Indonesian Youth Lesbian Center)
Sport is very helpful for the physical and mental health. Sport can reduce stress, anger and depression. Several people do sport for fun and hobby, and it is giving the positive impact for life prosperity. I have seen there are a lot of feminists get burnout soon and leave the activism because they work so hard and less attention to their physical and mental health, lack of time for having fun and stressful. So, I guess feminists need to do sport as one of the strategies for sustaining their commitment in activism.
Furthermore, sport is one of the tools which effective to mobilize and organize women. Feminist should be flexible on creating strategy for organizing. Movement is not only about seminar, workshop, conference, and training or discussion group. Sport is one of the fun ways for feminist movement. On the Sport for Social Change session of AWID Forum 2008, there are Badminton Club of Institut Pelangi Perempuan (IndonesianYouthLesbianCenter)Indonesia, Shape Your Life (The Boxing Project for Women and Transpeople of survivor of violence) inTorontoCanadaand Biti Footbal Club inKenyawhich successful in using sport club for women empowerment.
The badminton club of Institut Pelangi Perempuan becomes the main activities of Institut Pelangi Perempuan for creating safe space, outreach and organizing, building sisterhood and honing talents and self confidence. There are several youth lesbian of Institut Pelangi Perempuan getting more confidence of their sexual orientation after joining the badminton club. It is the support group for informal counseling of the members. During the break time, they can chit chat to share their problems, experiences and support each other. It is also a strategy for sisterhood building, because the members start to organize themselves for the management of the badminton club. They become a solid young lesbian team to maintain the sustainability of the badminton club. Besides, It creates talents and self-confidence. Doing sport in a good way could lead someone to have achievement and it will give pride that can build confidence. It challenges the stereotypes of lesbianism amongst themselves to realize that they can also become winners by participating on Out Games or other competitions. Besides, the badminton club is used as a way of recruitment of members, most of the members interested to join badminton club rather than group discussion which they think is too boring, so then we make a strategy to introduce our organization during the badminton club and some of the members now interested to become the volunteers of Institut Pelangi Perempuan.
Sport could be the effective media for anger. Anger could be in positive way. The Boxing project of Shape Your Life is one of the examples for some women and transpeople of survivor of violence who are very angry of gender based violence. It is the healing program for body and minds from the impact of violence and abuse through physical exercise. The boxing project is not about hurting people but it has channeled anger into gaining confidence and strength. There are some of the members of Shape Your Life feel the advantages by participating on the boxing project because it could be the safe space for exploring healthy aggression and to help self expression. It is also helpful for some members who have the feeling hyper vigilante of physically or sexually assaulted all the time and they feeling much better after joining the boxing project.
InKenyathe Biti Project uses soccer to bring in young women from the informal settlements. Through soccer they introduce issues of health, sexuality etc.
So gals.. what are you waiting for? Be sporty, healthy and fun feminist! ;)