Lately – maybe because it’s spring – I have been thinking a lot about love. Not romantic love, necessarily, but all the different types of love. Like the love I have for a good cup of coffee, or one of my favorite books, or the love I feel for Ann Arbor sometimes when I’m walking down the street on a sunny day. Of course, the love I have for my friends and my family. And the love I have for myself, which might be the most complicated and rewarding kind of love there is.
Everybody says that love isn’t easy, and that’s true. Even the simplest kinds of love can be work. The thing is, the people or the things we love don’t always love us back. Pouring love into something doesn’t guarantee a good outcome. So, knowing this, what does it mean for something to be a labor of love?
For me, for the rest of E-Board, and, I hope, for our readers, What the F is a true labor of love. Our love for this mag, this organization, and the community our foremothers dreamed of creating influences every decision we make. Work that is done out of love still feels like work, but it’s a different kind of labor. For many of us, What the F is our “thing.” We’re all involved in other organizations, but this is where our hearts lie. We’re completely student-run. We need our passion to keep us going; without it, none of the work would be worthwhile.
The pieces in our mag and blog, which are often full of tenderness, are always a gesture of love to the reader. They say: know me, know yourself, or simply I’ve been there. Sometimes they say: fight for me. Mostly, they say: fight with me. So: our magazine is always about love, even when it seems angry or frustrated. Activism is love. When we write about workplace sexual harassment, for example, yes, we’re angry, but we’re also reaching out. We’re searching for connection, for agreement, for partners in a revolution. When we protest, we are saying to the world: care about us as we care about you. I think this especially applies to campus activism. When I complain about this university’s shortcomings and the ways it can improve various protections for its students, it’s because I know how much better things can be. We who are trying to change the world do so partially out of love and respect for ourselves/others in the present, and partially out of love and hope for the future.
We are not perfect. We probably never will be. Before we’re a publication or an organization, we’re a group of people. Mostly, we’re trying to have a good time, to be fresh and funny and all those other f-words. When our fellow students or members of the greater Ann Arbor community pick up our mag or come to our events, it’s the most encouraging thing in the world. Also encouraging? Being told how we can improve, and better occupy the space we’ve carved out for ourselves here – provided, of course, that it’s done out of love. Because despite facing obstacles we could have never predicted, we are not going anywhere.
And, yes, I love this school a little more because this is where What the F is and (I sincerely hope) always will be. I will always love this magazine and the people it has allowed me to come to know, whether through their writing (thank you, contributors!) or on e-Board (to Becca, Allie, Hannah G., and Taylor, who are graduating: I’ll miss you and look forward to seeing y’all take over the world). Yes, love is labor. But when you read What the F, I promise it will touch your very hardworking heart.
Yours in feminism and friendship,