Name: Jessica Douglas-Monks
Occupation: Mother and psychology student
Location: Victoria, Australia
Any other relevant tidbits you’d care to share: I have been with my husband since we were 14, got engaged at 18 and married at 22. It hasn’t always been a picnic, don’t get me wrong, but it has been worth it
How do you define feminism?
I think feminism is a deeply personal thing. I do think, however, that there is a basic level of feminism where we believe that women and men (and all who fall in between) should exist with equal rights. We may have some physical differences that are undeniable, but we should not be categorized or limited by them, our rights and opportunities as human beings should be equal, in all areas.
When did you first identify as a feminist?
I think from a very early age I identified as a feminist. Unfortunately, I let a bit of social and media pressure get in the way of it for quite a while and only really rediscovered my feminist identity when I had my daughter in June 2011. Since I actually came to the realisation that I am a feminist, it’s like my eyes and ears have been opened, I’m noticing so, so many things all around me that I never did for a long time.
Has your (definition of) feminism changed over time? How?
I think initially I had it right. As a child, I just thought “girls can do what boys can do, and boys can do what girls can do.” No big deal, huh? Then I guess I fell for the straw feminist idea that is often thrown about in the media and so I did what I could to distance myself from the idea of feminism. I would even say “I’m not a feminist, but…”
Now I believe what I did when I was young again. We might have some physical differences, but they are small. We all deserve to be treated equally as human beings, end of story, For me, it isn’t a complicated ideal, and I would like to keep it that way.
Have you ever experienced resistance to identifying as a feminist? If so, why do you think that is and how do you handle it?
Yeah, nothing major, just the usual, “get back in the kitchen HAR HAR HAR” crap. As a kid is used to make me furious, which is why people used to say it I think, not necessarily because they believed it, but because it was amusing to get a rise out of me.
To be honest, I’ve experienced more resistance from people when approaching the subject of gender neutral parenting/teaching and LGBT rights than I have with feminism. I used to be someone who would fly off the handle and get in your face when you disagreed with me but I’ve grown out of that. If people are rude to me regarding my views, I will generally give them what for, but mostly I’m more respectful and figure that I’m comfortable with the way I feel, and how I’m raising my daughter, if they have an issue, it is their issue, they have to deal with it. Don’t worry though, if things get really out of hand, I still sometimes rise to the occasion
What do you see as the future of feminism?
That’s a tough one! I think that while we still experience sexism in the current era for sure, there are more people raising their kids out there to be aware of the issues these days, so fingers crossed, we are raising a whole new generation of feminists!
Like I’ve stated, I’m all about equality. I want to see equality for all people, men, women, trans people, gay people, black, white, red, purple, you name it, I want to see it. I am very mindful of raising my daughter and any future children to be aware of feminism, and to challenging the gender binaries, without shoving it down their throats and making my issues, their issues.
I’m going to raise them with the appropriate language and discussions, but not make up their minds for them, or use them as poster children for my own views. If my daughter wants to wear pink every day for a year (while it will kill me) I will allow it, because it is HER choice, not mine. If my son doesn’t want to play with dolls, I will not insist that he does just so I can look like a good gender neutral parent. It’s all about balance, and choice. THAT is what I want my kids to know about feminism and equality.
You can read more form Jessica in her guest post over at The Feminist Breeder.
If you would like to participate in this series, please contact me for more details!