This is the 1st post in my “This Is What A Feminist Looks Like” series. If you would like to participate, please get in touch!
Name: Tara Sullivan
Location: Cape Cod
How do you define feminism?
To me feminism is: I’m as good as he is and so is she. It’s breaking down stereotypes. It’s tiling the bathroom myself. It’s playing hockey instead of figure skating. It’s defending the reproductive rights of all women. It’s teaching my daughter that she can be anything she wants. It’s not settling for less.
When did you first identify as a feminist?
I was always a “tomboy”. I always preferred catching snakes to playing dolls, but I think somewhere between grades 10 and 11 I started to really grasp the concept and identify as a feminist. I cut off all my hair. I stopped shaving (although partly because I was also boycotting gillette at the time). The riot grrrl movement taught me a lot. I owe a lot of my early education in feminism to Kathleen Hanna. Hah.
Has your (definition of) feminism changed over time?
Not really to tell you the truth. I think the only thing that has changed is how radical I am about it externally, if that makes any sense. What I mean is that it’s no longer plastered on my car or scrawled on my hand with sharpie like when I was younger. I am still just as passionate about it, but it’s not like that surge when you first identify and just want to scream it from the rooftops.
Have you ever experienced resistance to identifying as a feminist? If so, why do you think that is and how do you handle it?
I’ve been incredibly lucky for the most part. I sometimes attribute that to living in a blue state, but I don’t know if that’s really true. I think resistance to feminism is fear based. The fear of losing power, of losing control. I have a very hard time trying to wrap my brain around women who are resistant to it. I have a whole host of thoughts on the subject, but I won’t go into it here because I get very upset and nothing I say about that type of woman will be very flattering. At best I think they assume feminists are angry “man haters” which is something I can only roll my eyes and scoff at.
The only person I can really think of who had that whole “Women belong in the kitchen” outlook was an old boss of mind. I handled it by getting into huge debates with him on a weekly if not daily basis. I’m not sure it was worth it, since he’s still just as misogynistic as ever, but I couldn’t keep my mouth shut. In the end I quit in a very satisfying way, but I should have done it sooner.
What do you see as the future of feminism?
I want to say I see us still making progress. I would LOVE to turn the radio on and not hear a bunch of men objectifying women. I would love for a woman to make as much as a man for the same position. And the optimistic part of me thinks that the majority of us are on that track, but then there is this entire backwards movement going on in our country right now. This giant backlash against making any progress as far as human rights are concerned and I worry that we are outnumbered. I worry that we are sliding backwards down the hill we fought so hard to climb. I worry that we’re heading for a future much like the movie “Idiocracy”. My hope is that we continue to make progress. That feminists will raise feminists and we just keep marching forward until it’s just the norm, until we don’t need to label ourselves as anything.
Tara Sullivan lives on Cape Cod with her husband, amazing daughter and two adorable dogs. Aside from her family and photography she loves vinyl records, typewriters, vintage cameras, her ukulele, starting to write a novel every year and never finishing it, The Clash, robots, her old English 3-speed bicycles, the library, baking, Jeopardy, NPR, eating locally, and apple products.
You can find Tara all over the interwebz: