This Is What A Feminist Looks Like: Rachel

Name: Rachel Diroll-Zack
Age: 36
Occupation: Professional procrastinator, frustrated writer, Mama, wife, Domestic Ninja
Location: New Jersey

What Rachel looks like…at least in her own mind!

How do you define feminism? 
To me, feminism isn’t about putting women above men (as you will occasionally hear people claim). It’s about undoing years, nay CENTURIES of women being seen as less-than, or secondary, or weaker, or what have you. It’s about supporting and celebrating women and women’s accomplishments on the same level as men. I once dated a guy who actually believed women were inferior. He would ask “where is the female Shakespeare? Where is the female Einstein?” (…we didn’t date long.) You know where the females were/are? We tend to be the ones rocking babies and wiping butts and kissing boo-boos and making food and teaching our children the very basic of lessons that allow them to grow up to be Shakespeare and Einstein. So, for me, feminism is validation and recognition of the very real work that women have been doing for centuries.

When did you first identify as a feminist? 
I don’t really know. I was raised by atheist freethinkers, and I was never told that I couldn’t do or want or have or be something because I’m a girl. Well, maybe when I was around 10 and my mom pleaded with me to put a shirt on to go outside to play because I wasn’t a boy. Little did she know I would be more or less flat-chested until I was about 25. Anyway, I’m not sure that I can point to a time or an event and go “a ha, that’s it.” I’ve always been this way, you see.

I think my experiences as a stay-at-home mom (OH MY GOD I HATE THAT TERM SO MUCH) have made me even more of a feminist than I otherwise might be. When I was working, there was a very real sense of “go along to get along” with regards to how much I was being paid and the work I was being asked to do. Now, however, I am much more fierce and vocal about what I do and how I feel about it.

Has your (definition of) feminism changed over time? How? 
Oh, sure. When I was younger (teenage years, mostly) it was really a matter of putting on the boots and stomping around, you know? There was a bullheaded, in-your-face style working, definitely. Later on, I learned to listen a little more and yell a little less and it became less about GIRLS FIRST and more about “we’re all people, why are there these discrepancies in the way we’re treated?” That’s when I started to ask questions.

Nowadays, I feel like feminism isn’t so much about women only, but all people who aren’t “first.” Basically, everyone but straight, white dudes needs a little support. Like I said before, we’re all people, so we should all be on the same level. I know in practice that is pretty much impossible, but it would be nice if we could all at least TRY, you know?

Have you ever experienced resistance to identifying as a feminist? If so, why do you think that is and how do you handle it?
In college, I bumped up against some resistance when I pledged a fraternity. The fraternity was co-ed, and we did have a sister sorority (also co-ed), but at the time, their organization was a mess and the women in it were not really the sort of people I wanted to hang out with, so I joined the fraternity instead. Having to explain that to outsiders was sometimes challenging, and having to explain that yes, we considered ourselves “brothers” and not “sisters” was always a lot of fun. In my Women’s Studies courses, that was constantly challenged by ladies who identified as much more radical feminists than I do. But for me, the fact that I even had that choice and made that choice was an expression of my feminism moreso than if I would have done the “normal” thing and pledged a sorority. But you know, feminism is as much about choice as it is anything else, and that was the one point I always tried to make.

Now, I find I struggle with it a lot more. I’m raising a girl, and there are lots of times when I have to stop and think really hard about what I’m doing and why. Is it for her benefit or mine?

What do you see as the future of feminism?
I would like to see feminism disappear, really. It shouldn’t even be a thing that we think about. American society will probably never get anywhere near that ideal, but it would be great if it wasn’t news when a woman runs for President. It would be awesome if there were more women CEOs of major companies, etc. But I don’t see that happening. What I do see is our generation and our children being the ones to say “why?” or “this isn’t fair.” Teaching our kids that everyone is equally valuable and valued is the key thing.

Rachel is an ass-kicking, name-taking Domestic Ninja/Goddess who enjoys knitting, baking bread, playing Tetris, and having Rick Astley dance parties with the kid. She knows all the lyrics to most popular songs from the 1980s, regularly kick ass at Jeopardy, can quote the first 10 seasons of The Simpsons, and has been known to read Beowulf in the original Old English. You can find more about Rachel by visiting her website or following her on Twitter! 

If you would like to participate in this series, please contact me for more details! 

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