Name: Misty Nelson
Occupation: Currently unemployed, but I have a Bachelor’s in Environmental Biology and a Master’s in Marine Science
Location: Missoula, Montana
|Misty & her tall, dark, handsome fellow!|
How do you define feminism?
Well, I could list a number of bumper stickers that I love that deal with this exact issue…but in my own words, I guess feminism is just a fundamental belief that women should be entitled to the same opportunities, privileges and freedoms that men are. Not to say that men and women are the same – we are most definitely not! – but having a vagina shouldn’t be a limiting factor in terms of what a person wants to do with their life. Beyond that, there is a pretty wide range of activism levels – I consider myself a pretty outspoken advocate of equality in all things (race, gender, sexuality, etc., etc., etc.). While I don’t expect all feminists to be as vocal about their beliefs as I am, in order to be a ‘true’ feminist, a person (and feminists don’t necessarily have to be women!) must live their life along these lines – you can’t say you think one thing, and then vote for people/things that go against those beliefs; likewise, women who have achieved success or popularity by exploiting other women in any way are traitors. For the record: Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann are NOT a feminists.
When did you first identify as a feminist?
I’m pretty sure I’ve always been one – I was always kind of a tomboy who liked to play dress-up once in a while. Still am, for that matter 🙂 I can’t think of a single turning point when I said “Hey, you know what? I’m going to become a feminist!” I was raised in a household that gave me the freedom to be whoever I wanted to be – whether it was entertaining dreams of becoming a hairdresser, waitress, biologist, firefighter, whatever, and all I ever felt was love, support, and encouragement to do whatever tickled my fancy. It’s been a very eye-opening experience to grow up, get out of that bubble into the real world, and realize that the majority of women on the planet don’t exist in that same plane. So I guess I was born a feminist, and have just become more of one over time!
Has your (definition of) feminism changed over time? How?
I think as I have gotten older, I’ve learned to embrace my femininity more. To recognize that you can still be a strong, capable, intelligent, educated and opinionated person…and at the same time be sexy, emotional, nurturing, and fragile. It’s an interesting parallel (or duality perhaps) that the more of the world I see, and the more involved in women’s issues I get, and the more outspoken I’ve become, the more I feel compelled to cultivate and love my own womanliness.
Have you ever experienced resistance to identifying as a feminist? If so, why do you think that is and how do you handle it?
Never. I think there are ‘feminists’ out there who give feminists a bad name, but I like to think that I’m counterbalancing that by being a feminist that doesn’t hate men, or feel threatened by my place in the world, or complain about how unfair it all is. I’ve done a lot of things that could be considered traditionally ‘male’ activities – fighting forest fires, field biology, competing in martial arts, rock climbing, etc. – and I excelled in all of them. I think it’s always easier to recruit people to a new way of thinking by walking the walk, talking the talk, and just being a good person in the process.
What do you see as the future of feminism?
Well, I hate to say it, but there is still such a long way to go. The feminist movement will not have been successful until there is global balance when it comes to gender. I realize that we’ll probably never get to a place where women are no longer victims, but we should strive towards it regardless. I love to imagine a world where women aren’t raped, abused or mistreated; where cultures, religions, and governments treat all humans with equal respect and dignity, regardless of their genitalia, appearance, or beliefs; where young girls and old women alike don’t feel pressure to be anything but the natural beauties that they are.
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