Name: Kate Olivieri
Occupation: Equity and Diversity work in University Sector
Location: Far North Coast, NSW
Any other relevant tidbits you’d care to share: Bellydancing policy nerd who glories in qualitative data, books and awesome live music.
How do you define feminism?
Women and men having equal opportunities and the ability to freely take those up in life.
When did you first identify as a feminist?
When I was 17. Before that I’m sure I was raised and schooled with various vague messages of how girls can do anything, but in year 12, I studied art theory and English under two great teachers, both of whom were single mothers incidentally, and I chose to do a unit on women artists, and we studied dystopias and the work of women writers in the English class.
I realised that women’s art was somehow out of the mainstream and I didn’t quite get that. I got it more when we studied The Handmaid’s Tale, Wild Swans and Out of Africa. Once I realised that there was a name for all my strong feelings and thoughts about Women’s Stuff – feminism – I thought, Yes, that’s me!
I have always identified as a feminist since then. Aside from understanding the concerns that many women who identify with other vulnerable groups have (e.g. being of colour, having a disability), I have never identified with the reluctance some women have to identify as feminists,.
Has your (definition of) feminism changed over time? How?
I’ve refined my view over time to be easily stated in a sentence to people who aren’t on board, but the basic definition has always been the same for me. What has changed is that my view of what it applies to has expanded, to pretty much anything ever: paid/unpaid work, agriculture, transportation, being partnered, being single, having kids, not having kids, health, education, war, peace… I have worked in gender in international development, and now work in equity and diversity, and can analyse pretty much any situation for gender issues. I am aiming to be paid to do this on a consulting basis, if anyone needs a gender analysis, please contact me!
Have you ever experienced resistance to identifying as a feminist? If so, why do you think that is and how do you handle it?
Within myself, no, as explained above. I always :worry: that I will get resistance to it. Mostly I find that people are politely interested that I’m so passionate about this, as I’m also passionate about equity issues in general.
What do you see as the future of feminism?
Using equity as a guiding principle is going to be really important in the environmental/resources upheavals of our world. Feminism (racism, ableism…) is needed as a huge part of that.