Name: Liz O’Donnell
Location: near Boston
How do you define feminism?
Feminism is the belief that women and men deserve equal rights and opportunities, and the actions necessary to make that belief a reality.
When did you first identify as a feminist?
I first identified as a feminist in 1991, although I don’t think I used the label at that time. That was the year of the William Kennedy Smith rape trial and the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court nomination hearings and the first time I really paid attention to how women were portrayed by the media and how victim-blaming was such a standard response to accusations of rape and sexual harassment.
I had also just finished my first year in the work world and in that short period of time had a boss create a fake male editor to list above my name on the masthead of the magazine where I worked and been encouraged to meet with a male advertising client at a bar in order to keep the client happy. It was a defining year for me.
Has your (definition of) feminism changed over time? How?
My definition of feminism is simple and broad so it has remained consistent.
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 don’t know that I would describe what I’ve experienced as resistance necessarily. It’s been more like caution. My feminism has developed as I navigate a fairly mainstream life living in the ‘burbs and working in corporate America. And in those worlds I am often cautioned to tone it down, not get labeled as a troublemaker, pick my battles, etc. It can be frustrating. I see absolutely nothing wrong with advocating for equality but I do understand the need to deliver messages in a way people can hear them and to help people get comfortable with the idea of feminism.
What do you see as the future of feminism?
I see a huge opportunity to take feminism mainstream, remove the “f-word” stigma, and help educate people that gender equality is a positive for all people – socially, politically and economically.