Occupation: Photo Editor
Location: NJ, USA
How do you define feminism?
What’s the Rebecca West quote that’s often on t-shirts? “People call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat or a prostitute.” Great sentiment but maybe it oversimplifies the movement and its goals. My guess is that Ann Coulter and Phyllis Schlafly don’t believe themselves to be either doormats or prostitutes and they’re not feminists, in my opinion. So feminism is not only the belief that all genders have equal strength, but also the wish for and work towards gender equality. I’m not saying we all must be activists, but as feminists we should at least support (with $ and good vibes) the work of those who are (and criticize the work of those who are not).
When did you first identify as a feminist?
Like many, at college, where I first learned the term. I hope students today learn about feminism earlier than I did! Growing up I mangled any Barbie given to me, hated wearing skirts and hung out with a lot of boys, equating anything ‘girly’ with lame or frivolous. That ‘girly’ can be wonderful was another lesson learned at college, as I promptly discovered the awesomeness of Riot Grrrl, Bust Magazine, Judy Chicago, Hello Kitty, glitter nail polish, etc. etc. etc.
Has your (definition of) feminism changed over time? How? Since becoming the mother of a girl my focus and the intensity have changed. I see the future through her future. I want her to love herself, have any opportunity available, and be a strong, productive member of a strong, productive society. Every night before we put her to bed we remind her of all her family and friends that love her and how she’s very lucky, smart, strong, brave, kind, silly, cool, and, yes, beautiful. All of those attributes are true and she must absorb it, because there’s so much out there to try to convince her otherwise. The goal for myself is to not only tell her but to show her – to trust her and to be a good example.
Have you ever experienced resistance to identifying as a feminist? If so, why do you think that is and how do you handle it?
Nothing hardcore, thankfully. Those important to me feel the same way, even if they’re not as involved or outspoken. Occasionally I may encounter someone online or in real life who thinks I’m prude and all I want is for all men to stop having fun. I chalk it up to male privilege, make my position, tell a dirty joke and try not to get too steamed. I’ve learned that to argue with those with closed ears just makes me scream louder, and then I risk losing my voice.
What do you see as the future of feminism?
I’m optimistic that we can push past (and win!) these same old battles currently rattling around – heath care funding, access to birth control and abortion, name-calling, marriage equality – and seriously focus on education. Media literacy should be so vital to every lesson any kid will ever learn in or out of every school. Because of instant access to information, gender equality issues around the world will impact us in Western culture so much more rapidly. Some feminists surely think – how can we spend so much energy on the rude words of a has-been radio show host while horrid practices like female genital mutilation exist in parts of Africa? Sometimes I pick up Ms. Magazine and my brain explodes – I can’t worry about all of this! The future of feminism is working together, always seeing the road ahead and making sure feminists are there to greet those that lag behind.
Nicole is a mama, wife, daughter, friend, feminist, photographer, dog lover, music fiend, Jersey girl, Pee Wee Herman fan, ice cream gourmet. She infrequently blogs and more frequently reads blogs, books, magazines, news articles, signs, anything.
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