Inspired by a conversation on twitter, I am beginning a series of interviews with women about their feminism. I’m hoping that other women will find our various paths to feminism interesting and we might also take strength from and pride in our stories. If you would like to take part please leave a message here or send a direct message to@sueveneer on twitter.
Thanks to Jayne for the first interview.
1. At what point in your life did you start to understand that you were a feminist?
My feminist awakening began nearly a year ago; this was when I began to call myself a feminist, but looking back, the roots of this awakening go much, much further back. For me, joining Twitter was absolutely integral to my journey to Feminism. The people who I interact with in real life aren’t particularly political and Feminism as a concept doesn’t really touch their lives. Twitter is a unique space where you can connect with people who you wouldn’t normally have an opportunity to connect with. For me it’s been an invaluable resource in discussing feminist issues, being pointed in the right direction for reading materials, and also having access to a world of feminist blogs that I didn’t even know existed. For the first time in my life I’ve been able to actually articulate my own oppression, which until recently had just been a long-standing feeling of injustice that – while I was aware it was wrong – I had no point of reference for nor affirmation from others.
2. What is the focus of your feminism and how has this shifted over time?
I’ve come into the Feminist movement at a time when Feminism is a popular concept; albeit a particular type of feminism. I don’t identify with this “brand” of feminism at all; my focus is on dismantling patriarchal control. I don’t support the objectification of women nor do I support the sex trade. I’m repelled and feel betrayed by any feminism that supports these things. I do not support a feminism that prioritises choice and agency over the lives of every other woman. I suppose I identify most with Radical Feminism; this is true feminism for me; it is the only analysis that seeks to liberate all women and action broad change. The more I’ve discussed feminist issues and the more I’ve read, the more radical I’ve become.
3. How has feminism affected your life/relationships/career etc?
I’m still at the beginning of my feminist journey so change has been fairly slow. Already I’ve noticed that to be a feminist is to invite conflict; very few people in my social circles grapple with the issues that I do. There is an apathetic acceptance of things being the way they are, and I’ve found people are exasperated by my attempts to highlight women’s oppression. I’m a bit of a figure of fun to some of my friends, who often raise their eye-brows mockingly whenever I bring up a feminist issue, as if to say, “here she goes again.” I am unrepentant though. I recognise it for the backlash that it is.
On a positive note, It’s really given a focus for how I want to parent my children, especially my daughters. I’m proud to be a feminist role model for them.
4. What are your hopes and fears for feminism?
My biggest fear is that Radical Feminists will continue to be demonised and misunderstood. I see this happening all over already and it seems to be getting worse. My hope is that more young women will embrace radical feminist analysis, and see it for the truly intersectional movement that it is; so many people are just plain confused about what it stands for. I hope that women will stop falling for the lie that objectification and commodification is ok, just so long as you choose it. Finally, I hope that we can re-start the conversation about gender without being labelled bigots. I would like people to understand that gender is a harmful concept, based on damaging stereotypes, not a civil liberty that needs protecting.
5. Who inspires your feminism?
Mainly, the fabulous women on Twitter. There really are some gifted, intelligent and brave women on there, sharing loads of ideas and writing wonderful blogs. I have had the privilege of meeting some of these women in real life and they are all brilliant feminists.
6. If you could recommend one book or film to a young woman what would it be and why?
The first feminist book I ever read was Natasha Walter’s “Living Dolls – The return of Sexism.” To a woman of my age, who has been raised to believe that pole-dancing and glamour modelling is empowering, this book was a satisfying read. After that, I wanted to read about the history of Feminism and “Women of the Revolution – Forty Years of Feminism” by Kira Cochrane. This got me really excited about the Feminist movement and made me want to learn more. Sorry, that’s two books…