Feminism. Everyone knows her. Everyone talks about her. She’s been on the cover of TIME magazine three times now. Yet to many people she’s still the other-other ‘F’ word.
I hadn’t met Feminism before, but we had arranged to meet at her local coffee shop. When she walked in, I instantly knew it was her. Wearing jeans and a bespoke The Future is Female t-shirt, this Harvard Alumni and future Nobel Peace Prize laureate, smiled warmly at the barista and ordered her usual.
Within one minute of talking with Feminism, I felt like I’d known her for years and I just couldn’t fathom how some people just didn’t get her, or worse still, how some people outright hated her!
American author and social activist, Gloria Jean Watkins – better known as Bell Hooks – described Feminism as being “for everybody”. British actress and activist Emma Watson described her as “equality: politically, culturally, socially and economically”.
Yet, despite the endorsements and everything that Feminism has achieved over the years, she's still not everyone’s cup of tea (and she knows it). However, she is here to try and change people’s preconceived misconceptions . . .
JL: So, strictly speaking, how do you define yourself?
Feminism: Oh where to begin! Officially, I guess you’d say I am a range of ideologies, as well as political and social movements, that share the goal of defining, establishing, and achieving equality of the sexes. However there is so much more to me these days.
Perhaps 100 years ago I was mainly just known for advocating for women's rights and equality between the sexes. Yet now I am focused on also understanding how women's overlapping identities — including race, class, ethnicity, religion and sexual orientation — impact the way they experience oppression and discrimination, i.e. Intersectional Feminism.
JL: Let’s talk achievements. Give me a quick rundown . . .
Feminism: Well, among many other things, I have resulted in women having rights to an education, to vote, to work and to have equal rights within marriage. All good things!
In fact, I’ve also ensured reproductive rights for women (including access to contraceptives and abortion), and protected women and girls from rape, sexual harassment, and domestic violence. More good things, no? I am pretty awesome #sorrynotsorry.
JL: Many women say you’re not for them. What do you think of that?
Feminism: Hey, to each their own! However in essence, any woman who is educated, who works, who votes, who enjoys equality in her relationships, and who uses contraception, is essentially reaping the benefits of my work and practicing feminism, so . . .
JL: Okay so this might be the elephant in the room: but do you hate men?
Feminism: What? No way! I have many incredible relationships with many amazing men – Egalitarianism, Humanism – great guys (not Populism though – hate that dude).
But anyway, I don’t yell at each man I see for possessing a penis (please ladies, only yell at the ones you know, tee hee). The notion that I am a man-hater is as archaic as the idea that atheism has something to do with devil-worshipping.
I am not about counterproductively pushing agendas – yet I am all about eliminating the guise of equality that cloaks us all.
I realise I can’t be all things to all people. I guess I just want people to understand who I am, as the messages are often really blurred. I am real. I exist. So you need to determine what I mean to you and get involved.
JL: Following from the above, are you only focused on equality between the sexes?
Feminism: Hell no. Over the years I have grown to be so much more. Basically, I represent the interests of anyone who is discriminated against or who has been marginalised in their own societies.
Being marginalised means you’ve been negatively singled out due to something out of your control – such as your gender, your race, your religion, your skin colour, your sexual preference or by your non-conformity to traditional gender roles.
So now, in 2018, I am about supporting all these people and indeed anyone who’s not automatically given social, economic and political equality.
JL: What about women who don’t feel marginalised? Should they believe in you?
Feminism: Absolutely. Sure, not every women feels marginalised every day - which is a good thing! However it is safe to say that almost every woman on earth has at one point been discriminated against because she is female. And I am sure it made her feel undervalued and unimportant.
To the women out there who do not feel marginalised and feel empowered as a woman, I am so happy for you! I am delighted that you feel the value, respect and elevation you well deserve.
It is these very feelings of self-worth and self-confidence that are the end goals for all women - and this is possible if I am on the agenda of those in a privileged positions.
I feel strong and empowered as a woman – and this feeling of empowerment should be felt by every person – woman, man; black, white; gay, straight.
JL: How do you want little girls to feel about you?
Feminism: It’s quite simple. I want young girls to believe they are Moana – not just Sleeping Beauty.
JL: And what about the little boys. What do you want them and their parents to think about you?
Feminism: I want the little boys out there to know its totally okay to cry. Or to like pink, for god's sake. It doesn’t make you any less of a person just because you are a boy! By God, if some of the monsters in history had had a good cry when they were eight years old, we'd be living in a very different world (know what I'm saying, Hilter?).
JL: Who’s your all-time favourite fan?
Feminism: The Notorious RBG, i.e. Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Championing gender equality her whole life, this extraordinary woman sums things up perfectly:
"When I’m sometimes asked when will there be enough (women on the Supreme Court), and I say 'When there are nine,' people are shocked! But there’s been nine men, and nobody ever raised a question about that."
We asked Feminism, THE 12:
Feminism (I’m like Cher – no time for a last name)
Paris in the 60s
Define your personal style in three words:
Unafraid, undeniable and unbreakable!
Oh, so many! Gloria Steimen, Hélène Cixous, Germaine Greer . . .
Words to live by:
“Know what? Bitches get stuff done.” – Tina Fey
What is your favourite aspect of your life?:
Anticipating the future
Three people you want at your dinner party (and why):
My girl, RBG for her sheer brilliance, Obama for his meritorious swag, and @WeFuckingHateDonaldTrump on Instagram for keeping it real
Pfff I’ll drink anything!!
Coyote Ugly . . . I kid, I kid! Split vote between The Color Purple and L'Opéra-Mouffe
Three things always found in your handbag:
A signed copy of A Room of One's Own (side bar: Virginia was one woke lady), my personal journal on intersectional feminism and a bloody good red lipstick
When you're not working, we'll find you . . .
Hanging with my homeboy, Egalitarianism
And lastly, what is your advice for someone looking to improve their personal style?
Political convictions are the new black