It’s time to Meet The Team! In this series, the FMF Campus Organizers will talk a little bit about ourselves and also give you valuable organizing advice that we’ve picked up along our ways. Oh, and we’ll show you lots of photos of ourselves. Because that’s important.
I’ve always been a journalist. I mean that almost literally. At the tender age of six I began writing up weekly “newspapers” for my immediate family: they included such titillating topics as the score of the Packer game or my brother’s new bowl cut. A few years later, I’d be entering stories into writing competitions, and by eighth grade, I’d know that I wanted to major in journalism in college. Which, I did.
I graduated last month from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Throughout college I worked in all facets of university media (school paper, radio show, broadcast TV show, documentary film-making course, even the university’s news bureau), the city paper, and the region’s arts and culture magazine. I loved all the writing, editing, and know-it-all-ness that came with working in the news industry. The one thing I didn’t love, though, was my inability to articulate my own opinion. That’s where feminism came in.
I’d always aligned with the ideals of feminism but never had a formal name for it until early college, when I enrolled in my first women’s and gender studies class. It was an entry-level course, and I remember being among one of the very few students in a crowded lecture hall who raised her hand when our professor asked, “Who here identifies as a feminist?”
Slowly, the stories and articles I chose to write gravitated toward topics on social justice issues. I researched and published a feature story and accompanying podcast on women’s involvement in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. I co-directed and produced a short documentary on how the Defense of Marriage Act negatively affected same-sex couples. I joined a group of social workers on a trip to the Appalachian region to research poverty in the area. Quickly, every opinion piece I’d pitch to my student newspaper had some glaringly feminist angle – respecting buffer zones outside abortion provider clinics, or calling out victim-blamey rape culture, or discussing every woman’s right to birth control access. Eventually, my student newspaper actually put a ban on any further stories that included the topic of feminism. So, I took my writing skills elsewhere.
I began blogging and freelancing for progressive and social justice-centric sites like Stop Street Harassment and Generation Progress. I’d finally realized what I’m sure everyone around me anticipated I’d eventually figure out: I could combine my journalistic abilities with my passion for feminism. I could do both.
I subtitled this piece “How to do what you love AND love what you do,” and this is what I mean by that: I love journalism. I love writing and editing, reporting and researching. I love conducting interviews and asking questions. I am a journalist; it’s a huge part of my identity. This is how I do what I love. How I love what I do is a little different: it’s how I use my skills and abilities for the promotion of a cause I’m passionate about. That cause, of course, is the feminist movement.
I’ve only been at my new job for a week now, but already I know it’s exactly what I’m supposed to be doing at this point in my life. I’m doing what I love – journalism – and I love what I do – feminism. I’ve found a career that unites the two, and I encourage other college feminists to do the same. Are you studying business? Choose to work for a company that not only employs but empowers women around the world. Interested in political science? Work on campaigns that feature feminist messaging and candidates that will fight for feminist causes. Majoring in theatre or film? Choose projects with complex, realistic portrayals of women and minorities. Interested in nursing or a medical career? Take a job at an organization that cares about women’s health. Are you majoring in marketing or advertising? Pitch ad campaigns that move beyond tired tropes like using sexualized women to sell domain names or using boring white middle class families smiling over their breakfast to sell cereal.
Whatever it is that you do, whatever it is that you love, tailor it to support a feminist cause. Make your interests your life’s work and your life’s work feminism. Do what you love and love what you do. This is how we change the world.
You can reach Taylor at tkuether [at] feminist.org. Find her tweetin’ about feminism at @FeministCampus.