After receiving hundreds of nominations for our Feminist You Should Know contest (and reading tons of inspiring stories which literally kept us awake at night for days), the Feminist Campus team was able to sift through them, sit down, knock our heads together, and decide on ten finalists! This was no easy task: every single nominee was the most amazing person we’d ever met so far in our lives. No lie. Our awe-inspiring crew come from a diversity of backgrounds, universities, regions, and perspectives in the feminist movement – and it’s just not possible for us to choose a winner alone. And that’s where you come in!
Last week, we posted blogs written by each of our stellar finalists about their feminist journeys and experiences. And starting today, the larger Feminist Campus community – that’s you! – can cast a vote for who moved you deeply, inspires you most, or simply has your favorite haircut. You have exactly one week to vote for a winner in our Feminist You Should Know contest using our handy-dandy voting form!
The only rules are that you can only pick one person and you can only vote one time – but don’t fret! Each of our finalists and every nominee will receive a special prize package to honor their contributions to the future of the feminist movement and their local and global communities.
To help refresh your memory and get you feeling bad about how little you’ve done with your life, here’s spotlights from everyone’s essays. Consider it the SPARK notes for the contest.
Editor’s Note: don’t forget to share these posts widely and tweet about the contest with #FYSK2013 to help make our nominees famous! And feel free to comment on the finalist posts and this very one to tell folks how you’re feeling and why they should vote for your favorite feminist!
I’m a feminist because I started rocking thick braids before Hollywood declared it was beautiful.
I remember how my lungs filled with hope, how my xicana locks of hair felt fabulous, and the twinkle I got in my eyes the day I realized feminism was a state of being – not a label. I’m lucky, I know. Maybe the moment is so clear because feminism didn’t come into my life typed on paper and wrapped in theory. My anthology started right where I began – with the powerhouse mujeres in my life and their love of homemade beans, rice, and tacos (in that delicious order).
My activism formally began last year when I decided that body positivity was not addressed enough on my college campus. I’ve been severely bullied for being fat my entire life, including my time in college. I decided to take on the task of creating a positive space for people to feel comfortable about their bodies and their right to exist and present themselves freely. My mission is to show the world that everyone is worthy of respect regardless of what they look like by providing a platform for body positivity and to engage political discourse surrounding beauty standards, bodily autonomy, gender awareness and cis-hetero patriarchal values.
After attending to the GlobeMed National Summit, I felt as though I wasn’t supposed to go to New Zealand for study abroad, which I was set to push off for in less than 3 months. I realized I wanted my study abroad experience to be learning first hand about the topics I had been studying about in my large lecture halls. I emailed several study abroad programs, as all of the deadlines had passed, and told them of my epiphany. One program still had openings, Kenya: Community Development and Health.
I got my Malaria pills, calmed my worried mother and set off for the greatest adventure of my life.
The truth of the matter is that young people DO care – but our society invalidates them by telling them they’re too young to understand or too young to matter. When you give young folks a platform to speak out against injustice, what they have to say will surprise you. Empowering our youth is empowering our future. I know: I’ve seen young girls give speeches that move crowds to tears, I’ve gazed at the art of young artists that describes their struggles in ways they’ll never be able to articulate with words, and I’ve listened to the ideas of young people that I know will one day change the world. My oh my am I proud to stand with them. It gives me hope knowing the future of feminism belongs to my fellow millennials. I know we can be the change we want to see in the world. I see it every day. I see the evidence not only in others, but in myself as well. I was able to organize a local action in an international movement, create a safe space for feminist discussion in my high school, and turn that safe space into a non-profit organization that now has multiple branches – and I did it all within a year before I was a legal adult.
I never meant to be a feminist. Or, I suppose I was never meant to be a feminist.
I grew up as a missionary kid and a pastor’s kid (and niece, and granddaughter) in a more conservative Christian denomination – and then moved to a small town of less than 2,000 people. I would never wish away my upbringing. I think that the lessons I learned from going to church every week for 18 years, frequently more than once a week, and growing up hyper-aware that there are people in this world who need the support of other people desperately are a part of what gives me the strong desire to do good and create change in this world. Unfortunately, the denomination that I grew up in is not accepting of queer identities and that is how I identify. I also wouldn’t wish my queer identity away for the world. It is the intersection of being a queer woman who was raised deep in the Church that gives me, strength to do this work. I got involved in the social justice movement because I was a queer kid in a corn field with limited access to resources and I want to do everything that I can to make sure that there is never another kid in my position.
This journey started with Homa and the seed she planted inside me to ensure that I fought against the system of inequality, the institutionalized sexism, and the social norms that caused so many women like her to suffer. People call me crazy sometimes because I dedicate almost all of my time to the feminist cause. I guess you can say I drink that feminist Kool-Aid. What I keep in mind is that I’m relatively lucky. As a woman in the Western world, I have the freedom to dream. I have the freedom to plan my life. I have the freedom to aspire to something greater than myself. This freedom has meaning because my mother is the embodiment of the women who don’t have the privilege of these freedoms. Through my work, I am bringing these issues to light. I am giving a voice to these muted women and light to their shadowed faces. These are the stories that need to be heard. I have given you one, but can you imagine how many others are waiting for their moment?
It was a desire to provide women’s healthcare that helped me push beyond my own internalization that science was “too hard” for me. If anyone would have told me I would pursue a career as a health care provider I would have laughed. “I’m terrible at science,” I would have told them. “I can’t do that.” I hope to find ways to engage younger girls and women so that others might not internalize that science is just “too hard.” I’m thankful everyday to the women I work with because it is through a passion for women’s health that I overcame my fear of studying science…
I feel so thankful that I have found such a true passion in women’s health – or rather, that it found me. When I provide a woman with a respectful and empowering annual exam or when I’m able to answer sexual health questions with openness, honesty, and compassion I know I couldn’t do anything else. Working in women’s health is a gift; it’s fulfilling and joyful (and sometimes enraging). I work with patients who come from many different backgrounds, and I’m thankful for my upbringing in an anti-racist, social justice oriented community. Those roots are always present in the care I provide for patients. Those roots keep me aware that every woman’s life has its own complex context of culture, relationships and priorities. What I can offer to my fellow students on campus and the women we serve is information without judgment, compassionate listening ears, and willing hands intent on quality care.
Similar to the manner in which the Civil Rights movement marginalized women, the feminist movement in America was historically (and is, at times, contemporarily) riddled with the exclusion of the experiences and needs of black, brown and otherwise marginalized women. Through academic research and personal experiences, I came to the painful realization that feminism, and in effect the term “feminist” itself, was not something that was originally constructed as a space or empowerment tool for women like me. Rather than allowing this to discourage me from the movement, it made me more passionate about ensuring that the ideals of feminism were fought for on behalf of all women. Embracing the term became a form of activism in itself, a demand that if I was to claim the title as I had been encouraged to do, then the movement needed to similarly claim me and my experiences of womanhood as well. This is why I now embrace the term feminist and proudly attach it to the various initiatives that I take part on in campus and around New Orleans.
There is much to be gained by our advocating for feminism in this country. The flame has been slowly burning since the era of the second-wavers and it is our time to reignite that passion. We have to stand up and show that feminism is for everybody: it is for equality, and it is what has the potential to heal a world that has been ridden with anger, revenge, and crimes against humanity. We need to unite and spread the message of feminism the same way pebbles make waves when landing in a pond. These newfound ripples need to start from somewhere. It might as well be us. I want it to be us. I believe in our collective potential to be the next wave of feminists who change the world.
Who’s with me?
In the field of game design we often talk about the affordance games have to allow players to fail safely and therefore to rehearse for success. However, if a game doesn’t question conventional definitions of success and failure, then how could it possibly extend consciousness? “Playing” with these definitions is one way, I believe, that a game can invite a player to reflect upon her own place in the world and its interdependent systems, as well as upon her behavior, assumptions, and societal norms. It is when the possibility to question and redefine success and failure is crafted that games and play can most directly address the power gap between those who experience oppression and those who hold greater social privileges.