So yesterday our wonderful online editor, Audrey Ellard Walsh launched ‘The F Word and You‘ a new onsite campaign where we ask you to tell us what you think of the infamous f word. We’ll be posting them up over the next few weeks – if anyone wants to get in on the action just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. (We’re also going to look at an option of being able to submit your responses directly on the site – it might take us a while though!)
What does feminism mean to you?
Feminism to me means campaigning against the injustices faced by women in the world today. It means accepting that genders are different and trying to fit women into a patriarchal world means women suffer. To me feminism imagines a new way of working in the world where men and women are both different and equal.
When did you realise you were a feminist?
When I worked in USI. All through school and college I’d been in all female environments and feminism had never really been something I thought about. Going into a male dominated political environment, I began to experience different things that made me realise maybe all was not as hunky dory (pun intended) as I previously thought. Around the same time I also got to meet some very strong feminists and I think they really helped me explore my thoughts on feminism. After I realised I was actually a feminist I was really nervous about telling people but then after a while I realised the sky wouldn’t fall in if the world knew and the rest as they say is history. Once you see the world through a feminist lens, there is no going back.
What issue/area is the most important to you?
Sexual Health and Reproductive Rights, especially access to abortion, is the issue that is very important to me given the current human rights abuse that is the abortion situation in Ireland. More women in politics is also a big campaign for me. The other areas I take an interest in are body issues and sexual violence/rape culture and marriage equality. (Sorry Audrey, I know you probably only want one but I couldn’t pick one!)
What do you say to people who say “I’m not a feminist but….”
I used to be one of those people so I can understand where people are coming from when they say it. And it’s by far the most common question/response I’ve been asked since we started Cork Feminsta. Feminism and what it means to people is a very personal thing. I usually describe the work and campaigns I get involved in and ask if they sound like the awful exaggerated stereotypes people associate with feminism and 10 times out of 10, whoever I’m talking to completely agrees with me on the substantive issues so I try to focus on that rather than labels. Having said that, I do think the sheer prevalence of this discussion really hinders the movement from moving forward because people are so caught up on what it should be called.
Where do you see the feminist movement going in the future?
It’s been absolutely thrilling and exciting to be a part of the recent grass roots explosion of feminist activism in Ireland. Long may it continue! If there was one thing I would love to see happen – I would love to see a march through Dublin of thousands and thousands of feminists and activists – a march simply to say women and womens equality are important to Irish society and to send that hugely powerful message to Government.