What does feminism mean to you?
To me, feminism means equality between everyone regardless of not only gender but also race, class, disability, age, religious belief, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, family status and membership of the travelling community. It means struggling against patriarchal capitalism to build a fairer society where this equality is realised in practical terms.
When did you realise you were a feminist?
About 18 months ago I started reading various feminist blogs and websites. Initially, I was hesitant to identify with the name but I came to realise that I had the same concerns about inequalities that were being expressed online. As many people have said, once you’re aware you can’t become unaware.
I became involved with the Irish Feminist Network one year ago and I have never looked back.
What issue/area is the most important to you?
At the IFN conference in May, we asked people ‘what does a feminist future mean to you?’ and one person wrote ‘State funded community childcare’. At the time, I thought that was a strange answer, but since then I’ve come to realise how much women’s participation in society depends on this. While women still bear the brunt of caring commitments in Ireland, and we don’t have an adequate or affordable childcare system, we can’t talk about equal opportunities and participation. Proper childcare would greatly increase women’s economic and political power.
What do you say to people who say “I’m not a feminist but….”
I guess they’re going to express some feminist sentiment so I would probably agree with that. Then I would ask why they don’t identify as a feminist and hear what they have to say. If the reason is negative stereotyping of feminists I would definitely counter that. If they feel left out of the feminist movement because feminism isn’t addressing issues they feel are important, I would try to find out about these issues and see what I could do to better include these people. I believe the term feminism is a powerful name for the movement against patriarchy, but then again actions matter more than words. If people choose not to label themselves feminists but support the causes, I respect that.
Where do you see the feminist movement going in the future?
I think there are short and long term goals. In the short term, getting legislation for the X case, trying to mitigate and limit harm caused to single parents and those on lower incomes in budget 2013, getting equal marriage, recognition of gender identity, legislation criminalising the buyers of sexual services to name a few. In the long term, I would love to see equal paternity leave, free, safe and legal abortion, ‘state funded community childcare’ and full representation of women and minority groups in the Dáil.