At what point in your life did you consider yourself a feminist? Was it an event or a process?
I considered myself a feminist in High School. I grew up in a very small, Midwestern town in Wisconsin. Having been gay, I mainly found myself existing in a group of strong women as my main community of friends. When I entered college, I started becoming more politically aware and ended up changing my major from Pre-Med to Women's Studies with an emphasis on women's literature after taking a women's literature course that changed my life. Becoming a feminist was a process of becoming self-aware of not only feminist practice but also my role as a white, cisgendered man in primarily women's spaces. Through discovering the role of a man's place in feminist circles.
Who most influenced your awareness of your feminism?
My grandmothers were my biggest influence in my awareness of feminism. Specifically, my maternal grandmother Gladys Hritsko, having served in the Women's Auxiliary Corps during WWII to raising my mom and her three brothers after the death of my grandfather in a time when the nuclear family ideal was the American ideal. She became a icon in both my local community as well as in my state having been involved in various veterans affairs and policies and serving in statewide appointed roles that were usually held by men. She still, to this day, is the person I go back to the most, for feminist advice.
In what ways has your feminism informed your life choices?
Feminism is more than just information but rather a way of life. Feminism is both breathed and lived daily. It is both a way to empower and change the world and it has influenced my way of educating and activating men to become more involved in feminist causes such as reproductive rights, violence against women, and sexual assault and domestic abuse against women. More importantly, the role of fathers in creating and influencing the lives of their daughters is something, being an uncle, I have taken an interest in most recently.
In what ways do you share your feminism with others?
I share my feminism through activism. While feminism is both a concept, it is not truly implemented until we put that type of energy out in the world through turning both our bodies and our personas into political and social capital.
Describe your vision of a feminist world.
Lately, for me, a feminist world exists in political and social activism. At the local, national and global levels, it is women in positions of leadership such as serving in local, statewide, or nationally elected office to leading organizations, non-profits, and corporations. Through embodying feminist principles and applying them to both our policies, corporate structures and educational principles, I believe that the world will not only be a better place but also we will be able to empower those women and men that have yet to have their feminist awakening, no matter how small or big, it may be.
How I Define Feminism:
Feminism to me is, as Dr. Rosemary Radford Ruether put it, the "affirmation of the full humanity of women."
John Erickson is the Community Events Technician for the City of West Hollywood where he works on special and community events related to women, gender, sexuality, and human rights issues. John is a Ph.D. Candidate in American Religious History at Claremont Graduate University and holds an MA in Women’s Studies in Religion; an MA in Applied Women’s Studies; and a BA in English and Women’s Studies. His areas of focus are women's, gender, and sexuality studies, LGBT history, American religious history, and 20th and 19th-century American women's history. He is a Permanent Contributor to the blog Feminism and Religion, a Non-Fiction Reviewer for Lambda Literary, the leader in LGBT reviews, author interviews, opinions and news since 1989 and the Co-Chair of the Queer Studies in Religion section of the American Academy of Religion's Western Region, the only regional section of the American Academy of Religion that is dedicated to the exploration of queer studies in religion and other relevant fields in the nation. He is currently the President of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh's LGBTQA+ Alumni Association, the Vice- Chair of Public Relation and Social Media for the Stonewall Democratic Club, and President of the Hollywood Chapter of NOW (National Organization for Women). He can be followed on Twitter at @JErickson85.