At what point in your life did you consider yourself a feminist? Was it an event or a process?
Process - I decided not to fix the mistake, when I was accidentally dropped from my Home Economics class when I was a freshman in high school.
Who most influenced your awareness of your feminism?
Dorothy Dinnerstein and Andrea Dworkin
In what ways has your feminism informed your life choices?
I never changed my last name, and I did not have children. I resisted the relentless pressure to do so. I know I am in charge of my own destiny.
In what ways do you share your feminism with others?
Mostly I support women (and men, too) who are struggling to get undergraduate degrees, in a community college setting. I stress the importance of creating supportive communities. I also help women who are struggling with addiction. I listen, I suggest ways of living a sober life.
Describe your vision of a feminist world.
My vision is influenced by Dinnerstein's idea that men should be equally involved in raising children. I believe she was right to emphasize the importance of equally shared child-rearing.
Locally, I would re-organize municipal budgets to fund quality childcare at low cost for all residents. I would use the model of a co-op, so everyone would have to contribute a portion of their time. I think if a resource like this had been available, I might have had a child.
Nationally, I would create legislation to make community college tuition-free for all who wish to attend. I think an educated populace can provide more minds to help solve problems of social justice and to create a fair economic system.
Globally, that's a scale of influence where I honestly would need many peoples' help. But right now, the refugee crisis caused by climate change, terrorism and wars is the single most important issue to confront. So, I would cut the United States spending on nuclear weapons, and re-direct funds to help refugees in the Calais camp in France, and in Greece and Sweden.
I would also try to find a way for the United States to take in more refugees.
Finally, dependency on oil underpins so many of the problems we face in this world, so I would focus locally, nationally and globally on measures that stop climate change.
How I Define Feminism:
A simple answer doesn't seem possible. The most succinct idea I have is that all genders, in a feminist system, are equally valued and equally secure. There is no oppression, and no exploitation. Power is shared, rotated and diffuse. Agency is universal.
Melissa Slattery is an interdisciplinary designer, teacher, curator and artist living in Norwalk, CT. She is also a farmer's market worker, and a marketing and social media specialist. She teaches people how to look at and enjoy art, and how to activate their own creative voices.