At what point in your life did you consider yourself a feminist? Was it an event or a process?
It was a process; I was raised, for the most part, by my mother--a divorced mom at a time when that was rare--and my older sister, who showered me with love and independence even though she didn't ask for the task. Coming to see how their strength helped me be a better man was something that happened over time, but mostly in high school, where students are often at their most insecure and willing to tear down what they don't understand. I spent a lot of time watching how others did that--and how I sometimes stumbled into doing the same thing--before I realized that girls (and women) were more often tolerant of differences even though they were treated like second-class citizens. That realization led to understanding that change is always in our hands.
Who most influenced your awareness of your feminism?
My mother; she had Ms. Magazine in the house, and she started her own business; she was courageous even when--especially when--she doubted herself, and she taught each of us to respect ourselves and each other.
In what ways has your feminism informed your life choices?
I stumbled into working at an all-girls school, but once I saw the possibilities inherent in teaching a classroom full of girls that they were capable of *anything* without a single boy in the room, I was hooked.
In what ways do you share your feminism with others?
In every way I can. I raise my children (2 boys and a girl) to not just be good people, but to show others what is right in terms of how we respect our own best selves and the essential humanity of others.
Describe your vision of a feminist world.
Equality in every sense - wages and paid maternity/paternity leave are the easy ones (which is why it's particularly disheartening that we can't get to that point); a sense of the shared humanity that should allow us to never question whether rape is anything other than the rapist's fault; a sense that no one is served by silencing anyone, explicitly or implicitly; a sense that different intersectional feminist concerns will require different solutions, and that it's work we'll never be done doing--it should be part of the joy of life.
How I Define Feminism:
“A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men.” - Gloria Steinem.
That's in a more standard definition form, but one of my favorite quotations *about* feminism is this:
"Feminism has fought no wars. It has killed no opponents. It has set up no concentration camps, starved no enemies, practiced no cruelties. Its battles have been for education, for the vote, for better working conditions.. for safety on the streets... for child care, for social welfare...for rape crisis centers, women's refuges, reforms in the law." (If someone says) 'Oh, I'm not a feminist,' (I ask) 'Why? What's your problem?'" - Dale Spender, author of For the Record: The Making & Meaning of Feminist Knowledge, 1985
I’ve been working in education for 14 years--I teach at an all-girls private school and helped found an all-girls public middle charter school--and I came to teaching from the film and advertising industry, of all places. That’s been an ideal background—teaching young women to look closely at what’s being ‘sold’ to them feels to me an essential skill: we can find the compelling language an author is using to sell the story, or to draw the reader into a character’s experience; we can break down the way in which a character’s language reflects the cultural biases of the society in which the character lives.
The words, then, are the coin of the realm—and helping students to peel back the layers of meaning embedded in whatever words their intuition draws them toward—that’s what makes my day.