At what point in your life did you consider yourself a feminist? Was it an event or a process?
I have an old diary entry from when I was 11 or so that begins with the words “women should not be bossed around by men,” but I didn’t really start identifying as a feminist until I was 16 or 17 and began reading feminist non-fiction. I went to an academically selective all girls’ high school that was pretty “rah rah, girls can do anything,” but as a teenager, that message didn’t really speak to me. Reading books that put the conversations my friends and I were having – not to mention my own unspoken questions and doubts – into a bigger social and cultural perspective did resonate, though.
Who most influenced your awareness of your feminism?
In the beginning, it was the big classic feminist authors – Germaine Greer, Naomi Wolf, bell hooks and so on. Over the past 5-10 years, though, my feminism has been more shaped by the writing of my peers – the thousands of personal essays, articles, and blog posts across the internet pushing and redefining our understanding of what feminism is and what it stands for.
In what ways has your feminism informed your life choices?
It’s definitely shaped my work life – I’ve written about feminism for newspapers, websites, teen and women’s magazines, and authored my own feminist non-fiction book, "The Sex Myth." It has shaped my friendships – I’ve moved from Sydney, to London, to New York in the last seven years, and the feminist blogosphere, Twitter, and local feminist groups have been central to my sense of community in each new city I’ve lived. It also informs decisions in my personal life: my decision not to change my name when I got married, for example, and the kind of mother I want to be. I am currently pregnant, due in May, and it’s important to me to model for my child an example of adult female life in which my child is incredibly important to me, yes, but so are my life and ambitions outside of my child.
In what ways do you share your feminism with others?
I share my feminism in my writing, my conversations with friends and family, and the talks I give at festivals and university campuses. I’m currently money capital to produce a play of my book The Sex Myth in New York over the summer, with the goal of spreading the production to at least 20 communities around the world by mid-2018. You can learn more about the project and how you can support it here.
Describe your vision of a feminist world.
A world in which people are valued for how they think, how they treat others, and what they care about, rather than their gender, race, sexuality, able-bodiedness, or how they look.
How I Define Feminism:
Feminism means casting a critical eye on the stories we’re told about who we are and how we’re allowed to be, and refusing to let those stories define us.
Rachel Hills is an author, activist and the founder of Break The Sex Myth, a feminist organization working to create an international movement of radical, inclusive conversations about sexuality. Rachel’s book The Sex Myth: The Gap Between Our Fantasies and Reality explores the invisible norms and unspoken assumptions that shape the way we think about sex. As a journalist, her work has been published in the New York Times, Washington Post, Cosmopolitan, Elle, TIME, NYMag.com, Vogue and more. For more information about Rachel and her work, visit www.thesexmyth.com.