At what point in your life did you consider yourself a feminist? Was it an event or a process?
I'd say it was definitely a process. I think I became aware at a fairly early age of an inequality that existed toward female identity and I railed against it in my own ways, even as a kid. My experiences as an overweight girl and the bullying I suffered taught me early on that others attempted to deny me agency of my body. This never felt right to me. Around this same time, I started going fishing in Alaska every summer with my dad and grandpa and was confronted with the idea that this wasn't something that little girls were supposed to do. Again, this didn't feel right. I could do and be whatever I wanted to be. And I made sure people knew it. I didn't necessarily know what I was doing by taking this stance or have something to call it until I started really studying history and literature in high school and learning about the lady trailblazers who began the fight for equal rights. That's when I was formally introduced to feminist vocabulary and fully adopted a feminist identity.
Who most influenced your awareness of your feminism?
I think this is a two part answer. Informally, I was influenced and continue to be influenced by a whole group of strong women in my life who inspire to live bravely and passionately and without apology. Some of these women would identify as feminists themselves, and some might not. But they all share an inner strength and grace and they have all found ways to fight against the limitations of a patriarchal system to be light and love in the world. Formally, I have had a number of wonderful professors who have challenged my understanding of feminism to be fully inclusionary of LGBT and minority communities and challenged me to take a stand for what it means to be a feminist in today's world.
In what ways has your feminism informed your life choices?
I think that once you have a feminist vocabulary, you can't take it back. You see everything through the feminist lens. At times, it can be exhausting. But I think it makes me a better person, and a better advocate.
In what ways do you share your feminism with others?
I think, again, the vocabulary is a part of my daily life. I'm never afraid to call something out if I see something uncomfortable or unfair. Sometimes it makes people feel like I can't take a joke, but I think it also opens up a lot of important dialogue.
Describe your vision of a feminist world.
A feminist world would obviously be one where those individuals who identify as women are given equal rights to those who who identify as men. But I think it has to go much further then that. Women have to have education and employment opportunities. The unique demands of motherhood need to be met with the respect it deserves. Beyond that, women need to feel safe in public and private spaces. Women's bodies and spirits need to be respected. We deserve agency. We need to be recognized as an equal part of a shared humanity.
How I Define Feminism:
That anyone who identifies as a woman on the gender spectrum is equal to those individuals who identify as male. This means equal rights, as well as equal opportunity in terms of everything from employment to education. This also means respect.
Stephanie is a writer with an MFA in creative writing from Fairfield University. She has published fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. She lives in Denver, Colorado where she teaches preschool and listens to funny things kids say all day. She also takes a lot of pictures on IG @stephanieah27