Friday Feminist Profiles: Elizabeth

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Name: Elizabeth
Age: 26
Location: Chicago
Occupation: Financial Aid Counselor

Do you identify as a feminist? Why or why not? Yes!  Until no person is oppressed by gender, race, class, ability, sexuality, etc, there is a need for a movement that identifies such behavior, calls it out and works to create equality, equity and access for all.

What is your definition of feminism? A feminist critiques and identifies the world around her, creating awareness and solutions when able.  Feminism is the movement behind this individual act that pieces together patterns that oppress in our world and sparks activist change for solutions to better enable lives.  Everyone should be able to live a life free from oppression.

How does feminism factor into your life decisions/everyday life? Is this part of your own feminist activism?  Feminism is my framework.  Everything I do stems from my thoughts and feelings, which means everything I do is shaped by feminism.  This does not mean that my life is prescribed because really feminism is about choice.  The choices I do make definitely reflect my own feminist activism.  The causes I choose to pursue personally and professionally all have a root in the fact that feminism informs and guides my decisions.

What feminists have influenced you? How and why?  The biggest feminist in my life has always been my mom.  I knew she was a feminist but I never thought about her parenting in such a fashion.  She taught me to be constantly thinking and observing the world around me, while recognizing everyone's experience in that world is different.  Her understanding for others has led me to care for others beyond my immediate family and friends and seek a connection with others that goes beyond surface.  This is not always easy and is often trying but it's worth it to know a connection was made with another human being.

Can you tell me about a time when you felt someone was being sexist, racist, homophobic, and/or transphobic, etc. towards you? How did you handle this? In high school, I served on my church council.  At the time, there were no youth on the board so I ran and was elected.  At the first meeting I attended, the elected secretary wasn't present and I was asked to take notes by the president.  I sternly asked if I was being asked to do so because I was the only woman in the room.  Everyone got quiet... and then someone else volunteered.  Looking back, I think I was asked because I was female and also because I was the youngest.  I am surprised by my boldness but proud I stood up for myself.

In your experience, has feminism been inclusive or exclusive to you? I find feminism everywhere in identification and in acts.  Some feminist circles are closed but for every closed group, there are other groups or individuals to welcome in or be welcomed by.  I have often felt I don't have a place to call my own so I regularly try to make things happen on my own initiative, rather than tagging along with someone else's efforts.  This is lonely at times but as a result, I have not felt the sting of exclusivity.

Why do you think many people are resistant to calling themselves feminists?  It's scary to put yourself out in the world and it's difficult for some people to notice the big picture.  The combination of these two is why I think there is hesitation.  Feminism is not popular and it requires those who identify to answer some tough questions, externally but also internally.  How do men fit into your life when they are oppressors?  As a white, how to I reconcile racism in my own activism?  Am I willing to call co-workers out when they make sexist/ racist/ homophobic comments?  These questions and more require a sense of solitude within oneself.  This is difficult to develop and the task is simply too daunting for some.  For those willing to try, cheers to you!

What do you think are the biggest obstacles women face today?  Which women?  Across all issues, I think one theme present is for women to be regarded as equals in terms of the spaces they occupy, whether this be in the workplace, on the street or in their own bodies.  Many issues are encompassed here but until women can live freely as women, there is much work to be done.

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(If you would like to be profiled, please email me: lachristagreco[at]gmail[dot]com)