Contrary to Popular (Feminist) Belief
Sydney Magruder, a five-foot tall, African-American, Christian and lesbian woman, considers herself to be liberal in every sense of the term, except that she is pro-life. Her advocacy group, New Wave Feminists (recently removed as an official partner of the Women’s March), refers to themselves as the “bad-ass” anti-abortion women — a slogan that is even featured on their website. Magruder, a 24-year-old professional ballerina living in New York, wants to bring awareness to her own definition of feminism. The Lena-Dunham-loathing and Michelle-Obama-praising pro-life activist also noted that her best friend is Misty Copeland and if I hung around the ballet gym long enough, I would get to meet her (I didn’t).
What does feminism mean to you?
Being a feminist to me means embracing the fullness of womanhood, in every shape, form and fashion, even down to trying to be less annoyed with getting periods. It’s all part of being a woman. We are the pillars of our communities. We are the pillars of our homes. We hold up our families. We hold up this world.
What is your stance on abortion when it comes to rape or incest?
Of course I can’t dictate for anyone else what their personal choice should be. I know that, God-forbid, I were in such a situation, I know I could not go through with an abortion because there is a life inside of me. Some of the bravest stories I’ve heard were from women who were raped and chose to keep their children knowing that it’s not that child’s fault, what happened to their mother. I’m a rape survivor myself. I know how awful that is. Even afterwards, when I asked myself, “What is my next step here?” my first thought was, “If I’m pregnant, I have to keep this child.”
Would you have considered adoption?
Probably not, actually. As great as adoption is, I would have wanted to keep my child, and I would have wanted to raise my child. I was young, but I knew that if I went to my parents and if I told them what had happened and that I was pregnant, they would have rallied and enabled me to keep my child. They would have absolutely done that.
What about those who aren’t fortunate enough to have such a supportive background?
That’s our whole mission — providing resources to moms who don’t otherwise have the community. We can’t just be pro-birth. We have to surround these mothers with community resources, with compassion; with people who can help them from the time they find out they’re pregnant until that child is grown.
What about prevention — contraception or education? Do New Wave Feminists advocate for both or either?
I’m in the unique position that I’m a lesbian, and I’ve never needed birth control. I’m 97 days out from my wedding; I won’t need birth control ever, but I am all for giving people birth control methods that work. I wish we were giving women more options for birth control, and that we were also giving men more options for birth control.
You’ve mentioned your fiancé a few times. What is she like?
My fiancé’s a talented software engineer. She’s the smartest person in any room she walks into. She’s really a stud; she wouldn’t be caught dead in a dress or jewelry. She is, for all intents and purposes, playing the role of “groom.”
The New Wave Feminists were involved in a controversy over the recent Women’s March. What happened, and were you involved?
The bottom line is that a lot of our pro-choice sisters did not want us involved because they felt that we were not in-line with their views. The whole concept of feminism is that we’re all different. We come from different walks of life. We believe differently, but we all want better for ourselves. We may have different definitions of what “better” is, and how we get to “better.”
How do you think we can work together, as women and as feminists, pro-life or pro-choice, to fight for equality?
We need to sit down. We need to sit down, and we need to talk. We need to stop talking past each other. We’re arguing on social media like teenagers. We’re calling each other names like a bunch of children. At the core of it all, we all want the same thing.
Do you think it’s possible?
Absolutely. I think everybody needs to be willing to be grown about it. I am not a fan of this mainstream white feminism that we’ve got going on nowadays. I’ve always considered myself not even necessarily a feminist first, just black first.
I can imagine that’s the biggest prejudice you face.
Being gay is something that you have to disclose; it’s not obvious. But people will always look at me and judge me as a black person and as a woman. I just try to do my best every day, and I am unapologetically who I am. Unapologetically black, all the time. Not just in February. Every day. All day. All year long. Black black blackity black.
You describe your dad as an “old-school, black Democrat.” Do you vote Democrat?
I do. It’s tough. I would vote pro-life if the Republican candidates weren’t so vehemently homophobic and so vehemently racist. There are pro-life Democrats, obviously, but they don’t get any kind of traction because reproductive rights are such a huge issue for the Democratic community.
In an interview prior to the election, Donald Trump said that he would consider a possible punishment for women who have had an abortion. Do you agree with that potential policy?
An ever-so-obvious eye roll is executed.
I detest that almost as much as I detest him. Never, ever would I dream of punishing someone for making what I can imagine is the most heart-wrenching decision you would ever make in your life.
Do you think God punishes women who choose to have an abortion?
Punish, no. Deals with, yes. But I would never even think of speaking unkindly to a woman who had an abortion. Because that’s not a decision that anybody takes lightly. I would make every effort to understand her, make every effort to hear her and to see her and to meet her where she is. To maybe give her hope that the next time she finds herself pregnant that she can empower herself to choose life for herself and for her baby.
Do you want Roe v. Wade overturned?
That’s a tough question. The change has to be at a society level, not even necessarily at a government level right now. I think for them to start anywhere, we need to start changing the way we think about children, changing the way we think about fertility, changing the way we think about sex, changing the way we think about ourselves as women and the power that comes with being the vessels of life. That is what makes a woman a woman, is the ability to bear, nurture and sustain the next generation of life. That is a power.
That men could not handle.
That men could NOT handle.