Issue II: Feminism

Feminism is defined by Merriam-Webster as “the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes.” We interviewed community members and women leaders about feminism and their definition.

On the Street Interviews

Cassie

Gender: Female | Age: 29 | Location: Raleigh

  1. Define feminism in your own words? Girl power, breaking glass ceilings, empowering all women.
  2. What does feminism mean to you, personally? Being empowered by all women, all ages, all sizes, all genders, trying to overcome the wage gap, breaking glass ceilings.

Shawna

Gender: Female | Age: 27 | Location: Raleigh

  1. Being courageous and proud. Loving your amazing self.
  2. Being a powerful and proud female.
From left to right: Jean, Carter

Jean

Gender: Female | Age: 51 | Location: Raleigh

  1. Equal rights for women.
  2. I have daughters and want them to have what they deserve and work for.

Carter

Gender: Male | Age: 52 | Location: Raleigh

  1. A woman’s God given right to equality in all things.
  2. The right for my daughters to pursue any dream they have.

Varsha (not pictured)

Gender: Other | Age: 21 | Location: Raleigh

  1. Equality of the sexes.
  2. The right to exist as I am in society.

Lory

Gender: Female | Age: 21 | Location: visiting from France

  1. For me, feminism is being a woman and fighting for our fights.
  2. It means a lot to me, because I think we are equal to men, so there shouldn’t be a gap between our two genders.

Kristen

Gender: Female | Age: 31 | Location: Raleigh

  1. A woman’s right to feel empowered. To persist. To be awesome and feel equal.
  2. To challenge the norm. To be awesome, cause we are. :)

Emma

Gender: Female | Age: 15 | Location: Raleigh

  1. Women being equal to men and fighting for equality.
  2. That women deserve to have equal rights and to be empowered just as men.

Rim

Gender: Female | Age: 16 | Location: Raleigh

  1. Feminism is the empowerment of females.
  2. Feminism means the empowerment of women and fighting for equal rights for women everywhere. It’s an important movement in society that spreads the power of women.

Stephanie (not pictured)

Gender: Female | Age: 15 | Location: Raleigh

  1. Feminism to me means the empowerment of women.
  2. If you’re a feminist, then you believe in equal rights between women and men and that women are just as awesome!!!

Parker

Gender: Male | Age: 24 | Location: visiting from Knoxville, Tenn.

  1. Feminism is the female version of discovering who you are, what role you play is the economics of life and relationships.
  2. As a man, it’s hard to understand the individual struggle of a woman discovering who they are as individuals. Also as a man, I can relate to the struggle to discover the extent of one’s own power, or ability to enact change in your life or others.

Soniya

Gender: Female | Age: 32 | Location: Raleigh

  1. The belief that women are and should be treated equally, and the fight for the same rights as men.
  2. I don’t necessarily identity as a feminist personally, but I do believe in it and feel it’s necessary.

Women Leaders in the Community

Tricia Sauls

Tricia runs the ‘Stronger NC Raleigh’ Facebook group and is a marketing and communication manager at Independent Garage Owner of North Carolina. She also has two sons and a daughter.

Define feminism: To me, it’s the empowerment of women in a way that’s equal with men and not above or historically below. That would be how I view it anyway.

What does feminism mean to you, personally? To me personally, it means empowerment of my dreams and vision for my future and the future of my daughter and my sons, actually both, because I hope they grow up to be feminists as well. Definitely with my older son he’s starting to date now and I can see where raising him with that viewpoint of women being equal — he has a completely different perspective on women than boys in my generation back in the 80s who objectified girls and it was very socially acceptable. I don’t think him or his friends could. They just don’t have that mindset anymore.

I think it’s a little bit different than it was, and I’m grateful for that. I think that feminism to me is leveling that playing field, so we don’t look at our gender roles when we think about capabilities.

Why are you a feminist? I grew up in New York and I remember going with my mom to marches when I was a little kid, so I’ve seen Gloria Stein back in the 70s. I just never really thought there was any reason to think I couldn’t do what I wanted. And I think it’s important to be a feminist, because that’s the way it should be for every little girl — not just for the the little girls whose moms feel that way. We need to step up because some little girl could be dreaming of being an astronaut and she doesn’t have the family that has the education or background to empower her and so it’s up to society to reach in and support those little girls.

Why did you create Stronger? …Part of it is empowering people who were uncomfortable. We still have a lot of those people who are afraid to say I don’t want Donald Trump to be my president because they think their husbands or their neighbors might think they’re not nice girls or they rock the boat. I think it’s important as a part of Stronger to make the presence of ‘Hey we’re normal people. We’re not radical, crazy people. We have kids and families. We go to Harris Teeter like everyone else. It’s OK to feel this way.’

Hannah Hoffman

Hannah is the director of design at New Kind and is co-president of AIGA Raleigh. She was raised by a single mother who she considers the strongest woman she knows.

What is your definition of feminism? To me, feminism can be defined by everyone individually. For me personally, it’s just being true to who I am as a woman and embracing what is important for me to show my femininity and also to teach other people beyond myself the importance of the equality of women. To define feminism to me just as saying ‘Oh it’s human rights. It’s equality.’ It denies the fact that you need to understand the role of women in history and the inequality we faced. To me, yes feminism is human rights but you have to understand all that we have gone through to get to where we are today.

How do you teach others about feminism? My mom, when I tell her some of the stuff I do on a daily basis, she’s like ‘I didn’t teach you to be like that.’ … She did though in her own way. I think she taught me to be strong in a very humble and sometimes even a silent way, like what it means to be a strong woman. And I don’t think she would necessarily think of herself as a strong woman, but I think of her as the strongest woman I know. And so just teaching people to be OK with the word feminism and being OK with a woman and embracing however you are as an individual, that’s important.

What do you think you need to learn about feminism? I think there’s a lot to teach, but also to learn about what feminism means to everyone and not just what we hear as general feminism, which a lot of times is the white feminist voice. I’ve been trying not only to teach other people to think about that but also think about it myself.

I’ve learned there are so many layers and it’s not just about gender and other pieces of culture have to fit into it. I was very lucky to march with them and hear their stories about how they faced adversity not just for being a woman, but their color of their skin. There’s just so many layers that as white women we just don’t understand.

What is the one lesson that your mother taught you that stands out to you? [Quoting her mother who disciplined her brother] “I want you to think for a minute about the janitor compared to your life. The janitor has a family. The janitor takes care of his family. He provides for his family. Can you provide for this family? No. The janitor is loved by his wife and kids.” She just went on this rant of all the janitor has. Everything that he has that my brother as a little shit eighth grader can’t comprehend. He should never think that you are better than a janitor, because what he did symbolized that he was better than this man who is cleaning up after him. To me, that story is the essence in a lot of ways of feminism. There’s nothing you can say that makes you better than us.

Diane Kuehn

Diane is the president and CEO of VisionPoint Marketing and is a member of a Triangle women CEO group.

Define feminism: It’s where men and women have the same opportunities and they’re not essentially prejudice or held back in any way because of their gender.

What does feminism mean to you, personally? I don’t really know how to translate that. I don’t really consider myself a feminist. If you just take my blunt translation of what I think it is, then I am because I do believe men and women should have the exact same opportunities, but I’m not really an active feminist in that I don’t do anything to correct that. I know that it’s not the case. I’m not actively doing things like [the leader of the women CEO’s group] Patty is doing to build a network and bring women up. I do some things. I mentor on occasion in various formalized programs.

Do you mentor young men and women differently? I think we all do. I had a young woman working here. She came across as very young and even though, she was in her mid-twenties, it was like she was trying to be that young girl. She was also really attractive. I had a very direct conversation with her about that. I felt that in order to be taken seriously, because she was a woman and she was very attractive that she actually needed to be super aware of that and if anything be more stayed and more professional, especially when she was at work. I don’t think she received it very well, but I think it was the right thing to do.

What were some challenges you faced early in your career with your male bosses? Not so much my direct supervisors as much as my colleagues and in one situation my boss’s boss completely crossed the line with me. I was pretty young. I was probably in my early twenties. I had no idea what to do. I basically sat there and acted like it didn’t happen. Looking back as having absolutely zero power in my position I don’t know if I would’ve done anything differently, even if I could go back to that situation now. It caused me to completely pivot. I was going for a particular job, which would have been in his purview and that was the job I wanted to go for and because of that I just avoided it and went differently.


Photo contributed by Kate Maxcy

Kate Maxcy

Communications Associate at Planned Parenthood South Atlantic

Define feminism in your own words: Feminism means equality for women and men in all societal spheres and facets — economically, politically, socially.

What does feminism mean to you, personally? Feminism means recognizing and thoughtfully attempting to understand the myriad intersections and lenses women live their lives through each day. It means educating oneself about the history of disproportionately affected and disenfranchised communities, including people of color and the LGBTQ community, as well as how to be an ally to other women.

I love to read, so for me this means reading books that aren’t all by or about people who are white, cis, straight women. It also means seeking out resources — including educational entertainment and media — and opportunities that will better enable me to be a feminist ally to all women.

Further, feminism means using my voice (whether through writing or conversations) and getting out of the comfort zone of staying quiet, and instead using platforms to demand change.


From left to right: Sunny Lin, Becca Plumlee, Sophia Woo. Photo credit: Food Network

Sophia Woo

Co-owner of Pho Nomenal Dumpling Truck

What does feminism mean to you, personally? For me feminism is pretty simple: Feminism is about equality. And equality is about the ability to be an individual first, and a woman/female second or third or fourth. It’s about every human being’s right to be considered.

Feminism is about not having unfair obstacles, either real or societal, in reaching your potential because of biology. Feminism is about not being boiled down to one or two traits, and instead celebrated and seen as the strange mix of everything that makes a person unique. It’s about not being lazy and seeing past the archaic binary segregation that once existed because cavemen and cavewomen had to figure out how to split up duties so they didn’t freeze or starve to death in the frozen tundra.

It’s about valuing life more than way of life.


Jessie Williams

Founder, CEO and designer at Edge of Urge

What does feminism mean to you, personally? To me, feminism is about freedom, equality, liberation, embracing and celebrating our differences. Standing strong together, listening, knowing when to be patient and when to take action. Learning from our mistakes, getting back up, knowing when to ask for help and speaking up for those who are unable to.

I’ve never really ever thought of myself as a feminist. More like a fighter for the underdog or a Listen-To-My-Gut-And-Use-My-Powers-For-Good-ist! I do love the sense of solidarity the word “feminism” evokes but I truly believe it goes beyond women’s rights. Human rights is my focus and I happen to be a woman who fights for other women and all humans.


Tanya Andrews

Co-owner and co-founder of Yellow Dog Bread Company

Define feminism in your own words: Equality regardless of gender.

What does feminism mean to you, personally? I believe in having the confidence and belief that I can do anything I set out to do. That regardless of any defining quality (gender, race, religion, economic background) we all face obstacles, and I will not allow those obstacles to define me or give them power and control over me. Each of us has our own path, and from the outside some of us appear to have things easier than others, but I remind myself that no matter how green the grass may look, every yard has weeds. Acknowledging that every decision big or small has power, and for better or worse those decisions have led me to where I am today and are continuing to shape the person I am. I own my triumphs, my mistakes, my ease, and my difficulties. Owning who I am gives me strength.

Danielle Centenno

Co-owner of Escazu Artisan Chocolates

Define feminism in your own words: Equal opportunities for everyone.

What does feminism mean to you, personally? As I said before, feminism to me, is about equality.

When I started cooking, 19 years ago, I was the first female to work in this kitchen, the chef had to be convinced by a friend to hire me. Nowadays, I have owned and operated a business for 9 years, I almost always have to state that I am one of the owners, when my business partner, a man, is always assumed to be the owner.

So, feminism to me, means, knowing that everyone is able to do, reach, achieve, etc, the same things, therefore, equal opportunities for this should be allowed. While I do agree that there are some fundamental physical differences between males and females, it should never be assumed that we can or can not do something simply because we are women, or that men can or can not do something simple because they are men. And asking for help because we are unable to do something should not be a sign of weakness.


Catrina Godwin

Owner of C-Grace

Define feminism in your own words: To strive for and advocate for women’s equality in all areas.

What does feminism mean to you, personally? Being treated with the same respect as men would receive while being appreciated for the differences. Despite feminist movements which have allowed women the right to vote and leveled the playing field in many areas — inclusion and equal pay in various professions and industries, I think simply growing older has afforded me the most equality. I remember entering my forties and all of a sudden men acted like I really knew what I was doing…it was a powerful feeling that I hadn’t experienced before.

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