Feminist Movers Makers & Shakers: Dames Not Damsels

How would you describe your work and what do you hope to accomplish?

Dames Not Damsels is a nerd feminist podcast that explores nerd culture from a woman’s perspective. Our goal is to bring attention to the female experience in a male dominated culture and relate it back to the world as a whole. By sharing our stories and those of women around us we magnify issues that exist in what should be a joyful experience (nerding out) for all. We hope our work inspires people to examine other’s experiences and learn from them and are inspired to raise up the women in their life.

Why is this work important?

Nerd culture is ever expanding and women in nerd culture is becoming more and more prevalent. As nerd culture is such a male dominated space, there tends to be a dismissive reaction to women, and especially women of color, when they enter it and make it their own. It is important to draw attention to the less pretty aspects of society, including that in nerd culture, in hopes that it may become a more inclusive environment. Read More

Feminist Movers Makers & Shakers: Alyssa Karpa and LivetoDIY

How would you describe your work & what do you hope to accomplish?

I have been creating patches adorned with feminist and social justice words/phrases. I use 100% recycled material and hand embroidery. It is a very labor intensive process, but I enjoy every second.

Why is this work important?

Our world is in a constant state of confusion, feminism and social issues included. I believe that it is important to share one’s views and show support, regardless of whatever that means for you. For some people, that is wearing a patch that portrays their opinions. For other’s it may be heading out to protest or having debates with people in their community. Feminism is for everyone and in a time when many are perplexed as to how their feminism or views matter, I hope that my patches give some the confidence to speak up and move forward.

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Feminist Movers Makers & Shakers: Megan Smith and the Repeal Hyde Art Project

How has feminism impacted your life personally?

It’s harder for me to think about how feminism hasn’t impacted by life! Feminism at its core, to me, is about pulling back the curtain to understand how our society is constructed and trying to actively restore a balance of power. Learning and doing that has become essential to my identity and everyday practice.

How would you describe your work & what do you hope to accomplish?

In 2011 I founded the Repeal Hyde Art Project to use art as a tool to create dialogue and awareness about abortion access and interconnected issues. It stemmed from a desire to want to talk more about the Hyde Amendment (which prohibits people from being able to use Medicaid to pay for abortions) and abortion in a way that honored people’s experiences and that invited participation and conversation. I started doing that by creating in-person, participatory installations and over time the Project shifted to explore similar themes using digital art and social media.

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Feminist Movers, Makers & Shakers: Alyssa Lentz and The Louder Coalition

What is your background in feminism &/ social justice?

It’s actually only been in the last two years that I’ve taken the plunge into full-fledged feminism. Growing up, I assumed – and was told – that feminism was a radical movement meant to dismantle all of the things that I believed in. It seemed dangerous, and even unnecessary to me, and I met it with sharp criticism for several years. Part of my hesitation came from being a Christian. The concept of “biblical womanhood” was something I’d heard all too often, but I eventually discovered that the ideas that had been presented to me were in no way congruent with the frequently neglected social justice of Jesus – who literally always stood on the side of the oppressed. Most of the ideology I’d been holding onto was simply Church agenda. With this realization, I began to embrace feminism, discover intersectionality, and work toward a lifestyle of activism.

How would you describe your activist work & what do you hope to accomplish?

I’ve recently launched a non-profit called The Louder Coalition. It’s an alliance of sexual violence survivors, creatives, and activists focused on education + empowerment! One of our primary goals is to give survivors a platform to share their stories through any creative medium they’d like, in order to provide a healing, freeing experience for them and foster an environment where survivors feel comfortable rather than ashamed. The hope is that through sharing these stories, along with other resources, we’ll be able to destigmatize sexual violence and many of the common issues of recovery – mental illness, body image, social isolation, etc. We’re also working on starting dialogues within our communities about consent and rape culture as a means of prevention. Read More

The Rest is Silence: Musings on life and language from a twenty-first century shrew

Last summer, I participated in a debate entitled “Should we stop staging Shrew?”, referring to Shakespeare’s infamous comedy in which the aforementioned shrew is “tamed”. Perhaps surprisingly among a largely female audience of actors and academics, the answer was a resounding no.

This is perhaps less surprising considering the discussion’s context- a week-long seminar on Shakespeare’s dramatization of female voices. Over the course of five days, participants discovered the role of fictional ‘shrews’ like Shakespeare’s Kate in early modern proto-feminist discourse and were introduced to the ‘taming’ in its precise narrative context as a play-within-a-play. Alternately defined as misogynist propaganda written by the quintessential dead-white-male or a somewhat sentimental pantomime of sexy mutuality (1967 Zeffirelli film, I am looking at you), the Kate/Petruchio story is, first and foremost, a farce staged in honour of a drunken fool.

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