Feminist Conversations: Roxanna Bennett

Feminist Conversations is a regular feature at Feminists for Choice, where we talk to activists from across the interwebs to find out what feminism means to them. This month, we’re spotlighting the Feminists for Choice writers as part of our Season of Gratitude.

Roxanna joined our writing team late last year. She reached out to us from Canada, and we’re so lucky to have her on our team. When you read about how she discovered feminism, I’m sure you’ll understand why we love her so much.

1. When did you first call yourself a feminist? What inspired that decision?
I was 18 the first time I heard that phrase. I was a student in an arts-based high school which meant that I was very coddled, couldn’t count, but read a lot of philosophy. This was the mid 80′s and our department was run by men to whom the female teachers were entirely subordinate. The faculty had been working together a long time and were jaded, accustomed to their roles, and none seemed inclined to buck the status quo.

Then someone retired and a new teacher was hired. She had never taught before. She was a professional artist that had turned to teaching to help support her son; she was a single mother. Right from the start she seemed to have trouble fitting in with her colleagues and seemed perpetually nervous. But the year that she was my teacher was the year that changed the way I saw the world. She was one of those teachers. The kind you write a screenplay about later on in life. [Read more...]

Grateful for a Best Friend Who Helped Me Find Feminism

My best friend in high school was my debate partner Jadi Morrow. We attended a very conservative high school, and the two of us discovered feminism together. When we moved onto ASU, Jadi introduced me to Women’s Studies, and the rest is all history. I credit Jadi for lighting a spark under my ass. So in our season of gratitude, I thought it was more than appropriate to highlight my friend in our Feminist Conversations.

Jadi is a high school English teacher in Denver, Colorado. She and her partner raise their eleven-year-old daughter and their critters together.

1. When did you first call yourself a feminist? And what influenced that decision?
I think I was a feminist before I knew what the word for “it” meant. Because I only had sisters, I didn’t grow up with gendered restrictions. We lived in the mountains and built forts, played with campfires, and caught bugs and frogs. I started playing the violin and couldn’t figure out why everyone who was a composer was a male. I took art history and kept asking where the female artists were. There was a disconnect for me between knowing that I could do anything I wanted to do and then seeing that it wasn’t represented in culture. It wasn’t until I went to debate camp in high school that someone taught me about feminism, and then it was on! [Read more...]

Guaranteeing Access, One Dollar at a Time

When Serena proposed the idea of focusing on gratitude this month by honoring pro-choice advocates, I immediately knew who I’d choose: the people that make sure that women who need abortions have the money to do so.

Working in either local funds or the funding arms of major organizations is not an easy job. The need is overwhelming, and there’s never enough money to go around. The hours can be long – in the case of a lot of local funds, the work is literally 24/7 – and the stories can rip your heart out.

But this is such essential work, particularly in our current economic climate. Helping a woman raise $200 or $100 or even $50 doesn’t just mean that she can get an abortion. It means that no matter her situation, she can access the same services as any other woman. It means, as a case manager for the D.C. Abortion Fund told me years ago, that a woman’s rights shouldn’t depend on her wallet.  [Read more...]

Feminist Conversations: Maureen Shaw

Editor’s Note: Feminist Conversations is a regular feature here at Feminists for Choice, where we talk to feminist activists about what feminism means to them. This month we’re spotlighting the Feminists for Choice writers, as part of our Season of Gratitude. I’m so lucky to work with such amazing writers, all of whom volunteer their time and talent. Maureen Shaw is from New York City. In addition to our site, Maureen blogs at sherights.com.

1. When did you first call yourself a feminist? What inspired that decision?
I don’t remember a defining moment of first identifying as a feminist. Being a feminist is completely natural for me, and has been for as long as I can remember. I should credit my mom for this. Despite never being an outspoken feminist herself, she used to read me a book as a child called “Girls Can Do Anything Boys Can Do” (or something like that!). I grew up understanding that my gender has no bearing on what I can achieve!

2. When did you start sherights, and what was the motivation for starting the blog?
I wrapped up my Master’s thesis at the end of 2010 and suddenly felt at a loss — I went from researching & writing 8+ hours a day to nothing. It was a glorious nothing for a week or so, but it got old quickly. I love to write and I’m extremely passionate about women’s rights, so starting a blog — especially with so much down time — seemed like a natural next step. And so sherights was born!

3. When did you first get involved in the pro-choice movement? And how has your involvement evolved over the years?
Throughout my college years, I was an armchair pro-choicer. Meaning, I totally supported a woman’s right to choose…from my dorm room. [Read more...]

Remembering Dr. Robert Kinch

Editors’ Note: This is the first post in our series “A Season of Gratitude.” We’re all grateful for the the work of heroes like Dr. Kinch. To read more articles in this series, click here.

The name Dr. Henry Morgentaler is synonymous with pro-choice in Canada, but Dr. Robert Kinch was also instrumental in securing women’s rights as his colleague. Born in Iraq in 1920, Dr. Kinch immigrated to Canada with his family in 1949 after seeing a billboard advertising “Ontario Wants You.”

Dr. Kinch launched his career as an obstetrician and gynecologist in Toronto. In 1968 he moved to Montreal as Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at McGill University, eventually becoming chief of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Royal Victoria and Montreal General hospitals. He was appointed chairman of the Department of Obstetrics of Gynecology at McGill in 1979.

Beloved by his patients, Dr. Kinch delivered thousands of babies while determinedly championing maternal health and the advancement of sexual education.  [Read more...]