Feminist Conversations is a weekly series here at Feminists For Choice. We spotlight feminists from across the interwebs to find out what feminism means to them. Today we’re talking with blogger Dior Vargas. Dior lives in NYC and is a proud alumna of Smith College. She will be graduating from Pace in May 2011 with a Master’s in Publishing. She is currently interning for feminist author Gloria Feldt, helping her promote her new book No Excuses. Dior will be starting at Random House in November, working on eBook production. Her favorite publisher is The Feminist Press, and her ultimate dream is to work for or start a publishing company that is dedicated to social justice, feminism, and women of color. She regularly blogs at The Personal is Bloggable.
1. When did you first call yourself a feminist, and what influenced that decision?
I first called myself a feminist when I was in high school. I was becoming more aware of what was going on around me and around the world. Growing up in a female-headed household really influenced my decision, because I had a mother and grandmother who were so hardworking and taught me how to be a strong woman. Even though they never used the term, I knew that they had raised me to be a feminist. I don’t think there is a point to living life and not being a feminist. It’s the best feeling in the world.
2. What does feminism mean to you?
Feminism to me means social justice, respect, expressing one’s self, and sisterhood. Feminism means supporting each other at all times across all classes, races, genders, sexualities and more.
3. Why do you think it’s important to bring a feminist perspective to the publishing industry?
I think that in any industry, there should be a feminist perspective. As far as the publishing industry goes, I think it is very important because feminism has a very important space in writing and educating. When I interned at The Feminist Press, I realized that there is a huge difference between the larger publishing houses and them. There needs to be more books about feminism and its place in society. When Florence Howe first started the press, she thought that it wouldn’t last that long because she assumed that the publishing industry would realize that it is important to publish feminist works. The FP is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.
4. How do you see publishing memoirs as fitting within that feminist perspective?
In Gloria Feldt’s new book, No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power, she mentions that women’s writing is always controversial and that “writing opens you up to a particularly gut-wrenching kind of vulnerability.” The best writing that exhibits that type of vulnerability is memoir. I’ve written memoirs about my experience as a Latina feminist, and growing up with a mostly-absent father that saw women as second-class citizens. Expressing yourself in that way brings so much passion, strength, and is in it’s own way social justice. The personal is always political.
5. If you could meet a famous feminist, either past or present, who would it be, and why?
It would have to be Cherrie Moraga and Gloria Anzaldua when they were writing the book This Bridge Called My Back. It must have been hard for them to express themselves as feminist Latina lesbians. Even now, it is hard to do that. I would love to talk to them and ask for advice on how to be a strong Latina in today’s world.
6. When you’re not busy helping writers tell their stories, what are some of your favorite ways to unwind?
I love to read, listen to music, and relax. I also love to hang out with my other feminist, literary friends. Being able to spend time with them and share the same sentiments is very fulfilling.