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. I didn’t participate in rallies or write my legislators or even discuss it with my peers. It wasn’t until after I graduated and moved to the NYC area that I became involved. I’m guessing it was the anti-choicers who set up camp on 42nd street with doctored posters of aborted fetuses, screaming at passers-by, that awakened the activist inside of me. I contacted the local chapter of the National Organization of Women and began to volunteer with their Reproductive Rights Action Committee. I eventually took over as Chair of that committee and have since served in several capacities on the Board of Directors. Regardless of the role, I have focused on protecting choice — from organizing public awareness campaigns, to participating in rallies, writing, and lobbying New York legislators.
4. When did you first get involved with NOW NYC? And how has your role changed over the years?
I first got involved with NOW-NYC in early 2007 as a volunteer on the Reproductive Rights Action Committee. As I mentioned, I became Chair of the committee, which earned me a seat on the Board of Directors. However, after a year of running the committee, I handed it over to another long-time volunteer so that I could run for an elected position (Director of Membership). In this role, I helped expand the organization’s presence online and grow the membership. In 2009, I ran for another board position: Legislative Vice President. Once again, I was blessed to win and have been in that role ever since. I love the organization deeply and am so blessed to work alongside amazing feminist activists.
5. When you’re not blogging, how do you take care of yourself?
If I’m not blogging, most likely I’m indulging my penchant for celebrity news and gossip. I’m completely addicted! My husband and I also love to travel. We most recently went to Africa, which completely captivated my heart and soul. I can’t wait to go back!
Serena is a freelance writer who enjoys baking, protesting, and playing with little dogs.