Feminist Conversations is a regular feature at Feminists for Choice, where we talk to different activists to find out what feminism means to them. This month we’re spotlighting the Feminists for Choice writing team as a way of showing our gratitude for such amazing team members.
Kimberly Smith joined our team in the Fall of 2010. In addition to blogging here are Feminists for Choice, Kim has her own blog called Feminist Lab, where she analyzes a variety of topics from a feminist lens. Kim started law school this Fall, so her writing has slowed down a bit. But we’re so grateful to have her on our team.
1. When did you first call yourself a feminist? What inspired that decision?
My mother is a very strong feminist, so I’ve probably been a feminist all my life, but I’m not really sure when I first applied the label to myself. I took a women’s studies class in the course of attaining my Master’s degree and that class really sparked my interest in feminist theory, which ultimately led me to start my own blog, and then to Feminists For Choice. Being a theory buff I distrust labels and, particularly in light of people like Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachman calling themselves feminists. That is to say I don’t detract from the ideas of feminism, but labels get tricky.
So I’m not really sure when I adapted the label to myself, but I’m definitely proud to be a feminist, and its been very interesting adapting that persona into the legal world. The law was not written to support women and many laws still don’t, so its very interesting to see how professors and classmates react to certain cases. And then just things like how to dress, and how labels get put on female attorneys. I got to go to the Denver court house yesterday representing the plaintiff in a mock trial, and it seems silly, but I was unsure of what to wear. I did a little research and unfortunately unsurprisingly, there is a lot out there recommending women dress very conservatively so as not to distract the judge and other lawyers (all of whom are presumed to be male). So we’ll have to see how things progress.
2. When did you first get involved in the pro-choice movement? And how has your involvement evolved over the years?
I have this recollection of my mom and I sitting on the couch watching some sort of news program, I was fairly young, and she said to me “nobody has the right over another person’s body.” She was so firm and so resolute in her assertion that it was several years before I realized that there was a political and social fight over this idea, and that Roe v. Wade was not the end of the battle.
I started by doing research in school and becoming a lover of feminist theory. That evolved into blog writing. And now my involvement in the pro-choice movement is still evolving. I’m in the process of attaining a legal degree, and my focus is going to be in the area of civil and constitutional rights with an emphasis on feminist jurisprudence (there go those labels again!) and so I’m sure part of that will be supporting pro-choice ideas, but I’m not sure exactly how that will manifest yet.
3. What was your motivation for going to law school? And what type of law do you hope to practice when you graduate?
I have said from the time that I was very small that I wanted to be a lawyer. For a long time I didn’t really know why I wanted to be a lawyer and I ended up putting off law school for several years after undergrad. What I can tell you now is that I love law school, and I know I am exactly where I am meant to be. Knowing the law is such a powerful tool, and too many people are excluded from the protections of the law because they cannot afford to pay for them. I don’t know exactly where I will end up working, probably in the public or non-profit sector in support of civil rights and feminist jurisprudence, but I really don’t know exactly where just yet. At the present moment I’ve got three weeks until finals, so I’m a little buried in law books
4. What was the inspiration for starting Feminist Lab? And what challenges have you met while working on that blog?
The inspiration in starting Feminist Lab was my need for an outlet to write about the things I saw in the world that I thought need a feminist interpretation. I thought that Feminist Lab would be a good place for me to hone my writing skills and create a reputation in the feminist community. I love Feminist Lab and I would write for it more if I could. To be honest, law school has kind of blocked my brain off to anything not school related and my creative juices are a little stunted. I think that will pass, but for now I haven’t really had much to say. Also, when I started writing for Feminists for Choice it got really difficult choosing which site to post my articles on.
5. When you’re not blogging and studying for law school, how do you take care of yourself?
I mostly take care of myself by sleeping. Sleep is a wonderful thing. Also, my husband is awesome and we’ll spend break time just doing regular things like grocery shopping or watching tv, and he really helps me relax and enjoy my breaks so that I’m ready to get back to work.
Serena is a freelance writer who enjoys baking, protesting, and playing with little dogs.