Nils Pickert Talks Fatherhood and Fashion Choices

Feminist Conversations is a regular series here at Feminists for Choice. Today we are talking to Nils Pickert, a father we wrote about earlier this year who received global attention, support, and criticism for simply backing his son’s fondness for wearing skirts and dresses. We admire Nils’s persistent support of his son in face of such fuming controversy over a piece of cloth, and asked Nils a few questions concerning the issue. 

When did you figure out that your son liked wearing dresses and skirts?

There was never a turning point or a special moment when I had to realize that my son wanted to wear skirts and dresses. I never taught my son to alienate clothes as being strictly associated to the opposite sex, therefore there was no need for him to decide against something. Skirts and dresses were always an option. About the age of three he found his own voice and started to make his own decisions. Since then he sometimes likes to skirt up.

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Malin Roux of RealStars Talks Fair Sex

Feminist Conversation is a regular series at Feminists for Choice, in which we highlight activists from across the interwebs. Malin Roux is the founder of RealStars, an independent non-profit organization working against trafficking in Europe while promoting the notion of Fair Sex. I asked Malin a few questions about the organization and the battle against trafficking.

 1. How does RealStars work and operate?

RealStars functions as a positive force for gathering opinions regarding trafficking and to strengthen the European legislature. The intention of our operation is to work against sex trafficking (human trafficking for sexual purposes) and sexual exploitation through opinion-forming dialogue and campaigns. RealStars wants to inspire others to change the course of trafficking and contribute to a Europe free from human trafficking and exploitation.

Those who contact us often mention that RealStars is an organization that engages in ways other organizations do not. Therefore, they want to contribute in a concrete way and make a difference. In many cases, the people working at RealStars try to reawaken the dormant opinion shared by most. We believe that nearly all humans consider trafficking, sexual assault, and prostitution a hindrance to achieving equality and parity. We therefore want to reach out to those who share our opinion. In order to do so we utilize the notion of Fair Sex – sex on equal terms. We also work alongside artists and young adults to be able to create fashion and art, representing Fair Sex and supporting our cause. We believe that Fair Sex should be of importance to everyone since sex trafficking is the complete opposite of Fair Sex. A society that ignores this notion is a society that is losing its soul.

2. How did you become interested in trafficking?  

I previously worked with CSR (corporate social responsibility) matters, as well as human rights topics in organizations such as Amnesty International. As I was working on a commission for the World Childhood Foundation in 2008, my interest in trafficking was awakened. With that background in mind, I felt as if trafficking received less attention than other human right subjects. In the last 10 years, the progress has reversed even more. Sweden has been more progressive than most other nations, and through the laws concerning the purchasing of sex (the so-called sexköpslagen), Sweden has taken a stand for Fair Sex, but we need to focus more on the demand of trafficking and the buyers who create the market.

3. When did you decide to create RealStars?

During 2008 and 2009 it became clear that the area of trafficking needed to receive more attention, [and] should be a higher priority on the political and social sustainability agenda in order to turn things around and put an end to trafficking.

4. What do you consider to be the greatest challenge in the fight against trafficking?

Many countries (Sweden and Norway are exceptions) place little blame on the sex buyer as being part of the trafficking chain – recruiting, transportation, and exploitation. The purchasing of sex from a victim is often not associated with penalties or crime sanctions. As long as this is the case, we cannot get to the root of the problem. Recognizing and implementing Fair Sex is part of the solution of acknowledging that the purchasing of sex and human exploitation must be penalized. This provides a tool to be used by the criminal justice system and the police when protecting the victims of exploitation and trafficking.

5. How can we try to curtail trafficking?

Everyone can do something to help limit and minimize trafficking. Partaking in campaigns that can influence politicians and impact opinions will help strengthen the belief in Fair Sex and equality for humans. It is also important to engage in discussions about trafficking and gain knowledge about the subject. We all have the responsibility to promote human rights.

6. When you are not fighting for Fair Sex, what do you like to do on your spare time?

I relax by spending time with my family, and meeting up with friends as often as I can. I work out as much as possible, and I enjoy listening to music; I play in an orchestra, and like going to concerts.

If you would like to join the fight against trafficking, visit RealStars and sign their petition for Fair Sex. The website is accessible in both English and SwedishYou can also follow RealStars on twitter or via Facebook.      

Sisters collaborate to promote feminism online

Feminist Conversations is a regular series at Feminists for Choice. We spotlight activists from across the interwebs to find out what feminism means to them. Elin and Hennie Weiss are feminist sisters from Sweden who write fierce blog posts and recently joined the Feminists for Choice team. We love with their well-researched and hard hitting pieces and think it kicks ass that sisters would collaborate this way. Rock on Elin and Hennie, and welcome to the team!

1. When did you first call yourself feminists, and what influenced that

When discussing this question we both feel as if we have been feminists for most of our lives, and it felt natural to us, even though we did not really put a label on it until around the age of 18. It feels like it was less of a conscious decision and more the result of being able to have remarkably few gendered expectations placed on us as we were growing up.

2. Did your upbringing lead you to develop strong feminist positions as adults?

Absolutely. Our parents were very gender non-dramatic as we were growing up. We were never told that there were certain things we could or could not do, and our parents encouraged us to engage in any activity that we liked. In many ways, gender was not such an important issue in our home and we did not feel that our parents made gendered decisions in terms of chores or activities. We also believe that we were very lucky to grow up in a busy non-traditional and non-religious family that lived in a fairly rural place. That fostered independence and acceptance in our family, but starting school we realized that there was certain expectations placed on girls that we did not believe in or agree with.

3. When did the two of you decide to begin writing as a team and what was your first piece?

We had talked about writing together for a while but did not start until fairly recently. It was not until December of 2011 that we wrote our first piece together. It was a shorter piece for the feminist blog The F-Word titled One Size Fits All? The piece discussed H&M’s use of computer animated models in which a virtual body was created and different model heads were placed on the body and the skin color was changed to fit the head of the real model. Writing as a team is fun and we are able to discuss and expand our ideas. Usually one of us comes up with a topic or an idea. Thereafter that person usually writes the bulk of the piece. Then the other person adds their ideas and opinions and together we edit what we wrote. [Read more...]

Filmmaker Jodi Leib’s “Monday’s Child” Fights for Reproductive Freedom

Feminist Conversations is a weekly series at Feminists For Choice.  We spotlight activists from across the interwebs to find out what feminism means to them. Jodi Leib is an artist and filmmaker currently working on “Monday’s Child”, a feature about reproductive freedom.  Her films have screened at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Screen Actors Guild, Wine Country Film Festival (Audience award, 1997), On the Lot, IFILM, Laemmle Theaters Sunset 5 and several other festivals and venues. 

1. When did you first call yourself a feminist? What inspired that decision?
I first had the feeling of a bias against women when I was in grade school and I made a bet with a boy and won, but he didn’t pay me what I was due. I subsequently had the feeling in several working environments that I was being treated unfairly based on my appearance and/or gender, and I was even sexually harassed in my early twenties.

I became a filmmaker in college, and as I began to write and direct, I realized that I only wanted to tell stories about women – that I had a driving desire to communicate my point of view and experience as a woman through my characters and stories. As I became more interested in reproductive rights and committed to making “Monday’s Child,” I became comfortable calling myself a feminist. [Read more...]

A Conversation With One of the Founding Mothers of NNAF

Editor’s Note: Feminist Conversations is a regular feature, where we talk to feminist activists from across the interwebs to find out what type of pro-choice activism they’re up to. Today we’re talking to Barbara Melrose, one of the founders of the National Network of Abortion Funds.

Barbara was born in Los Angeles in 1928 and attended the public schools and UCLA. At the University of Illinois, Barbara completed a Masters in Communication Disorders and was starting doctoral study, but was thrown out of the program when she married Jay Melrose, a New Yorker and fellow student. Her adviser couldn’t “waste” his time on someone who was “going to stay home and have babies.” When Barbara’s children were in junior high school, she completed a doctorate at the University of Iowa and taught at both the University of Massachusetts and Springfield College.

I was lucky to meet Barbara at the NNAF summit in Denver. Talking to her about her activism was very inspiring. Read her interview and find out what I’m talking about.

1. When was the Abortion Rights Fund of Western Massachusetts founded, and what was the motivation for starting it?
ARFWM was already established when I joined. Staff at the University’s Health Center grew weary of digging into their own pockets to help students who found themselves pregnant and needed support to get to New York for abortions. Abortion was still illegal in Massachusetts when ARFWM was founded, but it was legal when I joined. [Read more...]