Since my trip back home, I’ve been thinking a lot about my journey toward and into feminism and my passion/interest in all things grrl-centric. If you read my post right before this one, you know that it’s only recently that I’ve fully embraced and declared my feminism-ness (is that a word? making up words is my favorite). But I truly think the desire, drive, and need to be a feminist have been in me for a very long time, thanks to a lot of wonderful role models throughout my life. I want to share some of them so anyone reading can potentially take inspiration from them as well!
One of my first models of inspiration was (and is) my mother. My mom encouraged me to be myself no matter society’s stereotypes. I was told that, if I could dream it, I could do it – gender played no role in what I could accomplish. An emphasis was put on determination, dedication, quirkiness, and kindness. If I wanted to wear Thomas the Train pajamas (which I did), my mum never said, “But honey, those are for boys. Don’t you want Barbie pajamas?” She let me watch Ren and Stimpy, play in the dirt, build with Legos, and race Hot Wheels Cars around the house. Of course, I was also obsessed with tutus, bathing suits, and stuffed animals, but I was never taught that those were specifically “girly” things (I became privy to the strange, messed up notions surrounding girl/boy toys as I got older). My mum is also one of the strongest, bravest people I know – she’s very much her own woman. I’ve never seen her let anyone take advantage of her or bring her down. For a tiny woman (she’s 5’2”!) she radiates an easygoing strength of self – she may be little, but her confident, inspiring aura is much bigger than her petite stature. I’m so thankful to have grown up around a woman who always reminds me that I am capable of anything!
Another woman who has helped lead me down the path of feminism is photographer Cindy Sherman. In all honesty, I have no idea if she identifies as a feminist, but her artwork has certainly inspired and encouraged me as a female artist (and self-proclaimed selfie princess). Sherman is a renowned photographer of the late 20th century, most commonly known for turning the camera’s lens upon herself. Her work isn’t exactly self-portraiture – her images tend to offer commentary on stereotypes/ideas/notions surrounding femininity and women, capturing typical “types” and depictions of women and asking the viewer to question said types. Basically, I adore her, her work, and everything she’s done for feminism.
A more recent inspiration of mine is Lara Glenum (I mentioned her in my post about the book “Gurlesque”). Oh my grrly goodness I want to meet this woman and talk to her over coffee, or wine, or fondue, or tofu, blah blah blah I want to meet her. One of my all time favorite books of poetry is by Lara Glenum – it’s called “Maximum Gaga,” and it’s bizarre, disturbing, darkly whimsical, and turns typical notions of femininity, gender, sexuality, and sex upside down. The whole collection of poems is incredibly visceral, leaving the reader queasy, questioning, and weirdly invigorated. Eeee it gives me the best sort of goose bumps just thinking about it. Plus, “Gurlesque” is incredible and, as I mentioned in that earlier post, changed my life, my writing, and my view on feminism.
Arielle Greenberg is another of my favorite poets who I want to hang out with. She’s the other writer who composed “Gurlesque,” and most definitely describes herself as a feminist. Her other collections of poetry are inspiring and though-provoking – check out “Home/Birth: A Poemic” and “My Kafka Century.”
Feminist author/blogger Jessica Valenti has inspired my feminism and my writing substantially. She’s the founder of the website www.feministing.com and has written a bunch of awesome books – “Yes Means Yes! Visions of Female Sexual Power & A World Without Rape” (a collection of essays from various women and men) and “The Purity Myth” are two of my faves. This woman’s work has inspired me to rethink so many things relating to femininity, and her words have encouraged me to stay strong during times of confusion and self-doubt.
Two of my favorite fictional feminist inspirations are Buffy and Willow from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Not only is this one of my all time favorite tv shows, these two grrls are such an incredible testament to strong women. “Buffy” was one of the first shows to depict girls/women who can take care of themselves, fight bad guys and win, fall in love with other girls, and buck traditional female portrayals. Expect a post dedicated to these gals sometime soon!
And of course, a shout out to all of my wonderful female friends who encourage and inspire me every single day – you have all changed my life in so many wonderfully ways. I love you all dearly!