Hiya! I’m Josephine, I work in the Web industry and see myself as a Computer Scientist, I’m a home seamstress, a runner and a feminist. I think that these components of my life have many intersections.
Working in a science-related area, I’m someone who often finds herself being the only girl in a roomful of guys and I wonder why there is such a gender bias in science. The answer to that question is long and complex, and I won’t try to answer that today. But that feeling of “Othering” that we sometimes get is powerful, especially if you’re a radical, if you don’t fit whatever ‘norms’ society imposes, or if (as in my case) you’re often in an environment where you don’t have a network of your own peers around you. But creating networks, both between people and technology, is one of the main focuses of the Web Industry. I feel that the Web can help feminism by enabling social activism through technology and I think the future of feminism lies in using tools to educate ourselves and others, create movement, and change the accepted norms of our society. It can be something as simple as bringing together southern hemisphere feminists by enabling a New Zealand Computer Scientist to contribute to an Australian feminism website. Or it could be the distribution of micro-loans through kiva.com or ending street harassment through hollaback.org, or creating revolutions on twitter; we have the tools to create change in the world. We have to use them to create good things.
What about being a home seamstress? Is this a feminist act? Personally, I feel that the structure and culture of the fashion industry dis-empowers everybody of their right to own their own body and their self expression. Modern clothes are made to fit “standard” sizes, but everyone’s body is different. I have never met someone who didn’t need a fitting adjustment from a standard size. I truly believe that this is something that should be celebrated rather than seen as a fault. Learning to sew and fit your own clothes can be empowering if the fashion industry and its current business model are failing you; you can control what you put on your body, and how you want it to look. At first I began making clothes because I liked sewing, but now it is more of an act of self identity.And finally, running. Running is a pretty solitary and sometimes philosophical activity. Sometimes it’s boring. Sometimes you are listening to Lady Gaga and Beyonce singing Telephone and are dance-running and lip-synching and feel like a million bucks. This can happen, I’ve experienced it myself. But how does this contribute to my feminism? I’m not a natural runner but it is something I am capable of with persistence and determination, qualities which I think are valuable and quite applicable to being a feminist activist. And even though I say I am not naturally talented at it and I have to work hard, my body was made to run. My same body that can sew or programme computers or eat or dance or talk or make love can also run kilometer after kilometer. I want to be strong. Spending time on running is the time I spend on making myself strong. Not everyone can run, but we are all worth time to ourselves.
Josephine is 22, lives in a big house full of china and antiques and realised she was a feminist when a Computer Science Professor saw her walk into a lecture theatre and asked what she was doing there. She is a member of the Wellington Young Feminists’ collective (http://wellingtonyoungfeminists.tumblr.com/) and is the team lead for the Hollaback! project in Wellington, New Zealand. She (sometimes) keeps a sewing blog at www.thesilkfutures.blogspot.com