"The future depends entirely on what each of us does every day; a movement is only people moving." ---Gloria Steinem
The dog days of summer are a great time to re-introduce one of the stalwart fighters for reproductive justice. Maureen Shaw writes about repro rights and social justice for such magazines as Teen Vogue, ThinkProgress, Romper, and Rewire News, among others, and is relentless in her determination to force the powers that be to recognize the humanity and equality of all women. Maureen's 2017 Ask An Activist interview is the perfect place to start as you contemplate the end of summer, the coming of fall, and where you should re-enter the fight for women’s civil rights.
As promised, from time to time I will take a break from navel gazing and bring you news from the outside world. I call these breaks Interludes. Below is Interlude #4. In our first ever "Ask An Activist" Interlude, we spotlight a kickass woman, a kickass mom, and a kickass human being. I hope you enjoy our latest intermission!
Please stay true to yourself & stay Feminist AF!
21 Questions for Maureen Shaw
1. Name: Maureen Shaw
2. Age: 36
3. Home base: New Jersey
4. Tell us a little about your background. Where did you grow up? When did you move to NYC? I grew up in Columbia, MD (roughly 20 minutes south of Baltimore). I moved to NYC at 22 for my first job out of college. Between Maryland and NYC though, I lived in Virginia and London!
5. How did you get involved in the fight for women’s rights and civil rights in general? When I moved to NYC, I knew one person (my best friend & then-roommate). I wanted to meet a community of like-minded women who cared deeply for women’s rights and began volunteering at NOW-NYC, which got me involved in activism. Haven’t been able to shake the bug since ;)
6. Editor's Note: question six has been shelved, but will be back at a later date. Thx!
7. What scares you the most about where women’s rights are at this time in history? I literally don’t even know where to start. The Trump administration is trying to strip our rights away at record speed, between rolling back abortion access and Title IX protections for sexual assault survivors, demolishing attempts to achieve equal pay, and on and on and on. And it’s not just women whose rights are being tossed aside; people of color, LGBT folks, immigrants, Muslims and Jews, we’re all facing attacks.
8. What makes you hopeful/happy? As dire as the political and cultural situation is in the United States, the spirit of the resistance is a source of pure joy and hope. To see communities rise up in defense of each other’s rights is magnificent.
9. I loved and reposted you Instagram pix of you and your sweet kids protesting against 45 and bigotry where Ellie holds up a sign saying “Racism Stops with Me.” How are you raising your kids differently in a post-Obama world? That was so fun! It was their first taste of activism, and my daughter loved it! My husband and I work hard to make sure our kids are “woke.” We don’t shy away from tough conversations, despite our instinct to protect them from the unsavory and awful parts of life. We’ve had age-appropriate talks with our 5-year-old daughter about racism and sexism, we stock our kids’ bookshelves with books that tackle these topics, and I plan to keep bringing them along to rallies and protests! It’s a fine line between making them aware of racism and their privilege, and not crushing their innocent perspectives on life. But we’re learning as we live it.This
10. How are you raising them differently in a Post-First Woman to Receive the Nomination From A Major Party world? Ellie was fascinated that a female could be president, which sparked many conversations about all the things girls can do. I want to keep fanning that flame of inspiration and excitement in her. There’s not a damn thing she can’t do, and I remind her of that every single day. Likewise, it’s important for my son to see women succeed in all realms of private and public life, so it becomes a norm instead of perceived as a threat to his masculinity.
11. What do you believe are the best ways to get the word out about women’s and civil rights? This may sound simple, but by talking. Talk to your friends, your coworkers, your family members. Have those uncomfortable conversations with your racist grandfather over Thanksgiving dinner. Now more than ever, it’s vital that we integrate women’s and civil rights into our daily dialogue.
12. Who are your heroes? This is going to sound cheesy, but my daughter. She is so incredibly fierce, confident and unafraid to speak her mind and has been since day one. It took me decades to achieve the self-confidence and spirit she has!
13. Favorite feminist book and website? I’m a huge fan of anything by Jessica Valenti, and I recently fell in love with Roxanne Gay’s Bad Feminist. In terms of a website, I’m quite enamored with The Establishment; their commitment to intersectionality is impressive and unparalleled.
14. Moment when you felt you were on the field leaving a mark? I’m not sure I’ve had that moment yet!!
15. What are your short and long term activist goals? My short-term goal is to be the loudest, squeakiest wheel possible during the Trump administration’s tenure. Being a mom to two young kids often hinders my ability to get out on the street in protest, so I take to writing as my primary form of activism. Long-term, my goal is raising feminist kids who fight for not only their rights, but for those of others.
16. Do you think of yourself as an activist who writes or a writer with a focus’ on women’s and civil rights fights? Can they even be separated? For me, writing is in large part a form of activism. I have a 2- and 5-year-old, and their little lives take up 90% of my time, so writing has become my primary source of activism these days. For me, they’re inseparable.
17. Are you a solo traveler? Why? Why not? No! I’ve never traveled solo, and that’s something I wish I had done. When I was in my 20s, I traveled with girlfriends all the time – it was so much fun. When I met my husband, we started traveling together to all corners of the world. While I value alone time (especially now…thanks kids!), I’ve always loved having a travel partner because their perspectives on a new geography/culture add new dimensions to mine.
18. If you could travel anywhere where would you go? Why? Oh this is a tough one! I am blessed to have been to many places, but my bucket list of travel destinations is LONG. My travel priorities would be Kenya, Croatia, Israel and Italy.
19. The “F” word. Why does it work for you, or does it? As far as I’m concerned, feminist isn’t a dirty word, so I’ve never shied away from using it. Admittedly, the feminist movement is flawed and has historically focused on the right of White women at the exclusion of others, but the word itself just…works.
20. What are your deal breakers? Ignorance in all its forms: sexism, racism, ableism.
21. You and I met as members of NOW-NYC. We’ve raised our voices and protested together. You are white and I am black. What are your thoughts on the importance of allies and intersectionality in various civil rights struggles? INTERSECTIONAL OR BUST! Seriously. Civil rights struggles affect us ALL, even if we can’t/aren’t willing to see it. What good is my having rights if another group remains marginalized? As an ally, it’s up to me to leverage my privilege and fight on behalf of my brothers and sisters of color, those who fall outside the heteronormative/cisgender “norms”, immigrants, etc. Your struggle is my struggle because we are all human fucking beings.
Maureen, thank you so much for taking the time and for being…
Click here to read up on Maureen's invaluable work and follow her on Twitter to cheer her on as she changes the world one day at a time: @MaureenShaw
Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to come back in October when I land in a new country and survive new shenanigans!
Remember, be kind to one another, keep on traveling with a feminist eye, and keep on being Feminist AF!
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