Categories
Our Voices

A Salon Of Our Own: And Here’s What Happened

couch-at-abby-small

LiisBeth, the shit-kicking feminist entrepreneurship zine you’re reading right now, held its first-ever consciousness raising–style salon a few weeks back. It felt like the heady old days of feminism. It felt like the thrilling future of feminism.

The evening gathering took place in the living room of LiisBeth board advisor Abby Slater—businesswoman, impact investor, social-enterprise champion—and featured two leading feminist thinkers and changemakers: Andi Zeisler, author of the brilliant We Were Feminists Once, and Sarah Kaplan, gender capitalism expert and director of the brand new excellently named Institute for Gender + the Economy at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management.

Oh, and let’s mention a third: Petra Kassun-Mutch, the instigator of the salon, founder of LiisBeth and spirit incarnate of the zine’s namesake, Stieg Larsson’s Stieg Larsson‘s Lisbeth Salander, a fictional, dragon-tattooed, streetwise avenger, champion of the underserved, unheard, and overlooked. Or in Petra’s world, women entrepreneurs.

Thirty-five members of the LiisBeth community congregated, including executives, writers, artists, activists, non-profit leaders, startup founders, and students. There were deep pockets, shallow pockets, pockets of colour, pockets of queerness, pockets of supermoms who have done it all, women at the start and end of careers, and every gradation in between.

It seemed absolutely right, the very randomness of ourselves gathered for a necessary conversation: assessing the state of feminism in this age of individualism.

Or as Zeisler might put it: How do we rescue feminism from the clutches of capitalist neoliberalism, which would divide our collective action for change and reduce feminism to a brand to sell us stuff?

Or as Kaplan might put it: Rather than stand on the sidelines of capitalism, how do we create true systemic change rather than being co-opted to fit in “nicey nice” with the status quo of inequality?

Kassun-Mutch was pressed with questions: Has feminism stalled out? With so much inequality still—we have not come nearly far enough, baby—how do we get back on track? Given that we have to swim in this system, how do we leverage the tools of business to change the system? While being sensitive to intersections of feminism—and the room was a sampling of that—how do we work together, support each other, be good allies rather than be divided by our differences?

How do we get back to collective action to change a system that so often diminishes women?

The conversation stirred up anger (as it should), plenty of laughter (as a gathering of women usually does), and a strong desire to connect between the generations and intersections and fault lines of business and non-profit. It also reinvigorated a passion and excitement for the hard work of making shit happen. Plenty of ideas flowed from the evening, which we’ll be following up in LiisBeth stories for months to come.

The next evening, LiisBeth gave us another peak into the future of feminism as the media sponsor for Zeisler’s talk at the Rotman School of Management, organized by Kaplan. Astonishingly, while Zeisler has spoken about feminism at campuses across North America, this was her first-ever invitation to speak at a business school. No doubt that has something to do with her attack on corporate capitalism for hijacking and neutering the feminist agenda, to render it into a pinked commodity.

The room was packed with young female MBA students whom Zeisler gave plenty to think about. I spoke to quite a few after the talk. Many identified as feminists, and now they were questioning what they were learning in business school. One wondered aloud, “Am I being trained to merely sell stuff to women? To exploit women, to increase profits, reduce costs, for my own advancement?”

Heading into the lecture, I introduced myself to an older executive who told me she works in finance. Given the subject of the talk, I asked what challenges she’s faced working in such a male-dominated industry. She shrugged, almost dumbfounded by my question. “You know, with sexism,” I nudged.

“None,” she said.

After the lecture, she rushed up to me, mouth agape at her apparent amnesia. “When I started my career, I was forced to share an office with a co-worker who was stalking me. I had a different approach to sales; I took time to get to know my clients rather than closing the deal on the first meeting. I was outselling my male colleagues and they couldn’t stand it. And even though I was making the company tons of money, the male executives kept pressuring me to change my sales strategy.”

And this is what she did: she left and started her own company. Things clearly went swimmingly ever since.

She admitted that she had completely forgotten that the harassment she endured was the very reason she went to work for herself.

The three MBA students I chatted with didn’t see any immediate exit strategy from the trenches. They truly worried about being co-opted by toiling in the muck of those trenches. Would they end up working for corporations that exploit women, systematically pay them less, and block opportunities?

And then their conversation drifted to asking themselves this question:

How could they work in the system while changing the system to make it more equitable?

Between them, they could check the boxes of a multitude of intersections: race, working class, immigrant, refugee, gender queer. Even though women now constitute 30 per cent of students at Rotman business school, they still feel like a maligned minority. They told me that just going to school requires enduring an onslaught of microaggressions: male students ignoring them in study groups and talking over them in class; male profs using gendered case studies (i.e. all men) and sexist language; male executive MBA students heading to strip clubs for bro-bonding after weekend classes. They don’t see that scenario changing once they start their careers, not with men still dominating business leadership and business values.

“Feminism shouldn’t be an optional lecture,” one tells me. “Feminism should be on every course curriculum in business school.”

That’s one solution. And they came to another, as they circled back to why they had chosen to do an MBA in the first place.

One had graduated from gender studies, sharpened her teeth on the critiques of capitalism, and went to work in social services and non-profits to create change. But the more she saw how corporations exploited women through their supply chains, the more she realized how hard it would be to create true change from the sidelines. “We need activism all throughout industries and in different positions in society. I wanted to become someone in business who could make change. We have to have women in business who are feminists and activists. Change won’t happen unless we have people on the inside who care about doing the right thing and can convince others to do the right thing.”

Personally, I came away from the two events chuffed by the future of feminism, and we’ll be tracking it right here in the digital pages of LiisBeth. Stay tuned for that—and for more hell-raising salons too.

 

Related Readings and Audio Interviews

Categories
Our Voices

A Salon Of Our Own: And Here's What Happened

couch-at-abby-small
LiisBeth, the shit-kicking feminist entrepreneurship zine you’re reading right now, held its first-ever consciousness raising–style salon a few weeks back. It felt like the heady old days of feminism. It felt like the thrilling future of feminism.
The evening gathering took place in the living room of LiisBeth board advisor Abby Slater—businesswoman, impact investor, social-enterprise champion—and featured two leading feminist thinkers and changemakers: Andi Zeisler, author of the brilliant We Were Feminists Once, and Sarah Kaplan, gender capitalism expert and director of the brand new excellently named Institute for Gender + the Economy at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management.
Oh, and let’s mention a third: Petra Kassun-Mutch, the instigator of the salon, founder of LiisBeth and spirit incarnate of the zine’s namesake, Stieg Larsson’s Stieg Larsson‘s Lisbeth Salander, a fictional, dragon-tattooed, streetwise avenger, champion of the underserved, unheard, and overlooked. Or in Petra’s world, women entrepreneurs.
Thirty-five members of the LiisBeth community congregated, including executives, writers, artists, activists, non-profit leaders, startup founders, and students. There were deep pockets, shallow pockets, pockets of colour, pockets of queerness, pockets of supermoms who have done it all, women at the start and end of careers, and every gradation in between.
It seemed absolutely right, the very randomness of ourselves gathered for a necessary conversation: assessing the state of feminism in this age of individualism.
Or as Zeisler might put it: How do we rescue feminism from the clutches of capitalist neoliberalism, which would divide our collective action for change and reduce feminism to a brand to sell us stuff?
Or as Kaplan might put it: Rather than stand on the sidelines of capitalism, how do we create true systemic change rather than being co-opted to fit in “nicey nice” with the status quo of inequality?
Kassun-Mutch was pressed with questions: Has feminism stalled out? With so much inequality still—we have not come nearly far enough, baby—how do we get back on track? Given that we have to swim in this system, how do we leverage the tools of business to change the system? While being sensitive to intersections of feminism—and the room was a sampling of that—how do we work together, support each other, be good allies rather than be divided by our differences?
How do we get back to collective action to change a system that so often diminishes women?
The conversation stirred up anger (as it should), plenty of laughter (as a gathering of women usually does), and a strong desire to connect between the generations and intersections and fault lines of business and non-profit. It also reinvigorated a passion and excitement for the hard work of making shit happen. Plenty of ideas flowed from the evening, which we’ll be following up in LiisBeth stories for months to come.
The next evening, LiisBeth gave us another peak into the future of feminism as the media sponsor for Zeisler’s talk at the Rotman School of Management, organized by Kaplan. Astonishingly, while Zeisler has spoken about feminism at campuses across North America, this was her first-ever invitation to speak at a business school. No doubt that has something to do with her attack on corporate capitalism for hijacking and neutering the feminist agenda, to render it into a pinked commodity.
The room was packed with young female MBA students whom Zeisler gave plenty to think about. I spoke to quite a few after the talk. Many identified as feminists, and now they were questioning what they were learning in business school. One wondered aloud, “Am I being trained to merely sell stuff to women? To exploit women, to increase profits, reduce costs, for my own advancement?”
Heading into the lecture, I introduced myself to an older executive who told me she works in finance. Given the subject of the talk, I asked what challenges she’s faced working in such a male-dominated industry. She shrugged, almost dumbfounded by my question. “You know, with sexism,” I nudged.
“None,” she said.
After the lecture, she rushed up to me, mouth agape at her apparent amnesia. “When I started my career, I was forced to share an office with a co-worker who was stalking me. I had a different approach to sales; I took time to get to know my clients rather than closing the deal on the first meeting. I was outselling my male colleagues and they couldn’t stand it. And even though I was making the company tons of money, the male executives kept pressuring me to change my sales strategy.”
And this is what she did: she left and started her own company. Things clearly went swimmingly ever since.
She admitted that she had completely forgotten that the harassment she endured was the very reason she went to work for herself.
The three MBA students I chatted with didn’t see any immediate exit strategy from the trenches. They truly worried about being co-opted by toiling in the muck of those trenches. Would they end up working for corporations that exploit women, systematically pay them less, and block opportunities?
And then their conversation drifted to asking themselves this question:
How could they work in the system while changing the system to make it more equitable?
Between them, they could check the boxes of a multitude of intersections: race, working class, immigrant, refugee, gender queer. Even though women now constitute 30 per cent of students at Rotman business school, they still feel like a maligned minority. They told me that just going to school requires enduring an onslaught of microaggressions: male students ignoring them in study groups and talking over them in class; male profs using gendered case studies (i.e. all men) and sexist language; male executive MBA students heading to strip clubs for bro-bonding after weekend classes. They don’t see that scenario changing once they start their careers, not with men still dominating business leadership and business values.
“Feminism shouldn’t be an optional lecture,” one tells me. “Feminism should be on every course curriculum in business school.”
That’s one solution. And they came to another, as they circled back to why they had chosen to do an MBA in the first place.
One had graduated from gender studies, sharpened her teeth on the critiques of capitalism, and went to work in social services and non-profits to create change. But the more she saw how corporations exploited women through their supply chains, the more she realized how hard it would be to create true change from the sidelines. “We need activism all throughout industries and in different positions in society. I wanted to become someone in business who could make change. We have to have women in business who are feminists and activists. Change won’t happen unless we have people on the inside who care about doing the right thing and can convince others to do the right thing.”
Personally, I came away from the two events chuffed by the future of feminism, and we’ll be tracking it right here in the digital pages of LiisBeth. Stay tuned for that—and for more hell-raising salons too.
 
Related Readings and Audio Interviews

Categories
Activism & Action Our Voices

A Conversation with "WE WERE FEMINISTS ONCE" author Andi Zeisler


On September 20th, 2016, Andi Zeisler, author of “We Were Feminists Once: From Riot Grrrl to Covergirl®, the Buying and Selling of a Movement,” spoke at LiisBeth’s first-ever salon (sold out).  Just prior to the event, Liisbeth’s Managing Editor, Margaret Webb, interviewed Andi.
LiisBeth: Your brilliant critique argues that feminism has been high jacked by neoliberalism, giving us what you call marketplace feminism, where women are engaged with individual choice and empowerment rather than the hard work of tackling and fixing systemic inequality. I want to start where your book leaves off. What kind of feminism do we need going forward in order to make meaningful change?
Andi Zeisler: Something that I hope is clear throughout the book is that I don’t think that marketplace feminism has replaced systemic, boots-on-the-ground feminism. I absolutely think that’s always been happening and will continue to happen. Marketplace feminism just happens to be the most amplified version of feminism right now. All the feminism work that’s been going on over the past decade is absolutely having an effect on things and that will continue to happen. I have seen feminism become much deeper, much more intersectional, much more enmeshed in people’s everyday lives and that’s the kind of feminism we need going forward. It’s not an activist project they need to take time out of their lives to do but it is their real lives and part of their everyday life.
LiisBeth: In your critique of choice feminism — whatever a self-declared feminist chooses is feminist is feminist — you argue that there has to be a “line in the sand,” that surely feminism has to stand for something. What is that?
AZ: It has to stand for equality and the autonomy and freedom of all women, not just women who can afford to make consumer choices that prop up their sense of empowerment or sense self actualization. It has to be about supporting women’s equality in every way, whether that’s financial, body, social, as a parent or whatever. It really does have to be about real equality and not a facsimile of it.
LiisBeth: You offer great examples of how feminism has been co-opted by neoliberalism and capitalism, for instance with femvertising, which is using feminism to sell things. How is this harmful to women?
AZ: Anytime a political and social movement becomes excessively individualized and made to seem that it’s something you can choose and has no impact on everyone else, that is harmful. A good example is the so-called mommy wars that has being going on for the last couple of decades, where women who opt out of the workforce because they can afford to…and talk about it as if that’s a choice versus something that’s coerced out of them by a capitalist system that’s still based on having a stay-at-home parent as an anchor. That’s damaging. It makes it seem like it’s a choice and has nothing to do with how we value women in society and in the workforce. It’s like saying that the framework of capitalism has nothing to do with people’s choices and, of course, it does.
LiisBeth: Given that we exist in this neoliberal world of capitalism, how should feminists engage with it? Are there areas or ways we can co-opt or exploit capitalism to move the feminist project forward?
AZ: I’m not saying this is an ideal form of activism but it’s one we have that seems to work well and that is public shaming — calling out companies when they stereotype women in advertising, when they make really gross gender generalizations. Or calling out TV shows when they use slurs or stereotypes. All of these things threaten to hit corporations and pop culture products where it counts, which is in the chequebook. When a critical mass of people tell them what they are doing is wrong and threaten their bottom line, that tends to get their attention.
LiisBeth: How do you think we can engage men in feminism?
AZ: This is one of those questions that I find bothersome, the very idea that men have to be invited to engage in feminism. If men care about feminism, they should not have to be invited…. (Their role) is to take feminism into spaces where they already have the ears of their peers or superiors and make change there. We absolutely need men advocating for gender equality. But if they are men who are going to wait to be invited, they are probably not the people we need. We need the people who are already on our side and willing to do the work in their community
LiisBeth: Okay, put another way, how can men gain from feminism?
AZ: Feminism has always been, by extension, about men because it’s about decimating the idea there’s a gender binary, that there are certain things women do and certain things men do. Of course, feminism has already had men in mind when we talk about things like child rearing, emotion and sexuality. That women should not be constrained by centuries of stereotypes that are often based on nothing applies to men too. When women are liberated from constricting ideas of gender, so are men and that can be really powerful.
LiisBeth: Bitch has grown from a zine into a business with a website, a lecture series, a feminist curriculum for the classroom, a lending library, a writing fellowship. How do you promote or maintain feminist values in your business?
AZ: For a long time, it was really hard because we are a nonprofit running on a shoestring and there were definite issues around the amount we were able to pay people or that we weren’t able to pay health insurance for a long time. Part of the reason we moved (from San Francisco) to Portland 10 years ago was so we could have an organization that could live its mission of being feminist. That means paying everyone a fair wage; paying health insurance for everyone, including part-time employees; having family leave policy; having a generally hierarchical but respectful staff structure. As a nonprofit, we talk about mission and visioning a lot. We talk about communication and the importance of communicating respectfully, listening to people, being open to discussion, being open to dissent. It’s not necessarily enforced in a structural way, but it’s an important organizational value.
LiisBeth: How do you practice feminism in your personal life?
AZ: I accepted a long time ago that you can be a feminist, you can advocate for feminism, but it’s impossible to live every bit of your life in what other people might consider a feminist way. For instance, I was married for almost 16 years, but I would never argue that marriage is a feminist institution or that as a feminist getting married, I made it feminist. Whether it’s where you live or how you live, what you wear, whether you shave legs — when we start talking about whether x or y is or isn’t feminist (that) gets us into that individual unhelpful place where feminism is no longer an ongoing ethic but this idea of a personal choice that can be weighed on the scales of goodness and found acceptable.
LiisBeth: You have said that feminism is not supposed to be fun or cute or sexy. It’s a movement about changing a system and changing values and that’s really hard work and demands hard conversations and conflict and confrontation. Are you bitch slapping feminists to get back into the streets to hold meaningful protests? If so, what kind of protests would you like to see?
AZ: I don’t think there’s any lack of protests. They just don’t look like they did 40 years ago. A lot of activism now happens online, which is a much more inclusive way to do activism when you think about it. Consider how many people couldn’t participate in those protests in the ’60s and ’70s because they were working in factories or their religions didn’t permit it or whatever. I think there’s much more acceptability in how we collectively practice activism and understand activism now. Feminist activism needs a range of people. Some are going to put their heads down and write policy; some will be out in communities talking to and mobilizing people. The way activism is understood now, there’s a lot more for people to do according to their strengths and what their skills are.
LiisBeth: What makes you optimistic about feminism?
AZ: There’s a lot that makes me optimistic. A lot of it is going to universities and seeing that young women are so very immersed in and involved in feminism and politics and thinking deeply and critically about media and economics and gender roles and things like that. I never understand when older feminists say, where are all the feminists? I just think they’re looking in the wrong place or they’re looking at a much narrower range subjects than today’s feminists are actually focusing on.
LiisBeth: Do you think your work at Bitch will change as a result of immersing yourself in this look at feminism, or your views of feminism will change?
AZ: I’m not sure if I can answer that. A lot of things that I wrote about are still happening and in some ways becoming more pronounced. I also think that marketplace feminism is not necessarily going to remain at the kind of tenor it is now. It’s like environmentalism 10 years ago, which was really embraced by Hollywood and advertising and at some point it was no longer the new lens to promote things. That didn’t mean people stopped caring about environmentalism. It just became less overt. I don’t think that feminist activism has ever stopped or will ever stop as long as things are the way they are. When marketplace feminism is no longer a culturally amplified thing, there will still be a ton of feminist work to be done and a ton of feminists doing that work.
 
Related Media:
A Conversation with Gender Capitalism Expert Sarah Kaplan, by Margaret Webb
How to Embed Feminist Values Into Your Company, by Valerie Hussey
Why We’re Feminists, by Valerie Hussey
Confessions of a Bad Feminist, Roxanne Gay’s Ted Talk,  by LiisBeth Curator
CBC Here and Now Interview with Andi Zeisler (audio) 
Rotman School of Management Talk Video Clip

Categories
Activism & Action Our Voices

A Conversation with “WE WERE FEMINISTS ONCE” author Andi Zeisler

On September 20th, 2016, Andi Zeisler, author of “We Were Feminists Once: From Riot Grrrl to Covergirl®, the Buying and Selling of a Movement,” spoke at LiisBeth’s first-ever salon (sold out).  Just prior to the event, Liisbeth’s Managing Editor, Margaret Webb, interviewed Andi.

LiisBeth: Your brilliant critique argues that feminism has been high jacked by neoliberalism, giving us what you call marketplace feminism, where women are engaged with individual choice and empowerment rather than the hard work of tackling and fixing systemic inequality. I want to start where your book leaves off. What kind of feminism do we need going forward in order to make meaningful change?

Andi Zeisler: Something that I hope is clear throughout the book is that I don’t think that marketplace feminism has replaced systemic, boots-on-the-ground feminism. I absolutely think that’s always been happening and will continue to happen. Marketplace feminism just happens to be the most amplified version of feminism right now. All the feminism work that’s been going on over the past decade is absolutely having an effect on things and that will continue to happen. I have seen feminism become much deeper, much more intersectional, much more enmeshed in people’s everyday lives and that’s the kind of feminism we need going forward. It’s not an activist project they need to take time out of their lives to do but it is their real lives and part of their everyday life.

LiisBeth: In your critique of choice feminism — whatever a self-declared feminist chooses is feminist is feminist — you argue that there has to be a “line in the sand,” that surely feminism has to stand for something. What is that?

AZ: It has to stand for equality and the autonomy and freedom of all women, not just women who can afford to make consumer choices that prop up their sense of empowerment or sense self actualization. It has to be about supporting women’s equality in every way, whether that’s financial, body, social, as a parent or whatever. It really does have to be about real equality and not a facsimile of it.

LiisBeth: You offer great examples of how feminism has been co-opted by neoliberalism and capitalism, for instance with femvertising, which is using feminism to sell things. How is this harmful to women?

AZ: Anytime a political and social movement becomes excessively individualized and made to seem that it’s something you can choose and has no impact on everyone else, that is harmful. A good example is the so-called mommy wars that has being going on for the last couple of decades, where women who opt out of the workforce because they can afford to…and talk about it as if that’s a choice versus something that’s coerced out of them by a capitalist system that’s still based on having a stay-at-home parent as an anchor. That’s damaging. It makes it seem like it’s a choice and has nothing to do with how we value women in society and in the workforce. It’s like saying that the framework of capitalism has nothing to do with people’s choices and, of course, it does.

LiisBeth: Given that we exist in this neoliberal world of capitalism, how should feminists engage with it? Are there areas or ways we can co-opt or exploit capitalism to move the feminist project forward?

AZ: I’m not saying this is an ideal form of activism but it’s one we have that seems to work well and that is public shaming — calling out companies when they stereotype women in advertising, when they make really gross gender generalizations. Or calling out TV shows when they use slurs or stereotypes. All of these things threaten to hit corporations and pop culture products where it counts, which is in the chequebook. When a critical mass of people tell them what they are doing is wrong and threaten their bottom line, that tends to get their attention.

LiisBeth: How do you think we can engage men in feminism?

AZ: This is one of those questions that I find bothersome, the very idea that men have to be invited to engage in feminism. If men care about feminism, they should not have to be invited…. (Their role) is to take feminism into spaces where they already have the ears of their peers or superiors and make change there. We absolutely need men advocating for gender equality. But if they are men who are going to wait to be invited, they are probably not the people we need. We need the people who are already on our side and willing to do the work in their community

LiisBeth: Okay, put another way, how can men gain from feminism?

AZ: Feminism has always been, by extension, about men because it’s about decimating the idea there’s a gender binary, that there are certain things women do and certain things men do. Of course, feminism has already had men in mind when we talk about things like child rearing, emotion and sexuality. That women should not be constrained by centuries of stereotypes that are often based on nothing applies to men too. When women are liberated from constricting ideas of gender, so are men and that can be really powerful.

LiisBeth: Bitch has grown from a zine into a business with a website, a lecture series, a feminist curriculum for the classroom, a lending library, a writing fellowship. How do you promote or maintain feminist values in your business?

AZ: For a long time, it was really hard because we are a nonprofit running on a shoestring and there were definite issues around the amount we were able to pay people or that we weren’t able to pay health insurance for a long time. Part of the reason we moved (from San Francisco) to Portland 10 years ago was so we could have an organization that could live its mission of being feminist. That means paying everyone a fair wage; paying health insurance for everyone, including part-time employees; having family leave policy; having a generally hierarchical but respectful staff structure. As a nonprofit, we talk about mission and visioning a lot. We talk about communication and the importance of communicating respectfully, listening to people, being open to discussion, being open to dissent. It’s not necessarily enforced in a structural way, but it’s an important organizational value.

LiisBeth: How do you practice feminism in your personal life?

AZ: I accepted a long time ago that you can be a feminist, you can advocate for feminism, but it’s impossible to live every bit of your life in what other people might consider a feminist way. For instance, I was married for almost 16 years, but I would never argue that marriage is a feminist institution or that as a feminist getting married, I made it feminist. Whether it’s where you live or how you live, what you wear, whether you shave legs — when we start talking about whether x or y is or isn’t feminist (that) gets us into that individual unhelpful place where feminism is no longer an ongoing ethic but this idea of a personal choice that can be weighed on the scales of goodness and found acceptable.

LiisBeth: You have said that feminism is not supposed to be fun or cute or sexy. It’s a movement about changing a system and changing values and that’s really hard work and demands hard conversations and conflict and confrontation. Are you bitch slapping feminists to get back into the streets to hold meaningful protests? If so, what kind of protests would you like to see?

AZ: I don’t think there’s any lack of protests. They just don’t look like they did 40 years ago. A lot of activism now happens online, which is a much more inclusive way to do activism when you think about it. Consider how many people couldn’t participate in those protests in the ’60s and ’70s because they were working in factories or their religions didn’t permit it or whatever. I think there’s much more acceptability in how we collectively practice activism and understand activism now. Feminist activism needs a range of people. Some are going to put their heads down and write policy; some will be out in communities talking to and mobilizing people. The way activism is understood now, there’s a lot more for people to do according to their strengths and what their skills are.

LiisBeth: What makes you optimistic about feminism?

AZ: There’s a lot that makes me optimistic. A lot of it is going to universities and seeing that young women are so very immersed in and involved in feminism and politics and thinking deeply and critically about media and economics and gender roles and things like that. I never understand when older feminists say, where are all the feminists? I just think they’re looking in the wrong place or they’re looking at a much narrower range subjects than today’s feminists are actually focusing on.

LiisBeth: Do you think your work at Bitch will change as a result of immersing yourself in this look at feminism, or your views of feminism will change?

AZ: I’m not sure if I can answer that. A lot of things that I wrote about are still happening and in some ways becoming more pronounced. I also think that marketplace feminism is not necessarily going to remain at the kind of tenor it is now. It’s like environmentalism 10 years ago, which was really embraced by Hollywood and advertising and at some point it was no longer the new lens to promote things. That didn’t mean people stopped caring about environmentalism. It just became less overt. I don’t think that feminist activism has ever stopped or will ever stop as long as things are the way they are. When marketplace feminism is no longer a culturally amplified thing, there will still be a ton of feminist work to be done and a ton of feminists doing that work.

 

Related Media:

A Conversation with Gender Capitalism Expert Sarah Kaplan, by Margaret Webb

How to Embed Feminist Values Into Your Company, by Valerie Hussey

Why We’re Feminists, by Valerie Hussey

Confessions of a Bad Feminist, Roxanne Gay’s Ted Talk,  by LiisBeth Curator

CBC Here and Now Interview with Andi Zeisler (audio) 

Rotman School of Management Talk Video Clip