In celebration of our 2011-2012 editorial circle, I wanted to provide our out-going editors a chance to share thoughts on feminism and personal insights in working with the journal. Here we can share dialogue about what feminism is and means to us personally and politically and create pathways of equality together. I have asked our editors a series a questions and below Alyse Knorr, Poetry and Blog Editor, MFA Poetry answers and celebrates.
Q: Why is feminism important to you? What does it mean to you?
A: Feminism is important to me and to people of any gender because it deals with the most basic questions of fair and equal treatment of all people–something that everyone deserves as a simple human right. When I tell someone that I’m a feminist and they connect that to being “radical,” I try to point out to them that there is really nothing “radical” at all about a feminist message. Equality and justice for everyone is a common sense goal, not a radical one. Many people I know or have known who would never call themselves feminists would, based on their values and beliefs, actually fit into my definition of “feminist” quite easily.
What feminist work offers to me is an outlet for the frustration and anger that I feel when I look at our society and see that equality and justice for everyone is not a goal that has been achieved yet. When I see a problem, I like to be able to work toward getting that problem remedied–even if all I can do is a tiny, tiny fraction of what needs to be done. It still helps some–every little bit does–and my feminist work gives me hope for the future and pride in myself and my fellow feminists in the present.
Q: How has StS helped you learn about feminism? How has your work with StS helped create an expanding definition of feminism?
A: So to Speak has helped me understand that feminism means many different things to many different people, and that this is not only ok, but necessary to create positive dialogues. Inclusive feminism (third-wave feminism in particular) recognizes that people will have different definitions for feminism and its role in society, but that, as long as these differing opinions are respectful and promote justice and equality, they strengthen our cause instead of weakening it. “Feminism” does not limit itself to one definition, message, or “party line.”
I hope that my work with the blog and with poetry in StS has promoted an expanding definition of feminism by embodying diversity and inclusivity. I sought to include writers of many different backgrounds and from many different walks of life in the poetry of each issue of StS that I worked on, as well as writers who differed aesthetically and in their feminist philosophies. On the blog, I tried to write about all kinds of issues, from monuments and statues to sci-fi female heroes, to demonstrate just how all-encompassing these kinds of feminist dialogues can and should be.
Q: Talk about what initially drew you to StS and what created the desire in you to take on an editor’s role.
A: As soon as I heard that George Mason had a feminist journal, I knew that I wanted to work for it. Similar opportunities hadn’t existed for me at my undergraduate institution, and I didn’t know how much I needed a space like StS until it was in front of me and available. I was excited at the chance to have conversations about feminism with the intelligent, creative people on the staff, and especially excited to promote feminist writing through the ever-important act of publication.
The whole ethos of the journal just seemed positive and genuine. Everyone working there was (and still is) so passionate about what they’re doing–artistically, politically, and more. That’s why, after my first year of reading for the journal, applying for an editorship seemed like a no-brainer. I wanted to get more involved and have a hand in the creative side of production. My work with StS ended up being one of the things I’m most proud of during my three years at Mason.
Q: Talk about an amazing moment you had with StS.
A: One moment that felt really amazing to me was sitting in the audience of our AWP panel in March in Chicago. It was the first time we’d ever had a panel, so that alone was exciting, but then there was the added bonus that the panel was just unbelievably successful. The panelists were fascinating, and started a great discussion among audience members (about 200 of them) about the changing definitions of feminism and how these changes affect the writing and publishing community. The audience members were getting so into the discussion, and I just felt so proud of our staff for all the work we do to bring discussions like these into the world.
During my third and final year with the journal, so much changed so quickly–we had just started the blog and online summer issue, a Twitter account, Fall for the Book and AWP panels, a charity poetry reading, other community events, and more. The AWP panel just seemed like this very present, tangible evidence of all of our recent expansions and efforts. It was such a powerful moment to look around the room that day in Chicago.
Q: Talk about your accomplishments w StS. What have you strived for with
I strove to include more diversity in our poetry contributors–diversity in terms of gender, gender expression, orientation, race, age, ability, aesthetic, and political doctrine. With my work on the blog, I strove to expand the conversations that our journal begins into the online realm, so that more people could freely and easily access us and join in our dialogue. Through the
blog, I also strove to expand the scope of our journal beyond just the creative/artistic and into more directly political territory.
Q: What do you hope for StS in the future? What do you hope for feminism
in the future?
A: I hope that StS continues to maintain all of the new exciting endeavors that began during my time at the journal–the panels, the charity poetry reading, the blog and summer issue, etc. And I hope that the journal continues to become more directly engaged with the local community, as well as more directly politically engaged. Although the production of each issue is obviously our first priority, we do have an important responsibility, I think, to feminism because of our political bent.
I hope that feminism continues to diversify and grow more and more inclusive. I hope especially that the “re-branding” of feminism will mean the end of unfair stereotypes of feminists and feminist beliefs, as well as open the movement up so that more people can become involved. I hope that education and outreach will inform young people enough so that someday, more than just one or two of my 18-year-old freshman composition students will feel comfortable raising their hands when I ask them who considers him or herself a feminist.