feminist of the week: amber beilharz
Name: Amber Beilharz
Occupation: Bed bug/Writer
How would you describe yourself and your life?
I grew up in the thin alleyways of Rozelle, Sydney, but Melbourne holds my blood-beat steady. I love miniature schnauzers, copious cups of tea, city landscapes and adventures of exploring new spaces and mostly having a laugh with the people I love. I have a Diploma in Professional Writing and Editing and a BA in Professional and Creative Writing. At the moment my life is buffered by blogging poetry at www.metremaids.com with three stellar poets, friends and women from Texas, Beijing and London, as well as editing poetry at Voiceworks Magazine. In a very basic and broad way, I’m a writer, a lover, an editor, a feminist and I think that suffering (and I use suffering here without its negative edge) with MECFS (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) has taught me plenty about being a woman. Dealing with the how of being sick, has inversely taught me about how to liberate my body through looking after it.
What does Feminism mean to you?
I don’t feel as though I really had a grasp on feminism, physically and mentally before getting sick. Being ill has taught me how to delineate feminism as a type of spirituality. Feminism sits in me like a quasi-guardian. It lets me be free with my opinions and thoughts, instills a type of understanding that there’s an implicit need to create even surfaces between genders and sexualities. It gives me empathy beyond compassion. It teaches me that differences are beautiful and acceptable.
Do you think feminism has a place in today’s society?
Definitely, feminism has many stories, faces and voices. It still deserves to be heard with respect, but also spoken in a way that does not exclude men. Exclusion further exacerbates the issue. The way feminism has evolved is important to value, as women today still struggle with similar trends: being heard, treated equally in the workforce and financially and being able to express themselves through opinion, discussion and the way we represent ourselves, even in the way we dress. Coming back to this idea of looking after our bodies (question1), I think many issues are bodily: not being good enough, fit enough, the daily woes of pimples and puberty. Feminism is important to keep afloat to let girls and women know that it’s more than okay to celebrate the change of women and their bodies. That our bodies will constantly change and its something to cherish, as evidence of being alive.
Which feminist stereotype annoys you the most? Why?
The stereotype that feminism is only a FEMALE thing. I know heaps of men who subscribe to feminism thought and identify as feminists. I think it’s awesome that men can join a movement that was historically a women’s club. A man being a feminist does not make him lame, it makes him awesome. Also those stupid magazine articles that instruct and impose really shallow opinions on what not to do as a woman, or as a lover. Those kinds of columns feed off sexist stupidity.
If you could pass on one piece of advice to other feminists, what would it be?
Be who you are, constantly. Being genuine doesn’t come in jars.
Think and speak what you feel. Be unafraid of disagreements, but stand up for yourself when you feel you, as a woman you’re being devalued. Try to keep your ideas and views elastic, as these will always change and morph into stronger, sturdier structures. Also, look after yourself, the way you treat your body is a reflection on the way you treat yourself.
Do you have any feminist heroes? Who are they and why?
This is going to sound really cheesy but Beyonce! She teaches women not to be afraid of being fierce. She empowers women with her ability and desire to do good and be good. Plus she has killer curves and a powerful voice.