feminist of the week: Vanessa DeCardenas
Name: Vanessa DeCardenas
Location: Tucson, Arizona, United States
Describe yourself in one word: Creative
What is your definition of “feminism”?
In my opinion, feminism is the equality of men and women.
What is your feminist philosophy?
I never really thought about that before, but something that sticks out in my mind is remembering to treat men as equals as well. Sometimes it’s easy to think that all men are scum and they all want women to make them a sandwich when we hear so many awful stories. (Wait. There is nothing wrong with women who genuinely WANT to make their men sandwiches.) But that simply is not true. As feminists, we must expect the best from men because we want men to expect the best from us. It’s no use being a terror one day, and then the next day demanding equal pay. It doesn’t work like that. Being truly equal means that we see men the same way that we see all other women.
When did you have your feminist awakening?
I finally understood what true feminism was when I was a junior in college. I was taking a class on contemporary social problems that really illuminated gender issues and cleared up the idea of feminism.
Why is feminism important in today’s world?
Feminism is extremely important in this world because, hopefully, it will lead to a change and revolution for women in all situations.
Can men be feminists? In what way?
Absolutely! A man who sees women as equal to men, in all aspects of the word equal, is a feminist.
What does the feminist movement look like in your eyes?
In my eyes, the feminist movement is all about education. I think that concepts taken from sociology and other disciplines should be introduced to children at a young age so that they can begin to understand ideas like feminism and gender situations, and also things like race and privilege.
How has social media helped the feminist cause?
I think we can all agree that social media expedites ideas all over the world in a very small amount of time. We hear things about women in other countries and we want to do something about it. In some cases, without people highlighting stories on the internet, we wouldn’t hear about them. I think sites like Upworthy, and YouTube personalities like Laci Green, have really done amazing things for the feminist cause. They’re educating and they’ve got people talking.
How has feminism affected you?
Feminism has allowed me to become the woman that I am on the inside, be visible to others on the outside.
What is the most important feminist cause in your life?
I’m not sure if this is like an official cause or not, but feminism in religions. I absolutely do not speak for religious women all over the world, but I know that in a lot of cases, religion is used as the excuse to hold women down. Religious text and stories have been twisted and used to manipulate women to place them below men and to make them think that their worth is not equal to a man’s worth. Religion and spirituality are powerful forces all on their own. When given the supposed authority to dictate how women should act, look, behave, pray and live, it becomes so much more than what it was intended to be.
Who is your favourite feminist?
At the moment, my favorite feminist is Asra Nomani. Asra is fighting for the rights of Muslim women in Islam, specifically inside of the mosque. Asra has a very powerful and unique story that changed me and gave me a new perspective on my own life. I had the pleasure and honour of meeting her this past year and would highly recommend that you check out her books, documentary, writings and website. asranomani.com
What does the future of feminism look like?
My utopian wish is that someday, feminism will no longer have to be a movement because women will be treated as equals to men. In the meantime though, I hope that feminism looks like education and acceptance.
What’s your advice to other feminists?
My advice to other feminists and to all women, is to be exactly who are on the inside and to become educated on not just feminism, but all facets and issues of society. Being educated doesn’t mean that you need to get a master’s degree. It means that you read books and newspapers and magazines, explore the world, listen to other people and their stories and become a better person while helping those around you find themselves and see this world in a new light. Lastly, look to other women in your life and in this world and allow them to teach and inspire you.
Stay up to date with Vanessa and her creativity at her website!