Today’s Spotlight is on Rebecca Fernandez, founder of The Women Take Over, a site she started with the hopes of spreading positivity and sharing the stories of inspiring people who are doing their part to make a difference in the world. And, by all accounts, she’s a strident feminist and eternal optimist. You can follow her on Twitter @ParksFernandez and Instagram.
I can’t remember the moment I realized I was a feminist — I think I’ve just always sort of known. That said, I came to the conclusion a few years ago that I didn’t know enough about the movement: its history, the setbacks and successes and the women who have been instrumental for the advancements that have taken place. I knew it was an important part of my life, and I wanted to dedicate myself to truly learning what it means to be a feminist. I started reading everything I could get my hands on (there are so many amazing books; my library is bursting at the seams), and although there are many websites I found supporting feminism, there wasn’t a platform that spoke to me in a way that made me feel welcome and part of a community. With The Women Take Over, I hope to share the stories of feminists and their journeys in a way that women (and men) can relate to and feel included in the conversation.
I want to present feminism in a way that is accessible and educational without being intimidating. For instance, I hope that if a person is waffling on their feelings towards feminism, they can look at TWTO and say, “Yes! That’s me! I’m definitely a feminist.”
I have learned something deeply personal about myself and my thoughts on feminism from each and every interview I’ve done. From Meredith Walker’s thoughts on the future of feminism to the way Danielle Henderson applied humor to the serious nature of the movement, each new interview teaches me something profound. With that said, my favorite interview would probably have to be my inaugural one with Marcelle Karp, the co-founder of BUST. She is the definition of feminism to me: someone who will share with you what she has learned and always takes the time to talk about the issues in a thoughtful and helpful manner. Marcelle truly embodies all the ideals I admire. She has been a constant source of inspiration and I hope one day I can be to someone else the mentor she’s been to me.
Feminism means something different to everyone. How do you define it? How do you live it?
Feminism simply means equality. To me, this equality we’re fighting for isn’t just for women — it’s for everyone. The world will be a better place when people of all backgrounds are represented and have a voice. According to the research of the Athena Doctrine, 58% of people agree that if there were more women in power, there would be greater economic prosperity.
For me, spreading the values of feminism and trying to achieve one thing every day that is positive in the feminist community helps me remain focused on the end goal of true equality. I think it’s also important to surround myself with people who share my values and can help me better understand both myself and what feminism means to me, as well as our society at large.
Never underestimate the power of conversation!
What could the feminism movement do better?
With every movement there will be criticisms, and listening to criticisms can be crucial to ultimate success. The uphill battle we’re fighting to achieve equality must be malleable and have the ability to evolve, which it has done over the many decades since its inception.
The power of the Internet has been instrumental to the resurgence of feminism. It has brought education and attention to our issues to every corner of the planet. However, the thing about living in the age of virtual information, is to remember the line between constructive criticism and negativity. Negativity can breed hostility, and with something so important I believe those of us within the movement need to be aware of the feedback we supply each other. We all must work together, because once we become divided the progression ceases.
I would love to see women use each other as a support system. In a perfect world, we would all act as ladders for one another’s success; offering our individual skills and experiences to other women would be invaluable to all of our futures.
The work the women are doing over at the Kind Campaign to eradicate what they call “girl on girl crime” is so inspiring to me. The idea that we don’t have to see each other as threats at any age is such an important concept, and for us to all put that into practice could change the future dramatically.
Who is your top feminist role model?
Right now, it has to be Amy Poehler. She is such a positive role model for girls and her project, Smart Girls at the Party, encourages girls to be themselves — and be great! She has been an incredibly outspoken voice in the feminist community, and hopefully young girls will follow in her footsteps and identify as feminists while achieving their goals.
Her recent interview with Elle Magazine sums up my thoughts on women who are reluctant to identify with the feminist movement so perfectly:
“I think some big actors and musicians feel like they have to speak to their audience and that word is confusing to their audience. But I don’t get it. That’s like someone being like, ‘I don’t really believe in cars, but I drive one every day and I love that it gets me places and makes life so much easier and faster and I don’t know what I would do without it.'”