We are both ardent feminists whose paths crossed seven years ago in graduate school. Somehow, amidst hundreds of students milling around campus on orientation day, we wound up sitting next to each other. And not just on that day, but over the next two years in various classrooms, where our friendship and common feminist values thrived. Our relentless efforts to attack every assignment through a feminist lens even prompted one of our professors to nickname us the “gender mafia.” We’re still not sure if that was meant as a compliment, but we certainly took it as one.
To us, feminism is not merely a label, but a way of living. It’s an ethos, a paradigm on which all values rest. It is as essential as oxygen, water, food and sex. It’s inconceivable to imagine a life without feminism; we’ve dedicated our careers to it.
Although our jobs take different forms– Lindsay’s takes her to a different continent every other week, it seems, while Maureen’s primarily lives online– we earn a living protecting and promoting human rights for women and girls. It’s simultaneously challenging, rewarding and frustrating, and downright awesome.
Our lives’ fun factor went up a few notches when we began collaborating on sherights.com, a site Maureen founded in 2011 dedicated to all things feminism. Lindsay came on board as an editor in 2013 and since then, we’ve happily watched our team of contributors and readership flourish.
We’re pleasantly surprised that sherights is generating buzz, since there is a plethora of amazing, highly respected feminist websites already out there. After some initial head scratching, we’ve come to realize it’s not just our breadth of topics covered- from abortion rights in the media to sexual violence in conflict to feminism on the Internet to sex and sexuality– but also our action-oriented, rights-based approach to feminism that is drawing eyeballs to the site. There seems to be a real thirst among the feminist community to be intersectional, rights-based and honest, which is how we define ourselves over at sherights.
This is great, not just from a navel-gazing perspective, but because it means that the concept of women’s issues as human rights issues is resonating with people. We believe this is a crucial underpinning to achieving true equality- in the home, at work, in politics, in the streets and the classroom. So long as things like abortion, pay inequity, parenting and sexual violence are viewed just as “women’s” issues, they’ll forever be relegated to second-class status.
It’s time to agitate the status quo, and not just of the sexism that infiltrates nearly every aspect of our daily lives, but of feminism itself.
Maureen Shaw is an unapologetic feminist and human rights enthusiast, Maureen has dedicated the better part of the past decade to volunteering and working with NGOs and non-profits, and writing about feminist and human rights issues. In addition to sherights, her work has been featured on numerous feminist blogs, including Feministing, Jezebel, Fem2.0 and FeministsForChoice.com. You can follow Maureen on Twitter at @MaureenShaw.
By day, Lindsay Menard-Freeman is an irreverent feminist, youth activist and advocate for sexual and reproductive health and rights. Lindsay’s work has taken her all over the world — from Ethiopia to India, South Africa, Mali, Mexico, Canada, China, Austria, Malaysia, Bali and Thailand — exposing her to varying realities of women’s experiences on the ground. Catch her on Twitter at @lindsmf.