My idea of feminism during my freshman year of college was fairly vague. My ideology was that “I am a woman and I would stand for women’s rights if the occasion came up.” I knew that “man-hating” was not feminism, but I thought it was mainly about ensuring that women got equal rights when compared to men. However, during my time as a writer, reader, publisher, and English major at Regis University, my ideas were challenged and expanded.
In my sophomore year, I joined Regis’s publishing team. At one point, the staff received a submission of an original song for our creative arts journal, Loophole. In this song, the speaker discussed her trauma from being raped in college. To be honest, this type of content, at the time, was alarming to me. I knew these things happened, especially (and unfortunately) on college campuses, but hearing a personal account through music was powerful and eye-opening. As a team, we discussed whether this was an appropriate piece to include in Loophole. We were concerned about it becoming a trigger for individuals who had had similar experiences. In the end, we did decide to publish it. We felt that it was a voice that needed to be heard, and that the piece would instill awareness and empathy for the issue of rape on college campuses. Our journal is called Loophole for a reason—our goal is to break boundaries and share stories from all walks of life without any limits or restrictions. This experience allowed me to realize the power of publishing and how the industry has a real power to call attention to often unheard voices. Feminism means standing up for those who experience trauma and oppression.
In a poetry course I took my senior year, we read many contemporary women writers, including Naomi Shihab Nye. Her poem “Gate A-4” contains the line, “This is the world I want to live in. The shared world.” Poetry has this way of smacking you in the face with only a couple of lines. The humility, vulnerability, compassion, and empathy of these lines struck my heart to the core. To me, feminism is about being human; it is about reaching beyond the status quo and surrendering yourself to the common good and care of people from similar to completely different backgrounds. “The shared world” is what feminism looks like to me.
My literature courses also expanded my definition of feminism. The most sacred experience of reading literature is the opportunity to walk in someone else’s shoes. My encounters with Toni Morrison and Ralph Ellison’s characters revealed what it means to be part of a heritage of people who were enslaved and who continued to be discriminated against. During a course on Jane Austen, I learned that Austen’s writing exemplifies what it means to break the boundaries of societal expectations and become a creator of beauty. “What are men to rocks and mountains?” Elizabeth Bennet asks, identifying the decision to stand up against what society expects of women and claim what one truly loves. Feminism is about loving yourself and proclaiming your desires to a society that may be proclaiming something different.
As a Gazing Grain intern, I have learned about numerous aspects of the publishing field and acquired new skills in design and marketing. However, the most crucial lesson I have learned thus far is the idea of inclusive feminism. Gazing Grain’s mission statement states that “inclusive feminism makes available space for a diversity of writerly identities. We are interested in socially conscious work that explores ideas of identities as connected to gender, sexuality, race and ethnicity, culture, and ability.” From the moment I read this statement at the beginning of the semester until now, I have been fascinated to see this belief in action.
My mission as the current editor of Regis’ student publications and throughout my future career in publishing is to promote inclusivity. I want to constantly seek out voices that are different and eye-opening, and that have been marginalized by mainstream expectations. I want to promote the voices of people of different genders, sexualities, races, ethnicities, cultures, and abilities, which Gazing Grain has revealed to me this semester.
Alexander Hamilton said, “Those who stand for nothing will fall to anything.” I am extremely grateful to each of my professors for sharing with me literature that revealed the true beauty of inclusive feminism. As I move on to my career in publishing, I intend to use this philosophy to publish voices crying out to be heard and yearning to be empathized with. I intend to publish the human voices that have survived, endured, and conquered the world’s often non-inclusive mindset. I will not fall to anything.