Friday, March 7, 2008

Harris: Interview

According to The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, “feminism” is the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes. It is known to be an organized activity on behalf of women's rights and interests but we all know that feminism to some can mean a lot of different things. Throughout history we have gone through three waves of feminism, all of them having their own meaning of the word “feminism.” Historians have connected the movement of the 19th century as being the beginning of first wave feminism. They believe granting women the right to vote (19th Amendment) was a great era to claim as first wave feminism. First wave feminist focused on one goal, that being equality for women. But a great deal was sacrificed to achieve the goal which led to the start of second wave feminism. Second wave feminism was just a continuation of the first wave. But third wave feminism was more inclusive. It included all of those who were left out in the movement. Third wave feminist blamed the second wave for having a tradition view of men, women, and sexuality. So, after learning about the history of feminism, women today seem to have their own views on it and have developed their own definitions depending on their beliefs. Therefore, I decided to interview a woman that I felt really understands the history of feminism. The woman that I chose to interview was my grandmother, Annell Brown.

Annell Brown is a native of Savannah, GA who currently is in her late 60s. I believe that Ms. Brown was a great woman to interview because she is always telling her grandchildren what she went through in her early childhood. She is always telling stories and comparing todays generation to those of the past. I felt that interviewing her would not only give me a better understanding of what happened with feminism in the past but it would also draw us closer together as grandmother and granddaughter. I felt that Annell Brown represents what I feel a feminist truly is.

Before starting my interview, I decided to give Ms. Brown some background information on what our women studies class is about. I explained to her what we discussed in class and some of our views on certain topics. It was very interesting telling her everything that we discussed because she had some similar feelings towards certain topics so it was very easy to get into the interview. The first question I asked Ms. Brown was, “What makes you a feminist?” Ms. Brown said that she is a feminist because of that she believes in. She explained that when she was a little girl she had to deal with inequality on a personal level. Raised in a large family, she had to deal with a lot of negative comments when looked at by a Whites and even men. Annell Brown never had to experience slavery but she learned about it through her grandmother who was a slave. She explained how her family had to struggle to get by because back then Blacks were never given anything. They had to find a way to survive. Ms. Brown said that while growing up women were required to stay home and take care of the house while the men went to work. She felt that this was unfair because women should have the opportunity to chose their occupations just like the men. When Ms. Brown got married and had children the issue was still the same. She had to stay at home and tend to the children. But that did not last long. Annell Brown decided to venture out and find a job so that she can have some extra change in her pockets and would not have to depend on her husband. This is what led us into our discussion about first wave feminism. This was a great example of the women in the 19th century trying to fight for equality. Trying to gain the same respect that was given to the men.

The second question that I asked in the interview was, “ Do you consider yourself a first, second, or third wave feminist?” This question took Ms. Brown a little time to answer because she never really thought about putting herself in a particular category. She later answered by saying that she would be considered a mix between first and third wave feminism. She said that because of the way she was raised she would be part of the first wave, but living in the world today she sees and understands what the feminist today believe and find herself relating to them. This was the reason why she viewed herself as a mix. Ms. Brown have some of the same beliefs of feminist from both the first wave and those of the third.

Another question that was asked was, “Do you remember when the Feminine Mystique was written?” At first, Annell Brown did not know what I was referring to but when I later described what it was she gave her thoughts and feelings on it. She explained how she understood what Betty Friedan was talking about but she really could find enough evidence to take her side. Ms. Brown understood that Friedan was for the idea that women should be encouraged to pursue careers as well as motherhood but she didn't feel that it was the most important issue at the time. Ms. Brown felt that although it was great topic, Friedan should have fought for something more important.

Next, I asked Annell Brown, “As a feminist, what are your views on the gay community?” After asking this question I realized that Ms. Brown had a strange look on her face which really explained how she felt. Ms. Brown went into explaining The Holy Bible and how it is against the Lord's word for two people of the same sex to be together on an intimate and sexual level. She explains that with that topic, to her, it really has nothing to do with feminism. She believes that the same sex issue is more of a religious matter and should treated as such.

After that, I asked Ms. Brown if she considered this day in age as being a third wave feminism and her answer was YES! She believes that we are in the third wave of feminism because of what our beliefs are. As feminist we are no longer concerned with gaining equality or being excepted by men and having the same rights as them. We are standing up for more important issues. Third wave feminist are more concern with the issues of oppression and are not focused on the traditional issues of men and women. Ms. Brown says that this is one of reasons why third wave feminist are so different from those of the first and second wave.

Another question I asked Annell Brown in the interview was, “ Do you feel we as women, still to this day, have to deal with gender inequality?” Ms. Brown, clearly with no hesitation, said yes. She feels that even though the world is thorough with segregation politically, we as Blacks still deal with it on a day to day basis. We have to deal with it in the workplace, at school, and sometimes as women even in our households. We as Blacks are constantly being judged by the way we look, talk, or even dress. She said there are times when we have to dress a certain way to fit in. In various corporate workplaces, Blacks have to dress “wealthy” to be excepted by their co-workers. Some Black students have to dress or act as if they are from a wealthy family just to fit in. But there are even times when as women we have to deal with inequality. Sometimes its in our own homes. Ms Brown explains that we as women are constantly being prejudge in our households by our husbands who don't believe we have to power and capabilities of doing everything they do plus more. We find ourselves having to prove ourself to the world. Ms. Brown states that sometimes it feels like we as Black women have it worse that anyone else. She feels that we are at the bottom of the tot um poll. We are constantly trying to fight to stay visible as those around us try to ignore and forget us.

The last question asked in the interview was, “Are you playing a key role in shaping the feminist agenda for today?” Ms. Brown simply explained that if she is it is not intentional. Annell Brown says that she just tries to live the life that God has in store for here and educate young minds in the process. She believes that as a feminist your job is to inform those around you about the issues of the world concerning women. You want everyone to learn and understand the hardships of being a women. So, with that you have the ability to change the views of the world and shape the feminist agenda for today.

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