Welcome to the first installment of the Summer Interview Series! The goal of this project is to hear from people with different backgrounds and perspectives on the subject of feminism. Feminism means many different things to many different people. Lets learn together.

As we seek to foster a community that can passionately share ideas in a way that is rooted in love, we ask that even if you don’t agree with what is being said, you respect the person saying it. We have not edited any of the interviewee’s responses beyond syntax and grammar—this project is not aimed to push any agenda. Respectful, thoughtful comments are encouraged; sass, uneducated notes and out-of-context bible verses will be removed from the conversation. 

Enjoy learning from people different from you, and please message us if you are interested in being part of this project. Whether you love feminism or hate it, we want to hear from you.

Without further ado, meet our first Summer Interview Series Interviewee, Eric!

Eric is a 30 year old man living in Calgary AB. He is currently raising a 3 year old lab/husky mix and a very crotchety 15 year old cat with his partner. He's an avid reader and a follower of many a fandom, including but not limited to Star Trek, Harry Potter and Game of Thrones.

Q: Would you call yourself a feminist?
A: Yes. I feel that in this day and age being a feminist needs to be second nature to us. Women have been oppressed for so long that if you are in a position to give women a voice, you need to do so.

Q: How would you define feminism?
A: Feminism is about acknowledging that there is no such thing as a "fairer" sex. It is about realizing that it is ok for women to be dominant leaders in the world. But it is also realizing that it's ok for men to be passive and take on roles that have that nurturing (for lack of a better term, maternal) aspect to them. It is about eliminating gender roles and instead letting each individual choose what role best suits them.

Q: Why do you (or don't you) think feminism is important?
A: Feminism is important because it is time to undo the damage done by the patriarchal attitude that society has allowed to exist for the past few centuries. We have lived for so long under the guise that women must act, look and be one way and men must act, look and be another.

Q: What was your first interaction with feminism like? Was it positive or negative? How did your views on feminism evolve into what they are today?
A: My first interaction with feminism was when I was 16 and had just entered the LGBT+ community, and I have to say it was pretty negative. It was a group of lesbians telling me how men had ruined the world and how [men] should be oppressed to "equal things out.” It made me feel belittled and like I was supposed to be nothing more than a necessary evil in society. Thankfully, shortly after that I discovered the amazing Margret Cho and she taught me that being a feminist isn't about hating men; [feminism] is literally about not underestimating women and just giving them equal opportunity. This does not have to be a war between the sexes.

Q: What aspect of feminism are you most passionate about?
A: This one is fairly straightforward to me. The aspect of feminism that makes me passionate is seeing women stand up and use their voices. It's so inspiring to see women be unafraid to stand up and push into their fields of interest whether or it is male dominated or not. To not let the older generations say that it is unladylike to follow their hearts and dreams. 

Q: What is one area of feminist discourse you think we need to pay more attention to and why is it important to you?
A: I'm actually really glad to see this is part of the questions. The area of [feminist] discourse that we need to pay attention to is how the patriarchy wounds men. Men are under an extreme amount of pressure and I think it gets forgotten when it comes to [feminism]. Our masculinity is constantly being challenged. We (men) need to have ambition, make enough money to support our significant others and family. We are expected to be athletic and handy and unemotional. And if we don't live up to those expectations of society, then we are considered weak and less of a man.  And if we dare to show emotions than we are considered sissy and gay because a real man doesn't cry or show affection. We need to change that attitude and say that it is ok for men to be more passive, just as it is ok for women to be more dominant.

Q: What is one argument against feminism (or for feminism) that you are sick of hearing? Why does it bother you and can you please provide a counter-argument?
A: This was actually the toughest question for me because there are so many arguments against feminism that I'm so sick of hearing. But the one I can give the strongest counter argument for is this: that being a feminist means you can't be feminine. That you can't wear the frilly dresses, or be the stay at home mom, or enjoy being "girly" because being a feminist is supposed to mean overthrowing the patriarchy. And to that I say this: being a feminist means being your most authentic self. If that means you are a stay at home mom that's fantastic. If that means you are a CEO of a Fortune 500 company or a world leader, then go get it. If it means you prefer skirts and dresses to pant suits, or short hair to long hair, or make up to the nines vs. no make up, it’s fine. It's all part of feminism because you are a fighter for the right to be your own unique woman. That is what being a feminist is.

Q: Do you think feminism is accurately represented in today's pop-culture? What are they getting right? What are they getting wrong? What does authentic feminism look like to you?
A: Feminism is still not accurately portrayed in pop culture, but it's better than it ever has been.  Women still aren't recognized for the same achievements men are. For example, Instagram celebrities like Kylie Jenner and her sisters are famous because of their looks, not because of the message they are spreading. That being said, they are using their own brand of feminism to become famous. To me authentic feminism is fighting for women's rights (like equal pay) without having to tear down another group. It's about building each other up and supporting each other rather than belittling others about something as superficial as body image.

Q: Anything else you want to share?
A: Feminism has been one of the greatest revolutions of our time. It has come so far and there is still a lot of fight left. However, I feel that we have lost sight of how feminism means something different to everyone. We slut shame women for playing the field rather than acknowledging that they feel sexually liberated and let them be. We call rape victims whores instead of taking them seriously and giving them a voice. We judge women who wear religious garment(like niqabs and hijabs) for allowing themselves to be oppressed instead of recognizing that their faith is important to them and allowing them the freedom to keep that faith. Every time we judge each other for these things, we lose focus of the ultimate goal of true equality. We are fighting the wrong battles. We need to fight the battles of true injustice. We need to fight for proper funding of women's health. We need to fight for women to be paid the same as a man for doing the same job. We need to fight for the women who get passed over for promotions because they are working mothers. We need to fight for every girl to have the right to be educated. This is how we move feminism forward. This is how we win.