This Awesome Feminist Scrapbook is Required Reading for 2017
What do Roxanne Gay, Mindy Kaling, Amandla Stenberg, and Matt Nathanson have in common? They—along with dozens of others writers, actors, dancers, and more—lent their voices and ideas to Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World.. Edited by former teen librarian Kelly Jensen, this collection of essays, doodles, cartoons, and poems is a scrapbook-inspired guide to finding feminism for yourself. The mishmash of perspectives (so many razor-sharp opinions!) will make you think, question your own ideals, and get a better grasp on how we can stay empowered through the future.
While feminism is always important, recently—with the election and the Women’s March and Planned Parenthood drama and the list goes on—it feels especially important that Here We Are is, well, here. Just in time for its release, we talked with Kelly about the inspo behind the book and why feminism is more important than ever.
Here We Are is a must-read for 2017...for everyone. Why do you think this was the right time to release it?
We are in an era now, especially with teens and young people in general, where we’re aware of what’s going on in the world. We’re not afraid to talk about things that are just and unjust. This book is an opportunity to not just offer voices for people to show themselves, but also to show young people that they are important and belong. We want you to contribute to this conversation. Girls are multidimensional, and I wanted the book to represent that.
You have some very awesome (male and female!) contributors, including some unexpected inclusions. How did you decide who to pick?
From the very beginning, we wanted to cast as wide a net as possible. We had been talking about how the book could look, and from the beginning we agreed it wouldn’t be all writers or YA voices. We wanted to go wider; we wanted to get people whose names might be familiar, as well as those who aren’t. Feminism encompasses every sort of identity and profession. I sought out all the original pieces. I asked Wendy Davis to do a piece via Facebook because I didn’t have her contact info, and she said yes! I thought about today’s teens and how big their world is and how much they want to know about it. even if it’s somewhere not as sophisticated as NYC.
Was there anyone who you weren't expecting to participate but did?
Matt Nathanson! He had started following me on Twitter after this tweet I had made forever ago. I had loved him since I was a teen, so I figured I should just ask him, being prepared for a no. But he said yes! His piece was so good.
How do you think the book would’ve been perceived differently if Hillary Clinton had won?
This book has been in the works for while, and we had no idea that this is what it could come into. It’s a time that we didn’t expect to see and a time that we didn’t hope to see. If Clinton had won, it would’ve been a celebration of all we’ve accomplished. Now it’s a call to action, a guide to hope in the dark.
I love how intersectional feminism plays such a huge role in this book. How can teens, who maybe live in a small town and aren’t exposed to as many backgrounds and cultures, still practice it?
I think a lot of it comes from just being a global citizen wherever you are. It’s about reading as much as you can, and participating in tough conversations in real life or on social media. There’s so much out there, and you’re able to take it in when you spend just as much time listening than you do talking and sharing your opinion. Teens today have so many wonderful representations of feminism. There are people like Amandla [Stenberg], who are perfect examples of being an intersectional feminist. She’s a minority, a female, and she identifies as bisexual.
What advice do you have for girls who are finding feminism right now? How can they stay empowered with everything going on in politics?
Take care of yourself and do things that you can do in your own community and life that makes you feel that you’re making change. You might not be able to implement big powerful political change throughout the country, but you can when you volunteer at the soup kitchen or an after-school program. Those little things help you maintain a sense of identity when you feel like everything is hopeless.