Andrea is a crisis/support line volunteer with SACHA, a first time member of the TBTN Hamilton organizing committee, a student in the Social Service Worker program at Mohawk College, and an avid collective gardener!
Jen: What first drew you to TBTN and how old were you when you first started marching?
Andrea: What drew me to take back the night the first time was actually a teacher who was at the school that I’d been talking to, and I mentioned that I was reading a book by Jessica Valenti called Full Frontal Feminism and she asked me if I identified as a feminist…and I was unsure at the time, but she let me know about TBTN and so I got excited and I wanted to be a part of it—I was 17 at the time.
J: How does if feel to participate in an event like TBTN—an event with so much history in terms of the women’s movement and the fight for social justice?
A: What I like about TBTN is that it’s a chance for so many women of different ages to come together, and to not be silenced about the violence that we either live with or in fear of. We can console each other, listen to each other’s stories, and empower each other to go forward and fight injustice.
J: Has your relationship to TBTN changed in any way by becoming one of its organizers?
A: Definitely! I appreciate so much more the things that take place at the event, all the work that is done behind the scenes by women. And also–I was thinking about this—this is the thirtieth year, it’s been 30 years of women working their asses off to put this event together, confronting violence against women. It’s really exciting and awesome to be a part of it.
J: What role will you be taking on during the event this year?
A: I’ll be setting up and serving food. I don’t like to be in the spotlight, so…
J: No doubt some of that food will be food that you helped to grow in the TBTN garden!
J: The theme for this year’s TBTN is Sisterhood, Strength, Solidarity—I was wondering if those ideas have any special meaning for you.
A: I was thinking about this today, and it kind of seemed like the holy trinity of feminism. I think those are three crucial aspects of feminism. And I think what’s most important to me, in that, is solidarity—people coming together from different communities, and learning from each other, and then being able to move forward…making sure everyone is a part of the movement and benefiting from the work that happens…
J: …and showing that a lot of different types of oppression intersect with one another in various ways…
A: …and not silencing anyone else.
J: I know that you’re in your early 20s so I thought I’d ask if you think there is reluctance among members of your generation, particularly young women, to identify as feminist?
A: I think there’s a lot of reluctance and I think there are a few different reasons for that. I think some young women who are in social justice movements have some good reasons for not wanting to identify this way–feminism has a bit of a past of being cissexist or racist so I can understand this reluctance. I think there’s also reluctance because there is quite a stereotype of feminists being hairy lesbians that are angry, and we eat tofu. Not that there’s anything wrong with being lesbian and eating tofu! It can be really hard to be the one to step up and to point out that there are still many inequalities between men and women. And I think there just needs to be more discussion about what people want feminism to continue to be about and maybe righting some of the wrongs that have happened in the past…
J: …actively confronting some of its historical exclusions…
J: Now for something a little different: If you had a time machine, what kind of world would you hope to visit in the not too distant future, let’s say 2025—basically, if you had a magic wand that could transform the world, what would your feminist utopia look like?
A: (Laughs) An egalitarian society without violence. One that respects the earth, rather than exploiting it. With watermelons growing in copious amounts!
J: This is a thought experiment so you can hope for anything you’d like!
A: That’s my dreamworld…!
J: Is there anything else that you would like to mention that we haven’t touched on?
A: I’m not sure how to word this exactly, but for people to remember to be inclusive of trans women. It’s important for us to listen to their experiences and not assume we know what’s best for them.
J: What are you most looking forward to this year at TBTN?
A: I’m looking forward to seeing all the women there…I always get excited to see all the different women and the variety in ages… I really enjoy that. There are people there from ages 8 to 80. I think it’s really beautiful.
J: I guess that’s also something we’re trying to do with these interviews—to celebrate how many generations of women have been involved in this event, have participated in this struggle, and are still wanting to be part of the event…daughters, mothers, grandmothers!
A: And I do like the food…
J: Nothing wrong with that!
J: And finally—as an avid collective gardener for TBTN—what’s your favourite vegetable?
A: My two favourite vegetables are carrots and kale.
J: Thanks Andrea!