The Feministing Five: Emily Heroy

Emily HeroyEmily Heroy is Executive Editor and co-founder of Gender Across Borders, a blog that serves as “a global voice for gender justice.” The site started in April 2009 in the interest of promoting the voice of global feminism and highlighting issues that affect women abroad.

Originally from Chicago, Emily went to college in New York to study music. After browsing through a course catalog, she noticed that almost all of the classes that interested her were in the gender and sexuality studies department, despite her aversion to the term “feminist” in her younger years. After graduating from NYU in 2007, she joined the Peace Corps in Morocco and upon returning, felt the need to write about issues facing women outside the U.S. after realizing that a lot of the feminist blogosphere was focused on North America. And her writing is definitely on point. She’s the kind of writer that you feel grateful to read and to have out there as the work she does and stories she tells are so important.

Along with her hard work at GAB, she is attending the University of Illinois at Chicago in the MA history department in the hopes of becoming a high school teacher and eventually teaching women’s history. And lord knows we need more teachers like Emily in our school system.

Emily has volunteered and worked at organizations such as Women and Youth Supporting Each Other, Girls for Gender Equity, NARAL Pro-Choice New York, and the Association for the Promotion of the Status of Women. In March 2011, she was named one of the top 100  ”most inspiring people delivering for girls and women” from the NGO Women Deliver and in June 2011, she was named one of the top 40 Under 40 Leaders by the New Leaders Council.

And now, without further ado, the Feministing Five, with Emily Heroy.

Anna Sterling: How would you define global feminism?

Emily Heroy: The reason I like global feminism as opposed to just the term feminism is because I’m hoping that it encompasses more than women’s equality. I’m hoping it includes not just different types of people from different backgrounds, different abilities, and different classes, but also different countries and different cultures.

AS: Who is your favorite fictional heroine, and who are your heroines in real life?

EH: I like Allen Bradley books, the Flavia De Luce mysteries. His books are stories about this 11 year old girl in pre-1950s England. I like that she’s really curious and into science. Her mom died when she was little and her mom was a scientist so she does all these experiments and tries to solve mysteries. I just love her curiosity.

I’m really fascinated by Ida B. Wells. She was really involved in race issues in the late 19th century/early 20th century. She was involved in anti-lynching campaigns and the suffrage movement, but she was pushed out of both movements. Her life is just fascinating. She spent a lot of time in Chicago as well. She’d probably be one of my heroines.

AS: What recent news story made you want to scream?

EH: The whole controversy around birth control. It pisses me off because it affects our everyday lives and it makes me wary of politics and rhetoric. What happens now that birth control is controversial as opposed to abortion? I just don’t understand.

Also, the issue going on in Uganda. The recent conference on rights was shut down and they’re reintroducing the anti-homosexuality bill. The fact that American conservatives have a hand in that.

AS: What, in your opinion, is the greatest challenge facing global feminism today?

EH: It is a western white woman’s construction and associated mostly with middle class, white women and it’s difficult to appeal to other cultures and other people especially outside the U.S. and North America who have heard of feminism but only understand the negative connotations that come with it. It’s really hard to have a single goal in mind when you’re dealing with so many different cultures. I think the issue is exclusion and trying to include everyone when we all come from so many different backgrounds and places.

AS: You’re going to a desert island, and you’re allowed to take one food, one drink and one feminist. What do you pick?

EH: I would pick Ida B. Wells. She would have a lot of stories to talk about. She met a lot of other famous people then during the anti-lynching campaigns and suffrage movements and I can fill her in on where feminism has gone today. My drink I would take would be a milkshake and the food I would take are cupcakes.

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