Feminist Conversations is a weekly series at Feminists For Choice. We spotlight activists from across the interwebs to find out what feminism means to them. Alison Turkos is a recent college graduate majoring in English writing and minoring in Women's Studies. She is a Development & Events intern with NARAL Pro Choice NY, she volunteers as a clinic escort, and she is currently attempting to enjoy all the feminist fun that New York City has to offer. We met up last month at the Feminists for Choice Tweetup. Here's what she had to say about feminism and choice.
1. How did you get involved with NOW?
I became involved with NOW completely by chance. While attending the "Women and Power" conference at the OMEGA Institute I met a few young women who were/are involved with the NOW-New York State-Young Feminist Task force. After sharing stories, goals, and ideas they invited me to attend a gathering back in the city that the task force was holding after the conference. It was completely unplanned and all due to fabulous networking.
2. NOW has sometimes gotten a reputation for being irrelevant to younger women, but what has your experience been like?
I have been involved with the organization for a VERY short amount of time, but so far, my experience has been amazing. The Task Force is a fantastic group of diverse individuals who all lead amazingly interesting lives, and come together for one common purpose: FEMINISM!
3. When did you first decide to call yourself a feminist? And what contributed to that decision?
I grew up in a very Feminist household, but my parents never used the term "Feminist." Gender roles have never existed in my house. I have two working parents, a mom who mowed the lawn, and a dad who is a master in the kitchen. My parents' marriage is an entirely equal partnership, so I grew up surrounded by Feminism and Feminist values, but there was never the "Feminist" label attached.
Like many other Feminists, I experienced my "click" moment when I was in college. I took a classes titled "Women in Contemporary American Culture," and on the first day of class the professor asked "who here is a Feminist?" I didn't raise my hand because I hadn't had much exposure to the word and it's meaning, but after she explained what she believed Feminism to be, I raised and my hand and declared to the entire class "hell yeah, I'm a Feminist," and ever since that day I've identified as a Feminist.
4. What does feminism mean to you?
Can I say EVERYTHING?…
I'm a firm believer in the idea that everyone's Feminism is different. My feminism is about small things like letting people know that Feminism does still exist, and we still have a lot to fight for. But it's also about bigger things, like a woman's right to choose, and her access to all things regarding her own reproductive health. In my everyday life I attempt to work towards the main goals of Feminism. Whether it's as an intern with NARAL Pro-Choice NY, a clinic escort, through my recent involvement with NOW, or as the director of the "Vagina Monologues" in college.
5. What is your favorite thing about living in New York City?
I moved to New York City for 2 reasons. The first being to join the feminist/women's community here, and the second being to jump start my career in development and fundraising in a women's organization.
I had such an amazing experience with the Women's Studies students and professors in college that I wanted to continue the adventure. So I would have to say my favorite thing about living in New York City is the opportunities it provides for me on a daily basis. I have the ability to attend a Feminists for Choice cocktail party, or a feminist film screening, or an event on a very regular basis, and for that reason I LOVE NY!