Kelley Quinn: What Feminism Means to Me

(Kelley reading one of her poems at Poetry Jamz at Blackbird Coffee)

Meet Kelley Quinn, an English major at Georgia College who never passes up the opportunity to voice her opinion and beliefs--one of many admirable assets she possesses that more college women could learn from. Getting to know Kelley in my English courses and reading and hearing her feminist writings made me feel the need to share Kelley and what she's all about with those of you who may not know her because YOU NEED TO KNOW HER. 

Year: Junior

Major: English Creative Writing

 

Her Campus: How would you explain your version of feminism? Who influenced it (writers, theorists, professors, friends, etc.)?

 

Kelley: I think my version of feminism should be the version everyone should want and should assume feminism is. I simply believe that every human being, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, culture, etc, matters. And to say "I'm not a feminist!" is to essentially say you believe another human matters less than you do. My feminism has always been there, but definitely began in 4th grade after reading a lot of Maya Angelou. And then came to solidify more in 10th grade after reading The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. I also listened a lot to my peers and how they talked about women and for women. In 9th grade, after reading Speak, a story about how a girl the summer before 9th grade was raped by a senior and how none of her friends believed her, a boy in my class raised his hand and said "I know it sucks, but I don't really understand why it's such a big deal". And of course this angered me. She was raped. She was violated. Later, I realized the reason this guy didn't get it is because no one had explained to him what rape is and how it affects people. He didn't understand. It was ignorance, not cruelness that caused him not to understand. Another thing that helped me solidify my opinion is the way women treated other women. I consistently saw men degrade women, but the way the girl treated their friends and other girls was horrendous. The gossiping and the slut shaming was the worst between women. If we want to be respected and treated equally, we have to build each other up. A woman is not a slut for having a lot of sexual partners. She is not dirty or wrong. A woman is not a prude if she doesn't want to have sex until marriage. She is not lame or boring. It's her body. The slut shaming is common from men but the fact that other women do it to each other is embarrassing and wrong. That's why it's important for me to embrace feminism and that men should support it too. The reason I endorse the word Feminism and not the word Humanism is because the focus is on the oppression of females, but the encouragement of equality. Yes, humanism is the exact same thing: that all humans are equal. But if the word "feminism" makes you hesitate to support the cause, then you are the reason feminism is needed. 

 

HC: Why does it matter to you?

 

Kelley: It matters to me because I matter to me. I care about people. I also care about myself. I want a woman to exercise her right to say no. I want a man to be able to be a virgin and not have his "mancard" revoked. I want a gay man to still be seen as masculine. I want a woman to fall in love with another woman and not be seen as sexual entertainment. I want sex workers to be respected. The people (usually men) that are against sex workers make no sense because they are literally the ones consuming the "product:" the porn, the strip clubs, the prostitution companies. It matters to me because I'm tired of having to remind people that I deserve to matter. And I'm tired of people being surprised that I know my worth. 

 

(Kelley reading one of her poems on the Peacock's Feet Secret Poetry Radio Show) 

HC:You've written some profound pieces of feminist works in our fiction workshop class. Is that what you hope to continue after college or do you have other plans?

 

Kelley: I enjoy writing feminist works because I think it's interesting to show the perspective of these matters, such as the sexual assault of a male from a woman, and bringing awareness of these things to light. I actually really want to do sex education in South America or work in a women's clinic after college. I'll definitely be writing stories along the way and, hopefully, get published, but my writing may become background as I focus more actively on supporting the community I'm in and building strong women and men. I think that is equally as important as writing to bring awareness. I hope to do both.

 

HC: Where should students go or start if they are interested in learning about equality for women or female advocacy?

 

Kelley: I think it's really easy to start by simply asking your friends. Ask them: "How can I make you more comfortable?" "How do you feel walking home alone at night?" Also, the Women's Center is a great resource. And I know, I know that the whole "Women" in the title is scary. And men are going to claim it's sexist. But that is the exact same fear that pushes people away from feminism. It's different. We need difference to embrace change. Also, reading a lot of feminist works can help too. Whether it's fiction or nonfiction or just facts about rape, drugging, stalking, sexual harassment on campuses or in the work field, will really help to broaden awareness. I think it's a common misconception that because you are not female, this is not your problem. But we can only go so far without the support of the majority: men. So ask your sisters and your mothers and your female professors what you can do to help. This is your world too!

 

What an extraordinary woman we have on our very own campus!

Be sure to catch Kelley's readings at Poetry Jamz on the third Wednesday of every month, 8:00 pm, at Blackbird Coffee in downtown Milledgeville!