A Conversation with Kate Marsh, Children by Choice

As part of our ongoing blog series, we will be sitting down and have conversations with a number of advocates in our local community. This week we speak to Kate Marsh from Children by Choice.

What is your name and role, and what is your passion in life?

Kate Marsh. I’m the Communications Coordinator for Children by Choice, the founder of Pro Choice Queensland, and have been campaigning for abortion law reform in Queensland for almost nine years (yikes!).

I’m also a graphic designer and love typography and illustration. I calligraphy sweary feminist song lyrics on to vintage plates for fun (I’m wild!) – you can find them on insta under my pseudonym @SimoneDeBeaver. I have lots of passions but not enough time to pursue them all!

Why do you do what you do?

Someone asked me this recently and I found it really difficult to articulate, partly because the real and pressing need for feminism in general and reproductive justice more specifically seem so self evident to me.

I find never-ending inspiration in the older women activists I have met through my work and their passion and unfailing ferocity, and in the work my colleagues at Children by Choice do every single day in helping women access abortions in the face of such difficulty.

I guess I do what I do because I would want someone to do it if I wasn’t able to. Being able to control your fertility and whether or when you have children is such a fundamental issue and one I sometimes can’t believe we’re still fighting for.

Are you a feminist and what does feminism mean to you?

My first feminist act was organizing a relatively non-violent coup to oust the boys from the treehouse at my kindergarten so all us girls could have a go, so I think it’s safe to say I have been a feminist as long as I remember.

I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t easily outraged by gender stereotypes or anything I thought was unfair, and I think that’s largely because of my parents, who raised me to be anything I wanted to be.

Feminism to me means doing away with outdated and ridiculous gender based expectations of behaviour or capabilities or intelligence or appearances. You wouldn’t think it was controversial. My stepdaughter didn’t, when I explained it to her that way when she was 10. I’m pretty sure ‘duh’ and a confused look that there was even a word for that was her response.

What do you think is the most pressing social problem today (globally)?

There are so very many, but I think the common thread for me is wilful ignorance and intolerance. It seems that things are becoming more antagonistic and judgemental and people are more easily led to hatred, and that terrifies me and also makes me incredibly sad at the same time. I wish there was more gentleness and a willingness to understand difference.   

If there was one resource you think everyone should view, what would it be?

The first feminist text I ever read was ‘Damned Whores and God’s Police’ by Anne Summers. I was 16 years old, and until then I don’t think I had the words to put around my feelings about gender. But I remember reading it and being so excited – almost to the point of shouting to my empty bedroom ‘This is it! This is what I am! Feminism is the thing!’ – because it all just made so much sense, and because it was just so wonderful to read someone else’s words describing things I’d felt so strongly without being able to articulate.

That book was old when I read it, and I’ve never revisited it, but it was *the* most formative book for my feminism because it was the first. It’s probably not the most relevant for other people – everyone has their own lens and their own lightbulb moments, which is cool and leads to a diverse and awesome movement – but that was mine.

In terms of something everyone should view, it’s people’s experiences. Listen to the people around you and learn from them. It’s the best way to expose yourself to new ideas and experiences and, I reckon, the best way to learn and grow your feminism to be as inclusive and holistic as it can possibly be.