Five Questions for a Feminist: Hannah Wilson

Throughout 2017 we are going to introduce our followers to the One Woman Project team. Here we have Hannah Wilson.

What is your name and role with the One Woman Project?

Hey, my name is Hannah and I am a Course Facilitator for the Queensland team at One Woman Project. As a facilitator I help connect young people with ideas about gender inequality through in-school educational programs.

What does feminism mean to you?

To me feminism is about drawing attention to the lived experiences of women and exposing how these experiences are informed by the structures that shape our lives. It is not an accident that women are paid less than men. It is not an accident that more women are victim of sexual and domestic violence. It is not an accident that women are sluts and men are legends. Historical, economic, social and political structures create a wild and violent obstacle course for women to navigate, ultimately creating these experiences. For me, feminism is about showing that the obstacle course exists and then tearing it down.

Why are you a feminist?

I don’t think I was ever not a feminist. I just think I didn’t have the right words for it. I can remember from a very young age being in awe of the strength of the women around me but frustrated by the differences between boys and girls that I perceived. As I got older the everyday experiences of catcalling, slut shaming and messages of “don’t walk alone at night” and “that skirt is too short” became undeniably and singularly directed at women and did not fit in with my image of women as strong and powerful people. These experiences were magnified as I travelled and saw that women all over the world are treated differently because of their gender as well as their culture and colour and class. When I got to university I felt freed and empowered by the language and understanding that feminism provided me with. It was the ‘aha’ moment where theory met life and gave me the tools to understand and examine things we would otherwise consider normal. I was also probably (definitely) a suffragette in a past life.

What is your biggest focus within the movement towards global gender equality?

My focus is about creating light bulb moments for others. I want women to know it’s ok to take up space, to speak first and to claim their beauty. I want people to understand that women experience this invisible obstacle course and that for women of colour or who identify as LGBTQI in particular these obstacles are even more difficult to overcome. Providing people (especially ma dudes!) with knowledge about gender will lift the veil around these issues and fast track change.

Giving regular people these tools will permeate into society. Say someone who comes to a One Woman Project workshop also works on the catalogue for a department store. Come Mother’s day they might think twice about only putting toasters, dressing gowns and pressure cookers in the catalogue. There is a connection between gender stereotypes and violence and inequality. So while this is a seemingly small disruption to gender roles and stereotypes it has the potential for ongoing impact.

If there was one feminist resource you wish everyone would read or view, what would it be?

Cynthia Enloe asked, “Where are the women?” I think this is an incredible place to start and is universally accessible. If you could everyday ask yourself ‘where are the women’ in this context we can highlight what is otherwise considered natural.

  • Where are the women in parliament?
  • Where are the women in my meeting?
  • Where are the women on this billboard/advertisement/magazine?
  • Where are the women in my home?

Identifying where women are missing and where they are overrepresented (i.e. at the park with the kids or in bikinis on billboards) recognises the difference exists and paves the way for asking why this is the case.

FOOTNOTE: The obstacle course I was talking about is invisible to men AND women. Women internalise and accept misogyny and patriarchal values as a natural part of the world and not necessarily problematic. Highlighting the obstacles that women face for women is just as important as men recognising that they exists.