Lillie is a rising Senior and she is interning at Third Wave Foundation. Third Wave is a feminist foundation that provides funds for grassroots organizations with a focus on women’s and transgender issues.
I can’t think of one time when I decided to be a feminist. I almost saw it as a “given,” where even if I wasn’t totally sure about its definition, I knew I probably was one. I think part of the reason why feminism felt natural to me is because I grew up in a family that is relatively liberal, and my paternal grandmother was even an activist in the second wave feminist movement. In college, I’ve made amazing friends who have introduced me to the Duke Women’s Center and broadened my understanding of forms of inequality like racism, homophobia, and sexism, so I’ve never felt seriously uncomfortable with calling myself a feminist.
Even as I publicly identify as a feminist, I’m still trying to figure out what it actually means to be a one (hopefully that doesn’t break any rules…). I can definitely tell I’m not completely clear on my own definition because everytime I hear a definition that I like from someone else, I think to myself “Yea! That sounds so right!” but then I’m unable to put their words into my own. I hope this summer, in conjunction with our Moxie Project classes about women’s history, feminism, and activism, helps me find my own definition—even though I’m sure it will change as I grow.
As a soon-to-be senior, I am entering a time in my life when considering careers and starting job searches is about to get real. One specific aspect of my definition of feminism keeps coming up as I think about my future—how do I want to live out my feminism? To me, acting on one’s feminism when sexism arises in everyday life and publicly identifying as a feminist are integral to “living out” one’s feminist beliefs. But lately I’ve been wondering if being a feminist requires one to go further than that. Does identifying as a feminist necessitate being active in the women’s movement? What does it even mean to be an activist in the women’s movement? And how should all of these questions influence my ever-approaching job search?
As my family and friends know, my ideas about future careers encompass a huge range of fields and my preferences change from week to week. My hope for this summer is to not only do my best to support Third Wave Foundation, but also to gain some direction—or at least some understanding—of what I want my future to look like and how (or if?) my feminist ideals can be integrated into my career path.