Alex Mirrer: Interview
Updated: Aug 9, 2019
Name, pronouns, career/job title?
Co-Chair of Communication for the Rhode Island NOW and the President of the Wheeler Empowerment Club
How has being a feminist / (if applicable woman) impacted your life thus far?
Being a feminist has given me the courage to speak out for what I believe in and to do my best to improve my community. Before I joined the Empowerment Club as a freshman in high school, I knew that women and girls in our society were marginalized; throughout lower school and middle school, particularly on co-ed sports teams, I battled the notorious double standard, working twice hard to gain respect. I wanted to change this, but I didn’t know how I, as an individual, could make a tangible impact to better this aspect of my community. By pursuing advocacy as a feminist, I have met like-minded people who were just as devoted to securing equality for women as I was. As a head of Wheeler’s Empowerment Club, I helped bring in speakers and host events to educate our community on feminism and its importance and women’s equality. Earlier this year, I asked Hilary Levey Friedman, the President of RI NOW, to speak. She told us about RI NOW’s legislative agenda: passing laws to codify Roe v Wade, promoting universal Pre-K, and ending violence against women. When I asked how our club could stay in touch with the RI NOW and stay up to date on events, I found out that RI NOW only had a Facebook page and a Twitter, which are social media platforms that most teens don't use on a regular basis. So I asked if I could set up an Instagram page for RI NOW. Hilary said yes, and I had the opportunity to join the RI NOW Executive Board as their Co-Chair of Communications. Running the RI NOW Instagram page (@ri_now), I am able to make a tangible impact on the larger Rhode Island community by keeping them up-to-date on the feminist movement and RI NOW’s meetings and accomplishments. The community that I met through being a feminist opened up the door for me to make this positive difference.
In your opinion, what are the most prominent challenges facing women today?
While changing laws surrounding women’s health and rights is paramount, we won’t be able to make lasting change if we don’t change the culture. As long as women and women’s needs are viewed as “lesser-than” or “other”, there will always be those who wish to roll back women’s rights. We need to teach individuals at a young age to respect women and that women’s rights are human rights. One of the reasons that Bleed Shamelessly is such an important campaign is that it focuses on destigmatizing the period, a taboo topic which often sets women apart from men in a negative way in our society. Changing the narrative surrounding menstruation, is a necessary step forward towards an equal society.
What do you encourage others to take part in, in order to make their communities more socially and politically inclusive?
Society and cultural norms needs to evolve in order to create genuine equality for women: this means youth involvement is intrinsic to the women’s movement’s success. We need more young people to get excited about promoting women’s rights in their communities, whether that is through their Empowerment club at school, testifying or writing letters to their representatives about laws concerning women, or just doing everything they can in their own lives to treat women and girls equally.