As a young woman, a large part of my own understanding of feminism sprouted from what I read and saw on the internet. While feminist research and literature exist, it is not accessible to sizeable parts of the population. Through social media platforms, women from around the globe have been able to form communities, create and consume content that revolves around equality. By using social media as a key tool, they’ve been able to expand on intersectional subsects of it such as queer feminism and promote inclusivity for everyone on the gender spectrum.
For Women’s History Month, we spoke to the people behind three popular Instagram accounts which focus on feminism, activism and community building with varied perspectives.
28-year-old Daisy from England is a mental health worker and runs @women_a_day which highlights women’s achievements that have often been overlooked in history. Mumbai-based writer N, 26, is the brains behind @badassbrownactivist, where she shares news, advocates for marginalized groups, and provides information about political movements. Based out of Washington D.C., Rehana Paul, 18, runs @overachievermagazine, the social media arm of her digital publication Overachiever Magazine (OM) which celebrates the diversity and strength of Asian women.
What motivated you to kickstart your initiative?
Daisy: I have always been a feminist, but one day, I realized how little I knew about women’s history as our education focuses [mostly] on the works of white men. To balance out my knowledge, I decided to research and write about a woman from history, or about women’s rights each day and post about it.
N: As my awareness [of feminism and activism] grew, I realized I had a lot to say and share, and no real platform for those thoughts. I’d been toying with the idea of starting my own activist account for a while, But then, one day when I was procrastinating from studying for my exams, I said, “What the heck, there’s no harm in trying.”
Rehana: OM is the space I’ve always wanted. A place for Asian women of every background to feel represented, be celebrated and talk about the issues no one else would.
How do you create and curate content to make it relevant for your audience?
Daisy: I tend to write about people whose stories reflect a wider social issue like racism, sexism, homophobia and therefore, show the importance of intersectional feminism. [I realized my audience] is mostly young girls so I changed the style to fit in with the audience’s taste: posts that contain tweets, memes and headlines become popular.
N: I am very plugged into current affairs. Whenever something new and relevant comes up, which I feel everyone should know about, I post about it — whether it’s an excerpt from someone else’s words (always with appropriate credit, of course) or my own opinions and explanations.
Rehana: We’re a platform for all Asian women, which is great because we’re inclusive, but also tough because Asian women are so diverse! We try to provide a really wide range of content, everything from pop culture to politics to activism. We choose our topics based on what’s going on in the world, what our readers are asking about, or any issues that OM feels are important.
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Patsy Mink (1927-2002) was a third generation Japanese American born in Hawaii. Patsy became a lawyer in 1951, but returned to Hawaii with her husband and child as she was unable to find employment due to discrimination. However, once in Hawaii, Patsy was refused the right to take the bar examination, as she had lost her Hawaiian residency upon marriage to US Air Force navigator John Mink. Patsy challenged this statute, and although she passed, she once again could not gain employment as a wife and mother. Patsy’s father helped her to open her own practice, and shortly after she worked as an attorney for the Hawaiian territorial legislature and ran for a seat in the territorial House of Representatives. The Democrat became the first Japanese-American woman to serve in the territorial House. In 1964, Patsy ran for federal office and won a seat in the US House of Representatives. She served 12 terms, and was the coauthor of the Title IX Amendment of the Higher Education Act in 1972 which was later named after her. The act prohibited gender discrimination by federally funded institutions of higher education. Patsy also introduced the Women’s Educational Equity Act which opposed gender stereotypes in curricula and textbooks. She therefore helped to open up employment and education opportunities for women. Previously, she introduced work under the Early Childhood Education Act, such as the first federal child-care bill, school lunch programmes, student loans and teacher sabbaticals. Patsy promoted Asian Studies, adult education much more under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. The list of important work goes on. In 1970, Mink became the first person to oppose a Supreme Court Nominee on the basis of discrimination against women. In her testimony, she cited an employment discrimination case which the nominee George Harold Carswell had refused to hear. He was rejected by the Senate.
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Q: What’s your favourite part about running a website or account just for women?
Daisy: When I receive comments like “how have I never heard of this woman?” or “they should be teaching this in school,” I know I have done exactly what I have set out to do. I’ve even had messages from teachers saying they showed their class my page, and parents saying they showed it to their daughters.
N: The amazing women I have crossed paths with and befriended by virtue of my account.
Rehana: It is such a pleasure to work with other women, there’s nothing to prove, no petty power struggles. We literally just hang out, send each other memes, and plot to overthrow the patriarchy. Pure bliss.
Q: Name a womxn-oriented Instagram account or publication that’d you want to shout out.
Daisy: @rachel.cargle, a tireless public academic who all white people should be following.
N: @feministflowercrown, one of my main inspirations to start my own account!
Rehana: @centralasianbeauty for their focus on Central Asian women and culture, which is often overlooked.