In 2014, Time magazine faced public outcry for including the word feminist in its Worst Words Poll, which asked readers what word they felt should be banned in 2015. The magazine apologized for the “execution” of the poll, but the controversy speaks to the many, mixed emotions that the word often elicits.
This controversy is at the heart of Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World, an anthology that features essays, conversations and artwork from prominent feminists. The book is a kind of handbook for people interested in feminism, what it means and how it works in the 'real world.'
The essays come from prominent women - such as Mindy Kaling, Lavern Cox and Wendy Davis, to name just a few. They explore the different goals of feminism, and the misconceptions about the movement.
Wisconsin writer, Kelly Jensen is the editor and one of the contributors, and she spoke with Lake Effect’s Joy Powers about what inspired her to put this book together.
"Feminism is about gender equality, that's a big, big part of it," Jensen says. "But my goal in putting this book together was looking at just how expansive the idea is, that this one, single word encompasses."
When she reached out to different contributors to be in this book, Jensen wanted them to create pieces that would speak to the average 12-year-old - someone entering into their teenage years, looking for guidance.
The essays, poems and artwork are deeply personal, and focus on how the authors became feminists. "Many of the people that I had contribute to this anthology, I knew they were feminists but I didn't necessarily know when they had that aha moment, or when they realized that the things they were doing and things that they cared about were really feminist driven," Jensen explains.
One of her objectives in creating the anthology was to show that, despite some misconceptions, there isn't a perfect way to be a feminist or believe in feminism. "I think seeing all those pathways in is sort of the invitation to any kind of reader who does see it as a rigid idea," she adds. "Nobody comes to it the same way and that's okay."
Kelly Jensen will be in Milwaukee March 2 talking about the book Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World at an event at Boswell Books at 7 pm.