Feminist Camp Summer 2015: Day Two

Today's theme was Feminism and Girls/Youth.

We started the morning with Katie Cappiello from The Arts Effect, a theatre school with specific classes for girls to turn their stories and personal struggles into plays that could open up the stage to be their catharsis.

These personal narratives performed on stage, Katie said, often helped people open up by relating to characters and stories. They felt comfortable talking about subjects they were too scared to talk about or didn't realize they weren't the only ones until seeing the plays.

Katie inspired our group by being an example of a feminist, doing work, and monetizing her life's passions. She had us get into groups after some writing prompts to get our own creative juices going and to use our stories together on the stage to express parts of our journeys and everyday lives of feminism. Our plays ranged from real life examples of sexism and misogyny to expressions of sexuality and exploration to artistic interpretations of growing as feminists.

Next we met with Joyce McFadden, author of Your Daughter's Bedroom, a book about her experiences as a therapist and questionnaires she has given regarding mothers, daughters, and their relationships with sexuality. Joyce had us look at examples from her questionnaires and talk about them. She told us stories about mothers and daughters and sexuality. She showed us her findings that the relationships mothers have with their own sexuality influences their daughters' relationships with sexuality and how detrimental it can be just by example if they are negative.

After lunch we hung out and chatted with the staff of The Feminist Press about books, their designs, and their mission as a niche publisher. Then as a treat they took us to a secret closet filled with books and we shopped to our hearts' content.

From Feminist Press we made our way to a conversation with Ileana Jiminez, who shared her work at LREI as The Feminist Teacher. She showed us videos her students had made about their journey in feminism and discussed with us the cultivating of young powerful minds paying homage to their intersectionalities.

Tuesday was a long and inspiring day. I thought about what it meant to live your authentic self as I sat on a ladder in a DIY loft of Brooklyn watching a punk grrl band rile up the crowd with their energy. Though Katie, Joyce, and Ileana all talked about vastly different things the theme I saw was about doing your life's passion and that it is not clear at first how to live authentically and also sustain monetarily. Journeys and identities develop with time and our job is listen to ourselves and do work that inspires us to live our authentic selves. Theatre and collaborating with colleagues and listening to collective stories is a way to do that. Understanding the internalized and complex relationships we have with sexuality is a way to do that. Using our talents and knowledge to guide the younger generation is a way to ensure we can continue living our authentic selves.

Seeking and living our authentic selves is not easy. If we listen and share ourselves with other people, it seems more doable. As I shoveled incredible quesadillas filled with a kind of flower and Mexican string cheese after the punk show, the universe handed me a piece of my authentic self. Two women sat next me talking about the very narrative I came to Feminist Camp to explore. The intersectionality of being an Asian woman and feminist and living in America, and the complex identity questions and situations we share.

There is no right or wrong way to do it, as Katie would say (about theatre but it applies here as well), but to begin is the most important step and continue to that self work.

Written by Lian Markovich