You know we at Fem Soc love Twitter so we were super happy to discover this bunch! At the last Student Feminist Coordinating Meeting we were lucky enough to meet two of the youngest feminists to show up! Secondary school feminists ftw! Anyway, they told us about The Twitter Youth Feminist Army, a network of young people who met through Twitter who support each other in their journey to feminism. The TYFA has many members (and will hopefully have many more in the future) who have interests in all areas of feminism. They have different political and religious views and currently range in age from 12-28 and have members all over Great Britain! It was lovely to meet the next generation of feminist activists. One of the founding members, 15-year-old Lili Evans, was nice enough to give us an interview and here it is! :)
How did the Twitter Youth Feminist Army come about?
TYFA: Once upon a time, on October 18th, 2012, Emily, Isabel and I were having a conversation about how our fellow feminists on twitter and ourselves were like an army, taking down the patriarchy, one tweet at a time, when the name, Twitter Youth Feminist Army was mentioned by Emily. We all immediately got excited and I hashtag-ed it and that is how the Twitter Youth Feminist Army was born!
To me it is a life-line which connects me to like-minded people, who share my views and values. It is an intersectional feminist group who are inclusive to all, regardless of age, religion or ethnicity. It is a place to learn and to teach, to share and to experience. Most importantly, the TYFA shows people that feminism is far from dead and shows a different type of feminist that is so often stereotyped. I think I may currently be the second youngest member of the Twitter Youth Feminist Army and I have found each and every person I know I will be an active and supportive member for many years to come!
Although this is all true, we are still developing and finding our feet. This means for instance that we are hoping to create a committee to be in charge (at the moment I am doing most of the organisation and Cat is very good at doing the Facebook group stuff) and start doing projects to help our members discuss and find out more about different areas of feminism. We have Marxist feminists, body-positive feminists, radical feminists and many other types of feminists in our group and it would be amazing to learn from each other.
How many are there of you?
TYFA: We are obviously always recruiting but at the last count we had 25-30 registered members (which basically means I know who you are and have your email).
When we get asked to do a piece of writing by the Twitter Youth Feminist Army, we call it a project and there were 11 members on the last project. It's a great way to get to know everyone better!
When did you start calling your self a feminist and why?
TYFA: I think it all started when I decided that I wanted to become more involved or at least knowledgeable about politics. This was when I had just turned 14 and the Arab Spring was starting to get more coverage on the news. I saw the appalling way women were being treated by the men and their governments in other countries and it made me think about my own. This made me interested in women’s rights and the patriarchy.
Another thing that introduced me to feminism is an online magazine called Rookie, first shown to me by my best friend and fellow feminist Jess. Rookie is a magazine written for girls by girls, although it does not often expressly use the word “feminist” to describe itself; many of the readers – and subsequently writers - identify as feminists. There are articles on everything from ice cream reviews to dress up ideas and many articles have feminist undertones although not expressly “feminist issues”. This made me interested in body positivity and being myself.
Have you witnessed a lot of incidents of sexism at school?
TYFA: I go to a girl’s school so there is not much chance for sexist comparisons (not being as good as a boy at something because you are a girl etc) and we are treated equally because there are no boys to prefer. Of course there is still aggressive gender-stereotyping, both by the teachers and from our peers, and I think there might be slightly more than at some of my friend's mixed schools.
There have been numerous occasions when teachers have assumed that we all love shopping or are interested in fashion. This sounds so trivial but when it has been beaten into you that you HAVE to love clothes or babies or that you must want a family when you are older otherwise you are weird and unnatural it really makes you feel awful about yourself, like you are not good enough.
Do you talk to other pupils at school about feminism?
TYFA: Occasionally I talk to others but hardly ever using the name “feminism” as it tends just to make people dismiss what I say and go “feminists are just hairy old women who won’t let the past go”. Most people I talk to think that most battles feminists fight are supposedly over, most don’t necessarily make the link between feminism and sexism which I think is strange and needs to be changed (that rhymes!). Most of the times that I do discuss or debate feminism and its issues with peers it tends to be brought up in a lesson and I generally don’t feel comfortable as it usually ends up with me being very upset and frustrated over other people's dismissal of the subject.
Considering it is so difficult meeting people at school who call themselves feminists, what do you think would be the best way to make people aware of deep-rooted gender stereotypes that are so ingrained in our society?
TYFA: Just to talk about it. It doesn't have to be called feminism. Once you get people talking about it, thinking and noticing the issue becomes more and more.
How do you think older feminist can help TYFA?
TYFA: TEACHING TEACHING TEACHING! Although we do have more experienced feminists in our group, many of us have been feminists for a year or less. Even for those who have been feminists longer, it is always amazing to learn new things. The main way other feminists can help us is teaching us without being patronising and understanding it can sometimes be a bit scary!
What have you found inspiring about feminism and how do you think the feminist movement can inspire others?
TYFA: The strength of women to never give up even after years, DECADES of stereotyping, ignorance and belittling.
Have the TYFA got any upcoming plans?
TYFA: We are still new and developing but one of our immediate plans is to make a central committee to help organise new members and try to raise our profile and help to reach out to other women and girls who need support in their journey to feminism who are experiencing the sexism ingrained into our patriarchal society.
We recently got a new logo which was designed by one of our members, Niz. We also set up a Facebook page, on which you can see our new logo! One of the things we are trying to organise is a monthly newsletter, updating our members on some things that other members are doing, various campaigns or marches happening.
Follow the feminism with #tyfa #TwitterYouthFeministArmyBecome a member by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org
Like the Twitter Youth Feminist Army on Facebook!
For more articles from Lili Evans, find her awesomeness here
For more articles from Lili Evans, find her awesomeness here