Sue Kreitzman

Memory jugs, Sue Kreitzman

Memory jugs, Sue Kreitzman

Sue Kreitzman is an artist and curator. Her works involve colour, food, freedom and the female landscape. Kreitzman spectacularly shifted career from hugely successful food writer to artist: “It was the menopause. Or I had a psychotic break. Or the muse bit me in the bum. In other words, who knows? It hit me like a bolt of lightning and changed my life forever.”
We catch up with her after a WOW panel on the joys and challenges of ageing.

What does womanhood mean to you?
OK I am a feminist, and what does that mean? It means that men are human beings, women are human beings; we’re equal. Deal with it. So, being a woman means: I am a human being. We’re no better, we’re no worse. We are human. 

What is the biggest challenge facing women today?
Our own physicality and biology: having babies, periods, the menopause. But I was brought up by my Jewish mother and grandmother and their big message was, "don’t kvetch". In other words, don’t complain! You rise above it, you forget that. And also, whatever men’s attitudes are – and there are many good men in the world, but the ones who think you’re a moron because you’re a woman – they are assholes. You just keep going anyway and believe in yourself.

Who is the most inspiring woman in your life?
Ruth Joan Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court in America – that is a woman! And she’s in her 80s! And of course Hilary Clinton. And there are a whole lot of dead women that I love: Marian Anderson, Frida Kahlo… I could give you a hundred names.  
 


Laura Bates

Image by Scarlet Evans

Image by Scarlet Evans

Laura Bates is a writer and feminist. She is the founder of the Everyday Sexism Project, a collection of more than 80,000 women's daily experiences of gender inequality. It has been described as ‘one of the biggest social media success stories on the internet’ in 2012. She writes frequently for The Guardian.

What is the biggest challenge facing women today?
For me, it’s the interconnectedness of the different problems we face. I think it’s impossible to pick any one. It’s sexual harassment, and the fact that treating women as second class citizens is normalized. It’s the apparently everyday minor things – media sexism. All of these things lead into the same underlying culture that is also the kind of fertile ground from which domestic abuse and sexual violence are able to spring. It’s about the fact that it is still so hard to speak out against these things without being told, "don’t make a fuss, women are equal now". That 85,000 women are raped in the UK every year. And yet there is so little sense of outrage about what women are facing every day. It’s such a spectrum. Women in the UK are battling FGM, they’re battling domestic violence, and they’re battling media sexism. And for me they’re so intertwined that an entire cultural shift that needs to happen.

What does womanhood mean to you?
I can’t separate womanhood from the concept of sisterhood – that’s what it immediately makes me think of. Since I’ve become involved in the feminist movement, the extent of the solidarity and the warmth and the support and the strength that other women have given me has completely moved me beyond anything I could have imagined. For me, womanhood means something incredibly powerful because it’s a sense of sisterhood and a standing alongside one another.

Who is the most inspiring woman in your life?
I think my Mum, who is one of the most relentlessly kind people I know – a quality that isn’t often praised, or isn’t necessarily seen for the strength that it is. She’s one of those people who shows what social justice is in her everyday behaviour, and doesn’t have to be waving a banner or going on a march, but actually, that’s where I learned it from – from her day-to-day interactions.

 

Campbell X

Still from Stud Life, courtesy of Paula Harrowing

Still from Stud Life, courtesy of Paula Harrowing

Campbell X is an award-winning creator of contemporary British queer cinema. Campbell’s work documents black LGBT culture. As I began my questions, Campbell immediately pointed out that the term ‘womanhood’ was a little narrow in its assumptions about gender identity. This was illuminating. I rephrased and we continued.  

What do you think are the biggest problems facing women and trans people today?
I think one of the problems around activism and having safe spaces is to clearly delineate that some women are cisgender and some women are transgender. And also there are trans men who were possibly female assigned at birth and some people are intersex. I think there is a very essentialist way in which we are looking at womanhood. We’re not moving beyond a white, supremacist, patriarchal, and, I would call it, pseudo-scientific description of womanhood. Very essentialist, very embedded in that certain ‘biology’ that I think is problematic.

What do you think of the term ‘womanhood’?
Womanhood to me includes people who define as women. So whoever embraces that label, that’s fine by me. Because the world is so full of hate, I just think, let’s love. Let’s love and embrace people who want that label, actually. We live in a misogynistic culture. So to be woman, to say you are a woman, comes with a certain cultural load. So, whoever wants to define as a woman, I think, yes, let it be. But there should be the knowledge that the term is broad, it’s not just about what you were assigned at birth, or about your genitalia. I just think that’s so primitive. I can’t believe we haven’t moved beyond a primitive categorization. We’re in the 21st century.

Who’s the most inspiring self-defining woman or person then in your life?
I think I get a lot of spiritual and emotional food from transfeminists and trans activists. So people like Raju Rage and Dr. Kortney Ryan Ziegler. But I also get strength from Audre Lorde. I read a piece from her Uses of the Erotic – the erotic as power at WOW today. And Bell Hooks. They are black feminists: Audre Lorde was a self-defined black lesbian feminist. Going back to their works I get a lot of strength from them. And hearing people like Raju Rage talk, who is transmasculine, and Sara Ahmed, who is a queer feminist. There are so many, I can’t just pick one of them because each gives different things. So I’d say personhood. We live in a patriarchal society but I think patriarchy forces us into divisions, forces us to compete for spaces, forces us to look at each other with suspicion rather than looking at those in power.
 

Words Kitty Drake

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