28 July 2016
This article is part of our member profile series. Our members tell us that one of the things they love about being part of our community is getting to know like-minded women. So, each month, we’ll feature an interview with a member, so you can get to know each other a little better. This month, meet Alyssa Shaw.
You in a nutshell?
Hard to say! I have recently embraced the term ‘multi-potentialist’ (look up the TED talk!) as I have a diversity of interests. At the moment I am a student politician, gender and social justice advocate, pottery enthusiast and feminist philosopher. Who knows what I’ll be in the future!
What’s on your playlist?
I never have as much time for music as I’d like, but I often seek out music that is created by or involves women as there is such huge underrepresentation in the industry. Generally I listen to a lot of Motown, such as Martha and the Vandellas. I’m enjoying some of Australia’s up and coming female musicians too, such as Asta, Thandi Pheonix and E^ST.
What are you reading at the moment?
I always have a Terry Pratchett or some sort of fantasy/sci-fi novel on hand in order to wind down before bed, but otherwise I am consumed with my academic reading. At the moment I’m getting through Angela McRobbie’s ‘The Aftermath of Feminism.’ My thesis focuses on feminist understanding of the representation of women’s bodies in popular culture so I am forever reading online feminist sites and articles on the latest happenings – I must say I am pretty sick of reading about Kim Kardashian!
What was your highlight of the past year?
There has been lots of highlights from the last year, mainly because I have been able to make some positive changes as the inaugural postgraduate women’s officer at the ANU. Among these has been advocating for the exclusion zone around termination of pregnancy services, and being part of the national campaign regarding sexual assault within universities.
Who is your feminist hero?
Wow, I have so many – probably bell hooks and Alison Jaggar would be up there. I have so many though as I am constantly inspired by all the wonderful feminists I know, many of whom are YWCA members and work in the local community to create positive change and realise socially just outcomes.
Why did you join the Y?
Definitely a values alignment. I am an outspoken feminist and being able to embrace that in a safe and empowering space is so important and vital to my identity. Unfortunately, there is so much backlash against the term, particularly from young women. It can be hard to find spaces in which to engage in feminist discussions, so I value the Y for being such a place.
What’s the change you want to see in the world?
There is too many to include! I suppose ultimately the change I want to see is a radical shift in societal values. I think equality can only truly come about when we learn to ascribe equal value to a diversity of individual and collective contributions. I think if such a society were to exist, women and other marginalised groups would be treated very differently – women’s unpaid caring work for instance could be seen in a whole new light.