By Anna Hill
I was really inspired by a speech that Eva made at a no more page 3 protest (the full text of which you can read here), where she talked about how the campaign had given her a voice, and empowered her to act, not just for NMP3 but for other important issues too! In response I thought I would interview some of the voices that are important, honest, hard working and inspiring in current UK Teen Girl activism. Who better to start with than Eva herself?!
First things first, how did you become a feminist?
This is one that I don’t actually, as a feminist, talk about very much – basically I go to a school where eating disorders are quite common, and watching girls (as young as from year 9) getting anorexia and being hospitalised for it, and I think that is something that you can’t really watch without becoming a feminist, you can’t watch these girls at my school who are so intelligent and so many of them have various mental health disorders; depression, anxiety, eating disorders are so common its almost impossible to watch that without wondering where this is coming from, where that lack of confidence comes from in so many girls, like where that can possibly stem from.
What is your favourite part about being an activist?
I think this is gonna sound quite shallow, but it’s the fact that you are suddenly able to talk to these women who you used to, like, aspire to and who you used to look at from such a distance, and I think that’s a way, for me, that I realised how involved I have become. Because I think otherwise everything I do doesn’t feel relevant, it doesn’t feel like I’m doing anything, but when you are talking to these women and they’re as impressed by what your doing as you are by what they’re doing, it really does check for you how much you’ve done and even things like being at [Women of the World (WOW)]. I think I became a feminist early on but I think I became an activist a lot later, and that was at WOW last year because I saw a panel discussion with Laura Bates debating NMP3 and I saw an End FGM debate which Nimko and a lot of other amazing women were speaking on and I think that basically was when I thought “yeah this is what I want to do” because it was so exciting, that’s the thing with activism is it’s so exciting and it’s such a rush, chasing Murdoch’s car down the street was such a rush, and you can’t explain it and it sounds small, these little things, but to you it feels significant.
And what about the Internet? like how do you think that has affected your activism?
I think it’s just given people, particularly teenage girls, who are more silenced and quiet, I think it has given them a kind of voice in a way that you might not normally realise. Yeah, so like it gives everyone an opportunity to talk, I’ve come into contact with people that I wouldn’t have already – it’s allowed me to speak to and meet amazing people, people who wouldn’t have met otherwise.
Okay, let’s talk about Page 3 now – I feel like because of the shitty stunts that The Sun pulled, we weren’t able to celebrate.
So how do you think the loss of page three will effect you and other teen girls and generally?
The whole shift with the fact that there’s no more page three still feels very strange, and I’m still slightly cynical about it, I’m just waiting for it to come back, and I don’t trust it, so I’m hesitant to celebrate.
I think it’s gonna make an invaluable difference because we knew why we hated it so much, and now, I think the thing is, we’re not gonna actively notice that it’s not there, that’s what’s so interesting, we just notice how awful it was that it’s there. But in a way that’s what we want from equality, we don’t want every day to wake up and think “oh yay aren’t we equal”, we wanna wake up and think “okay there’s no glass ceiling this is okay”, and I think that’s what the loss of page three will give us and it obviously will give us more equality in the broader sense but it’s not gonna to be something that we necessarily realise, in the same way that you call out the wrongs.
What was your involvement with the No More Page Three campaign?
How I got involved was I saw this debate and I was totally amazed by it and then I messaged the campaign group on facebook and asked them to come and talk at my school because really I wanted to learn more about them and I thought in the process I might as well show girls at my school just how inspiring feminism could be. Yeah so I emailed them and they got back to me saying sure etc. and Lucy[-Anne Holmes] got back to me, and then a couple weeks later, I think it’s partly by luck, I got a message from Lucy saying I’m starting up this Youth Group for NMP3, The Amazings, would you like to be part of it? So I sent her back a ridiculously overly excited, slightly embarrassing now, message but Lucy is such an excitable person and such a powerful happy force to be around that I don’t think it came across as particularly weird, it just fitted in with her general vibe.
When I was first added to this group, it was me, Lucy and Yas in the group and I just remember looking at the group and being like “Oh my god”, because I’d seen Yas speak at WOW as well and I was like this ridiculous, I am so out of place here, but I think what is so amazing about these women that you come to know is that from a distance they look like such powerful forces and they still are – but they don’t make you feel inadequate, I think that’s what so special about the women that I have been lucky enough to get to know. I didn’t feel like I was out of place because when you’re working on a project it’s about that project and it’s not about ego, and its not about a CV, and it’s not about citing all these things that you do, it’s just about being part of that and doing the very best that you can.
I wrote a poem for the campaign, and I wrote a couple of articles about it, which the campaign then shared, and then I went to a couple protests and I skipped off school to chase Murdoch’s car through the streets with Yas which was amazing!
What are you aims/ what do you look to for the future, both for the future generally, but also what you would next like to tackle?
At the moment I am working on the Pass It On Campaign which is a content-driven tumblr blog and we campaign for more awareness about consent, abuse and healthy relationships amongst young people. And I do think that’s really important because so many teenage relationships have elements of being abusive within them, which we don’t even consider anymore and that’s scary really. I mean yesterday I made a teen friendly “what is abuse” page for our tumblr and we [Eva and Liz, another campaigner] were trying to break it down really simply, and looking at the different ways that abuse can manifest itself and that was so strange because there are elements even in friendships that you realise [are abusive] and for me that’s the next thing that I wanna work on.
I’m going to university, next year, I’m gonna study English Literature. English is another way I became a feminist, I think, because I’ve realised I don’t read books by men, unless, unless I have to. And that was never a conscious choice in my head, ever! A teacher said to me last year “Why don’t you read books by men?” and I was like “well I think a lot of literature is written by straight white men and they have the platform everywhere else so I don’t see why they should have the platform here” and I realised that after I said that that I was talking to a white man who was presumably straight, which was quite funny, but he laughed it off and he seemed nice. Yeah, so I wanna pursue that.
After that I would like to go into campaigning, I’d like to potentially do journalism, I love the idea of film, but doing something political within that, like making films that mean something. Lord knows how I’m going to get into that!
How do you keep campaigning when it feels like nothing is changing?
Other people. Completely. I just went to a talk by this woman who started the Bring Back Our Girls Campaign and a woman who is an Iraqi MP whose fighting to bring back girls from ISIS and a woman who fought to bring back her daughter once she was taken by the Lord’s Revolutionary Army (double check this plz anna) in Uganda and honestly, I think the woman at the end said something like “because in a world where men with guns have power, it’s only these women who stand in their way” and I think that is so important. You see one woman and one woman can make such a difference. The Everyday Sexism Project and NMP3 both changed my perspective of so many things – particularly Everyday Sexism because it just showed me, I’ve always been so psychologically disturbed by men following me in the street and it made me feel like I had a place. Other women doing amazing things is so inspiring, and I think that’s what has to push you forward. Also they can comfort you! When you have enough friend’s who are also campaigners to be able to say like “I’ve lost faith” is so valuable, because we very rarely loose faith all at the same time which is really nice.
I guess you answered this to a certain extent in the above question, but what is your favourite thing to do as a way of being kind to yourself?
I have to say I’m not very good at self-care. I guess, in a way for me, sometimes my self-care works in a way that I think, I’m gonna put down my work and for today and go to that campaigning thing which I will feel a bit guilty about going to. For me it’s good to be surrounded by people that really helps me, so some weekends knowing that I’m going to thing, to thing, to thing, to loads of different people is actually what helps me best. But I mean also long baths and a book are totally invaluable, oh and trashy TV. Guilty pleasure! Trashy TV saves my life – like Gilmore Girls.
That’s not trashy!!
But like, you know the way that Homeland isn’t trashy, Homeland is serious TV, well okay maybe I should say light hearted TV. I feel like Gilmore Girls counts as trashy for me because I watch like seven seasons back to back, like at that point it becomes a little bit trashy – or maybe my approach to it is trashy. I got the box set and I turn my fairy lights on and I get into my duvet and I just sit and watch Gilmore Girls and I eat chocolate and I’m like “its gonna be okay, it’s all gonna be okay because I have Gilmore Girls and chocolate”.
What advice would you give to other teenage girls, who were like you, and want to get involved with activism?
It’s so mad because I remember asking other people for advice, and I remember wanting them to tell me the key, and now I’m here and I’m like “I don’t know why I’m here, I don’t know how I’m here, I don’t know how it happened”. Talking to other people and meeting other people, and the more you talk to other people the more you’ll realise that everyone feel like that. Like everyone, no matter how much you aspire to them, they’re all sitting there going “bloody hell, bloody hell, how did I get here!?”. Like yesterday I had this talk from this amazing woman, Sandie Okoro, and she was just like “don’t wait to be perfect because you’ll die”. Bit blunt, but that’s what you need. You cant wait for everything to be perfect!
I felt like there were all these feminist groups like in the know and that I was out the know but no one is really in the know – you go to things and immerse yourself in it and find what you love and talk to people. After a speaker has been get/find an email! Start your email with “I just saw you talk and I thought you were amazing and I couldn’t find you afterwards but I thought this ___”. Literally just give it a go – I’ve got the little way that I’ve got by guesswork and I know that the people ahead of me are also guessing along the way and it’s so important just to try and I’m catching up and it’s really exciting. Even if I’m not catching up yet -I know that I am 18, I know I’ll have to I’ll have to manage this along side other things, but it’s so exciting.
Do it for the love it, that will mean you are good at it and that will mean that you get more involved in it. Just give it a go. Honestly the worst that can happen is someone wont reply to your email, literally. And then you’re a bit like “damn, let me try someone else”. And also you’ll meet so many amazing people on the way, like even if you don’t quite reach your goal you’ll reach so many incredible other places on the way that it’s totally worth it.