Friday, August 19, 2016

An Interview with New Wave Feminists

A scene from the 2015 March for Life weekend. SPL president Kelsey Hazzard has red wine; NWF co-president Destiny Herdon-De La Rosa has white wine. NWF's other co-president, Kristen Walker Hatten, is on the far left.

Secular Pro-Life's Monica Snyder recently interviewed Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa of New Wave Feminists. SPL and NWF cross paths often, and we thought it would be fun to give you an official introduction to their work. Here are the highlights:

What is New Wave Feminists and why did you found it?
NWF is common sense feminism that is consistent with women’s rights and human rights. We are on the verge of the fourth wave of feminism and we want to define what this movement will look like in the future. Because honestly right now it’s kind of a shit show and if something doesn’t change, it won’t have a future.

Where do bodily rights fit in? How do you respond to the argument that no one should be able to use your body against your will? 
We are strong proponents of bodily autonomy. So strong that we think you should have control over your body from the moment it first exists. If anyone in this scenario is truly having anti-choice beliefs forced upon them, it’s that child. They were not the one who chose (99% of the time) to engage in the conceptual act that led to their existence. They are not the ones who are choosing what is done to their body – and let’s make no mistake, it is their body. They have a different heartbeat, brainwaves, different DNA, and half the time a different gender. For far too long women fought to have control over their own bodies. We are not anyone else’s property. And having been viewed that way before, when we were at our most vulnerable, it is unacceptable for us to pass that same oppression onto our children.

Have you interacted much with the overall pro-life movement? If so, how has it gone?
We have. Honestly, when I started NWF back in ’06 or ’07 I wanted to see just as much of a change in the pro-life movement as I did in the feminist movement. Both had really gone off course in a lot of ways, but both were also showing signs of promise.

I am a huge supporter of sidewalk counseling. We’re actually on the Advisory Board for Sidewalk Advocates for Life. They are out there everyday offering practical resources to women in need. It’s not enough to just be against something, you must be for something if you want to change the culture. They are FOR women and their children.

Groups like that, along with pregnancy resource centers, are making all of the difference. The days of screaming at women through bullhorns and making the abortion clinic look like a safe haven are on their way out. A women facing an unplanned pregnancy already has enough fear and chaos in her head, she doesn’t need you throwing a bloody image in her face and adding to that fear. She needs you to be the calm in the storm, the light that runs out the darkness. I’m happy to say that I do think the pro-life movement is going in that direction and I think it’s because compassionate, pro-woman pro-life activists are taking the reins.

There are a lot of people who believe in gender equality but reject the label “feminist” at least partly because it’s so strongly associated with being pro-choice. What do you think of that position? 
I mean, I get it. For the first few years we actually went by “New Wave Femmes” because we too hated the F-word. Also, I’m a big Violent Femmes fan, so I thought that sounded way cooler anyway. Other people (namely on the internet) just thought it sounded gay… like we were a bunch of feminine homosexuals who were way into 80’s new wave music. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m sure a few of us are, but…

That’s when we decided it was time to take the word back. Just because some sucky people sucked it all up for the last 40 years that doesn’t mean the foundational concept should be scrapped. Same goes for the word “pro-life.” It also has a ton of negative connotations associated it, but the belief that women are strong as hell and they shouldn’t have to sacrifice their unborn children to keep being badass is something worth taking back and making awesome again, right?

If NWF got a $1,000,000 grant, what would you want to do with it?
Ha! If NWF got a $1,000 grant, my answer would probably be the same thing – college outreach. The sidewalks are the last line of defense when it comes to changing hearts and minds, but the colleges are just one step behind that. I have a heart for college kids because my mom was a sophomore at the University of Texas when she became pregnant with me. I know it would’ve been so easy for her to find ten people on that campus to tell her just to abort me, and I know the courage it took for her to return home (to her minister parents) and give me life.

So many of these young adults are on their own for the very first time and along with their newfound physical freedom, they’re also discovering that they can think for themselves now too. They no longer have to have the same beliefs as their parents and they’re caught in cacophony of different ideologies. I want the pro-woman, pro-life, pro-nonviolent choices message to be one of the sounds they’re hearing. Right now that argument is just noise to a lot of them because it’s being drowned out by a culture of instant gratification and convenience. We have to be on campuses proclaiming LOUDLY that women’s rights are human rights, and human rights should start the moment a person first exists.

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