International Women’s Day: A Reckoning Force

An Interview with Helen Carlson

International Womens Day: A Reckoning Force

Sadie Kiefer, Contributing Writer

Upon interviewing a friend, Helen Carlson, I quickly realized what equality meant to her and maybe many, which means putting an end to gender differences, stereotypes and so much more. My first question I asked Ms. Carlson what the point behind IWD was and what it stands for. Ms. Carlson went on to state simply “getting to be ourselves.” We need to stop promoting “toxic” and detrimental masculinity. Just as a reference and base line for Women, we used to not be able to do simple things like wear pants, like men and grow out our hair. However, we as Women have grown apart from these stereotypes in today’s society. I am very inspired to say that Helen, not only talks the talk, but walks the walk. She inspired me along with (I’m sure) so many others, who have felt those moments of insecurity and self- doubt. But I digress. Helen went onto support the ideal that, we need to start “enjoy(ing) whatever (we) want without the division of gender stereotypes” (Carlson). In a brief moment, I experienced what it must be like for Helens’ relative, Bradshaw, who is shamed constantly for attempting expressive and simple things, by her relatives’ father, such as wearing Trolls undies. In another brief moment, she discusses how Women are “slut shamed” for wearing clothing that is meant to be a form of expression and (you guessed it) freedom.

It’s not a surprise that Carlson found that more and more Women in power are stepping into said power elegantly and boldly, but also taking charge of their lives as well. We’ve come such a long way from the Women they thought we were, when we couldn’t vote, when we couldn’t get an abortion without (and in some states is still so) our sperm donors’ permission- and now we’re voting and almost as equal to Men as we have previously demanded. However, we as Women must do a couple of things. We must stop competing against each other. As Ms. Carlson put it, we must come together, rather than continuing to be divided… “We’re stronger as one.” We must still celebrate one another, our goals, achieving our goals, celebrating our accomplishments as Women, is something you can do for your fellow Woman and honestly anyone. “We’re all connected… (by the energy we give out) … (at the end of the day) we’re all humans.” We must remember that sometimes… We’re talking karma and growth here, but we must be able to admit our mistakes and learn from them otherwise we’ll never grow as a whole.

Onto another question, I asked Helen, what equality means to her. She stated that equality is first and foremost, “holding yourself accountable by (validating) yourself without the approval of a Man.” She then goes on to say that once you’ve accomplished this, “you stop looking for reassurance elsewhere.” This quote stuck with me, and I hope it will for you too, who may be reading this. Carlson goes on to say, “The energy you’re putting out, should be equally given back.” And this is true in so many instances. The way people respect each other, our pay in the workplace- the list goes on. If you call yourself a proponent of Women’s rights and equality/feminism, then you must stop and think is this how I would want to be treated, is this person (me) working just as hard as this Man, but getting paid less?

For one of my last questions, I asked Ms. Carlson what she wanted people to hear, who might be demanding change and equality. Simply put, Carlson said, “Demand to be heard until there is change, you have to keep using your voice, you have to put your reputation on the line.”

My last question and maybe the one with the most relatable response, was, who inspires you most? To which Carlson replied, Jane Fonda. (We talked off the record about all this Womans’ bad a**ery- if you don’t know, do a simple Google on Jane Fonda and her activism.) Carlson told me how she inspires her to not care what people think about you and how aggressively demanding change, allows the spread of awareness and shows others, who might be inspired, to demand change as well.

Remember, you’re a force to be reckoned with and “we are a nation made strong by people like YOU” (RBG- Ruth Bader Ginsburg).