Graduate student founds UA feminist caucusBy Paige Henderson | 03/03/2015 11:43pm
Cassidy Ellis, a second-year graduate student studying women's studies and communications, founded the Feminist Caucus and is currently serving as the organization's president. Photo Courtesy of Cassidy Ellis
Cassidy Ellis is a second-year graduate student studying women's studies and communications. Ellis, a Montgomery native, founded the Feminist Caucus and is currently serving as the organization's president. The Feminist Caucus hosts open meetings on the first Wednesday of every month, known as "Frankly Feminist." The meetings are held in room 360 of the Ferguson Student Center.
Q: What made you want to join the Feminist Caucus and how long have you been involved?
A: I'm actually the founder of the organization; we started last semester. I saw a need for feminist activism on campus. We have several progressive organizations that touch on some of the issues that we are interested in, but none that really begin from a directly feminist perspective or standpoint. So I began talking to various people last spring on campus and I saw that people were interested in this and I thought that it was needed.
Q: Can you describe the feminist caucus in three words?
A: Active, engaged, intersectional.
Q: What woman in history has influenced you the most and why?
A: I would say bell hooks because she is one of the foremost intersectional feminist thinkers and she does a lot with feminist pedagogy, which I am really interested in. She also taught me about how we communicate with each other and how we make our activism intersectional. She is just a really awesome feminist-thinker that I would aspire to be like.
Q: What is feminism in the modern world?
A: I think that's an interesting and a hard question to answer because there are so many types of feminism. Feminism is different for every person, right? So some people practice feminism through activism and they will go out and organize. Some people practice their feminism by being a teacher, so their teaching methods are influenced by feminism. Some people practice their feminism in more conventional ways. There is queer feminism, there is intersectional feminism, there are all these different kinds of feminism, so it's hard to narrowly define what feminism is.
Q: What has been your greatest accomplishment so far working with the Feminist Caucus?
A: I think our greatest accomplishment has been just getting together the group of people who are interested in this. We're building a space for people to be able to come and learn about feminism and feminist issues but then also be prepared to go out and be active for those issues. We do things in the local community as well as on the national level, so I think it provides people with the tools to be able to do those things.
Q: Who can become involved with the Feminist Caucus?
A: We want everyone to be involved. People hear the word "feminism" or "feminist" and a lot of times assume it's only associated with women. We really pride ourselves on being intersectional and getting people from all backgrounds, genders and sexual orientations involved so that we can be an inclusive organization that works for the liberation of every person.
Q: Where do you see yourself in 5 years? What about 10 years?
A: In five years, I hope to be on my way to completing a PhD program, teaching about issues related to gender, race and sexuality, and helping young people come to know their own feminism and come to a place where they can advocate for those things, too. So, to take the things that I've been practicing and helping others to learn those things and be able to practice them as well. In 10 years, hopefully, I will have written some kind of book and will be tenured and able to go out and do some activist work.