Jane Street Interview: Feminism 2020
Jane Street, 28, is from New Zealand. She has a BDes in Fashion Design and Business and works in Sales and Brand Management. She is currently coding all of the Trama products on the website and organizing a fundraising event for Trama Textiles to coincide with International Women’s Day.
“I think we’re moving forward in terms of gender equality, in the sense that kids at school of both genders are learning about voicing their feelings and also more practical skills such as money management. But I think it would be a case of a 40-50 year rollout of a different/more open education system for gender change to be the across the board normal.”
What made you want to volunteer for a women’s collective such as Trama?
Volunteering is a great way to travel and also to give back to the countries that you visit. My educational background is in fashion but I haven’t really been using this side of my degree. I really like the culture here in Guatemala around clothing and textiles and when I found Trama I felt it was really up my street.
Do you consider yourself to be a feminist, and what does the term ‘feminist’ mean to you?
Yes...well, I'm not sure I’d even call it feminism, but I find myself saying “It’s 2020 mate!’’ [I’m not sure we can be saying/doing that anymore] quite a lot. New Zealand is a pretty progressive country to be honest, for example in leadership we have a young female Prime Minister (Jacinda Arden, 39). Feminism to me is about ensuring equal opportunities and I think on the whole New Zealand models that fairly well.
How do you see the global feminist movement evolving in 2020?
I think because New Zealand is smaller and somewhat more progressive than other places, I tend to overlook sometimes how hard it can be for women in other countries to be able to do things that have been relatively easy for me to do. The confidence women enjoy in more developed countries is so different to the experiences of women in other parts of the world. So advancing feminism in these sorts of contexts, to me, is about creating a positive and empowering change for women, while respecting people’s countries, culture and traditions.
To what extent does an organisation like Trama serve as a political statement in a country like Guatemala?
Trama was born off the back of the civil war here in Guatemala which meant there was a significant loss of men and so it was born out of necessity. In this part of the world, the ‘female collective’ is a different way of doing business, where the women are leading and making the decisions, which is hopefully, inspiring to other women here.
What kinds of issues do you see women in Guatemala struggling with, which is perhaps different to the issues women in New Zealand might be facing?
It’s vastly different. The big one that stands out to me is contraception. Back home you can go to family planning clinics, and you can get the pill and condoms from the G.P but in the Guatemalan culture, it is still something very taboo to even consider or talk about. I find it very empowering that in NZ and other developed countries, women know about contraception and can choose whether or not to have a baby, whereas here, the idea of contraception is something that is taboo and in that sense denied to a lot of women.
If you had a daughter how would you hope her experiences of growing up as a female in the world might be different to yours?
To be honest, my mum was a really strong woman who always taught me to stand up for what I believe in, so I feel I had a really fortunate education and childhood. But I’d love for my future daughter to be able to travel more growing up so that she could experience other cultures and languages at a younger age than I did.
How do you see the feminist movement intersecting with other movements such as the LGBTQI movement and Black Lives Matter?
My stance is, and pretty much always has always been, “We’re all the same on the inside, We should all just be equal!” I guess, as humans, we tend to categorise groups of people to create an ‘us’ and a ‘them’ culture. It seems to me though, that everyone is ultimately fighting for the same thing; to be accepted for who we are.
What aspects of your conditioning do you think limit your sense of what’s possible for you as a woman in the world?
I think a form of conditioning that is hard to escape and what can be most limiting for me is ‘self talk’, particularly the idea that “I’m not good enough.” It’s really hard to be confident all the time, and I think that this stems from conditioning. Sometimes for me trying to get past the fear of what others think of me can be really hard.
To what extent do you see yourself as an empowered woman?
Honestly...kinda not really. I try not to think about others’ opinions and to make decisions based on what makes me happy. Sometimes discussing things with trusted friends can help me to make decisions. But in a sense, I guess I am empowered because I get to ultimately make my own decisions about what to do with my life which many women don’t.
What makes you feel the most attractive?
Doing something that I’m good at makes me feel attractive. When I feel good and confident in myself I guess that makes me more attractive to others as well. On a more superficial note, a good hair day is an attractive day!
If there was no such thing as a glass ceiling, what would you do?
I want to do something helpful with my life, particularly to help people with less privilege than me. I’d really like to set up a creative space where people can be creative, eat good food, drink good beer, and also create some kind of enterprise around that space, like making clothes with an emphasis on upcycling and sustainability. It would be great to be able to use the space for fundraising to help out with current issues, for example, the current forest fires in Australia which are causing so much devastation to communities, wildlife and ecology.
In which ways do you think societal expectations of men and women differ?
Societal pressures are still very real around gender roles. There are still perceptions that men should earn more than their female partners for example. I think we’re moving forwards though in terms of gender equality, in the sense that kids at school of both genders are learning about voicing their feelings and more practical skills such as money management. But I think it would be a case of a 40-50 year roll out of a different/more open education system for gender change to be the across the board normal.
Who is your female icon and why?
My mum. She moved from New Zealand to the UK at the age of 20 which is very cool and adventurous of her! She’s very confident in her decision making, and she’ll stand by her decisions even if nobody else agrees. She did a lot of nursing related volunteering. She even worked in a hospital in Togo in Africa, which was forged out of a converted battleship called ‘Mercy Ship’. So she’s a really inspiring role model!