Maria D’Angelo Interview: Feminism 2020
Maria D’Angelo, 29, is from Seattle in the USA. She has a B.A from the University of Washington in European Studies and she is currently employed in the field of Advertising Software. She began volunteering with Trama Textiles at the end of January 2020. She is currently in the process of reviewing the wages for the women weavers here at Trama and reviewing the volunteer programme.
“I’m learning to treat myself as a good friend would treat me. I’m currently on a journey from being my own worst enemy to my own best friend. The extent to which this has helped me, is unquantifiable.”
What made you want to volunteer for a women’s collective such as Trama Textiles?
Seeing the direct impact that Trama has on women’s lives inspired me to apply to volunteer with them. And I knew that I had specific skills, such as recently learning about ‘Human Centred Design’, and administrative and volunteer management, which could help this organisation. I want to do whatever I can to help women to thrive in their environment.
Do you consider yourself to be a feminist, and what does the term ‘feminist’ mean to you?
Yes I do. Feminism to me is about equal rights; both sexes should have the same opportunity to have a place of equal standing in the world.
How do you see the global feminist movement evolving in 2020?
I believe that the feminist movement has a lot of traction at this moment in history. It’s time for women to be equally respected and elevated. I believe that I can support this movement by volunteering here at Trama for example, to help elevate women who are not born into the same opportunities as me.
To what extent does an organisation like Trama serve as a political statement in a country like Guatemala?
Trama is working hard to push feminism forwards. It’s a tricky area in a country like Guatemala because there are a lot of forces against it. Trama provides an excellent template for other women in Guatemala around the power and currency of ‘collectivising.’
What kinds of issues do you see women in Guatemala struggling with, which is perhaps different to the issues women in the USA might be facing?
The women here in Guatemala are predominantly operating in a country which doesn’t recognise women’s potential. Huge generational shifts are needed to advance this movement, and this relates directly back to access to education and opportunities. Women and girls need to be encouraged to take risks and go on adventures to broaden their horizons. Women here seem to be very much ‘put in a box’ in terms of what is perceived to be possible for them, which has not helped with economic change, so big changes are needed.
If you had a daughter how would you hope her experiences of growing up as a female might be different to yours?
I would want her to know just how lucky she was to be born in the USA, and how to make best use of this privilege. I’d want her to use her voice and see life as a gift and to see her worth, and to feel empowered.
How do you see the feminist movement intersecting with other movements such as the LGBTQI movement and Black Lives Matter?
What unifies these movements to me is ‘realising worth’. We should support people from every community and sector of society to be the best version of themselves. People in a position of greater privilege, need to dedicate their time and resources to support these movements and work towards a place of greater equality.
What aspects of your conditioning do you think limit your sense of what’s possible for you as a woman in the world?
I grew up with a mentality that there is only one way to do things...very black and white views. But on the other hand, I was very supported and was always brought up to believe that I could do and achieve whatever I wanted to in the world, which really helped me to map out where I wanted to go in life. The ‘black and white mindset’ however, led me to strive for perfection, but as I’ve got older I’ve been much more able to see the grey areas and to re-examine my views on things. Stepping away from striving for perfection has enabled me to do more with my life….it’s been very freeing.
To what extent do you see yourself as an empowered woman?
Being able to come to Guatemala of my own volition and to be able to participate in an organisation that I’m passionate about, to follow my calling and do work that I’m excited about and to really embrace life makes me feel very empowered. And knowing that I have the support of family and friends back home too is really empowering.
What makes you feel the most attractive?
Realising my worth. Participating in activities that help me to grow. I’m learning to treat myself as a good friend would treat me. I’m currently on a journey from being my own worst enemy to my own best friend. The extent to which this has helped me, is unquantifiable. I also think validation from those I care about feels great!
If there was no such thing as a glass ceiling, what would you do?
I would probably be a rock star! I love music. It’s an integral part of who I am. So being able to be a virtuoso of sorts would be entirely fulfilling! Or I’d love to be an activator of change such as a diplomat. Being a catalyst for change and inspiration in people’s lives-that would be the ultimate.
In which ways do you think societal expectations of men and women differ?
In Seattle, which is where I’m from, it feels pretty equal. I feel I can go into a meeting and have equal say with a male counterpart. Mostly men within the context of my home and work surroundings in the USA are very respectful of women, to the point where it could even go overboard. The ‘Me Too’ movement has been a great catalyst for change, but men are now experiencing an underlying fear of saying or doing the wrong thing, which needs to be examined and researched so that we can come back into some sort of sense of balance and equilibrium in terms of how we relate between the sexes.
Who is your female icon and why?
Brene Brown and her investigation into ‘shame and vulnerability’ has had a huge impact on my life. The other person I would say is Mother Teresa, and the purity of giving and consistent faith which she embodied. To me, ‘giving’ is the most special thing we can dedicate our lives to. I struggle with giving up certain aspects of my life, but the way she used faith and prayer to give herself fully to her mission, is so inspiring to me.