“This World Teaches Women to Hate Themselves, But I Refuse to Listen to Its Message.”

After reading a lot about the riot grrrls, the Revolution Girl Style and the indie culture in the 90’s for my school project, I’m finally reading Girls to the Front by Sara Marcus, which refers to the same topic, giving an indepth view to what happened in Olympia and in Washington DC in those years. I don’t know if American girls have really brought the cultural heritage of those grrrls to the new century, but at least they can say someone before them has succeeded in giving her peers a hope for an equal world. If I think of my teenage female students, most of them take their role models from television and this pisses me out because nowadays television is the worst point of reference for young people. I know they’re going through a hard time as students and as teenage girls, so I often try to explain they’re not alone: I went through the same phase myself and I’ve survived those years after all. Yet, I think it would be interesting to provide them with some food thought; for this reason, I think I’ll make them read the questionary below, an interesting take on what being a woman today means.

This week’s guest blogger is Sylvia, an Italian living in London.

*What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Feeling *stuck*.

*What is your idea of earthly happiness?
Happiness is inside. At the same time, in order to feel happy inside, one needs to dig down, acknowledge their feelings and act from that deeper place to change things that do no longer serve them.

*Who are your favourite heroines of fiction?
I sympathise and empathise a lot with Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s and have always been an admirer of La Stella della Senna fighting against injustices.

*Who are your favourite heroines in real life?
Aung San Suu Kyi, pro-democracy activist and leader of the National League for Democracy in Burma, and a noted ex-prisoner of conscience and advocate of nonviolent resistance; the adventurous traveller Freya Stark; and Amy Carter-Jones, a courageous young lady, who passionately believes that tourism can be used to relieve poor rural communities from poverty. She has been working tirelessly since 2002 (when she was only 22!) in a remote area of Northern Mozambique, setting up an eco-camp and a charity (NEMA).

*What is your most vivid memory of the 90s (from music, fashion, politics, culture)?
Grunge fashion. Helena Christensen. My yellow Dr Martens. Ireland and its literature produces: Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, Samuel Becket. Brit Pop. The Commitments. Berlin and its electronic music scene. My first mobile phone. My first email account. Titanic. Diana and Mother Teresa’s death. Beverly Hills 90210. I admit it: I was unaware in my teens and early twenties of many trends, movements and phenomena happening around me, and I was almost oblivious of international affairs. It feels like a different life. And maybe it was.

*What does “feminism” mean to you?
Fighting womanisers, domestic violence and the objectification of women’s bodies; inspiring (young) women to feel sexy and feminine without belittling themselves. At a personal level, feminism to me is the freedom of travelling solo and feeling respected.

*Have you ever given an active contribution to the feminist cause?
I have been involved in various volunteering activities, but they were never focused specifically on women. However, after having travelled around Middle East, Africa and India and having spoken to some uneducated women, I got inspired to specialise myself in yoga therapy to help pregnant women and new mums at home and in developing countries experience birth as the most natural happening and overcome the trauma of birth.

*Have you ever experienced sexism?
Yes, I have.

*The quality you most admire in a man?
Compassion.

*The quality you most admire in a woman?
Courage.

*What is your motto?
Live as you practice, practice as you live: with courage, compassion and creativity.

*What is the object that represents you most?
A yoga mat bag : )

*Who would you have liked to be?
Myself when I am in my element and fully present.

*Could you put your identity into a few key words?
I’ll focus on the positives: creative, eclectic, vital, passionate, uninterested in politics per se, but very sensitive to human rights’ issues.

*How do you imagine your identity changing in ten years? Or twenty?
I have been changing so much in the last couple of years that I would struggle to picture myself beyond next month. Anyhow, I aspire to be a mother of a natural and/or adopted child, living between two countries, involved in social/humanitarian causes, and helping women and children through the healing power of yoga. I also hope to have next to me a man able to not only support but also share this mission with me.

The beautiful picture above was taken during a recent journey she took to India. I think it’s amazing, because Sylvia’s passionate self really shines through it. I’m so honoured to host her on my blog: I’ve known her for many years and I really think she’s an incredibly inspirational woman, who is not afraid of breaking boundaries and mind frames to pursue her dreams.

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2 comments

  1. Great March 8 interview. I think yoga is one of the most equalitarian disciplines. And seeing it as a changing energy (not a way of detachment from the world) is so right!

    1. I’ve never practised yoga but I’ve always been attracted to its philosophy. Thanks to Sylvia, I’ve realized it’s not a means to escape the world but, on the contrary, a way to grasp its complexity and to change it.

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