Fabulous Feminist Liz Plank!

Known for her epic eye rolls on MSNBC, feminist and journalist Liz Plank creates viral content that makes headlines. Her brilliant Christmas gift to women everywhere; an apology from Donald Trump, was viewed over 8 million times.

Her Vox Media franchise The Divided States of Women is produced by an unprecedented all female team. By exploring the diverse experiences of women in America, they challenge the belief that female voters share the same opinions.

The Divided States of Women is produced by an all female team.

 

Liz’s Tedx Talk on How To Be a Man led to a book on the subject that comes out in 2019.

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Liz is the millennial authority on feminism.  She is regularly asked to run for President. Liz Plank’s intelligence and bravery are a daily source of inspiration for me. I was curious to know why feminism is her calling, and how she found her voice.

what i lack in people skills i make up in photobombs. #RaiseYourVoice

A post shared by Liz Plank (@feministabulous) on

I had the honor of catching up with this Montrealer turned New Yorker on the phone while she was on location in Hawaii interviewing two women that inspire her.

The Divided States of Women’s Ashley Bearden (Supervising Producer), Liz Plank (Executive Producer), and Christine Ng (Director of Photography).

Who did you interview in Hawaii and why? Colleen Hanabusa is running for governor because she wants to see her voice represented. Her mother told her ‘You’re a woman. You can be a nurse or a teacher’. She wanted more than that, so she went to law school. She talked about the barriers to entering politics if you’re a woman. Millennial Beth Fokumoto recently joined the democratic party after getting dumped by the republican party when she spoke out against Trump’s racism and sexism. She talked about being an introvert. She told us that the first time she had to go door to door, she cried in the car. She had to tell herself she could do it, and overcome all of those voices inside many women’s head that we can’t do, or that we’re not qualified to do, the things we want to do.

On #SOTU day we tell women to run for office. (via @soraya)

A post shared by Liz Plank (@feministabulous) on

Are you feeling hopeful? Yes. Women are going to save America. More women are running. There are 30,000 women who have inquired about running for office with Emily’s list, an organization that provides funds to elect women to office. For every 1 women in 2016 that inquired, there were 40 in 2017. In 2018 there are 80 women running for governor. It’s astounding.

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Why is fighting feminism your purpose? I don’t think I ever chose feminism, I think feminism chose me. I felt many magical moments throughout my life. Like when I was at McGill and I discovered women’s studies was a major. It was like discovering a new food you love and you’re like OMG, had I known this existed, I would have eaten this my whole life! I can study this! I can work in this!

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My mother is a big feminist. I resisted her influence for a while, as we all do as teenagers since the last thing you want to be is your mom, and then you grow up and realize that all you are is your mom. Wanting justice was a gift that both of my parents gave me. For me it’s about never getting over that phase when you’re two years old and you’re like, ‘It’s not fair!’ Then someone tells you ‘Well, the world isn’t fair’. I never accepted that. I was like ‘No, this bothers me.’ As long as injustice bothers me, I’m going to keep trying to stop it.

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What led you to the London School of Economics? Laziness. I applied because it was a one-year program and it felt less daunting financially. I also thought I wouldn’t get in, so I just applied. The program was amazing. I ended up doing a lot of behavioral science, and getting into a lot of different things in the policy department. What really changed everything for me was starting the petition around the Olympics and boxing. Getting involved and starting to write, I had this ‘aha’ moment of ‘This is so cool. I can do this and write things and people will read them as opposed to just one person’. You spend hours on something in school, and one person reads it, and then it goes in the trash bin. So, it was really cool to see social media as a vehicle to get my ideas out there, to feel that I am part of a community of people who are really awesome, and to be able to talk to them.

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How did you find your voice? I get the sense that it’s always been a part of who you are. No, I think even some of the things I believed 10 years ago when I started writing and doing feminist theory, I would probably cringe at now. I’m sure tweets that I’ve sent even two years ago, I’d see now and say ‘OMG that was off’. I think we all evolve, especially in feminism. I actually think we need to give everyone a little bit more slack when it comes to figuring out our voice, and be allies making mistakes on the internet and with social media. Everyone is afraid to make that mistake because it is out there forever. We’ve seen there is a twitter mafia that comes after you if you say the wrong thing, or say it the wrong way. I would hope that we all have a voice, and that we all use it in different ways. I happen to have the privilege to have a platform so a lot of people hear it, but I’ve been inspired by people that I’ve spoken to who have distinct amazing voices. I feel like I’m a collection of all of the inspiring people that I’ve met and I try to use my platform to elevate their voices. I guess my voice is important, but there are so many different voices that are even more important. That’s what I try and remember.

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Some days are harder than others. Sometimes it’s hard to always be in the public eye. Your work is viewed publicly, and by so many people, in a way that I think that other forums, coming back to when I was in academia, it was less so. I try to remind myself why it’s important. It is truly my purpose in life.

I think we all find our voices when we say how we feel. So many times, in interviews especially, it’s when people say ‘I probably shouldn’t say this, but’, and then they say something. It’s usually what you’re afraid to say that really needs to be said.

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What was a career highlight when you saw a huge reaction to your work? One of my favorite videos is the one we did around the ‘R word’, a word used to describe people with disabilities that is a slur word, but is still commonly used. I was part of a volunteer group in New York. We put on musical plays with people with disabilities, and there was one actor whose name is Paul. He has down syndrome, he is gay, and fabulous! He’s just such a character, and the minute I met him I really wanted to be able to feature him.

We didn’t know how it would do. Disability never gets the amount of coverage that it should given that 1 in 5 people has a disability. Everyone knows someone with a disability, a family member, or someone that takes care of someone with a disability. We really liked the video and we featured him in his little place in Brooklyn with his mom. He lives a very humble life. The video exploded! We got 20 million views on that episode! Paul ended up being recognized at a Broadway show. He ended up getting a movie out of it that was presented at Sundance. The issue got a ton of attention, so it was really awesome to see. Those are the moments that I love. When I see that a story we did made a real impact, not just in the life of the person that we interviewed, but in the life of other people too.

How do you feel when you’re about to go on MSNBC? I’m always nervous. If I’m not nervous, I get a little bit worried.

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What is your biggest takeaway from the Divided States of Women? Women are not a monolithic block. Leading up to the election, the question was ‘What are women going to do? How are women going to vote?’ The way we don’t say ‘How are men going to vote’? They don’t put men in one category the way they tend to do for women. Alabama is a perfect example, most white women voted for a republican who is an accused child molester, and 96% of black women voted for a democrat. That ended up turning that state into a blue state. It hasn’t been a blue state in decades. There is a divide among women. We are different. We have intersecting identities. What we’re trying to do is show those different experiences, and perspectives of women, and take those issues we tend to see in a unilateral way, and show that they are multidimensional. Looking in on interesting rich lives that we should demand to see and hear about.

What can women do for each other? Women are better at listening then men, and I don’t think that’s naturally in our genes. I don’t think we’re naturally superior at listening, I think that we’ve just been taught to care about the person that we’re talking to. We’ve been taught empathy in a way that men haven’t always. I’m generalizing. I just think as a culture we learn differently. I think women can listen to each other, but I also think that women can teach our entire culture about how to coexist.

We tell women that they should communicate more like men, and that they should be more assertive in the workplace, and use power poses and all that crap. That’s fair, and I’m happy there was ‘Lean In’, and a movement for women to be more empowered in the workplace, but, why don’t we tell men that they should communicate more like women when we’re shown that women are collaborative, and work really well together? Women in the senate are the reason why we have healthcare, because men made a mess, and then women cleaned it up. Women avoided shut downs. Female politicians show up to work more. They’re able to cross the aisle more often, and yet women don’t see themselves represented when they’re actually better at doing the job! So, I think it’s not just what women can teach each other, but what women can teach society. What can each gender learn from each other so that we are not confined by gender norms and we can all be ourselves?

Your book will explore the cost is of men not talking with other men about what it means to be a man. What is the cost? I think the cost is women not doing the same among them. We risk a society where people don’t have the true freedom to be themselves. If you don’t see your gender, you don’t see the ways you were shaped by it. The risk can be dangerous for women, and also for men. Men have a greater chance of dying of suicide, dropping out of school, being a perpetrator of violence, and experience a lot more isolation than women. If they don’t talk about the way the patriarchy and masculinity principles shape some of their behaviors and attitudes, how can they begin to change them?

was it everything i said?

A post shared by Liz Plank (@feministabulous) on

Liz might be Canadian and unable to run for POTUS, but who knows what the future will bring. In the meantime, I’m grateful she has a platform to expose this one.

Follow Liz on Facebook, Instagram and twitter.

I shouldn’t say this, but the thrill of interviewing such an esteemed pro put a lump in my throat. Thank you so much Liz, and of course to Mitsou for the introduction.

xx

All images and videos used with permission.

 

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4 thoughts on “Fabulous Feminist Liz Plank!

  1. OMG my bella, what a great post, what an incredible chat you must have had! You are full of surprises, courage, talent, and thank God for you saying what you want to say. We need you!

    Love,
    Isaxxxxxx

    • Thank you Annabelle! I think she has touched all our lives in one way or another and for any justice seeking woman out there, she is a role model. Thank you for reading and I hope you are inspired as a creative and as a kickass woman. xx

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