Janet Mock ups the celebrity-activist ante, promotes inclusive, intersectional feminism

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  • JStone / Shutterstock.com
The world of mainstream feminism is, well, complicated. While celebrities are often quick to adopt the label "feminist," there are always those who take advantage of feminist publicity, but either don’t use their platform to speak out about feminist issues or (worse) promote regressive ideals. It doesn't help that there's major societal pressure on many celebrities, especially women, to own or reject the label definitively, when they usually face blowback either way.

But then there are folks like Janet Mock, an author, journalist, hashtag-starter, TV producer and public speaker whose focus on intersectionality raises the bar. She is one of those celebrity-activists helping to begin nuanced discussions of what it means to be a feminist, and doing it without shame.

Though Mock was influential before the publication of her 2014 memoir Redefining Realness (as she was once editor of People magazine), the book’s debut on the New York Times’ bestseller list threw her into the public eye. Her story wasn’t one we had seen before — an honest look at the perspective and experiences of a young trans person of color, followed by the tale of her twenties in 2017's Surpassing Certainty. Through her story, people who may never have considered the intersection of race and gender were able to put a face to these layered identities that have been politicized to the point of dehumanization in the media. While there are as many ways to be trans as there are trans people, and while her story is not representative of the entire trans and POC community, it's a start in understanding.

At her speech at the 2017 Women’s March, Mock said “I am my sister’s keeper,” meaning that it is her duty as a feminist to look out for her fellow women — and that means all women. Consistently, she ensures discussions center around women of color, women living below the poverty line, sex workers and others pushed to the margins of society. Her brand of feminism is the feminism of the future — a movement toward social change that doesn’t treat issues of race and sexuality or gender identity as entirely separate, but as vital aspects of all of our lives.

In a 2017 interview with BUST magazine she revealed that she spoke to scattered boos and jeers at the Women’s March for announcing that she was trans, and for proclaiming her inclusion of sex workers. “But for me,” she said in that interview, “it was like, Oh, I’m doing something right. This is exactly it — this is complicating our feminism, this is complicating the narrative, this is bringing more people in, and that upsets some people in this space. But that’s my job.”

Now, Janet Mock will be coming to Lakewood, Colorado to discuss her life, politics and professional experiences onstage at Mile Hi Church with author/speaker Dr. Roger Teel March 23. And there’s a lot of ground to cover. In addition to her two successful books, Mock is a celebrated journalist, and a writer-producer on Pose, a new FX show produced by Ryan Murphy (Glee, American Horror Story), set to air this summer.

If nothing else, the conversation will be enlightening for those who wish to complicate their own feminism, to think about how we look at ourselves as individuals and as a movement, and to learn about one rad-as-hell woman who's fighting the good fight.

Tickets are $30, and can be purchased on the Mile Hi Church website.

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