Erin Matson is a writer and feminist activist extraordinaire whose work has appeared in the Washington Post and on CNN, MSNBC, Al-Jazeera English, ABC World News, BBC World News, and PBS’ To The Contrary.
She is also the co-founder and co-director of Reproaction.org, a direct action non-profit organization dedicated to fighting for preserving, protecting and extending reproductive rights and for reproductive justice for women everywhere.
Recently, I had the honor and pleasure of having this tireless worker for social change agree to answer my interview questions.
JMA: Who and what inspires you?
EM: My favorite thing in the world is a woman sticking up for herself.
JMA: What is your favorite childhood memory?
EM: I picketed in my parent’s living room over a proposal to declaw the cat. I won. The cat has long since passed, but the back of the furniture still bears witness to my victory!
JMA: At what point in your life did you know you wanted to be an activist?
EM: I’ve been an activist my whole life. As a child, I loved to read the newspaper and think and talk about politics. I started phone-banking in middle school!
JMA: What is your proudest moment as an activist?
EM: Ooh, that’s tough. It always gets me when someone tells me about the work they’ve done, and that I inspired them to get involved or push harder. I’m amazed by the power within other activists.
JMA: After having your first baby, you once wrote a blog post called “Parenting Is Political.” What was the main point you wanted to get across with this post?
EM: How we parent our children can be a form of activism. I hear too many moms in my circles berate themselves for being less available than fellow activists who don’t have children. We can hold and should hold, parenting and feminist activism in the same space — and do so proudly.
JMA: What do you say to other women who say they are not feminists?
EM: Not every woman identifies as a feminist, and that’s their right. I’m eager and excited to work with anyone who wishes to work toward gender equality.
JMA: One of my favorite quotes of yours is,
“I believe each time a woman tells the truth about her own life it is a radical act with the power to change society.”
Do you believe this applies to women everywhere?
EM: Thank you. Yes, I do. I believe that telling the truth about our lives is radical — no matter what our lives are — and that doing so is both personally and politically transformative.
JMA: Another one of my favorite quotes of yours is this;
“Feminism is not a credential. It is an action that needs to be continuously improved upon and lived.”
In light of this quote, what do you think the state of feminism is at this very moment in history?
EM: Feminist activists are doing inspiring work at a difficult period in history. I’m inspired by the number of people getting involved. New people are welcome. The Women’s Marches were awesome. I’m also deeply inspired by people doing radical, cutting-edge work that some might say goes too far, such as work on the left holding others in the progressive movement accountable for dismissing women and women’s rights. We need equality and justice desperately. All people are welcome to join this quest.
JMA: How did you come to found Reproaction along with fellow activist Pamela Merritt?
EM: Pamela and I have known each other online for years. The analysis that we brought to form Reproaction was a shared willingness to acknowledge that reproductive health, rights, and justice were losing and that we needed a deeper commitment to non-violent direct action to hold both the left and right accountable to increasing access to abortion and advancing reproductive justice. I’m so proud and feel so fortunate to lead this work with her.
JMA: What do you hope Reproaction achieves?
EM: We have already started to introduce a new culture of accountability for the left and the right. We will give abortion a permanent seat at the progressive table. We are holding the anti-abortion movement accountable. We’re having a great time with our work, and we’re not at all sorry that anti-abortion fake clinics and other bad actors are not.
JMA: In this era of Trump that we are all living through, what is one thing that gives you hope for the future?
EM: Women being brave — that gives me hope.
JMA: Thank you, Erin.
EM: You are welcome
For more on direct action abortion rights and the reproductive justice organization mission at Reproaction.org.
Connect with Erin on Twitter
Photo: @Erin Matson All Rights Reserved