In August of 2015, I was invited to visit the White House by one of Obama’s chief of staff, Jesica. She aligned deeply with values behind the menstrual marathon, and had her own views on the future of feminism. One thing that I have learned from putting yourself out there is that it makes it easier for like-minded individuals to find you, and therefore find each other. This will be a goal of mine for 2016 – to give women of all backgrounds – a place to gather to speak about their definitions of equality. To ask: “What does ‘the future is female’ mean to you?” Through this menstrual marathon journey, I have connected with thousands of powerful, talented, smart, forward-thinking from women around the world, who are aligned in the mission of making the world a better place.
Since I was already playing a pro-choice show Sept 25th at Tropicalia DC with my band Madame Gandhi, I made sure that I could bring my team with me to the White House as well that day: a group of amazing young people who that night ran lighting, sound, video, sound design and stage management for the Madame Gandhi live show. Each of us wore The Future is Female Shirts.
I had with me my sound designer, Jamie Billings, my production assistant Caroline Hirsch, my video team Nydia Hartono & Hantzley Audate and later on the stage with me would be DJ Ayes Cold.
We were coming from all over – NYC, DC and Boston – and arrived to the White House Friday morning really excited to discuss and learn about what the Obama Administration has accomplished not only for women’s reproductive health but young women’s rights in the past 2 terms.
I went to Georgetown for undergrad so I lived in DC for four years and have very fond memories of this city. I came of a musician here, sneaking into Eighteenth Street Lounge and sitting in with Thievery Corporation and performing every Sunday with Thomas Blondet and playing drums around the city. I was stoked to be playing Tropicalia because it felt very full-circle. 7 years ago, before that venue existed, on that very block, my I remember drumming on a tall American flagpole with a group of drummers the day Obama got elected. It was the corner of 14th and U. We had come back now to see him at the end of his term in the White House, and to play a very feministy show in the basement of that block where my memory of his Presidential term started.
Jesica was inspiring. She felt like one of us. She greeted us with so much warmth, and brought us all together. We had White House coffee and fro-yo absurdly, explored the stunning halls of the White House, and eventually sat down in one of her conference rooms to have a conversation about the better world we imagined for women.
The walls of the White House had so much history to them – photos of past presidential families, special birthday moments, sports wins, and Hillary!!
During the discussion, we covered the following:
- Riot Heaux, an intersectional brand of feminism coined by Jesica
- How the job of our generation is to build a fourth wave, intersectional brand of feminism that identifies and acknowledges the various gender issues facing not only women but also men, trans people, various races, ages, nationalities and sexualities.
- We also talked about the value of “hashtag activism”, i.e. the increased impact of a movement because of social media and how our generation has a voice more so than any other generation simply because of how visibly and fast the internet has enabled us to share and discuss new ideas. I loved this part of the conversation because it also made me feel like we are able to create greater empathy for each other because we are able to peer into each other’s lives more frequently via tools like Facebook.
- Another idea that came up is the notion that when someone posts about an issue on Facebook, it is because it is important to them, and they want their friends to know about it. Many times we can be apathetic to an issue if we feel it is distant to us, but if those in our lives whom we care about are affected by something, we are more likely to pay attention to it. This can help further a cause much faster because it becomes personal and special rather than abstract and removed.
- Michelle Obama on What Every Girl in the World Needs—and How to Provide It.
Below you can watch more from our experience walking through the White House, conversations that came up and clips from the show.