This is an interview that is very special to the E&M team and especially here at SEX: we have not only interviewed Rose from A Tribe Of Women and asked her about her journey, but we are announcing a collaboration between our platforms!
Every issue will now feature one of Rose’s blog articles – and you can in return read us on A Tribe Of Women regularly.
Having the same vision – empowerment and rooting for each other – this collaboration is not a question of why but simply a reason to celebrate, to broaden our horizon, readership, stories and sharing struggles.
Now, we want you to meet Rose, the founder of A Tribe Of Women.
E&M: Hey Rose, welcome! We’re very excited to be collaborating with you! Who are you?
Rose: Hi! I am also very excited to be collaborating with E&M! I am Rose Smith. I grew up in the Philippines and I am half-Filipino. I have been living outside the Philippines since 2014. I’ve lived in Chilean Patagonia, where I took an internship-turned-job for a year – mainly to see the penguins… and, of course, to improve my Spanish!
My favourite colour is red.
I speak English, Filipino, and Spanish. I have intermediate knowledge of Russian since I studied there for two years. I enjoy swimming and doing yoga, I would like to enjoy running but this has not materialised yet. I do enjoy taking long walks home to clear my mind, though.
Whether it is in the workplace, among peers, or even in public, I started to see the persistence of systematic discrimination against women in our society today, which is practiced not only by men but also by women themselves.
E&M: This was a perfect introduction! I almost want to ask you more about penguins and if red has always been your favourite colour but I guess we should get right into why we have you here. You mentioned to me in a previous conversation that your start into feminism was rather late, can you tell us a little about that?
Yes, sure! You see, growing up in the Philippines, I was surrounded by strong-willed women – whether it was my mother, my aunts, my friends, my teachers, or even female historical and/or political figures. However, as I moved around different parts of the world and took on different roles in society, I started to feel the discrimination that I thought I usually only read about. Whether in the workplace, among peers, or even in public, I started to see the persistence of systematic discrimination against women in our society today, which is practiced not only by men but also by women themselves. I have observed that this could be both conscious or subconscious as I noticed how even my own thoughts and ideas about myself were influenced by it, which dictated my own reaction (or agreeability) to sexism.
E&M: I can relate to that. Also Nicoletta mentions this in the latest female rage and calls it her ‘self-inflicted internalised misogyny’ that has held her back sometimes. So, how do you cope when you encounter sexism? I, for example, still get so angry and feel paralysed, witty remarks only ever coming to me when it’s already too late – how do you experience it? How do you channel it?
It depends where and how I come across sexism. In an academic and/or friendly setting, I try to challenge people’s beliefs and ask them why they think that. I am a strong believer in critical thinking and questioning one’s thought process. I believe that it is important to ask ourselves why we think in such a way.
My response to sexism and any other kind of discrimination would depend on the kind of aggression. If it is a physical aggression such as being shoved when entering an establishment (based on a true story), I also get paralysed and then angry for not doing anything else. If it is verbal aggression, I think about my own safety and speak up only if it would not result to any possible harm on myself and/or others. When I am able to speak up, I follow the same approach that I mentioned in an academic and/or friendly setting, which is to question their remark. I believe that this would prove to be more effective rather than simply dismissing their belief as wrong and/or discriminatory. In doing so, they would also not dismiss my own remarks and would create a good environment for critical dialogue. This would also give me insight on what makes them think the way they do.
If we want to combat systematic discrimination, we should start unpacking our own thought processes and look at what we want to change. By identifying this, we begin to change and revolutionise our thinking.
Ultimately, similar to my academic interests, I am curious about how people (and/or societies) think and the reasons behind it. I find it interesting to dig deep into systematic thought processes particularly because I believe that revolutions start in ourselves – specifically in our minds. If we want to combat systematic discrimination, we should start unpacking our own thought processes and look at what we want to change. By identifying this, we begin to change and revolutionise our thinking.
E&M: Honestly, I hear what you say. I am still at a stage where I want to yell: SEXISM and point fingers though. I really hope I can make your approach mine soon – it’s calming and non judgemental. I want that. So, are personal experiences what gave you the idea to start your blog? Tell me all about it! What’s the idea behind it and what do you hope to achieve? Is there any ‘goal’ you want to reach or did you just want to provide a platform?
I got the idea of starting the A Tribe Of Women (ATOW) blog after I was belittled by someone that I used to care about and trust a lot. When I woke up the next day, I felt uneasy more than devastated. I was angry. I knew that I could not just let it pass. I knew I had to do something.
I looked back on the previous day and saw how empowering the conversations I’ve had with my friends were, as they helped me cope with what happened. They made me realise that one person’s opinion – no matter how important he was in my life – is not an indication of who I am. It was my opinion of myself that mattered because that would dictate how I would live my life. I also started to see how I have overlooked sexist undertones in the way he talked to and/or treated me. Empowered by my will to fight it, I had already created the whole concept of the blog as well as the other social media platforms by lunch time.*
* ATOW instagram and twitter.
E&M: Can I high five you please? That is incredible. So, what is the blog? What stories does it tell?
Staying true to its name, it is a network of women to share their journey and talent. It aims to empower, connect, and inspire us women to reach our full potential by activating pulse points in our hearts, souls, and minds through quotes, stories, and art from fellow women that give an extra burst of strength and encouragement to do our best each day. As we all might have noticed, it is not easy to keep going and fighting for what you want out of life. There are a lot of hardships, disappointments, and even wrong turns here and there (sometimes even consecutively). Not to mention, systematic discrimination does exist, of course.
The goal I’ve set for the ATOW platform is simply to encourage women – as well as myself – to keep going by helping us foster a mindset that would cultivate our success. To be honest, it has also helped me tremendously.
E&M: Hi, patrichary!
Ha, yeah, well it is important to have constant encouragement in achieving our goals. This fosters a growth mindset, which is something I’ve first encountered in Carol Dweck’s book entitled Mindset. The goal I’ve set for the ATOW platform is simply to encourage women – as well as myself – to keep going by helping us foster a mindset that would cultivate our success. To be honest, it has also helped me tremendously.
The platform has come a long way since mid-April as it approaches its sixth month on 15 October. In these past couple of months, I’ve received messages from women who have told me how the posts have helped them stay strong or overcome their own struggles. This has given me the energy to keep building the platform and creating more avenues to encourage women.
E&M: I am so glad we have you on board and are welcomed on your’s!
A few months ago E&M’s Friederike shared her personal story of her ‘late feminist awakening’ on A tribe of women.
About the interviewee
Rose Smith grew up in the Philippines and cultivated a passion for Eastern Europe and post-Soviet culture. She is currently pursuing a PhD in memory studies in Prague, Czech Republic. She is a curious and an open minded traveller with a unique eye for photography. You can definitely recognise her aesthetic as her travel photo diaries are not to be missed. In the first quarter of 2019, she founded A Tribe Of Women, an online platform present in various social media. It soon became a strong self support community that shares positive vibes keeping its followers motivated daily. The comments and messages of appreciation she receives from her followers all over the globe motivate her to keep growing her community. Follow her journey on Instagram @rosejoysmith
Cover Photo: Illustration by @emmdjango