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#31Days of Feminism: Mari Matsuda

Throughout the month of March, NBCBLK, NBCLatino, and NBC Asian America have partnered with the Ms. Foundation for Women for #31Days of Feminism to spotlight women of color who, through their actions and words, lead the way toward a more equal world.

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Mari Matsuda, 59 (Honolulu, HI) — Professor of Law, Artist

Mari Matsuda
Diana Kim

What do you love the most about the work you do?

I love watching my students go out into the world to move us toward justice. I love watching my art go out into the world to surprise people.

What is feminism to you?

Feminism is treating women as fully human, and treating all humans as precious gifts deserving mutual love and care.

Can you pinpoint the moment when you decided to become a feminist? If you don’t consider yourself a feminist, why not?

I am a born and raised feminist because my mother and grandmothers were feminists. They believed in equal education for women, in a time when most did not.

What is the best way we can all be “feminists”?

Believe in a big, audacious vision of a better world for all beings. It's too late for small changes, folks.

Mari Matsuda
Mari Matsuda, protesting at the Japan consulate in Honolulu to stop the building of a military base on the reef at Henoko, Okinawa. Courtesy of Mari Matsuda

Who are your “sheroes”?

Working women since the beginning of time who did the birthing, caring, feeding, hauling, teaching, and surviving, so that we could be here today.

Favorite feminist anthem?

For women my age, it's gotta be Aretha — "RESPECT." But lately I have also thought of Sondheim's "Somewhere" as a feminist song. Feminism supports love in all forms, all gender expressions, all non-subordinating choices in the ways we seek our heart's end. When I think of that wish and sing "Somewhere," I start to weep.

Favorite feminist artist? (authors, singers, dancers, actors)

I fall in love with a new feminist artist everyday. Today it's Elizabeth Cattlett, who portrayed working class black women in their full humanity, beauty, grace, power, and dignity. That's feminist. Last summer it was Rocky Rivera — I saw her on stage shouting out to all the brothers in the crowd, "You at my show, you a feminist now." Yay!

Mari Matsuda
Mari Matsuda and her daughter protesting APEC/TPP in Honolulu. John Hook