An Interview with Kirsten Imani Kasai About the F-word

Thank you for taking the time to talk to me about feminism and what it means to you. You shared that this was a difficult “assignment.” Let’s talk about why that is on our ALIVE WITH DR. ZIVE on April 28, 2022. For More information about Kirsten please go to kirstenimanikasai.com

Dr. Z What does being feminine mean to you?

Kirsten It’s easy to conflate femininity with softness or weakness and to dismiss it as an expression of vulnerability or youth. Femininity is strength—a joyful power that springs from within to beautify the vessel housing it. Femininity is the rose and its thorns. We cannot distinguish one from the other.

Dr. Z What are aspects of feminine energy?

Kirsten Interesting question! When I think of feminine energy, I envision mothers, witches, magic, flying, blood, and fire. Feminine energy coils inside us, watchful as an asp, and defends as quickly as it attacks. Consider the elephant matriarch with her clan of sisters, daughters, and granddaughters. She is a wise and respected elder who guides her family through trials and leads them to bounty. Feminine energy expresses itself in manifold ways. It is the warm hollow inside a nest. It’s the parent who has the strength to lift a car off the child pinned beneath. It is sacrificial but furious—resistance and surrender all wrapped up together like a life-giving umbilical cord. This is the energy that flows from our fingertips when we heal, when we caress, when we birth. I think feminine energy is an alternating electrical current—it’s essential and primal and it empowers us whether or not we acknowledge or celebrate or honor it. But if we do, it is indeed a glorious thing.

Dr. Z Who or what are some leaders, books, quotes, podcasts that you recommend we pay attention to, read, follow, etc. regarding feminism?

Kirsten It’s tragic how many women’s bookstores have disappeared! When I was a teenager, the independent feminist bookstore in Denver, the Book Garden: A Woman’s Store, was deeply influential to my thinking and foundational to my writing, my teaching, and my art. Feminist ideologies are inherent in my fiction. In my work, I dissect the female/feminine experience, power dynamics, and analyze patriarchal systems for chinks in their flimsy armor so that we can dismantle them to construct one of much better service to all people. That said, I always recommend the deeply impactful writings of bell hooks to my students. Reading the work of intersectional and radical feminist scholars from different eras is essential to understanding the movement’s ongoing efforts to decolonize and upend the paradigm. Follow The Nap Ministry https://thenapministry.wordpress.com/. Read Alice Walker’s writings on womanism, Angela Carter’s feminist reinterpretations of fairytales (The Bloody Chamber), Mary Wollstonecraft, Hélène Cixous, Rebecca Solnit, Janet Mock, poet Nayyirah Waheed, and NYC performance artist Penny Arcade. Audre Lorde is essential … start there.

Tell us what feminism, femininity, feminine energy means to you? Post your thoughts in words and/or images.