KEEP YOUR LAWS OFF MY BODY

We interview Dutch law student about why she wants the world to ‘keep your laws off my body’…

What do you do?

I’m studying a masters in Dutch health law and am currently writing my thesis about equal treatment in healthcare. I also work 2 jobs one the side – one in customer service and one as a doorhost (read: doorbitch) at a weekly electronic music festival in Amsterdam. I’m also on the board of a European study association based in Amsterdam, which has the slogan ‘a world in which there is respect for human dignity and cultural diversity’. Let’s say I’m living my student life in Amsterdam to the fullest and enjoying it very much.

Which women do you most identify with from history to the present day?

In Holland, the ‘Dolle Mina’ (crazy Mina) movement played a big part in the feminist movement of the 1970s. I have big respect for those women (read: heroines), who preached their own opinion, fought for their rights and didn’t care about what the outside world thought. As a humble dutchie, I wouldn’t say I identify with them, since I don’t know if I would be brave enough to have joined them, but if I would say nowadays, I identify with their actions and would do whatever I could to help.

Tell us about some women that inspire you

Probably very cliché, but first: My mum of course, since she is a hard working, kind mum whom, as well as having 3 kids, started her own company and helped my dad with his company as well. She always has a positive approach, enjoys every day as it comes and finds solutions for every problem. I still learn from her every day!

My older sister has struggled to find her passion for a while and now puts her creative energy into photography and I am so proud of her! She inspires me in the way she lives in ‘the now’ from day to day and doesn’t worry about the future. I sometimes get caught up in negative thinking about past or future but now is all we have.

What changes would you like to see in your community?

Hey. Not only in my community, but nationwide and maybe worldwide. The way we use language. I saw a recent discussion online and I have to admit that I never thought about it before, but I think language is a good place to start. It is common in Dutch to call an adult lady a girl (meisje in dutch, -je is a word to make things smaller), but not very common to call an adult guy a boy. (jongetje in dutch) In Dutch you really notice the difference. We choose words that make women seem like a small, sweet and cuddly things, while we don’t use those words for men. This inequality should be simple to fix. But whenever I tell people, they think it’s not that big a deal. So I guess there is still a long way to go.

Another personal experience – I was born as Yvette, but my parents always used the nickname Ted. Ted is a boy’s name but I prefer it over Yvette. So I decided to use Ted in my personal life and Yvette for business. When I’m at a party I introduce myself as Ted and people tend to get a bit confused. In the end names are not who we are, it’s just something our parents gave us and if I like my boy’s name I use it! The change I would like to see is people stop using labels – my name is a boy’s name, so what?

Overall Dutch women are very down to earth, practical and independent. I think we should honour that more instead of seeing it as a bad thing. I notice sometimes the word feminist gets used as a bad word, like ‘one of those feminists’. In my experience, these things are most said by men from countries with a macho culture. What should change is that everyone should be feminist and men shouldn’t feel threatened by strong and powerful women.

Next to this I would like to see change in the public perception of body hair. Shaved legs and armpits are still the standard and I don’t see why. A man is accepted for having body hair yet as a woman there is this idea that you should give men pleasure by shaving everything off?! HELL NO. I’ll decide for myself!

Tell us about who has inspired your personal life and style?

When Alicia Keys stopped wearing make-up I didn’t for 2 years either. In this period my style became very basic. Now I enjoy make up and dressing up again, so I do it if I want to. But I learned in this period to be happy with less clothes hanging in the closet. A kind of minimalistic approach, which works well for me. The bottom line is I do whatever feels good and when I dress up I do it for myself!

What would you put on one of our sticky bitches*?

Women just want to have FUNdamental rights!

Men of quality support equality.

Stop forced (child) marriage!

*Sticky bitches = our free gender equality cause stickers.

What are your three favourite smells and why?

Since I grew up on a farm the smell of fresh cut grass and hay will always be a special memory. Because I live in Amsterdam now, I don’t get to smell this often, but when it happens I feel like a kid back on the farm again.

The smell of the sky after rain on a hot day (yeah we have some of those), like nature is saying thank you for the refreshing shower.

The signature perfumes of friends, families and loved ones! (no explanation needed I guess)

What gender equality causes mean the most to you all personally?

What really really shocked me recently is the fact that the forced marriages of under-age girls is still widespread. From 2000 till 2010 there were 250,000 under-aged girls forced to marry a much older guy. Not only in religious communities, but also outside those. It is still happening every day. I can only imagine what hell these girls must be going through. A story I read about Sherry Johnson, who was 11 when she had to marry her rapist. Instead of sending her rapist to jail, her parents trapped her in this marriage.

It is crazy to realise that Afghanistan has stricter laws on under-age marriage than the US. In half of American states there is no minimum age for getting married. Legally speaking even toddlers could get married if their parents agree. In my opinion it is about time to get some legislation on this topic!

Read more here. 

Are you a bitch, a witch or a bit of both?

I would say both.

I am very interested in the spiritual side of life and think there is more than the dimension we live in. I feel this is not my first journey on earth and probably not my last.

On the other hand I always say how I feel, am very direct and can be slightly bitchy in a positive way.  

So I would like to use the term ‘bewitched bitch’.

Thank you for letting me part of this movement. I feel it can be hard to unite even though we are all connected through the internet. Initiatives like this make me feel #uniTED again!