Emma Gray is at South by Southwest for the lighter side of her job. She’ll be doing her podcast “Here to Make Friends” at 5 p.m. Saturday at the Fairmount Wisteria Room. The podcast takes a feminist view of ABC’s “The Bachelor,” and she probably has a lot to say about the indecisive Arie and the women who tried to date him.
Gray, who focuses on women’s issues for the Huffington Post, has a new book: “A Girl’s Guide to Joining the Resistance: A Feminist Handbook on Fighting for Good.” (William Morrow, $16.99)
The book was inspired by what Gray witnessed on Nov. 8, 2016, when she spent election night outside the headquarters of where Hillary Clinton supporters expected to be witnessing the election of the first female president, only to be shocked at the results.
It could have gone the other way, she says. “What I should have expected, but didn’t initially was how many women were inspired to run for office. The cynical side of me thought that women would be discouraged.” Instead groups like Emily’s List and She Should Run saw women signing up within weeks of the election. “That has kept up,” Gray says. “And we’re starting to see these women win.”
True success will be when we move beyond the “firsts” and get women in these roles regularly, she says.
As she was writing the book, the MeToo movement was starting to get underway. She was able to add in a couple of references to it, but it’s one of the ways that the 24-hour news cycle is changing the way information is spread and turning an event into a future movement.
“Everything feels crazier,” she says.
The book is written for girls in their early teens to early 30s, Gray says. “I made sure I wasn’t writing down for the teens,” she says. It’s filled with lessons she learned from interviewing many powerful women. Many of these women she knew as part of her job at the Huffington Post. They are women such as the organizers of the women’s march and other causes and politicians such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former Texas Sen. Wendy Davis.
Gray hopes that women and future women will use the book as their jumping-off point. “I see it as not as the definitive text but more of the beginners’ guide,” she says.
One thing that runs through the advice from powerful women is the importance of women telling their stories. “Almost all of them mentioned how important storytelling and their own narrative was in informing their own activism and in connecting people,” Gray says.
She points to the movement coming out of the shooting in Parkland, Florida, as perfect example of the possibilities. “Young people have always been the driving force of social movements,” she says. The kids in Parkland, like many before them, “had the audacity to imagine what could be,” she says.
“A Girl’s Guide to Joining the Resistance” offers passionate words of inspiration, but it also offers practical tips such as what app you can use to write to your Congressman or call up your senator.
She encourages women to pick something manageable that they are passionate about rather than trying to do too much at the same time.”People can get very overwhelmed, very easily,” she says. “Small things do matter. You can pick one cause for now, ‘this is what I can do.'”
She encourages women to get support from people who might be different from themselves. “Men absolutely have a role as allies in this resistance,” she says … “We absolutely need to bring them into the conversation.”
She equates it to the way white women need to show up for women of color, for people who are transgender.
Her hope is that even more Millennials and the first members of Generation Z will vote. For their parents, she says, “You’ve prepared your kids well for this world. Now it’s your time to support them. You’ve raised these empowered young women. I would hope that we would all support these young women. They’re smart as hell.”