Audrey Aradanas: The Miami Grrrl
Miami Grrrl is a group for all women identifying folx in the Magic City. We want progressive changes. We want Miami-Dade to change for the better. We’re all about feminist activism, self-empowerment, and minority power. We do this through hosting workshops and events, connecting feminists through social media, and our podcast, Grrrl Uninterrupted.
Sarah Sickles for Pink Things: Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with me about Miami Grrrl! From my understanding, Miami Grrrl is a positive feminist collective in Miami striving for equality for all femmes in the Magic City. Can you tell me about how this all got started? What inspired you begin this form of activism?
Audrey Aradanas, Co-Founder of Miami Grrrl: I’ve been into feminist activism and so have my friends for a long time. This sorta manifested through time and it became clear that my life goals were to be a feminist activist and eat hot Cheetos without any stomach problems. It became even clearer that only one of these things was achievable - feminism. In a women’s empowerment conference (FIU Women’s Center’s Women Who Lead Conference, 2016) here in Miami, my best friend and I, Evelyne Zapata, our Podcast Director, were inspired.
I was writing notes on how the panelists became who they are today and I thought to myself, that could be us. That could be us in a different way. I could help be a catalyst for change. We, as a group of friends, already started [raising awareness] at FIU (we hosted the first Feminist Summit at FIU, hosted the Miami Slut Walk multiple times, and hosted the first ever The F-Word Forum Series). It made sense to do this as we became ‘adults.’
Thus, Miami Grrrl was born. Evelyne has always wanted to do a podcast and I love event planning. I love hosting events to empower and engage with others. Workshops are interactive and fun and I believe that in order to foster change in a community and beyond, one must work from the bottom-up and top-bottom. We must reach out into our community and talk to the individual. But, it is also a matter of yelling at the Whites that are in charge to get out. So, when you’re doing workshops, you’re mobilizing the individual to become engaged.
PT: Can you tell me about your podcast, Grrrl Uninterupted, and for those who don’t know, what you talk about on the show?
AA: Grrrl Uninterrupted is a podcast discussing various feminist issues from environmentalism and intersectionality to girl power and more. The podcast is free for all to listen and is available for all ages. We want to make sure that it is accessible and affordable, just as everything else we do for Miami Grrrl. Each episode we have different people sitting in to discuss the various topics. At the end [of each episode], the guests discuss things Miamians can do for steps forward. So, for example, in our most recent episode, we discussed Earth’s protectors. Our guests talked about how they can help Standing Rock, how they can help clean our waters and more.
PT: You recently started a workout series. How does this relate to your mission of empowerment?
AA: So, this came about after my recent diagnosis of diabetes. I’m all for body positivity and health. The biggest girls I know have the best blood test results, flexibility, strength and endurance. The skinniest girls I know also have the same qualities.
I was talking to a friend about my health and how to keep myself accountable. She suggested a fitness group. I personally cannot afford or have the time to go to the gym. And, I thought to myself, how many other people are in the same position as me? Fortunately, my partner is a weightlifter and personal trainer, so he was so willing to help others and myself, through this workshop.
At the end of the day, health is a part of self-care and self-love. I personally would like to make sure that I am healthy in order to live the kind of life I want. I don’t want to be at risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, etc.
PT: In addition to a Podcast and Workshops, you also have a loaded Instagram account. What role does Social Media play in the spreading of Miami Grrrl’s values?
AA: Another thing we at Miami Grrrl love to do is showcase the various women of Miami on our social media. I really want young people to look on social media and feel that representation. I want them to know what I didn’t know when I was a young girl. Someone cares. Someone loves you just the way you are. Someone is out there doing what you want to do. Someone went against the system and is doing it!
Social media and in-person interaction are honestly my favorite forms of activism. With social media (although it gets a lot of smack), it is so easy to reach out to others. You can use it to not only market, but also spread feminist theory that would have never been spread before; for example, intersectionality. Although it’s something everyone goes through, it isn’t really taught at schools. How can I help engage with others in regards to intersectionality and privilege? Social Media.
PT: Something that is super important to me, and to you, is intersectionalism within feminism. You represent a large population of women of color in the Miami area. Can you talk to me about what you’re doing to increase that acceptance? What are your views on this issue?
AA: Though I love Miami, it’s such a beautiful city, there are so many problems like colorism, racism, catcalling, rape culture, lack of access to healthcare, youth homelessness, lack of affordable housing...the list can go on.
One of the major tenets of Miami Grrrl is to show the different sides of Miami. A lot of the bigger organizations showcase beautiful, light-skinned, voluptuous in a certain way, women. This is a huge problem resulting in a divide in our community that has its roots in internalized racism and sexism. We have to bring women together. We have to bring the community together.
In order to increase acceptance, we need representation and awareness. I make sure that at every Miami Grrrl event, we are showcasing Miami girls the way Miami girls actually are. Once a month we have a podcast and we feature different Miami women. Each woman is so powerful, capable, and incredible. When Miamians listen, I want them to think, damn, this is in Miami.
Also, we make sure there’s diversity in our and of our events. Not the diversity you find on a college brochure. I’m talking, how can we challenge our community and ourselves? We do all kinds of events from fitness, arts and crafts, privilege events (Decolonize Your Mind), and more. For our Loving Circle, we had the awesome Lisa Giles, the Loving Circle Director, lead it. She’s this strong and intelligent Black woman from the Deep South who is unapologetically amazing. For Decolonize Your Mind, our lead was Wendolynne Perez, an Indigenous Quechua who discussed indigenous rights and how to understand privilege.
Feminism, as we know it and experience it, is from the White perspective. When we talk about the women’s right to vote, we talk of White women. When we talk about women’s bodies, we talk of White women. Our lives have been defined by Whiteness. White people have defined us - they created [the social constructs of] race, class, gender, etc. It’s time we dismantle all these things and discuss how we can we really be free and be ourselves. Of course, I’m not trying to dismiss anyone’s identity, I am saying we must discuss the identity given to us at birth and why we were given that identity and to what purpose did that identity serve us or serve The System - the white, heteronormative, capitalist system.
PT: What do you have to say to someone who doesn’t believe in feminism?
AA: Fuck off.
PT: What do you have to say to those who don’t actively practice it in their daily lives?
AA: How can you not practice it on the daily? Feminism improves lives.
PT: Do you have any thoughts on the color pink and how it may or may not relate to Miami Grrrl?
AA: I love pink! I used to hate pink because I didn’t want to associate myself with ‘other girls.’ After learning about feminism, I thought, what the fuck is wrong with pink? Pink is awesome! It’s a color that is associated with femininity and there’s nothing with that. Pink makes me happy.
Here in Miami, our classic colors are pink and aqua. So, we’re all very familiar with pink down here.
PT: Do you have any advice for someone who might want to start a similar venture in their community? For young femmes?
AA: Do it! Every community needs something like this, especially in the next 4 years.
Always think about what your community needs. Here in Miami, we need unity and more collaboration amongst the different agents. So, it made sense for us to create a group to bring different people together. Perhaps your community needs a group that specifically highlights Asian American women. Create a space for Asian American women to be themselves and create events just for them.
This interview was conducted via email and has been condensed and edited
Images courtesy of Miami Grrrl.