“My main objective is to make other people feel more seen,” said Miumi Shipon, a junior in Academic Choice (AC). Shipon describes herself as a visual artist, a poet, and a dancer. She draws on her experience as a woman of color and an abuse survivor to create her art.
Speaking about her inspiration, she said she draws a lot from both traditional and modern Japanese culture, like the ’90s Harajuku movement, as well as feminist punk. “There’s a lot of feminist theory and writing in punk spaces that made me feel really accepted when I was getting out of an abusive situation,” she said. “I want to put that out with my own work as well and maybe help someone in that way that it helped me.”
The word “feminism” carries many different connotations, but for Shipon, she had always felt excluded from the mainstream movement because it was so white centered. “When I found these spaces of women of color, and punk spaces, when we talk about anti carceral, anti capitalist thinking, all of that really moved me in a way that I think feminism hadn’t before,” she said.
Shipon emphasized how consuming media can be a tool of empowerment. “Women are starved in a lot of different ways … deprived of the personal agency to do what you want, say what you want, and be yourself unapologetically,” she said. She explained how finding media that speaks to you can be a crucial factor in discovering your own inner strength.
“Media is so powerful. For me the thing that basically saved my life was finding riot grrrl and feminist punk, I think that I never before recognized female rage in such a prominent way before,” Shipon said. “The entire message is to take back what’s been stolen from you. While I do have my own conflicts with riot grrrl, the origins of it were very white centered, there has been a resurgence of it in the past year or so … and the definition of who a riot girl can be has really expanded. Finding that community, finding that type of media was really important to me.”
Shipon also spoke on the internal conflict that many femme people face: empowerment versus objectification. “It’s totally fine to do things because you think other people will like it. … Respect that you have the agency to do something if you want to, and that is completely within your control,” she said.
For Shipon, her appearance is an important form of self expression. She believes that we need to stop treating female sexuality as inherently appealing to the male gaze. “Not everything a woman does is relative to a man’s perception,” she said. “I think for me, when I dress a certain way and I’m more revealing … the reason why I’m doing it is because it makes me feel good.”
Finally, she addressed BHS’s current situation with sexual harm and misogyny.
“I myself have experienced abuse from men in our school … and it really traumatized me,” she said. “I think we need to have more conversations about what is okay, and how to support people who are in these situations.”
Shipon closed out by saying, “I feel like I’m really blessed to be surrounded by so many cool girls in my life. … As a community of femmes at BHS, the thing that’s gonna keep us strong is solidarity. … The biggest thing that helps me is knowing that I’m 100% not alone in this.”