This week I had the pleasure of chatting with popular Tumblr blogger and self-proclaimed feminist Jam Wilson (or 2jam4u) about their improved and more logical version of the ever-popular “shine theory”, among other things. Their blog, which they say is an “inspiration platform full of great feminist ideas, race theory, and beautiful angels” is as aesthetically pleasing (Jam’s ever-changing colored braids are a major selling point) as it is informational. Jam is refreshingly candid, insightful, and talented (their Storenvy site sells clothes they thrifted insanely FAST), and so naturally, it only felt right to ask Jam for some thoughts on break-ups, sexuality, intersectional feminism, and everything in between. Read on for some seriously fantastic ideas that we could all benefit from getting behind.
What is the original “Shine Theory”?
Shine Theory was a term coined by this journalist named Ann Friedman and to her it meant that “I don’t shine if you don’t shine”. Basically she was saying that women surround themselves with successful women to inspire them to be better and that they almost absorb their awesomeness by being near them. That whole idea sounds pretty self absorbed to me and just reeks of the competitive and jealous nature ingrained into women from birth and I am not about that.
What is your modified “Shine Theory”?
Jam’s Shine Theory is similar but almost exactly opposite: “If you shine, I shine”, which is to say that one woman’s brilliance and success reflects well onto all other women. And by that I don’t mean, “I’m better because you’re great,” but rather rejecting the mentality that one woman’s success means that I’ve lost. Shine Theory is all about supporting, uplifting, complimenting and encouraging women who are just doing great. Whether that means she looks great today or she’s doing really well career wise, Shine Theory is celebrating other women for their achievements without jealousy or ulterior motives. I just want to celebrate women in any way I can!
What is intersectional feminism and why do you support it?
The textbook version of intersectional feminism is, “The view that women experience oppression in varying configurations and in varying degrees of intensity. Cultural patterns of oppression are not only interrelated, but are bound together and influenced by the intersectional systems of society. Examples of this include race, gender, class, ability, and ethnicity.” It’s basically saying that there are levels to oppression that we must consider, otherwise we are essentially negating the experiences of that person. For example, the struggles of a 45-year-old upper middle class heterosexual cis-gender white woman are not the same as a black bisexual trans woman who works at McDonald’s and lives paycheck to paycheck. It’s about recognizing and respecting privileges within an oppressed group and y’know, understanding what that means to individuals and to a group. In my opinion, this is the only valid feminism because if you’re not recognizing and doing what you can for the plight of every different type of woman, then who the f**k are you fighting for?
Who, if anyone, has shaped, influenced, or inspired you the most in your discovery of intersectional feminism?
I wouldn’t say it was necessarily any one person, but rather black women as a whole on Tumblr. (If there are any black women reading this who have yet to discover black Tumblr, get ready for your world to be rocked!) There’s just this whole network and community of amazing black women on Tumblr who not only respect each others differences and experiences, but encourage each other to learn more, to support each other better, to physically help each other. As soon as I found this new world, I jumped in feet first and bought “Ain’t I A Woman” by Bell Hooks. Haven’t looked back since.
What is your favorite self-care ritual?
Online shopping, where you put everything you wish you could have in your shopping cart, then only buy one or two must-have pieces. For some reason it feels fantastic. Also candy, baths, Haagen-Dasz and Netflix.
How did you get through your worst break-up?
My last official relationship lasted almost 4 years. We had rings picked out, were neighbourhood shopping, talking about our kids names and how we’d raise them and everything. But for a variety of really personal reasons I had to get out, and basically rebuild my future. That crap line of “starting over again” almost entered my mind but then I remembered how awesome it was to not have to check in with anyone, send the same “Good morning, babe” text every day, buy gifts for him and his whole family anymore- and I immediately felt better.
Do you have a favorite quote or piece of wisdom that helps you get through bad days?
There’s a song called “Demons” by Dry The River that gets to me so hard every time, I have it tattooed on my arm. “Fight the demons day in and day out.”
Any tips for people still exploring their sexuality?
Some people, like me, really thrive with labels. Knowing what the hell is going on with you is quite comforting. But for other people, labels are like a straight jacket. So first of all, figure that part out. Then just let it come organically and talk though it. Figuring out I was bisexual made me feel a little less crazy. But the big one for me was realizing I’m aromantic (a person who experiences little or no romantic attraction to others). It was like taking a weight and time bomb off my shoulders. I wanted so desperately to fall in love like everyone around me but couldn’t figure out why I had no interest in falling in love with any actual people. Now, everything feels so much more natural.
Find your community, because no matter what you are, there are a million people out there like you, and things will start to fall into place.