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This is Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa, founder of New Wave Feminists.
Destiny's anti-abortion nonprofit encourages pregnant women to choose life, a message that she believes aligns with the tenets of feminism. Keep reading to learn how Destiny and the NWF team are fighting what they believe to be the objectification of women by encouraging this stance.
What's the story behind New Wave Feminists?
I started New Wave Feminists (NWF) back in 2004 to protest a billboard in town that was using women's bodies to advertise a "breastaurant." I realized that if we were going to be taken seriously, we needed a name, and New Wave Feminists sounded like a thing. Anyway, we ended up getting the billboard modified and I realized how easy it was to make change simply by asking for it. At the same time, because of my personal pro-life beliefs, I saw how we'd created a culture that exploits women far beyond just billboards. Abortion is not created in a vacuum, and it very much plays into the narrative that women are objects to be used and then disposed of, as are unborn children. And because my feminism is based off the fact that for most of history women were treated as property, I knew I could never be part of a movement that passed that same type of oppression on to other weak and vulnerable human beings.
How do you respond to people who say that a "pro-life feminist" is the ultimate contradiction?
Again, we were once treated as property, so women should know how powerless people can feel when they are treated as an expendable person. We should refuse to treat any other human beings the same way.
Does NWF have an official stance on other so-called life issues ?
We subscribe to something called the Consistent Life Ethic. We believe all human beings should be free from violence for the duration of their life. We are anti-death penalty, anti-unjust war, anti-torture, and anti-abortion.
What is the most extreme thing someone with opposing views has ever said or done to NWF?
Had us removed from the Women's March on Washington as sponsors because of our anti-abortion stance. It ended up giving us a huge platform though, so it was actually kind of wonderful.
Who are some other females that inspire you?
Reggie Littlejohn, who's fighting gendercide in China with her group Women's Rights Without Frontiers. Carol Crossed of Feminists Choosing Life New York, who's a badass pro-life feminist AND Democrat working tirelessly to get more people from both sides to see abortion as the human rights violation it is, rather than just a partisan platform. And Cessilye Smith, who runs NWF with me and is taking on the infant and maternal mortality rate among women of color in South Dallas in a very real way. She's starting a holistic midwifery practice called Abide, inspired by the work of famed midwife Jennie Joseph, who is literally saving the lives of black mothers in Florida through her commonsense approach to well women's care.
What has been the biggest challenge you've faced with running NWF?
Probably taking it to the next level and going full-time. I've worked really hard to keep money out of NWF because the last thing I want is to have our message watered down by becoming a fundraising machine. At the same time, I'm having to accept that the change we are trying to create is a full-time job and that takes resources. Luckily, people really believe in what we are doing and they've stepped up monetarily so that we can take it to that next level.
Outside of NWF, who is Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa?
I am a freelance writer in Dallas, Texas, where I live with my husband and our four hilarious kids; two boys and two girls.
What are your goals for NWF for 2018 and beyond?
Our goal in 2018 is to open up dialogue with pro-choice feminists and find common ground where we can work together. This is a debate that's often very emotional and chaotic, and we want to refocus it into conversations, rather than arguments, by discussing the science of abortion and using resources that we can all agree on. Many women who choose to terminate pregnancies do so because there's a lack of practical support, not necessarily because it's the choice they want to make. They've seen the sonogram and they know it's a living human being, but they feel they have no other choice. And that's not pro-choice. Herein we find a lot of common ground with many "pro-choice" feminists, because those who truly live up to that title also want to help these women find ways to keep their child.
You daily work revolves around fighting for life, but let's turn the tables for a second: When it comes to death, what would you choose to eat for your last meal?
Tex-Mex, for sure.
Read any good books lately?
I'm currently reading Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. It's so good if you want to better understand the dehumanization of people of color in our culture. I see so many correlations with how we treat the unborn as well. Great read!