Anna Hush, Director of End Rape on Campus Australia, is a true rad girl who is by no means afraid to speak the truth, and speak it loud. A respected women’s rights writer, activist and academic, Anna firmly believes in the power of education to challenge oppression… and she’s pretty damn spot on. She knows her shit, using her Active Voice to make change that sticks. Check out our interview below.
Unleash your passion: what do you stand for?
I’m really passionate about feminism and education – firstly, the role that education can play in challenging structures of oppression like sexism, racism, homophobia, and capitalism. Education should be about teaching us to think critically about the world around us, and working towards a more just future, rather than just rote learning facts and equations. Through my work with fEMPOWER, a community organisation which provides workshops for high school students on gendered violence, consent, and feminism, I’ve seen the impact that this kind of education can have: young people are so enthusiastic about these issues, and ready to fight for a better world.
Secondly, I’m passionate about ensuring that our education system is free from sexual violence. We know that too many students – particularly women, queer and trans people, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and people with disability – experience sexual violence while studying at university. For many, this can have a serious impact on their studies, particularly when they don’t receive the support and compassion that they need. Education should be accessible to everyone, so there is a critical need to address sexual violence in higher education as a matter of educational justice.
Was there a pivotal moment that made you think ‘everyone needs to hear what I have to say’?
Well, I’m not sure that everyone needs to hear what I have to say, but I try my best to amplify the voices of those who are often left out of mainstream conversations about gender and feminism. For example, working with survivors of sexual assault at universities, I saw how they were silenced by their institutions, how they were constantly blamed and shamed for what they had experienced. Through End Rape on Campus Australia, we try to ensure that survivors’ voices are at the heart of everything we do. If sexual assault strips you of your agency, then effective advocacy is about ensuring that survivors’ agency is restored.
What fuels you to be active and speak out?
Often, I feel like I am fuelled by rage about the world around me – as a young person, it sometimes feels like our future is pretty bleak. But turning this rage into action and activism is what keeps me going. Working with other young people who are passionate, organised, smart, and fierce is a constant source of hope for me – it reassures me that we do have a future, and that working together in communities, we are able to change it for the better.
As you’re aware, we think you’re amazingly inspiring (and badass), and truly epitomise what it means to be an ‘Active Voice’. How would you personally define this title, and what does it mean to you?
Thank you! For me, the idea of being an active voice means looking at the spaces around you and thinking about what you can do to transform them. Whether that’s starting a conversation around the dinner table at a family gathering, speaking up about issues in your workplace, or joining a feminist collective, I think it’s really important to start with what’s around you. Part of this is building strong communities who can come together to take action – we have to start by creating solidarity with each other, learning about each other’s struggles, and then getting organised to take action.
What does your ideal world look like? Are we that far off from achieving it?
I guess my ideal world looks pretty different to the world we live in – I envision an end to capitalism, to colonial systems of oppression, to restrictive gender roles, and to all the other ways we are kept down by power structures. But I think what’s really inspiring is seeing young people come together to challenge these structures – social movements are rising and we are tackling these problems head-on! There’s much broader recognition, for example, that capitalism is failing us, and is making our planet uninhabitable, and that there are so many ways to experience gender and our bodies outside of the narrow gender binary. So I think we’re already beginning to see the seeds of some pretty huge changes, which gives me a lot of hope.
For those who have a fire in their belly, but don’t know how to let it out, what would you suggest?
Find your people! Join your union, your local feminist gang, a queer collective, a roller derby team – find people who are passionate about the same stuff and talk about it. We can’t make any of these changes alone, so we need to work together collectively. And if you can’t find a group that already exists – start one!
Give yourself a little love: what makes you feel truly rad?
My fave activity is cooking a beautiful dinner with my friends, sharing a meal and a glass of wine with the people I love. Also, hanging out with my beautiful cat Lulu!
Follow Anna: @_annahush
Learn more about End Rape on Campus Australia here.