“I never really had a master plan, ever. I have a lot of ambition but don’t put too much pressure on myself. I’m happy with where I am now,” mused Elizabeth Plank, Viral Content and Social Justice Editor at Policymic, the online democratic news platform. Spoken like a true Modavanti Girl. Plank is passionate about her beliefs, honest about her opinions, and dedicated to making a difference.
What is your background? I’m from Montreal, so French is my first language. I grew up in a bilingual household, but I didn’t really lose my French accent until I studied in English at university. I went to McGill for Women’s Studies, and then got a master’s in London in Gender Studies.
Did you like London? I hated London. I moved to Brighton, which is a smaller beach town. It was much more of a California attitude. London doesn’t feel like a place full of humans; it feels like a place full of robots. New York accepts individuality. Actually, they even like you more for it.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? I never really had a master plan…I never thought I would have a visa and work in New York and I am ecstatic about it! I worked in behavioral science for a bit. I helped a professor write a book on happiness. I worked with Nestle and Shell, redesigning their cafeterias. We wanted to see if employees would make healthier choices if we placed healthy food and drinks in more prominent places. My passions have always led me to the right place.
How did you get started at Policymic? I started at Policymic as an intern writing feminist articles, and my articles ended up getting a lot of attention. I was mentioned in the New York Times my first month there. So the Viral Content and Social Justice Editor position was eventually created for me. I really want the content to be quality and smart and meaningful.
Did you always know you wanted to be a writer? Oh, no. I didn’t even think I could write. Women often underestimate their own talents, especially with writing. I started blogging for Huffington Post while I was in London and I actually loved it. I started a petition against the proposed rule that women boxers would have to wear skirts in the Olympics and it went viral. I think it got around 60k signatures around the world. After that, I started writing for the Huff Post UK, USA, and Quebec. I started using social media because it was the only way I could reach people.
Do you believe women have stronger social media skills overall? Women dominate on social media. Digital campaigning is something women are incredible at. People, most often men, assume that Facebook and Twitter are shallow entities, but that’s just to diminish their power. Women aren’t ashamed to tap into that power.
How do you define Feminism? The definition of feminism is not understood. People think feminism is elevating women at the cost of men, which is not true. When we empower women we empower everyone. We empower communities. I see feminism as a way to make the whole world better.
Do you think equality for women has advanced or regressed? I think in certain ways the world has become a more equal place. For example, feminist movements have become mainstream. In other ways, though, it has gotten worse. If you look at the media images we show women, it has gotten much worse compared to those we saw in the 1980’s, for example. Of course, it’s body image issues. But it’s also the way we talk about choice. Are so many women today really choosing to have breast implants, or do they feel like they have to?
If you could have an all-expense paid vacation anywhere…I miss my family so much, I would go back to Montreal. Or I would take my family and we would all go to Barbados.
Book recommendations… 1. Bossy Pants. Old news, but I love it. 2. Female Chauvinistic Pigs: The Rise of Raunch Culture by Ariel Levy. 3. Enlightened Sexism: The Seductive Message that Feminism’s Work is Done by Susan J. Douglas. 4. The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolfe. 5. Switch: How To Change Things When Change is Hard by Dan and Chip Heath. 6. Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein.
Movie recommendations… Miss Representation (www.missrepresentation.org/the-film/ ) is a must see. The Business of Being Born will change everything you ever thought was true about giving birth. Plus it was created by none other than Ricky Lake. Bridesmaids is the best comedy ever and Rust and Bone was the best movie I saw this year.