About

This is a feminist blog written and moderated by a young woman who earnestly and sincerely wants to make the world a more equal place for all people. I think and write and speak about how gender, race, class, age, sexual orientation and the intersections thereof impact the individual and collective lived experience.

Shelby, or, SK

The title of this blog is a feminist play on the title of a film that was made about my high school activism for comprehensive sex education and gay rights, The Education of Shelby Knox. If you would like to screen the film and/or have me come to your school or event, check out the ‘Contact’ page.

You can read my bio and various rebellions here. Beyond that, I’m a Texan New Yorker – an Upper East Side girl via Lubbock exiled to the West Village – a lover of animals, a women’s history geek and a policy wonk in training. I’ve been called and totally own up to being a “diva,” “dramatic,”  “humorless,” “hilarious,” “radical” and “dangerous.”

To be 100% honest, it’s sometimes hard for me both publicly and personally to unravel my identity from that of the 15 year old, virginity pledging, Southern Baptist girl in the documentary about my high school years. I’ve started signing my emails as ‘SK’ – a conscious divorce from an identity that gave me a tremendous platform and wonderful opportunities but, at times, imposes crushing expectations.

If this all sounds like navel gazing, that’s probably because it is – I’m 25, very much trying to figure out who I am and how I want to exist in the world, and to expect any more or attribute any less is unfair. Lucky for you, dear reader, it’s actually very hard for me to talk and write about myself. This blog is a personal AND political step toward sharing not only my feminism and my ideas, but for the first time, me – on my own terms.

Privilege – I’ve gots lots of it

If it wasn’t already apparent, I should let you know – I’m very privileged. I’m a white, American cisgender female, born middle-class and educated in public institutions, including the University of Texas as Austin, from which I have a degree in Political Science. I’m currently able-bodied and present to the outside world as 100% heterosexual. I’ve experienced incredible privilege within the feminist movement, with contacts and experiences inside what bell hooks so accurately described as the “bubble of power feminism.” If there is a privilege I haven’t mentioned, it’s not out of denial but rather ignorance – likely the ignorance empowered by that very privilege! Please do let me know.

I understand my privilege manifests in everything I do and say and will often cloud my analysis. This space is intended to be anti-sexist, anti-racist, anti-ableist and free of homophobia and transphobia  – but I understand because of my privilege-induced mistakes, it will not always be so for all people. I welcome – actually, beg for – correction, criticism, and personal experiences that challenge me, contributors to this blog, and in a larger context, all the various forms of oppression that make life more difficult for all of us. If I know anything as truth, it is that oppressions cannot be uprooted separately – our individual and collective liberation is to be found by joining together as equal partners in the fight for social justice.

For more on privilege – what it is, checking it and owning it – please check out Peggy McIntosh’sWhite Privilege – Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack and the ‘Lists of Privilege Lists‘ provided over at Alas, a Blog. I especially appreciate and use often the Non-Trans Privilege List, the Male Privilege Checklist, and the Daily Effects of Straight Privilege Checklist.

61 responses to “About

  1. tim

    Welcome! Looks great!

  2. love getting to know your public self

  3. Go Shelby! Nice job. I promise to send you historical quotations for your Commonplace Book…I love what you have posted so far.

  4. Nancy in NYC

    Mazel tov on the new blog, Shelby. It’s a beaut! Enjoy!

  5. Hi Shelby,

    I am a fellow blogger on WordPress – just started around the same time as you it looks like. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed – how quickly you have gone from being a nervous blogger afraid to show your identity and opinion to the world…and now the world is actually reading!!
    I recently posted a piece on reactions from Freshly Pressed bloggers and how being featured has impacted them.
    You have the ability to use words far better than most and I am practically drooling in anticipation to read what your experience has been so far, what you think it could turn into and anything else you have to say about it!!!
    Congratulations and enjoy the ride!
    Zach

  6. i’m so glad i found your blog! i’ve been reading for almost a half-hour, and have loved everything you’ve typed out for the world to see. thank you. :)

  7. Hi Shelby,

    I am a friend of Tiffany Jules (from your pro-choice group) and I stumbled upon this blog because it was featured on freshly pressed (on wordpress.com). Tiffany and I are apart of a radical Christian blogging collective whose members are Black, White, Bi-racial, Chicana, Asian, Queer and straight called Special Communion. When you have a chance please visit and give us feedback. Take care!

  8. I am myself a female working in a male industry…
    …great and fun to read about the feminism thingi here on yr site
    thx!

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  10. Debo

    No pressure, honestly, but if you really do ever run for president… I’ll vote for you.

  11. Doing some reading on Christianity and sexuality and your name came up. I completely forgot about that documentary on you that I saw years ago. Glad to find you even more intelligent, inquisitive, and ambitious than you were back then…and blogging about it, to boot! Right on.

  12. Pingback: Sex Re-Education | Cultural Granola

  13. anti-phony

    white, gender-normative rape-slaves have not ever been, and can never be “feminists”. get off my internet and go have your babies. this entire blog is an insult.

  14. M4Bo

    Shelby,

    Have you and your followers heard about the MTV special airing on the 28th at 11:30EST? This is an important program about the importance of supporting choice and the realities we find ourselves in today. Kudos to the ladies who are standing up and making their voices hears; pioneers indeed!

  15. Helen

    Found you on Twitter, and then found your blog. Love what I’ve read so far and plan to check back soon…

  16. Shelby—you were amazing in the documentary, which I included on my Master’s thesis “reading” list years ago, and I believe that anyone with a brain will understand that you were too young to know exactly who you were and have changed dramatically since that time. I was thrilled to find you on Twitter and see that you continue to be a force for change.

  17. David

    Hey,

    I’m writing a report on your film for a class and I was a doing a bit of a then and now part to wrap it up, what do you do for a living now?

    DB

  18. Hi Shelby, I met you in Provincetown when your documentary was shown some years back. Both the film and you were so impressive, especially for your then-young age. At that time, I said that if you ever ran for office, I would vote for you. That offer still stands! I am so proud to see your current life, location, and avocations — they are in line with the potential and promise that I saw when we met. Congratulations – I am so proud of you. Continue with your efforts, engage your passions fully, and your dreams will come true. Our nation and society will be the better for it. Cheers, Mark

  19. I have come to learn that radicalism is a relative term. What is radical in the South might be considered center or right to “radical” circles in NY. Your assertiveness, charisma, and resolve (as displayed in the documentary) serve to inspire an organic radicalism, attentive to the local. Take Texas with you. The South is conservative, but its ways and manners have much to teach the world.
    -A Virginian in NYC

  20. David

    Hey SK, just saw the film while thumbing through PBS on-line. Great to see you’ve ended up in NYC. I went to NYU and loved the city. One comment- As a Latino, I’d think you’d agree it’s wrong to stereotype me as an illegal immigrant. So maybe you should go a little easy on the white-privilege theme; I sense it’s almost like a type of white stereotyping which doesn’t do anyone any good. In the end, I’ve learned that we’re all victims in a system that is no longer doing society any meaningful service. Fortunately, I’m beginning to see a major interruption in our old patterns of thinking, the real revolution is just around the corner; a revolution in consciousness. Abrazos desde Washington DC

  21. LoLHug

    are you gay or something ?

  22. ickmo

    gtfo you wish duke would get at your pale ass

  23. curiousonlooker

    Just perusing your blog. Your “education” story is interesting. Since you imbed your autobiographical description heavily in your Southern Baptist upbringing, I’m curious about a few things (sincerely):

    - Do you claim to be a follower of Christ?
    - What is your take on the Bible being the authoritative word of God?
    - Do you think at some point in your life you could leave Christianity behind (assuming you claim to be a Christian) for the ‘greater’ cause of feminism?

    I would really be interested in reading your answers……forgive me if I’ve asked questions that you may have already addressed somewhere in your blog – truly, I was just skimming d/t time constraints. Seriously, these are not “gotcha” questions, I’m not trying to set you up for a anti-feminist diatribe. I’m on somewhat of a quest to gain some knowledge about feminism (as defined) in juxtaposition with Christianity.

    take care.

  24. Samantha Wike

    Wow, I just found your movie on Netflix and watched it this afternoon. I am from the midwest and Texas is close to my heart and family. I live in Kansas and have had a similar upbringing as yourself, deeply rooted in Southern Baptist and Christian beliefs. However, time, and thank God some parents that weren’t completely fundamentalist, have brought me to be a open minded accepting human being. I am also a feminist and share the same beliefs on equality! I am so refreshed to see an accomplished young woman that I also strive to be someday (I’m 22 myself). I’m going into the Legal profession and hope to use my activist tendancies for a good cause someday. I will definitely be visiting your blog often!

  25. Hello Ms. Knox. If you are interested in privilege, and white privilege especially, read about Molly Secours. She speaks about issues of white privilege and how to address it and work for equality. Here is my article about Secours’ speech at Elon University http://bit.ly/iEtrP5.

  26. Mags

    Saw the documentary yesterday and really enjoyed it and I was curious to see where you ended up. This blog pleases me greatly. Hope you’re still close with your family.

  27. Abagayle

    Just saw your documentary on Netflix. I did my time (high school) in Chino Valley, Arizona – very much like your hometown. I went through a similar fight with my faith and youth leaders. I can sympathize with the mess that is teen pregnancy and small town Republicans. It’s a hard battle… good to know you’re still fighting. You’re such an incredible inspiration. THANK YOU for all you’ve done and continue to do! I wish you all the best, and will be reading this blog as frequently as possible.

  28. Cincinnatus

    Hi, I’m watching your documentary right now, but am having trouble getting through it. What I want to know is: Did you end up fucking Corey, or not?

    Thanks!

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  30. lily

    Saw the documentary last week in my Women and Gender class. Amazing. I was insanely thrilled to find out what became of you. You fucking kick ass. Best of luck in everything.

    To be honest, I am admittedly dying to know how the other characters in the documentary are doing. I imagine that your pastor nearly keeled over at hearing about your feminist transformation. And COREY! That Corey. I hope you still keep in touch with him.

  31. Hillary

    Just watched your documentary on netflix. I was very curious about what you’re doing today because you obviously had so much potential change the world! I’m so very happy to see you’re continuing with your own education and continually promoting equality through feminism.

    Keep up the great work! You’re an inspiration!

  32. Megan

    Hi Shelby,

    I just watched your documentary in my Gendered Health Communication class and was overwhelmed at how amazing your message is. Continue fighting for equality and love in this crazy world. Much love to you!

  33. Jill

    I appreciate your dedication to this cause! I am sure you must hear “if only you were around back when I was 15″ well I feel the same. By some grace I never got pregnant and not sure what would of happened if I had, seeing as my father was already extremely abusive. Please continue to fight for those young voiceless and often scared kids. Thank you. Jill

  34. Good afternoon Shelby,

    First and foremost I have to attest to your expansive and impressive use of verbiage, I have a thing for verbose activists, those with impressive diction and passion. I too, at first impression can be construed as a privileged, white American, genotype male, born into a middle class home, as well as having been raised on the principles and values found in The Bible, etc. However, I am in fact, by society’s social constructs and stratification a white, yet underrepresented, underprivileged “person with a disability” as well as transgender, now, these labels, other than the latter which I have accepted, were placed upon me by the ignorance of the society in which we live. It is taught often that labels , act as identifiers, a way for us to converge, to come to understand, you and I both know the dichotomy of such rationale, because often labels can be used as disparaging tools, tools to discriminate, and thus stifle any good merit a person may possess.

    I admire your candor, and your willingness to question, and not just follow blindly, and I concur with such passion, and it is this reason I feel that you should be made more aware of the plight of those in the “disabled” community. We are 54 million strong, when you include the myriad of different “conditions” now thankfully, but partially protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. That’s right, only 22 years of civil liberty and protection. I know, your probably surprised, shocked, and appalled, prior to this legislation and a few prior, the IDEA and rehabilitation act of 1974, “disabled” people, whether LGBT, ChristIan, Athiest, etc you were ostracized, I remember in my early days of secondary education, as I am a few years your senior, I remember when schools were very segregated, the “special needs” kids were flat out institutionalized, placed in severe condition schools, but never expected, nor protected enough to achieve above and beyond what they were ascribed. I was blessed however, my parents told the local school district to shove it, and I was placed in a private school for my first few years prior to 1990, when I finally was mainstreamed in a public school. Fast forward, today I am 28 years young, high school and college graduate, holding an undergraduate in Social Work and Sociology, however, what all of my education and experience has taught me, that even though I was born into a fortunate family, time period, and some argue, the freest nation in the world, as a transgender adult, eventhough born and raised in very liberal Northern California, I can still be fired in 36 states for being transgender, I still face Ableism in professional situations, in spite of what I have achieved, and as for sex education, it seems that “disability” and sexuality (in any expression) is very taboo? I have spent nearly two decades eucating myself and others on the issue of sexuality and disability, even studying human sexuality my frreshman year in college, however, as far as we have come, we still have far to go.

    Whether I wish to be included in the “disabled” demographic or not, in society’s eyes, the majority, I will always be limited, in my eyes, I am a human being, and that takes precedence over any and all other labels, achived or ascribed, or forced upon me. I know that, like yourself, I am educated, articulate, experienced, yet for some reason, have lacked clout? I know we can reach out, we can change our world, we can be a powerful force, but I do know, as you have been learning, that change comes from within our perception, if we change our perception, we can affect the perception of others, our friends, we can help them believe, in many cases by achievment, however, some old human habits have seemed to die hard, and unfortunately, people like myself, those who are “physically challenged” make up only 26 percent of todays workforce, while 74 percent live up to 200 percent below the poverty level, on fixed government incomes. Now, I aspired to usurp such odds, and by many accounts I have, however, now again unemployed, having exhausted my retirement accounts from my last job, I am now forced yet again to go on the dole, I am beyond my aversion to the subtle and sometimes blatant ableism of 2012, I infact have began to abhor the state of things, not just for my experience, but for the gross inequaltiy that still abounds.

    Appologies for some of my rant, but I would like to help change the world, not only for my sake, or for the sake of the LGBT or “disabled” communities, but for humanity, to usher in a more compassionate and cohesive society, a coexistent world. I have a plethora of ideas, I have worked for the last few years for various human rights activist groups, but I would love to share my story, as well as expound upon the realities of the disability rights movement, disabled sexuality, and would love to see the day that the history of such realities be given equal representation. Even when I took my Human Sexuality class back in 2005, I was the only wheelchair bound student in the class, and the only student brave enough to expound upon my sexuality, which sadly, until my presentation, was sparcely presented, even for a college curriculum… To this day, since my presentation, my professor has delved deeper into sex and disability, and now uses some of my research as a part of her curriculum, however, on the macro scale, disability history, and that relating to sexuality is still not discussed in secondary education, it is largely assumed that we do not want or need physical intimacy, and eventhough I have attained a college education, sadly, only roughly 0.5 percent of people with disabilities attain any post secondary degree. So, you may better understand, the odds are definitely not in my favor, but, like yourself, I have defied the odds, and often have used them to transcend such oppression, however, it is proving to be insurmountable as of recently. I am wondering if you would be willing and able to assist me in espousing my very real ethos on yet another topic of social justice and the fight for universal human dignity? Please feel free to contact me, I would be abliged, and honored if you did so, and look forward to working alongside you in the fight for human equality. Thank you for all that you have done, are doing, and aspire to do, thank you for sharing your story “The Education of Shelby Know”) I just finished watching it! People have said all my life how I have inspired them, how I have been such a great example of perseverance, of overcoming adversity, but I always concede to this… I am anything and everything because of the people that are in my life, have been in my life, and will be in my future, I too am inspired, and let me tell you, you have inspired me, and hope our paths come together on the path of hope, justice, and life. Many mahalos!

    Alo’ha!

    - Eric Franks

  35. Lastly, a few scholarly works to check out: The Ugly Laws: Disability in Public (History of disability) by Professor Susan M. Shweik, a professor at UC Berkeley. As well as: Enabling Romance: A Guide to Love, Sex and Relationships for People with Disabilities (and the People who Care About Them) by: Ken Kroll I feel it is imperative that the “able bodied” or should I say, temporarily able bodied majority know about this from the lifetime perspectives of those living them, and people who up until the last 20 years, held little to no liberty, a people that transcend all other social classification. Disability is not exclusive to one gender, ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, age, it can and does affect all of humanity, and thus still has far to go when it comes to gaining an equal position in the dialogue of universal human dignity. Please, I implore you to join with me, and I hope I have sparked your passion yet again.

    Thank you so much,

    Alo’ha!

    - Eric N. Franks

    • Sorry for misspelling your last name, I noticed a few spelling and grammar errors when I read over my first few comments. It irks me when that happens! Keep on fighting the good fight!

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  38. Shelby keep up the good works. There is a need for a leader of the ERA movement. Two ERA bills are now in Congress SJ Res 21 and HJ Res 69 and both are prevented from leaving committees as they have been since 1985 by the men in Congress. The men in Congress whether liberal or conservative and regardless of party do not want the ERA bills coming to the floor of Congress for full votes of either house. SJ Res 21 only has 14 cosponsors and is missing such liberals as Schumer and Leahy as well as women like Gillibrand and Snowe. HJ Res 69 has 185 cosponsors but former Speaker Pelosi is not a cosponsor. Something is wrong someplace. The rich and famous women show no support for the ERA while women are beaten and abused on a daily basis and make less pay for the same jobs as men. If women march on Washington and showed support for the ERA then the men in Congress would have no choice but to allow a vote on the ERA. But there is no march of women on Washington and no real movement for the ERA. The men who are preventing the ERA should be voted out of Congress in November 2012 and the women should seize power. Be the leader the ERA needs.

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  40. Christie

    Just watched your film, yes I know you want to create some distance from that younger version of you ;) just wanted to drop a note to say “good for you!!”. You’re a wonderful, strong young woman full of humility. Nothing more attractive and characteristic of a person who is meant to make a difference in this world! I love your mix of conservative (Christian) values and liberal questioning of ‘is this the best for all’. I relate on all levels. Myself, I’m Canadian and here we are blessed with a liberal approach to life where religion doesn’t guide politics. I’m 32 and I learned sex ed waaaaay back in the 90′s in a town of 1300 in the arctic. I live in Toronto now but your movie about way down in texas just made me realize how blessed I was to live in such a free society.
    Your movie touched me most because my baby brother is gay and had all the freedom to come out in our world because people like you came years before us here. He has told me that he owes so much to those both gay and straight who sacrificed their name, credit, prestige and even lives to give him this freedom. You are one of those people fighting for the cause in Texas.
    Thanks again, hope this letter helps to sustain your conviction,

    Christie

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  44. Hi there. I’m so glad to find fellow feminists, especially of the 20-something generation!

  45. Pingback: Who Will Revere Us? (Black LGTBQ People, Straight Women, and Girls) Part I [#Feminist Friday] | People Of Color Organize!

  46. Amber McGee

    Hi. I just watched your movie and want to say, while I understand trying to distance yourself from that (I don’t want to revisit myself 10 yrs ago because I have changed quite a lot, some for better, some for worse!) that I think it is an awesome movie! I grew up in the south, mostly Alabama, and grew up very Christian as well. My father is a pastor. I too have been extremely lucky to have such wonderfully supportive parents as I am a lot more liberal than most in the south and especially most Christians! Sex education is near and dear to my heart; it is something I hope to fight for, if there’s still a need, over the next few years. I grew up thinking that sex was wrong and was constantly at war with myself as to why I had feelings/thoughts that I did…because it’s natural! I too believe in the fight for all equality and respect what I have seen of you so far! (I had an English teacher who told me I use to many exclamation marks, she was an awesome teacher, but I am generally a very excited person!) I do have to say I was lucky enough to go to a high school that was excellent and I always felt we had a voice there. I used to be a lot feistier than I am now which is something I miss. Somehow in the great search for myself in my 20s and what has been this decade-leaving me questioning almost everything and feeling quite scared for where we are as a country in basically every manner-I have lost that part of myself and am not as much of a fighter as I once was…I am looking for that again! Kudos to you and good luck!

    Amber

  47. Hi Shelby,
    I saw your movie, because my sister, who lives in NYC, told me that if I moved to Lubbock I had to watch it. I was impressed by how much your family and your pastor clearly loved you, and how you persevered in the face of a huge system and culture that was to some degree programmed against you. It still inspires me as I try to navigate my new home, Lubbock. Hopefully Lubbock will someday realize that it should hang onto its talented children, like you and Natalie Maines, rather than driving you away with its stubborn-mule orneriness. Anyway I hope you visit Lubbock a lot and look forward to meeting you someday, because your efforts to make my kids’ world better were admirable. Good luck with everything!

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  49. Shelby,

    I discovered your work via the article recently written on CNN.com. I just watched your documentary and was so moved by your heart, your courage and your gumption. I too was raised in the South as a Southern Baptist and am very familiar with your experiences. My spiritual and political journeys have been very similar to yours too. Thank you for speaking out. It’s comforting to know I am not alone. I look forward to keeping up with your blog and your Radical Women’s History Project. Good luck and Godspeed!

    Kathy

  50. Sarah Griffith

    Hi Shelby,
    Some friends just shared the documentary with me. I grew up in Lubbock and graduated from high school in ’73. At that point everyone was still a Democrat, but the amazing thing is how little people’s attitudes and thinking have changed. They still think inside the box—the box of evangelical Christianity, gender roles etc. It was both painful and joyous listening to you—painful to see how constrained your thinking was, joyous to see your rhetorical skills within the culture. I found myself crying, remembering the pain and fear of being locked in that box during high school. A box controlled by hypocrites with the power to dictate others’ sexuality. As you know, it gets decidedly better once you get out.
    My dad was a civil rights attorney in Lubbock. I kept wondering who was brave enough to do that work now. Who was the attorney for the Gay Straight Alliance case? I can’t believe they lost on appeal. Lubbock was just as conservative 50 years ago, but there was more tolerance for individuality and idiosyncrasy.
    I didn’t go to law school, but I hope you’re considering it. The law is a powerful tool for clear thinking outside the box, for recognizing the multiple layers of human experience and humanity within the constraints of social structures, and of course it’s a great credential for doing meaningful work. I know college is horrendously expensive. I’m confronting that with my daughter’s education.
    Most of all I want to say congratulations for blossoming despite the lack of real education—by which I mean an education in critical thinking. While I cried for the human waste and oppression evident in the film, you are a treasure for finding your way out of the labyrinth. Keep going and keep questioning the limits of every box.

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  53. Xena

    Shelby, my blog received an award and to comply with the rules, I found your awesome blog. Please accept the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award.
    Rules are at the following link.
    http://blackbutterfly7.wordpress.com/2013/11/21/sisterhood-of-the-world-bloggers-award/

  54. DS

    Original hyperlink for the film (“The Education of Shelby Knox”) is invalid, the current correct link is here: http://www.incite-pictures.com/the-education-of-shelby-knox/ ;-)

  55. Simply wish to say your article is as astounding. The clarity to your submit is simply great and i can suppose you’re a professional in this subject. Well together with your permission allow me to seize your feed to keep updated with coming near near post. Thanks a million and please carry on the gratifying work.

  56. Hey there! Someone in my Myspace group shared this website with us so I came to take a look.
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