One of my favourite slogans from the shop is "Let's make herstory" so imagine my excitement when I got to meet the Herstorian herself!
Kaye is an amazing writer and a determined woman who is "Fighting for Equality in History & Equity in History Education" and I am so here for it!
Who is Kaye Jones, the woman behind The Herstorian?
I am a historian, writer, and former-history teacher. I set up The Herstorian because I was sick of reading history books and seeing history lessons that were so narrow in their focus. Everything seemed to be coming through a white, male lens and I desperately wanted to change that. It’s not about rewriting history, but about amplifying the voices that have been marginalised for so long, especially those of women from Black and Global Majority backgrounds.
What is the biggest impact on what you do?
Right now, the biggest impact is in classrooms where we are actively challenging the status quo and working with publishers to create culturally responsive materials. Children are the future, and this is where the bulk of our efforts are focused. It’s about encouraging them to be proud of who they are and where they come from, especially young girls. There is so much work to be done here.
What has been your biggest learning since you started?
That I can’t do everything on my own! The Herstorian started as a one-woman band but has grown into a company of 9! Collaborating with others is key. Without a team behind you, it’s impossible to take on big projects that bring about real change.
What is the goal? The big vision of what you would like to achieve.
The bulk of The Herstorian’s work is in reviewing educational content and supporting publishers to become more diverse and more inclusive. It’s all about being culturally responsive and celebrating the range of life identities and experiences. I’d like this kind of work to become the norm for schools, colleges, and universities across the country. That’s the vision I’m working towards.
What is Feminism for you?
To me, feminism is a rejection of white patriarchal supremacy. It’s the coming-together of women from all backgrounds, united in the knowledge that we can create a better system for everyone.
Which “everyday sexism” really bothers you?
I’m really bothered by rape culture. Wherever I look, rape and sexual violence are normalised, and it shouldn’t be that way. I think it’s heavily connected to the sexual double standard, which has bothered me since I was a teenager and really became aware of how much society polices women’s sexual behaviour.
Do you remember when you start identifying as a Feminist and why?
Yes! I was 14 or 15 and reading Of Mice and Men for GCSE English. I asked my teacher why Curley’s Wife didn’t have a name, like all the other characters in the book. The teacher smiled and asked why I thought that was the case. It was a light bulb moment for me.
Who is your biggest feminist role model?Probably Gerda Lerner. Her way of linking the past and the present and her research on the history of patriarchy informs everything I do.
What is your favourite Feminist quote?
“Women’s history is women’s right … an essential, indispensable heritage from which we can draw pride, comfort, courage, and long-range vision.” - Gerda Lerner.
What is your proud feminist victory?
To be honest, I haven’t had it yet. When I can open any history book and see that women of all backgrounds are included, I’ll feel victorious.What is your feminist recommendation?
- Book: Gerda Lerner – The Creation of Patriarchy
- TV Show: It has to be Killing Eve or Fleabag.
- Film: This is a tricky one. I think the film industry has a lot of work to do around representation, sexualisation and stereotyping.
What is your call to action for anyone reading this?
If you’re a white woman reading this, I urge you to think about the privilege you derive from being white. That’s not a criticism or a personal attack, but something that all white women must be conscious of if we’re serious about making change. We won’t overcome sexism without overcoming racism.
Do you want to know more and follow her awesome work. Here you got some links:
Kay also very kindly did a guest post for the Feminist Shop Blog, check it out: What is history, anyway?
May 11, 2021
Kaye has an elegant and precise way with words. It’s good to write to the point about these obvious gaps in how history is presented to give a more full and accurate account.