Opinion Marianne Schnall: President and Co-Founder of Feminist.com
By Suzanne Dunning
In 1995, a time when most of America was just venturing out into the world wide web, Marianne Schnall was already planning to harness its power and broadcast feminist issues to the entire world.
A politically active author, Schnall co-founded Feminist.com, which she describes as, “a community and online hub of resources and information that supports women's equality, justice, wellness and safety.”
For the past ten years the site has helped thousands of women throughout the world by offering information on issues related to women, and also by connecting women and like minded organizations. Because Feminist.com is not aligned with any one organization, they offer unbiased information, which as Schnall says, “serves both individuals and the women’s community at large. We see our role as connecting individuals with organizations, resources, and each other, as well as helping people reflect upon and improve their own lives.”
For solo traveling Divas, the site is a wonderful resource. The travel section has links to women-focused travel groups.
As Schnall said, “Everything on the site is focused on helping women to get in touch with who they are and to pursue their talents, interests and skills. Our goal is to empower women to go where their intuition is tugging them, not where they think they 'should' go.”
As I chatted with Schnall, I couldn't help but be fascinated by this feminist. Not only was she willing to be a resource for women's issues, she was working to expand that view to include environmentalism, spirituality, and even men, issues that are such a vital part of women's lives but not usually found on feminist bookshelves. Because ultimately, like every good Diva Visionary, Marianne Schnall wants to change the whole world. And to accomplish this, she knows that all it takes is a few good, empowered women.
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1. What was the best decision you made in your life?
The decision to register the domain name feminist.com, which back in 1995 -
when most people didn't even have computers, e-mail or know what the
Internet was, and very few women were online - seemed a rather wild and
intrepid thing to do. It was a moment in life when I had the courage to
trust my instincts and take a chance on something where the payoff was so
far off in the future it hardly made rational sense. It was a new frontier
at that time, with uncharted waters, and it is heartening to see the
Internet thriving today with such unlimited potential to serve good causes,
and Feminist.com is proud to do our part.
2. What are your most memorable travel moments?
Going away with my grandparents and family as a teenager on a tour of the
Galapagos Islands. It was incredible to see such a beautiful part of the
world so preserved and untampered with. It was also my first experience
living on a boat. My most vivid memory is standing amongst dozens of
squealing seals around me on the beach. I believe that this experience
helped create in me what is now very important - an ecological awareness.
3. What is the worst travel experience you've had?
When I was young, it felt like all sorts of things could ruin your vacation,
from the weather, to not going to the amusement park I wanted to go to, etc.
Now I realize that my reaction is the most important thing and I can turn
any bad situation into something I enjoy or that is fun.
4. What have you learned about yourself through traveling?
That occasionally it's important to get away from your usual routine and
surroundings, to shake yourself up a little and allow a fresh perspective on
life and the world to emerge.
5. If you could choose your ultimate travel companion, living or dead, real
or imaginary, who would it be?
My husband and children. I love sharing new experiences with my kids and
seeing the world through their eyes. And I loved and miss traveling with my
grandfather Buddy, who took our family to many interesting and exciting
places all over the world. He always made sure we truly experienced the
culture, heart and soul of every place we went to, and had a natural
instinct for making everything in life fun, joyful and an adventure.
6. What moment in your life did you feel the most alive?
At the birth of each of my two children - a surreal and incredibly profound
moment. I now look back and realize I was fully in body and fully in the
moment and I consider that to be the meaning of being fully alive.
7. If money and time were no object, where on earth would you go?
I have always been drawn to going to India - it has so much history and
ancient wisdom to share with us.
8. Who is your hero?
I have so many: examples are my grandfather Buddy, Gloria Steinem, Eve
Ensler, Jane Fonda - people who live life courageously and passionately, and
contribute beneficially to the world.
9. Name a place about which you're an expert and would be a great resource for our
Divas. Tell us about it.
I think the word "expert" for me is an ongoing process of learning and
growing. I guess I never feel that I have "become an expert". But examples
of areas about which feel I competent about and experienced are, feminism -
both my personal understanding of feminism through the experience of being a
woman in today's times, and also through my experience of ten years of
running Feminist.com. Also, I do have an understanding and appreciation for
the importance of us all trying to live more harmoniously with the Earth and
conserving our natural resources - in addition to Feminist.com, I am also
co-founder and run EcoMall.com (http://www.ecomall.com) with my husband,
which is a hub of environmentally-friendly companies, resources and
10. And finally give us a stirring, Diva-worthy battle cry for women everywhere to hear!
Women today are so busy taking care of others, we often forget to take care
of ourselves. Be sure to find the time and space to nurture yourself and
your inner world so that you remain in touch with yourself and make choices
that serve your genuine needs, interests and dreams. Try not to spend time
and energy worrying about what others think of you, make sure you are in
touch with what it is you truly think, and live from that empowered center.
Also - try to focus on the positive, and to see everything that happens to
you in life as containing lessons and blessings.
Please also see: www.feminist.com/reflections.html. This contains my
personal reflections on feminism and how I see the role of the feminine in