Niki Fritz, Feminist, Among Other Things

By Edo Steinberg

Niki as feminist icon Rosie  the Riveter on Halloween (photo courtesy of Niki Fritz).

Niki as feminist icon Rosie the Riveter on Halloween (photo courtesy of Niki Fritz).

“There are other parts of my personality other than feminism,” Niki Fritz declares towards the end of an interview about her membership in feminist organizations and her feminist writings. “Sometimes people assume that because you’re a feminist, that’s all you’re interested in. For me, feminism is definitely an underlying belief and value system that I have, but I also have a lot of other interests.”

For instance, she was a member of the storytelling community in Chicago. “I miss my storytelling community more than I miss my feminist community, because I can find my feminist community online, but with storytelling, you very much have to be present. It’s not something you can do over social media.”

Niki used to attend storytelling events frequently. A few months before leaving the Windy City for Bloomington, she attended a workshop, which happened to be organized by “Ladies in Comedy”. “It was five weeks of 3-hour sessions where we created an idea through a number of different prompts and exercises. We then molded this beautiful creation at the end, and then performed.” It was her first public performance. “It was amazing. It was definitely something I wish I could continue.”

“The whole art and the whole process of it are beyond fascinating,” Niki says. “There are so many different dynamics about how to get a big laugh or a big release, you have to build drama and tension. If you don’t want to be vulnerable and you want to keep things pretty level, that’s fine but you won’t get the big laughs.”

Niki is even thinking of starting a monthly storytelling event in Bloomington. “I feel like the Bloomington community would enjoy it.” Maybe she’d turn it into a variety show that includes improv and other forms of comedy. She’ll be on it once she has ten extra hours a week, she jokes.

Niki also likes to write about different things. She wrote a column about dating on the Chicago online publication Gaper’s Block. She was trying to write a different kind of dating blog about things that don’t usually make it to the usual relationship blogs, like how to be vulnerable in a relationship. “Even that was labeled as a feminist dating column,” she says, disappointed.

She also writes for the free Chicago publication, the RedEye and has her own blog, Feministy Fritz. She hopes the title doesn’t confuse people who might think she isn’t fully a feminist. “That’s how I talk. I add Y’s to things. I like to add a little colloquial touch to a lot of words.”

Her use of casual language has led to discussions with commenters about the importance of words. “Does adding Y to feminist dilute it, as if I’m not claiming the title of feminist but rather something else? It’s an interesting concept to me and something I really need to think about more – how do we make these choices in language and how do people perceive them.” She says she’ll probably write a post about the issue in the future.

Other than writing columns, Niki was also a member of the board of the Chicago chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW). She had various roles in NOW, and the one she sees as most important is organizing an annual event, Give Your Choice a Voice, promoting reproductive rights. It featured musicians, storytellers, politicians, and spoken word artists. All proceeds went to local reproductive rights direct service organizations like Planned Parenthood. “It was the most rewarding work I’ve ever done,” Niki says. “To see people come together for a common cause and not feel like they are alone in their struggle for equal access to reproductive rights was amazing. It was a night where we got to celebrate and have fun instead of always being on the fighting defensive.”

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1 Comment

  1. My New Identity: Grad Student | Niki Fritz

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