Meet Marcy, a working mom of two boys. She is proud to be a feminist, an activist, and a soccer mom. Like most moms, her kids keep her busy, motivated, and inspired. What sets her apart is her passion for making a difference. Marcy is tackling huge social issues like domestic violence, child abuse, and poverty every day. She works directly with the families who have been profoundly impacted by these issues.
Social work is a grossly under appreciated, and often misunderstood, line of work. People like Marcy are what make this world beautiful.
Vocation: Social Worker/Activist
Location: Orange County, CA
A bit of background
I’m a mom to two boys, ages 10 and 8. I grew up behind the Orange Curtain (aka Orange County, CA). I’m a feminist and an activist, currently I’m employed as a social worker. I majored in Women’s Studies in 2007 and taught ballroom dance for a few years before going back to school to become a therapist.
When did you start doing what you are doing?
I finished graduate school in 2013 and although my degree is in counseling/marriage and family therapy, I’ve worked in various settings including a therapist at a domestic violence shelter, a counselor at a group home for teenage girls on probation and a social worker. I started as a social worker back in 2013. For almost two years I worked for a non profit that trains and assists foster parents in caring for children placed through Children and Family Services. Currently I work at CFS as a social worker in the continuing courts program. My caseload is generally focused on family reunification and if that doesn’t happen, looking for a permanent placement for the child. I’ve been an activist as long as I could speak.
Why do you do what you do? Who/What inspired you to take this path?
I sort of just fell into what I do now because of training and past experience. I never aspired to be a social worker but it fits for now. It’s been an opportunity to work on a micro level with some huge social issues (child abuse, domestic violence, drug abuse, poverty, incarceration, trauma). It was an adjustment at first and I had a lot of conflicting feelings about working in the system but those feelings make me work harder for my clients. I know how many people feel about child welfare social workers, they see us as busy bodies and kid snatchers and you meet a lot of resistance and every day is a challenge but I love helping families. They don’t always want help at first but with a lot of patience and hope you see a change for the better.
Take me through your typical day
I’m up and running at 6am. Every day I set an intention and I’m trying to get better at a little bit of morning yoga and meditation but I’m adjusting to a new schedule and that has been a challenge. I get dressed, feed my kiddos breakfast and I’m off to work. My work day is a lot of running around. If I’m not out in the field visiting the kids/parents/caregivers on my caseload, I could be in team meetings, at a court hearing, monitoring a visit or if I’m lucky, in the office doing paperwork. Every day is different and it’s a lot of juggling. After work I pick up my boys and if we don’t have soccer practice or piano lessons we head home and I make dinner. After dinner, homework, bedtime, making school lunches and prepping dinner for the next time, I have a little bit of time for meditation and if I have the energy, a workout. There isn’t a lot of time for leisure when you work full time and have a family but I’m working on that. I do make time to read. That is my holy time.
What roadblocks have you encountered along the way? How did you maneuver them?
A lot of the roadblocks that I’ve had are related to being a woman and being a mom. After the birth of my second child I dealt with some pretty serious postpartum OCD that turned into depression. I had a difficult pregnancy the second time around and I kept thinking that life would get better when the baby was born and I could feel “normal” again. But that never happened, I just felt worse. I developed a lot of anxiety that I never had before and I struggled with how to cope with that anxiety. I isolated myself because of fear and shame that something was wrong with me and I wasn’t good enough. I see now that as a culture we are really hard on mothers and I was really hard on myself to “get it right.” Therapy helped and going back to school and getting out into the world again were instrumental to healing from that. Then not too long after I went back to school I lost my father suddenly and went through a divorce, all at the same time. I was grieving the loss of my father, my marriage and trying to navigate life as a single mother and a full time student trying to make ends meet. All of this was difficult but I know that it helps me in my work with families who are also struggling. I’m not afraid to share my experiences with my clients. As far as how I maneuver through life, I like to keep it real. It’s not all sunshine and happiness but gratitude keeps me grounded. My love for my family and my passion for making a difference propels me forward.
You describe yourself as a feminist–what does that mean to you? How do you define feminism?
I cannot remember a time when I did not feel like a feminist. It’s in my blood, that’s the best way that I can describe it. Some people talk about having an awakening or realization at some point in their life but I never had that. I felt at an early age that people were treating me differently because I was a girl and that did not feel good and something was going to be done about it. I’ve gone thru various unlearnings, unpacking, and levels of understanding to get where I am today and I’m always questioning and learning more.
I like bell hooks definition of feminism best “feminism is the movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression.” Intersectionality is paramount for me, so I would also add to that all other systems of domination, including racism, classism, homophobia, capitalism, to name a few. I think the biggest misconception about feminism is that it is anti male and that could not be further from the truth. My feminism has evolved and strengthened because of the men in my life who I love fiercely, who are harmed by the system of patriarchy.
I have several tattoos that are symbolic of feminism, one is a teaspoon with a tag that reads: tsp x tsp. It’s matching a girlfriend from my Women’s Studies days and is a reference to the blog Shakesville, where the authors talk about social justice activism and fighting oppression as “emptying the ocean teaspoon by teaspoon.”
On the other arm I have the word “Subvert” written in lipstick. To subvert means to “destabilize, overthrow, or undermine the power and authority of a system.” For me, Feminism is standing up for yourself and everyone around you. It’s questioning everything all the damn time. If you are going to define yourself as a feminist you have to learn to be comfortable with uncertainty and flux because you are constantly at odds with everything around you.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be an astronaut or the first female president. I remember an assignment in 1st grade where I had to write what I wanted to be a I said I was going to be the first woman president. That’s probably not going to happen, I’m way too honest to be a politician.
Tell me about the inspirational people in your life.
My aunt Miki was one of my earliest inspirations. She was the first woman I knew who identified as a feminist. In a lot of ways I followed in her footsteps, she is also a counselor.
My kids inspire me. I don’t think that I knew what love was until I met those two. My partner Phillip keeps me going. He’s more optimistic than I am and when I get frustrated and start to doubt myself, he’s always there to remind me how far I’ve come.
Who do you look up to/Who are your female “role models”? What books/documentaries/shows are important for women and girls to know about?
Madonna was one of my earliest feminist icons. She uses her femininity brilliantly and unapologetically. I’ve always seen her as powerful.
I grew up during the height of the riot grrl movement of the 90s so Kathleen Hanna (of Bikini Kill and Le Tigre) is a huge inspiration. Whenever I need pick me up I throw in a Bikini Kill record and they never let me down. The documentary “The Punk Singer” about Kathleen is amazing.
As far as books go, Toni Morrison, bell hooks, Virginia Woolf, Margaret Atwood, especially The Handmaid’s Tale, Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence, everything Jane Austen.
I used to not be a big TV person but that last 10 years or so there have been some great shows…I’m currently obsessed with Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder. Shonda Rhimes is brilliant. People who don’t know me look at me funny when I say it, but Veronica Mars is one of the best feminist shows. It deals with gender, race, and class in a high school setting. It’s provocative and funny. Iron Jawed Angels (movie) should be required viewing for high schoolers or anyone who chooses not to vote.
If you could travel anywhere in time or space, where would you go?
I have two, I would love to go back in time to met Anne Boleyn. I find her fascinating. I could spend hours talking about why Anne is one of my top feminist icons.
My favorite time period is the 20s. I love F Scott Fitzgerald and Hemingway, Gertrude Stein and Dorothy Parker. Such an interesting time for women. Some of my favorite literature, art and music is from that period.
Lastly, what is your definition of beauty? When or where do you feel most beautiful?
For me, beauty is a feeling. It’s goosebumps up your arms and that tickle up your spine when you see something that touches you. I feel most beautiful when I feel joy, when I’m engaged in a moment of inspiration.