Full interview with Tammi Matsukiyo

Tammi Matsukiyo at the Women’s Day march in downtown LA. PHOTO COURTESY OF TAMMI MATSUKIYO

1.  Could you please tell me a bit about yourself (current school and grade, hobbies, etc)

[I am a] sophomore in college, play[ed] basketball (played 4 years varsity at Mark Keppel, went to CIF State Finals), [and] I have a brother currently at Mark Keppel (Garret Matsukiyo).

2.  What event was the viral picture taken at? When and where was it?

The picture was taken at AF3IRM’s (a transnational feminist organization) International Women’s Day march on March 5, 2017 by my friend. The march began at the LA police department headquarters in Downtown LA around noon.

3.  Why did you go?

I attended the march to support women and help raise awareness for some of the issues that affect me and everyone else who identifies as a woman or cares about women.

4.  What message did you want people to get from your poster? Why did you choose to share this message?

The poster that went viral sort of represents a lot of things that I and many people want to say but have always felt weird about expressing so explicitly because of socially ascribed expectations of women and the pressure to be modest or obedient. Essentially I wrote the poster about the hypocrisy of a male-dominated Congress voting to financially support male reproductive rights but demonizing female reproductive rights as inherently evil.  

My stance is that you either have to fund both or neither; picking only one is just blatantly sexist. The people who are voting to spend $41.6 million dollars annually on Viagra prescriptions alone and around $200 million on medicines like it are the same people who say we simply don’t have the funding or that it’s wrong for us to encourage or even acknowledge female sexuality.

My favorite argument that people say in response to my tweet (@TaammiiM) is “if you don’t want to get pregnant, just don’t have sex”. My response to that is: erectile dysfunction won’t be an issue if you just don’t have sex!!! Why is abstinence something that is expected of women but not men?

A lot of people also say that Viagra treats conditions other than ED, but so does birth control. In fact, if you are a woman with a heart condition treatable by Viagra, you have to pay up to $700 for a month’s supply, but if you are a male with the same heart condition, you can claim that it’s for ED and pay closer to $20. That’s insanity! This applies to birth control and trans women in the process of transitioning. They use hormonal birth control to increase their estrogen, but because they are medically male, their insurance won’t cover it.

All I’m saying is that there is a major gender bias that needs to be dealt with in the medical/insurance industry and our government is playing a contributing role in this injustice. I hope that the sign raised some awareness to the issues and that people are having a real conversation about sexism because of it.

5.  Who inspired you to support the feminist movement?

Nobody really inspired me to be a feminist. I feel like it’s just common sense for me, as a woman, to demand to be treated equally by society. A lot of people misunderstand feminism as some sort of anti-male society of sirens but in reality, all we want is fairness. We are underrepresented in government, movies, the arts, and other occupations of esteem despite being better educated statistically.

If you’re a woman and don’t want equality, sorry but you’re a masochist and need to learn how to love yourself. That being said, there have been many strong women in my life that I aspire to emulate, which is a motivating factor in my activism. Shout out to Mrs. Flores, Mrs. Carmona, Ms. Sutton, Mrs. Hake, and Ms. H for being some of the great influences at Mark Keppel.

6.  What changes do you want to see as a result of the current Women’s Rights movement?

I hope to see just a general shift from archaic expectations of women to be quiet and modest, etc. to an era of female pride and equality! Another issue is the unfair treatment of transgender people. Trans women and men have every right to the liberties of straight, gender conforming people and should be treated as such.

7.  How do you plan to further support this movement, especially after gaining popularity on the media?

I’ll be attending a fundraiser for the ACLU this week and I plan on attending more marches for all sorts of causes, the march for science being the closest one chronologically. Women’s’ rights is not the only cause that needs support in this age of uncertainty that we live in. Make sure to go out and support what you believe in!!

8.  What have you done in the past to support Women’s Rights?

I also attended the women’s march after our President’s inauguration. I support pro-female clothing brands (Dimepiece LA, OMWeekend, etc) and donate to the women’s shelter in downtown LA. They are always looking for donations, especially sanitary products!! If you can, please donate! Pads and tampons can be difficult to obtain for homeless or disadvantaged women because of the stigma of periods and the need for other necessities.

The Aztec Staff

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