Featured UCLA Feminist: Yasmine El-Tayeb

Photo by Nayiri Hovsepian

“Some might believe that there is a difference in the way feminism is defined based on where you are in the world, but this definition isn’t the difference. The differences are in where various parts of the world have reached in their progress towards equality.”

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s speech in Beyonce’s song “Flawless” is what second-year Theater student Yasmine El-Tayib thinks about when she considers the definition of feminism. She believes that feminism is about social, political, and economic equality. She especially focuses on shattering the glass ceiling, believing that feminism should be concerned with closing the wage gap between men and women and encouraging gender equality through equal pay and equal treatment.

Yasmine grew up knowing that equality between men and women is important. She said, “I never had a moment where I realized ‘I’m a feminist.’ Just the way that I grew up, I was just like, okay everyone should be equal, why are we not?” With this ideology, Yasmine says that feminism has pushed her to be more politically active.

Yasmine tries to incorporate her activism through theater. As a theater student in the design and production track, she strives to encourage equality as a part of her productions and considers this a part of her job as an artist, hoping to create pieces that advocate feminist thought. She believes “theater isn’t meant to tell you what to do, it’s meant to educate and inform and give food for thought.” Although she has not had much opportunity to create the plays that she would like to thus far, Yasmine expects to collaborate with others in the future to make shows that send a political and feminist message to the audiences. She wants to create plays that are efficacious–a play that does not only serve as pure entertainment, but has an effect on the audience in some way. In this way, the plays that she hopes to create would not have an overt message, but a message of equality that is implied through the character’s stories.

Efficacious theater, Yasmine believes, is meant to educate and inform audiences. She hopes to express the message of equality through theater and hopes to educate her audiences on issues such as the wage gap or career limitations that are solely based on one’s gender. She believes people need to be more aware of these issues and that theater should be used as a platform to spread the message.

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