The Feministing Five: Aditi Juneja

Aditi Juneja is a lawyer, activist, and writer who had the Internet buzzing last year with the release of the Resistance Manual, a crowd-sourced, non-partisan guide that aims to help people become more politically engaged. Currently, she’s the Communicator at Protect Democracy and was formerly the Excelsior Service Fellow with New York State Homes and Community Renewal’s Fair and Equitable Housing Office.

Today, Aditi also hosts her own podcast focused on radically inclusive self-care called Self Care Sundays. She was named a Forbes 30 Under 30 for Law and Policy in 2018, and has been profiled in Teen Vogue, Vox, Bustle, and more.

This week, I caught up with Aditi for the Feministing Five and we talked self care, podcasting, and the place of vulnerability in activism. Check out her podcast and follow Aditi on Twitter at @AditiJuneja3.

Senti Sojwal: How did you discover self care? What does self care mean to you and how might this be different than the “wellness” oriented modes of self care we see co-opted by the mainstream media?

Aditi Juneja: I discovered the concept of self care through the Audre Lorde quote, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” I think self-care is distinct from “wellness” as we see it in the mainstream because it is an inherently political act for those who have too long been denied the right to prioritize their own well-being.

Sojwal: What was your favorite podcast episode to do and why?

Juneja:My favorite podcast episode was the episode 112 with Akosua Edwards on self-love. It was my favorite episode because Akosua reached out to us, so I felt like I was fulfilling a purpose of the podcast by elevating the voice of someone with something to contribute to the conversation. Additionally, I felt like we were exploring an underlying theme of the previous episodes which was gratifying. Finally, Akosua was very funny!

Sojwal: Last year, you founded The Resistance Manual, a guide to Trump-era policies and how to protest them. How has your understanding of resistance evolved in 2018? What are your most personally pressing “resistance” priorities in your advocacy today?

Juneja: One big way my understanding of resistance has evolved in 2018 is understanding that our political preferences are less rational and based on policy beliefs than I previously thought. As a result, I am no longer part of the Resistance Manual team and work with an organization called Protect Democracy in communications. I understand that people understand politics not through cut and dry information, but through personal narratives. My advocacy priorities focus on helping the public understand how seemingly different scandals are all part of one coherent narrative of strategies authoritarians use to undermine democracy.

Sojwal: You gave a talk at the Personal Democracy forum last year called “Your Vulnerability is Your Strength.” How can vulnerability be a powerful component of activism in times of political strife?

Juneja: Vulnerability is the basis of powerful activism, particularly in politically trying times. Vulnerability is what allows us to continue to listen to one another when our opponents feel like enemies. Vulnerability is what allows us to ask for help and build coalitions. Vulnerability is what makes those who disagree with us willing to come to the table.

Sojwal: Who or what is inspiring your feminism today?

Juneja: My feminism is inspired by rage today. I am fed up, fired up, and ready for change.

Photo courtesy of Jeff Allen. 

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