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Tallahassee Attorney Expands Definition Of Feminism In New Book

Smiling woman in fur coat standing in front of a christmas tree
Dana Brooks
Tallahassee Attorney and Author Dana Brooks

At its core, writes Dana Brooks, feminism is a matter of choices.

One of Tallahassee's best-known attorneys will launch her first-ever book on May 12. That lawyer-turned-author is Dana Brooks, a shareholder in the Fasig Brooks law firm.

Brooks, whose likeness appears on billboards, the flanks of StarMetro buses and on TV, said the prospect of putting her thoughts to a piece of paper that wasn't a legal brief has long been an intriguing aspiration.

"I was originally going to write my thoughts on politics and the whole Trump thing. But I thought, 'That's been chewed up to death. I really don't have anything new to offer on that.'"

Brooks chose a different topic. One which, as a successful, prominent member of the area's legal and social communities, she was already quite familiar with.

"It just turned into plain old women's empowerment, but with a focus on trying to be more inclusive. I'm trying to rebrand the word."

That word is "feminism." Brooks believed it had become a restrictive and limiting term over the years.

"For me, it was a global empowerment and the thought that we need to enlist men in this. Too many former waves of feminism - we're on the fourth now - too many times in the past it's been diced up. There's the Black women's feminism, white women's feminism, trans and gay and everyone vying for their piece."

Brooks mentioned the importance of including non-women in her re-thinking of the feminist ethos.

"I love men! I've been married many times to some wonderful men. But I've learned marriage isn't the best platform for me and that's fine. I had to learn that it's okay to do something that is not normative. But we need men in all aspects of our lives. We need them as partners in relationships and business. We need them making laws that are more open-minded. There are so many laws that are on the books and made by men that haven't considered another point of view."

Which is how Brooks came upon the title of her book, "Functional Feminism."

"And so I thought, 'Let's make it functional.' And that means make it inclusive and means empower women who do still want to have a traditional role in a biblical home, for example. So many times those people were left behind when we were talking about feminism and women's empowerment. I want women to feel empowered in all of their choices, but I want them to make informed choices."

And Brooks insisted that extends to all choices.

"It's also to empower women who do not want to have children and who don't want that pressure. Or those who do and want to find a way to have everything that they want, because you can do that. But you've got to be very organized and enlist the help that's available to you. And it really does take a village for all of us to survive in this world."

Essentially, the message of Brook's book is that feminism can take many forms and the decision is up to each individual.

"At its core, it's about choice. It's about saying that you weren't born into a second-class citizenry where your future has been pre-determined. You don't have any limits beyond those you've set for yourself. So here's a way you can get to where you want to be. But you're going to have to let go of some outdated concepts that no longer serve you."

The launch of Dana Brooks' Functional Feminism happens on the evening of Wednesday, May twelfth between 5 and 7 p.m. at Hearth and Soul on Northeast Tallahassee's Market Street. She also hopes it will spawn ongoing community conversations.

"There are some wonderful people in Havana who want to host a launch party. I want to get with Sally Bradshaw (at Midtown Reader) who wants to do an event. I want to make it available and accessible and affordable. I hope you'll pick it up and if you have any questions about it or want to talk further about it, I'm open. I'd love to hear some feedback on it."

And you never can tell. That feedback could possibly spark ideas for Dana Brooks' second book.

Follow @flanigan_tom

Tom Flanigan has been with WFSU News since 2006, focusing on covering local personalities, issues, and organizations. He began his broadcast career more than 30 years before that and covered news for several radio stations in Florida, Texas, and his home state of Maryland.

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