Spotlight: Dawn Finley

Dawn Finley is the co-founder of the Feminist Library On Wheels, a mobile book-lender aiming to spread feminist texts to the greater LA area. On September 29th, Finley visited Whittier College to discuss FLOW’s message, the importance of feminist literature, and the struggle of the modern woman.  Finley gave two of our Student Tech Liaisons, Doc Shears and Justina Chock, the opportunity to interview her about her vision for a hopeful future.

The Feminist Library On Wheels was the brain child of Jenn Witte. After talking with the Women’s Center For Creative Work about creating a library, Witte had the idea of using her bicycle as a means to give the library transport. After sharing the idea with her reading group, Dawn Finley (who happened to be a member) immediately volunteered to help Witte with her project.

Inspired by the talk of free and mobile feminism in Bell Hook’s novel Feminism Is For Everybody, Witte and Finley took on the task to connect books, bikes, and feminism. The idea behind FLOW, Finley says, is that people will use it as a tool to figure out for themselves what “feminism” is, using books as a medium.

Reading as a medium to promote feminism really appealed to the duo, because of the contrast that book reading holds with modern technology. “You need sunlight, and that’s about it,” Finley said. Their past work experiences in bookstores and libraries also affected their decision to choose books over modern media resources such as YouTube. “Books are kind of part of who we are.”

The bicycle also holds resonant importance to Finley. The history of women and bicycles dates back to the era of first wave feminism. When bicycles became more available to women in urban areas, they had a new mobility that they did not have before. In modern times, the bicycle has become a popular tool for mobility and health, and, in Finley’s case, an outlet to spread a positive message to the community.

One of Finley’s goals with FLOW is to inspire similar feminist book bikes in places outside of the LA area. At the same time, she acknowledges that it would be nice to live in a world where FLOW wasn’t necessary. But for Finley, the journey of FLOW is one step at a time; she doesn’t concern herself too much with an ideal future because she’s busy working towards that ideal today.

Finley’s opinion on the presidential race highlights her belief in the need for FLOW. A woman as a presidential forerunner is a good start for Finley, but she also acknowledges the myriad of  sexist comments that are regularly directed at Clinton, and also that fact that during her campaign, Hillary hasn’t used the term “feminism” to define her movement. She hopes that FLOW and other similar movements will help curb these issues.

Students can get involved with FLOW by following them on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and by going to their website, feministlibraryonwheels.com. Dawn can by contacted via email at feministlibraryonwheels@gmail.com.