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An Amazing Career on the Feminist Frontlines

How Jill Filipovic ended up as the Senior Political Writer for Cosmopolitan magazine.

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Filipovic is the former Senior Political Writer for Cosmopolitan.com, and also has weekly columns at The Guardian, Al Jazeera America, the Huffington Post, and the blog, Feministe. Although she received a law degree from New York University, Filipovic’s first love is writing, and has been since before she could walk. “I always wanted to be a writer. From the time I was a very small child, before I could write, I would dictate stories to my parents and to my aunt, these long narratives.”

An Amazing Career on the Feminist Frontlines

Filipovic started college at New York University in August of 2001, studying journalism. Not even a month later, the most devastating terrorist attack to happen on American soil occurred; the plane hijackings and destruction of the World Trade Center. Filipovic’s campus was less than three miles away.

The media’s handling of 9/11 and the Iraq war left a terrible taste her mouth. She was disenchanted from the world of journalism, an industry that the world relies on for the truth. “The media took Bush administration statements at face value without doing any kind of individual corroboration and sold this narrative to the American public. It ended up years later being obvious that the line was totally false.”

She shifted her gears more towards law and politics, focusing on international women’s rights, and put her dream of a career in writing on the backburner. Filipovic’s goal was to help evolve the legal frameworks around legal rights and access to abortion and contraception in countries like Brazil, where abortion is against the law.

An Amazing Career on the Feminist Frontlines

Filipovic with the editors of her college newspaper, the Washington Square News, on graduation day in 2005

Almost immediately into law school, she realized this path of advocacy wasn’t for her. “I think my brain just kind of works in the way they teach you, this sort of hyper rational, hyper logical way of thinking. It made a lot of sense to me,” Filipovic smirks, black painted nails drumming against her paper cup, “But I didn’t find it that exciting.”

To her, lawyers were polishing up a painting that activists had nearly completed, giving the final stamp of legality before the completed project saw gallery time. There was no frontline battle, no turpentine soaked skin to vouch for a job well earned. “I never felt as inspired by legal work as I did by writing.” While she longed for more of an activist position, Filipovic made the best of what she could, helping whomever she could. She received her law degree while doing freelance work and activity blogging.

Two hundred thousand dollars in debt, Filipovic took a job at a large law firm, doing pro bono and asylum work. She was also writing for The Guardian on the side. “Freelance is a constant hustle”, she remembers, as the hum of Hearst grows.

An Amazing Career on the Feminist Frontlines

Filipovic at her NYU School of Law graduation

In a room full of powerful people eating kale and mango salads, discussing budgeting issues and human capital through their teeth, Filipovic takes her importance casually. She speaks with a breezy tone, like your best friend from high school that you’re reuniting with over coffee some years later. She looks to connect with you on any level; With something as monumental as abortion policies, or as seemingly trivial as how cute her nose piercing is and how you don’t know if your face could pull that off. Her air is of an author, a dedicated listener of stories, eager to retell them with the justice they deserve. And that’s precisely the road she took after hitting the mental Great Wall of China that stretched through her career of practicing law.

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Hi internet friends! I've had a passion for writing before I could walk and am so excited to be sharing that with you all. My goal is to not only entertain and bring humor into the magazine world, but to also empower women and raise awareness of the social and cultural issues we face. I'm an astronomy lover and a cheese enthusiast, as well as constantly hooked up to an IV of caffeine. Don't be a stranger!

Reader Discussion: 12 Comments

  1. Max Borghard

    What a great article and Jill is such an inspiring writer! My favorite part was getting women out to vote and how she provided all the information on the candidates to make women a more informed voter!!!! Cristiana and Jill thank you for all that you write!!!!

  2. This is a very inspirational interview and she is so amazing!

  3. Jessica Carlson

    There has always been a bad connotation on the word “feminist”. Most people think that it’s too much of a leftist terminology that has spawned radical movements. Thus, not a lot of people, even those who advocate for gender equality and women empowerment, identify themselves as “feminist”. But they actually are.

    Feminism is the very thought or act of fighting for the voice of the women who are marginalized, because of our paternalistic society, to be heard. It is the act of ensuring that women can vote, can go to school, have equal opportunity at work. It is when we ensure that the laws of the land gives both sides of the sexes an equal footing and the same treatment.

    So regardless of our sex, gender, orientation, classes, or social status, for as long as we are one those who ensure that none of our mothers, sisters, aunts, girlfriends, female teachers and just about every female in the face of the earth are maligned, abused, discriminated and marginalized, then we are feminists. As Malala Yousafzai had recently stated in an interview with her by another young feminist Emma Watson, feminism is equality. There is nothing about the term nor its meaning that says otherwise.

  4. Grace Stirling

    wow! that is one long interview 😀 .I didn’t get tired of reading her story. Her story is so inspiring and i love her because she also value equality. she’s beautiful, smart and any girl who’ll read this will surely get motivated. two thumbs up for her and i hope she’ll still inspire a lot of women.

  5. Ashley Moore

    Her experiences in life are very inspirational and i am happy that she have found what she wants in life and she’s proud of it.She’s right, take a risk and try what you are afraid of because that is also the time when you’ll realized what direction what you are interested in taking your life .One must not be afraid of being spontaneous and let it happen.You are the only one who will know what you really want your life to be and there is no reason you would not follow your heart and to not regret in not doing it. To go out, get outside and do something with other people, move, explore and see the world.

  6. Arabella Clarington

    I agree with Jill when she said that the general public would hardly (or not at all) take you as a professional writer when you work or write for Cosmo. There’s really a need to eliminate double standards on women’s magazine.

    I commend the success of “Cosmo Votes.” The society needs “more Jill.”

  7. Courtney Watson

    Her story is motivating! Indeed, she is independent, fearless and victorious woman! I really hope more women to be like her 🙂

  8. This article about Jill Filipovic is really encouraging! She is a living evidence that it is “possible” to recognize the equality and full humanity of men and women!

  9. I have this view on feminism: “Feminism isn’t about making women stronger. Women are already strong. It’s about changing the way the world perceives that strength. — G.D. Anderson”

    Jill is a proof that women are strong and that we stand to what we believe is right!

  10. She is amazing! Her story is really motivating and uplifting my spirit 🙂

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