Neesha Arter, Author & Journalist
Neesha is a journalist, author and speaker living in New York City. Her memoir, CONTROLLED, was published in August 2015 by Heliotrope Books.
Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Daily Beast, the New York Observer, New York Magazine, Interview, Teen Vogue and others. Neesha is also an advocate, appearing in the UN’s He for She Campaign, End Rape on Campus, Newsweek, The U.S. Office on Women’s Health, Huffington Post and more, sharing her story to promote sexual assault and eating disorder awareness.
Your book, Controlled, shows a deep vulnerability and you discuss some pretty intense issues. Women all over the world have been encouraged by your willingness to share your story. What was the process of telling that story for you personally? Were your reasons for writing it personal as well as inspirational?
The process of writing was very difficult, but I wrote the first draft over my winter break during my freshman year of college at Chapman University. It was cathartic in a sense, but the rest of the process has been anything but. I graduated college a year early and moved to New York a few days after graduation when I was still 20, so it’s all been quite a whirlwind. I got an agent the first year in New York and then I sold it in the fall of 2014. I graduated May 2012. It came out last August and last year I spent more time writing about rape on a global scale as a journalist for various publications and speaking at conferences and universities. The weight of hearing others’ stories has been the biggest challenge for me. I did my last keynote at George Washington University in February and began working as a News Assistant at the New York Times, so it’s been incredible to distance myself from all of it.
You’re career is pretty inspiring. You’re a published writer and journalist, and have overcome some pretty intense obstacles to get there. How do you think your experiences as a woman have shaped the work you do?
I have always had a pretty unapologetic, go-getter attitude. I think when it comes to my support system it’s been s ‘get on the train, or get out of her way’ mentality and I have had the greatest people in my corner from the beginning. I think that has been able to get me this far. I am already a very emotional person, so putting this story out there was much more difficult that I imagined, but it’s been worth it. As far as being a female on the issue of rape, I have always tried to voice the fact that it’s not a ‘female issue’ or even a ‘men’s issue,’ I think it’s a human issue and that is how I feel about feminism as well. Everyone should believe in equality.
How do you think journalism, the media, and the way we write about feminism need to change? How have you seen it influence you or your friends?
I think the portrayal in the media and film and generally across the board is not positive for young girls. In my book I also try to focus more on the emotional affect trauma can have on you when it comes to the eating disorder, instead of numbers and foods. I think trauma will affect people no matter when and it can be in different ways and it’s important to deal with it as soon as possible and that’s why I wrote this book.
How do you wish to see feminism change?
I think there are bigger conversations to have than the conversation of feminism. I think there are more important issues that needs to be discussed at a younger age. I don’t think a fourteen year old should have to know what rape is but unfortunately that is not that society we live in, so we need to teach our young girls and boys about this before it is too late.
Find out more about Neesha here!