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Mayim Bialik opens up on social justice, feminism and her 'inner nerd'

Avital Norman Nathman is a freelance writer whose work places a feminist lens on a variety of topics, including motherhood, maternal health, gender, and reproductive rights. Her work has been featured in Bitch magazine, Cosmopolitan.com,...

Mayim Bialik doesn't want you to listen to her just because she's a celebrity

With a hit TV show, an upcoming Lifetime movie, two books on shelves and two sons at home, The Big Bang Theory star Mayim Bialik's life is fairly full. But that's not stopping the actress from starting her own website, where she'll be able to combine all the different aspects of her life in one space.

She talked to SheKnows about getting her geek on with her new site, Grok Nation, a sneak peek at the next season of Big Bang and more.

SheKnows: Can you explain a little bit about how Grok Nation came to be?

Mayim Bialik: Much as I have a very busy and exciting life, the fact is I would like to have a life that is more than just an actor. Honestly, especially as actresses get toward 40 and beyond, parts get harder and harder to get. And there are a lot of other things I'm interested in and interested in doing, and writing has been one of them for years. The notion was to try and combine all the different facets of me with a platform where I had sort of more creative control over what else was on the site. And also the ability to write about a wider variety of things than I have been at my home at Kveller. So, you know, the notion that I'm a real-life nerd that loves Star Wars and superheroes didn't really have a home at Kveller, but it does at Grok Nation.

SK: What are some of the things you'll be covering at Grok Nation?

MB: I'm trying to cover social justice issues, topics in the news — not because I'm a celebrity and everyone should listen to me, but because if I do have a platform where people might be hearing about these for the first time (especially young people), I think it's really important to educate people about causes that should interest us, but also organizations that are working to be resources.

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SK: For those who don't know what "grok" is, could you explain it?

MB: The word comes from the science fiction novel Stranger in a Strange Land, and for a certain generation of people, we know that word as 'deeply and intimately understanding something.' It's more than just understanding something. It's sort of becoming one with it through your understanding. There are a lot of ways to name a site when a celebrity is spearheading it, and what all the companies that advise you tell you is that young people like nonsense words, or they like your name. But the site isn't going to just be me writing; the idea is to get more interesting voices on the site, so I didn't want to name it after me. We like the idea that we're trying to inspire a way of thinking and a way of approaching things that is different. People have said that I have the ability to point out the nuance in the mundane and make the mundane profound, and that kind of thinking is something available to everyone, and that's what we're trying to appeal to with this word "grok."

SK: Many celebrities have lifestyle blogs. Where do you see yourself fitting in there?

MB: Lifestyle blogs seem more consumer based, and I don't mean that to be critical. For a lot of people — and a lot of women in particular — things to buy and ways to look trendy are really important to them. I don't put down those people or have judgment about that; I'm just not that kind of person. What we wanted to do with this website was sort of the phrase "for people who collect thoughts and not things." Our site is basically a literary site, and we plan to have a video component, so we're trying to appeal to a TED talk kind of feel.

SK: It's clear that feminism plays a big role at Grok Nation, and I love that you're not shying away from it.

MB: We weren't even sure what to call the women's section, because there are men interested in feminism! In the pieces that I've tried to put out there and will continue to put out there, I'm trying to shy away from those conversations that are superficial, like, "do you shave your legs or not?"

I wrote a piece that literally defines first-, second- and third-wave feminism, just so we all know what we're talking about when we talk about it. I think it's important, because I think we get caught up in "do you wear lipstick or don't you?" and that's not really what the women's movement is really about. Those are superficial things that are fun to talk about, but I think the Rose McGowan piece that I wrote tried to get at the "grokability" of these issues. Like, what's it really about? What's really happening here? It was hard to write that piece! The fact is, that's what it looks like when we have skewed visions of women in my industry. What does it look like in your industry?

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The true movement of feminism was about race, class and gender, and not about individual women and who they're having sex with and how. Of course that was part of the conversation, but the idea was to break the bonds of race, class and gender, and that's really what we need to keep fighting for.

SK: I love how nuanced you are about feminism, and glad you have the platform to share it.

MB: I feel like there are so many people out there saying the same thing much better. We want to link to organizations that are actually doing things about this, instead of making it like, "oh, Mayim Bialik talked about this and now it's interesting." These things have always been interesting and important, and if I can use this platform to put those issues out there in a bigger way, I want to give props to those people who have been doing and talking about this for years and actually are advocating for individuals and not just tweeting about it.

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SK: I have to ask, what Big Bang Theory scoop can you give us?

MB: We've only done two episodes. We deal head-on with the conflict between Amy and Sheldon in these first two episodes. What's interesting is that in the third episode, we don't have any scenes together at all! We're not a soap opera — we can't deal with it every single week. But the first two episodes are a pretty big start to the season.

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