Saturday, February 17, 2007

You bet your sweet ass I am...

"I myself have never been able to find out what feminism is; I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat or a prostitute." -- Dame Rebecca West

I did a post on my Bad Catholics Anonymous blog, and in it, I went into a brief discussion of my feminist leanings. Make no mistake: I am a feminist -- a pro-life one at that, but that's a completely different point.

I arrived at my feminist leanings by:
  • watching my mother go to work each day. Apart from some of the teachers at my school and a few others, very few of my friend's mothers worked outside the home. My mother did, primarily to help with household expenses. It wasn't entirely to "find herself" (to use such a 70s phrase!). At the same time, we had "luxury items" in our house (dishwasher, microwave, etc.) that some of my other friends would not get for years -- all because Mom worked.
  • having my parents tell me in many ways and at many times that my gender did not limit me -- not necessarily in those words, but certainly in their attitudes. And I have discovered recently that they went out of their way to show me how important certain things were -- and did not with my younger brother. For example, my parents always took me with them to vote, and even lobbied for me to go into the booth with them. My brother? Never went with them. Now, we all vote, but it must have stirred in me an interest in government. I did, after all, major in political science with an emphasis in American Politics.
  • listening to John Forsyth's wry delivery of the words, "Once upon a time there were 3 little girls who went to the police academy... and they were assigned {heavy sarcasm=on} very hazardous duties." {sarcasm=off} I know, it sounds funny. But I realized by watching Charlie's Angels that it wasn't fair that they didn't get to do what they'd been trained to do, and now Charlie was letting them do just that.
  • from my girl peers in high school. Oh believe you me, we got very riled at injustices that occurred because we were girls. We were the beneficiaries of the women's movement. Title IX? Us. Our girls' teams regularly kicked ass; our guys' teams often just lay down and died. We had a debate in our junior English class that quickly dissolved into guys versus girls. I honestly did not know my classmates felt as I did. I thought I was the only one. Keep in mind- these are the same ones who had hooted me down 3 years earlier when I suggested that I thought God might have some feminine qualities. Oh, how little we know at 13.... did we learn that much in 3 years? Anyhoo.....
  • from my own soul. I never had a sense that just because I was female, I was lesser. Okay, perhaps a little from the church I grew up in -- you know, Eve, Delilah, Jezebel and all that nonsense. Guess they forgot to put forth the positive role models like Deborah the Prophetess, Esther, Mary & Elizabeth and a few others. No matter. I had enough influences outside the church to counter that. And it truly came as no surprise to anyone that in my very first semester of college, I took Philosophy of Feminism -- and loved it. I was also blessed enough to have a good prof for that class -- one who not a man-basher, but who balanced her beliefs with her own life as a wife and mother.
The fear I have is that younger generations will forget the struggle. I think every girl by age 12 should have watched segments (if not the whole movie) of Iron Jawed Angels. I want them to remember the trailblazers of the 19th century, as well as those who continued the struggle throughout the 20th century. I want them to be trailblazers.

In my goddaughter's case, she's blessed to have both her mother and myself cheering the cause on. Just this past week, we discussed a little with her about women's rights -- just touching on it a little -- and exhorting her to be whatever she wants. As I told her, "Darling, to be a wife and mother is one of the greatest callings in life -- it's your choice. You can be a wife, mother, artist, dancer, whatever. It requires balance, but it can be done. It's your choice." I want her to embrace her power of choosing whatever she wants in life, and not to be limited by anyone who says, "You can't because you're a girl."

1 comment:

Talmadge G. said...

Very well put. Your post is the best defense and definition of feminism I've ever read.

I guess there'll be no Ladies' Credit Card" for you, eh? ;-)