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What Is A Feminist?

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What is a feminist?  These four words have taken root in my brain. From the first lecture, I have been on a quest.  Am I a feminist?  How can I label myself if I’m not certain about what I’m representing?  I started reading issue after issue of Ms. magazine on my down time while attending community college. It all made sense to me. What I took issue with was why it didn’t make sense to everyone else! I had written a short paper on the wage gap and was asked to read it out loud. This was the first of many kicks to the gut! My classmates seemed completely unmoved.  The only reaction was how it wasn’t “really” that bad.  This was from a female!  It turned into a discussion about how we can be oppressed by societal institutions and perhaps issues stemming from this such as povery, crime, recidivism and such. In essence, we institute systems of power and injustice that historically have catered to white wealthy men.  So how is it that the laws are still in favor of this antiquated concept when we are living high tech, globally and, supposedly, in equality?

I’ll be the first to come clean. I was uneducated; plain and simple. I was taught not only by society but also my family that girls/women were different. Let’s face it, biologically, we are. So, I take this into account. I never have understood why we had to be trained to play with dolls, kitchens, ironing boards or tiny tea sets. I wanted a baseball glove and a skateboard. Sports for girls consisted of powderpuff football and the team was the cheerleaders and the players donned skirts and sweaters that looked as uncomfortable as their body language. Not allowed to take wood or metal shop, my “choice” was home economics.  I learned to copy recipes for six weeks and made a tote bag and a frog filled with rice. I tried typing and was told by the teacher that I “just wasn’t catching on” and that maybe I should take home economics and learn how to cook for my husband.  I remember thinking “husband”?  I’m 13!  I’m glad the options have broadened. However, there is much ground left to cover. I have two daughters that also changed my perspective in many ways. When they were babies it was the of dawning of the mommy track. I worked as a hair stylist and assumed I would go back to work after the birth.  I really tried to go back and did so, part time for a couple of months. I wanted to be with her and knew that I would be giving up my clientel to do so. I had to defend my choice.  She just wants to stay home to watch soap operas and sit on the couch all day. She must not be able to handle working and raising a child at the same time. She must be old fashioned in her beliefs. None of these were true.  Being a mother that WORKS in the home is the most intensive, back breaking, multi-tasking form of labor ever!  It’s combining every lousy low paying thankless job from cleaning toxic waste to taxi sevices with the know how of an E.R. doctor or a defense attorney.  A mom is a teacher, planner, negotiator, life coach, cheerleader, investment banker, and judge. The truth was that I wanted to be her mother…that’s all.  No hidden agendas; no alterior motives. I found myself in angst yet again when I decided to go back to work. Why did I again feel under scrutiny? The accusations now were that I was too materialistic, or perhaps I didn’t want to be at home because I couldnt handle my kids.  Again, not true. They were in school and I missed doing hair. No hidden agendas; no alterior motives. I was always asking why was it that a woman’s character is under fire and she’s forced into impossible situations, made to chose between what she wants vs. what society “allows” her to have. In the end, we are left with no choice. It was that day, in that class that I felt angry. My anger has since been tempered with knowledge.

I am not wrong for feeling oppressed, but I am wrong if I allow it to continue. I’m exchanging anger for education to become focused on the issue of inequality. I wasn’t wrong for feeling the way that I felt, society tried to convince me that I was. I feel men are significant and crucial in our world. We need men.  Some of us even love and respect men. I am a feminist!  I wear the label as a badge of honor. When we erradicate oppression on every level, I will perhaps quiet my questions but until that day I will continue to bang my drum and shout from the rooftops.  I want equality for everyone, everywhere! I AM A FEMINIST!  Thank you Dr. Martin for providing me with a path.  I started this blog with the question. My answer….a human being that believes we are equal in all forms, at all times, standing up individually to educate and promote positve change and to step in at all times to assist and up lift one another.


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