Thursday, April 18, 2013
Feminism in my life.
"Feminism is a collection of movements and ideologies aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights for women. This includes seeking to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment." -Wikipedia
I think feminism may have been bred into me. I was born to a single, 20 year old woman, who was determined to make her way through college and make a life for us. She did that. She struggled through school with a toddler to get her Bachelor's in science, and then she went out into the world and made a name for herself. She now has two Master's degrees and is the head of a nationally recognized biotechnology program at a local college.
This post isn't about my mother, though.
This post is about me, and how being a feminist affects every single decision I make in life. This post is about how I've bred feminism into my own children, both my daughter and my son. This post is about what feminism means to me.
As a rebellious teenager, I defined feminism as being able to run around and do what I wished, date however many men I wanted, and have my world on a plate with no social repercussions. I bought myself birth control, and I worked a job where my co-workers were predominantly male. The misogynists I knew called me an undisciplined slut. I disagreed. I still disagree.
As I've matured, so have my views on feminism. Sure, I still believe all those things above, but I also believe that I don't have to be the bra-burning rebel I was back then. I can be a feminist and create change in much more subtle ways.
When pregnant with my daughter, I was convinced originally that I would have an abortion. It felt like having her would be untrue to my feminist roots. Then I made the choice to keep her. For a long time I felt guilty about that, like I had let down all the other feminists in the world by not exercising my right to an abortion. Then I had the epiphany that I did just the opposite - I used my power of choice. The day that dawned on me, many other things became clear. Things like the fact that I could also make the choice to be a stay-at-home mom, or a part time work-out-of-home mom without feeling like I was betraying my fellow women.
Like I said, these days I'm a bit more subtle. I don't attend as many rallies as I used to, but I donate to NOW and other women's rights organizations. I fight against female genital mutilation in countries and religions where it's still practiced. I do what I can to help support the ending of the sex trade and domestic abuse. I teach my children that women are people too. My daughter has a firm grasp on the fact that she can and will be whatever and whomever she wants and I'll stand by her 100%. My son, while only three, nurtures his baby dolls, enjoys having his nails painted, and is unafraid to play dress-up. I will continue to teach him that women are his equals, in all ways.
Feminism to me means that I'm unafraid to reach for the stars, and I'm unafraid to instill that in my children, as well. Feminism means that I'm a whole person.