Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Am I A Feminist? Hmmm . . . .

Well, while I'm older than most of my friends, I was born in the mid 60s, so I don't remember much about the the wave of feminism that ran through the 60s and 70s. I was too busy wearing my stylish plaid ensembles and playing cars with my brother. (I never liked dolls, but my younger sister liked Barbies and dolls so we did have plenty of all types of toys around the house.)

I do know that when I started playing softball, the first year I played, I could only play on the "Ponytail League", but the second year, I could pick whether I wanted to play Ponytail League or Little League baseball. I stunk, so I just opted to drop out altogether :)

In the 80s when I was in junior high and high school, I took Clothing 1 and 2 and Foods 1 and 2and we had a couple Home Economics teachers at our school. However, there weren't just girls in my Home Ec classes, in fact, there were just as many boys as girls in my foods classes. Some sort of "life skills" classes were required for graduation at my school, but you could take Technology Education classes and/or the Life, Career and Money class to complete the requirement instead.

Mostly back then, honestly, I never gave feminism much thought. I'd heard of it a little, but it seemed so harsh and negative and just something for people older than me.

I went to college for a few years and then I worked as a police dispatcher for a few years. It was a mostly male environment at the police station, although there were 3 other female dispatchers, and one female police officer. The only way that I ever felt that my gender was an issue was when I would sometimes be talking to the public at the front desk, and they would ask to speak to a MALE police officer instead. Who would ALWAYS tell them exactly what I just said.

Then it was back to school, and then working again, and then marriage and working, a baby and working, and finally, more kids and working at home. Since about 2007, I've been using my homemaking/life skills much more than I had in the past.

So back to Feminism. When I hear the word "Feminist," it makes me think of an angry, single woman who is fighting for equality in everything - equal pay, equal duties, equal in legal issues, etc. I imagine someone who feels that women are oppressed and need to be liberated from all the inequity that has been placed upon them. (Now, I didn't say that it was an accurate or fair representation of a feminist. I'm just saying what it makes ME envision.)

I've never felt that I was really oppressed. I guess I could have been. It doesn't feel like oppression, but I'm sure part of it is my ignorance. I don't know if I've had equal pay with my male counterparts when I was employed. I don't know if my legal rights have ever been compromised (I've never been arrested or anything, but I own a home. I pay taxes.)

I guess there was probably one time in my life that I was treated unfairly because I was a woman (well, a mother at least.) I was in a job interview. The interview was going VERY well. The woman began talking about her family and then asked if I had children. I indicated that I did have children. She asked their ages (at the time, the children were 7, 5, and 2.) When she heard that, she said "Well, this job probably isn't a good fit. There will be quite a bit of traveling in this job and for a mother of young children, well, it probably would be a problem." I was pretty desperate for a job at the time, and was willing to make hard sacrifices and tried to assure the woman that I was aware of the traveling and that I had support in place and that I could still do the job. I never heard from the company again. Now, in retrospect, she could have been right. It may have been very difficult for me to do traveling when the kids were so small. But I still felt like she didn't agree and so didn't even consider me for the position, even though I was otherwise qualified for the position.

So anyway, for a long time, I didn't consider myself a Feminist. And then I started thinking about it more. Couldn't a Feminist be someone who celebrated the differences between men and women? Couldn't a Feminist be someone who thought that one of the coolest things in the world is the ability that a woman has to give birth to a child??? And the ability to feed that baby with her own body? I'm not saying that every woman has to do those things to be a Feminist or a "good" woman, but I am just in awe that women CAN do those things. And couldn't a Feminist be someone who provided well for her family with gardening and cooking and sewing and other homemaking skills?

Because if a Feminist is like that, then sign me up.


Normal Mom said...

I had a professor at BYU who said that really, all women were feminists in some respect or another. I thought was an interesting perspective in that we all care about our homes, our communities and our ability to make independent and educated choices. Always good to dive into deep thought from time to time isn't it?

Mary said...

Amen Sister! I have had these same thoughts. Someone once told me I was a feminist, and I thought what you thought, no way! I shave my legs, and think kids need their mom at home, etc. but she said I was all about women power so that made me a feminist. I guess she's right. Women are amazing! So why isn't natural birth and confidence in one's body more of a feminist issue??? That is the latest thread my thoughts are taking me with this.