Friday, October 21, 2011

I Can Be A Warrior After All

"You can't be one of the warriors," my neighbor told me.  No this isn't some weird Renaissance revival game I play in the park. This is a flashback to around 1982-ish and me playing some sort of game with my brother and my neighbors.  

I had no idea why he thought I couldn't be a warrior with my brother and him.  But I do know that it made me mad.  Really mad.  So mad I didn't know what to do with it when I was 8 years old.  So I quit playing.

Tonight I watched a documentary on my girl Oprah's network OWN. A documentary about how images in the media that degrade, demean and objectify women have had damaging effects on women, girls and the culture at large.
Watching the movie with my baby boy Wade.  I think he really gets it.

"MissRepresentation" was a good documentary, but it was in no way shocking to me.  You see I am about to type a sentence that might seem very controversial to some....I am a feminist. 

If you are still reading, let me explain.  I can trace my feminist beginnings to that warrior game in the early 80s.  I just didn't know there was a word for my anger and frustration with being limited because I was a girl.

Over the years, my anger would resurface and I would debate about injustice and gender inequality.  I wasn't the best student in high school, but I remember coming alive in government class when we watched the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas trial live in our classroom.  Taking my head up off the desk, I watched as my classmates spewed their parents' beliefs.  "She is crazy," some of the boys said.  "Who does she think she is?" said a very proper-looking girl.

Even though I always harbored anger and resentment about not being equal, man did I buy into the whole objectification of women thing.  At an early age, I discovered the power a girl-woman can have.  In eighth grade I got sent to the office repeatedly for wearing skirts that were too short.  I didn't care about getting in trouble, but I did care about the attention from boys/men.  I loved it.  But hated myself.  Ugh.

For years, I battled this look-at-me-I-think-I'm-sexy attitude toward life.  Now of course I am older and battling the oh-god-don't-look-at-me-I-think-I'm-fat attitude toward life.  Shit, being a woman is hard.

For a few years I found a home for some of my frustration and that helped.  My pal Steph and I used to attend the annual National Organization for Women (NOW) conventions.  Yes, NOW still exists.  
Now there's a couple of serious feminists for you.
When I went to my first convention I felt like I was...home.  Sure there were people with extreme views that I was not into, but man the cast of crazies made me feel so normal and I loved it.  Remember I am the girl who cries and feels so happy watching the Democratic National Convention.  And I usually wish it lasted two weeks rather than one.  Yup, can't help it.

I heard some great speeches, met some fascinating people and bought some cool merchandise at those NOW conventions.   I had this great hat that said something about being a feminist and I wore it until it simply wore out.

"Isn't that an oxymoron," someone asked me once.  I was wearing the hat while I was pregnant (with my fourth baby) and yes, barefoot.  In my defense, I was on vacation and on the beach.

But here's what I believe, you can be a Republican and be a feminist.  You can be a Christian and be a feminist.  You can be childless and be a feminist.  You can be a stay-at-home mother to 12 children and be a feminist.  You can be a man and be a feminist.  

The definition of feminism is the movement for social, political and economic equality of men and women--

that's all it is.
Me telling somebody what's what.

After all these years of getting fired up and defending not only women's rights, but the idea of feminism, I still get mad.  Really mad.  But not for me, for my children and what they might encounter in the world (especially the complex media world that was highlighted in tonight's movie, scary).  

And I won't quit this time.

People say, oh you feel this way because of your daughter.  Yes, but also because of my three sons.  

If I do nothing else in my lifetime, I sincerely hope that I have some part in helping them all grow up to be compassionate, open-minded adults.  Adults that treat all people with respect and get mad when they see injustice, bullying and inequality of any kind. 

And that is what feminism is all about.  Guess I can be kind of a warrior after all.

Movie I just watched:

This is good, really good.

This has nothing to do with anything except it's funny and it's Tina Fey.

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