Unlike many of our writers, I haven’t called myself a feminist for very long. In fact, I’ve been guilty of misunderstanding and mislabeling those who embrace “the word.”
That is, until I got schooled by Gail Collins.
Collins, who is one of my favorite New York Times columnists (aka be prepared for lots of posts about her hilarious essays), wrote a lovely book called When Everything Changed describing the world for American women from the 1960s forward. The book tells awesome stories about how women’s rights have been recognized thanks to feminism.
–Pause here in honor of the brave ladyfolk who stood up for themselves and for the future.
OK. Back to my story — I fell upon this book by chance, at an internship my senior year in college. After reading the book, I worked more and more on women and women’s issues, researching amazing women like Sheila Johnson, Sec. Hilary Clinton and Melanne Verveer, the U.S. Ambassador At Large for Global Women’s Issues . These ladies were so impressive, and their causes were so inspiring. I soon found myself falling in love with feminism.
Sadly, not everyone was pleased with my newfound glory, my mama especially. That’s right, my mama, the breadwinner in our family. My mama, the superwoman who cleaned the house, washed clothes, made dinner, and dried tears (I cried a lot in high school), all after a hard day’s work as a nurse.
What my mama didn’t realize is that all along, she’s been schooling me in feminism. She never told me I wouldn’t be able to do something because I didn’t have the right equipment hiding in my underwear.
I’m aware of how cliché the whole “my mama told me I can do anything!” narrative is. But don’t discount clichés. In a world where many women and girls are told NO all the time, be it in the classroom, the workplace, or the bedroom, the word YES has power.
I’m thankful for all the people in my life who said yes, and even for the ones who said no (more on them in a later post). Together, they gave me enough power and anger to realize I am a feminist, and I’ve been one all along.
This post is brought to you by Rachel.