Sunday, March 6, 2016

I am a FEMINIST!

I have spent a good portion of my brain power this cloudy Sunday thinking about my interpretation of the word feminist.  Before you change the station, click to the next webpage, or move down the "multi-task" list; wait!

This past quarter we have been talking about the role of media in society - editorials, etc. in my regular junior English class.  I must say that with the campaign in full-swing for this 2016 election season it has provided a great deal of fodder for debate within my class.  I typically do not divulge to my students my views on politics, hot-button issues, or most "debate worthy" topics.  I want students to come to their own conclusion and think through ALL the options

For the first time in history of this nation - there is an actual chance that a woman could occupy the top seat of power in our country.  That is remarkable.  It should be cause for celebration from my gender, and I am certain for many, it is.

Perhaps it is Spring with the blooming flowers, or the chance to mold my VERY OWN garden into my vision of Eden that has me thinking of the legions of women who have gone before me - the "true feminists".
I think of my grandmother - by far, one of the sassiest women I know.  She has shaped my life in ways that I don't even fully understand.  As I drove to get my "Sunday afternoon Sonic Soda" the song on the radio was "Who I Am" by Jessica Andrews - I always substitute the lyrics and sing at the top of my lungs "I am Wanda Lee's granddaughter..."
"Who I Am"



If I live to be a hundred

And never see the seven wonders

That'll be alright
If I don't make it to the big leagues
If I never win a Grammy
I'm gonna be just fine
Cause I know exactly who I am

I am Rosemary's granddaughter
The spitting image of my father
And when the day is done my momma's still my biggest fan
Sometimes I'm clueless and I'm clumsy
But I've got friends that love me
And they know just where I stand
It's all a part of me
And that's who I am
I think of my grandmother.  She was a true feminist.  
She was so all the way down to red shoes and to the top of her curly bouffant Texas hair.  She would tell me stories as a girl about why her favorite color was red - and why she wore it so often was because it was a taboo when she was young and "quite simply, nothing is stopping me from wearing it now, Sis"!  It carried with it the stigma of the "red light".  She loved to wear her red pants, or red shoes, or even red(ish) lipstick.  She was class wrapped in a firecracker and I simply adored her.  I always told her that she and I were twin souls separated by a generation.  She instilled in me my determination and the bootsrap, bulldozing, attitude that "anything you (the boys) could do I could do better"!  I miss her EVERY BREATH I TAKE!

I think of my mother who holds fast to her principles of feminism - different from my grandmother's and different from my own but no less valiant.  

She believes fiercely in family and showing gratitude and grace in all human beings.  Her feminism for me was on display when my father was injured and she led our home and family through the darkness single-handedly - often working 2-3 jobs and sleeping on the floor tending my father and raising my brother and I in her spare time.

Finally, I think of my niece who has been like a beacon of the possibilities that are yet ahead for us all.  She is the culmination of sass, fireworks, and brilliance that have rolled down the generations.  Quite literally, she has no barriers in her path.  She is smart, fierce, and determined.  She puzzles out solutions, twirls with abandon, and dances to her own unique little beat.

Now, what, pray tell might this all have to do with the elections, teaching, etc. (for Heaven's sake get to the point)...I say all this because I have a very distinct version of feminism and it has nothing to do with the candidate previously mentioned. In fact, I think about her being the definition of feminism to the little girls everywhere and I wonder, truly, will they ever know? I do not believe that SHE represents the ideals that most women engender as feminist. We prize determination not self-promotion whilst devaluing our own worth. We hold examples of strong women in our hearts - not women who have been made strong by highlighting the worst qualities in humanity. We can let our intellect and drive for perfection lead us while still holding fast to our value and morality. Most importantly WE ARE NEVER DONE...we will continue to press forward knowing there is GRACE in the attempt.


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