Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Am I a feminist?

After posting my link to my opinions on fairytales and my personal analysis of the Disney version on indiebride I had a few responses to me that got me asking myself that question. I never considered myself one. To me the average feminist was extremely politically active, extremely aggressive, man-hating women.

In order for you to understand where I stand I suppose I need to go a bit into my family history.

My mother grew up with a single mother. Her parents divorced when she was only six years old. She and her mom hopped from house to house calling totally unrelated people her "aunt" so that she and her mom could stay with them. Apparently it was really hard for her going through school the product of a divorced family in the 1960s to 70s. I don't know much about this time and there are almost no photographs of my mother earlier than middle school because of an eviction but it thoroughly informed my mother's decisions for us kids later in life.

My dad was not my mom's first husband. I remember finding some papers from when mom had been attending one of the local community colleges back in the 1970s and it had a different name from my what I knew to be her maiden name. I asked her about it and found out that she had had dropped out of college (at that time going for an education degree) to support her fiance who was going to college at the time. I asker her what broke them up and it actually had to do with wanting children. She did but he didn't. She also said that it had been (in her mind) the best choice.

I remember talking with my dad about when he and mom made the decision to have kids. By that time my mother had passed away from a long up and down struggle with breast cancer so I could not ask her about it personally. Dad had said that they had wanted to have kids but they weren't exactly sure they had wanted them so soon (I was born exactly nine months after they got married).

A few years after my brother was born mom made the decision to quit here job working at Sears in favor of both going back to college and staying home with us. Now make no mistake, there were plenty of women who "gave her flack" over that decision from the room moms at school. They reacted in a manner which I sometimes view as feminist. That is: "why would she stay home when she could earn money for herself?" She always felt a little defensive about it but held true to her decision and I don't think she regretted it too much (although reading one of her journals recently there had been moments).

I grew up under her view point, which she never described to be feminist. I never saw her reading feminist papers or anything. My mom and dad never divorced even though plenty of kids' parents around me that I knew were divorced or getting divorced. I saw the standard view of marriage working (the "stay at home mom and working dad with three kids and a pet") so I never imagined a huge amount of difference between the old view of society (almost) and a working model of it.

Make no mistake, my mom did seriously consider using her degree but every time she was going to do so she found herself in a quandry. They wouldn't hire her because she hadn't been working in the meantime. It was a catch-22. That to me is the worst thing. It's not like she wasn't organizing and creating in the meantime, it's just not stuff that a person would put on a resume. A portfolio perhaps, but not a resume or cover letter.

When I graduated from high school there was no idea that I wouldn't go to college. I hadn't always been that way. I had wanted to be a dancer up until I was fifteen (when I had reality come crashing in). Looking back I made the right choice but it doesn't mean that I don't wish I had gone the dancer's route. I am just glad that as a 120 pound adult I won't be considered "fat."

I believe when wrote that post I misused a few words. I think I should have said, "I don't consider myself a feminist" rather than "I'm not necessarily a feminist." I suppose everything I've written is the view of a feminist here but I've never thought of it as such. I have always thought of it as the view of a strong, intelligent woman. Nothing else.

No comments: