Once upon a time, not quite 20 years ago, I was working at my first job in the Boston area, having just moved from “upstate” NY which was really Poughkeepsie. Not upstate at all by real upstate standards. Prior to being in NY I had been in grad school, in the middle of nowhere Ohio. But being there had been, in my humble opinion, an astoundingly better option than living in my parents house in Florida. I hated living in Florida. But that is a different story.
I have made many moves, some as a single lone person, to places where I did not know anyone, had no family but there was a job, so there I went.
I HATE to move. When young I railed against the idea of moving houses, changing schools, not living near my friends and having to make new ones. It is still not fun, but I have managed to make an art of nesting. My stuff, the things that give me comfort, that remind of people and places I have been, come with me and I put them out where I can see them and touch them and it is good. This is true of my home as well as my office.
So there I was in my office in my relatively new job, having put some cartoons and other things on my bulletin board. And a friend came to visit. I have known this friend since I was 14. He was as close to being a big brother as I was going to get. He was also someone who knew me in my more religious mode, as he was a man of the cloth, so to speak, and that was how we originally met to begin with. He was visiting my church as the youth minister the summer I turned 14 while doing his internship for his masters of divinity.
So he had a certain view of me, it would be fair to say. And that view apparently was challenged when he looked around my office at the items I had used to decorate. “You’re a Feminist” he said. Looking back on this comment I cannot be sure HOW he said it, but it sounds in my memory like this was a surprise.
From Merriam-Webster: Feminism – the theory of the political, social and economic equality of the sexes.
I will not get into why the word “theory” has to enter into this definition. Accepting the definition as it is stated, why YES, I am a supporter of political, social and economic equality of the sexes, theoretical or otherwise. Thank you for noticing.
At the time I wasn’t sure of that at all. In the following 20 years I have come to truly own what that means for me. I have moved several more times, gotten married, gotten divorced, gotten married again, had a child, become the director of an aid office at a college and a bunch of other grown up things. I have, in general, been able to move through my life unimpeded by other people’s views of me as it relates to my gender. I am lucky in that regard.
I am generally not someone who rattles cages, gets in the face of The Man or otherwise could be considered an activist. It has not been my nature. So when my friend accused me of being a feminist, it kind of felt just like that, an accusation. But accusations usually imply some sort of fault, and it has taken me this long to realize I am not at fault for wanting, demanding, and deserving equality.
As a function of gender, men don’t really ever question if they being treated or deserve to be treated equally. Sure, there are other factors that come into play that cause a person to feel they may not be getting treated equally. Race, ethnicity, having a physical quality that distinguishes them from others like being too tall, too short, too heavy, etc. can all play into the question of equality. But as it relates to just gender, I don’t think one man has ever stopped and questioned if they are being treated fairly and if they deserve to be. They just ARE.
Women even have to define what it is we want to be treated equally about. Voting, pay rates, health care coverage. How about we start with “everything” and see where it gets us. There is an all out assault going on with regard to women and health care coverage. It is now being used as a pawn in the all powerful, ongoing abortion discussion. States are beginning to deny health care coverage to low income, poor women by turning down federal funding that would provide this coverage because that coverage also comes with access to contraceptive options that are perceived as being the same as abortion, or sterilization or actual abortion services. In Georgia one legislator has submitted a bill that would require women whose fetus has died to wait until the body voids itself of the dead carcass naturally, rather than the women being able to have a procedure to remove the body. Because, like the farm livestock he used to work with in his youth, women should just have to wait for nature to take its course.
I am appalled by what is happening in the name of religious freedom. I am pro choice, not pro abortion. I am a Christian, but I don’t think my faith should be mandated or should be what governs insurance or health care availability. As far as I can tell there is an all out assault on the health and well being of women in this country, and it is not slowing down. We are being likened to CATTLE. We are being told we have to submit to state sanctioned rape in order to be able to make decisions about our bodies, our health and our lives.
Am I a Feminist? Do I demand equal and fair treatment and respect, do I DESERVE equal and fair treatment and respect? HELL YES. In as much as this blog is my soap box, and the internet is my street corner, I am now a Femivangelist.