I remember thinking for the first time, “I don’t need someone to hold the door for me… I can do this myself.” I must have been 12 or so, with dreams of being the first female president swimming in my head. My independent streak was strong, but it was also my young way of interpreting feminism.
Its’s funny, the way we change as we develop into adults. I certainly opened many doors for myself, but have kind of mellowed and started listening more before speaking. I don’t jump on people as much about something I feel offensive, but let it roll off. I still stand strong and try to be a woman of action.
But now, I know myself, and with the resurfacing of feminism in many current events, I kick myself for all the times I didn’t speak up and find I question some of the very things I do to fit into the world around me. You see, though teaching is a female dominated field, being a band director isn’t. Yes, it is getting more and more balanced, but there is still a boys club mentality in some circles. On a couple of occasions, I have definitely felt out of place and undermined. As a young professional, it was hard for me to know when to speak up and, in retrospect, I let things slide that I would not tolerate now.
As a parent, I also wonder at some of my choices. Recently, a commercial was out asking what the term, “like a girl” means. Older girls would demonstrate doing an action “like a girl” in a weak, flimsy way, while younger girls would show themselves doing the action with strength and good form. I have two young boys and I blanched when I saw that commercial. I had just caught myself chiding my youngest with that phrase when playing catch. Face palm. Oh, and what about the term, “grow some balls”? Definitely in my lexicon, but what does that say about those of us with two X chromosomes? (Side note: I did not tell my boys to grow a set! Just saying)
A moment of pride for me is when my husband started asking me about #YESALLWOMEN and if I ever felt uncomfortable in situations with men; like being in an elavator with a strange man. We talked about how, while we walk with confidence, women have more road blocks than men. Then he said this: This is a problem that men need to fix. Melt my heart. I then asked him to run for office, please! He refused, but did take it on in his podcast that week (The Campfire Project Episode 16- The First Step is Raising People’s Consciousness ).
In the same week his podcast aired, the Hobby Lobby decision was made final, restricting which methods of birth control women employees of that corporation would have available. This decision is not just about equality but letting the private sector become more private. Allowing “religion” (in quotes because I don’t fully believe that was the entire impetus of the corporate law suit) which is a private matter become a public one that you can use to run your non-religious business. Oh, and it just happens that women are the victims of this decision.
The younger version of me would have vowed to stay off the news sites and Facebook for a while and let it blow over. Now, I am not sure I can change anyone’s opinion, but I will take a bigger step in highlighting my views. I retweeted pertinent posts and got sucked into a conversation or two. I even ribbed a friend (a great guy) when he called me a man because I can throw a good spiral and like dark beer.
In my core, I know that women and men are always going to be different; it is human nature. But, I will no longer let things that glare out at me slide. My time listening has given me the knowledge to know when my voice should be heard. The biggest resolution I have is to raise awareness to my two boys who will grow up to be white men (the world will be their oyster), and make sure they value the women who are in their lives; and throughout the world.
Am I a feminist? Probably, but now that I have matured, I don’t mind having the door I opened for me every once in a while.