Written by Elizabeth of International Dreams
A grammar school friend that I had not seen in decades tells me that I taught her about feminism in third grade. This made me think back to the eight year old me. Was I a feminist that young? How did I know what that even meant? I remember being very self-aware, especially about being Latina, because I always seemed to stand out among my schoolmates. How did I teach anyone about feminism back then when now in my mid-thirties and a parent, I struggle daily at defining my beliefs?
I believe it comes down to my mami and mija. Mija is my grandmother who emigrated to New Jersey from Colombia to help my mami raise me. She is a head strong, willful, temperamental woman. My mother’s expectations were high but not impossible. She expected me to be educated, and was not satisfied with a college degree. I have an advanced degree, she is waiting for me to get a doctoral degree. She taught me to be my own person, and to do everything that I feared. Feminism meant that “girls could do anything”. Feminism meant that “I did not need a man”. Feminism meant that “women are not insecure”. Feminism meant that “I was everyone’s equal”.
I disappoint now. My mother scoffs when I say I am the person I am, a feminist, because of how she raised me. I married a man. I consult with him before I make important decisions. He and I are co-parents. He spends more time with our children than I can. I do not fix things like my mother. I am insecure sometimes. I worry.
This is not my mother’s feminism. This is my version of feminism, one that embraces all women - trans women, cis women – all women; and believes that each of us has the right to live and make choices that suits our personal needs and desires. It was much easier though, to define myself at 8 years old, than now.
Summer of Feminista is a project where Latinas are sharing what feminism means to them. Positive. Negative. Academic statements. Personal stories. Learn more or how you can join the Summer of Feminista. This is a project of Viva la Feminista. Link and quote, but do not repost without written permission.