Skip to main content

Summer of Feminista: My Abuelita's Most Cherished Gift

Written by Alisa Gilbert, who writes on the topics of bachelors degree. She welcomes your comments at her email.

As this blog has shown, feminism comes in all shapes and sizes. It isn't an "ism" as other "isms" are. It has no specific tenets, it doesn't prescribe a specific course of action. All it does is pronounce and strive for a truth-- that women (and men) are more than a set of social roles, and that each individual woman has a right to develop her own person as she herself chooses.

While I've read a lot about feminism, I've often wondered how a person becomes a feminist in the first place. What goes into the process? What environment nurtures women who believe in themselves and their ability to make substantive changes in this world? I firmly believe this sort of confidence grows out of knowledge and experience. Experience comes from living, and knowledge grows at least partially from reading.

My own love of reading was developed by an unlikely source. I didn't catch the disease from a teacher, nor from any sort of traditional "leader". My love of reading I got from my grandmother, a woman who was never educated beyond the eighth grade, who married when she was 18 and raised her children on a farm in Mexico.

While my abuelita was perfectly content to raise children, help my grandfather with running the farm, and to lead a pretty quiet life, she had a remarkable thirst for knowledge. When I was a little girl, my family and I would spend summers on the farm, deep in the heart of La Huesteca Potosina, a rural, semi-tropical area in Mexico known for its fertile farmland.

I often dreaded going to the farm, simply because it was so different from what I was accustomed to--there was no television, no air conditioning, and, except for the constant buzz of giant mosquitos, the silence was so overwhelming as to make you feel uncomfortably restless. But my grandmother loved living there. I never understood it.

That is, until she showed me her library, and invited me to taste the best that it had to offer. Her library was vast in scope--she had everything from harlequin paperbacks to history tomes about the Mayan civilization to classic novels like War and Peace. When I complained to her once that I was bored, she suggested that I read a book. And that's how it all began. The peacefulness of being somewhere quiet, away from all the noise and distraction of city life, and being so fully absorbed in a book that you feel actually transported to another world is a moment that I have not been able to recreate in any other situation.

And it was from these experiences, spent with my abuelita on the farm, that I began my pursuit of knowledge. This joy of reading was what directly inspired my desire to learn about the world and everything in it, and for that, I thank my abuelita, a short little Latina woman who lived on that farm and died on it, but nonetheless accessed the world outside her small village through books.

Thoughts of those summers on the farm bring me back to the conclusion that feminism springs forth from a variety of sources. Formal education was not something strongly encouraged in my grandmother's world, so she instead took matters into her own hands and educated herself, inspiring the next generation to strive for an independence of mind that is absolutely essential in creating strong, confident women. Women like my grandmother are the unsung heroes of feminism, the ones who have made the furthering of our goals possible.

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.


dana said…
Nicely explained. It's indeed an art to stop new visitors with your attractive writing style. Truly impressive and nice information. Thanks for sharing.
Bachelor Degree

Popular posts from this blog

Is there love after abortion?

Over two years ago , way before I started writing for Girl w/Pen, Alison Piepmeier wowed me with an essay about getting an abortion and how her decision made with her husband was a love story : ...the story I most want to tell—and one I have never heard—is of abortion as an intimate part of a couple’s life together.  Our abortion was a love story. I’d worried that Walter and I were rejecting a gift from the universe.  What I discovered, though, was that when we stripped away the distractions of everyday life so that we could make this difficult decision together, it bound us together as surely as if our choice had been different—and as it turns out, that was the gift. Every once in awhile their story returns to me. I often don't know why it stumbles into my brain and says, "Hey! Ponder me!" but it does. This morning it returned to me yelling, "Why?!" I was half-listening to WBEZ's 848 and some story about a man running away from his life. Original, I kn

Book Review: Wolfpack by Abby Wambach

Less than a year ago, Abby Wambach took the stage at Barnard's commencement and gave a speech that shook many, including myself, to the core . Her speech went viral and I made the above image in order to share the highlights of her speech. Earlier this month Abby released the speech in book form. Wolfpack : How to Come Together, Unleash Our Power, and Change the Game is short (less than 100 pages) but is much more than just her speech . You get a peek into how the speech came together and why she said everything. And because the book is short and is an expanded speech, it moves quickly. I feel that it moves with the same ferocity that Abby use to move down a soccer field. And you might find yourself cheering as she takes you through the story. Abby has always been one of my favorite players. The way she ran amok on the pitch was exactly the way I felt I played sports. Never caring how you looked and giving it your all. Leaving it all on the field. When she retired from socc

Chicago Women Who Owned 2015

When I asked social media which Chicago women kicked ass in 2015, I got a list far too long to do justice. I also realized how many of my lady friends kick ass every day, but it's a constant kicking of the ass, not a lot of headline kicking. Ya know what I mean? So I tried to make this list a mix of Chicagoans who had some headline kicks and some who kick ass every day and deserve a shout out. Let's get started, shall we? Photos from social media or public domain pages Luvvie Ajayi Luvvie did my job and summed up her amazing year herself! I love it when women do that. Yes, let's take a moment to reflect on our accomplishments and dance at our own parties. Luvvie makes us laugh, even when we want to cry. She pushes us to be active, even down to our shoes. You'll never laugh so hard when learning so much than when you are in a meeting with her. From hanging with celebs to her epic travel schedule, Luvvie definitely owned 2015. Charlene Carruthers Carruther