Written by Carrie Ferguson Weir of Tiki Tiki Blog and Bilingual in the Boonies
I didn’t have too good a time in my college Women’s Studies class.
The energy was angry, a wall was up between “them’’ and “those of us who get it.’’
Back then, I mostly sat on the wall
You see, at that point no one had inappropriately grabbed my butt or made me feel less-than because I had a vagina.
And then I grew up. Got a job in an industry once known for crusty workaholics who told fabulously off-color jokes and thought the cops beat was only for dudes.
And well, I soon learned my big mouth and sharp brain weren’t enough to make anyone think me equal. My man-tailored pants and buttoned-up shirts were not enough to keep gross people from saying crude things to me, whether in front of colleagues, or at crime scenes.
But even more than unappreciated remarks, it was the immediate assumption that my gender and youth made me less game, less able, that chapped my ass most.
The bear of it: It wasn’t just the guys.
Here’s my best example:
I was in my early 30s when I finally landed a cush Features department position. I was writing for -- wait for it -- The Women’s Magazine! Yes, I was. I went from writing about shootings, state foster care and neighborhood bruhahas to interviewing women on fashion, fitness and business. It wasn’t an easy transition, but it was a welcome one after spending more than 10 years in hard (and often depressing) news.
So, I was in Features for a few months when a politically connected acquaintance invited me and my husband to a party at his home. When he introduced me to his wife as “the reporter who writes for the women’s section,’’ she snickered and Walked Away.
She, now a big shot politician in my area, didn’t say a word to me the entire evening. She judged me and tossed me out because *gasp* I Wrote For The Women’s Section. As if that is all I was, or as if I had single-handedly let down and regressed womanhood.
But, that section was something to be proud of. And any woman who picked it up found stories on women who took chances and changed their lives, tips from top business coaches and entrepreneurs. We were O before Oprah was O, let me tell you.
Yeah, there was lipstick and fall fashion, but whatever. Can’t we be smart and look good too?
The point of this for me is that I am a woman who supports women -- regardless of what they do.
You want to go to the moon? Go for it, mama.
You want to be a runway model? Go for it, sister.
You want to stay home and raise 16 babies? Well, why not?
For that same Features section, I did a story in which I asked young women, in their early 20s, whether they were “feminists.’’ Many of them didn’t even know what it meant. Combat boots and burned bras were often referenced.
But, feminist by definition is simply a person who believes women and men deserve the same rights. Simple. End of story.
That being the case, even men can be feminists. And hurrah, many are.
But anyway, I’m rounding out to a finish here....
I have a daughter who is nearly 7. I don’t want some snob -- man or woman -- to ever look down on her because she didn’t carry the flag the way they think it should be carried. I want her to grow up knowing that she, as a woman, as a person, as a precious child of God, can be and do whatever the damn-well she pleases.
I want her to learn from me, her Mami, that standing up and applauding a woman for making the choices that are right for her at that moment, is the best form of feminism.
I want her to learn that it is actions, not words, that make you an activist, an advocate, a role model.
I am not telling her she deserves equal chances, I am showing her she does. I walk straight toward what is mine, so that she will walk toward what is hers to claim whatever space and opportunity she desires.
Anyone can say they support women, that they support equality.But, when you snub or mock someone for making a choice you don’t agree with, well, that’s a totally different “ist,’’ isn’t it?
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.