(And are there free cookies and punch involved?)
Feminism is such a LOADED word jammed-packed with wholesome cynicism, abuse, and misunderstanding. But the good girls at The Lady Errant and She is Fierce have started a link-up on feminism, so before I knew it, I was contemplating, “Am I a feminist? What does that word even mean to me?”
When I started really getting into reading at the age of 13, I loved one series more than the rest, the Sunfire series. The books were about strong young women who pioneered during a particular American historical setting. For example, Caroline was about a young lady who decided she wanted to follow her brothers on the California Trail (for the Gold Rush), so she decided to cut her hair and masquerade as a boy. Of course, there was sweet romance involved within each of the stories, but I learned a lot about American history, too.
Through Laura I learned about the struggle for women’s rights; Megan, America’s purchase of Alaska, the spies of the Revolutionary War through Sabrina; and the Jamestown settlement through Marilee. By far, they are the books I have reread the most. I still have them. I love them and I wish I could have them with me here in Thailand.
Interestingly, I am currently reading Written by Herself: Autobiographies of American Women and I’m gaining a huge appreciation for what these women have had to not only endure and undergo because of their extra x chromosome, but what they accomplished.
I couldn’t believe it when Sara Josephine Baker (1873-1945) slugged a drunken husband down the stairs because he was preventing her from delivering his wife’s baby (among other things). Or when Hortense Powdermaker (1896-1970) (what a name, eh?) prior to her career as an anthropologist, was involved in unionizing garment workers. Or when Harriet Ann Jacobs (1813-1897) ran away from her brutal slave owner, only to remain in hiding for SEVEN years, so she could be close to her children and watch them.
I think books have fed my feminist soul as I have naturally gravitated towards stories with women as the role models or protagonist. When my brother and I starting getting into comic books when I was 14, I collected Wonder Woman comics, of course. I also remember declaring that I wanted to be the first female US president. (HA! What was I thinking???)
Does all this make me a feminist? I believe it does. This doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in men’s rights to a fulfilling and rewarding existence, too. Of course I do. I don’t think we need to be exclusionary, degrading or extreme in desires for equality. One of the reasons why feminism is considered a four letter word is because of the unbalanced views of a few who believe all men should be eradicated from their places of power or prestige. I think firebrand or radical feminism is perhaps just as misplaced and despondent as misogyny.
So, when we are having a conversation about feminism, we need to stop assuming it is a crazy extreme thing. I think this is why I wanted to be part of this brilliant link-up. So, let’s talk about feminism. I dare you to strike this matchstick topic at your next dinner with friends (or family) or at the bus stop. Why not? It’ll only give you and someone else something to think about.