I am a feminist. This is not a radical stance. It means that I believe in equality between men and women. I have a couple pins on my door that sum up how I feel. They are pictured on the left. The one I like the most says, “Feminism is the RADICAL notion that WOMEN are PEOPLE.” Yes. Very radical. That we should be treated as human beings. I was trying to figure out why I am so radically in favor of fairness, and I came up with the top 10 reasons why I am a feminist. Please comment or share your own reasons! Push +Follow to get updates on this blog.
10. Designing Women and Murphy Brown.
Yes, really, the TV shows. I grew up, like many Americans, watching a lot of TV. Designing Women was a show that I connected with because these women were strong, big-mouthed, business women in the South. I grew up in the south in a state that has taken many backwards steps recently on the front of women’s issues. These women were role-models and they were what I thought strong women could be. They weren’t perfect. They were funny and snarky. But, they were leaders, business owners, and career-minded women.
And Murphy Brown was just amazing! She was strong, brave, a career-woman, out spoken, snarky, funny, and just everything I wanted to be as an adult woman. She spoke out and nailed political idiots. She was actually attacked by a real politician although she was fictitious, and the writers smacked back. I see now that she was safe – not being a real person who’s real career could really be in jeopardy – but at the time it was empowering to feel that you could control your own destiny, say what you wanted, be smart, be funny, and be good looking.
9. The Cosby Show
Yes, another TV show. I watched a lot of TV. Oh, the Cosbys! They were great. They were both professionals. The dad dealt with the kids more than the mom because she worked outside the house and he had his office in the basement. Their kids went to college. They played jokes on their kids to teach them lessons. Is there anything bad about this amazing show? I dare you to watch it and not be awestruck and inspired about what you can achieve.
The rap group, Salt-N-Pepa were also amazing role models of strong women who didn’t take shit from anyone. They could be hard in baggy clothes, like the men, or they could be sexy. They talked about taboo subjects because they were important. They were brave and funny and strong. I still love them to this day, and I listen to their songs when TheMan is trying to keep me down.
7. John Stossel
Yes, the dude on TV. When I was a kid, he did a lot of reports on 20-20, the news magazine show on ABC. Why my parents let me watch so much TV, I have no idea. Anyway, John Stossel did a series of reports when I was a kid about about bias and how people are treated differently for looking different. He did a report in a fat suit to show how people treat fat people vs. thin people. He did a show about race. He also did a report about women wherein he dressed as a woman to see how he would be treated differently compared to when he was a man. I remember distinctly that he said he didn’t only get treated differently when dressed as a woman, he felt different. He felt shier and less at ease with himself and his body. In particular, when he was sitting at a bar, by himself, dressed as a woman, he felt the need to look busy. He looked in his purse and fiddled with things. He was nervous. This was because he felt uncomfortable being a woman alone at a bar. In our societies’ eye, this is improper and makes women feel anxious. This was amazing to me. Even a man, dressed as a woman, feels the same way I do! Society’s influence is so strong and pervasive.
6. Research on How Girls are Treated in Class.
Based on some other John Stossel report, I initiated a study of how girls and boys are treated differently when in school. I found primary sources and the report was a good thesis by the time I finished. I found that girls are expected to act nice and quiet and be “good” but boys were allowed to be smart and creative and be obnoxious. I could see in my own experience how girls and boys were praised for these different actions, and that pissed me off – even as an early high schooler. I vowed to seek out institutions where I would not be treated differently. It eventually led me to the SmallWomensLiberalArts College for undergraduate education (see 2).
As a kid, I was a gymnast. Not Olympic level, but I trained with girls who were. I was level 9 in 7th grade, which is highly competitive. I was in a state in the south that was the most competitive place in the country for gymnastics at the time. Gymnastics made me strong, determined, and hardworking. It also made me put up with a lot of jerks. My coaches were big jerks. I used to make myself sick to my stomach thinking about going to gymnastics. I went to therapy to try to figure out how to deal with them. They told me I was stupid, which I knew I wasn’t. They told me I was worthless, which I knew I wasn’t. I am thankful for school and my parents who gave me high enough self-esteem to fight the daily onslaught of insults. So, gymnastics helped me learn to deal with jerks. It also made me strong – physically. I could kick almost anyone’s ass, as long as the fight lasted less than 2 minutes (gymnastics is not known for endurance training). I was 4 ft, 10 inches of solid muscle. I had wash board abs. Knowing you are physically strong is very empowering.
4. My 8th Grade Math Teacher.
In 8th grade I moved states from the deep south to a northern, apparently more progressive school. The progressive school did not believe in honors. So in 8th grade, instead of honors 8th grade math, I was put in regular 9th grade math with regular 9th graders. It was so boring! I would do my homework in class and not pay much attention to the teacher because I didn’t need to. I did everything on time and correctly – making almost perfect scores. I approached the teacher at the end of the school year about applying to a program at a local university to do more advanced math. She flat out told me that I would not get in because I was a white girl. Wow! I was really pissed. I certainly wouldn’t get in if she didn’t support my application. And, yes, she was also a white woman.
3. My 9th Grade Math Teacher and A New School.
After 8th grade and the boring year, my parents moved me to a small, open enrollment school with honors. The school was awesome! Best yet was my math teacher. He was an older man, a heavy smoker, and he meant business. We used a Chicago University text book series and we had to work through all the problems in the book doing at least 1 section per night. Because I was from another district, I couldn’t take the bus home. I had to sit at school and wait for my parents to pick me up. I asked if I could go faster, so I could fill the time with math instead of nothing. I finished 3 years of math in one year. Mostly because I wanted to, but a little to show up the math teacher from 8th grade who I never ever saw again that I could. So there, ttthhhhppp! Another great thing about this school was that is had a math team! I actually lettered – yes I got a Letterman Jacket – in math team. The team had both girls and boys – pretty evenly split – and was a big source of pride for the school. I was only there for one year, but it was life changing in so many ways – not just educationally, but also because I met all kinds of students. From these students – many of whom were women – I realized I had the power to change my personality to be more outgoing and how I really wanted to be.
2. SmallWomensLiberalArts College.
Thanks to my personal research about the differences in how girls and boys are treated in classes, I opted to go to a Women’s College for undergraduate. Like many other people, my college experience was extremely formative. I had the opportunity to do my own research, I had excellent professors who thought I was great, I had a great group of fellow women undergrads in my classes and we all worked together on homework and helped each other all the time. It was a great community to mature in and figure out what I wanted from my life and career.
1. My Mom.
My mom has always been the biggest role model for me of a woman who can work and be a great mom at the same time. I am very fortunate that she set that example for me. Although she doesn’t feel that she had a career, she did, as a computer programmer. She didn’t have a permanent job because she worked on contracts, but she still had a career that progressed and changed and morphed from programming COBOL on mainframes to working in the financial industry as an analyst. She also was a math major and taught me that women can be analytical and do math and science. Her ability to organize the family and our house while making more money in the family was a constant support for me when I decided I wanted a career and family. Thanks, Mom!