1 : the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes
2 : organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests
— feminist play \ˈfe-mə-nist\ noun or adjective
As I reflect on 2017, what I learned, mistakes I made and would like to not repeat (or the ones I would like to make again – depending on the situation!), in general, it’s a time of meditation and letting whatever was significant sort of rise to the surface.
I wrote, several times, about women’s issues this year, or something that tied to current events regarding feminism. I share all of my posts on my personal Facebook page and, I will say, those particular posts got a mixed bag of responses.
In general, when you talk to another woman, one-on-one, they will likely agree that there are still huge strides to be made in the pursuit of economic, social, and political equality. But many of them will go into hiding when it is mentioned publicly.
Lest they be called….the F Word.
And it might as well be THE “F” word, for all of the negative connotations it holds among certain people.
I grew up hearing it associated with extremism. Making it out to be a bad thing. Mocked.
And yet, here I am, a big ol’ “Feminazi”, trying to take over the world, castrate all men, and never make another dinner for my family ever again.
Please tell me you heard the sarcasm.
If you don’t get anything else from this blog, and reading my drivel, I hope I have made you see, as other writers have helped ME see, that many times, our preconcieved ideas are not necessarily correct.
I hope that, if you know me in person especially, when you read some of my more passionate posts about women’s issues, or depression, or religion – that the character you know me to have does not line up with the notions you may have always held about certain things, and you begin to see a different perspective. I hope it makes you think. Reconsider. And maybe even question your own position on things from time to time.
But I really don’t think I’m that good of a writer.
And I know how deeply ingrained people’s biases can be.
But I do it anyway.
Because, truth be told, I’m not a “protester”. I guess, if push comes to shove, I can be. I would be. But while I believe in public demonstration, I think the thing that changes people’s hearts and minds is a more intimate approach.
That’s how my heart and mind have transformed over the years.
It wasn’t loud voices, but quiet ones, and the deafening sound of personal experience that made me realize the definition of feminism was not something ugly or shameful.
It was working, full time, for the last 20 years, and seeing for myself that the wage and promotion gap is, in fact, quite real.
It was seeking custody of my daughter and watching other women lose their children over things that a man would have gotten a slap on the wrist for if the roles were reversed.
It was getting pregnant at 16.
It was having serious and significant reproductive health problems.
It was seeing the inequality and hypocrisy of a religious denomination that will allow women to do literally ANY AND ALL OTHER types of work within the church, but finds them unfit to preach the gospel.
It was becoming a boss this year, supervising another woman, and knowing that I had become partially responsible for another female and her livelihood.
It was working with other women for the last 20 years, hearing their stories.
It was being sexually harassed on the job.
It was having a daughter of my own.
It’s been a LOT of things that have brought me to a place where I claim the title of “feminist”.
But mostly, it was a combination of all of the aforementioned things. Personal encounters with the “system”, but more importantly, with other women, that brought me to the understanding that feminism was not a dirty word.
Quite the opposite, in fact.
It is a word that should be celebrated and imprinted onto the heart of every young girl.
I look back on this year, and I see progress, though not how many women expected or hoped it would come about. But progress is happening. If in no other way than by the unity of women (and men) rising up together and calling out abuse and harassment. Stepping out of the shadows. Finally realizing who we can trust to have our backs.
I have hope. I see a future for my daughter that includes opportunities for not just economic choices that I might not have had, but a new freedom of expression that no longer has to be so cautious, sexual harassment policies that might actually be enforced, and victim shamers being the ones forced into silence.
But there is still work to be done.
And some of that work is what I’m trying to do here, when I write about women’s issues.
I’m trying to dispel the myth of the F word.
The one that says, “Feminists are just a bunch of angry women who wish that they were men.”
Can I just say, for all of the aggravations that accompany it, being a woman is….quite amazing?
I’m proud to be one. I’m proud of the sisterhood of other women that I have forged over the years and that it continues to expand.
And I’m not angry. I can GET angry. Gender equality does light a fire under me.
But I’m not inherently angry. I, and thousands upon thousands of other women, we’re just tired. And we’re fed up.
And that’s not anger – that’s the result of hundreds of years of being treated less than.
Oh we have made so much progress, but to be content in that is to become the opposite of vigilant. And I think that’s why we have seen a surge of powerful demonstrations by women this year. When you have a man of extreme chauvinism in the highest place of power in the nation, there is a compelling force within those of us who have been dealing with that type of attitude all our lives.
That force is what propels us forward and stirs us to action. To march. To come forward and share our experiences, consequences be damned. To write. And to not let one man, one election, slow our roll.
It was a hard hit. It was a sickening blow to watch someone so disgusting and blatantly sexist take the White House. But good is coming from it. Progress is often born of adversity. Of pain. Of discomfort.
And we’ve seen women take back something for themselves this year.
We might have a long road ahead politically, economically, to gain real equality, but at the very least, there is finally, finally, some light being shed on problems that should have never been hidden in the first place.
There are finally some eyes being opened.
And some of the voices being heard were kept silent for far too long.
I applaud their bravery. My heart hurts for the pain and shame they bore. And I link arms with them.
When I think about the F word, I don’t think about Gloria Steinem or Hilary Clinton or Gloria Allred.
I think about my mom. How she did the work of 3 people in our house, when I was growing up.
I think about my sister, raising her family and making sacrifices to be a stay at home mom and follow her heart.
I think about the single moms I know, who have been screwed over and abused not only by a former spouse, but by a system that has failed them.
I think about the female coworkers I’ve had, who’ve had to work twice as hard and 3 times longer to be considered for and receive promotions that it has taken younger and more inexperienced men a fraction of the time to achieve.
I think about the women have encouraged me and helped me navigate the waters of being a working mom.
I think about both of my grandmothers, and how they defied the status quo in their own lives. Working and having a career before pursuing marriage. Going back to school and having a career AFTER marriage and 4 children.
I think about my priest, and other women of the cloth I’ve observed and gotten to know over the last couple of years. How they’ve breathed new life into my faith.
I think about all of the women I know that have experienced loss and heartache, who have picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and forged ahead. Alone. And reinvented themselves into something stronger and more stunning than ever before.
I think about my nieces, cousins, little girls of friends. I think about what I want their future to look like.
I think about my daughter. I think about the example I set for her in my actions and attitudes.
I never want her to be complacent, but neither do I want her to be cynical.
I just want her to be hopeful.
These are the women I think of when I think of “Feminist”.
It’s not a dirty word. It’s beautiful. Underestimated. Misinterpreted. Inspired.
I claim it, and wear it proudly.
*photo credit to my cousin, Amy – one of the best feminists I know. Thanks for living by your own rules, and inspiring me to dig deep and do things that challenge me. Love you.
For the last several weeks, the news has been story after story of “Wow! Him too?”
And I’ve been thinking about how the onslaught of these stories must look to my daughter’s generation.
Does it frighten them? Make them angry? Make them wary? Pessimistic?
For those of us who have been in the workplace for most of our lives, I don’t think the stories of the women coming forward these days with allegations of sexual abuse and harassment are surprising at all.
It’s that common.
I would like to believe that these are isolated incidents, not indicative of society as a whole. But, the truth is, it happens so much more than people want to believe. And when people finally feel like they might be believed, might be supported, and there might actually be a consequence for their oppressor, then it doesn’t surprise me that we are having such a barrage of women stepping forward.
And, for my generation, it’s a relief I think. To see some people finally held accountable for their crimes and misconduct.
For my daughter’s generation too, because hopefully we are beginning to set a precedent. Maybe the prevalence of this problem will continue to decrease as those who would harass, or downright assault, realize that they might not get away with it.
Still, I can’t imagine what some of this relentless reporting on the issue must do to a young woman’s thought process. How it might affect her opinion and view of the world.
Certainly I want Reagan to be self-aware, and able to defend herself. I want her to never be afraid to stand up for herself if she’s ever pressured, harassed, or manipulated.
But also, I just want her to see some beauty in the world. There are times when we have to face down the darkness, and set about the work of defeating it wherever and whenever we can.
Because this world is not perfect, but it’s not all terrible.
In fact, a lot of it is downright breathtaking. And THAT is what I want her to focus on. What I am trying, more and more, to focus on myself. The good, the right, the perfect, the lovely.
So, today, we’re off on a road trip. To see some of that beauty. To wrap ourselves in it. In the companionship of precious women we love. To laugh. To eat well. To see the beauty. Around us, and in each other.
She couldn’t have known when she picked out this gift that every day for the last week, this has been my prayer. That God would give me strength, give me courage.
I wonder how many times my own mother has prayed this same prayer. Because knowing what I know now, about having a daughter, she must have.
I feel a multitude of things today. Mother’s Day is a beautiful celebration and yet, for many, I know it is a bittersweet spot on the calendar. For those who have lost children, or lost their mother. For those who never had a good mom or were able to have their own babies. It’s not easy for everyone. It’s not a day of celebration for every woman.
I don’t know why I have been so fortunate to have such a wonderful mom. Why I have the amazing daughter I have. But most days, I don’t question it. I’m just thankful.
I know that I’ll never live up to the example of my own mom. Her level of awesomeness is just….unattainable. And I also know that I fall incredibly short of the kind of mother that my daughter deserves. Which is why this bracelet is such a poignant gift.
For the most part, I’ve stopped praying for tangible things. It’s not that I don’t think God cares about people’s life situations. It’s just that I’m more interested and I think GOD might be more interested in the intangible. The things that I believe He can supernaturally provide that can’t be found elsewhere.
I had lunch today with 4 generations of women. My grandmothers and my mom represent strength. The knots at the end of my rope. Their example proves to me over and over that I come from strong women. I am a strong woman. I made a strong woman.
My daughter and my niece represent courage. The future. Hope. My daughter is the reason I do anything. I have faced some scary things in my life. But courage is being afraid yet doing the hard things anyway. If not for her, I think I’d have a lot of quit in me by now.
I have no doubt that when I pray for strength and courage, I am not alone. And I don’t just ask for me. But for my own mom, my sister, my friends, and my daughter.
These universal traits of so many women come from a long lineage of prayers throughout the ages. I’m just continuing the chain.
Monday Night Page-Turners is the best new thing in my life. We’re 3 months, 3 books, into it. Just started our 4th.
We have 7 members. “A jock, a nerd, a princess, a basket case, a criminal….” Hahahaha sorry. Couldn’t resist a Breakfast Club reference.
Anyway, I love my book club, and I say “mine” even though it’s “ours” because it’s personal to me, I founded it, and because it has already latched onto my heart.
1. THE PEOPLE
We have 7 women from various backgrounds ranging in age from 16 to 42. There are people in it I’ve known for a long time….20 years or so, and people I’m just now getting to really know.
We all work hard and read with passion.
2. THE BOOKS
The books are our common thread. We each love different types of genres, and this club allows us to diversify our reading experiences.
I haven’t read one yet that resonated with me on an extremely personal level, but each book that has been chosen has provoked interesting discussions.
3. THE LAUGHTER
Our members have the great ability to not take themselves too seriously. We all love to laugh and laugh we do.
Laughter is food for my soul.
One of the reasons I started this club, obviously, is because I love to read. But also because I love to talk about books and I love to create an atmosphere where these women can be, usually at the end of a stressful work day, and unwind with good people and lots of joy in finding meaningful connection with other women.
4. LEARNING NEW THINGS
I can read one of our selections and take away elements no one else got. And vice versa.
Each of our personal experiences is reflected in what resonates with us. I love to hear about how that happens. It’s interesting to me as a student of psychology and of life.
5. THE WINE
I don’t drink often. Really. But a glass of wine while talking about books with a bunch of fabulous women? It doesn’t get any better.
6. NEW FRIENDS
I love meeting interesting people and getting to know them on a personal level.
There are women in my book club that I’ve known for a long time but didn’t really know. The opportunity to change that has enriched my life already.
7. FINDING COMMON GROUND
Like any other art, books give us a place to find common ground among the most diverse of people. Connection is important in a divided society.
Anything that gives you more perspective, I think, is a good thing.
What’s interesting to me is how things come full circle. As an adolescent, I struggled find a “tribe”. I was very different from my peers, raised very differently. But in my 30’s I find that despite how differently many of us grew up, there is so much that now connects us.
8. NO PRESSURE
Book club is a relaxing environment for me and I hope it is for others.
The women I know and love the most make their homes feel like your own home: unassuming, comfortable, safe.
I keep the club at my house so no one else has to worry about hosting 7 women on any night and they can simply show up, kick off their shoes if they wish, and just be themselves.
As an introvert who has to be “on” all day, I know how important that type of environment can be and I do my best to provide it.
9. IT’S A CLUB
I just think it’s cool to have an “official” book club. Oprah ain’t got nothin on me.
These women are starting to bond right in front of my eyes. That’s an incredible thing to watch and be a part of. The things that join us are so much greater than anything we could disagree on and that is a powerful message in and of itself.
I’m so glad to have these women in my life and that they all so readily and enthusiastically supported this venture.
If you don’t have a book club, my question for you is, “What’s stopping you?”
Find one, join one, create one. You’ll be glad you did.
Here’s the thing, I had this whole post in my head yesterday about International Women’s Day and I started writing it, and it felt really……….flat to me.
So instead, I read some great stuff, got inspired by a lot, and generally appreciated the positivity that I saw in many places about the impact of women on the economy, and the world as a whole.
There were also plenty of jackasses who just had to comment and post on things they know nothing about, but I mostly tried to ignore them, consider the source, and go on about my day.
I have experienced discrimination in the workforce because of my gender and been on the receiving end of a lot of disrespect, harassment, and overall condescension at times not just in the workplace, but in churches, and other public settings. I’m not writing about this to whine. I’m just telling you like it is. It is a fact that these things have happened to me. And if they’ve happened to me, logic says that they’ve happened other places, to other women.
But, as Forest Gump would say, “That’s all I have to say about that.” (today)
Today I want to say this: while I have worked in some less than desirable situations, with some very condescending men, I have also worked with and for some really good ones.
I was talking to one of my bosses today, who reads my blog, and he told me he always checks it to make sure I haven’t written anything about him.
Well, here you are.
The thing that I’ve always tried to remember about my bosses, men and women alike, is that they are just people. While I respect them, I don’t fear them. They pay me to do a job and as long as I’m doing that, I don’t think I have any reason to feel intimidated by the authority that they have.
This boss has known me for a long time. He’s always been someone that I felt I could approach and talk to, and he’s a good-natured, personable, considerate person. I also understand that, because of his position, there are times when he can’t come across that way. And I don’t envy his job.
Now before everybody calls me a brownnoser, remember that I write about people on this blog all the time. People I like, and…………other people. This fellow I speak of and I do not always agree on things. He knows that I’m not afraid to tell him when I don’t agree with him anymore than he’s afraid to tell me when he disagrees with me.
I feel like there’s mutual respect.
I don’t assume it, I believe it. Because he shows me in the way he listens to what I have to say whether he agrees with me or not.
When he asks for something, he says please.
He uses my name when he sends me an email and I’ll tell you something people, I’ve had people, men and women, just shoot over an email with something they need without a greeting, using my name, no please, no thank you. And it pisses me off. Because I expect the same courtesy that I show others and I don’t treat people like they’re nobodies.
The fact that this boss sets the tone of his requests to me with respect and appreciation makes me want to do the very best that I can do for him, because of the courtesy he’s shown me.
Yes, I get paid to work and I do what I’m supposed to do, but it’s a much more pleasant experience for everyone when someone who doesn’t have to, just by the nature of his authority, offer these niceties, and does it anyway.
I’ve made some mistakes in my job. He could have thrown a fit about some of them. But he didn’t. Quite the opposite, he was encouraging and understanding.
He also has a tender heart, though I think he often tries to conceal it with his business face.
I know, because at a very different and difficult time in my life, many years ago, he helped me. And you’ve never known true humility until you’ve called your boss crying, a new baby at home, a wrecked vehicle in a body shop, a husband in the ER, and no way of knowing how you’re going to pay your bills.
And there was no judgment in his voice that day. No lecture. I worked for a bank for Pete’s sake, I should know how to manage my money. He didn’t say that. He just helped me. And he was kind. And I have never forgotten that.
I have high-strung bosses and laid back bosses and generally just take the perspective that I work for everyone. I try to treat coworkers like I work for them whether I do or not, because everybody could use a little more respect. I also stand up for myself when necessary, but I find that it’s generally not, not often.
I get flustered and aggravated with my work just like anyone else, but it’s the people you work with and for that make all the difference in having a good job or a great job. And while the nature of my profession is usually pretty negative, the people I work with and for can be very, very awesome.
Even the boss. Some days, especially the boss, because, I have to say, he has been incredibly supportive and encouraging to me in my writing.
Not everyone is.
Some people pass it over altogether, some people don’t read it, but he understands that this is something that’s extremely important to me and anyone that gets that……well, they have my wholehearted appreciation.
So yes, yesterday was International Women’s Day. And I’m proud, so PROUD, to be a woman. To work with amazing women. To have been raised with and by amazing women. To just know so many fantastic and wonderful females.
But I told my daughter something yesterday: Women are not “less than” men. It’s true. But I don’t believe men are “less than” women, either. I believe there are still great strides to be made in the everyday battles women face for equality in certain parts of life. And as thankful as I am for the women I know, I’m just as thankful for the men. Like this boss who has been part of my life, career, and husband’s career for the last 15 or so years.
Is he perfect? Heck no. Do I want to dance on his head sometimes? Sure. I’m sure the feeling is mutual. But he is a good guy. One I’m thankful to call boss. And friend.
You are the artist, your creations offend, yet inspire.
You are an unlikely warrior, yet you do not run from battle.
You fear much, yet are unafraid.
You are soft, yet hardened.
You are refined, purified, yet raw and malleable.
You are steadfast, yet ever-changing.
You fear much, yet are unafraid.
You do not recognize a ceiling made of glass.
You do not acknowledge a ceiling at all.
Glass can be shattered. Walls can be torn down.
You fear much, yet are unafraid.
You do not hide your tears or fake your smiles.
Your words speak volumes, but so do your silences.
You remember your place of brokenness, and the Source of your healing.
You fear much, yet are unafraid.
You watch the world with curious eyes, yet guard your heart.
You listen with open ears, yet carefully weigh the sounds.
You trust, but are not led blindly.
You fear much, yet are unafraid.
You are me. I am you.
We are the mothers, daughters, and sisters of earth and time.
We are many. We are one.
We fear much, yet are unafraid.