A Feminist, Who Knew?

Carrie Profile PicA post written by Women’s Center student staff member, Carrie Cleveland

I have never been one to label myself a feminist. I think it is because what comes into my mind when I think of feminism is the 1960s – 1970s pop culture version where women were marching in the street and burning their bras (come to find out that this idea in my head is actually a myth). I never really identified with those women, so I pushed the topic to the side. THEN….. I started working here in the Women’s Center.

As a staff member, we are all encouraged to actively learn and one of the ways that I’m doing that is by reading. My background on all things feminism is much more  grounded in pop culture than it is theory. I’ve never taken a Gender and Women’s Studies class, like so many of my Women’s Center peers. Sometimes I struggle with the language and the theory so we thought this would be a good way for me to start my learning. Jess suggested that I dip my toe into the feminist blogosphere and start with some more approachable topics and accessible authors. As I’m reading and clicking and getting lost in all things women, I came across this blog written by Jamie Kennedy titled 10 Things Feminist Moms Do Differently Than Any Other Parents.

As I was scrolling, I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw. One of the first ideas the author presents is about disrupting gender norms. Now I have three girls and a VERY handy husband. He’s always building or fixing something so we did not hesitate to get my kids a tool set when they were little. When my husband was beginning a project, my daughter would run down and grab her hammer so she could help her dad with something. Perhaps these experiences are why she sees being a scientist and an astronaut as career options. I never thought of that as feminist idea, more so that she wanted to hang out with her dad. Look at that! I did not even know I was challenging gender norms. Go me! 

One of the next topics explored that resonated with me was about consent. There was a time where another daughter was playing soccer and this boy pushed her. It was not part of the game; he just walked up to her and pushed her down. She came off the field and on the sideline we were having a conversation about her telling that boy that he had no right to touch her in that way. The blog pointed out to me that this was laying the groundwork about consent. It also opened the door for more conversation about personal space, boundaries, and expectations for ourselves and others. Again, my purpose was not intentional, but woohoo!

I basically found myself nodding my head to the memes about vaginas and of supporting whatever choice a woman makes about working. Ranting (which is explained in the blog as way to show our children we are passionate and thoughtful people too!), well I truly thought that was the Jersey in me and not the feminist, but why can’t it be both, right?More feminism that I did not even know about. As I reflect about who I am now and what the word feminist means, I’m starting to understand that feminism has a broader meaning. I now feel like I can embrace the label “feminist” and be more cognizant of my parenting choices when talking about women and gender. Next time my daughters say something about boys and girls, I imagine these ideas will come to mind when I thoughtfully choose to my words.

Future Astronaut

My oldest daughter visiting NASA Goddard with the Girl Scouts.

I want my daughters to know that they can do anything. My oldest is determined to be an astronaut and I realize now that she has no idea that Sally Ride did something unthinkable to many in 1983 because it is not unthinkable to her. The American Association of University Women (AAUW) put together this report on why women in STEM is so important and here is another blog post about how we don’t even recognize successful women who are already in STEM.

Vivian

My daughter, Vivian, hanging out at the Women’s Center working away

Moms know we are often very reluctant to sing our own praises, but hopefully I am doing something right with these three girls. Who knows, maybe one of them will be the director the Women’s Center one day.

 

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