memories, support, Uncategorized

A Feminist When it Suited Her

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I came across this image while scrolling on facebook, this international women’s day, attached to a Swedish news article (aftonbladet.com – Vilhelm Stokstad) and at first I thought OMG I want that necklace. Because, hey, I’m a sucker for pretty, classic silver necklaces. But then I had a memory. A memory of obtaining a pin with that same symbol, colored with purple enamel, when I was a teen. I don’t recall where exactly I got it from – someone handing them out somewhere. I put it on my small grey Jansport backpack along with my patch that said “War is not healthy for children and other living things.”

Then my mother noticed it and asked with disgust why I had that pin. I don’t recall what I responded, probably something about liking the idea of it, and I can still see her rolling her eyes at me. She responded something to the effect I should support such things, I didn’t even know what it meant etc etc. I still kept it on my backpack for a good long time.

I’ve never wanted to be a full on activist. I’ve never wanted to be militant for my beliefs – I just want people to get along and respect each other’s view points and causes.

Yet it seems so wrong that a mother in particular would try to shut down her daughter’s even remote interest in the strength and power of women. You’d think a mother would want to teach her daughters to be strong, self-sufficient, and interested in bettering their own lot in life – let alone those of other females.

This IWD I’m seeing a lot of memes, etc, about not competing with other women, but rather supporting each other. This is awesome, something that we sorely need to be the norm.

I can’t honestly say I know where I learned to be supportive of my sisters or female companions, but I can tell you it wasn’t from my mother. I do hope my daughter will learn it from me, however.

The strange thing about my mom is that at one point she did become almost a militant version of a feminist. Seems she became a feminist when it suited her around the time she divorced my dad. I wasn’t taught the same way she taught my sisters – for example, she drilled into my one sister that she didn’t need no man to support her etc. Only to change tack and become critical of her not getting married yet at one point – after my mom had remarried herself. After she remarried she decided she wasn’t so feminist after all I guess. My sister was and is still in University -she’s getting her PhD currently (I’m so proud of her!) and she did in fact get married less than a year ago… but not until she was good and ready and not just settling for a man “to take care of her” as my mom had said she needed. Of course she just about shot milk through her nose at that – figuratively, I don’t know for a fact she was drinking milk at the time LOL. For her she had no recollection of my mom talking that way to her before.

Sigh. Thinking about my mom makes me tired.

I wonder sometimes if my personality would have been much changed if I had grown up in a slightly different atmosphere. Who am I kidding, of course I would be. I have thought often before about if I hadn’t grown up going to evangelical churches that taught me out right that I shouldn’t dress certain ways that it would tempt men (and that I would be responsible for those thoughts they’d have), or that the only reason to divorce (and therefore leave a relationship in general in my mind as a young teen) was if they cheated on you… So, if you know me at all at this point that was a direct contributing factor in me not leaving abusive relationships as soon as I should have. To my mom’s credit she did tell me I could be whatever I wanted to be in general, but there was still the understanding that I’d cleave myself to a man some day. Clearly from what she said to my sister, she believed we’d need men to take care of us regardless of what we ended up doing with our lives.

I’m not saying it’s a bad thing to be taken care of. Some of us want to be homemakers and take care of kids while our husband works. Some of us want to defer big decisions to him and let him take the burden of major aspects of our shared life. That’s okay. I’m not ragging on that… It’s just important in my mind to grow up knowing you have the option. To have the confidence in yourself that your gender will not hold you down or that you need to hide part of yourself away for the sake of your partner.

I’m ashamed to say now that when I was, oh, 16, I told a guy I could be whatever he wanted me to be if we dated. I had the ability to be more feminine, like he liked. I already was aware that I acted certain parts in different relationships before him. The fact that I was so pliable to the whims of guys bothers me now. It makes me fearful that my daughter will fall into a similar pattern. Ugh.

So now, I’ve written enough for today. I kept wanting to write SOMETHING and finally after five days, viola! Two posts in one day! You’re welcome LOL. Now I need to go be a mom to my sick daughter who wants some honey tea. Maybe I’ll snuggle up with her and watch some Gilmore Girls or something else equally mighty-girlish 😉

 

1 thought on “A Feminist When it Suited Her”

  1. Excellent post Emma!

    I remember once my mum had a conversation with the mum of a girl who lived down the road from me. She sent all her three daughters to private school. My mum thought it must be so they could get the best education so they can make it in the world… but this lady told her she didn’t think her daughters were very bright, so she wanted them to go to private school so they’d have “good” accents so they would be able to snag good men to look after them.

    I’m still friends with the youngest daughter (who OF COURSE is smart, and lovely!) She’s an entrepreneur and doing really well for herself. I’m still shocked by her mum’s low expectations for her…even 15 years later.. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

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