Tag Archives: feminism

Using the F-Word: Sharing Feminism with the Next Generation

I haven’t blogged since July, for many reasons, the primary reason being that I had about 10 regular readers. Well, Barnard College thought I was important enough as a “feminist thought leader” and gave me inspiration to write about feminism.  I loved hearing Barnard President Debora Spar’s interviews on her book:  Wonder Women: Sex, Power, and the Quest for Perfection and spent a lot of time on Facebook and in person discussing the messages in the book when it was released last year.  Essentially, what holds women back now is the quest to keep a perfect house, raise perfect children, be a perfect wife and a perfect worker.  Luckily, the quest for perfection doesn’t hold me back, as I just had to move a bunny cage and shovel random clothes, toys and boxes away from our boiler so our oil serviceman could service our heating system.  I spent the morning on conference calls for my business, picked up my 3 year old from preschool and am writing away on my sectional sofa with dirty dishes in the sink.  If I cared about perfection in the home, I wouldn’t be able to get my work done.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am more proud to use the F-word (as in feminist) than ever before now that I am over 40.   When I was younger, I thought being a feminist meant I couldn’t be feminine, and I love clothes and makeup and hair and having a man open a door for me.   I still like these things, but have the perspective of realizing how recently women didn’t have the same rights as men, I’ve been dismissed at cocktail parties by men having business conversations, and am seeing how young women are starving themselves and removing their pubic hair to be more attractive to men.  I’m prouder than ever of women who are elected to public office and find my common link with women of all ages, colors and economic backgrounds who are giddy with the thought of Hillary Clinton running for president of the United States.

I am lucky to have been raised by a feminist mother, and I don’t mean a perfect feminist mother- she is a hard worker, an advocate and a community leader but she still does my dad’s laundry.   Feminism was passed down to me and is being passed down to my daughter, but not just by me, by my husband. 

What gave me hope for the future of feminism was watching my fifth grade daughter and her spelling bee team cheering for their female classmate on stage with her team of boys.  The girls said that A. was the smartest in their class, they were so proud of her.  This made my heart swell with pride for this smart group of young feminists.  And I clapped harder.  

Debora Spar’s Dare to Say the F-Word podcasts can be found here

 

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I’m More of a Feminist Than I Thought

I’ve been thinking a lot more about what it means to me to be a feminist now that I am in my 40s.  And I never considered myself what I considered to be a feminist: a not-very-girly-girl, a jock, a bully in the boardroom.   When I listened to Caitlin Moran in an NPR interview about her book “How to be a Woman” she described younger women who identified with feminism like I once did.  She posed the question: if you are not a feminist, then does that mean you would you like to not be able to have the choice to work? To vote? 

I hear the lament of women who marched for women’s rights or remember what it was like to not have the choices and respect we have now.  They are worried that the younger generations just don’t remember and will lose what they fought so hard for. 

In high school in the late 80s, my friend taught me to attract men by acting stupid (I had a perm and braces and needed some lessons I suppose).    I didn’t take this lesson far.

I find myself seething a bit when men at parties seem dismissive when I want to get into the business conversations with them.  I care a lot more about feminism now, especially now that I have a daughter.

In a school meeting with our superintendent, I heard women preface good questions with “this may be a stupid question, but…”  Would a guy ever do that?  No.  He’d ask it in a confident way even if was the stupidest question on Earth.

When I ask teenage girl babysitters how much they charge per hour, they are clearly uncomfortable, while the boys who started a leaf raking business are much bolder. 

My 12 year old niece is my mother’s helper on Tuesdays.  I am going to teach her how to negotiate a fair rate when she’s ready to babysit on her own.  I put on Dora TV instead of Diego for my 2 year old son, because Dora is strong and Dora is way cooler than Diego.  When I watched the Brady Bunch with my 7 year old son, I laugh that the Brady women act helpless when trying to build a playhouse: isn’t that crazy?!  I show my 9 year old daughter that you can be fashionable, pretty and fun and have a career.
I believe in working and staying home with your kids and everything in between.  I believe in not giving up what is feminine but being strong.  I believe in all women.  And I want us to move forward, not backward. 

 

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